Yes, we all love the beach in those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. The idea of soft sugar-white sand between the toes, and sometimes in the swimsuit, while soaking up the warming rays of the sun is so appealing and so wonderful an image that we hold the picture in our mind’s eye for the entire year.

Yet we are about to let you in on the incredible secret that few people know about. You have to promise not tell everyone because then our most closely held beliefs will be turned completely upside-down.

OK, we trust you. The secret is that the beaches of the Gulf Coast are actually just as fantastic in the cooler months.

There. Now there I’ve said it.

There are several factors that bring me to this conclusion. The first is that, except for a very few days, the Gulf Coast is not subject to the difficult, damp and dingy weather conditions that afflict our neighbors just to the north. Most of the weather systems that bring frigid temperatures and rainy, even snowy, conditions to vast parts of this great country simply don’t make it this far south.

The Gulf of Mexico is a tempering influence on our weather. Most of our daily meteorological circumstances are influenced by this vast area of warm water.

Also, cooler days mean fewer visitors along the coast. You actually pretty much have the whole area to yourself.

Walk along the beaches, and you may be the only one. How sweet is that?

Finally, because you are mostly on your own during those short winter days, there are no lines for the many great restaurants, at the grocery store, at the movie theater or anywhere that just a few months ago you could not even get near. That’s a plus in anybody’s book.

To further explore the Gulf Coast during this gentler season, we have put together a few items of interest in this issue of Gulf Coast Wine + Dine.

Take a gander at our answer to great coastal roads around the country, Highway 30A in South Walton County, Fla. If you have not been on that road lately, you are not going to believe what Errol Laborde has discovered along this picturesque and developing stretch, which runs as far south on the continent as you can go and not get your feet wet – unless you can’t stop yourself.

Check out Brenda Maitland’s report on the perfect cool-weather dining experience, beef. Yes, we are a seafood area, with the freshest in the nation, but we also take a back seat to no one when it comes to beef.

Bonnie Warren then suggests you stay in Henderson Beach for the sheer elegant relaxation of it.

Of course, we have a few thoughts for cozy bars, perfect for quiet nights. And we’ll share with you the joys of sparkling wines, bubbles nice to the budget.

We thank you for reading our publication and for sharing our love for this place, America’s Gulf Coast.