Alabama's Readers' Choice Awards

You know and love your state. Here's a look at some of your local picks, taken from this year's Readers' Choice Awards results.
Jennifer Mckenzie Frazier

Don't you dare tell my family and friends in Texas, but I've fallen in love with Alabama. We Texans tend to think there's no greater place than the Lone Star State, but after living here for the past eight years, I'm sold. And as we look at the results of this year's Southern Living Readers' Choice Awards, I'd say you agree with me. You love Alabama too.

Barbecue and More

Barbecue is like an entire food group here in the South--we take it seriously.

Many of you cast votes for Dreamland Bar-B-Que, and we understand why. Janice Evans of Jemison says her son always wants to eat there when he comes to town. "They're the best ribs I've ever had, and they're always tender. It's our family favorite," she says.

Linda Searby of Birmingham prefers Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Que. Why? "Two words," she says, "cheese biscuits." All kidding aside, she continues, "That's not the only reason, although the cheese biscuits are amazing. We're from Illinois so we've tried lots of places in town. We prefer Jim 'N Nick's because the meat is always moist. It's our favorite." As it is in my family. The Fraziers go there every Sunday after church.

Now, there are other kinds of food here in Alabama of course. One place that earned top votes was The Bright Star Restaurant. Sharon Smead of Bessemer and her husband, Walt, have made it a tradition to spend New Year's eve at The Bright Star, and they eat there on a regular basis. "I think the service is always excellent and I have never had a bad meal. It's just a neat place to go," she says. Our Editor in Chief agrees, as he calls it one of his favorite spots in the Birmingham area.

Resort Living
The masses kept the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort close to their hearts and voted accordingly. Birmingham resident Angie Elia and her family from Connecticut have vacationed there for the past two years. The main reason they love the Grand? "It's such a relaxing resort! It's peaceful, beautiful, and quiet. It's not located on a busy street and there's no fast food or entertainment close by so my children aren't constantly begging to go to those places," Angie raves. The family also snaps the shot for their holiday card at their favorite destination each year.

To the Beach
Many of you cast your votes for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, my own personal glorious, white, sandy beaches. Marsha Wilson of Hamilton appreciates the water and the sand. "They are just beautiful. Plus, Orange Beach is close and convenient to home," she says.

As for Gulf Shores, Chris Boone of Alexander City has been visiting with her family for more than 25 years and would go to no other spot. "The city is family-oriented. You can stay on the beach all day, eat at great places, and shop all you want. There's so much to do even when it's pouring down rain at the beach. We love it," says Chris. Buddy Sims of Birmingham has also been going to Gulf Shores for years. He likes that it's not as populated as other spots have become.

Watch Our Pages
The praise goes on and on--confirming what we knew and totally agree with: Alabama is full of treasures. Thanks for your votes. Do plan to enter again. (See prize and ballot information in this issue, or visit southernliving.com/readerschoice). Here's to a wonderful 2008.