Designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry, the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art exalts the work of George E. Ohr, a ceramic artist and moustache enthusiast known as the "Mad Potter of Biloxi." After it was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, the campus reopened in 2010 amidst a grove of ancient live-oak trees, featuring a series of six aesthetically impressive pavilions that include a welcome center, a gallery of African-American art, and an interpretive center inside a reconstruction of the house of emancipated craftsman Pleasant Reed. Current exhibitions include collections from some of the art world's biggest names, including Andy Warhol and ceramic sculptor Jun Kaneko, as well as selections from Ohr's Gulf Coast collection, which inspired the American Modernist movement and several MLB baseball teams to wear ceramic pots instead of baseball hats.
Jefferson Davis may have been president of the Confederate States of America, but he didn't spend his whole life as a public figure. In his later years, he retired to the lush Beauvoir property, a cottage, cemetery, and collection of gardens. There he wrote, read, and relaxed until he passed away in 1889. Today, the property commemorates his complex legacy. Modern visitors explore Davis's library and rose garden, view reproductions of his kitchen and cistern, and even meet him?or at least, a life-size bronze statue of him posed with his son and grandson.
On April 7, 1932, Walter and Bessie Bellingrath invited the public to peruse their private gardens for an afternoon. They expected only a handful of garden aficionados, but instead more than 5,000 locals flocked to see the Bellingrath's azaleas. The crowds were so massive that the Mobile police were called in to direct traffic. Two years later, the couple officially opened Bellingrath Gardens as a year-round attraction.
These days, new flower varieties are always blooming across the gardens' 65 acres, from chrysanthemums each autumn to more than 2,000 roses in the summer. Besides the flowers, the property hosts a 1,600-foot boardwalk winding through a bayou preserve and a riverfront grotto perched beside a waterfall. After exploring the grounds, stop into the 10,500-square-foot Bellingrath home, which still contains Mrs. Bellingrath's china collection and the basement hole Mr. Bellingrath dug to China.
It's easy to see that the hunting experts at Taylor Creek Shooting Preserve love their job?especially considering many of them are pointers and English setters. Along with human guides, these trained dogs lead groups into the woods for guided hunts of game birds. Alternatively, the preserve's continental pheasant shoots call hunters to assemble at 12 stations encircling a 60-foot tower, where pheasants are released into the air.
In addition to these hunting grounds, Taylor Creek Shooting Preserve sets aside 20 acres for sporting clays. Towering pines and open fields set the stage for a 12-station sporting clay course, which stays open year-round to challenge intermediate and advanced clients. The terrain also encompasses a five-stand course and a skeet field.
Sculpted through wooded acres of parkland terrain, Silver King Golf Club's 18-hole course unfolds across 6,600 yards of fairways and greens pristine from recent, extensive renovations. Cerulean waters and sand bunkers populated by displaced sunbathers loom throughout the course, offering mild penalties for errant drives and ill-measured approaches. The club keeps its golfers' pin-hunting skills sharp with a driving range and onsite golf lessons while helping players loop the links in style with a pro shop full of form-fitting shirts, sturdy shoes, and bedazzled golf gloves. As clubbers trace powerful drives into the Southern sky, the club's onsite snack bar keeps appetites at bay with cold sports drinks, soft drinks, and light fare.
Members of Freedom Boat Club enjoy the luxury of captaining their own aquatic excursions without the maintenance and storage hassles of owning a boat. Outings begin with a boat-orientation course, during which an experienced captain teaches students key nautical skills such as tying knots, docking in the wind, and navigating by the position of a half-eaten sandwich that kind of looks like the Big Dipper. Once skippers feel comfortable commanding a water chariot, they take to the seas for a day of sailing along with up to six additional guests. With the trial membership, boaters can choose any available Hurricane deck boat, inshore fishing boat, or pontoon. Hop aboard Orange Beach's 21-foot Hurricane 2100 to cut through the water on the strength of a 150-hp engine or commandeer Perdido Key's Sweetwater 2486 pontoon boat to benefit from a deck-top canopy in the event that a witch's curse makes it rain salamanders.