Nothing satisfies an urge to splurge like shopping, eating and drinking your way through the sweet little boutiques and eateries of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. But sometimes, you just need to save a little cash. Fortunately, our favorite coastal getaway (just an hour from New Orleans) has a ton of ways to while away a weekend that don’t cost a dime. Rent a beach house and check out our list of totally free stuff to do in Bay St. Louis.
1. First things first – Park for free
The No. 1 biggest issue you will hear “Bay rats” complain about right now is the parking. The city used to be full of endless free parking but as the city grew, so did private paid lots. But have no fear, we have the lowdown on where to park your vehicle for FREE.
All city streets are still free, so if you can find one, street parking is your best bet.
The free city parking garage is located off Court Street. It’s not listed as a parking facility on google maps, but follow this link.
For free beach parking head to Washington Pier.
Free golf cart and motorcycle parking can be found right next to the Daiquiri Shak on Court St.
2. Be A Beach Bum!
This end of the Gulf Coast may not have perfect blue waters, but they sure do have pristine white sand beaches. Also the protection of the bay keeps away big waves and currents. My favorite way to pass a day is with a beach chair in the water and a cold beer. Almost all the beaches along the Mississippi Coast are free, open to the public and pet friendly unless otherwise stated. Bring your own beer and snacks (but no glass), and spend the whole day.
3. Take selfies with all the murals.
BSL has always been an artists’ community, but in 2021 they created the Wall To Wall Art Festival and eight new murals were born, along with a handful of beautifully painted electrical boxes all over town. The perfect place to start is Marian Glaser’s which just happens to be a map of Old Town.
You must stop and see the art on the Historic 100 Men Hall, which pays tribute to the artists who have graced the stage over the last 100 years. It is especially lovely at sunset.
On your way out of town check out the newest mural currently being painted by local artist Holly Garvin at the intersection of 1-10 and Hwy 90 on the Katrina high water mark.
While you are mural hunting keep an eye out for yarn bombs by BSL’s own Knotty Harts!
4. Learn about Alice Moseley in the Depot District
Alice Moseley found the Bay late in life, fell in love and captured it in her iconic folk art style. She is such a beloved figure in town they created a museum in her honor at the old Train Depot. The Alice Moseley Folk Art & Antique Museum is free, but donations are welcome.
5. Second Saturday Art Walk
All Saturdays are fun in BSL, but the second Saturday of every month is extra special. The shops on and around Main Street stay open a little later, folks come out in the streets and you can usually bet on some live music.
6. Plan to visit during a Festival
The Hancock County website has the low down all on the upcoming fests in BSL and the surrounding towns. Here’s a list for the 2022 Festivals:
- May 20- 21 Pirate Day in The Bay
- May 21 – Arts Alive
- May 21 – Cardboard Boat Race
- May 27-29 – St. Clare Seafood Festival in Waveland
- June 30-July 2 – OLG Crab Fest
- July – Frida Fest – TBD
- Sept 21-24 – Hancock County Fair
- Oct 2-9 – Cruising the Coast
- October – Witches Walk – TBD
7. Walk Over the Water
The Bay Bridge has a pedestrian path. Grab a bike or just walk out for unique views of Bay St. Louis. Take the bridge all the way over, and you’ll end up in Pass Christian, which also has beautiful beaches and fun stuff to do. Don’t have a bike? You can rent them at Bodega (111 Court St.) as well as golf carts, kayaks, paddle boards
8. Visit Ruth’s Garden
Ruth’s Roots community garden (130 Court Street) is a beautiful little oasis. Maintained by volunteers, this space has a fish pond, rabbits, chickens and rabbits, sculptures, murals, a chess board and more art than you can imagine. Bring something for the free little library and pantry.
9. Catch a Parade
Follow the Bay Ratz Marching Battery drumline on Facebook to see if they are playing upcoming festivals or if there’s a pop-up parade in the works. (They could happen any time in BSL!) Upcoming 2022 Parades:
- Feb – Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse Mardi Gras Parade
- May 21 – Lil Buccaneer Parade
- May 21 – Pirate Invasion Parade
- Halloween Parade – TBD
- Christmas Parade – TBD
10. Visit the Secret Garden (shhh)
A small sliver of low lying land between Beach road and the Bay just passed the Yacht Club is a privately owned, always changing little wonderland. I dropped a pin for you! The owner and caretaker lives nearby and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch him there making new pathways through his secret garden. This land can disappear completely when a big storm brings high tides, so it’s always changing. Stop by for a quiet nature walk.
11. Picnic at the Marina
Bring a lunch down to the tables overlooking the Bay St. Louis Municipal Harbor (behind the Blind Tiger 119 N Beach Blvd). Afterward, walk the marina to check out the yachts. If you make it all the way to the end, you can catch a gorgeous sunset and chat up a few fishermen.
Like any self respecting Southern town, BSL has a festival for all things! Keep an eye on Shoofly Magazine’s list of events. To learn more about this charming coastal town read Ellis Anderson’s Katrina memoire Under Surge, Under Siege: The Odyssey of Bay St. Louis and Katrina and read Fender’s article in Alabama Journey Magazine.