Magnolia Springs Offers Timeless Charm

Nestled on the banks of the Magnolia River in south Baldwin County, Alabama, the tiny town of Magnolia Springs is an oasis of calm a few miles inland from the bustling Gulf beachfront. In addition to being charming and peaceful, Magnolia Springs is unique—the only town in the continental U.S. where mail is still regularly delivered by boat.

Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast

Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast

The  Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, which sits under towering oak trees near the center of town, has been offering classic Southern hospitality to guests since opening in 1997.

Built in 1897 as the Sunnyside Hotel, the graceful two-story building first catered to guests hoping to escape harsh Northern winters.  Today, innkeepers David Worthington and Eric Bigelow welcome vacationers, honeymooners and anyone needing a break from the outside world.

The inn’s original woodwork, beautifully restored by David and Eric, is intact and adds to the ambiance, along with the stained glass windows installed by a previous owner.

Of the inn’s five rooms, David says the most popular are the upstairs Ha

boathouses along the Magnolia River

boathouses along the Magnolia River

rding Suite and the ground-floor McLennan Room which boasts a claw foot tub and something called an Elephant Trunk toilet, which should be seen to be appreciated.   All rooms have private bathrooms, television and  wi fi. Guests enjoy access to the breakfast room’s refrigerator, stocked with juice, water and soft drinks, and to the home-baked cookies which David and Eric put out in the back foyer.

 

The inn’s concierge service helps guests find things to do in the area; David can make reservations for everything from dinner to a hot-air balloon ride. He helps beach-bound guests with the loan of coolers, umbrellas and other amenities and says “if I don’t have what you need, you don’t need it.”

breakfast at Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast

breakfast at Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast

In addition to the atmosphere, guests stay here for what may be the best breakfast they’ve ever had. The morning meal is a three-course affair featuring Southern favorites like garlic grits along with David’s own creations like the pear dumpling.  The inn accommodates diet restrictions and can prepare vegan and gluten-free meals.

After breakfast? Sit on the spacious veranda and watch the world go by.

Eventually, you’re bound to feel like eating again, and Jesse’s Restaurant, just down the street, is rapidly fulfilling owners Steve and Angie Coltharp’s vision of running “the most talked-about steakhouse on the Gulf Coast.” Executive Chef Jeremiah Matthews specializes in serving dry- and wet-aged steaks, including a signature bone-in filet of ribeye, along with the freshest Gulf seafood.

Jesse’s prides itself on using local produce, and one of the most popular appetizers is the tomato stack made with heirloom tomatoes. Specials change daily and included, on my visit, a fabulous grilled swordfish. Like everything else in Magnolia Springs, Jesse’s building has a history.  It was built as Moore Brothers Store in 1922;  the restaurant is named for faithful storekeeper Jesse King, who allegedly never

Jesse's Restaurant

Jesse’s Restaurant

missed a day of work in 60 years.

 

Magnolia Springs is located just off U.S. Highway 98 in Baldwin County, Alabama. For more information on the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, check the website at www.magnoliasprings.com or telephone 1-800-965-7321. For more information on Jesse’s Restaurant, check the website at www.jessesrestaurant.com or telephone 1-251-965-3827.

Photos by Jack Purser

 

About the Author

Kathie Farnell

Freelance writer Kathie Farnell lives in Foley, Alabama, ten miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, with her husband, photographer Jack Purser, and a flock of cats. She has written travel articles for print and web publications since 1992, and also produces programming for public television and radio through her nonprofit corporation, Artemis Media Project. The couple enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations and spending time on the Gulf beaches.

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