An excerpt from the book Southern Fried & Sanctified. Postage-free, signed copies available via the author website, click on title of the book to order and view the book’s photo gallery. All text and photographs copyrighted.

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Dipping south on the v-shaped peninsula of Mobile Bay, you will and a southern paradise and its castle—the Grand Hotel. Located in Point Clear, Alabama, the estate was built in 1847 and has been a favorite hide-away for generations of families, from honeymooners enjoying beachfront sunsets to retirement couples swinging through two premier golf courses. The Grand Hotel was a prominent piece of military history, serving as a hospital during the Civil War and a training facility for the U.S. Air Force during World War II. Near the Lakewood Golf Course driving range is the Confederate Rest Cemetery, a section of the historic Magnolia Cemetery that is a beautiful tribute to the Civil War soldiers.

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Just three miles away, following the coast of Mobile Bay, is the idyllic town of Fairhope. It’s clearly a literary town, with an impressive public library that would rival any city ten times its size. Some of the most inviting aromas can be found at the Page and Palette bookstore and their Latte Da Coffee Shop. The fresh smell of new books and roasted coffee beans invites locals and tourists alike. Shoppers browsing the colorful titles can hear the faint chatter of locals crowding the tables and sipping their frothy mugs of latte.

Fairhope is a walking town lined with historic storefronts, a cross between southern Americana and shades of the New Orleans French Quarter. Boutiques, antique stores and restaurants occupy the downtown district and nearby, historic homes and cottages are snuggled inside blooming magnolias and towering pines.

Make your first stop the Mobile CVB for a boatload of brochures, maps and restaurant guides. 1 South Water Street, Mobile, Alabama, 800-5-Mobile.

Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa, 1 Grand Blvd., Point Clear, Alabama, 251-928-9201,