My Visit to a Legendary Roadhouse: Flora-Bama Lounge
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
There are certain days and events that are forever imprinted into my memory; the day I graduated from college, watching a school of manta rays glide by while scuba diving in Hawaii, the days my children were born, and the first time I went to the Flora-Bama Lounge.
On my first visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, I fell in love with the sugar-white sand beaches and warm Gulf waters. But after all day on the beach or deep sea fishing, I often didn't have the energy to go out after dinner. My friends did though and they came back telling fun stories of their night(s) at the Flora-Bama. If you've never been, this legendary beach bar is a MUST see when you're in the area. It's a restaurant, bar, live music space with something happening every night of the week, and is home to the famous Bushwacker (alcoholic frozen drink). Some of the stories you'll hear about this place are true and some may be stretched just a bit.
On my next visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, I made it my mission to visit the Flora-Bama. I was determined to get there one night, try one of those legendary Bushwackers, and listen to some live music. That first visit was anything but ordinary. That night there was something a little extra, cowboys and bulls. Right there next to the main building, under the spotlights, were professional bull riders trying to hold on for eight seconds while fans cheered them on from nearby stands. In early September, Flora-Bama hosts the annual Bulls on the Beach, a professional bull riding event that benefits St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
Walking up to the Flora-Bama, there was an area of beach set up for the bull riding event. Instead of watching the riders, a group of us headed inside to the bar and ordered Bushwackers. A local recommended adding a shot of Butterscotch Schnapps and so I did. It was like having a Wendy’s chocolate Frosty and a butterscotch dipped ice cream cone all in one. It was really good, but it was strong! While waiting for everyone else, I watched the woman that was up on stage. She was part musician, part comedian and she really knew how to get the crowd involved.
During the night, my group walked around to see all the different music stages and finally settled outside near a huge white tent. There we met up with a few more friends and then it happened, that thing that I will NEVER forget. While we were all outside there comes a clip-clop, clip-clop sound from behind me. I turn around and see a cowboy riding his horse up a ramp and next to where we were. He stops often to take pictures with people and let the ladies pet his horse. After he passes us, someone hands him a beer and he proceeds to go into the tent where the crowd goes wild! The music starts up, the cowboy starts dancing while in the saddle, and a sea of cell phone screens light up to record it.
My picture may be grainy and a tad bit blurry, but I have proof that on my first visit to the Flora-Bama Lounge, I saw a cowboy ride his horse into a bar and start dancing. You just can’t make up a tale like that. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.