By: Cheré Coen
Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs
The Mississippi Coast offers a quick escape from New Orleans — an hour or so drive — with the quaint towns of Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs bookending the small stretch of land bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Both appeal to artists and art lovers, with fall art-related festivals, boutiques and galleries and museums dedicated to artists who once called the Coast home.
In downtown Ocean Springs, there are 140 things to experience within walking distance, according to Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the town’s a haven for regional artists, she said, with approximately 300 artists in the Ocean Springs Art Association.
“Everything is one-of-a-kind, locally owned,” Sutton said of the town’s artwork for sale.
Ocean Springs was once home to eclectic artist Walter Anderson, who now has a museum dedicated to his work, along with Shearwater Pottery, his family’s ceramic art studio that’s still in existence. Walter’s brother, Peter Anderson, headed Shearwater as a master potter and every November, Ocean Springs celebrates with the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, the largest arts festival in Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. This year’s event, November 2-3, features artists and artisans, musicians and food vendors from around the country.
The fastest way to reach the Coast is at Bay St. Louis, a town that intrigued a Batesville, Mississippi, school teacher who taught herself to paint while caring for her mother. Once settled in Bay St. Louis, Alice Moseley’s artistic talent took off and visitors can view more than 50 original pieces of her folk art at the Alice Moseley Folk Art & Antique Museum located inside the 1876 train station.
Places to stay on the Coast run the gamut. The Roost and The Inn at Ocean Springs provide both elegance and convenience, allowing guests to walk nearly everywhere, including the town’s beachfront. Casual comfort is what owner Nikki Moon strives for at Bay Town Inn in Bay St. Louis, where rooms include stocked kitchens, sitting areas and rocking chairs on the porch.
Kait Sukiennik always cooks up a sweet and a savory biscuit daily (and we always order both) at Greenhouse on Porter in Ocean Springs, and visitors may enjoy the actual greenhouse in back, complete with house cat. Enjoy a unique lunch entrée at Starfish Café, a non-profit teaching kitchen in Bay St. Louis where diners pay what they will.
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