What you should do When Visiting Perdido Key, Florida…
By Chris Warner, longtime resident and author of “Bushwhacked at the Flora-Bama,” the History of the Iconic Watering Hole and Fun Epicenter
September 27, 2021
I came here twelve years ago with a challenging assignment—write a history of the fabled honky-tonk roadhouse on the Alabama-Florida Line, the World-Famous Flora-Bama Lounge & Package Store, and capture what makes the remote barrier island so special—and such a sought after destination for good times, fun people and great music. Twelve years later, still here, I’ve realized that Perdido Key is so revered because it’s a beautiful place with terrific people, many fun, outdoor recreational activities and regular featured events and unique, live music attractions that keep everyone coming back to its baby powder beaches dotted with soft, sagging sea oats, its magnificent postcard sunsets and its enviable night life boasting live music by some of the best singer-songwriting entertainers in the grueling business.
No longer exclusively the sleepy fishing village and extended weekend family getaway, Perdido Key has become home to many Americans fleeing the Midwest’s unrelenting harsh winters, making the area more diverse and cosmopolitan, in recent years. One need only check the license plates in the area to realize that at any given time of the year, the island is an American Mecca for curious, fun-seeking tourists; as well as for returning repeat visitors in the proverbial know. Word of mouth testimonials have called many of these Bohemian fun-finders to the fabulous vacation atmosphere Perdido Key provides to singles, couples and families, year-round.
Here are my recommendations for Perdido Key visitors young and old:
1. National Naval Aviation Museum – Located at the United States Naval Air Station in nearby Warrington, it is open daily and there is no cost to citizens. Show your driver’s license at the gate, park for FREE and enjoy FREE admission into one of the best military aviation museums in the world: a large, air-conditioned hangar containing hundreds of vintage warships, flight simulators and several interactive historical displays.
2. Bingo at the Flora-Bama – The Flora-Bama has FREE bingo daily, Monday thru Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. under the big beige circus ten out back—called by “Bingo Sam” Morgan, a unique and lively veteran bingo caller known for his knee-slapping jokes and entertaining, down-home appeal. Prizes awarded to winners include but are not limited to a complimentary bushwhacker, cocktail or beer.
3. Dinner at Fisherman’s Corner – Located under the eastern side of the Baar Bridge, this demure, affordable Creole-Italian seafood eatery is a local favorite and features excellent fish, shrimp and crab dishes prepared with a delectable New Orleans flair. Wine and beer served.
4. Live Music Daily at the Flora-Bama – If you are a fan of American music, you can enjoy a live set or two in the early afternoons or evenings at the World-Famous Flora-Bama, starting normally by 2:00 p.m. on most days, and noon on weekends. Visit the music schedule online at florabama.com, for more information about music times and performers.
5. A Late Lunch at Hub Stacey’s on Innerarity Point Road – This go-to for locals offers no seafood; but it has some of the best bar sandwiches you’ll ever find, cheap drink prices and live music in the late afternoons. It’s ramshackle construction and open-air feel remind many of the Caribbean, as it sits on a large, public boat dock and parking lot on the Intracoastal Canal, and is adjacent to a brand new park for kids, with many different and varied sets of play equipment.
6. Dinner and Bluegrass Music at the Original Point Restaurant on Friday Nights – Located a stone’s throw from Hub’s, The Point has been in business for over 30 years and is known for its seafood entrees, great service and live bluegrass music inside on Friday nights. In recent years The Point has featured live music on its outdoor courtyard stage, weather permitting. Check website for concert information.
7. Fishing/Sunbathing at Johnson Beach – Named for Escambia County’s first black soldier to die in the Korean War, the FREE public beach, open daily, was at one time designated “colored only.” Today, the popular local beach is designated for anyone’s enjoyment. Nearby is the gate to the Perdido Key Gulf Islands National Seashore Park, which requires an admission fee or the purchase of a reasonable season pass, payable at the vehicle gate station.
8. Play a Round of Golf at Lost Key Golf Course – Nicknamed “Lost Ball” for its difficulty, this challenging 18-hole course is as picturesque as it is competitive, attracting some of the area’s best golfers. The surrounding resort has its own gulf Beach Club—across from the main, front entrance on Perdido Key Drive—and its open to the public for food and drinks. Catch a sunset after an early round—or two.
9. Witness a Big Earl Show on the Bama Dome Stage on Friday or Saturday nights at 5:30 – Jack Robertson wasn’t always famous. Before he became his alter-ego, the unflappable, opportunistic, equal-opportunity-offender, “Big Earl,” the Dardanelle, Arkansas native was an aspiring Nashville superstar. See the act that has made him thousands through the years. You won’t regret—or forget it.
10. Spend the Day at the Flora-Bama – Called the place “where you wipe your feet on the way out” this world-famous dive bar and revered honk-tonk is a bona fide bucket lister, and one of the greatest places ever to watch people. The gift shop opens at 9:00 a.m. Bar and grill open at 11:00. Try your luck at bingo, listen to live music in the Main Room, the Bama Dome, the Tent Stage or on the beach, or catch a sunset on the observation deck. Open till 2:00 a.m. on most weekends, especially during summertime.
So there it is—my list of things you should do while in Perdido Key, Florida. Anything beach-related is always good, as the beach changes with the weather and the tides, offering up something new with every few passing hours. Perdido Key is a tremendous spot for shell seekers, and it is always best a day or two after turbulent weather. Nevertheless, one can find fresh shell deposits near the high tide line each morning, and sometimes at the low line in the afternoon, depending on the time of year.
Perdido Key, Florida is a beautiful spot for recreational outdoor fun, food, exceptional night life and a great live music vibe for individuals, couples or families looking to relax and recharge. Air service is available at nearby Pensacola Airport, less than an hour from Perdido Key, and in Mobile, which is a little over an hour, at 75 minutes.
*Chris Warner is the author and publisher of over 20 books, including “Bushwhacked at the Flora-Bama,” with Joe Gilchrist, Flora-Bama Patriarch; as well as three novels set in Perdido Key, a Flora-Bama cookbook, a collection of quotes from the scribbled walls and two kids’ books, among several other titles, unrelated.
Visit his web page to learn more: chriswarnerauthor.com
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