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Friday, November 20, 2015

People at the Gulf Coast Version of “L.A.” Are Living Their Dreams

32 miles of sugar-white beaches make the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach a premier tourist destination.

Lucy Buffett, younger sister of Jimmy, had to first experience living in another L.A. to truly appreciate the sweet comfort of an entirely different L.A. where the Buffett family hails from.  The Lower Alabama version of  “L.A.“ is magnolia trees, crab boils, tire swings, and the dolphins of Mobile Bay.  Southern hospitality has always been the way here, but after the BP oil spill threatened to put a dent in the area’s tourism trade, the towns and their great people have worked hard to show the world that the beaches and the sea life were never damaged to the extent that the media portrayed it.  In this L.A., you will always feel welcome and your hosts make certain to show you how much they appreciate your business.

Whether you call Los Angeles or Dallas home, a trip here gets you to thinking that Lucy and the other interesting locals know more than most of us about the way to live life. The cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and the unincorporated area of Fort Morgan all play a part in making this a family-friendly destination.

Getting out on the waterways not only provide many fun activities
for the tourists, but also an opportunity to be educated about the
 birds, fish and wildlife as well as the flora and fauna.
With 32 miles of sugar-white beaches and comfortable year-round temperatures, the area has been voted by Facebook fans of The Weather Channel as the best kid-friendly beach, and the National Resources Defense Council named two of its local beaches among its list of top 12 five-star vacation beach destinations for water quality. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is a favorite area among beach-goers, fishermen, golfers, shoppers, nature-lovers, bird-watchers and Civil War history buffs, and the gulf seafood and Southern cooking alone would be reason enough to make a trip.

Bob and Patty Hallmark have pursued their dream with a small, casual yet romantic setting in the sleepy fishing village of Bon Secour. Our first taste of the Royal Reds, the sweetest of all shrimp, was here at the Tin Top Restaurant and Oyster Bar. These vibrant red shrimp live in the cold dark depths where the gently sloping bottom of the Gulf drops abruptly off the continental shelf. It takes a specialized fishing crew to harvest them from over a half mile below the surface. We dined al fresco on a Spanish-moss covered patio, sipping Bloody Mary’s made with vodka infused with olives, peppers and garlic and sampled oysters prepared various ways including raw as well as baked and sautéed. The oysters and other seafood entrees prepared with a New Orleans flair were succulent, however our waiter insisted that we would be equally impressed with a steak entree, and he was right. While the wine list would have made the grade at a restaurant in the “other L.A.,” sides including fresh collard greens, fried green tomatoes, gouda cheese grits and seasoned lima beans with Andouille sausage and fried okra and desserts including traditional bread pudding with a whisky sauce and key lime pie reminded us that we were still deep in the South.

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