Thinking of Spring? Start planning

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Tired of winter before February even gets here? Start planning your Spring Break trip!

If you read my writings fairly regularly, you know I am a North Carolina beach fan. Holden Beach is my favorite, although many of the reasons for that would never make a travel folder: family history, memories, quiet and uncrowded beachfronts, for example.

But even with my bias, sometimes it’s good to mix things up. As SGH Go Travel clients look toward Spring Breaks and summer vacations, I find I am often suggesting Tennessee clients look toward Alabama.

I take a Girls’ Trip most years to Orange Beach, Ala., and we love it. It’s a different kind of beach trip from the laid-back family trip we take to Holden. This year, for Spring Break families especially, it may be just the ticket.

The local/regional restaurants in the Orange Beach area alone may be worth the drive. Our Girls’ Trip trio includes a “foodie,” and she has steered us to some fabulous eateries. From Cosmos to Cobalt to Villaggio Grille, the restaurant scene offers something for all taste buds.

I have always stayed in high rise condos at Orange Beach but they do have a scattering of beach homes to rent in the Perdido Key area. The beaches are white-sand beautiful and the blues in the water will not disappoint. Neither will the sunsets.

There are a “few” condominium complexes to choose from – more than 65 high risers and almost 50 low risers! The Phoenix alone has more than seven condo complexes. My favorite, The Turquoise, has the second tallest building on the beach as part of its claims to fame.

When booking a condo in one of these large complexes with multiple buildings, pay attention to where your building is located, especially if beachfront is important to you. There is a difference in oceanfront and oceanview. While they all have pretty easy beach access, even oceanview buildings can be set back behind the beachfront buildings and offer only a view from the higher floors. Look at a map of the complex when choosing.

Off the beach, Orange has terrific boutique shopping and The Wharf, which has restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and a giant ferris wheel. They light up the trees at night, and it’s just a great place to walk around and window shop.

From Knoxville, Orange Beach is a little over eight hours straight driving. We sometimes break up the trip with an overnight in Birmingham, but it’s not a bad 1-day drive.

It’s getting crunch time for Spring Break plans, so the large inventory at Orange Beach makes it a good choice for those just starting to look.

One of my Nashville family’s favorites is about 2 hours from Orange Beach in Destin, Fla. The Henderson Beach Resort and Spa and The Henderson (one is adult only and one allows kids) are nestled in a fairly secluded part of Destin but still close to the Destin attractions. It can be a little pricey, but the resort has everything and will make you feel very pampered.

Heading the other direction from Knoxville, Charleston and Savanah are great choices, especially for a four- or five-day getaway. These historic cities have something for everyone, although young kids might been more impressed with the hotels with heated pools than the Southern mansions, gardens and historic City Market.

There is no doubt everyone will be ready for a break this spring. If you haven’t started planning, get going.  It will give everyone something to look forward to!

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at

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