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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Smithsonian has named Ocean Springs to its fifth-annual “20 Best Small Towns to Visit for 2016.”

In an article published Monday on, author Jackie Mansky notes the magazine focused this year’s selection on small town located near U.S. National Parks in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

“Outside of these parks, home to stunning vistas and breathtaking wonders, are ‘gateway towns’: small communities that cater to the annual crowds with charming hotels, greasy spoons, local culture and innovative museums that tell fascinating stories,” Mansky wrote.

“Each of these communities offer their own distinct and diverse histories, cultures, food and art — as well as happening to be close to the entrances to some of the United States’ most prized heritage locations.

Ocean Springs is home to the Davis Bayou area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.

In compiling the list, the Smithsonian utilized geographical information from Esri to identify towns with populations under 20,000 which were within driving range of a national park of a designated National Park Service location.

Lansky noted in the report that Ocean Springs has long been known as the “gem” of the Mississippi coast and also praised residents’ “courage and resilience” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Today, Ocean Springs has rebuilt from the disaster, and tourists have flocked back to the city, which has the Gulf Islands National Seashore practically in its backyard,” Lansky wrote. “The art scene in Ocean Springs rivals its outdoor sports scene, which is saying something as the bayou and the bay nearby offers idyllic boating, fishing and birding.”

There were a couple of issues with the story, however. At one point Lansky refers to the city as “Oceans City,” and also lists Aunt Jenny’s Catfish House and The Shed as among the top local eateries. The Shed isn’t actually in Ocean Springs.

Lansky also pointed out the city’s 2013 Great American Main Street Award from the National Main Street Association, presented for “character, charm and culinary scene,” as well as the Peter Anderson Festival and the Ocean Springs Elks Mardi Gras Parade.


By Warren Kulo | [email protected]
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on April 19, 2016 at 9:45 AM, updated April 19, 2016 at 9:56 AM



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