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The South After Dark

With glittering lights and vibrant  social gatherings, the South can seem like a different place after dark.

For many people, evening is a special time to laugh with friends and make unforgettable memories. There’s an abundance of opportunity to do so in the Southern states. From stargazing to haunted tours and live music shows, here are some of the region’s best venues for an evening of entertainment. Include these on your itinerary next time your group travels to this iconic part of the country.


Orange Beach, Alabama

Along the Gulf Coast, there are few places as festive and fun-loving as Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar, which rests directly over the Florida and Alabama state lines. Since its opening in 1964, the bar has attracted a colorful mix of patrons, including a few celebrities. Former Oakland Raiders and Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler once called Flora-Bama “the best watering hole in the country,” and Jimmy Buffet’s song “Bama Breeze” was inspired by the bar.

Claiming the title of America’s Last Great Roadhouse, this beachfront bar and grill invites people of all backgrounds to gather and relax with a glass of its legendary drink, the Bushwacker, a creamy, frozen cocktail made with chocolate and coffee liqueurs. Other menu favorites include the Bamaburger, coconut shrimp and oysters served raw or baked with Gouda cheese.

Featuring daily live music from two outdoor stages, the bar frequently plays host to birthday parties, wedding parties, senior groups and more.

“It’s a bar for everyone,” said Jenifer Surface, marketing and public and community relations director for the bar. “You can have a millionaire sitting next to a biker.”

The bar hosts a variety of local events throughout the year, but the most popular is the famous Interstate Mullet Toss, when thousands of locals and tourists alike gather on the beach to partake in the tradition of throwing a mullet, a type of ray-finned fish, over state lines. Prizes are offered to those who toss it the farthest. Throughout the weekend event each spring, friends and families celebrate with music, food and many other activities.

Myrtles Plantation

St. Francisville, Louisiana

A trip to Myrtles Plantation is a journey back in time. With more than 220 years of history, this antebellum house holds more than just elegant furnishings and Southern charm; it also happens to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. The plantation now functions as a bed-and-breakfast, and visitors come from far and wide to tour the property, which includes the original manor, a restaurant and several cottages.

“You get to stay where many of the ghostly encounters have taken place,” said Hester Eby, who has worked at the home for more than 30 years.

Some of the most common encounters include taps on the shoulder, sounds of children laughing, unfamiliar figures in photographs and faces peeping out of windows. In the Fanny Williams room, nicknamed “The Doll Room,” many people swear that the doll on the mantle sings or changes positions.

“It’s nothing to harm you,” said Eby, who enjoys the stories of children the most. “You might hear footsteps in one of the cottages that sound like children running across the room; but at one time, that was probably their playground.”

Eby recalled how a group of old college friends recently sent her a photo they took by one of the fountains on the grounds. A young man was standing beside them in the picture, though none of them remembered seeing him at the time.

“His face was as clear as the rest of them,” she said. “Nothing smoky like you see in the movies.”

On the weekend, visitors can take a 40-minute evening tour of the house, during which both the history of the home and mystery stories are discussed. They are encouraged to stop by the restaurant and enjoy a Southern-style meal, such as the catfish po’boy, the shrimp platter, Louisiana oysters or bread pudding. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.