Must Have Summertime Delicacies

Summertime on the Gulf Coast means beach weather, new swim suits, sand everywhere, and, of course, food. It’s hard to think about summer without delicious burgers, your favorite drinks, and ice cream. To make it easy to satisfy your cravings, we’ve put together a list of some “must have summertime delicacies” to try.

Pirate’s Breakfast at The Hangout

If you’re looking for a Southern-style breakfast with something special for the kids, The Hangout is hosting a “Pirates and Princess” themed breakfast every morning until Sunday, August 31st. Kids are encouraged to dress up, and there is a scavenger hunt every half hour (starting at 8:30 A.M.). Breakfast is served every day from 8:00-10:00 A.M. Take your family down to The Hangout which is located on Highway 59 at 101 East Beach Boulevard.

Cheeseburgers in Paradise

Even while showing off your beach body on vacation, you still crave that greasy hamburger, and it’s not hard to find down here on the Gulf Coast. From burger with a view to Lulu’s famous cheeseburger in paradise, you don’t have to go far to find something new and interesting or the same ole’ same ole’. The Gulf in Orange Beach, Alabama always surprises its customers with its upscale view but casual dining. If you’re lucky, you might see a dolphin or two while lounging in an outdoor couch.  Looking for something more classic?  Lulu’s cheeseburger in paradise (everything on the burger is local – even the bun) or Tacky Jack’s burgers are always good and reasonably priced options.

Bushwhackers

Bushwackers are considered the Coastal Alabama signature frozen drink. There is something refreshing about a decadent smoothie of dark run, Kahlua, coconut and crème de cacao. We consider the Bushwacher to be one of the best frozen drinks on the coast. You can find a Bushwacker anywhere on the island but some of our favorites include Pirates Cove, Flippers and Flora- Bama. If you are going to partake in this drink delicacy, then we suggest a two drink maximum.

You Hook Em’, We Cook Em’

What better than a successful day out on the boat? Not having to cook the fish you caught! Eating fish that you’ve caught yourself prepared by a real chef is not only delicious but also has the added taste of pride; you did catch it after all! Here is a link to previous blog post with locals restaurants that will “cook em’ if you hook em’”.

Ice Cream

After a long day in the sun, nothing is better than delicious, cold ice cream topped with your favorites. On the Gulf Coast, there are numerous small and local ice cream shops for you and your family to enjoy a scoop or two of ice cream. Looking for something homemade? Matt’s Homemade Ice Cream has had nothing but positive reviews since opening, and you can’t go wrong supporting a local business.  Shake’s is another popular one in the area, and their iconic sundaes are amazing! You can also never go wrong with Dairy Queen which is located in the same shopping center as the Orange Beach Publix.

If you tried any of our recommendations, let us know on Facebook or Twitter! We hope you are making memories and staying safe during your time on the Gulf Coast. Eat as much as you want; you’re on vacation.

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Tips for Planning a Hassle-Free Summer Vacation

Tips for Planning a Hassle-Free Summer Vacation

Today’s technology makes planning a vacation a lot easier and stress free. When it’s time to book your beach getaway, try using the many available resources to save time and money. Let us help you find the best accommodations, show you the best places to dine, and help you plan an unforgettable Alabama Coastal Getaway.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Travel Apps

Use the multipurpose mobile apps provided by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism to help you navigate your way around Coastal Alabama. Download the app to find specials on beach houses and condos, to find live music, and to learn about the area’s history or to just find a peaceful walking trail.  Apps include the Gulf Beaches App, the Scenic Byway App, and the Backcountry App.

Alabama Gulf Coast Vacation Guide

Enjoy hassle free planning with the Alabama Gulf Coast Vacation Guide. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism makes it easy with two options including the online version or a free copy that can be sent to you by mail. They also offer the Alabama Civil War Trail Guide, Orange Beach Fishing Association Charter Directory, Gulf Shores Golf Guide, and the E-Tiding Newsletter.

TripAdvisor

Read reviews on TripAdvisor to see what experiences other people have had. Find inside information from previous patrons on accommodations, entertainment, and attractions. All contributors are unpaid, and TripAdvisor has one of the largest collections of user-contributed pictures from more than 45 countries. Look for the owl of approval at your favorite destinations.

Travel Bloggers

Ask the experts. Do your research and find travel bloggers and writers who are social media enthusiasts. Bloggers are bloggers because they can tell you about their experiences and relay them in a manner in which you can almost picture yourself there. The art of penmanship is great when looking for the perfect vacation.

We also recommend looking at social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Most businesses have at least one social media channel and general response times are quick and informative. Have a relaxing summer and please let us know your tips for planning a hassle-free vacation.

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Must Do’s for the 100 Days of Summer

Visitors will be flocking to the beaches this summer for a little rest and relaxation. The 100 Days of Summer are a time to create happy memories while swimming, basking in the sun and enjoying spending time with family and friends.

Start planning your summer today so you don’t miss out on area activities and attractions. In order to see and do as much as possible during the 100 Days of Summer, we have composed a list of Must Do’s for your Coastal Alabama 100 Days of Summer beach getaway.

C Spire Concert Series – With acts like Dave Mathews Band, Eric Church and The Steve Miller Band, The Wharf is going to be jamming all summer long.  The C Spire Concert Series is presenting a lineup that is sure to entertain.

Independence Day – The skies in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach light up during July 4th with stunning fireworks from The Beach Club on Fort Morgan Road all the way to Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach. The Gulf State Park and The Wharf also host extravagant firework displays.

Summertide Theatre presents: Ring of Fire – The music of Johnny Cash will be performed by The University of Alabama’s professional summer theatre, SummerTide.  Performances are every Tuesday through Sunday evening from June 5- July 3. ‘Walk the line’ to Gulf Shores to see Johnny Cash’s music come to life at the George C. Meyer Performing Arts Center in Gulf Shores.

The Blue Marlin Grand Championship – The greatest show in sportsfishing will once again present the over-the-top weigh-in for The Blue Marlin Grand Championship a the Wharf July 7-12.  Named one of the top 20 events in the Southeast, The Grand Championship befits the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

100 Days of Summer at The Wharf – The Wharf is hosting an entertaining summer filled with events and concerts including the nightly Spectra light shows beginning at 8:30pm. Kids’ night is every Wednesday night in the Palm Plaza next to the Ferris wheel. It is Free to the public with bouncy houses, face painting, hair wraps an
d more.

We suggest you retreat to the beautiful beaches of Alabama for the 100 Days of Summer.  Create happy memories in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and take advantage of the many coastal activities and events. Please let us know what is on your must do list for the summer.

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5 of Our Favorite Water Sports

Where is the best place to go when the temperatures are on the rise and school lets out? Most people say the beach, and we do too! There is something refreshing about submerging yourself in the cool waters of Coastal Alabama on a hot summer day.

As we all know too well in the Southeast, humidity goes up along with the summer temperatures and it’s hard to keep the kiddos entertained outside when it is so hot. You can have the best of both worlds with a few of our favorite Water Sports.

Paddle boarding – Stand up paddling (SUP) has taken the Gulf Coast by storm. Even though it is an excellent source of exercise, it is also fun for the entire family.  Paddle boarding is best in water with unbroken swells and can be operated by sitting, kneeling or standing.

Fly boarding – If you haven’t heard of fly boarding, then you are missing out. A foot mounted board connects to a wave runner with a hose that redirects the water to propel two jets on the bottom of the board creating lift off! Let Flyboard Bama fly you through the sky.

Kite Boarding – Although Kite Boarding requires some skill, there are classes and courses you can take so you can have a bird’s eye view of the Gulf Coast. We recommend kite boarding for thrill seekers and water sport adventurers who aren’t afraid to soar through the sky at the mercy of the wind.

Parasailing – It is a beautiful site to see as a participant and as on onlooker.  It is like watching a hot air balloon but a completely different experience. The rush associated with gliding through the air with your feet dangling is incomparable.

Kayaking – For the water lovers who are less adventurous, we recommend a quiet kayaking trip to enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Mother Nature. Coastal Alabama is known for the Back Bay fishing and water sports like canoeing and kayaking.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe summer. Remember to adhere to the beach flag safety warnings, apply sunscreen several times a day and stay hydrated.

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What is the Clean Bed Guarantee at Spectrum Resorts?

What is the Clean Bed Guarantee at Spectrum Resorts?

We have stayed in many hotels and resorts on our travels and growing up I always rented a condominium on the beach but I have never stayed at a nicer, friendlier resort than with Spectrum Resorts. One might ask how do you make a difference with something that you are already leading the industry. They have done it again with the Clean Bed Guarantee! 

What is it? 

The Clean Bed Guarantee is where Spectrum Resorts will have a fresh, comfortable white duvet that has been laundered upon your arrival. The secrets behind the scenes at other resorts would probably shock us all, however one of the things that I always look for when booking a stay somewhere are the styles of the linens. You can usually get a pretty good idea from the pictures displayed on the resorts website or across third party sellers.

Of course you are not going to know if the linens are clean and at your expected standards until you arrive. Spectrum Resorts takes out the guessing and they guarantee that you will have a clean bed and a comfort level unlike anything else you have experienced before.

What it feels like? 

When we walked in the door at Turquoise Place everything was bright and clean and very modern. Our bed was gorgeous and so comfortable. I can tell you, now that I know the difference, when you walk into a room that doesn’t have fresh and clean linens you will know it!

We were so exhausted from driving 8 hours to Orange Beach that the minute we got to Turquoise Place we relaxed in bed and the smell of freshness and the comfort level of the bed was immaculate.

After staying at Turquoise Place, I can now say that long gone are the days where I walk into a hotel room expecting anything less than a Clean Bed Guarantee. Unfortunately not all resorts follow this policy, but thankfully we experienced Spectrum Resorts and can now attest that this is a huge selling point for any prospective visitors.

Summary 

We had an amazing stay at Turquoise Place and no I don’t think it was just because they laundered our sheets. However, I think that when you stay somewhere that has a policy like the Clean Bed Guarantee in place, you know that cleanliness will not be an issue.

Of course Turquoise Place is so much more than just a clean resort. Instead it offers a variety of amazing amenities and features that will make you not want to leave! I would highly recommend making a reservation here to see exactly what a ‘concerned resort’ looks like, and how differently you are treated than any alternative accommodation.

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5 Kid Friendly Coastal Alabama Restaurants

One of the benefits of going on vacation is the luxury of dining out. Most people dread the everyday routine of cooking and cleaning on vacation and going out to eat while out of town is the easiest way to experience the local cuisine. And you don’t have to clean up afterwards makes it even more appealing.

Picture this… you spend the day relaxing on the beach or by the pool and the kids play their little hearts out. Right before dinner, everyone decides on a restaurant, gets ready and goes out. Once you arrive, you realize that you did not account for the wait time and everyone is getting ill because they are tired, sunburned, thirsty and hungry. What next?

When traveling with children, we suggest choosing a kid friendly restaurant when dinging out, especially during high volume seasons like summer and holidays. As many parents will agree, it is exhausting trying to entertain kids that are hungry, thirsty, tired and sunburned.

We see this all too often so here is a list of five kid friendly restaurants on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

  1. LuLu’s This family-friendly open air restaurant caters to all ages.  Kids can watch the boat traffic on the Intercoastal Waterway, browse the gift shop, hit the ropes course or visit the Fountain of Youth.
  1. The Hangout Located directly on the beach, The Hangout offers convenient beach access, foam parties, a wish wall, sand pit, a wall collection of unique treasures, courtyard games and much more
  1. Lambert’s Café The home the throwed rolls, Lambert’s Café is located in Foley just south of the Tanger Center.  With generous portions and throwed rolls, kids love to eat at Lambert’s.  Children are taught not to play with their food, but at Lambert’s, it is perfectly acceptable.
  1. The Village Hideaway Located at The Beach Club, The Village Hideaway has interactive video games, pool tables, shuffleboard and a High Definition Golf Simulator. Kids can share a pizza and even play life size chess on the front lawn.
  1. The Original Oyster House It is no secret the Oyster House loves kids. Located in the Bayou Village Shopping Center, The Oyster House is a great location for kids to watch for alligators and feed the fish. And, kids really appreciate the toy served with all of the kid’s meals.

For additional information on area restaurants, please visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism.

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Girls Getaway: Setting Sail to the Beach


Blog written by Heather Boothman

A Brit and a Southerner

Planning a girl’s getaway can be difficult especially when trying to come to an agreement on the best destination. Whether it’s shopping sprees or relaxing with spa day treatments, identifying a perfect location is critical before hitting the open road.

After much discussion, we all agreed that our chosen location required a beach, good shopping, fun attractions and of course great food! I soon realized that the choice was not difficult at all and the question had been answered in record time – Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama. Having visited this stretch of coastline previously with my husband, I knew that taking my girls here was the perfect choice.  All we have to do now is plan our itinerary in an area that has endless possibilities.

Where to Stay

During my last visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, we stayed at The Beach Club by Spectrum Resorts and had an amazing experience there. We researched various other alternatives in the area but many of the resorts just didn’t compare to Spectrum Resorts high quality accommodation. A word of caution if you are planning a getaway for early May. Book early because this is the start of the peak season and this is a much sought after destination and you certainly don’t want to settle for something if it is not at the beach.

Spectrum Resorts has the ‘best of the best’ along the Gulf of Mexico so when we stumbled across another property of theirs I didn’t think twice. Turquoise Place is a luxurious resort that is located in the heart of Orange Beach. All the best amenities like a gas grill and your own private Jacuzzi are included, in addition to their Clean Bed Guarantee that is revolutionizing the market.

Have you ever wondered how frequently hotels and resorts actually wash your bed linens? Sometimes comforters may only be washed twice each year. However thanks to Spectrum Resorts, “Each guest bed will be made with a freshly washed duvet and linens prior to your arrival.”  Turquoise Place here we come! 

What are our Plans

When you make a trip to the beach of course there will be morning runs, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets and that amazing beach smell with the waves crashing while we are relaxing. What do you do when you venture away from the beach? 

We are hoping to save time for a little retail therapy in the nearby Tanger Outlet mall in Foley, as well as the local markets and boardwalks within the area.

There is something to be said for being one with the ocean and we are excited to have booked a sunset cruise with Sail Wild Hearts. The cruise will last around 1.5 to 2 hours on a 53-foot catamaran. Tickets are $35 to cruise around while we sooth our souls and embrace the moments with the ocean.

The Waves of Wine Festival will be taking place during our visit, featuring live music, food from a variety of local restaurants as well as craft beer and of course over 120 different wine selections to try. Tickets are also $35 and that includes a cruise around the bay during the event for you to enjoy the breathtaking scenery in the Gulf. An added incentive is the inclusion of a wine glass and bag to help cherish your memories from this experience. The festival will be at a Caribe The Resort, which is in close proximity to Turquoise Place.

Where to Eat 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is spoiled for choice when it comes to fine restaurants and cuisine options. Seafood here is delicious and the hardest part is choosing which of the many establishments to sample.

One restaurant that I am really excited about trying is The Gulf, which is located directly on the beach. Serving food inspired by the Gulf of Mexico, this outdoor venue is just a really cool looking restaurant. Did you know The Gulf is made out of repurposed shipping containers? This beach bar has much to offer in terms of atmosphere and of course food selection, from burgers to tacos this place looks like it has it all and dinner is going to be amazing.

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Shave an Hour off of Your Drive to the Alabama Gulf Coast

Each year, millions of vacationers will pack their bags and head to the Alabama Gulf Coast.  With so many people all heading to the same destination, traffic can quickly back up and add hours to your trip.  If you and your family are planning on taking a trip to visit Alabama’s beaches this year, there’s good news.  Travelers can now completely by pass Highway 59, and all its traffic lights, via an extension to the Beach Express that opened in 2014.  This extension creates a direct connection between Interstate 10 and Alabama’s sugar sand beaches.

The Baldwin Beach Express

Regular travelers to the Alabama Coast are probably familiar with the Foley Beach Express.  This highway connects with Highway 59 just north of Foley and ends in Orange Beach.  The new extension has been named the Baldwin Beach Express and it connects directly to Interstate 10 just four miles east of Exit 44 (the Highway 59/Gulf Shores Parkway exit in Loxley).  Travelers on Interstate 10 can access the new Baldwin Beach Express via Exit 49.  From there, you will find a four lane highway with minimal traffic lights and businesses that can quickly congest travel routes.  The Baldwin Beach Express ends at an intersection with the Foley Beach Express which takes travelers all of the way to Canal Road in Orange Beach.  If Orange Beach is your destination, there is a toll bridge that you must pass through to access the island, but the $3.50 toll is well worth the time that you will save by using the express way.  You can even prepay the toll and use a mobile app to access the prepaid toll lanes which have significantly less traffic during the summer.

If you are heading to Gulf Shores, there is a back road route that will take you and your family back to Highway 59 only a half mile away from the Gulf Shores bridge.  This route will add a couple of miles to your trip, but you won’t encounter the same bumper-to-bumper traffic that you would by taking Highway 59 all the way from Interstate 10.

Traffic Times to Avoid

Saturday is the most popular day of the week for reservation arrivals and departures.  This means it is also the most popular travel day and the day that you are most likely to encounter heavy traffic.  If your schedule is flexible, you can save significant drive time and stress by altering your travel plans by a single day.  Coming in on a Friday means the interstates and highways are much less congested, and you’ll be settled in and ready to hit the beach by the time Saturday morning rolls around.  Since that’s the time most people are packing up and heading home, you and your family will find the beaches are less crowed on Saturdays as well.

Unfortunately, many vacation rentals restrict arrivals and departures to Saturdays during the peak season, especially for 4 and 5 bedroom rentals.  If you and your family are staying at a location that requires a Saturday arrival and departure you won’t be able to avoid traveling on this day, but you can still use the new Baldwin Beach Express to avoid the traffic nightmares on Highway 59.

Easter EGGcitement

Easter is a time to rejoice and celebrate life.  Make plans to spend quality time relaxing and creating happy memories with your family. The Gulf Coast is filled with Easter festivities and Spring Break activities.

Are you looking for some Easter EGGcitement? Here are a few events you should add to your must do list for Easter weekend.

Wales West Cottontail Express

Board the Cottontail Express at Wales West on weekends until April 4 for a real Steam trail ride through the Bunny Hutch. Take your pictures with the Easter Bunny, visit the petting zoo and blast Peeps’ from cannon. Hop your way to Wales West and get your complimentary Easter basket and bunny ears.

Spring Azaleas at Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens is showcasing over 250,000 lively azalea blooms on 65 acres.  Azaleas are at their peak in full bloom for the next couple of weeks and the display is a “true southern icon.”  Bellingrath Gardens is open year round featuring floral pageantry in a spectacular estate garden.  As the sun rises over Bellingrath Gardens on Easter Sunday, a sunrise service will begin at 6:30 a.m. and offerings will benefit Family Promise of Coastal Alabama.

Easter Sunday Brunch at The Beach Club

Brunch is an Easter morning tradition and Executive Chef, Brody Olive and his team are serving an annual brunch at Coast Restaurant at The Beach Club.  Enjoy Blue Crab Deviled Eggs, Grilled Leg of Lamb Skewers, Bon Secour Shrimp & Grits, Herb Rubbed Prime Rib and much more. Click here to view the entire menu.

Egg Hunts

The Hangout is offering brunch at 8:00 a.m. and activities for all ages begin at 11:00 a.m. Known as “the Island’s largest kids Easter Egg Hunt.” You can have an EGGcellent time where “59 ends and the fun begins.”

The Beach Club is hiding an ocean of 6,000 eggs for kids 12 and under at the Annual Easter Eggstravanza on the front lawn of The Village for the egg dash at 1:00 p.m.  Get your face painted, take a train ride and get your photo made with the Easter Bunny.

LuLu’s at Homeport Marina is hosting their Annual Easter Egg Hunt at 2:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday. Take  your picture with the Easter Bunny and hunt for EGGciting treasures in the sand.

We hope everyone has an EGGcellent Easter Sunday. For additional information on area events and activities, please visit www.gulfshores.com.

We Pack to Travel – Take Home Alabama’s Finest Seafood

There is nothing like sinking your teeth into some of the finest seafood on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Visitors flock to the area to relax on the shore and enjoy the freshest Gulf cuisine. In addition to enjoying fresh shrimp, fish and oysters while you are here, you can also take it home with you. Here is a list of local specialty markets that will pack your seafood to travel home with you or ship it directly to your doorstep.

Blalock Seafood and Specialty Markets are conveniently located in Gulf Shores on Highway 59 and on Canal Road in Orange Beach. Blalock Seafood offers a wide selection of the freshest seafood available and they always have “Royal Red” shrimp. They offer a fresh fish selection according to the season and you can always find a complimentary sample of their famous shrimp bisque. In addition to their Coastal Alabama locations, you can also find a location in Destin, Florida.

Billy’s Seafood is a fresh local market supplying fresh seafood since 1975. Their motto is “If It Swims We’ve Got It.” Located on Bon Secour River, it is considered the hidden gem of fresh off the boat local seafood. Not only will they pack to travel, they will also ship it to your door with overnight delivery. If you tell then you saw it online, they will include a free 5oz shrimp boil.

Gulf Shores Seafood and Meat Market is a one stop source for fresh seafood, steaks and meals to go. Located across from Waterville, USA, you can find fresh Snapper, Grouper, Yellowfin Tuna, Flounder, Crabmeat, Oysters, seafood dips and live or cooked crawfish. They sell premium steaks for land lovers and you can order your meals online and they will have them ready to go so you can spend your time relaxing on the beach.

Lartigue’s Seafood Market offers the real deal in fresh and steamed seafood to go. They offer a complete line of dipping sauce, marinades and hot sauces to compliment the variety of fresh local seafood. In addition to the fresh seafood market, Lartigue’s offers inshore, nearshore and offshore fishing adventures.

Make sure you stop by one these fresh markets while you are on the Alabama Gulf Coast so you can take some of Alabama’s finest seafood home with you or have is shipped.

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