It is the most wonderful time of the year! No, not that time. Not yet anyway (despite what you may see in the stores). For us down here on the Gulf Coast we have a little secret we’ve been keeping to ourselves. The beach in the fall is pretty magical. Sure, the idea of salt water and pumpkin lattes may seem like an odd mix, but they go together like gumbo and hot sauce (sort of).
There is a reason why the entire country seems to find their way to the Gulf Coast every summer. The sand, the surf and the food are just some of the reasons but I really like to believe it is the hospitality. I mean, it is pretty nice of us to share this slice of heaven with the rest of the world. So, we let them enjoy it for a few months out of the year. But, after Labor Day the beach becomes ours again. We have full access to all of our favorite hot spots and we can stretch out on our towels without rubbing elbows with our beach neighbors.
No Lines, No Problem
Thinking about taking a break from the beach to visit activities on land? While the water parks may have closed for the season, we get to do all the fun stuff customarily occupied by the tourists. No more lines for miniature golf and the kids have a full range of the arcades. But best of all, no more ridiculously long wait times at the restaurants. I’m sorry, but if I have to wait over an hour for a shrimp po’boy, I will buy a net and get the shrimp out of the Gulf of Mexico myself.
The Weather is Beautiful
Ok, the hurricane season does begin to wind down during the fall so there is a chance it could be frightful. Until then, we’re enjoying the breezes, the reduced humidity and near perfect water temperatures.
If we ever see any nonlocals in the fall, it’s probably because they are here for some of our awesome festivals. Just name any seafood and chances are we have a festival for it. We celebrate everything from crawfish, shrimp and oysters with plenty of activities and music to match. Head down to the Foo Foo Festival in Pensacola for a 12-day celebration of culture, food and fun.
And don’t forget to hydrate when you visit one of the many festivals. The fall season means nothing to the beach because it is still 80 degrees outside. If you want to break away from your usual beverage choices, then stop by Peak Alkalinity in Fairhope. Purchase one their portable H2O To Go bottles so you can enjoy alkaline water anytime and anywhere.
The fall season usually conjures up the thought of pumpkins and fall colors dancing in your head. And sure, it’s hard to get a store-bought scarecrow to stay up in the sand but one thing you can count on is how amazing the beach is during the fall.
It’s that time of year again…the pumpkin lattes are being poured, there’s a breeze in the air, you’ve lit your fall harvest scented candle and now you can sit back and enjoy the season. Except it’s not even 10 AM and you’ve already broken a sweat. Welcome to fall in the South! It may be October but the temperature outside says it’s the middle of July.
It’s Cooler on the Surface of the Sun
Hot weather is synonymous with the South and normally, it’s January by the time we experience fall-ish weather. And when the weather does begin to cool, we get all the seasons in the span of a week.
Fall Foliage? Never Heard of It
Northerners have the advantage of seeing the leaves change into colors of amber and a fiery red. Our fall foliage? It consists of pine needles blanketing the ground leaving a skinny, bare naked looking tree.
We Enjoy the Cool Breezes of a Hurricane
Unfortunately, hurricane season is still a thing until November. Our ears perk up anytime the meteorologist says the word “disturbance”. While the dropping temps bring in cooler air up North, the closest we get to a fall breeze is the wind from a hurricane.
Shorts and Flip Flops All Day, Everyday…Until December, Maybe
Sure, me-maw knitted you a cute scarf and matching hat but you probably won’t wear it until February. And your favorite leggings and alma mater sweatshirt? Might as well leave those packed up. Down here shorts and flip-flops are the official Southern uniform…until it cools to 60 degrees. Then you can break out the parka.
All the Bugs
The sun has begun to set for the evening. You and your family decide to enjoy the semi-cool weather on the back porch. Except, now instead of slapping on the sunscreen you are STILL smacking mosquitoes. Get back to enjoying the outdoors by calling Safety First Pest Control to remove those and any other pests you may have.
The Beach is Still a Thing
Right about now, our Northern friends are enjoying campfires, s’mores and a friendly game of football. Well, we are too, except we’re doing it at the beach wearing our swim shorts and sippin’ on a smoothie from Agape Juices. The water has yet to cool below 70 degrees and you better believe we are will squeeze in our vitamin sea as long as we can.
The Ride on Hay, We Decorate It
Nothing like putting out your best fall decorations and breaking a sweat. Sticking a bale of hay in your front yard with a store bought scarecrow is essential to Southern decorating. And while the idea sitting on a bale of hay in a wagon in the heat may sound like a good time…. we’d rather put a chevron bow on it and call it decoration.
Oh sure, there are some bright spots to enjoying fall in the south. Football season begins, the fairs start to arrive and no one bats an eyelash as you drink a margarita during a hayride.
If you are one of the many people who visit the Gulf Coast in the summer then you can stop reading. I’m joking. You can continue, but promise me you won’t tell anyone else that now is the best time to visit the beach.
No More Gridlock
Three Words: No More Traffic. Ok, there is some traffic still on the roads but that is mainly due to us locals. Heck, we’re only going to the places we have avoided for the last three months. Not only is Highway 59 a smoother drive but so is the main drag from Gulf Shores to Perdido Key.
People from all over the country (and in some cases, the world) come for our beautiful beaches. Another thing they come for? The food. Most importantly, seafood. But nothing is worse than hitting up your regular lunch spot only to wait three or more hours to SIT and eat something that is literally swimming just yards away from you. Where’s my fishing pole? I’ll just go catch it myself.
The Weather and the Water
Pro-tip: it’s best to go to the beach in the offseason because the water is at its most beautiful. I’m sure there is an oceanic/meteorological professional explanation for this but I’ll just choose to believe Mother Nature is saving her best for us locals.
And not only is the water gorgeous but each day (when there isn’t an approaching hurricane) it is more beautiful than next. Instead of the heat and humidity; we get breezes and below 80-degree temps.
You Don’t Hate Shopping Anymore
If the simplest trip to, I don’t know, anywhere, reminds you of Black Friday; then your quick shopping trip turns into what nightmares are made of. You encounter a trifecta of traffic, tourists and sweltering heat that is enough to make you question why you left the house.
We Get the Best Festivals
Don’t get me wrong, The Hangout Festival sounds amazing. But I don’t think I am up for schmoozing and sweating with a 1,000 millennials for three days. That is why the Gulf Coast’s selection of fall festivals is one of the best things about tourist season being over. From seafood to craft beer and wine you can bet there’s a festival for it this fall.
You Can Finally Stretch Out
Remember that time you went to the beach and you were crammed in between a bloated Jimmy Buffett look alike and that family reunion with the 15 kids? That was awesome. Stop lying, no it wasn’t. Well, now that the tourists have left town, that means the beach is your domain. Go there any time of day on any day of the week and the beach will be all yours with the exception of a few locals doing the same.
But seriously, we love the tourists like we love our mother-in-law. They keep us company when they visit but we love it more when they leave.
In the South, two things are certain: it will always be hot and there will always be tea. Now, it’s not what you think, I’m not referring to the beverage commonly poured by our cousins from across the pond. No, down here we like it in a tall glass, served over ice and with or without an obscenely amount of sugar added to it. But just like a good team rivalry, there will be disagreement. Do you say Roll Tide or War Eagle? Do you ask for sweet or unsweet tea? Let’s discuss…
First, let us talk about the abomination that is unsweet tea. If you avoid sweet tea because of dietary restrictions, then you have been excused. However, if tea that is unsweetened is a choice you opt for because you want to be “healthy” well, you might as well move. You can’t live in a region whose vegetables plates consist of fried okra and macaroni and cheese. You can’t have one without the other….you have to go all in.
Now unsweet tea isn’t all terrible. If can be jazzed up artificial sweeteners or lemon wedges (lots and lots of lemons). A cold glass of unsweet tea that doesn’t taste like liquefied cotton candy can help you beat the heat on a sweltering summer day. But if you see someone sweetening their tea with sugar… you’ll definitely know they ain’t from around here (bless their heart).
The Sweetness of Sweet Tea
Southerners like to believe that on the seventh day God created sweet tea. Just ask any Southerner if they would like a glass of sweet tea with their meal and you’ll be preaching to the choir. Also referred to as the “house wine of the South,” this liquid gold goes with just about any southern meal (and dessert). You know you’ve reached the Mason Dixon line when the restaurant you’re at offers sweet tea as a beverage choice.
Think back to when you visited memaw’s as a child. She always had a cold, pitcher of tea waiting for you in the fridge. The delicate beads of sweat would trickle down the sides of the container as it sat on the kitchen table. She’d offer you a glass and y’all would enjoy the lunch of tomato sandwiches she had prepared. However, don’t you dare ask memaw for a glass of unsweet tea! (You may not get that dollar for your birthday next year.) After all, memaw’s sugar is for kissing and cooking; not for adding to your tea. And just like any true Southerner, memaw had her own recipe for biscuits, fried chicken and sweet tea.
So whether you like your tea sweet or unsweet, tea there is no denying that this beverage plays a huge part in Southern culture and cuisine. We’ve been enjoying this beverage since the days before air conditioning. And regardless of your choice, you know how we like it…ice cold and filled to the brim (with or without copious amounts of lemon wedges).
Some days you want to get away from it all but work, kids and the inability to find an affordable plane ticket, keeps you from getting very far. Luckily, down here in Baldwin County we have access to one of the premier resorts in the country, The Grand Hotel in Point Clear. Located just steps away from the quaint town of Fairhope, this fabulous destination will give you a much needed recharged feeling without leaving the state.
The Grand opened in 1847 and recently underwent a $32 million dollar renovation. The hotel received a fresh new look and is now a part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, an elite collection of 100 independent-style properties.
Let’s cut to the chase, if The Grand’s newly renovated property doesn’t take your breath away then just sit back and wait till about 7:50 PM. That’s when the magic happens. Ok, not a real magic show per se (although awesome) but the sky lights up every night in nearly every color of the rainbow…including some not found in a crayon box. The colors cascade down into the waters of Point Clear as Mother Nature does her best to show off.
Be sure to arrive with an empty belly because The Grand offers an array of dining options. Swim up to Jubilee Poolside Bar and Grill or visit the resort’s newest eatery, Southern Roots whose menu features farm to table fare. Finish your evening with a glass of fine wine at Bucky’s Lounge. Your kitchen will be so jealous.
You may think you are the Queen and King of England when you arrive at The Grand. Ok, put the scepter down…it may be because the employees do everything to make you feel like the Southern Emperor that (you think) you are.
Ok, all together now say, “Spaaa…ahhh.” Yes, those will be your exact words after you visit the updated and expanded 20,000 square-foot Grand Spa. This luxury spa offers several relaxing treatments including facials, body scrubs, manicures and pedicures, as well as couple’s massage.
Don’t worry guys, The Grand hasn’t left you out. Take your pick of two renowned golf courses at Lakewood Club or practice your backhand at one of the resort’s ten tennis courts.
The kids can also get in on the fun by spending a day at the pool complex with a newly added splash pad. Relax and watch them play while you lounge in one the stylish cabanas.
Part of The Grand’s renovation included a complete gut and redesign of the rooms. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of southern charm left in these newly modernized, upscale rooms. Available room options include everything from bay views to a king suite.
So, as you can see, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy the finer things in life. Visit The Grand Hotel in Point Clear and you will have an entirely new view of southern Alabama (because, sunsets).
Once upon a time, in a land filled with cotton fields, Spanish moss and Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, people were mysteriously painting their front porch ceilings a sky-blue color. Perplexed, the Northerner would ask, “Why is your porch ceiling blue?” Gazing down from a tall glass of sweet tea, the Southerner would politely answer, “None of your business.”
Ok, it probably never went down quite like that but yes, the South has many quirky traditions. While it’s always fun to confuse the Northerners, we continue these traditions because they are steeped into our Southerner roots like chicory coffee.
One of the most commonly found down here is painting your front porch ceiling a soft blue or “haint” color. You probably saw this delicate color covering the entire stretch of your Me-Maw’s porch ceiling and found yourself curious about its origins.
Why did she or anyone in the South have blue porch ceilings? Was it because it accented our home’s white columns so nicely? Was it an affordable paint color choice? Or was it (and I’m a firm believer) to mess with the Northerners?
Where it All Began
This custom actually began with the Gullah Geechee people who were descents of Central and West African slaves. The Gullah resided in the low country areas of the United States including Georgia and South Carolina. They would paint the exterior portions of the homes blue as a way to ward off spirits or “haints.” Nothing was off limits…shutters, doors, window frames, and of course, porch ceilings were painted in this color. The Gullahs believed the “haints” would confuse the light blue color with the sky and instead of entering the home, the spirits would pass on through the ceiling. (I wonder if this would work for door-to-door salesmen? Hmm…)
Some people also believed the “haints” were deathly (see what I did there?) afraid of water. If a haint came upon a home with this watery color hue, the spirit would avoid the residence all together.
The Insect Theory
If there is anything a Southerner despises more than a plate of cold biscuits it is an intense hatred of anything that flies that doesn’t have feathers. Insects are to front porches like Southerners are to Me-Maw’s fried okra. There is an intense gravitational pull with nothing to deter us but serve them to us blue and you might get some hesitation. Actually, the old Southern belief is a front porch with a blue ceiling can deter wasps (and possibly door-to-door salesmen). Like the “haints”, insects will confuse the blue ceiling with the sky and will avoid the building their nests in the corners of the porch.
Now, I am not one to argue with Me-Maw or anyone who believes these theories but adorning your porch with this shade of blue does give a welcoming, calming vibe to your entrance. And just like other Southern traditions like sweetening your tea and using your manners, painting your porch ceiling haint blue will never fade away.
If you find that that blue paint didn’t quite pan out like you thought it would, well then the ole saying goes… When Life Hands You Grapes… Make Wine.
When you visit the South there are two things you will need: an empty stomach and a translator. Southerners have a unique way of using words and phrases that can be hard for those above the Mason Dixon Line to understand. Here is a simple explanation of some the South’s favorite sayings.
Bad-mouth – what your momma tells you not to do. Don’t say bad things about people.
Bless your heart – a heartfelt insult or empathy (depending on the situation or person).
Buggy – a shopping cart (and don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise).
Catty-corner – at an angle (Ex. “He parked the car all ‘catty-corner.’”)
Fat as a tick – a full belly after a good meal (Ex. “I am ‘fat as a tick’ after eating supper at Boudreaux’s.”)
Fit to be tied – extremely frustrated/upset (Ex. “Our friends from Vermont were ‘fit to be tied’ when they found out Chick Fil A wasn’t open on Sunday.”)
Fixin’ to – what you are about to do (Ex. “I’m fixin’ to make a ‘mater sandwich.”)
Hissy fit – being overly dramatic (Ex. “He threw a ‘hissy fit’ because I didn’t use Blue Plate mayonnaise on his mater sandwich.”)
I don’t have a dog in that fight – feeling neutral about the outcome of a situation because it has no effect on you. (Ex. “Oh, that football game, I don’t have a dog in that fight.”)
Madder than a wet hen – one step above a “hissy fit”.
Mind your manners – be nice. The end.
Pocketbook – a handbag/purse (Ex. “I need to grab my pocketbook before we go to the store. Yes, I will need a buggy.”)
Preaching to the choir – trying to convince people who are already convinced (Ex. “You are preaching to the choir about the deliciousness of NoJa.”)
Reckon – to say you will do something (Ex. “I ‘reckon’ I’ll make myself a mater sandwich.”)
Slow as molasses – something that is extremely slow (Ex. “She was ‘slow as molasses’ when putting on her shoes.”)
Stinks to high heaven – something that has an unpleasant odor (Ex. “Those ‘maters stink to high heaven.”)
Stove-up – stiffness in the muscles after sitting down too long (Ex. “I sat too long on the front porch drinking my sweet tea. Now I’m all stove up.’”)
Sweatin’ like a sinner in church – an abundant amount of sweat.
Tan your hide – you about to get a whoopin’. (Ex. “I will “tan your hide” if you throw a ‘hissy fit’ at Greer’s.”)
That dog won’t hunt – used to express that an idea or plan will not work.
Ugly – being rude or a jerk. (Ex. “He sure acted “ugly” when I told him I was out Moonpies.”)
Y’all” – Most used word by Southerners. A contraction of ‘you all.’ (Who says ‘you all’ anyway?)
Yonder – a great distance when giving directions.(Ex. “We parked the car over yonder.’”)
As you can see, us Southerners have a colorful way with words. So, grab your favorite Yankee and show your manners by going over this list. Don’t be ugly if you get some crazy looks.
Summer is here and that means one thing…it’s about to get hot up in here. Ok, it’s already hotter than Hades but that means it’s time to enjoy some cold drinks in some cool places. Luckily, Mobile and Baldwin counties have plenty of spots to enjoy your beverage al fresco style.
Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill
One of the best spots for a view of the Mobile Bay is Boudreaux’s in Daphne. Their covered deck is the perfect spot to enjoy some of their handcrafted specialty drinks. Their brunch, lunch and dinner menus will satisfy that craving for Cajun cuisine.
If by some mysterious reason you and your spouse happened to have a date night, then run to NoJa in downtown Mobile. Located just off Dauphine Street, NoJa’s courtyard has the perfect romantic vibe with soft lighting and a relaxed atmosphere. Sit back and sip one of the many wines they offer.
Spot of Tea
Located smack dab on Dauphin Street is Spot of Tea. And don’t be fooled by the name because they offer way more than just tea. Indulge in a delectable Bloody Mary filed to the brim with okra and bacon or enjoy a classic mimosa with your brunch.
The Blind Mule
The Blind Mule has everything you probably didn’t know you were looking for when it comes to outdoor dining. Their courtyard provides enough shade to keep off the summer sun while the nighttime lights give you a laid back vibe. As far as drinks go, you name it, they’ll make it!
Trattoria Pizza and Italian
Watch the kids play in the sand while you sip a cold one with some friends at Trattoria in Spanish Fort. Classic Italian fare is on the menu including pizza and pasta but they also offer a great beer selection.
One of downtown Mobile’s newest spots, Southern National, has an excellent outdoor patio for enjoying a late night beverage. They create some amazing craft cocktails including their own, The Southern National which is a mix of bourbon, rye, Italian vermouth, cocchi americano, and bitters.
Bayes Southern Bar and Grill
Head down to Orange Beach to Bayes Southern Bar and Grill if you want get away from the tourist traps and just chill. Their “Happiest Hour” starts at 2:00 PM and lasts until 6:00 PM which is plenty of time to enjoy a $4.00 martini, house wine, draft beer, or well drink. Their own creations include a Coconut Mojito and a Cookies n Cream Bushwhacker (yes, please!).
Sunset Pointe at Fly Creek Marina
Well, Panini Pete has done it again with Sunset Pointe in Fairhope. Enjoy a local craft beer or a specialty handcrafted drink (their margaritas are perfection) outside on the patio while you toast that evening’s sunset with fellow guests.
Seriously, what are you doing? Why aren’t you at one of these amazing spots right now? Get out and do some day drinking, pronto. I promise I won’t judge….I’ll just join you.
Father’s Day is right around the corner. It’s a time to celebrate dad and all that he does for you and the family. While a new tie and a personalized watch make for good gifts, there are many more ways to tell dad “I love you.” Whether this is his first Father’s Day or fifteenth, this list is sure to make him feel special.
Give him the day off – He works tirelessly day in and day out to take care of his family. Give him a day (or maybe the whole weekend) free from his fatherly duties. Let him sleep in, have older children take over his chores, leave the handyman jobs for another day – or surprise him by taking care of them yourself! Give dad the day off to kick his feet up and relax.
Do what he wants to do – His favorite pastime may not be your favorite activities, but show him how important he is by doing what he wants to do anyway. Go out fishing, catch a ball game, or maybe leave him alone for some peace and relaxation. Instead of surprising him with a full day planned, ask him what he wants to do.
Remind him why he’s special – Praise the heck out of him today. Let him know that you don’t take for granted his sacrifices and his perseverance. Help your children make specialized cards from them telling him why he’s so important. If you’re really feeling crafty, you can put together a scrapbook of dad moments from the last year – the big, the funny, the emotional, all of them.
Get him talking – What dad doesn’t love to talk about himself and the glory days? Turn off the television and the cell phones and sit around together to talk to dad. Listen as he tells stories of his childhood. Ask him about his goals and what his dreams were when he was a kid. Let him know that you care by really listening to what he’s got to say.
Simple acts of kindness – Even small things can make a person feel special. Make your daily tasks centered around him. You have to eat, so eat dad’s favorite meal for dinner with his favorite dessert. Dad’s car needs washing but he doesn’t have time to do it, so do it for him. Rent his favorite movie or find his favorite game and all play together. The small things let him know that you were thinking of him.
Plan dates – Don’t let Father’s Day be the only day that dad is reminded of your love for him and his importance to the family. Give him a coupon book full of activities that he can cash in on at any time. Plan a romantic date for the two of you and help the kids pick out special activities to do one-on-one with dad. This gift keeps on giving as dad is reminded that he is important on days that aren’t Father’s day, too.
If you were born and raised below the Mason Dixon Line, it’s hard to not cringe when Hollywood tries to do its own interpretation of the south. The bad accents, the actors’ overabundance of sweat (despite what you’ve heard, we do own air conditioners), and the stereotype that southerners aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. Despite the negative light that Tinsel Town sometimes sheds on our part of the country, they do tend to get it right.
This movie is a journey of love, loss and gossip as shown through lives of six southern women in Louisiana in the 1980s. Full of southern sass, watching it is almost like a rite of passage for southern women.
Gone with the Wind
Chances are you’ve probably heard the famous quote, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Well, you should give a damn about this historical southern tale. It beautifully illustrates the life of southern belle Scarlett O’Hara and the struggle of the south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
This six-time Academy Awarding winning southern classic follows the life of a simple Alabama man who seems to find his way into several 20th century historical moments. From Gump’s time as football player at Alabama, his time served in the Vietnam War to owning his own shrimp boat this is touted as one of the best films of all time.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Whether you are from the south or not (and bless your heart if you are not) the book version of this film was probably required reading during summer break. Set in rural Alabama in the 1930s, the story depicts racial inequality in the south as seen through the eyes of a young Jean Louise Finch (Scout).
Fried Green Tomatoes
Food and friendship, oh and a murder. But don’t let that scare you away from this drama about female friendship and the sacrifices people make for their friends. Oscar winners Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy lead this southern journey but we all know the real stars of this film are those fried green tomatoes.
Sweet Home Alabama
Southern darling Reese Witherspoon did the us a favor with this cinematic southern favorite. She showed her natural southern side while proving that Alabama and its people are truly one of a kind. Who can forget the way she politely said, “Look at you, you have a baby…In a bar.”
O, Brother Where Art Thou?
May I be biased for a moment? This movie is a gem. While some may think this is a current adaption of the south, it does give peek into how life was in rural Mississippi during the depression era. Loosely based on Homer’s “The Odyssey”, this film also includes a stellar soundtrack.
So, curl up on the couch with a plate of fried chicken and sweet tea and grab your best Yankee buddy so you can educate them on all that is southern.