Come on Down to The Flora-Bama
A visit to the iconic honky-tonk the Flora-Bama has been a rite of passage for Alabama and Florida locals as well as vacationing southerners since the 1960’s. Despite hurricanes and high-rises it is still going strong.
This famous bar is consistently named as one of the best beach bars in the United States.
I can say with certainty that it is the best place in the US to have a drink in two states at the same time. As the name gives away, the Flora-Bama straddles the Florida and Alabama state lines on a gorgeous stretch of beach.
Come on Down to the Flora-Bama
The bar itself looks a little crazy in the best way. Like driftwood managed to magically pile itself together into a structure fit for human habitation.
The Flora-Bama is a large wooden building that you can enter from either the roadside parking lot or from the beach via a long boardwalk. Inside you discover a confusing jumble of rooms, stages, bars, stairs, and hallways. It is like a maze…but with cocktails.
Was this intentional or were the rooms simply added haphazardly over the years? Probably a little bit of both. The Flora-Bama was almost destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, but was eventually rebuilt using most of the materials from the original bar.
The decor is one hundred percent fun and festive. You will find a wall of license plates from all over the US, graffiti on almost every surface, stairs going in all directions, and decks with views to the ocean.
Interestingly, there is a room where a clothesline hangs above the heads of the partiers. Over this line hundreds of bras and bikini tops have been flung. One presumes that more are added regularly on a crazy Saturday night.
Some of the rooms are open to the sky, some are open air but covered, some are enclosed and air-conditioned, and some have balconies.
You will also find tables and a stage right on the beach.
I highly suggest you take a walk through the entire place when you visit.
So how did the Flora-Bama come to be?
It was originally constructed in 1964 just after the highway that connects Orange Beach, AL with Perdido Key, FL was completed.
So here’s what happened:
Alabama was gifted 2 miles of beach front in return for the construction of a bridge across Perdido Key. This created a new state line and the Tampary family decided to build a small bar and package store right on that line.
In its early days the establishment was practically the only thing in the area but the new highway quickly brought both traffic and visitors. The Flora-Bama is now surrounded by high rise condos.
There are now 4 co-owners of the bar. They say on their website that they are carrying on the tradition of “making the Country’s Best Beach Bar a place where everyone feels comfortable and leaves smiling.”
I would agree that they are accomplishing this goal!
The 4 owners focus on live music, hosting everyone from locally known groups to famous musical stars. They also have a myriad of fun and crazy events at the Flora-Bama.
That atmosphere is one of the best things about the Flora-Bama! The place is a great equalizer. It attracts locals, vacationers, young adults celebrating bachelor and bachelorette parties, famous athletes, famous musicians, and snowbirds
In other words, this is a place where the fabulously rich, the famous, and the average joe will all mingle together.
The saying is that at the Flora-Bama “you never know who is going to be sitting next to you.”
Songs About the Flora-Bama
Let’s talk about some of the famous musicians who have not only visited the Flora-Bama but written songs about it!
Of course we must begin with the most well known writer and singer of beach songs, Jimmy Buffet. The Buffet song Bama Breeze is about this and other local dive bars.
Bama Breeze was released in 2006 as a tribute to the old fashioned beach bars many of which, including the Flora-Bama, were destroyed in 2004 by the devastating hurricane Ivan.
Kenny Chesney held a free concert at the Flora-Bama in 2014 to promote his new album.
This was his only concert that whole year and more than 40,000 people showed up. It was a wild time and you can imagine that the crowd went crazy when Chesney sang this chorus from the song, The Flora-Bama:
Sitting here at the Flora-Bama
‘Bout to open up a big old can of
Good times, unwind
Fall in and out of love in the same night
Can’t say I got a whole lot of cares
I’m in the red neck Riviera
It’s getting crazy, getting hammered
Sitting right here at the Flora-Bama
At the Flora-Bama
Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Blake Shelton, and many others have mentioned the bar in their songs.
Live Music and Events at the Flora-Bama
The Flora-Bama is known for live music. They have 5 different stages and someone is always playing something on at least one of them. You can hear country, rock, ballads, or beach music.
You basically have several music venues in one place. How great is that!?
You might even want to catch one of the concerts on the beach. When you check the music schedule you will fine that live music happens every day of the year here.
In addition to live music there is always something fun going on at the bar.
There are the legendary annual events like the Polar Bear Dip which takes place on New Year’s Day or the huge and infamous Mullet toss where participants throw a mullet across the state line to see who can throw it the farthest.
And those are just two of the many annual events!
In addition to live music some of the ongoing weekly and daily happenings include ladies nights, open mic nights, and bingo.
You can even attend church at the Flora-Bama on Sunday mornings.
Yes, church in a bar!
This is the south ya know. No matter how decadent a southerner may have been on Friday and Saturday night they do try to clean themselves up and go to church on Sunday mornings.
Note: Some of the bigger concerts and events require tickets so be sure and check the schedule here.
Food and Drink
The Flora-Bama has several bars in the building, all fully stocked so that you can get any type of alcoholic drink that you want. However, they are most famous for a local favorite called a Bushwacker.
A Bushwacker is an icy cold, milk shake type of drink that really packs a punch!
You’ve got to try one but don’t have too many. They say that “a few Flora-Bama Bushwackers will give you the best time you do not remember.”
However, this is also a restaurant and oyster bar and the food is good! You can get burgers, wraps, french fries, and of course, oysters!
If you are heading to Perdido Key, or Orange Beach you will definitely want to stop by and have a drink at the Flora-Bama.
C’mon on down!
Thanks for stopping by!