May Getaway Guide: Alabama’s Hangout Music Festival, 3 great hotel bars, and more

This month’s travel tip sheet
Hangout Music Festival
Photograph courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

Festival of the month
Hangout Music Festival
If there’s anything better than strolling along a Gulf Coast beach, it’s digging your toes into the sand while enjoying top-caliber live music. Scheduled for May 15 to 17 in Gulf Shores, Alabama, the 2015 Hangout Music Festival’s lineup includes Zac Brown Band, Beck, Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, and dozens more. Now in its sixth year, the festival has mastered logistics: Rent beachfront accommodations right from the website, and sign up for the shuttle to enjoy easy transportation. Download the free mixtape to get in the mood. And don’t forget your CamelBak (there are free filling stations).

At the bar
Jerry Slater, owner of H. Harper Station, shares his favorite classic hotel bars.

Hotel Monteleone
Photograph courtesy of Hotel Monteleone

New Orleans
At the Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone, the carousel fills up, but the big chairs by the windows make for the best people-watching. Have a Vieux Carré, or if it’s early, a Ramos gin fizz. As our server said, “It’s a breakfast drink.”

Even though I once worked at the Seelbach (and I love the Old Seelbach Bar), the grand experience is on the second floor of the Brown Hotel at the Lobby Bar.

Want to feel like a million bucks? Walk up the thick carpeted stairs to the Drake’s lobby bar and sip a martini with a harp playing in the afternoon. Something seedier? The Coq d’Or’s whiskey bar awaits you downstairs.

Paradise Garden
Photograph courtesy of Paradise Garden Foundation

Airbnb find
Night at the Museum
Weary pilgrims visiting Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville can now stay overnight. Its new Airbnb cottage sleeps two and includes unlimited access to the property, making it an ideal getaway for an Americana adventure (from $100/night). Plus, the garden has been recently restored, and quirky elements such as the Mirror House, Rolling Chair Ramp, and towers of bicycle parts bloom with flowers again. The best time to go? Finster Fest, May 30 to 31. —Beca Grimm

Sweetgrass Basket
If you’re going to Charleston for the Spoleto festival (5/22–6/7), bring back a handwoven sweetgrass basket, made using a technique passed down for 400 years from Lowcountry slaves.

Alabama Chanin
Photograph by Peter Stanglmayr

Hands On
In Stitches
Natalie Chanin has been featured in Vogue and the New York Times, but she has stayed true to her vision of hand-sewn garments using sustainably grown cotton. Her cottage industry, Alabama Chanin, has been integral to the recent renaissance of Florence, Alabama. Visit for a studio weekend (May 15 to 17; $1,250) and create your own garment.

This article originally appeared in our May 2015 issue.