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.

Fireworks TBC Clubhouse

 

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.

flyboarding TBC

 

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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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.

Mardi Gras Madness on Alabama Beaches

It only happens once a year, but people from all over flock to the Gulf Coast to celebrate Mardi Gras. There are beads, masks, costumes and parades galore. Many people think of New Orleans as the birthplace of Mardi Gras but French settlers organized the first Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile. The first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans in 1837 and is now considered the place where the good times roll.

If you are staying in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach this Mardi Gras season, there are many ways to celebrate. You can line the streets to yell at passing floats for beads, you can attend a Mardi Gras ball or enjoy a Mardi Gras boat parade.

Here are 5 parades you won’t want to miss in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

1. LuLu’s is hosting the 3rd Annual Birds of Paradise Mardi Gras Ball on February 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets include open bar, music by the Tip Tops and dinner. Guests must be 21 or older to attend this event.

2. The Mystical Order of Mirams rolls down Perdido Beach Boulevard on February 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Orange Beach.

3. The Mystic of Pleasures starts in Orange Beach on February 14 at 5:30 p.m. on Perdido Beach Boulevard.

4. Two family-friendly parades make their way down Main Street at The Wharf on February 14. The Children and Pet Parade begins at 4 p.m. and the traditional float parade begins at 6 p.m. All kids are invited to jump in the free bounce houses and the nightly light show will feature the sounds and sights of Mardi Gras.

5. Three parades occur on Fat Tuesday, February 17:
• The Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Highway 59 from Clubhouse Drive to the Main Public Beach by Hangout.
• The Orange Beach Mardi Gras Parade begins at 2 p.m. on Perdido Beach Boulevard and ends at Alabama Highway 161.
The Annual LuLu’s Mardi Gras Boat Parade will depart from The Wharf at 3 p.m. and travel along the Intracoastal Waterway to LuLu’s. It is also LuLu’s 16th anniversary so indulge in a slice of complimentary cake to celebrate.

Freelance writer, Karon Warren recently shared her tips with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism on how to Have a Family-Friendly Mardi Gras on Alabama Beaches. Please read her blog post and let us know how you celebrate Mardi Gras.

Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

4 Popular New Year’s Eve Celebrations on the Coast

New Year’s Eve is a time to say goodbye to one year and to start a new year off with a bang. Where better to do that than on the Alabama Gulf Coast watching fireworks, enjoying fresh local cuisine and spending quality time with friends and family?  With all of the Gulf Coast activities taking place, we have composed a list of the most popular New Year’s Eve celebrations in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

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

Reel in the New Year at the Wharf with fireworks, family friendly activities, live music and a Marlin Drop at midnight. Admission to the annual street party on Main Street is free and features a variety of entertainment for all ages. VIP tickets are available for the Jim Beam Kentucky Fire VIP Club that includes hors d’oeuvres, complimentary drinks, party favors and a comfortable lounge with the best seats in the house.

Flora-Bama’s New Year’s Eve Bash

Enjoy live music on three stages, party favors and champagne flowing all night. You won’t regret blowing it out one more time before committing to your New Year’s resolutions.  Enjoy a dinner buffet from 7pm until midnight and take advantage of the complimentary breakfast sandwiches served at the gift shop starting at 12:30am. “Do it on the line” and enjoy the New Year’s Eve Bash at the Bama.

Celebrate New Years at The Beach Club

Begin 2015 with elegance and flair at Coast Restaurant at The Beach Club. Create happy memories with your friends and family at the renowned annual celebration featuring a spectacular fireworks show, dinner at Coast Restaurant prepared by Executive Chef Brody Olive, live music and a champagne toast at midnight.  Accommodations packages are available so skip the drive and sleep in. 

New Year’s Eve at Fisher’s

If you are looking for a more romantic and intimate setting, then we suggest Fisher’s Upstairs for an all inclusive four course dinner and wine pairing with an open bar. Enjoy live music by Robert Ellis and band. Seating is limited to 100 tickets. Cocktails start at 7:30pm, Dinner is served at 8:30pm and the show begins at 10:30pm.

From the Spectrum Resorts family, we wish you a safe and Happy New Year.

 

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!