Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are We There Yet? Travel Tips for Visiting Gulf Shores Beaches

Are we there yet is a familiar phrase coming from the backseat (or maybe even the front seat) of your vehicle as you head to your beach destination in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and Perdido Key. It can be especially frustrating after a long trip from home to get close to the beach only to be slowed down by the traffic in the Foley area on heavy check-in days such as Saturdays and of course during the upcoming July 4th holiday.

So my TRAVEL TIP for you today is the FOLEY BEACH EXPRESS. This alternative route, which eliminates the traffic lights in Foley, is usually thought of as a faster route to Orange Beach utilizing the toll bridge ($3.50 toll). But it can also be a quicker route to Gulf Shores without crossing the toll bridge.

As you travel south on Gulf Shores Parkway a.k.a. Hwy. 59 south of Summerdale you will see large signs directing you to take a left turn at the traffic light to access the Foley Beach Express. Now there is actually a northern extension of the Foley Beach Express called the Baldwin Beach Express that will eventually connect to Interstate 10 and ultimately connect to Interstate 65. To access this extension turn left in Summerdale at County Road 32 and travel two miles then turn right on the Baldwin Beach Express which connects to the Foley Beach Express.

So at this point you may be wondering how to get to Gulf Shores from the Foley Beach Express without crossing the toll bridge. There are a couple of options.

Traveling south (toward the beaches) you can exit the Foley Beach Express by turning right at the traffic light at County Road 12 and traveling two miles, then turning left at the traffic light at Highway 59. Then you are back on course to continue south to your destination.

Or you can travel even further south on the Foley Beach Express and exit to your right just prior to the toll bridge when you see a sign pointing to Gulf Shores. From this road one left turn and then another right turn places you on County Road 4 and you will soon find yourself back at Highway 59 with Publix on the corner where you will turn left near the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge and soon be at your destination.

EXPRESS CHECK-IN TIP - If you want to avoid check-in at our office search for your next coastal condo or beach house by selecting an "Express Check-In" property. Using an electronic, keyless entry system for our express check-in properties we provide you an entry code valid for 3 p.m. check-in. And if the property becomes available sooner than 3 p.m. we will actually email or text an early entry code to you.

So I believe taking the Foley Beach Express can lessen your driving frustration and using our Express Check-in for your next Meyer Vacation Rental coastal condo or beach house can start your vacation sooner by eliminating the stop at our office. See you at the beach.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Get Glowing at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloons Fest Father's Day Weekend (June 15-17)

Rise early for a breathtaking sight as 50 hot air balloons silently glide through the air above the City of Foley with an occasional whoosh sound as the burners fire during the 8th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival on Father's Day weekend (June 15-17). Later in the day enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the most unique festivals on our coast. You can almost feel the glow while watching this Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival video.

This is absolutely one of my favorite festivals because it is so relaxed and family-friendly. Since I'm a native of the area I love seeing the antique tractors and all of the arts and crafts. In fact a couple of years ago I bought a beautiful headboard made of reclaimed wood and ceiling tin from one of the event vendors.

My yearly agenda always includes a visit to the homemade ice cream booth, which is easy to find because you hear the sound of the John Deere motor churning this sweet treat.
In the evening I'm looking forward to finding a seat in front of the stage for the musical entertainment and this year one of my favorite bands, Dr. Zarr's Amazing Funk Monster will play at 8:30 on Friday evening. First I make my rounds to see the hot air balloons glow. I like the challenge of trying to photograph this beautiful sight by catching the fire glowing at just the right time.

As soon as I arrive I pick up the event schedule so I won't miss a performance of the incredible Disc Connected K-9 Frisbee Dog Show. These rescued dogs are not only amazing but they seem to be having so much fun too.

The event takes about 350 community volunteers to handle all the various duties and I already have my assignment for the weekend. My volunteer efforts will be rewarded with a souvenir t-shirt. But you don't have to volunteer to get a t-shirt since these and other souvenirs can be purchased to commemorate your trip to the festival.

Admission to the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival is free with parking (all day) only $5 or a convenient shuttle ride from downtown Foley for $2 per person each way. The times for the event this year are:

Friday (June 15) from 2 - 10 p.m.
Saturday (June 16) from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday (June 17) from 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Select your perfect beach retreat while attending the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival and you will return home with a happy glow.