Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants

best kid friendly restaurants in Gulf Shores
Families travelling to the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area often look for restaurants that are kid-friendly. While all the restaurants in the area welcome families with kids, some offer a lot of kid-focused games and activities to make the whole experience fun. Here are the top two places you definitely need to visit for good food and a great time for whole family.

LuLu's - located in Gulf Shores on the Intracoastal Waterway next to the Gulf Shores Parkway (Hwy 59) bridge, LuLu's is owned by LuLu Buffet, Jimmy Buffet's sister. While this place is an enormous restaurant that focuses on tourists, it offers not only good food but also a large play area for kids of all ages. There is a fenced beach area with games, volleyball, buckets and shovels, sand castle making tools, and a huge ropes course for the teens and tweens. Situated right in the playground area is a really nice outdoor bar for mom and dad to enjoy while the kids play safely within sight. 

The Hangout - located on the main public beach at the foot of Gulf Shores Parkway, The Hangout is another large, tourist-focused restaurant the offers good food and tons of activities for kids. There is a large play area with fun activities, an hourly foam party, and plenty of singing, dancing, and partying during your meal. Its a chaotic, wild, and fun time for the whole family.

Shrimpy's Grill & Golf - located next to Mikee's Seafood restaurant in Gulf Shores (and owned by the same local family) is Shrimpy's, which is popular with locals and tourists alike for its generous portions of good food, respectable drink prices, and a fun putt-putt golf course for the kids to enjoy while the old folks enjoy themselves in the air conditioning. Plus, you'll find Shrimpy's a nice change after you've spent a lunch or dinner at either of the big touristy places.


Jellyfish | What Purple Flags at the Beach Mean

What Purple Flags at Beach Mean | Jellyfish
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Wondering what the purple flags at the beach mean? It is a warning that “dangerous marine life” is present in the Gulf’s waves. While it could be any type of “dangerous marine life,” in Gulf Shores it almost always means jellyfish. Here’s some local advice on what you can do to best protect yourself, your kids, and the quality of your vacation.

While swimming or snorkeling in the Gulf can be a delightful experience, it's important to be aware of the risks associated with jellyfish stings. Jellyfish stings can range from mildly irritating to potentially life-threatening, depending on the species and an individual's sensitivity. Most jellyfish you may encounter are pretty mild as far as the level of pain experienced, and the duration of the pain. You may never see these jellyfish, because they are clear, snot-like creatures. You may not even feel the sting when it happens. Instead, you may just feel like a particular part of your body feels like a bad sunburn for several minutes to an hour or so.

On the other hand, if you see any jellyfish that is blue in color, stay away! If you see a blue jellyfish washed up on the beach, don’t touch it – and assume a few million more are still in the water. Blue jellyfish in this area are most often the Portuguese Man O' War, and believe me, they will ruin your day. The Portuguese Man O’ War causes intense pain, swelling, redness, and can even lead to systemic symptoms like difficulty breathing or nausea.

If you arrive for your vacation and see purple flags are flying, don't worry that you will have to pee on a family member to treat a jellyfish sting. This local recommends you find a nearby pharmacy and get Stingaway Jellyfish Treatment. It’s an over-the-counter treatment specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms of jellyfish stings. It comes in a “regular” jellyfish version and it also comes in a version for blue jellyfish stings. Might as well grab them both and keep them in your beach bag just in case. 

From the Stingaway website: This topical solution contains active ingredients that neutralize the venom, providing quick relief and preventing further harm. The application of Stingaway helps to alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and minimize the risk of secondary infections. It is important to note that Stingaway should be used in conjunction with seeking medical attention, particularly for severe or allergic reactions.

Having Stingaway with you at the beach might just save you a ruined beach day, or worse, a trip to the ER.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Best Fine Dining Restaurants | Local Favorites

If you're in the mood for some white tablecloths, fancy wines, and gourmet food prepared by trained chefs, look no further. Here are the places locals love and visit regularly for our anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and these are not the only excellent places you can visit. These are just the perennial favorites of us locals, where you can't go wrong.

DON'T FORGET - You need to make reservations for all these restaurants well in advance.

Jesse's on the Bay - located out Fort Morgan Rd in Gulf Shores, Jesse's on the Bay offers an extensive menu that showcases a fusion of coastal and international flavors. This newly opened location offers the same quality and precision execution the original location in Magnolia Springs, AL became famous for. There is literally nothing bad on the menu, including the many fresh seafood dishes, but it is STEAK that Jesse’s is most prized for. They serve unique cuts of dry and wet-aged steaks and bone-in cuts, overseen by Executive Chef Laurence Agnew. While the steaks aren’t exactly underpriced, they certainly over-deliver. The mixologists behind the bar can make you anything you want, and they offer several signature cocktails that will delight any beach vacationer. All this is delivered to you by highly trained staff providing top-notch service

Cosmo's - located on Canal Rd in Orange Beach, Cosmo's is a fantastic restaurant to take your family to for a delicious gourmet meal prepared under the supervision of highly trained chef. Offering a fusion of Southern and global fare in a quiet and intimate setting inside, and the same great food in a more open and casual setting outside, Cosmo's has long been a favorite for locals' special occasions. The bar offers the island's best selection of craft beers, wines and fine cocktails too. All this is provided by highly trained staff who bring you superior service.

Villaggio Grille - located in The Wharf entertainment complex in Orange Beach, Villaggio Grille is a great fine dining establishment offering a fusion of Italian and local fresh seafood dishes, plus an excellent selection of fine wines to choose from. They offer fine seating indoors, and more casual seating on the outdoor patio. Like the other restaurants listed here, Villaggio does not disappoint with its gourmet chef prepared meals delivered by its attentive and well-trained staff. 


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Gulf Shores Jet Ski Rental

gulf shores jet ski rental
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Imagine renting a fast, powerful jet ski to ride in this paradise for watersports enthusiasts seeking a thrilling experience. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a first-timer, a quick trip over to Orange Beach offers the perfect setting for an unforgettable jet skiing experience (the city of Gulf Shores has not issued any business licenses for jet ski rentals).

With its crystal-clear waters, thousands of square miles of bays filled with playful dolphins, and shorelines filled with great water-accessible bars and restaurants, Orange Beach provides the ideal playground for jet skiing. You can hop on your jet ski and feel the rush as you blast through the waves, wind in your hair and sun on your face, or go explore the intricate network of bays, lagoons, canals, and estuaries that cover the area, discovering private, hidden coves and islands to make your own for the day.

Whether you prefer to venture out on your own or to join a guided jet ski tour, there are options to suit every preference. Here is a listing of our recommended jet ski rental companies for your Gulf Shores/Orange Beach vacation.

Alabama Extreme Watersports, located at Bear Point Marina in Orange Beach, offers jet ski rentals and private Waverunner dolphin tours in beautiful Perdido Bay. It is an ideal location because not only is Perdido Bay a beautiful body of water, but Bear Point Marina is just across the bay from Pirate’s Cove, a legendary beach dive bar popular with locals for decades. A visit to Pirate’s Cove is a must-do while vacationing and the very best way (practically the only way) to get there is by water. Ask your jet ski rental attendant to point it out to you. In addition to Pirate’s Cove, Bear Point Marina itself offers a fun outdoor bar and sit-down restaurant for you to enjoy.

Flora-Bama Marine & Watersports, located across the street from the legendary Flora-Bama beach bar, offers rentals on new jet skis and Waverunners with Bluetooth stereos so you can blast your favorite music while blasting through wakes and waves. Their location on Old River, next to luxurious Ono Island, is ideal for those who want to ride over to Robinson Island, a white-sand/turquoise water-surrounded island that is accessible only by water and an extremely popular party spot for locals. Ask your rental attendant for quick, easy directions. Then, after you’re done jet skiing, you can just hop across the street to end your day partying at the Flora-Bama.

Happy Harbor Marina, located on Cotton Bayou in Orange Beach offers jet skis for rent that can accommodate up to three riders. Their equipment is new and well-maintained, and their location offers easy access to popular Robinson Island and Perdido Bay’s thousands of square miles of open water, coves, hidden creeks, and secret islands. With plenty of water-accessible bars and restaurants around the area, you’re sure to have a fantastic experience.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Fishing from the Pier in Gulf Shores AL

pier fishing in Gulf Shores AL
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One of the most fun things you can do while visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, especially with kids, is to go fishing off the Gulf State Park Pier. The pier was damaged by Hurricane Sally a couple of years ago, but it remains open just past the half-way point and the restrooms are still accessible.

You can rent fishing equipment there, if you don’t have your own, but you will need to get your Alabama Saltwater Fishing License in advance at Walmart’s sporting goods counter or by going online here. Also, before you go, it’s a good idea to visit one of the local bait shops in the area to get yourself some frozen squid and mackerel and to make sure you have the right kind of setups for your leaders, hooks, and weights. You can ask the bait shop personnel for some advice on that and about what artificial lures might be working well at the time you go.

Live bait is best, of course, but you’ll need a bait bucket with motorized air pump for that – available at the bait shops. When you’re at the pier, there is almost always a local or two there who will be happy to give you some advice, too – especially if you offer to buy them a drink at the pier concession ;)

how to catch fish from the pier in Gulf Shores
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There is a wide variety of fish that can be caught from the pier including Sheepshead, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Pompano, King Mackerel, Redfish, Whiting, sharks, and more. If you hook something too big to reel up, just yell for help from a local who has a lift basket designed for that purpose. They’ll be happy to help you land your fish – especially if you offer to give it to them after you get some pictures ;)

If you really want to learn something, the Gulf State Park Pier offers a pier fishing Angler Academy for beginners that you can attend. It costs $15 per person and lasts about 2 hours. Angler Academy is by reservation only, so contact them in advance to set it up.

The pier is open for fishing 24/7, but if you need to rent fishing equipment, you’ll need to go during the hours it is staffed (6AM-10PM). There is a restaurant and concession stand available if you get hungry or thirsty, too. Here are the basic fees to expect:

Parking: $3 for 2 hours; $5 for 4 hours; $10 all day parking & includes fishing permit (not to be confused with a State Saltwater Fishing License, which much be purchased separately at Walmart or the link provided above

Fishing permit: $9 for the day; $41 for the week

Rod/Reel rental: $10 for 4 hrs; $20 all day

Sightseeing (if you don’t want to fish): $2 for all day

LEARN MORE about fishing at the Gulf State Park Pier

VISIT OUR FISHING PAGE for more local favorite guides and fishing advice

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Little Lagoon | Best Place to Stay in Gulf Shores

best gulf shores sunset | Little Lagoon
Little Lagoon sunset
Want to see the best Gulf Shores sunsets and eat like a local? Here's a bit of local advice for you. Instead of paying a premium to stay on the beach, find a house on the south side of Little Lagoon. You'll save some money, avoid the inevitable noise, elevator waits, and congestion that comes with staying in a high rise condo, and you'll enjoy the best sunsets the northern Gulf coast has to offer while still being close to all the restaurants, bars, and entertainment.

Gulf Shores' beaches run east and west, meaning the sun does not set over the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer, the sun actually sets behind the high rise condos, ruining the view from the beach. By staying on the south side of Little Lagoon, across the street from the beach, you will not only enjoy incredible sunset water views, but also plenty of fun fishing, crabbing, kayaking, and paddle boarding opportunities.

Little Lagoon is connected to the Gulf via Little Lagoon Pass, so it is a body of water that rises and falls with the tide, keeping it beautiful and clean. Chock full of fish and crustaceans like speckled trout, red fish, founder, and blue crab, Little Lagoon is the locals' favorite place to relax and have fun away from the tremendous crowds on the beach. But when you want to hit the beach, it is just a short walk or bike ride away, giving you the best of both worlds.

Now, about eating like a local: When staying on Little Lagoon, one of the best things you can do on your first day in Gulf Shores is go to Walmart to get yourself a saltwater fishing license and buy yourself a crab trap, a length of rope, some cheap chicken (thighs or drumsticks) and a box of Zatarain's Crab Boil in Bag seasoning. Tie the length of rope to the crab trap, load a couple of pieces of raw chicken into it, drop the trap off your dock into the lagoon, and secure the rope to the dock. Leave it for 24 hours and then go check it. You're likely to have a few nice blue crabs in there, just waiting for you to boil yourself up a fantastic dinner. You can keep re-baiting and setting your trap each day until you have enough crabs to make your dinner (put the live crabs you collect into an ice chest with ice and they will go dormant). 

low country boil with blue crab
Then, when you have roughly one or two crabs per person, the best thing to do is go to Gulf Shores Seafood (a local fresh seafood market near the beach) and buy enough "Low Country Shrimp Boil" meals for your dinner party. It will come cooked and ready to eat with tons of fresh shrimp, smoked sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob. All you need to do then is boil your crabs.

While someone is out picking up your prepared low country shrimp boil, start boiling a pot of water on your stove and follow the directions on your Zatarain's box to prepare your seasoned water. 

When your already-prepared low country shrimp boil meal arrives at the house, toss your fresh crabs into the prepared and seasoned water. They'll be done in just a few minutes (when they turn bright red). 

Now, just toss your finished crabs on top of your already-prepared low country shrimp boil meal and you'll have a feast fit for a King - made with your self-caught fresh crabs!

Here's a YouTube video detailing the crab boiling process, to help you understand how it works. And another video that teaches you how to eat your crabs.

You can find vacation rentals on the south side of Little Lagoon by visiting the websites of local vacation rental agencies you find on Google, or better yet you can visit the VRBO website (Vacation Rentals by Owner). 

Here are the streets you want to be on, so you can look these up when you start searching those sites:

Windmill Ridge Road, Gulf Shores

West 8th Avenue, Gulf Shores

West 8th Street, Gulf Shores

West Lagoon Avenue, Gulf Shores

West Beach Boulevard (WEST OF LITTLE LAGOON PASS), Gulf Shores

Seahorse Circle, Gulf Shores

Staying on the north side of Little Lagoon is great, too. But you won't be facing the sunsets. If you stick to rentals on the streets listed above, you can't go wrong. Just check all the photos to be sure the view isn't obstructed by anything before booking.

VISIT OUR WHERE TO STAY and WHAT TO DO PAGES for more local tips and advice

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Gulf Shores Boutiques | David's Gallery | A Local Favorite

Gulf Shores shopping spots | David's Gallery boutique
David's Gallery
If you’re looking for the funkiest hippie boutique on the Gulf Coast, you’ll find it at David’s Gallery in Gulf Shores, AL. It's a one-stop shop for all your *ahem* alternative needs. Whether it's cool clothing, psychedelic artwork, a new vape, jewelry, piercings, or tattoos, this shop has you covered. A Gulf Shores staple for decades, David’s Gallery is a one-of-a-kind experience for those with a unique take on life.

The friendly staff of like-minded folks will help you find just the unique things you’re looking for. Take home a memory that gets attention and makes a statement about your Gulf Shores beach vacation.

LEARN MORE about David's Gallery

VISIT OUR WHERE TO SHOP PAGE for a list of more local favorite shopping spots

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Gulf Shores Public Beach Photos

gulf shores public beach photos
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Gulf Shores, Alabama, is home to two of the most beautiful and vibrant public beaches anywhere on the Gulf Coast. Here is some information and Gulf Shores public beach photos to help you choose the best one for you.

Gulf Shores Public Beach, located at the foot of AL Highway 59 South, is the hub of activity and entertainment in Gulf Shores. With its soft, sugar-sand shores and gentle waves, it provides the perfect setting for families and beachgoers of all ages. The main public beach offers a range of amenities to enhance your beach experience. From shaded picnic areas and pavilions to clean restrooms and outdoor showers, to a variety of restaurants and bars just steps away, everything you need for a fun and active day at the beach is readily available. The new boardwalk, a product of the city’s ongoing beautification program, is a spectacular addition offering easy beach walks and a place to ride bikes and scooters. The beach also provides the most convenient parking options, making it more easily accessible for visitors.

Gulf State Park Beach, located just a few minutes east of the main public beach in Gulf Shores, is a true paradise for beach enthusiasts seeking a more laid-back experience. Spanning over two miles along the Gulf of Mexico, this expansive public beach features soft, powder-white sands and crystal-clear, emerald waters. It's the perfect place to indulge in water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Gulf State Park Beach also offers amenities such as picnic areas with grills, clean restrooms, outdoor showers, and convenient beach access points. Nature lovers will appreciate the park's less hands-on approach. The beach isn’t groomed obsessively like the main public beach in Gulf Shores, giving it a more natural look. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to find more shells, driftwood, and other natural wonders that wash up.  Don’t miss your opportunity to explore the park’s trails through untouched coastal dunes and coastal hardwood swamps, too. You’ll see wildlife including cranes, pelicans, crustaceans, alligators, and coastal hawks.

Whether you seek serenity or excitement, Gulf Shores has the perfect public beach to suit your preferences and create lasting memories. Take a moment also to review local advice about what to do, and NOT do, at Gulf Shores' public beaches.

LEARN MORE about Gulf Shores Public Beach

LEARN MORE about Gulf State Park Beach

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for more local favorite activities

Monday, June 26, 2023

Surf Fishing in Gulf Shores | Guided Beach Fishing Trips and Lessons

beach fishing in gulf shores al | surf fishing in gulf shores al
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Want to fish from the beach? You can have a great time casting your line from the beach in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, AL without risking getting seasick on a charter boat. Also known as Surf Fishing, fishing from the beach is great for kids and adults alike. 

Beach Bum Outdoors in Gulf Shores offers guided beach fishing trips that include rods & reels, the correct baits, and lessons on how to catch a variety of fish species from the shore! Cast your line and anticipate encounters with Pompano, Whiting, Spanish Mackerel, Redfish, Bluefish, Jacks, and even sharks. These thrilling catches provide a diverse and exciting fishing experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the help of Beach Bum Outdoors, you’ll be digging your feet into the beach fighting a saltwater catch you’ll never forget!

LEARN MORE about Beach Bum Outdoors

VISIT OUR FISHING PAGE for a list of more local favorites

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Hotels on the Beach with Balcony

Gulf Shores hotels on the beach with balcony
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Looking for Gulf Shores hotels on the beach with balcony? Here are all the best ones for you to consider. Keep in mind that before you book your room, you should contact the hotel first to make sure you are being placed in the ocean view room you want. Most of these hotels are pretty big and they have cheaper rooms that do not face the Gulf.

  1. Best Western on the Beach, Gulf Shores: Offering stunning ocean views and direct beach access, this Best Western hotel is a favorite among visitors. Enjoy the convenience of comfortable rooms, a beachfront pool, and a fitness center.
  2. Best Western The Tides, Orange Beach: Offers comfortable guest rooms with modern amenities and private balconies or patios overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Guests can enjoy an outdoor pool, fitness center, complimentary breakfast, and free parking.
  3. The Lodge at Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores: Situated within Gulf State Park, this eco-friendly hotel is nestled in a beautiful natural setting. It offers modern rooms, breathtaking ocean views, and access to hiking trails, a pool, and the beach.
  4. Hilton Garden Inn, Orange Beach: This Hilton hotel provides a beachfront oasis with ocean view balconies. With stylish rooms, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center, it's an excellent choice for both business and leisure travelers.
  5. Holiday Inn Express, Orange Beach: This hotel offers comfortable, Gulf view rooms and a host of amenities, including a complimentary breakfast, pool, and beach access. It's an ideal option for families and leisure travelers.
  6. Hampton Inn & Suites, Orange Beach: Just steps from the beach, this hotel features spacious ocean view rooms with large balconies, a pool, and a fitness center. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast and explore nearby attractions.
  7. Island House Hotel, Orange Beach: Operated by the world class Doubletree hotel company, this beachfront hotel offers comfortable rooms with private Gulf view balconies. Relax by the pool or take a stroll along the shoreline.

With these hotels on the beach at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a comfortable stay and a fantastic ocean view balcony, easy access to the beautiful white sand beaches. Whether you're seeking relaxation or adventure, these hotels provide the perfect base for an unforgettable beach vacation.

VISIT OUR WHERE TO STAY PAGE for a list of additional local favorite accommodations 

Monday, June 19, 2023

Gulf Shores AL Condo Rentals

aerial view of rental condos on beach | Gulf Shores AL
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Looking for Gulf Shores, AL condo rentals? You're in the right place. The Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, AL area is a sought-after vacation destination with stunning white sand beaches, great food, and a plethora of attractions. When it comes to accommodations, renting a condo is an excellent choice. Gulf Shores condo rentals offer the perfect combination of comfort and convenience. 

Imagine waking up to breathtaking ocean views, enjoying resort-style amenities, and having easy access to white sandy beaches. Whether you're planning a family vacation, beach wedding, bachelor or bachelorette trip, or a romantic getaway, Gulf Shores condo rentals provide a home-away-from-home experience that will make your stay unforgettable. Book your dream condo today and indulge in a beachfront paradise.

Here is all the Gulf Shores AL Condo Rentals content we've created just for you:

Gulf Shores Resort Condos

Where to Stay in Gulf Shores - Our list of Local Favorites

And check the rest of the Gulf Shores Vacation Guide site for information about What to DoWhere to EatWhere to ShopGolfing, and Fishing - all written by a Gulf Shores local.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Gulf Shores Alabama Shopping

tanger outlet mall | gulf shores alabama shopping
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Looking for the best Gulf Shores area shopping? Situated just north of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, AL, the massive Tanger Outlet Mall in Foley, AL has become a mecca for shopaholics and bargain hunters alike. Just minutes from the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Tanger Outlet Mall offers visitors a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Many visitors vacationing in the area take advantage of the deals here to get their back-to-school shopping done at a discount, particularly on days with less than ideal weather. So, if you have a cloudy or rainy day that isn’t beach-worthy, get moving north early to beat the rush to Tanger Outlet Mall’s deals on brands like Nike, Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, Adidas, Under Armour, Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew, Levi's, and more. These renowned brands offer a wide range of products, from sportswear and luxury fashion to accessories and home goods, ensuring that every shopper finds something to suit their style and preferences. Whether you're looking for trendy apparel, footwear, accessories, or home decor, Tanger Outlet Mall has it all.

LEARN MORE about Tanger Outlet Mall

VISIT OUR SHOPPING PAGE for a list of more local favorite shopping spots