Thursday, December 27, 2012

Good Golf on the Gulf Coast this Winter

Make room to pack your clubs so you can hit the links when you coast awhile this winter. If you are coming from a colder climate, winter golf will be a special treat - and even if you are not, the uncrowded courses and bargains are a delight.

Just getting outside in the warm sunshine for a round of golf in winter is refreshing. On top of that, your rental rate and golf fees are reduced, so why not stay longer and play more. There are nine championship courses at your favorite course and each one has a distinct personality – much like your golf buddies.

The two northernmost courses, Timbercreek and Rock Creek, have a unique topography for our flat coastal area. The elevation that’s higher than the beach makes for quite a view from tee box to green. A few miles south of these beauties and just south of Tanger Outlets (where you can buy some cool golf duds, by the way) is Glenlakes that is built to emulate the Scottish dunes. Just before you cross the Intracoastal Waterway bridge you’ll have two award-winning choices designed by the golf legend Arnold Palmer: Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend at Craft Farms. These signature courses are described as two of the best public courses in the South.

Crossing the bridge and just to the west down Clubhouse Drive, you’ll find the original area golf course – Gulf Shores Golf Club – where you will experience magnificent mature landscaping as well as an upgraded, remodeled course. From there, go a little south and then west again, turning down the picturesque Fort Morgan Parkway (Hwy. 180). Follow the road and you’ll encounter Peninsula on the right, which lies along the bay and features some tricky sand traps. Down the same parkway and to the left, located on the Gulf of Mexico, is the award-winning Kiva Dunes that some might say is the most challenging course in the region but is still friendly enough to be playable by those who aren’t scratch golfers.

Leaving Gulf Shores and heading to the east along the beach highway on the scenic island of Perdido Key, Florida you’ll find Lost Key, which is another Arnold Palmer designed course. Don’t let the reputation of being called “lost ball golf course” intimidate you - just take along your least favorite balls for the drop offs into the marshy areas that have critters you might not encounter on your home course.

So now that you know a little about the courses, let’s talk bargains. By combining the lower vacation rental rate in winter with the lower golf course fees, you can enjoy the savings while you enjoy this addictive sport.

Here's an example of a great golf package this winter - the rate for four players staying four nights (taking advantage of the Winter Special free night) in a three-bedroom condo directly on the gulf and playing a round of golf at Glenlakes, Cotton Creek and Peninsula between now and February 28, 2013 would be a grand total of $1550. That’s less than $97 per person per night – what a deal! Of course there are numerous combinations of condos or houses and golf courses that we can coordinate, and fortunately we have golf package coordinators ready to assist you. Simply call Jimmy or Elizabeth at 800-964-4653.

We'd love to hear the names of your favorite gulf coast golf courses - so take a moment and let us know.

Related articles
Gulf Shores Golf Vacation Packages

Friday, December 21, 2012

Create Your Own Jewelry from Endless Possibilities

Creating your own jewelry masterpiece is a superior way to take home a coastal treasure and learn a new skill at the same time. Make Blue Girl Beading your headquarters for all things bling, and you will walk away with a memorable souvenir.  

The postcard advertisement for Blue Girl Beading promises “endless possibilities” and “millions of beads to choose from.” Frankly, that didn’t seem possible. However, once you visit this charming business you will soon realize every word is true. But don’t let the choices overwhelm you - the team will help design and create your memorable piece of jewelry for you.

This boutique offers one-of-a-kind stones, beads and pearls as well as unique stamped jewelry and blown-glass jewelry. The business, which has been open 8 years, outgrew its original small shop and is now conveniently located at 2200 E. 2nd Street in Gulf Shores by Dog House Grille and Amelia’s Deli. Plan to take a class or schedule a one-on-one consultation and become part of the creative process. They even host bridal and birthday parties – wouldn’t that be fun to do as a group?

What is your favorite coastal look for a unique souvenir necklace?

Related articles

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Start 2013 with a Big Bang at the Beach

From fireworks to family fun, your favorite coast is filled with festivities to help you, your family and your friends celebrate the end of 2012 and the beginning of a new year.

Before you count down to midnight, start by counting to noon at the Noon Year’s celebration at LuLu’s. This event, designed for all ages, happens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 featuring the cutest animals from the Alabama Gulf Coat Zoo plus clowns, face painters, castle contests, bubble wrap and musical entertainment by L’Angelus.

For a literal big bang, The Wharf is hosting a free New Year’s Eve Bash at the Beach celebration with the largest fireworks display on the coast. This family-friendly event includes live bands at the Main Street Stage, a kid zone with ice skating, and even dinner specials at many of the restaurants.

Or head to The Hangout for the biggest dance party on the beach, with DJ Jermaine Quiz rocking the night away for the 21+ age group. Stick around for the balloon drop for a chance to win 2013 Hangout Music Festival tickets.

Return to the same spot on New Year’s Day for the 2nd annual Kiwanis Club of Gulf Shores Slip and Slide Polar Bear Dip at The Hangout. The fun starts at 11 a.m., with the dip at noon and a free, all-ages concert featuring Grayson Capps and the Lost Cause Minstrels. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes, and prizes will be awarded at this fun celebration.

Another Polar Bear Dip also starts at noon at Flora-Bama, where individuals join hands to dip into the Gulf of Mexico and celebrate with traditional black beans when they emerge from the waters at the Alabama-Florida state line.

Meyer Vacation Rentals has prepared a big bang for your buck with 50% savings! Select your favorite condo or beach house, save 50% on your 4-night rental, and join in the fun as you celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day on the coast.

50% off 4 nights in a condo or beach house
Valid for stays thru 1/2/13.
Promo code 12NY50.866-202-0962

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Winning National Shrimp Festival Recipes

Want to get your hands on the top three shrimp recipes from award-winning Alabama Gulf Coast chefs? Sure you do and we’re happy to share them with you because the Alabama Gulf Coast Area of Commerce shared the winning recipes from the Fifth Annual Zatarain's National Shrimp Festival Restaurant Challenge with us.

The restaurant challenge, which is held each October, gives local restaurants the opportunity to compete for the bragging rites for preparing the best shrimp dish. The honor holds true for an entire year until the contest rolls around again. To compete, the dishes had to feature Alabama Wild Shrimp and at least one of the 200+ products produced by Zatarain. Beyond that the imaginations of the chefs were unleashed and their creativity definitely showed through in the contest entries.

So here are the winning recipes (at least the shrimp portion of the delicious dishes):

1st Place Winner
Chef Ashley Cabana at Shaggy's Waterfront Bar and Grill in Orange Beach
Zatarain's Blackened Garlic Crusted Shrimp
served with Smoked Gouda Grits and Green Tomato Marmalade

Alabama Wild Shrimp (12) large
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zatarain’s blackened seasoning

Peel the body of the shrimp leaving the head on and generously season with Zatarain’s blackened seasoning.
In a cast iron skillet bring the olive oil almost to the point of smoking.
Add large shrimp, turning on each side just until they begin to turn pink.
Add garlic and immediately add the juice of the lemon.

Smoked Gouda Grits
1c of grits
2c of chicken stock
1/2c heavy cream
1/4 lb. butter
1/2 lb. Smoked Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan add chicken stock and butter and bring to a rolling boil.
Add grits and cook until al dente but not gritty approximately 20 min.
Add heavy cream and let reduce and simmer 5 min or until thickened.
Turn off the heat and fold in smoked Gouda cheese and season with salt and pepper.

2nd Place Winner
Chef Michael Pophin at Nolan's Restaurant and Lounge in Gulf Shores
 Pecan Crusted Grouper served on a bed of Zatarain's Rice Pilaf
topped with Pineapple Beurre Blanc
 with Caribbean Jerk Shrimp and Lemon Hollandaise.

Caribbean Jerk Shrimp
Fresh Alabama large shrimp peeled, deveined and butterflied.

Jerk seasoning:
2oz garlic powder
2oz ground black pepper
2 oz onion powder
1 tbl of Zatarain’s cayenne powder
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
1oz ground cinnamon
1oz of kosher salt
3oz of Jamaican auspice
1oz red pepper flakes
1oz salted butter
1 cup heavy cream

Coat shrimp with Jerk seasoning; add to skillet over medium heat, with butter.
Cook shrimp until done, remove from pan and hold.
Add cream and Jerk seasoning to taste and reduce until thick.
Return shrimp to pan and hold until plating entrée.

3rd Place Winner
Chef Mike Myers at Flippers Restaurant in Orange Beach
Creole Shrimp Moutarde En Boule
2 tbl butter
1 tbl diced shallots
Season salt
10 ea peeled/deveined Alabama Wild Shrimp
2 oz Pinot Grigio white wine
3 oz heavy cream season to taste
2 tbl Zatarain’s Creole mustard
2 oz diced fresh tomato
1 tbl diced fresh chives
1 ea sourdough boule
6 oz Elberta sausage

Sauté shallots in butter, add Alabama Wild Shrimp, and season salt (Cavender’s creek)
Cook 2 minutes each side, deglaze with wine
Add cream and reduce to desire thickness (1-2 minutes)
Add Creole mustard and blend in well, add tomato and chives
Spoon into toasted sourdough bread bowl which has a top and partial interior removed
Cut grilled Elberta sausage a long rim of bread bowl garnish as desired

Of course if you can’t get fresh shrimp or choose not to attempt these recipes yourself, you can always go to Shaggy’s, Nolan’s and Flippers on your next beach getaway and sample these and other seafood creations.

See you at the beach!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Gulf Coast Coastal Christmas Happenings on December 8

Saturday (December 8th) is a BIG day for COASTAL CHRISTMAS happenings in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Perdido Key. It's probably impossible to experience all of the festivities but if you could here's what your Saturday would look like:

First thing in the morning - beginning at 9 a.m. - run in the 5 K Jingle Bell Run at Flora-Bama but be sure to stretch first. Stick around to see Santa fall from the sky (don't worry he will be wearing a parachute) at the annual Santa Drop at Flora-Bama where the music, fun and games begin at 10 a.m.

Then swing by and buy your special cookies & candies for Christmas gifts at the Orange Beach United Methodist Church during their Cookie Extravaganza from 9 til noon. Don't stay too long because the Merry Market at The Wharf Event Center in Orange Beach also has lots of holiday arts and crafts for you to purchase beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting til 4 p.m. By the way admission is free to this exciting marketplace.

Once you have your special gifts tucked away, head over to LuLu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores where Billy Claus & the LuLuBelles arrive at noon and promise an afternoon of family fun, free arts and crafts. Billy Claus is a little known brother of Santa and is sure to entertain the whole family.

Here's where the schedule gets tricky because you can't be in two places at once. The annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade begins at LuLu's at Homeport Marina at 5:30 p.m. so it's a great place to see the launch of these beautifully decorated holiday themed vessels. The boat parade will proceed along the Intracoastal Waterway past The Wharf and will end at Zeke’s Landing in Orange Beach at around 8:30 p.m., so anywhere along the waterway is a great spot to view the spectacle of nautical lights.

The tricky part is the fact that in addition to the fun at LuLu's there's a Wharf Christmas Open House from 4-7 p.m. and stores will be offering specials and serving finger foods and beverages. So you might have to decide whether to stay at LuLu's or go to The Wharf. Or you could see the boats launch at LuLu's at 5:30 p.m. and head to The Wharf because the boat parade is expected to pass by that location around 7 pm.

I hesitate to even tell you there's an opportunity to Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts that same day where you can get photos with Santa plus cookies & eggnog. But there are two more chances to experience this treat on December 15th and 22nd.

Are you exhausted just reading the list of possibilities? Don't be. Just pick and choose your events this Saturday and have a jolly good time on your favorite coast.

Check out the Meyer Vacation Rentals calendar of events and Music Calendar for more details on Coastal Christmas and other area happenings.