Keg and Barrel’s grub gurus sizzle up a selection of hearty pub fare, and its tap masters furnish chalices with sudsy selections from onsite Southern Prohibition Brewery and from hop-houses around the country, earning the drink haven a spot as one of Draft Magazine ’s top beer bars in America for 2010 and 2011. While perusing the list brimming with 55 on-tap beers and more than 40 bottled brews, nosh on an order of fried green tomatoes ($7) or chips and homemade salsa ($5). Then move on to more substantial spreads, such as the traditional fish ‘n’ chips ($8) or a selection from the bevy of burgers, seafood, and salads. John Neal’s chicken and waffles, much like a Pop Tart–flavored Hot Pocket, fuses the tastes of breakfast and dinner for a distinctive dining experience ($7), and the Sweet and Smokey sandwich lassos together turkey breast, provolone, and granny-smith apples between cinnamon-raisin bread for a highly inventive take on a traditional deli staple ($8). The knowledgeable staffers provide suggestions for beer pairings, helping patrons to find the perfect complement for any meal, from the wasabi-crusted tuna ($15) to a bag of smuggled-in fruit snacks.
Combining entertainment, information, and breath-taking views, Cruise Orange Beach's captains take passengers to the waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast for an afternoon of adventure. The captains helm two 50-foot vessels?the Ann-Sea and Dolphin-Fun?ferrying passengers of all ages on fun-filled cruises that might result in sightings of leaping dolphins and sunbathing krakens. Best of all, midway through the trip, the crews pull the two boats side by side and incite a water war. Armed with water cannons, kids and adults alike soak the opposing group?or their own leader if they've declared mutiny?in a spirited water fight. Passengers will even get a chance to handle a live blue crab plucked from one of the scattered crab traps before returning to shore.
Although these sightseeing trips comprise most of Cruise Orange Beach's outings, the captains also offer private charters for visitors looking to scuba dive, parasail, or view the sunset while bobbing in the water.
One hour from New Orleans, Splendor Farms sits on 75 acres near the Bogue Chitto River. The working farm houses goats, horses, chickens, and a miniature-long-haired-dachshund kennel; guests can gather eggs and pick vegetables from the garden or just relax by the pool. Each of the bed and breakfast’s rooms has a private entrance and its own personality—the Ponderosa room has a distinct cowboy theme, with Western prints on the walls and an equestrian quilt, whereas La Louisiane is more romantic, with flowers and candles scattered around the room.
Every morning, you’ll wake up to a farm-hearty breakfast, with eggs, grits, and bacon making regular appearances on the menu. After eating your fill, head outside to visit the farm’s petting zoo, which has friendly miniature horses, alpacas, and burros. In nearby Covington, five-star restaurants abound, as do art galleries, bookstores, and boutiques.
Although Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.
Members of Freedom Boat Club enjoy the luxury of captaining their own aquatic excursions without the maintenance and storage hassles of owning a boat. Outings begin with a boat-orientation course, during which an experienced captain teaches students key nautical skills such as tying knots, docking in the wind, and navigating by the position of a half-eaten sandwich that kind of looks like the Big Dipper. Once skippers feel comfortable commanding a water chariot, they take to the seas for a day of sailing along with up to six additional guests. With the trial membership, boaters can choose any available Hurricane deck boat, inshore fishing boat, or pontoon. Hop aboard Orange Beach's 21-foot Hurricane 2100 to cut through the water on the strength of a 150-hp engine or commandeer Perdido Key's Sweetwater 2486 pontoon boat to benefit from a deck-top canopy in the event that a witch's curse makes it rain salamanders.
Captain Curtis Bush practically grew up on the waters running from Dauphin Island to Pensacola. He spent his youth fishing the Gulf and learning to navigate the artificial reefs. As the owner and captain of Max Drag Charters, he now shares this passion with small groups of individuals seeking to enjoy a half- or full-day excursion out on the waters, where deep-sea fishing and soothing ocean views provide a welcome escape from everyday landlocked life. Passengers can sink into the vessel's padded seats as they relax with a drink and patiently wait to reel in a sizable red snapper?the area's most prominent fish?or anything from a spotted seatrout to a cobia. Every excursion includes full access to the bait and tackle and assistance cleaning any catches.