And now back to our Gulf Coast adventure.
After pulling away from Seaside, we hugged the shoreline to Pensacola and finally exited Florida along Highway 98. It was my first time in Alabama. I’m not sure what I was anticipating, but I was unprepared for the beautiful farmland that glowed golden in the late afternoon light. We were headed to a tiny town called Magnolia Springs. It sits along the banks of the lazy, winding Magnolia River. I had chosen this town after seeing a B&B with small-time charm that edged out the bigger hotels/resorts closer to Mobile. Later, when hosts David Worthington & Eric Bigelow asked why we picked Magnolia Springs, I only had one thought: the view from their porch fit perfectly into my fantasy of a small town in the South! Never having set foot in Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana, I’ll embarassingly admit, all my expectations were born out of watching movies. After glimpsing the beautiful alley of live oaks and I read on to discover Jesse’s (one of only 4 restaurants in Alabama listed in the James Beard Restaurant directory) is within walking distance. I was sold on Magnolia Springs.
This was our home for the night: The Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast. I am obsessed with front porches and in the South they are always spacious and generously-appointed places to take in nature, without sacrificing creature comforts.
My favorite visitor on the porch: the cat, Miss Snickers! From the front porch railing, she kept a vigilant eye on the peacocks and other wildlife wandering onto the property.
Owners David & Eric will tell you all about the history of this property. Especially the daunting, but loving, restoration undertaken to save its unique features and turn it from a home to a functioning B&B.
BED: We were the only guests on a Thursday night and stayed in the Mclennan room on the first floor.
BREAKFAST: A three-course affair masterfully prepared and served by David. Back here in Connecticut, we don’t see grits very often and of course these were slow-cooked and thankfully served in reasonable-sized portions. I could have eaten a lot more. If you’re feeling ambitious, the recipe for our slice of the hash brown bake is available on B&B website.
Before this trip, I never properly grasped the concept of Southern Hospitality. After meeting many gracious and generous locals, this trip to the South finally rewarded me with first-hand enlightenment.
A short walk from the B&B is the local Episcopal chapel, Moore Bros. Village Market and fine dining at Jesse’s restuarant. Both businesses are owned by locally-born & raised Charlie Houser and his wife Janie.
Because I hadn’t done much research after booking the B&B, I had no idea that the Magnolia River would figure so prominently into our visit… Or that this calm, but winding body of water would appear frequently at the end of roads and between glimpses through the trees. Magnolia Springs has the last year-round mail delivery in the United States and I do believe its mail carrier has one of the most beautiful workplaces you can imagine.
Some experiences on vacation are so wonderful, you remember them long after you return home. I’m confident I’ll never forget our morning walk in Magnolia Springs. A cold front had blown through and it was chilly, perhaps still in the 50s. After the heat and humidity of Florida, we found this temperature just perfect for a Fall morning. The warm light bathed the treetops and we scouted the neighborhood to see how many different views of the river we could find.
Many of the homes in Magnolia Springs have garage-like structures for all manner of watercraft. Oh, how I wished I could have taken a boat ride along the Magnolia River!! We were stuck on the shore, any hopes of a marine adventure relegated to a daydream.
One final view, along the appropriately named Oak Street.
Magnolia Springs is a special place. And it’s set up perfectly for visitors!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have any time to explore the Alabama coast or to visit nearby Fairhope or Mobile, we had a date with the Big Easy.
Next up in our Gulf trip adventure: New Orleans at Halloween.