Alabama’s Redneck Riviera

The hardest thing about writing today’s blog was finding a picture to include. For some reason, we’ve never taken a lot of pictures during any of our stays at Alabama’s Redneck Riviera. Actually the reason is pretty clear, and it involves countless attempts at perfecting frozen margaritas and roosters (recipe below).

As we said in last Saturday’s blog, we’ve spent a lot of time here. We might be a bit biased, but we think (and lots of people will agree with us, we know) these beaches are among the best in the world. The 15 miles or so of white sand and surf here are nicknamed the “Redneck Riviera” because, if you stay during the high season, you’re guaranteed by the local chamber of commerce to run into either Jeff Foxworthy or Larry the Cable Guy during your stay.

Ok, not really. But you will go home a little more tanned and with a smile on your face. “Redneck Riviera” simply refers to this little slice of beachy heaven being situated in the heart of Dixie. In particular, it’s the stretch of beach on Alabama’s Gulf of Mexico shoreline to the east of Mobile Bay. The communities of the Redneck Riviera, from west to east, are Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and the unincorporated area of Perdido Beach. Gulf Shores is the older, more established, of the three, and in fact the whole area is often called “Gulf Shores”. Orange Beach is the big condo community, with everything from beach houses and high-rises available for rent. Perdido is the least developed area, and its semi-official city hall is the Florabama bar of Jimmy Buffet fame.

Speaking of Jimmy Buffet, if you aren’t familiar with his music, you likely will be by the time you leave the Redneck Riviera. His big hit (from 1977) is “Margaritaville”: if that doesn’t jog your memory, well then, we got nothing other than pointing out that Jimmy is one of the top grossing performers of all time, a big-time entrepreneur, and a globally idolized country/caribbean crooner. He grew up just across the bay, so this beach helped define who he is, making it the center of the Parrothead (what Jimmy Buffet fans call themselves) universe. To visit these beaches (did we mention we think they’re among the best in the world?) you’re required to know the lyrics to “Margaritaville”: it’s an Alabama state law. But don’t worry, we’ll include the lyrics below.

For quite a few years, we had block parties at Orange Beach. By that I mean literally everyone on our street would pick up and head down to the Redneck Riviera for a long weekend to a full week; sometimes we did this a couple of times a season. It was easy, of course, because we lived on a cul-de-sac of only 3 houses, but still…we frequently also had extended friends and family join us. We have more great memories from these trips than we can relate, but two seem worth mentioning:

? There was the time Chuck learned to make margaritas. If any of our readers think they make great margaritas, you got nothing on Chuck: just challenge him to a margarita-making contest. One day at Orange Beach, he meticulously developed his recipe, batch by batch, sampling and taste-testing each one to achieve frozen concoction perfection. Each batch, surprisingly enough, was better than the last, the whole exercise ending with him and neighbor Lisa dancing in the back of a pickup truck. That’s all we have to say about that.

? Another time, the teen daughter of a friend, and one of her friends, joined us at Orange Beach a few days late because they had a dance performance back home before they could leave. When they arrived–the great, supportive adults that we are–we encouraged them to show us their dance routine. Now, understand that the condo that we were staying in at the time was one of those big, concrete high-rises and our unit had tile floors. Also understand that the girl’s routine was a tap dancing routine. And finally understand that there were people beneath us. See where I’m going with this? We’ve always wondered if the people below us, just before they beat on the ceiling, asked, “What they hell are they doing? Tap dancing??”

If you are considering a visit to the Redneck Riviera, the best time to go starts in April and continues to September, but know that this is also high season. Fall and winter can be great times to go, but it’ll be cool enough to shorten your beach time. There are hotel options, but we recommend looking for a beachside condo on

Lisa, we miss you guys: how about we all get together this summer like old times?

How to make roosters
1 fifth of vodka, your choice
2 quart carton of orange juice
1 64-oz bottle of cranberry juice
– The evening before your beach-going, pour it all into a big bowl and stick it in the freezer. The next morning scoop it into a container suitable to take to the beach and enjoy it like a big-people’s slushy.

Margaritaville, by Jimmy Buffet

Nibblin’ on sponge cake,
Watchin the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin’ my six-string
On my front porch swing;
Smell of shrimp, they’re beginning to boil.

Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,
But I know it’s nobody’s fault.

Don’t know the reason,
Stayed here all season,
With nothing to show but this brand new tattoo.
But it’s a real beauty,
A Mexican cutie;
How it got here I haven’t a clue.

Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,
Now I think: hell, it could be my fault.

I blew out my flip-flop,
Stepped on a pop-top,
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.
But there’s booze in the blender,
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.

Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,
But I know: it’s my own damn fault.







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