US_98.svgEveryone has their “fastest” directions.

Jane: “Jeanne, did you hear Mary is headed to the beach next week?”

Me: (whipping my head around, wondering if Mary has a secret route that will shave another 10 minutes off drive time) “Which way do you go? Do you do  55 to Jackson to 49 to Hattiesburg to 98 to Mobile and on up the beach? Or do you do old school 78 to Tupelo to 45 to 98? Or do you go through Alabama? If so, do you go through to Dothan and cut back or do you take 167 from Troy and did you know we found a REALLY cool shortcut through Montgomery and you can even stay on 65 all the way to Georgianna and get off at exit 114 and then cut back on 55 to 331? Wait, what beach are you going to again?”

Mary: (blank stare, thinking “who IS this person?”)

Ok, so maybe not everyone has this type of passion for the most direct route from anywhere in the southern world to the beach – but when you make the trip as often as we do, it becomes quite significant (plus my husband is convinced he must beat his best time, everytime). It’s self preservation on my part to constantly look for new roads and improved routes and share this knowledge with him so that he does not feel compelled to show me just how fast the camaro will actually get us there.

In the interest of helping wives with Mario-Andretti-channeling husbands (or anyone looking to save that precious extra 10 minutes), I offer the Melton “Tried and True Fastest Route to the Beach” – version one million two hundred and thirty-six. Disclaimer: This route is ONLY the fastest IF you are leaving from our driveway and going directly to our condo. Any other points in between and your mileage may differ.

(Acutally, if you are leaving anywhere from the general midsouth area and headed to the 30-A vicinity, these should be good. If headed to PCB Proper, Destin or Pensacola/Navarre, you will need alternative routes – I have plenty but would love your feedback on this one folks so help a sister out!)

Memphis to 30-A (and western PCB/Bay County)

This route takes you to the intersection of 331 and 98 and is our favorite route as of February 2013 – and will be updated periodically:

1.) Take 78 to Birmingham – As you get close to Birmingham, do NOT get off 78 where it first says to get off. Stay on it (the sign will say “Local Traffic Only”) – continue on 78 until it literally DEAD ENDS and you HAVE to get off – that’s exit 93. Take a right at off ramp – this will be Coleburg Road.

2.) Take Coleburg Road until you get to Daniel Payne Parkway. Take a left on Daniel Payne Parkway, make sure you are in the right lane and then go “65 SOUTH to Montgomery”.

(Should take you about 2:40-3 hours – maybe a little less or more depending on where you get on 78 – to get to B’ham.)

3.) Stay on 65 PAST MONTGOMERY all the way to Georgiana, AL (about 2:15 hours from B’ham to Georgianna)- Then left at exit 114. That’s highway 106. Go a few miles, then right on highway 55/31.

4.) Stay on 55 (about an hour, but there are several dog legs so watch the signs very carefully – and whenever in doubt, just remember always go south and east). You’ll go through Andulusia, so you can use that as a landmark of sorts. This road is nice, hardly anyone on it at all and several places where the speed limit is 65, but does have several places where you have to turn to stay on 55, so again, watch the signs!

5.) Stay on 55 until near the Florida state line at Florala, another landmark you can use. When you get to
Florala/near the state line, look for the sign for Highway 331 – take a right on 331! Again, there are a couple of places where you will have to turn to stay on 331, so watch the signs.

6.) Take that almost an hour or so to Highway 98. At this point, you’re basically at Grayton Beach. To reach Watercolor, or Seaside, or Rosemary (all within 12 miles from this point), or even Pinnacle Port on the western edge of Bay County,  just turn left (east) on 98 and follow the signs to your destination. If going to Pinnacle Port, just go about 14 miles, and when you get to the big bridge look up and you’ll see the condo. After the bridge, you’ll turn into the guard gate (turn right) at Pinnacle Port/Carillon Beach.

If headed west – say to the eastern side of Destin, simply turn right on 98 and follow the signs to your destination.

Let us know you’re favorite beach routes and we’ll update this posting!