If you're one of the lucky ones whose 401K hasn't been reduced to a 201K, we have a place you should consider this summer: the Redneck Riviera. It's that bread-crust thin slice of
The Alabama coastal portion of the "Riviera" features 53 miles of sugar white beaches, turquoise water, world-class golf courses, great shopping, sumptuous sea food, fabulous fishing, amazing accommodations and family-friendly prices.
Charlotte and I fell in love with this beach gem about five years ago. We liked it so much that we found ourselves talking with a real estate agent about condo and home prices. I peppered the poor guy with questions like the rata-tat-tat of unanswered automatic weapons fire.
When I finally drew a breath he said in a southern drawl thicker than cream gravy, "Whoa...whoa...whoa...Sir, this is the beach. Things move slow." No truer words have ever been spoken.
Try the fried green tomatoes. Trust me.
You'll thank me later.
If you like laid back -- and I do mean LAID BACK -- you need to get in a car or plane right now and head to Gulf
Fly into either the
Where to Stay
Like condominiums? There are thousands to choose from with spectacular ocean views and easy beach access. How about a house? You'll be surprised at the affordability of a beach home in one of the resorts.
What to Do
Relax. You're at the beach. You can be as active as you like, or just curl up under a big beach umbrella with the latest trashy novel. Trust me, down here nobody cares.
Casual to very casual - shorts, sandals, golf shirts and T-shirts are all acceptable day or night. Unless you're getting married (and in some cases, even if you are) it's very laid back.
Best Time to Go
June is the busiest month. The crowds slack off a little after the
Kiva Dunes (#1 rated course in
Craft Farms (36-hole Arnold Palmer course)
Lulu is actually Lulu Buffet (yes, that Buffet). Like her brother, Lulu knows how to have a good time and the seafood is always great. Try the fried green tomatoes with Lulu's famous WOW Sauce. Trust me. You'll thank me later.
Come hungry. This is real southern food, where everything is fried or served with gravy. Yes, they really do throw hot-out-of-the-oven yeast rolls the size of softballs to eager diners.
It's a local legend and one of the best
dives hangouts on the
Ok, if you really want to bring something home other than an "I'm with Stupid" T-shirt, check out the Tanger Outlet Mall. It's so big it has its own transit system. If you don't find something you like in the 125 brand name outlet stores, you just aren't in a shopping mood.
There's plenty to keep the grandkids occupied. When you've exhausted the beach, there are water parks, miniature golf courses, go-kart rides, movie theaters and all the other diversions you'd expect in a beach resort town.
If you want a great day trip, head up to