Long time readers are aware of my “Spann’s Best Way To The Bama Beaches” series here…
Thanks to Randy Coleman for this suggestion for a ride down to the Florida beaches on the roads less traveled…
“James, I know you enjoy finding and taking rural and unexplored routes to the beaches (particulary Gulf Shores and Orange Beach).
I recently tried a new variation of getting to the PCB and Destin areas. Most travelers use US231 to PC, AL167/FL79 to PCB, US 331 to PCB and Destin, and more and more use I65 to Georgiana, then US 31/AL55 to Andalusia, US 29/AL 139/FL189 to Crestview and then FL 85 to FWB/Destin.
My new route is a very rural one that I think many travelers will enjoy as well as being less traveled but may actually be quicker (or at the very least the same travel time).
You and I are about the same age, so you remember the days when I65 ended at exit 186 north of Prattville and all southbound traffic had to use US 31 thru Prattville and then to the two lane western bypass of Montgomery that ended at the intersection with South Boulevard.
With the current reconstruction of I65 in Montgomery, I decided to take the old route for the first time in decades and enjoyed reliving old memories passing thru Prattville, then over the Alabama River (the old metal bridges over the river have long since been replaced), then turning right onto the still two lane road (now US31) that swings around the western edge of Montgomery, then on down US31 past the HQ of Montgomery Coca Cola and the new Winn Dixie warehouse (the old one used to be on the riverfront in downtown Montgomery) and thru Hope Hull and Pintlala (where Ray Scott used to host the first President Bush for bass fishing ) and on to Davenport crossroads.
Then south on AL 97 for nine miles to Highland Home (home of Highland Home High School) with their unique nickname “The Flying Squadron”….then following the traditional beach route of US331 thru Luverne and Brantley. However, just south of Brantley, turn left onto AL 141..about a mile south on AL 141 is a crossroads that until about 1970 was where US331 was routed. This was known as the “dead right” because US 331 traffic south had to turn right to head towards Opp, while AL 141 began there and went straight.
Around 1970, ALDOT built a new stretch for US331 which bypassed and eliminated the need for the intersection. Continue south on AL 141 and you will see some fabulous open farm country and a very good, very wide two lane road. Just west of Elba (the town that has had so many floods over the years), AL 141 intersects AL 166 at Danley’s Crossroads, stay straight on AL 141 and cross over US 84 between Elba and Opp, then AL141 ends southwest of Elba when it intersects AL 189. Turn right onto AL 189 and continue thru some fabulous farm country and cross thru the community of Perry Store…which is nothing more than a four way stop with AL134 that connects Opp and Enterprise. The community is named for the store on the corner called Perry Store. The building is still there but appears not to be in business.
Stay on AL 189 south to Kinston, Alabama where the route intersects with AL 52. There is still a railbed here with unused tracks that run from Opp towards Samson. Turn left onto AL 52 and go about eight miles. Again a very good road with some nice farming areas and during the day you might see Army helicopters buzzing around from Fort Rucker. The countryside of southeast Alabama is dotted with helicopter landing areas, many in the middle of agricultural fields. Just before reaching Samson, turn right onto AL 153 and head due south toward DeFuniak Springs, Fl. Just before crossing the Florida line there is a BBQ Smokehouse that is only open Friday-Sunday. They have a hilarious road sign (although they misspelled the abbreviation for Friday as Fir.) Once over the line, the route becomes FL83 and ends up in the center of DeFuniak Springs, only one block away from US331.
From there, depending on your ultimate destination, you are about 30 minutes away from Destin, PCB, Seaside, and other coastal towns. I really enjoyed this ride. Very little traffic, no loss in travel time, a great ride in my convertible, and some nice scenery.
I know this note got a little long winded but if you ever go to NW Fla beaches, you oughta consider this trip. Once south of Brantley the next traffic light is in DeFuniak Springs. I’ve attached a photo of the BBQ stand that you might enjoy
Gardendale and formerly Milwaukee, Wis.”
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Category: Pre-November 2010 Posts