Thanksgiving on the Gulf

Thanksgiving on the Gulf

Between November and December, families will travel thousands of miles to share the holidays with loved ones. A great place to do that is at a destination spot, which will allow families to celebrate the holiday in neutral territory and remove the pressure of one family member hosting everything. Create fun, family memories by celebrating along the waterfront in Gulf Shores.

While you’re at it, why not leave the grocery shopping and cooking to the experts. The Beach Club on Fort Morgan Road offers a Thanksgiving special that includes accommodations and a gourmet Thanksgiving buffet prepared by Chef Brody Olive at the Coast restaurant.

The menu will include Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and green bean casserole. But steps it up a notch with additional offerings such as lobster bisque, herb-rubbed prime rib, blackened Mahi Mahi, lump crab and sweet pepper and Gulf seafood lasagna. Did I mention the cranberry apple bread pudding with caramel sauce? Be sure not to miss that. These are just a few of the savory highlights. Click here to see the full menu.

The buffet is $32.95 per person for adults, $10.95 for children ages 6-12 and FREE for children 5 and under.

Tempted yet? Book a rental at The Beach Club to stay Thanksgiving weekend (Wednesday, Nov. 26 – Sunday, Nov. 30) and you will receive dinner vouchers based on the size room you book. The property offers 1 to 5 bedroom condominiums and village cottages. Click here  for more details on the special.

After dinner, everyone can walk on the beach and coast around the property before retiring to the condo for family game time. But the fun doesn’t have to stop there. On Friday, enjoy a morning sunrise or sunset, take the little ones out for a poolside craft and games or enjoy an evening campfire and S’mores. On Saturday, catch super deals at the Tanger Outlets in Foley, Ala., enjoy more games on the property or watch the Iron Bowl. There’s even an 8 a.m. worship service. Sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving to me.

Guest Blog written by Cecilia Pearson

Coastal Christmas on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Escape the winter blues this Christmas and trade in the snow for snow-white sand. Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast for Coastal Christmas starting November 28 through New Years. Christmas time is just around the corner and we don’t want you to miss out on holiday fun for the entire family.

Alabama beaches have always been a favorite spot for vacationers during the summer but the secret is getting out about vacationing year round because of the mild weather.  Escaping to the coast for Christmas will bring joy to the family, shopping opportunities for Christmas and great vacation rental rates on condominiums and beach houses.  Continue reading “Coastal Christmas on the Alabama Gulf Coast”

48 hours in Gulf Shores

What happens when you can’t sneak away for an entire week getaway but need at least 48 hours to recharge? Fill up the gas tank and plan a visit to Gulf Shores! Pack your bags and head out as soon as you can Friday evening and enjoy the next two days. Here’s how.

Friday Evening

The sun is starting to set as you pull in. Check in to your hotel or rental and head off to the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier, the second longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico to spot some marine life (including sharks!) and watch the sunset. The admission cost is $2 but you can use it until sunrise and the pier is open 24 hours a day. Grab an ice cream for your walk. If you’re feeling hungry afterwards try S&S Seafood Market for Gulf seafood at its best.

Saturday

Wake up and take advantage of the day! Stop at a beachside café to have your morning meal while watching the waves roll in. That’s what you came for right? When your stomach is satisfied take a drive to Fort Morgan where a living history museum will take you back in time. There are more activities in the summer than winter months but no matter when you visit you should see this historical treasure. Eight miles across the bay on Dauphin Island is Fort Gaines. A ferry is available to take you between them.

Grab a bite to eat and then get ready to fill your afternoon. The National Museum of Naval Aviation and Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum both share important parts of the region’s history. Visit one or both to learn more about the local area and culture. In the late afternoon a dolphin cruise can take you out on the bay to see these beloved animals. No guarantees you’ll spot any but if you’re lucky you will!

Sunday

After a long day exploring, sleep in a little and then enjoy brunch in one of Gulf Shores delicious restaurants. Visit Gulf State Park as you wrap up your stay. If you’re adventurous take one of the six zip line adventures, four of which go over Lake Shelby. If you’re more athletically inclined stand up paddle boards and kayaks are available to rent and take out on the lake.

After lunch head back for a small nap or pack your bags for the beach. If the temperature is too cold for a swim, take a walk instead. The beaches are white sand and you can find seashells at the ready. With just a little more time left stop in to one of the art galleries or shops of Gulf Shores to pick up local specialties or a souvenir to remember your time on the beach. Locally made jewelry and pottery are favorites and if you have space for a big cooler, take home some fresh seafood!

 

3 Reasons Why a Vacation Rental is Perfect for Hosting Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great time of year that brings families together to enjoy homemade food, football and quality time together.  Unfortunately, if you’re responsible for coordinating the festivities Thanksgiving can also be a stressful holiday.  If you’re family is looking to you for a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, don’t worry because the Alabama Gulf Coast has you covered.  A vacation rental is the perfect place to host your family’s Thanksgiving and here are 3 reasons why. Continue reading “3 Reasons Why a Vacation Rental is Perfect for Hosting Your Thanksgiving”

Here’s Why Fall is the New Summer on the Gulf Coast

School is starting back and some kids are experiencing back-to-school blues, so give them something to look forward to. A fall break at the beach will give the kiddos something to look forward to, and you can offer it as a reward for good behavior and grades. The rumor on the island is that fall is the new summer. It’s not as hot; there are shorter wait times at your favorite restaurants and shorter commute times.

The secret is out about the sugar-white sand in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The Alabama Gulf Coast is so tranquil it is almost like you’re in a dream. People escape the hustle and bustle of the daily grind to relax. The beach is the place to getaway and fall is definitely prime time. There is something for everyone in the fall including football, Fort Morgan and Flora-Bama. What more do you need?

The rates for accommodations drop in the fall and some of the area’s most popular events take place after school starts back.

  • Thunder on the Gulf rolls down the beach on Friday, August 22 and in Pensacola on Sunday, August 24.
  • Bulls on the Beach at the famous Flora-Bama Lounge.  Head to The Bama September 12-13 for a high-energy, rock-and-roll rodeo with professional bullriders from across the southeast.
  • Mercedes-Benz of Mobile is presenting the Wharf’s first premier wine tasting and culinary competition,Uncorked at The Wharf on September 25, 26, and 27.
  • Presented by Zatarain’s, the 2014 National Shrimp Festival is October 9-12 in Gulf Shores featuring fine art, live music, Children’s Village, shrimp, more shrimp and Cajun Pistols.
  • Restaurateurs and celebrity chefs will be shuckin’ the Gulf’s finest treasures for food fanatic’s and oyster connoisseurs at the Annul Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout November 7-9.

Fall begins an array of great outdoor activities and events in coastal Alabama.  Golf, fishing, football and hiking are at their peak when the air is cooler and more refreshing. Think about booking a Tailgate Getawaypackage, a tee time at an award-winning golf course or a girlfriend’s getaway before you FALL back into the daily grind.

Wine dinners are great for a date night in the fall and many of the local restaurants start hosting them often. Spectrum Resorts offers wine dinner packages at Coast that include accommodations at The Beach Club.  Wine dinners are great for anniversary dinners or romantic getaways. Fall is one of the most romantic times of year and the fall holidays are a great time for engagements and weddings. Many couples come to the coast and Fall in love.

Check back in with the Spectrum Resorts blog for our September series on Fall Favorites where we will spotlight a different restaurant, event or attraction each week.

 

The Thunder Rolls on the Coast August 22

Thunder is the last sound you want to hear when you are relaxing on Alabama’s beautiful beaches unless it’s the roaring sound coming from Thunder on the Gulf. Fans of all ages are eagerly anticipating the annual powerboat races on the liquid race course in Orange Beach. The speed, the adrenaline and the anticipation of seeing what high powered speed boat is going to win are memories in the making.

The Gulf Coast Powerboat Association announced the creation of the Flora-Bama Shootout Grand Prix Championship. This year fans can take advantage of two exciting race days by viewing two races in two different cities in the same weekend.  The 11th Annual Thunder on the Gulf is in Orange Beach on August 22 and the Inaugural ThunderRun Super Boat Grand Prix is in Pensacola on August 24. Both locations are only a short drive apart so you can cheer on racers in both Alabama and Florida.

Thunder on the Gulf is a well-known event recommended by many travel industry experts and it draws in teams and fans from around the country and world. This fun-filled event has been named by The Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for August 2014.

Festivities will begin at the famous Flora-Bama Yacht Club for a meet and greet with race teams and to celebrate Flora-Bama’s 50th anniversary. All ages are welcome to this historic party on Thursday, August 21. This year’s race is being called the “Flora-Bama Shootout” in honor of their half a century anniversary. After the Welcome Party, The Marshall Tucker Band will take the stage and bring their Thunder to the Gulf at The Wharf’s Amphitheater for the official kick off concert.

Thunder on the Gulf is a family-friendly event and can be viewed by thousands of spectators. Viewers can watch the race from any Orange Beach public beach accesses for free.  The liquid race course runs from Perdido Pass west to the boundary of Gulf State Park.  VIP Pass Packages are available for admittance into the VIP Tent at Race Central at Island House Hotel in Orange Beach and the VIP Tent at Plaza de Luna in Pensacola. Kid’s VIP passes are also available for kids age 12 and under.

For the first time ever, Thunder on the Gulf is offering an elite Platinum VIP Experience that will include access to watch the race from the 29th floor at Turquoise Place for a bird’s eye view of the race.  Included in the Experience is lunch, drink tickets, live entertainment and access to the VIP tent in Pensacola.  Click hereto reserve your VIP Passes or Platinum VIP Experience Passes.

Platinum VIP Pass Package          $160.00

VIP Pass Package                        $126.50

Kids VIP Pass                              $27.50

For a complete list of Thunder on the Gulf events, visit http://www.thunderonthegulf.com/event-schedule.html

If you’re looking for the perfect location to view the races, check out the Thunder on the Gulf free night special at Turquoise Place.

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Beach Wedding

Beach Weddings are beautiful and classic, and there is something very romantic about exchanging your vows outdoors at sunset with the sound of the waves crashing in the background.  Here are some tips to help you plan a beautiful beach wedding.

Here’s Where to Start

If you are not sure where to start, consider booking the vendors that can only do one event/wedding per day, such as your photographer, your band or DJ, and in many cases, your venue. A florist and pastry chef can prepare for multiple weddings at one time, but you need to book the people who have to be present on the day of your wedding first.

For a destination wedding, it’s also important to find experienced planners who have relationships with
vendors in the area and can assist you in finding the perfect partnerships.

Do You Need a Beach Permit?

You will need to check with your venue to see if a beach permit is required. Some locations require a permit from the city, and you wouldn’t want to show up on wedding day with another bride and groom saying “I do” in your spot.

You should also find out whether your beach of choice is a public beach or private beach. During peak summer months, it’s not uncommon to have two weddings within view of each other on public beaches. There are some resorts, such as The Beach Club, who have private beaches and can guarantee you won’t have other weddings or umbrellas and chairs in background of your wedding pictures.

Keeping Your Guests in Mind

Although it is your day, always remember to consider your guests when planning your wedding. Do you want chairs for everyone in attendance? Do you have any elderly relatives who might have trouble walking in the sand? If so, find a venue where you can have the beach view and feel, but not necessarily have to be in the sand.

Waves are crashing on the shore can provide calming background noise, but they can also be too noisy depending on the weather. You may want to consider booking a wireless sound system through your DJ or venue so that your guests can hear your vows.

Also, consider finding a place that can host both your ceremony and reception. This allows your guests to start celebrating right away, and makes it easier for you to finish pictures and not feel too far from party. Driving 30-45 minutes in tourist traffic after the ceremony to the reception can be stressful and inconvenient.

It’s also a big convenience for a destination wedding and reception to be booked in a place where your guests can take the elevator home and not have to travel after the reception. There are several locations in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area that can assist you in planning your ceremony and reception as well as provide discounts for your guests to stay onsite and keep the celebration alive all weekend. Some of your guests may even want to take the opportunity to extend their stay and enjoy a family vacation.

Back-up Plan

Most importantly, when planning an outdoor wedding of any kind you must have a back-up plan in case of inclement weather. Whether it is a tent on standby with a rental company or an alternate indoor space, preparation is a much better alternative than hoping for the best.

With the proper planning and preparation, you will be able to relax and enjoy your special day.

 

Battle of Mobile Bay Brings History to Life August 1st through 3rd

This August 1st through 3rd, re-enactors from all over will come together to relive the Battle of Mobile Bay at Fort Morgan’s historic location in Gulf Shores. “Damn the torpedoes!” will be heard once again along with authentic music, tall ships and artillery fire.

What is the significance of the Battle of Mobile Bay? On August 5, 1864, Union Admiral David Farragut led his fleet through the Confederate defenses in Mobile, Alabama with the goal of sealing one of the last major Southern ports. His victory, which was a major blow to the Confederacy, would eventually help secure the re-election of President Lincoln later that year.

This year will be the 150th anniversary, and Fort Morgan will be filled with 19th century history. Not
only will there be a re-enactment of the battle, but you and your family can also experience authentic camps and costumes from the time period, a living history demonstration on how soldiers and civilians lived during the Civil War, 19th century musicians, and a special naval exhibit in the museum. Local food vendors will also be on site for the event, and a gift shop will be open full of 150th anniversary souvenirs. A full schedule of events can be found on the Battle of Mobile Bay website.

Haven’t made reservations for the weekend yet?The Beach Club is located on Fort Morgan Road which means easy traveling to the re-enactment. This full service family resort is located right on the beach, so when you’re not reliving the Battle of Mobile Bay, you and your family can hang out on the sugar white sand and enjoy the other scenes of the Gulf Coast.

Fort Morgan’s gates will open at 8 a.m. each day, but parking will not be available at the reenactment site. Shuttles can be taken from Pelican Place near the Cobb Movie Theaters or Faulkner State College, Wade Ward Campus which are both located on Hwy 59 in Gulf Shores. If you are staying at The Beach Club, a shuttle stops will be available on-site, and rental packages are available that come with refreshments and snacks for those attending the event.   The price for the shuttle is $2 per person each way. There will also be onsite parking for vehicles that traveled on the Mobile Bay Ferry. A map can be found here.

 

Is The Wharf The Perfect Location for a Family Day Out?

When it’s time to take a break from the beach or pool and go on an excursion, The Wharf in Orange Beach is the perfect place to find everything you need for a fun-filled, laid-back day or evening out. With the many options available along the Alabama Gulf Coast, we are recommending the Wharf because it is centrally location with shopping, dining, and fun for the entire family.

Start your day at The Wharf with breakfast at The Southern Grind Coffee House. They have a coffee menu that competes with Starbucks. If you are looking for an egg and toast breakfast or just a simple bagel, they have everything you need to fuel up for a day of shopping and activities. The southern charm and unique coastal style of this cafe is warm and inviting and a great way to start the daily grind.

Now that you have completed the most important meal of the day, it’s time to walk around The Wharf’s many shops. They have everything from locally-owned boutiques to department stores. Take the younger kids to Build-A-Bear Workshop and let them bring a Teddy Bear to life. If you are looking for a women’s clothing boutique specializing in recognizable fashions and emerging designers then we recommend shopping atLucca.

Ladies, we strongly suggest sending your man to Archipelago before starting your shopping ventures at the Wharf. Archipelago is the premier shop for men’s clothing. They offer a complimentary drink while you shop and a cigar with your purchase.  This makes life a little easier on the ladies looking to spend freely and shop til’ they drop.

If shopping is not for you, The Wharf is hosting a 100 Days of Summer which includes free activities
throughout the peak season. Every night there are three free Spectra light shows! At 8 pm is A Night at the Movies, 9 pm is the Aqua Show and 10 pm is the Patriotic Show.  Additional entertainment includes a magic show, a hula hoop artist and fire enchantress.

If you are looking to get a birds-eye view of the Alabama Gulf Coast, just hop on theThe Wharf’s Ferris Wheel. It is the tallest in the Southeast and it has become a landmark in itself. It operates from 12 pm until 10 pm daily and it is a great way to get a tree-top view and feel the gulf breeze.

If you are a big fan of the Ferris wheel and most likely a thrill seeker, then Sharky’s Family Adventure Park has something for you. There you can test your skills and balance ability while making your way along one of 3 rope courses. They even offer one for children less than 48” so the smaller kids can participate.

The Wharf offers a unique selection of great shopping, dining and entertainment for the entire family.  For additional information about the Wharf, visit their website at www.alwharf.com.  Please tell us about your favorite place at the Wharf and leave us a comment below. Have fun, be safe and enjoy your 100 Days of Summer!

What Beach Bunnies Need to Know to Plan an Easter Beach Trip

Holidays are always special on the Gulf Coast, and Easter is no exception. There’s a multitude of special Easter Sunday services, brunches, egg hunts and other festivals being planned for the weekend. So, whether you want to start a new tradition or make sure you family doesn’t miss any of its old traditions while you are on vacation, here’s a guide to some of the special activities being planned for Easter weekend.

Easter Sunday Services

Worship on the Water. 11 a.m. Honky Tonk-style worship service at the Flora-Bama.

Gulf Shores United Methodist Church. 6:30 a.m. sunrise service at the Hangout.

Gulf State Park. 6 a.m. non-denominational sunrise service at the beach pavilion.

Romar Baptist Church. 7 a.m. sunrise service on the beach featuring the Glorymen and Gladheart.

Easter Brunch/Activities  

LuLu’s at Homeport Marina. Egg hunt starts at 2 p.m., and the Easter Bunny will be on hand taking pictures.

The Hangout. Billed as “The Island’s Largest Kids Easter Egg Hunt.” Brunch begins at 8 a.m. Activities for the kids begin at 11 a.m.

The Beach Club. The Beach Club’s Easter Jazz Buffet features more than 25 items. After brunch, the
EGGstravaganza
continues on the Village Lawn from noon – 2 p.m., where there will be a petting zoo, pictures with the Easter Bunny, live music by This Side of 49, train rides and an Egg Dash starting at 1 p.m. Make reservations by calling 866-966-6451.

Perdido Beach Resort offers an Easter Buffet of traditional family favorites in their grand ballroom from 11 a.m.– 3 p.m. Brunch includes a visit from the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt at 12:30 p.m. For reservations, call 251-981-9811.

Louisiana Pantry at the Wharf. Brunch on April 19 and 20 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. with a special Bunny appearance at each brunch. Bring your own camera to take photos.

Easter Brunch Cruise— Alabama Cruises, 4575 South Wilson Boulevard, Orange Beach. Enjoy Easter Brunch as you cruise the waters near Perdido Pass from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 251-973-1244.

Saturday Egg Hunts/Festivals

Funny Bunny Fun Run. April 19 at 8 a.m., The Gulf, 27500 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach. No entry fee to participate in this non-competitive 1.5-mile fun run back and forth across Perdido Pass Bridge. Live music, prize for the funniest costume and Slip ‘n Slide at the Gulf Restaurant.

Bear Point Civic Association Easter Egg Hunt, April 19 at 11 a.m., Bear Point Civic Association Park, 5761 Bay La Launch Ave. Orange Beach. Hotdogs, hamburgers and drinks will be served until 1 p.m. Also includes Easter Bunny pictures, a bake sale and a raffle.

The Wharf, April 19 at 11 a.m.Free Easter egg hunt plus face painting and balloon artists on the lawn.

Flora-Bama, April 19 at 2 p.m., the Flora-Bama hosts a family friendly Easter Egg Hunt.

If you know of other events being planned for Easter weekend, please add them in the comment section below.