Marine Life on the Gulf Coast: What to Expect

“Mom, are there going to be sharks in the water?” When I was growing up, that’s one of the questions that I regularly asked when my family was headed down to the coast for a beach vacation. Now, I live on the Gulf Coast and see the beach nearly every day. So, what I see on a regular basis is the same thing a tourist might expect to see while visiting the local beaches.

Marine Mammals

Dolphins are fairly easy to spot in the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, AL, area. As a matter of fact, I just spotted one while working on this blog post. You probably won’t see them every day, but if you keep an eye out, over the course of a day or two, you are likely to see one. Also, if you are really interested in seeing one of these fun loving and playful animals up close, you may want to go on a dolphin cruise. There are several companies that will take tourists, or locals, out for guaranteed dolphin sightings.

Nesting Sea Turtles

The Gulf Coast is the birthing ground for a host of sea turtles that are hatched every year. Between May and November, Share the Beach volunteers,, actively search for sea turtle nests in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Dauphin Island. When they find the fragile nests, they mark the buried eggs with neon tape and a sign indicating they are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

If you time it just right, you might be lucky enough to watch the baby sea turtles hatch and make their way down to the water to embark upon their first sea voyage. I haven’t seen too many turtles during day-to-day life, but volunteers for this year found and marked 82 nests along the Alabama coastline.

Truth be told, I still haven’t seen any sharks in the Orange Beach or Gulf Shores area. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I hear the locals say that shark feeding time is during dawn and dusk. So, if you want to go in the water when the sharks are least likely to be there, then I would recommend going during the middle of the day.

Watch Out For These Guys

When it comes to being attacked by marine life, you may want to beware of crabs. They might grab your foot from time to time. Also, make sure you don’t get too near the stingrays or jellyfish, both of which are native to the Alabama Gulf Coast.

The ocean is fun, and people who are fortunate enough to visit the Gulf Coast will see a variety of marine life. I hope you get the chance to visit the area, enjoy your stay, and keep safe. Also, pay attention to the beach flag system, which indicates water conditions, including dangerous marine life.

5 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Spring Break Vacation Rental

March is finally here and that means more and more families will be heading to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for Spring Break. With so many vacation rental options available, deciding where to stay can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you and your family pick the perfect rental for your Spring Break vacation.

1. Heated Pools Warm-up Spring

Spring weather on the Alabama Coast can be a little unpredictable. The temperatures may be in the 80s one day and in the 60s the next. Even if the sun is out, the water may still be too chilly for taking a dip. That’s why finding a property that has a heated pool or even a heated lazy river is a must for a spring vacation. There are several properties along the coast that have a heated indoor pool, but if you want to be able to swim AND work on your tan, you’ll need to stay somewhere that has a heated outdoor pool as well.

2. Rent Gulf Front for Easy Beach Access

Properties that sit directly on the Gulf of Mexico not only have the best views; they also have the most
convenient beach access. If you don’t want to have to pack the car to drive to a public beach, then a Gulf-front rental is the way to go. And if you rent with a property that provides beach chair rentals, you’ll have even less to carry. Just grab some beach toys and a cooler with snacks and a few drinks, and you’re ready to hit the sand.

3. Onsite Dining Means Less Stress

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are very popular Spring Break destinations, and the restaurants in the area typically have long waits during March and April. Look for a property that offers at least one onsite dining option. This will allow you to grab a bite without having to get out of your bathing suits or take a number and wait an hour to eat when the kids are already hungry.

4. Onsite Amenities and Activities

Look for a property that has a lot of onsite amenities and planned activities. There are some local resorts that have so many onsite amenities that you could stay for several days without having to leave the property for other entertainment. Some also have planned free planned activities for the kids, which can save you money in the long run if you do not have to hit the arcades or amusement parks every day.

5. Middle of the Action or Privacy?

Do you want to be in the middle of the action or you looking for privacy and seclusion? If you want to be near shops, restaurants and entertainment options, then choosing a property in the heart of Orange Beach or Gulf Shores is the way to go. However, if you are looking for get away from the noise and distractions in your life, then check out a resort on Fort Morgan Road.


The 5 Best Day Trips to Make on Your Family’s Beach Vacation

Just a short drive from the Alabama Gulf Coast, there are some world-class attractions that draw thousands of visitors a year. So, you might think about planning a day or two into your next family vacation to check out some of these area attractions.

Battleship USS Alabama

History buffs shouldn’t miss this chance to see a real World War II hero. Prior to being decommission in 1947, The Battleship USS Alabama had quite a storied past.

Known as the “Hero of the Pacific,” the Alabama served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. At the end of the war, she embarked 700 sailors, principally members of Navy construction battalions (or “Seabees”), as a part of her mission in Operation Magic Carpet to return American servicemen home as soon as possible. The Alabama accumulated nine U.S. Navy battle stars for her World War II service.

The Alabama was taken to Mobile Bay and opened as a museum ship in 1965. Visitors are allowed to view the inside of the main gun turrets and anti-aircraft guns. And thanks to the addition of a stairway, you can also see the powder magazine.

USS Battleship Alabama, 2703 Battleship Parkway, Mobile, AL. Open every day except Christmas Day. Admission: Age 12 & up: $15; Ages 6-11: $6; Active or Retired Military and under age 6: Free; Discounts for groups, senior citizen, military dependents and AAA Members.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Walter Bellingrath once said “The gardens are like a beautiful woman with a different gown for each week of the year.” Bellingrath, the first Coca-Cola bottler in Alabama, originally bought the property in 1917 as a fishing camp.

Even though Bellingrath Gardens is famous for it’s azaleas and award-winning roses, there is literally something blooming year-round in the 65-acre garden estate. Camellia blooms in winter, azaleas in spring, roses in the summer, chrysanthemums in autumn and, during the holiday season, the garden turns into a Magic Christmas in Lights.

You can also tour the Bellingrath Home, complete with its original furnishings and Mrs. Bellingrath’s extensive collection of decorative arts. Built in 1935, the 10,500- square-foot home was designed by prominent architect, George B. Rogers.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home, 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore, AL. Open year-round 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. except certain holidays. Admission: Garden only: Adults, $12.50; Children (5-12), $7. Garden and Home: Adults, $20.50; Children (5-12), $12.50.

Downtown Fairhope

A popular wintering spot for artist and intellectuals (including Sherwood Anderson and Upton Sinclair) in the early 1900s, downtown Fairhope surprises you with its beauty, history and charm.

Located just off the shore of Mobile Bay, the vibrant downtown scene is complete with art galleries, boutiques, bookstores, antique shops and even restaurants that have been featured on the Food Network.

Each season of the year brings different festivals, art shows and concerts to downtown Fairhope.

National Naval Aviation Museum/ NAS Pensacola Pensacola_Naval_Museum

The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida.  The museum, which is located at NAS Pensacola, showcases more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing the Navy, the Marine and the Coast Guard.

Once you’ve looked at the planes, don’t miss the opportunity  to simulate flying in one of the museum’s interactive exhibits. They have an IMAX theater (with the largest screen in Florida), a 3D Flight Simulators, a Blue Angel 4D experience, cockpit trainers, a virtual flight deck and a Kiddie Hawk Play area.

The 3D Flight Simulators allow you to experience horizontal rolls, longitudinal pitches and vertical climbs in a multi-sensory experience. Or check out the Blue Angels 4D experience and feel like you’re the pilot in a Blue Angel’s air show.

Naval Aviation Museum, 1750 Radford Blvd., Pensacola, FL.  Admission is free to the museum, cockpit trainers and Kiddie Hawk Play area. The IMAX theater, the 3D Flight Simulators and 4D Blue Angel experience are priced separately. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center

Voted one of the  Top 15 Science Centers in the country, the Exploreum is the only science technology center serving south Alabama, south Mississippi and northwest Florida.

Exploreum visitors can experience more than 150 hands-on science adventures in three permanent galleries: Hands On Hall, the Wharf of Wonder, and My BodyWorks, the most advanced health exhibit in the nation.

The Exploreum also features large-scale, family friendly, interactive traveling exhibits, demonstrations and an IMAX theater.

Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, 65 Government Street, Mobile, AL. Open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. Admission: $16 for adults, $15 for seniors and young adults (age 13-18) and $13.50 for children (2-12).

Leave a comment below if you have a favorite day trip that we didn’t cover here.


Six Must Do Activities for Your Family’s Spring Break

With the brutal winter of 2014 almost behind us, many folks are eagerly looking forward to Spring Break on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It’s great to spend your spring vacation relaxing on the sugar white sand, but Gulf Shores and Orange Beach also offer many family activities for when you’re not playing in the surf.

Get on Track

Not surprisingly, go-karts are the main attraction at The Track. The more adventurous members of you family will probably head for the Wild Woody, a three-story spiraling wooden track. However, The Track also has a classic go-kart track with single and double-seated karts so that everyone in the family can participate. There are even special tracks for drivers as young as 5-years-old (Kiddie and Rookie Karts).

After a few circles around the track, check out the River Boat Miniature Golf course and Kid’s Country with rides, a Ferris wheel and carousels for pint-sized patrons.

The older kids may want to head over to the Sky Coaster, a free-fall experience from up to 110 feet at speeds of 70 mph.

The Track uses a carnival-type ticket system for all rides and attractions. Tickets can be purchased online beforehand for a 10 percent discount. The Track— Family Recreation Center, 3200 Gulf Shores Pkwy.

One-Stop for Fun

You could spend an hour or a full day at the Wharf where there are plenty of shops, restaurants and attractions to keep you and the kids occupied.

Marking the grand entrance to the Wharf is the southeast’s tallest Ferris Wheel. You can get a great overview of Orange Beach from the top of the wheel, which is over 112-feet tall.

The Ferris Wheel just happens to be located next to the Carmike Wharf 15, which shows all the latest movie releases.

Or if you are in the mood to do something a little more active, check out Arena the Next Level, where kids of all ages can play Laser Tag or Bazooka Ball.

The Wharf, 4830 Main Street, Orange Beach.

And for Your Next Adventure

Adventure Island is built around a five-story volcano that erupts regularly with fire, sound and vibrations.

There are plenty of other main attractions at Adventure Island. You’ll find rides and games for the entire family including go-karts, paddle-boats, two 18-hole miniature golf courses, bumper boats, laser tag, a rock-climbing wall and an arcade.

Adventure Island also features several rides for the smaller set, and the Alligator Alley Arcade has more than 100 video and redemption games.

Adventure Island, located in the heart of Orange Beach across the street from Seaside Beach & Racquet. Open 9:30 a.m. – midnight. Hours vary during the off-season.

Fat Daddy’s Arcade

Featuring more than 65 of the most popular games on the market, you can find everything from skee ball and basketball free throws to Guitar Hero, racing games, interactive games, kids games and lots more at Fat Daddy’s Arcade. Many of the featured games award tickets that can be redeemed for prizes.

Fat Daddy’s Arcade is open daily at 10 a.m. Off-season hours may vary. Located in the heart of Orange Beach next to Bubba’s Seafood on Perdido Beach Blvd.

Zip the Gulf

One of the newest and one of the most adventurous recreation options on the Gulf Coast opened up last
year at Gulf State Park. The Hummingbird Ziplines, consisting of seven towers and six ziplines as high as 90 feet off the ground, offers a high flying adventure for the entire family. The mile-long course takes two hours to complete while offering spectacular views of the gator pond and Lake Shelby.

Hummingbird Ziplines, a zipline tour costs $79 for adults and $59 for children 12 and under. Discounts may apply for groups larger than 12.

Pet a kangaroo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is an interactive zoo with more than 500 exotic animals and a petting zoo. In spring and summer, you can even play with the babies—including tigers, kangaroos and lemurs.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, 1204 Gulf Shores Pkwy. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for children ages 3-12 and free for children 2 and under.

Leave us a comment to let us know what family activities you and your family enjoy most on your Spring Break vacations!

Condo Rentals: Reading the Fine Print

Nothing is more frustrating or disappointing than having an exciting beach vacation planned and needing to cancel at the last minute for a crisis at work or family illness. Adding insult to injury is to find out that even though you didn’t step one foot in the sand, you are going to lose the entire amount you would have spent on lodging.

But that could easily happen if you don’t read the fine print of your rental policy.

The upfront charges and penalties vary greatly from rental management company to rental management company. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you identify “Guest Friendly” policies when deciding which company to book your family vacation through.

Cancellation PenaltiesIMG_3373

The most obvious (and potentially costly) thing to look out for is the cancellation penalty.

Unfriendly Guest Policy: Cancel within 30 days? Pay in full. Sadly, it is common to find a 30-day cancellation period with nearly all rental management companies and even rentals by owner. This means that if you cancel anytime within 30 days of your scheduled vacation, you pay the entire amount. Even if you cancel earlier than 30 days out, you are usually charged a $30 – $50 administrative fee.

Guest Friendly Policy: Cancel more than 14 days in advance? No penalty or payment due. There are some management companies on the Gulf Coast that allow you to cancel within 30 days of your arrival date without penalty. Even if you have to cancel within a 14-day window, you only forfeit 50 percent of the total cost of your reservation instead of the full amount.

Reservation Deposits

Unfriendly Guest Policy: 30 percent due at booking. Unfriendly policies require a 30 percent deposit when you make the reservation even if you’re several months away from putting your toes in the sand. This means that you need a significant amount of money upfront for your family vacation.

Guest Friendly Policy: $0 down when you book. The most guest friendly policies do not require a deposit at the time of booking, and only take a 50 percent deposit two weeks prior to your arrival date. This means that you can book well in advance without the risk of losing any money if you cancel more than two weeks prior to your vacation.

Final Payment

Unfriendly Guest Policy: Pay in full a month before you stay. Final payment is due 30 days prior to arrival.  Again, this means you are paying a significant amount of money before you ever get near the beach. If you cancel after you’ve made your final payment, you forfeit all of your money.

Guest Friendly Policy: Final payment not due until arrival. Guest friendly policies let make your final payment when you arrive. This means you put less down upfront and have more time to save up money for your vacation rental.

Satisfaction Guarantee

Unfriendly Guest Policy: You book it, you get it. Unfortunately, many of us have had the experience of showing up on property and find out the room doesn’t exactly look like it did in the online pictures. Unfriendly policies usually mean that you’re stuck with that rental, even if it was misrepresented. Even if they can move you, many times you may wind having to relocate to a different property. Hint: make sure the company you rent through has plenty of rentals available at the property you choose in case you do need to be moved. 

Guest Friendly Policy: Not happy with your rental? Get relocated to a comparable vacation rental at the same resort no questions asked. A 100% satisfaction guarantee means that you can reserve your rental and be confident that if your room isn’t up to par you and your family will be taken care of.


So make sure to pay close attention to the rental policies you agree to when reserving your beach vacation.  You don’t want to wind up paying for a vacation you never get to enjoy!


Book Your Beach Stay in Advance for a Better Family Vacation

Self-proclaimed travel geeks have made a science out of studying the best time to book airline flights to get the best deals. For airlines, it pays not to be too early or too late. In fact, 49 days or about seven weeks before your travel date is thought to be the optimal time to get the best deal possible.

But there’s not a lot of information out there about the ideal time to book your condo rental at the beach. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you nail down the perfect reservation for your family vacation.

Unlike the narrow window for premium deals on airline reservations, the general consensus is the earlier you decide which condo you want and book it, the more likely it is you will get the best deal available.

Rates Go Up as Occupancy Goes Up

There is probably not a “too early” point to book a condo. That’s why some people put their reservations in up to a year in advance when they find a condo that suits them perfectly. Rates will go up as occupancy goes up. So, the longer you wait to book, the more likely it is you will pay higher rates.

Hotels sometimes offer last-minutes deals, but condos typically do not—especially during peak season.

The exception to this rule is the shoulder seasons. Management companies will often come up with special promotions to fill gaps during this time.

Highly Desirable Units Go First

Privately owned condos are typically decorated to the owner’s taste, and even within the same complex, some have more updates than others. So, obviously, the most desirable and update-to-date units usually book first. Booking early means you will have a larger selection of condos to choose from at your desired property and are more likely to find something to your liking.

Head Start on Planning

Getting your accommodations and locale settled early also allows you to concentrate on planning other
aspects of your vacation. Once you know where you are staying, you can start scouting out nearby restaurants and booking local family excursions or activities.

No Penalty if Plans Change

Some rental companies have very guest-friendly policies that let you book with no money down and cancel up to two weeks prior to your arrival without penalty. This means you can hold your room risk free and even make payments on your trip without the risk of losing your money if you need to cancel. If your desired property does require a deposit, it’s always wise to check cancellation policies before you put any money down as most rental companies will demand full payment if you cancel within a month of your arrival date.

So, the bottom line is, it doesn’t pay to procrastinate if you want to get the most desirable condo at the best price.  Booking your stay in advance can mean you get the best room at the best price without the stress of planning a last minute vacation!


Hangout Music Festival Announces 2014 Lineup

The Hangout Music Festival released its much-anticipated 2014 lineup on January 14, and the festival buzz has officially begun! Here’s the scoop on will be performing at the festival on May 16- 19. And for those of you who’ve never attended the music festival before, we’ve also included some logistical tips to help make your festival experience a breeze.

Festival Lineup

The Hangout Music Festival is known for landing big name headliners and up and coming bands year-end and year-out. They did not disappoint for 2014. This year’s headliners will be: The Black Keys, The Killers,Outkast, and Jack Johnson. Backing them up will be more than 50 bands including: Queens of the Stone Age,Wiz Khalifa, Modest Mouse and Amos Lee. You can find the complete festival lineup on the Hangout Music Festival site.

Festival Shuttles

Unless you’re lucky enough to land a room within walking distance to the festival, shuttles are by far the best way to get to and from the festival. For $50 per person, you get a three-day shuttle pass. Shuttle stops are scattered all over Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, so there are many options to find a stop that is convenient for you. Some Gulf Shores and Orange Beach condos even offer shuttle service directly from their properties. The shuttles run continuously beginning an hour before the gates open and ending an hour after the gates close. So no matter when you decide to come and go,shuttle transportation is convenient.

Festival Passes

Early bird sales have ended, but ticket sales resume on Jan. 16. Three-day general admission passes start at $229. If you really want to enjoy the festival in style, there are VIP and Super VIP ticket options available for up to $1,500 per pass. Super VIP passes will get you access to a Thursday night kickoff party, a private air-conditioned dining area and lounge that serves restaurant quality meals and snacks, access to festival pools and hot tubs (filled with refreshing cool water to combat the May heat), and more.

Festival Tips

As repeat festival attendees will tell you, you’ll want to pack some essential items such as sunscreen, a beach towel, snacks and aspirin. It’s also a good idea to wear light clothing. Something that will help block the sun but also allow some airflow is ideal. The festival provides food and drink options onsite, but you can also bring snacks from home so you don’t have to leave a performance to grab a quick bite.

If you want a front row seat, your odds are better during the daytime shows when the crowds are lighter. Seating and standing room for the headliners fills up quickly, so you’ll want to get to the main stage at least an hour before the performance starts to grab a good spot.

The most important thing is to have fun and hang loose. That is what the Hangout Music Festival is all about after all. Leave us a comment and let us know who you’re most excited to see in 2014.


Gulf Coast Dreaming: Is it time to buy a beach home?

At one time or the other, most of us beach-lovers have fantasized about owning our own condo or house on the beach. But maybe you are one of the lucky ones ready to stop fantasizing and get serious about purchasing.

The time seems right in a lot of ways. Interest rates are low and the market appears to be on the verge of a rebound.

Before you wade in, here are some things you may want to consider before buying a beach home.

To Rent or Not to Rent?

Beaches are prime locations for second homes with potential rental incomes. If you do plan to rent, and want to maximize your rental income, make sure the property you are considering has the amenities most renters expect. Things such as proximity to the water, updated kitchens and bathrooms, swimming pools and other onsite amenities will help increase your potential occupancy and determine the amount of rent you can charge. In general, it will cost you more upfront to purchase property with a lot of amenities, but you should also realize higher rental revenue.

Work with a tax professional if you decide to rent your beach home. They can help you decide whether it is best to treat it as a second home or an investment for income tax purposes. Generally, though, you cannot occupy a rental investment for more than two weeks a year (or 10 percent of the total days it’s rented).

How important is proximity?

Whether you plan to rent or not, most people want a vacation home that is relatively close to their primary residence. You’ll probably use it more often if it’s close enough for long weekend trips. Plus if it’s not too far away, you are more likely to be able to use it for holidays and extended family gatherings

Also, returning to the same place time and after time allows you the opportunity to expand long-term friendships with residents and become part of the social fabric of the area.

Head start on retirement

Locating and buying a second home prior to retirement enables you to experience the benefits of a dream location before actually retiring there. It also give you time to correct and amend your plans if the reality is different than the dream.

While all assets fluctuate in value in the short term, vacation properties are more likely to retain their value and appreciate simply because they are located in popular areas with a geographically limited supply. There is simply a finite amount of shoreline on which coastal residences can be built.


Gulf Coast Fish Stories: Catching the Big One

The Gulf Coast may be known as the “Red Snapper Capital of the World,” but there’s also plenty of grouper, amberjack, blue marlin and cobia pulled in annually on local saltwater fishing charters.

Dozens of charter options are available from the backwater experience of the bay to a deep-sea adventure in pursuit of the big one. But there’s no doubt, the Red Snapper has a special lure.

So, it was good news for fishermen when NOAA Fisheries announced that the 2014 Red Snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico will be two weeks longer than it was in 2013. The 40-day recreational season in federal waters will open June 1 and close July 10.

To help conserve our outdoor living treasures, NOAA uses the season catch rates in previous years and considers the catches expected in state waters to determine the length of Red Snapper season. It is also likely NOAA will announce a two-week fall season later in the year.

Alabama Fishing License

Alabama fishing licenses are available for purchase online (a two-percent convenience fee applies) or by calling toll-free 888-848-6887 (a $3.95 convenience fee applies). You will be issued a temporary license number to use until the hard copy of your license arrives by mail.

Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

Or if watching the big fish being pulled in is more to your liking, there are several fishing tournaments drawing anglers from around the world to the waters surrounding the Alabama Gulf Coast. The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo,, made the U.S. Guinness Book of World Records for largest and oldest saltwater fishing tournament. It draws more than 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators each July.

Blue Marlin Grand Championship

The Wharf in Orange Beach plays host to the Blue Marlin Grand Championship, This two-year-old tournament is the first tournament on the northern Gulf to sell out all open spots since 2005. The week draws to a conclusion with the tournament weigh-in and awards ceremony that crowns the Blue Marlin Grand Champion. In 2013, the 24-year-old Alabama state record for blue marlin was broken twice in one night of exciting weigh-ins.

Be assured that some kind of fish is always biting on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and you can find a wide variety of inshore and offshore species all year round. The Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau website,, is a great resource for finding out what’s biting, what you need to know about fishing regulations and how to hook-up with a fishing charter.

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.