After facing massive destruction from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it makes sense that the Gulf Coast town of Bay St. Louis hasn’t been on the radar of many homeseekers. But nearly 20 years later, the Mississippi seaside spot has rebuilt its reputation as a beach town with plenty to do and a welcoming community. About an hour’s drive from New Orleans, Bay St. Louis is a refuge from the city’s hubbub where you’ll see golf carts cruising the street alongside cars.

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Aerial view of the marina in Bay Saint Louis
My South Coast Home Revisited by Ken Murphy

Locals spend their days off relaxing at the beach, kayaking along what’s known as Mississippi’s “Secret Coast,” fishing off the pier and camping at the nearby Buccaneer State Park (bonus: the state park has a 4.5-acre water park that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico).

Bay St. Louis’ art scene is also a point of town pride, starting with the five “Angels in the Bay” pieces scattered around town. Created by chainsaw sculptor Dayle K. Lewis, the pieces were carved out of oak trees killed during the hurricane. The Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum features the work of “Miss Alice,” a folk artist who began painting at age 65 while caring for her mother who had Alzheimer’s, while the Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum shows off elaborate costumes donned during Carnival season. Both museums are free.

The walkable Old Town is a regular destination with its many restaurants and shops like the colorful The French Potager, a floral and antique shop. On the second Saturday of every month, families make their way to the neighborhood for Art Walk, a 29-year-old tradition that brings out live musicians, artists, merchants, restaurants and the Bay St. Louis community.

Amtrack train in Bay Saint Louis
My South Coast Home Revisited by Ken Murphy

One of the town’s final steps in returning to pre-Katrina glory could come to fruition later this year, as Amtrak resumes its service to the area, connecting Bay St. Louis to other Gulf Coast towns and the broader southeast region.