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 seven 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 gravy on a chicken fried steak: "Whoa...whoa...whoa...Sir, this is the beach. Things move slow." No truer words have ever been spoken.
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 Shores, Alabama. It's HQ for this vacation destination.
Getting to Gulf Shores
Fly into either Mobile or Pensacola and rent a car for the 90-minute drive.
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.
This is where we stay when we visit the Redneck Riviera - not so "redneck" is it?!
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
The crowds slack off a little after July 4 and are really light in August. September and October are great months to visit because the summer crowd has gone and the water is still warm.
The Boomer Brief Recommends
Kiva Dunes (#1 rated course in Alabama)
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. 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 Alabama coast.
You've seen this one featured on the "C'mon down!" ads. It's a great place right on the water with live music most nights and great burgers, fries, shrimp and catfish.
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.
If you want a great day trip, head up to Mobile and visit the USS Alabama. It's a retired battleship that's open for daily tours. If you want to add in a little history lesson to your visit, you can always check out Fort Morgan. It's a restored Civil War-era fort that the kids (especially boys) will find pretty cool.