New Orleans is one of the most livable urban spaces I’ve experienced – the pace is just right, you can strike up a conversation with just about anyone on the street, and you bump into friends unexpectedly just about anywhere around town. But sometimes in the heat of the summer, when sun beats down on your head and the hot pavement beats into your feet, it’s time for a getaway to somewhere even slower, friendlier and with a coastal breeze.
I had never visited Bay St. Louis before the Bay Harbor Festival and was pleasantly surprised to find this perfectly relaxing coastal destination less than one hour from New Orleans! My friends and I rented the house of folk artist Alice Moseley for the weekend. We received an introduction to the area through the paintings of a folk artist, and a beautiful garden where giant hibiscus and sunflowers greeted us in our front porch rocking chairs every morning.
Old Town Bay St. Louis was as charming as can be with ample parking even on a festival weekend because most people walk or drive their golf carts from nearby houses. You’ll know you’re there when you reach a few blocks loaded with shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants, and if you’re lucky you’ll have a run in with BSL celebrity Norman the pig cruising the streets.
The main attraction of course was Bay Harbor Fest to celebrate the grand opening of their brand new harbor on the coast adjacent to Old Town. The harbor was brand new, built with government funds coming to this area post-Katrina. The opportunity that it is bringing to the area was evident by the huge yachts that had traveled from God-knows-where to anchor up for the weekend, the nearby waterfront bar’s sprawling expansion to keep up with growing demand, and of course the festival which brought people from miles around including me and my friends from New Orleans.
Even on a non-festival weekend, I recommend a visit to Bay St. Louis to let the small town vibe erase your urban woes, and the sandy beaches fulfill your summer quest for coastal relaxation.