Whether you're planning a quick trip or searching for a new coastal town to put down roots, quaint Bay St. Louis has all the charm you're looking for.
By David Hanson
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Meet Bay St. Louis
Beach lovers with a penchant for old architecture and affordable renovation spaces will love this small town city (population 9,408) that's a mix of Southern grace, mystery, and heat. Bay St. Louis located 90 miles east of New Orleans is like a blank canvas at the junction of marsh, river, and Gulf of Mexico beach. Following you'll find a few of its most charming spots.
2 of 7Photo: Robbie Caponetto
Old Town Has:
Eight years ago this town was put to the test when Hurricane Katrina ripped through the heart of the city. But the community rallied, rebuilt, and has regained its artsy, quirky independence.
The best sandy spot is right at the end of Main Street on St. Louis Bay—marshland to the north and open bay to the south, east, and west. Take Beach Boulevard's bike/walk path along the wide, sandy beach for three miles from Washington Avenue American Legion Pier in town to the Garfield Ladner Pier in Waveland.
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On the Weekend You Might:
Drive less than an hour down Highway 90 across the Rigolets wetlands into New Orleans for the evening. If you want to stay in town, catch live entertainment at the Mockingbird Café or Bay St. Louis Little Theatre.
5 of 7Photo: Robbie Caponetto
Favorite Bar/Restaurant Could Be:
The Mockingbird Café is a coffee house by day and restaurant with pub—think burgers, paninis, and salads—at night. Outside the café, quiet streets lined with century-old Craftsman bungalows make a grid and lead toward the long beach (called The Beach) on the town’s southeast corner.
The colorfully decorated Rickey's reopened in the Zuppardo's Bay Plaza shopping center six months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original building. Luckily, beloved menu items such as the seafood muffaletta also reappeared.
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In Bay St. Louis, you'll find a community mix of retirees, vacation-home owners from New Orleans, and water-loving families. One of the town's favorite pastimes is to bike or walk across the new Bay St. Louis Bridge to Pass Christian to fish from the pier.
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Visiting Bay St. Louis:
Where to Stay: Ellis Anderson’s The Webb School has a 1,200-square-foot rental with high ceilings, a kitchen, back deck, and front porch; 228/493-2107 or webschool.blogspot.com.