Gulf Shores 2013
8/12/2013 2:20 PM
This is the second year I have posted a blog about my trip to the redneck riviera and for those of you who go to the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area I hope it brings you an idea or two.
Travel: My family of four has taken to the idea of loading up the Acri family truckster
and heading out on Friday afternoon when there's a condo booked for Saturday at the beach. We go to Clinton, MS just west of Jackson and east of Vicksburg to break up the trip. That way in the morning we are all pretty fresh and when we get to the beach we are all ready to have fun and not kill one another after eight hours in the car. It's right around half way. We stay at a Holiday Inn Express there and when we arrive the kids can swim and we grab some dinner
and you also get a solid hot meal for free the next morning to start the day.
When we get to the gulf area we have made it a tradition to get settled in by going to Lulu's for lunch.
This year it was a 2.5 hour wait on Saturday, but the kids can run around and play in the sand at their huge complex while you sit and enjoy a couple of cold drinks and wait on a table. It was great to take in the music, breathe the gulf air and relax after a few hours in the car.
When you do get a table you can enjoy the open air and the fun vibe of the place that is owned and run by Jimmy Buffet's little sis. Make sure you nibble on some L.A. (Lower Alabama) Caviar to get started. Here's a menu link for you.
Accomodations: This year we traveled with my in-laws and there were 10 of us staying at a condo at Turquoise Place on Perdido Beach Blvd. It is by far the nicest place I have ever been in this area.
The only thing is that for smaller groups the three bedrooms and 2300 square feet may be way more space than you need and that is the smallest unit they have available (also have four bedrooms-3500 sq ft and five bedrooms-4756 sq ft).
Everything inside is top of the line with a subzero fridge, granite countertops and outside
every condo has its own hot tub and grill.
There are very nice indoor and outdoor pools and there is also a small bar downstairs for those who forgot to BTOB. Both buildings amenities are open to all guests and the one to the west has a
lazy river that we all enjoyed. It isn't big, but it works. Just about every other thing about this place is over the top great. Another thing I liked is that the condo boardwalk takes you closer to the water than most places meaning less walking over hot sand hauling your kids, yourself and your stuff to where you are eventually going to park your carcass for the day.
When you are like me and you are more of a pool person than a beach person, that little factoid is essential. There are lots of nice places around here, but if you have a large enough group, Turqouise Place is a no-brainer.
The last couple of years we have made an effort to check out some new places in addition to all the old tried and true joints like Flora-Bama (where the mid-day bingo in the heat of the day is a must) and Louisiana Lagniappe where you get good service, food and views.
This year we discovered a very cool place to hang called The Gulf. It is a bar and restaurant that is all outdoor seating and in addition to a memorable and simple logo (we bought a t-shirt and I never buy t-shirts), you get great service and you feel at least 25% cooler when you sit down. There is seating on the sand near the sea wall, at several different kinds or couches, chairs or tables in the sand, or you can plop down at the bar.
If you're lucky you will get waited on by Ed the bartender. He's a St. Louis transplant with a sharp wit who seems to know a little bit of something about everything. While he is whipping you up a delicious beverage and touting the wares at his place of business, he will be happy to offer some other suggestions to you for entertainment around town.
We are old and didn't stick around, but you can bet this is a GREAT place to be after sundown.
It was on Ed's suggestion that we headed to Fisher's later in the week.
The restaurant is only a few months old, but everything about this place is exquisite. Downstairs is casual dress, casual feel. Upstairs where we ended up is casual dress, formal feel. Here's a link to their facebook page with all the pertinent info you'll need.
My in-laws were kind enough to keep our kids so we could have a romantic night out which was fantastic although this place is kid friendly, especially downstairs.
Here's a recent dessert special they ran. Wildflower lemon cannolis.
This is typical of the overall ceative presentation of the food and there is also a unique drink menu uncommon to most restaurants and reminiscent of Iris in New Orleans. For those of you who don't know, that is high praise. Fisher's was not only the best dining experience I have had in Gulf Shores, but one of the best I have had anywhere in years.
I do want to give some love as well to Cobalt next to the bridge taking you into Perdido.
It is a gem as well and we all went there and had a great experience again. They have a lot of local seafood options and a wide variety of offerings including char-grilled oysters. Here's a link to the menu.
Last, but not least, the place known for a huge music festival among other things is also a great place to head for breakfast. The Hangout
serves breakfast for just a couple of hours each day. It is served all you can eat and family style and kids 10 and under are free. This is right on the beach and a cool place to hang when there is something or not much of anything going on. Here's a link to the Hangout Music Festival which packs em in every year.
This looks like something we will have to take in soon. And then for sure get breakfast there the next day to recover.
Get a daily plan: My last bit of advice especially to those who can't take the mid-day heat on the beach or have small kids who need a break or a nap or both is to make a plan. This took me a few days to get together. A pretty simple idea really-get to the beach early when the dolphins are out and the temps are down. When it gets hot go in for lunch or head somewhere for some shaded or non-sand fun like playing bingo (see above) or taking in a water park or arcade or take advantage of reduced mid-day rates at the golf course. Head back down to the pool around 1 or 2 in a spot where you can score some shade for a couple of hours then back to the beach around four when it is much more bearable. The days we cooked at the condo, we stayed until almost sundown and it was great. For all you sungoddesses like most in my crew you can get there early and bake until sundown, but for guys like me, you have to make a plan to make it bearable.
Have fun at the beach...hope this helps!