Things to Do in Gulf Shores with Kids

From animal encounters to go-karts and kayaking in the Gulf, Gulf Shores is a hub for kid-friendly activities and attractions. During your next Alabama Gulf Coast getaway, don’t miss out on the biggest area attractions that all ages will enjoy.

Discover the top things to do in Gulf Shores with kids that will leave lasting memories for the entire family!

Visit the Beach

The inviting emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the white, sandy beaches are the perfect mix for family fun. Build a sandcastle, search for shells and shark teeth, or just relax by the water. You can’t go wrong with a day at the beach!

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard

Looking for a little more beachfront excitement? Head to Perdido Beach Services at The Beach Club Resort in Gulf Shores or Turquoise Place Resort in Orange Beach for kayak and paddleboard rentals. You can rent by the hour or for the entire day.

things to do in gulf shores with kidsSplish and Splash at Waterville USA

Waterville USA is more than a waterpark. This kid-friendly destination features 12 unique waterpark attractions including thrilling slides, splash houses for kids, and a lazy river, and is also home to an arcade, a surfing simulator, mini golf, and go-karts! Kids will have a blast at this 20-acre water and amusement park. For more information and ticket prices, contact (251) 948-2106.

Go-karts, Mini Golf, and Arcade Games at The Track

Burn some rubber at The Track in Gulf Shores! The Track boasts several go-kart tracks for all ages, including Kiddie Karts, Rookie Karts, and a Family Track that includes double karts. Did we mention The Track is also home to a kid’s Ferris wheel, train ride, bumper boats, mini golf, and an arcade featuring over 50 games? Head to The Track for family fun! Call (251) 270-0209 for more details.

Visit Fort Morgan

Travel to the tip of the Scenic Fort Morgan Peninsula to explore the Fort Morgan Historic Site. Built between 1819 and 1833, Fort Morgan has played a prominent role in several war-time conflicts including the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864. All ages will learn something new and experience a piece of Alabama history when they visit this historic site.

Enjoy Family Fun at Lulu’s

Lulu’s Gulf Shores serves up delicious seafood fare and American classics in a fun, family-friendly setting that includes an arcade, nightly live music, and two outdoor ropes courses. Lulu’s has several menus, including several allergy-safe menus. Scrumptious bites include seafood baskets, salads, burgers, and several options just for kids. For more information, call (251) 967-5858.

gulf state park pierGulf State Park Pier Fishing

The Gulf State Park Fishing and Education Pier is the largest pier on the Gulf of Mexico and Alabama’s only public pier on the Gulf. The pier offers many spots for casting a line into the sea and the opportunity to catch native saltwater fish! The pier has its own tackle shop where visitors can purchase a fishing license, rod and reel rentals, and tackle. The pier also has several seating areas.

Go Wild at the Zoo

Discover the exotic creatures at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores. The zoo is a popular spot for families, and kids will have a chance to get a closer look at some of the world’s most well-known animals including kangaroos, sloths, lemurs, and reptiles. Tickets are $11 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 through 12. Children ages 2 and under are free. Call (251) 968-5732 for more details.

Ride the Ferris wheel at The Wharf

Take a quick trip to Orange Beach to ride the Ferris wheel. One of the tallest Ferris wheels on the Gulf Coast, this family-friendly attraction provides phenomenal views of the surrounding area day and night. If you’re looking for a little more thrill, The Wharf also boasts Hummingbird Ziplines. The Wharf is also home to several shops and restaurants including Dippin’ Dots and Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Set Sail on a Dolphin Cruise

While you’re at The Wharf, venture over to Marina Excursions where you can sail to sea in search of dolphins and other marine wildlife during a Dolphin and Sunset Excursion. The boat includes restrooms, a snack bar, and an air-conditioned cabin. These 1.5-hour cruises are sure to provide an unforgettable experience! Admission is $22 for adults, $18 for children ages 4-12, and children ages 3 and under are free. Contact (251) 589-7117 for more information.

 

Don’t miss out on the fun—book your stay at one of these kid-friendly resorts for an unforgettable Gulf Shores getaway!

Tips on Packing for Your Next Beach Day

bellhop

Packing for your beach vacation can be stressful, but Spectrum Resorts is here to give you a checklist of the perfect items for your day at the beach.

Bluetooth speaker – You can buy a Bluetooth speaker for as much as you’re willing to spend. Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart all have affordable speakers that won’t break the budget or upset you when it’s full of sand.

Hats – A hat is an amazing way to keep your face out of the sun, and if needed, keep your hair out of your face. Down here on the Gulf Coast, you will see beach goers sporting a variety of hats from stripped and floppy to straw.

XL Beach Towels – You love lying out on your beach towel or laying it across your chair, but do your toes still touch the sand or is your towel not long enough to cover the whole chair? Target has the answer for you! With a variety of colors and patterns, Target has the beach towel for you.

Sunscreen – The most important item in your beach bag should be sunscreen. No one wants to go home from their vacation looking like a lobster. Sunscreen can range from five dollars to twenty, but no matter what brand or SPF you decide to buy, the key is to reapply.

Chapstick – Many of us forget that our lips can get sunburned too, and it’s hard to enjoy your Gulf seafood while your lips burn. Make sure you pack some chapstick with SPF on your beach trip and place it in your cooler to prevent it from melting.

Cooler Bag – If you’re looking for something easy to carry for the day, a cooler bag is the way to go. Fill it up with ice, water, fruit, and your favorite snacks, and you’re ready for a day of relaxation at the beach.

Frisbee/Volleyball/Football – When packing for your beach trip, don’t forget some items that make you beach day perfect. A Frisbee, volleyball, football, and sand tools will entertain the kids and you when you decide to camp out at the beach for the day.

Floats – It’s always fun to lay back and float around in the Gulf. Floats are available at practically every store around the Gulf Coast, so it won’t be hard to find one that fits you.

We hope we made packing for your beach vacation less stressful! What are some items you always bring to the beach?

Follow Spectrum Resorts summer vlog “WattsUp at the Beach”  for tips, trends and Coastal Alabama amenities and activities. Tag #WattsUp and your pictures may appear in the next vlog.

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.

hamburgers_and_french_fries

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.

Gulf_Jumbo_Shrimp1 (Small)

2015’s Events You Don’t Want to Miss

The Alabama Coast has great weather year round and Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have become popular destinations not only for beach vacations but for festivals as well. It is a great time to make your plans to visit the pristine beaches on the Gulf Coast and we suggest attending one of these popular events.

Festival of Art
March 14-15
You can find an array of arts at the 41st Annual Festival of Art at the Orange Beach Coastal Arts Center. This free waterfront event features concerts, a kid’s art alley, and live demonstrations. More than 100 artists celebrate culinary, visual, musical and performing arts. Find the works of local and regional artist including sculptors and painters.

Hangout Music Festival
May 15-17
This 3-day event will have you dancing in the sand all weekend long. Event coordinators are known for attracting some of the most sought after musicians to this one of a kind Gulf-front festival. This year’s lineup includes Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, Zak Brown Band, Beck and much more.

Blue Marlin Grand Championship
July 7-12
The greatest show in sports fishing is being recognized as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for July. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and is unlike any other tournament with an over-the-top weigh-in that is professionally planned, promoted and produced on live TV.

Wharf Uncorked
September 26
Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Mobile, this culinary event is about good wine and culinary arts. Featuring local chefs and restaurants, Wharf Uncorked is the premier wine and culinary event on the Alabama coast. Over 60 wineries serve hundreds of varieties of wine from 7 different countries.

44th Annual National Shrimp Festival
October 8-11
Presented by Zatarain’s, this is a free event on the beautiful Alabama beaches of Gulf Shores where Highway 59 ends and the fun begins. Over 300 vendors attract over 250,000 people indulging in fresh seafood, fine arts, arts and crafts, a retail marketplace and an outdoor village.

Coastal Christmas
November 28-New Year’s
Started in 2013, Coastal Christmas is all about holiday travel and shopping. Christmas is a great time of year to visit the Gulf Coast and enjoy fresh Gulf seafood and enjoy the many activities featured in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach including ice skating and carriage rides at the Wharf, the Lighted Boat Parade, Merry Market and much more.

In addition to the events listed above, please visit www.GulfShores.com for a list of events happening throughout the year.

The 2014 Blue Marlin Grand Championship of the Gulfhttp://courtlandrichards.zenfolio.com/Copyright © 2014 Courtland William RichardsAll Rights Reserved

Questions to ask When Choosing a House or Condo for Spring Break

When it comes to choosing the perfect house or condo for Spring Break, we suggest doing as much research as possible. Before booking your much anticipated Spring Break getaway, check out all of your options. Both have benefits and it all depends on the environment that is suitable for your guests.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are popular family-friendly destinations year round but during Spring Break, college students like to hit the beach as well. There is a huge selection of vacation rentals to choose from and the beauty of staying on Alabama beaches is there is something for everyone from partying Spring Breakers who like to party to families with children of all ages.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing Spring Break on the beach or a week of high-energy partying, we have a few questions you should ask when choosing between a house or condo.

Amenities – If you are looking for the comfort of onsite amenities, then condos typically offer more amenities than a house. Look for full-service resorts and make sure they have an indoor pool as well as an outdoor pool. If looking for a house, look for one with a private pool or a Jacuzzi. Spring Break tends to be early in the year so the Gulf waters may not be warm enough to swim in. Full service resorts offer onsite dining, full-service spas, activities and front-desk services. Ask the rental company what amenities are included in the rates and which ones have an additional fee.

Privacy and Security – When seeking privacy during Spring Break, a standalone house may be a good choice for you. Ask the vacation management company about parking to ensure there is plenty for your guests. If you are planning of staying in a condo, ask about onsite security for your protection. Ask about a house on a well lit street and any safety concerns you have especially if you have kids old enough to walk around town on their own but aren’t old enough to drive.

Location – Location is extremely important when booking a vacation rental in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach because there are 32 miles of beautiful sugar-white beach so you have a lot of options to choose from. Are you looking for something in Orange Beach close to the Flora-Bama or something off the beaten path in a village resort community like The Beach Club? Ask about the distance to restaurants and bars if you are looking to dine out a lot or go out in the evenings. If you are looking for something family friendly, then ask about local attractions for all ages.

We suggest composing a list of questions and concerns you may have before booking your Spring Break vacation rental. Everyone has different concerns and questions so we suggest looking for FAQ sheets on your rental management company’s websites. Make sure you book the right rental for you and have a safe and happy Spring Break.

5 Things to Do on a Rainy Beach Day

Rain always puts a damper on a fun day at the beach. When you envision a relaxing day of waves, sand and pure relaxation, you don’t expect it to rain. No one expects rainfall on their coastal getaways but weather is often unpredictable.

When rain dampens your beach vacation, make the best of your time and have a plan in place for the perfect rainy day on the Alabama Gulf Coast. We have composed a list of 5 fun things to do on the Alabama coast on a rainy day.

The Wharf
Keep everyone entertained and dry with a trip to The Wharf in Orange Beach. There is something for all ages happening at The Wharf including shopping, dining, concerts and the daily Spectra Light Show.

Tanger Outlet
Shop the nation’s leading brands and designers at Tanger Outlet. It’s only a 15 minute drives from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Tanger has everything from accessories, apparel, footwear and home furnishings.

Gulf Bowl
Visit Foley’s family owned and operated 24 lane bowling center for a bowling experience you won’t forget. Gulf Bowl has state-of-the-art technology, a game room, a pro center and a family restaurant. They offer good food and good times with play and eat combo.

Indoor Pool Games
Most resorts and hotels on the Gulf Coast have indoor pools. In many cases, they have great beach views and are heated. Enjoy some swim time inside with the kiddos and play some great pool games including Marco Polo, noodle joust, ping pong scramble and scavenger hunt. For a list of safe and fun pool games, visit SwimmingPool.com.

Fat Daddy’s Arcade
Arcades are entertaining and fun for all age groups. Take the family to Fat Daddy’s Arcade for a fun-filled day. With over 65 arcade games to choose from, even the adults give into their inner child. Test your skills on interactive games including Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, Big Buck Hunter HD, Termination Salvation and many more.

Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s blog by Spectrum Resorts. Please send us your favorite rainy day activities you would like us to write about.

What You Should Know About the Weather on the Gulf Coast

As we all know, weather is a tricky thing to predict—even for a meteorologist. So, while we can’t predict the weather with 100 percent accuracy, there are seasonal patterns that are fairly predictable.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, are in a subtropical area of the country, where visitors can expect mild temperatures year-round. Gulf breezes temper the hot summers, and spring and fall days are warm with cool evenings. The temperature here is rarely below 32°F or above 96°F. So, there is really not a bad time to visit.

Here’s the lowdown on what the four seasons bring to the Gulf Coast.

Spring Sparkles

By March, a lot of people can’t wait to put their toes back in the sand—especially after a brutal winter like
the one we had this year. So, the Gulf Coast is becoming more and more popular as a Spring Break destination.

April is one of those months where we will certainly have some glorious 75-degree days without a cloud in the sky. It’s also one of those months when winter reminds us she’s not quite done yet. So, it’s a good idea to bring along a light jacket if you visit in April.

By May, the daytime temperatures are consistently in the upper 70s to 80 degrees. In fact, May is arguably one of the nicest months to visit the coast. Crowds are minimal and the weather is almost ideal.

Summer Sizzles

Things really heat up in June, July and August. School is out and water temperatures are in the mid-80s. Of course, this is also when the beaches are most crowded.

It’s not uncommon to get summer showers—especially in late afternoon. But it’s rare to get a summer rainfall that ruins the entire day. And even when temperatures reach the upper 90s, there is almost always a cooling breeze coming off the Gulf.

Fall is Truly Fabulous

If you ask people who live here full time, most will say fall is their favorite time of year. It’s still warm enough to do all your favorite outdoor activities through September and most of October. Even though we’ll start getting a few chilly days in October and November, there are still plenty of days that the temperature climbs back near 70 throughout November.

Plus, there is something exhilarating about throwing on a light jacket for a sunset beach walk after the summer heat has passed.

Also, the “off-season” is a good time to visit the Gulf Shores area not only because of cooler days, but also because of better rates on vacation rentals. That’s one of the reasons Thanksgiving is becoming such a popular time for families wanting to gather somewhere besides home.

Is this What You Call Winter?

There is a reason Snowbirds flock to the Gulf Coast for winter. With average January temperatures in the 50s, crowds are at a minimum and many local restaurants and retailers run deep-discounted specials.

There is also something very beautiful and pristine about walking along the beach in winter with no beach chairs or umbrellas dotting the shoreline. This is also the time of year when you can get monthly rentals for about the same price you would pay for a week in summer.

To sum it up, with an average of only four days of cloud cover per month and moderate temperatures year-round, there is not really a bad season to plan a trip to the Gulf Coast.