The Gulf Coast is so rich in culture, from the shores of South Padre Island, Texas, to the crystal clear waters of South Florida, and everything in between. No matter which area of the Gulf Coast you visit, you will never find a place like the Flora-Bama. This unique beach bar lies on the Florida-Alabama line (hence the name), and offers everything from a fresh batch of raw oysters, phenomenal live music, refreshing drinks, and even two clothes lines full of bras hanging over the main room.
Here are 9 reasons why you NEED to pay a visit to the world famous Flora-Bama.
1. A bar… ON THE BEACH
Honestly, what more could you want out of life? There is nothing more relaxing than laying out on the beach catching some rays, going for a refreshing swim in the Gulf, and then walking up to a bar for an ice-cold Corona or Bushwacker (I’ll explain the Bushwacker in a second).
2. Come as you are
One of the coolest things about the Flora-Bama is that there is no dress code. There are many different kinds of people that walk through the doors. You can walk in dressed like you’re attending a business meeting or walk up in a bathing suit with no shoes and shirt, and nobody will judge you. So, wear whatever the hell you want to wear, and don’t worry about what anybody will think.
3. World Class Seafood and Iconic Drinks
Across the street from the bar itself, you will find the Flora-Bama Yacht Club and the Flora-Bama Ole River Bar & Grill. Before your night out, you can go to either one of these places and enjoy fresh Gulf seafood prepared by some of the best chefs on the Gulf Coast. As far as the drinks go, Flora-Bama’s “Bushwacker” is hard to beat. For those who have never heard of a Bushwacker, it’s a frozen concoction consisting of rum, Kahlua, Crème de Cacao, milk, and ice. As sweet as it sounds, it packs a punch. The old saying is that a few bushwackers will give you the best time you won’t remember.
4. It Survived a Major Hurricane
Hurricane Ivan devastated the Gulf Coast in September 2004. Unfortunately, the Flora-Bama was no exception. Ivan demolished the Flora-Bama, causing it to shut down for the first time in years. However, with the community’s persistence and effort, it was rebuilt and lives on through the hard work of its owners, employees, and patrons. Not many businesses can recover from that type of devastation, but the Flora-Bama did just that.
Flora-Bama is not only a favorite for locals and tourists, but also for several celebrities. Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, Peyton Manning, and the late Kenny Stabler have all been known to frequent the Flora-Bama when visiting the area. Chesney and Buffett have even written and recorded songs about it.
I guarantee you the Flora-Bama is one of the only bars in the country that is also a church. That’s right. When Sunday morning rolls around, they have several church services. Every Sunday morning, the packed house includes locals and tourists. Several months back, I happened to be passing through and stopped in for the service. I sat at the bar, sipping a cold Corona and listening to God’s word. Believe me, there’s no better feeling.
A unique feature of the Flora-Bama is the way that it’s decorated. There’s nothing fancy about it, which makes it so special. A must for first-time visitors is to sign their names on the building. Anywhere. The whole building is covered in signatures, forever engraved by a black sharpie. Another unique feature are the two clothes lines that cross over each other in the main room. These lines are covered with bras. That’s right. Bras. So, for the ladies, if you want to leave your mark at the Flora-Bama, make sure to pack an extra bra for the night. Also, there are license plates from all 50 states lining the walls. It goes to show that no matter what, at least somebody from every state has enjoyed the Flora-Bama.
Flora-Bama holds many events throughout the year. This includes the Polar Bear Plunge in the Gulf on New Years Day, Bulls on the Beach (yes, bull-riding), the Memorial Day Bikini Contest, and most notably, Mullet Toss. The Interstate Mullet Toss is a weekend long party in April that consists of contestants throwing a mullet (the fish, not the hairstyle) across the Florida-Alabama state line. Contestants with the longest throws win prizes, and everybody else is just there for a fun weekend.
9. The People
All of the reasons listed above are very important aspects of the Flora-Bama. However, nothing makes the Flora-Bama what it is more so than the people that patronize it. Everybody—the owners, employees, and the patrons—all make this place what it is. I’ve spent many weekends at the Flora-Bama and have made new friends every time I’ve been there. You never know who you will meet. There is such a huge variety of people. From college kids to senior citizens, there is a place for everybody at the Flora-Bama. Everybody is there for one reason: to enjoy life together in paradise.