Fun Way To The Florida Beaches

| July 6, 2009 @ 12:58 pm | 27 Replies

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

Randy Coleman
Gardendale and formerly Milwaukee, Wis.”

Fwd: best routes to beaches


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Category: Pre-November 2010 Posts

About the Author ()

James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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  1. SPridmore says:

    I’ll have to give this one a shot. The I-65/85/Taylor Road/231/167/79 method is so etched into my brain that I think I could drive down without looking at the signs now. And the constant speed changes are a nightmare. All for different scenery.

  2. Patrick in Riverchase says:

    Good to know that Butt’s BBQ is open on FIRdays.

  3. Becky says:

    It is the way we always go. We lived at Grayton Beach for 4 years and learned early on how to beat the traffic. It is a beautiful, peaceful and easy drive.

  4. Cheryl Sandlin says:

    Love the sign! We really enjoy getting off the beaten path….will have to try this route.

  5. Ann says:

    I think this is the route we took the last year. My navigator (i.e., husband) got lost and I thought we would NEVER get to the beach.

  6. Acid Reign says:

    …..It just so happens that I’m headed down to FWB Saturday! I’ve got passengers, though, who would revolt if they don’t get their traditional Subway lunch in Andalusia. Yeah, I know…

    …..I’ve been doing the I-65 to Georgiana thing, for many years. Honestly, the worst traffic is usually right here in Birmingham, from Lakeshore through the I-459 interchange. Montgomery is bad, too. Lots of construction. I guess their county isn’t broke!

    …..The biggest difference in my route is that I don’t go through Florala. In Andalusia, highway 55 ends in a T intersection with US 29. We take 29 southwest, through Carolina, and take a left onto Alabama 137, and head south through the Conecuh National Forest. 137 becomes Florida 189. 189 ends up dumping onto US 90, heading east just a couple of miles outside of Crestview, Florida. In Crestview, we hang a right onto Florida 85 south, and it’s 30 miles to Ft. Walton! Time to get excited!

  7. Jamey says:

    Here is a link to a Google map with this route (I used tiny url b/c the google maps link was huge)

  8. Randy Coleman says:

    Acid, I know your route. I used that way even before the 4 lane was built between Georgiana and Andalusia. The only thing I don’t like about it is that Georgiana PD loves to sit along 106 between 65 and 31 and the two lane stretch between Andalusia and AL 137 has few places to pass slow traffic. Do you use the bypass of Crestview that is just about a mile after turning onto 90 before going into Crestview? It comes out on 85 south of Crestview. When I first started using that route (Georgiana to FWB/Destin) it seemed I had the road to myself, but now everyone seems to use it. I’m sure the route I described will change too. There was only one car following me along the entire route from DeFuniak Springs to Brantley on Saturday and hardly any oncoming traffic at all. And I thought everyone knew about AL 97 between Highland Home and I-65, but northbound Saturday, of about 10 cars clustered together, I was the only one who took 97. The rest stayed on 331 north.

  9. Acid Reign says:

    …..Load a 4 cylinder compact 4 door up with two adults and two teenagers, and you won’t have to worry much about speed traps! My only experience with law enforcement in that area was about 12 years ago, when we hit a pile of roofing nails. The Red Level Policemen were great! Got us hooked up with a service guy, and back on the road in less than an hour.

    …..Yes, I use that bypass. Speeds the way pretty well! 85 can be kind of confusing, so I didn’t put that in my route description. It’s really easy on the way back home, to not pay attention and end up driving right into Eglin Air Force Base!

  10. Randy Coleman says:

    Red Level and McKenzie, two very small towns. Before the new 4 lane was built you had to go directly thru both of them. But now we have the 4 lane “Crum Foshee Highway” to get us to Andalusia. I keep hearing that the 4 lane is gonna be extended to Georgiana to connect to I 65 but it may not happen in my lifetime.

  11. Randy Coleman says:

    Acid, one more thing…55 ends at a T with US 84 at the small community of River Falls, which, by turning left goes to Andalusia and you pick up 29 south there. Sorry to be a stickler, I knew what you meant, but if someone uses that route the first time and get to the end of 55 and wonder where is 29 is…..

  12. You don’t need to drive that far for a drunk chicken, BBQ one at home!

  13. mmiklik says:

    My sister did a photo story with Huntsville paper years ago, and they did the whole Hwy 31 trip from HSV to the beach. Some of the areas she tooks picts in were very nice and rural.. I recently took Hwy 31 back from the beaches to re-route from I-65 due to road construction and got off at the Owasa exit, and took 31 back up to Greenville. One little town that was quaint was Evergreen, and then there is a stretch of just about nothing but flat country side, but it was a nice devation from the interstate if only for alittle while. I also have been down to the Highland Home area south of MTG as well and that is such a quaint drive and a nice little community. It’s nice to sometimes get off the beaten path to explore new places and the state you lived in..

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