NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The Gulf Coast is more than a hot spring break destination; it is a cool place to visit anytime of the year.
A full two years after the BP oil spill, which led President Obama to encourage Americans to come to the Gulf during summer travel to support its residents, the southern stretch of sand, sea, gator and dolphin is still a great place to visit. Mainstreet has compiled a list of 5 unexpected Gulf Coast destinations and ways to make the most of the underexplored, time-traveling charms of this region:
Magnolia Springs, Alabama
What to do: This is a different kind of Gulf Coast town as there aren’t white sandy beaches -- though those aren’t far away -- but this quaint southern town is sure to help you rest and relax. You can begin your day in this “Mayberry” like town slow and easy, taking a walk down the main road lined with magnificent oaks. If it is spring or summer, the smell of magnolias fill the air.
This is an especially great place for Civil War buffs as the town permeates with history of the War Between the States. If you’re into railroad history, take a short drive to Foley and visit the Foley Alabama Railroad Museum and L&N Train Depot. The huge model train display set in a small town delights young and old alike.
Beaches, museums, golf, shopping and just about anything you want to do can be found within a short driving distance.
Where to eat: "Take out" is a dining option too often overlooked on vacation. Take a short walk to Moore’s Grocery, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the neighborhood grocery of yesteryear.
Where to stay: The Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast makes for a wonderful romantic inn getaway and one of the best parts about this B&B is that breakfast is served at your convenience during specified hours in the morning and you can sit at a table just for two. Rates at the B&B range from $149 per night. Special packages are available. Spend an afternoon with a good sweet tea on the wrap around porch at the B&B and enjoy a good book.