I love to travel.  Unfortunately, vacation time goes by way too fast.  I have discovered that an easy way to extend the vacation experience is to spend some time doing a bit of research to organize the trip.  Virtual vacationing.  Sometimes I relax by planning trips I might never take.  So many great options on this beautiful planet.

We had a wonderful visit in Gulf Shores, Alabama in July 2016.  My brother and I had the privilege of visiting Gulf Shores every summer when we were kids.  My mom had good friends who grew up in the area and she fell in love with Gulf Shores.  It had been over 25-years since my last visit.   During a spring 2016 visit to the Mobile, AL area for work I was reminded of all the great Alabama memories and convinced my family and my brother and his family to head down to the Gulf Coast for a family vacation.

When we were kids, there were no condo buildings or high rises in Gulf Shores.  The condos have a lot to offer visitors (pools, etc.), but we wanted to stay in a traditional Gulf Coast house, so we picked a rental house a little west of the main intersection near ‘The Hangout’.   Comfortable and conveniently located accommodations.   Right across the street from the beach and within walking distance of many restaurants and convenience stores.  We also had a BBQ, so we enjoyed plenty of delicious seafood, including grilled oysters and shrimp.  We had such a great time visiting Billy’s Seafood and purchasing our shrimp, fish, and oysters right off the pier.  A nice, scenic drive.  Rouse’s Market is also a fantastic place to shop for groceries.  Great produce, seafood, wine/beer selection and amazing hot sauce and spice options.  Great for practical souvenirs!

We rented a pontoon boat during our trip and cruised Perdido Bay.  What a fabulous experience.  We had the opportunity to check out gorgeous homes along Ono Island, stopped for a swim and some fishing on a few islands, and swam with dolphins.  When my brother and I were growing up, one of our favorite destinations was Pirate’s Cove in Elberta, AL.  Check out their Facebook page.  This is casual dining at it’s finest.  Located on the water, you can hop in in the bay for a dip while you wait for you food.  Sandy feet welcome!  We always drove to Pirate’s Cove, but pulling up on the pontoon boat was fun and we devoured juicy cheeseburgers with fries and a few cold beers.

We enjoyed dining out at several locations.  Lulu’s wasn’t around when we were kids, but we really enjoyed our visit.  Lots to do during the wait for a table and the food was very good.  Keep in mind, they fry everything in the south.  I highly recommend the blue crab claws.  We enjoyed a nice meal at Bahama Bob’s.  Can’t beat the on-beach location and we were able to walk along the beach from the rental.  We also enjoyed a variety of raw and grilled oysters at The Steamer.

My mom’s good friend, who introduced her to the Gulf Shores area, lives there once again.  We had the opportunity to meet up with her and her husband for lunch at Shipps Harbour Grill in Orange Beach.  My favorite lunch….a dozen raw oysters and a blue cheese wedge salad.  Slurp!  Yum!

I highly recommend a visit to the Gulf State Park Pier (easy trip with lunch at Shipps).  You have to pay a small fee, but it was totally worth it.  We saw sharks and people catching all kinds of interesting fish.  We also drove out to visit the location on Perdido Bay where we stayed when we were kids.  The little rental units and pier are no longer there, but it was a beautiful drive.  The bay is shallow, so the piers are really, really, really long.

Gulf Shores, AL is an ideal place for a relaxing vacation.  The water is clear and warm and the sand is white and so soft.  We love the southern manners and hospitality.  Even the kids took notice.  Some other great places for sight-seeing include Fort Morgan and the battleship and submarine in Mobile, along with Bellingrath Home and Gardens.  Beautiful!

I highly recommend a shopping trip at Souvenir City and picking up some boogie boards.   Be careful!  Late July is ‘jellyfish season’.  We kept a running tally on stings.  We actually kept a ‘scoreboard’ on the refrigerator.  Everyone was stung at least once, but there was a clear winner.  All part of the experience.

I would love to know if you have visited Gulf Shores or have plans to visit.  You can never overdo vacation conversation!

Check out the boys boogie boarding.  What an awesome day!