Ranked the best beach bar in the country for so many years, and by so many outlets, that we can’t even count — and even ranked 14th in the world recently — words don’t do justice to the lowbrow glory of the Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar in Orange Beach, situated on the Perdido Key.
It’s fitting that Flora-Bama is on Perdido: Perdido means “lost” in Spanish. And there are few better places to lose an afternoon, a night, a weekend than at the Flora-Bama.
Called “America’s last great honky-tonk,” the Flora-Bama is home to its world famous Bushwacker boozy milkshake, an equally-famous Mullet Toss, and its even more infamous den of iniquities and sins. If there’s a vice you need sated, then this little slice of Gomorrah in the Gulf has you covered. The oysters are also excellent, if you get a hankering for something besides pretzels
And, if you love live music, then the Flora-Bama may be the best place in the region for it, and is among the best in the country. Like Waffle House, Flora-Bama never closes — they’ve got five stages and host live bands 365 days a year: from rock, to roots country, to honky tonk, to modern bro country, to dance party DJs.
Like so many great dives, it is a place where the rich, the famous, the infamous, and the regular shlub rub elbows on equal footing. At the Flora-Bama, there are no kings and no masters: everyone can join in the hi-jinx. Even good ole’ Kenny Chesney has sung its praises — and threw one helluva free party on the beach at the Flora-Bama.
Why? He was promoting his new record at the time, but the free concert and song for Flora-Bama were his way of saying “thank you” to for keeping an icon of beach kitsch and a monument to debauchery, true to itself.
In today’s safe, sterile, corporatized world, the continued success of the Flora-Bama stands out for remaining true to its hell raising roadhouse roots; a place where the fun comes with a dash of danger, the unexpected, and more than a little potential for something crazy to happy. It can’t help but be that way. Inside that compound come people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, with all sorts of personality types, and all there for different reasons — or, rather, a few specific reasons arrived at by very different means. This is one of the truest melting pots in the nation, the seedy, sinful, joyous underbelly of the American Dream.
That said, the Flora-Bama isn’t for everyone. It’s not Sunday school, that’s for sure. And it’s not necessarily a bar for the novice partier. But what you encounter in that wall-to-wall pine shrine is not just a throwback to the roadhouses of old or just another special bar: The Flora-Bama creates memories. It is a living, breathing testimony to all those spring breaks, bad beach decisions, and fond Gulf Shores vacations that you have ever had, that you listened to with envy or horror, that you dreamt of having...or maybe that you are even working on creating as we speak.
For so many reasons, the Flora-Bama is truly one of the sites on our 100 Things list that needs no introduction.
So, the next time you’re down on the Gulf, head on over to the Flora-Bama, grab a Bushwhacker, have some fun, and be careful...
Just not too careful.
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Now, tell us your best Flora-Bama story. We will assume these comments may be NSFW.