Ring in the New Year on the Gulf Coast

For those of you looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve, we’ve got good news for you. Your bigger problem may be trying to decide which of the many celebrations being planned for the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area to attend.

Whether you are looking for a romantic night of dining and dancing or a family-friendly celebration, there are options for everyone.

New Year’s Eve Beach Bash

Gulf Shores will ring in 2014 with the New Year’s Eve Beach Bash at the Gulf State Park Pavilion. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. and festivities on the beach include a large bonfire, campfires with s’mores and live music under the pavilion. The evening will be highlighted by a spectacular fireworks display from the Gulf State Park Pier at 10 p.m. followed by a second fireworks show at midnight.

The Wharf’s Annual New Year’s Eve Street Party

Countdown to midnight with The Wharf’s very own Marlin Drop and fireworks at midnight. But prior to the countdown, the Wharf will be bustling with free family-friendly festivities including live bands, bounce houses, face painting and the KSJ Kids’ Karaoke stage. Admission is free, and a VIP experience is available for $75.

LuLu’s Annual Noon Year’s Eve Party

Count down to noon, at Lulu’s family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration complete with kid friendly fireworks and a beach ball drop. Other activities include a sandcastle building contest, arts & crafts, live music, zoo animals and face painting. Admission is free.

Early Bird New Year’s Eve Bash

Brent Burns will provide entertainment at the annual Christian Service Center’s Early Bird New Year’s Eve Bash at the Erie Meyer Civic from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.  The party theme is “Bring Your Own Everything” which includes beverages (alcohol allowed), food and table decorations. A panel of judges will determine who wins for table decorations in the following categories: Most Original, Most Outrageous and Most Elegant. Admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Dining and Dancing 

Several area restaurants and bars are offering special New Year’s Eve deals. Here are some of the more interesting offerings we found.

Fishers Four-Course Dinner
Fisher’s is ringing in the New Year with Willie Sugarcapps. For $195 per person, you get cocktails, a four course dinner with wine pairings, party favors, champagne, and breakfast after midnight. Cocktails at 7:15 p.m. Dinner at 8 p.m. Reservations are required and seating is limited.

Beach Club Fireworks and DinnerCoast Restaurant at the Beach Club is offering a $50 per person pre-fixe menu that includes one glass of champagne and fireworks at midnight. Dinner will be served from 6:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., and reservations are required.

Flora-Bama Yacht Club
For $75 per person, you can enjoy an eight-course meal with wine pairings at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club. Take your choice of dinner seatings at 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Or for $100 per person, you can dine at the Yacht Club then head across the street and join the New Year’s Eve party at the Flora-Bama. 
As usual, the Flora-Bama knows how to celebrate. The admission price includes live music on all three stages, free food, party favors and champagne.
General admission tickets in advance are $40 and $45 the day of the event for adults ages 18 and up. VIP Tickets are available for $100. Those ages 18 to 20 will be charged a $10 cover at the door in addition to each ticket price.
Live Bait Buffet and Party
Live Bait’s New Years Eve Bash includes a dinner buffet, party favors, noise makers, a champagne toast at midnight, and live entertainment by Moiiles. The dinner buffet and party is $75 per couple or $40 single. If you only want to come for the party, there’s a $10 cover beginning at 10 p.m.
Hangout Masque Rave
The Hangout celebrates with a Masque Rave New Year’s Eve Party, which includes free masks, red carpet, photo booth, free midnight buffet and a champagne toast. Special musical guests for the party are Kristy Lee and DJ Tony Skratchere. The party begins at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are $25. A limited number of  VIP tickets will be sold for $50.

Boat Parade Lights Up Coastal Holidays

One of the highlights of the holiday season on the Alabama Gulf Coast is the Annual Lighted Boat Parade. Held this year on Dec. 14, the 2013 parade marked the 28th year for this Coastal Alabama tradition.

The parade, sponsored by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, always starts at Lulu’s at Homeport Marina and ends at Zeke’s Landing in Orange Beach.

If you want to make the parade part of your holiday plans for next year, here are some suggestions for good viewing spots along the Intracoastal Canal Waterway: LuLu’s, Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores, Canal Road, The Wharf, Flippers, and Tacky Jacks in Orange Beach.

In case you missed this year’s parade, we hope you enjoy these photos of a few of the 29 boats that participated in this year’s parade.






Photos by Colette Boehm.

Coastal Alabama After Hours

There is no shortage of entertainment when the sun goes down on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Whether you want to dance the night away, just sit and enjoy live music or take the stage yourself for a little karaoke, it’s not hard to find a venue to your liking. From the old stand-bys to a newcomer on the scene, here’s a list of some of our favorite clubs and bars in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area.


Undoubtedly, the most widely known beach bar on the coast is the Flora-Bama. Open since 1964, the Flora-Bama has been frequented by celebrities from Peyton Manning to Jimmy Buffett and written about in publications from Playboy to the New Yorker. Widely known as a place where locals easily mix with tourists and where millionaires sit next to bikers, the Flora-Bama has live music every night and up to five bands on Saturday nights.

Located near the Florida-Alabama border, the Flora-Bama plays hosts to numerous local events including the Mullet Toss, where participants try to toss a mullet across the state line. http://www.florabama.com.

Pink Pony Pub

The granddaddy of all the Alabama beach bars is the Pink Pony Pub, which has been on its current site at the foot of the Gulf Shores pier since the 50s. Having survived Hurricanes Frederic and Ivan, and the rise of the much larger Hangout next door, the Pink Pony is still hot and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The Pink Pony features live music or karaoke nightly. http://www.pinkponypub.net.

Live Bait Restaurant and Nightclub

There is literally something for everyone at Live Bait, which has been an Orange Beach staple since 1995. Live Bait Too Nightclub, located directly behind the restaurant, is the stage for numerous regional rock bands and where locals and tourist dance the night away. The outdoor Tiki Bar has DJ karaoke nightly in season. Live Bait is located directly on Perdido Beach Blvd. http://www.livebaitrestaurant.com.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill

Country music legend Toby Keith and business partner Frank Capri opened their 12th live music and restaurant venue at The Wharf this past October. Named after Toby’s hit single “I Love This Bar,” their newest venture quickly became a local favorite. The location at The Wharf has more than 15,000 square feet and features a dance floor, VIP section, live music stage and a circular bar. http://tobykeithusa.com/orange-beach-al.

Nolan’s Restaurant and Lounge

Nolan’s, which opened in the mid-80s, is another Gulf Shores’ institution.

The popular house band, Midnight Confessions, plays dance tunes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s every Tuesday-Saturday night. Nolan’s, located one block south of Fort Morgan Rd. on Hwy 59, has a loyal and more mature customer base. http://www.nolansrestaurant.com.


Even though a few small structures called the Hangout occupied the prime spot where I-59 runs into the beach since the early ’60s, it was in 2008 that a group of investors opened the massive restaurant and entertainment complex known today as the Hangout.

The Hangout offers a full schedule of live entertainment most of the year, but for a few days late in May, the club and nearby beach areas become the setting for the annual Hangout Music Fest. The Fest offers three days of nonstop entertainment, including appearances by a handful of headliners and dozens of well-known national and regional bands. http://www.thehangout.com.

Blue Angels are Back!

No matter how many times you’ve heard that sound before, you can’t help but look up when you hear the thunderous roar of the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) flying over. So, residents and tourist along the Gulf Coast were elated to hear that after six months of being grounded due to government budget cuts, the Blues are back!

Home in Pensacola

The Blue Angels are stationed at NAS Pensacola, FL, so they spend a lot of time flying up and down the Alabama Gulf Coast. You can hear them coming from miles away. It’s not uncommon for residents and vacationers to get a glimpse of the fighter jets soaring overhead in diamond formation at speeds up to 700 mph.

About 11 million people watch the Blue Angels perform during a typical season. The Angels performed their first air show in 1946 after Adm. Chester Mimitz wanted a show to keep the public interested in naval aviation. This makes them the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world.

So, something seemed to be missing in the sky over the Gulf Coast for most of 2013 without the Blue Angels practicing their barrel rolls and formation loops. Although the Angels didn’t soar for six months, their time on the ground was put to good use doing community service projects such as helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

Shows scheduled in 2014

The good news is that the Blue Angels are scheduled to fly in 65 shows at 34 locations across the country in 2014. The Blues will put on shows for their hometown Gulf Coast audience on July 12 and Nov. 7 and 8. Many people plan their family vacations around these airshows, and local families load up in boats or cars, pack picnics for the day and wait patiently at the beach for the show to start.

The Blue Angels will be practicing a few hours a week throughout October and November and then they will begin their winter training in Pensacola. In January, they will fly to California for two months to finish practicing and prepare for their first show on March 15 in California. The season will end on Nov. 8 with the last show in Pensacola.

Even though some fans call the Blue Angels daredevils, others say they sound like angels flying.