Bay St. Louis: A Place Apart

“A Place Apart” Bay St. Louis is an historic beach community with a quaint and funky Old Town

For over three centuries, Bay St. Louis has been home to colorful characters, fanciful buildings, and unquenchable community spirit.

The Bay St. Louis motto is as unique as the city itself: “A Place Apart.”

Bay St. Louis was established in 1699 by French explorers d’Iberville and Bienville. Known for years simply as “the Bay of St. Louis,” the city was incorporated under the name of Bay St. Louis as the first act of the new Mississippi legislature in 1818.

In 2010 Bay St. Louis was listed as one of the Top 10 Beach Communities in the U.S. by Coastal Living Magazine. Budget Travel magazine named it one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” in 2013 and Southern Living magazine named Bay St. Louis one of their 50 Best Places in the South in 2016.

This far southwest corner of Mississippi appears to have more in common with and oriented more toward Louisiana than the rest of the Magnolia State. Unlike the Deep South with its dominance of Baptist and other protestant churches, here the Roman Catholic Church with its beautiful historic cathedrals and above-ground cemeteries dominate. Local television feeds originate from New Orleans and in the sports memorabilia market Louisiana-based teams are most common.

Touring the area, we drove along the Bay; explored Bay St. Louis and Sister City, Waveland; and wandered the pastel colored buildings and quaint, funky shops of historic Old Town Bay St. Louis including the Depot.

The “Depot,” is a two-story building with mission style design. The train depot (c. 1928), is surrounded by park-like grounds, and once served as the centerpiece of the movie, “This Property is Condemned” starring Robert Redford and Natalie Wood.

The historic L & N Train Depot is designated a “Mississippi Landmark,” and currently houses the Hancock County Tourism, Bay St Louis Mardi Gras Museum, and Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum. Located across from the “Depot” is “Depot Row” which houses several shops and restaurants.

The Mardi Gras Museum currently features a Mardi Gras costume display entitled, “Trains, Tiaras, and Tights: Costumes and Keepsakes of Carter Church.”

Often called the “Costume King,” Carter Church is one of the top costume designers in the U.S. He was a friend and colleague of the renown Russian-born French artist and designer known as Erté, renowned artist of the Art Deco movement, whom he knew in New Orleans and in Paris. Besides frequent comparisons to Erté, he has received 50 Alpha Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fashion Group International for his designs in the field of couture as well as costume. 

His designer gowns and costumes that have won well over 100 awards. Downsizing from the demanding schedule of creating up to 150 costumes a season from his workshop in Bay St. Louis, he now creates designs and costumes for about a dozen krewes in Louisiana and Mississippi. For Carter Church, Carnival is a way of life.

Driving around downtown Bay St. Louis, we admired the “Heavenly Carved Wooden Angels.” Once beautiful live oaks they are now works of art. Chainsaw sculptor, Dayle K. Lewis transformed the tree trunks into “Angel Creations.” Two of the magnificent  “Carved Angels” stand in the Cedar Rest Cemetery on Second Street; one on Beach Boulevard in front of Our Lady of the Gulf Church, one near Century Hall, two are located on the first block of Demontluzin Avenue. The “Demontluzin Avenue Angel” was used as a life raft by three Katrina survivors and their dog.

Where to Stay: Hollywood Casino RV Park

Hollywood Casino RV Park is big-rig friendly featuring 80 back-in sites and 14 back-to-back pull-through sites. Our site (#73) backed to a treed area on a bayou and is in the 55-60 foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (42 channels). Wi-Fi worked well from our site; no problem locating satellite. All interior roads and sites are concrete. Site amenities include metal picnic table and BBQ grill on concrete slab and garbage canister. As with many other casino RV parks, pay upon check-out.

Hollywood Casino RV Park is located in Bay St. Louis approximately 10 miles south of I-10 (Exit 13).

Worth Pondering…

Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries.

—René Descartes

Chasing the Sunshine in Warmer Destinations

Life is good here, pleasant, easy, fulfilling, sunny, warm. Most of all, warm.

The weather is a driving factor in pushing snowbirds from fleeing the falling temperatures and their cold climate and snowy nests following the first winter blast of the season.

Life is good here, pleasant, easy, fulfilling, sunny, warm. That most of all, warm.

Based on our experiences living the snowbird lifestyle, we have identified locations across the US Sunbelt with pleasing, spring-like temperatures and their own unique allure.

St. Marys, Georgia

Average high in February: 65 F

If you’re looking to chase the sun this winter, venture to Georgia, and then go as far south as you possibly can. Once you’ve hit the southeastern-most tip of the state, you have arrived in beautiful St. Marys. This seaside village is the epitome of a winter retreat, where you can fool yourself into thinking its summer as you chow down on seafood at Lang’s Marina Restaurant with a view of the shrimp boats cruising in the marsh.

Snowbirds love to: Take the Cumberland Island Ferry from downtown St. Marys to Cumberland Island National Seashore. Here there are more than 50 miles of hiking trails through maritime forests, and the 1898 Plum Orchard is a fascinating stop along the way.

Ajo, Arizona

Average high in February: 70 F

With its rich tradition as a former copper mining hub, Ajo is a casual town with relaxed charm. Enjoy its mild climate, low humidity, and clear skies. Take in the historic Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in the Downtown Historic District, Sonoran Desert flora and fauna, and panoramic views. Ajo is surrounded by 12 million acres of public and tribal land waiting to be explored.

Snowbirds love to: Enjoy the sights and sounds at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument while you take a scenic drive, bike, hike, camp, take part in ranger programs, and bird watch. Thirty-one species of cactus flourish here including the park’s namesake and the giant saguaro.

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Average high in February: 66 F

If you dream of spending the winter in a quaint seaside town, consider Bay St. Louis. In Old Town, wander the shops, galleries, and restaurants along Main Street, Second Street, and Beach Boulevard, and check out the municipal pier and harbor, which opened a few years ago. Or wander the L&N Train Depot which houses the Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum and Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum.

Snowbirds love to: Tour the INFINITY Science Center, 72,000 square feet of space, earth science, engineering, and technology content. INFINITY also serves as the official NASA visitor center for Stennis Space Center, NASA’s largest rocket engine test facility.

Mount Dora, Florida

Average high in February: 70 F

Mount Dora is located on the shores of Lake Dora, part of the Harris Chain of Lakes boasting some of the world’s best Bass fishing and other outdoor activities. The town is noted for its crafts, antique shops, historical buildings, and beautiful scenery. Mount Dora enjoys a rich history as “The Festival City” hosting some of the oldest and largest annual events in Florida including art festivals, craft fairs, music and wine festivals.

Snowbirds love to: Take a Cat Boat Tour on Lake Dora and join a Taste of Our Town Tour to nosh on local grub while strolling around town.

Tucson, Arizona

Average high in January: 70 F

Tucson provides a stunning array of possibilities, satisfying culture seekers, outdoor adventurers, and fans of cowboys and cacti. This Southern Arizona city spreads throughout the Sonoran Desert in a valley surrounded by jagged mountain ranges that provide ample scenic backdrops.

Snowbirds love to: Enjoy the city’s many attractions including Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Park, San Xavier del Bac (White Dove of the Desert), Catalina State Park, Kit Peak National Observatory, Tohono Chul Park, Pima Air and Space Museum, and Old Tucson Studios.

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”