Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kids Will Love New Year’s Celebrations in Gulf Shores

Ring in the New Year family style in Gulf Shores with your choice of fun activities throughout the island. Here’s an agenda sure to create lasting family memories.

Dec. 31 @ 10 a.m. – The annual Noon Year’s Eve at Lulu’s, located on the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores, begins at 10 a.m. on December 31st. This event specifically designed for your children features a sandcastle building contest, arts & crafts, live music, zoo animals and face painting. Count down to noon and celebrate the New Year with kid-friendly fireworks and a huge beach ball drop.

Dec. 31 @ 8 p.m. – The New Year’s Eve Beach Bash at Gulf State Park Pavilion starts at 8 p.m. with a large bonfire, campfires with s’mores and a live DJ on the beach. More live entertainment happens under the pavilion featuring the musical sounds of Top Hat and Jackie. Two fireworks shows at Gulf State Park Pier happen at 10 p.m. and midnight.

Jan. 1 @ 11 a.m. – Slip and slide directly into the Gulf of Mexico at a non-traditional Polar Bear Dip starting at noon at The Hangout. The local Kiwanis Club is installing a 33-ft, 2-lane slip and slide to deposit you directly into the Gulf waters or you can walk right into the water in a more traditional style. This free event includes a free buffet for all participants at The Hangout afterwards that includes musical entertainment by Grayson Capps and prizes for best costumes and best teams.

Cool deal: Gulf-front accommodations at coastal condos and beach houses are 50% off 4-night rentals for this holiday when you use promo code 13NY50 valid for stays 12/28/13-1/4/14.

See you at the beach. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Waterfront or Gulf-front - what's your dream view?

If you are thinking that waterfront views and gulf-front views are the same? It's true that they both overlook water but there is a difference. Our coastal area is blessed with an abundance of what we locally call "backwaters" in addition to the majestic Gulf of Mexico. Here's a guide to some of the backwater views available for your vacation retreat:

Fort Morgan area: This area is a peninsula, which is a piece of land boarded by water on three sides but connected to the mainland, with the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Mobile bay to the north. A couple of choices for a get-away-from-it-all treat are Fort Morgan Baywatch, a 1-bedroom, 1-bath cottage sleeping 4 that has a small pier, and Bay Breeze, a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house sleeping 8 with a private pier for fishing or watching gorgeous sunsets on the bay.

Adventure tip: For a cool day experience you can hop on the Mobile Bay Ferry to the barrier island of Dauphin Island to visit Fort Gaines and the Estuarium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Gulf Shores: Little Lagoon and Lake Shelby are situated immediately to the south of the Gulf of Mexico. Here you can find both condos and houses with great views of the lagoon and sometimes a partial gulf view as well. A couple of waterfront choices in a 3-bedroom, 3-bath property sleeping 8 include the house A Dolphins Tale and condo Unit 1502; Bel Sole' both on Little Lagoon.

Adventure tip: The Hummingbird Ziplines send you flying from tower to tower with amazing water views of the Gulf and Lake Shelby. In fact the final tower is located in the lake.

Orange Beach: The backwater in this area has a variety of names depending on the specific location such as Cotton Bayou, Terry Cove and Ole River but each one is commonly called "the bay." Waterfront accommodation choices include a number of condos such as The Pass, Bella Luna, Mariner Pass, Phoenix on the Bay, The Wharf and Caribe. A 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo option that sleeps 4 and offers lots of amenities is Unit 401C; Caribe located at Perdido Pass. A large 6-bedroom, 5.5-bath house located on Ono Island is Ono's Latitude Adjustment which sleeps 16 friends or family members.

Adventure tip: Treat the family to a dolphin cruise or take your sweetheart on a sunset cruise for a memorable nautical experience.

Perdido Key: Ole River is a beautiful sight from your screened porch when you choose the 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath house Marbella which features a private boat dock and sleeps 14. You can sleep 10 at Unit 303; Sailmaker's Place, a 5-bedroom, 5.5-bath condo choice located on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Adventure tip: Climb to the top of the observatory tower at Big Lagoon State Park for a birds eye view.

So I hope you won't be confused by the property description of a "waterfront view" and that you will find this guide helpful to discover a coastal backwater treasure.

See you at the beach.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Coastal Christmas Lighted Boat Parade Dec. 14 in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

See Santa on land and water too when he visits our island in December. For a special treat gather your family and friends to see a non-traditional Christmas parade with a coastal flair. For miles and miles along the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach, a festive boat parade lights up the night sky. Dozens of boats, large and small, are decked out from bow to stern with not only lights but creative nautical-themed holiday decorations for the 28th annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade.

WHEN: Saturday, December 14, 2013 beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at approximately 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: The parade route begins at LuLu's at Homeport Marina and moves along the Intracoastal Waterway eastward past The Wharf, ending at Zeke’s Landing in Orange Beach

PARKING: Lots of free parking is available along the Intracoastal Waterway, at LuLu's, Tacky Jacks and The Wharf.

MY PARADE TIP: I actually like to go to three places to view the parade. First I go to LuLu's before the parade begins and photograph the boats while they are still docked and before it gets too dark. Then I hurry across the bridge to Tacky Jack's in Gulf Shores and position myself along the canal front to see the boats as they head out from LuLu's on their eastward journey. Finally I move to The Wharf to see them pass by on their way to Zeke's Landing. By then I'm ready to eat at one of the many wonderful options at The Wharf and enjoy the rest of my evening.

MY TRAVEL TIP: Rent a condo or house for four nights and get a 50% discount. Sounds like a great BOGO type sale to me - buy 2 and get 2 free - and I do love a bargain.

MY ITINERARY TIP: Take a look at all of the Coastal Christmas happenings throughout the month of December, so you can plan your itinerary around the fun events taking place on the Gulf Coast.

See you at the beach.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Homeschool Coastal Edutainment

A trip to Alabama and Florida’s Gulf Coast makes an entertaining addition to your home school curriculum, especially in the spring and fall when the beaches are less crowded and the weather is great for exploring abundant educational venues.

I’ve assembled a few options for you to choose from based on the ages of your children and their particular course of study. You just might create a whole new curriculum once you see the amazing ways to entertain while educating the youth in your family. In fact, I’ll bet you will enjoy these attractions as much as the kids do. Take a look at the possibilities for:edutainment at the beach:

Walk on the Wild Side
  • Add an animal encounter or two to your trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores for an up-close and personal animal experience. Plan your visit around the free animal show for extra information.
  • You definitely will not want to cuddle a reptile at Alligator Alley in Summerdale (north of Foley) but you can hold a small one and gain lots of knowledge during the guided tour, especially at feeding time.
  • The Gulf State Park Nature Center is a living museum of plants and animals native to our Gulf Coast region that can be found in the park’s 6,000+ acres.
  • Even more plants and animals are indigenous to the 7,000-acre Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, which is a wildlife habitat for more than 350 species of migratory birds, nesting sea turtles and the endangered Alabama beach mouse. Stop by the refuge office during the week to view a video and view wildlife exhibits or check the schedule to take a guided trail hike.

 For the Birds
  • Each spring and fall the Hummer Bird Study Group sets up a station inside Historic Fort Morgan to monitor the condition of migratory birds heading to South America in winter and returning to their first US landfall in spring. Planning your coastal visit to observe this process is an extraordinary experience.
  • The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, which runs throughout Baldwin and Mobile counties, provides 50 stops that are organized into loops where you can appreciate the observation points and avian education.
 Something Fishy
  • Add an extra layer of learning to your coastal experience when you spend time at the Estuarium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab. This educational facility highlights the four key habitats of coastal Alabama: the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. For a special treat take the Mobile Bay Ferry ride from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island for the day.
  • See marine science in action at the Claude Peteet Mariculture Center in Gulf Shores.
 Step Back in Time

  • Celebrating the birthplace of Mardi Gras in Mobile, not New Orleans as most people think, you’ll find the Mobile Carnival Museum.
Planes & Trains
  • An expansive free museum filled to the brim with aircraft is located at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. Be sure to sign up for a free guided tour for the behind-the-scenes, inside scoop about the planes, pilots and military personnel.
  • Most Wednesday’s you can view the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, as they practice for 65 upcoming shows for 2014 at their home at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

  • Three train adventures can be found just north of the beaches at the Foley Depot Museum where you’ll see an impressive model train exhibit inside a turn-of-the-century railroad station. Then you can board the Charles J. Ebert, Jr. Memorial Train for a free ride around Heritage Park.
Science Treasure
  • A terrific hands-on science experience makes learning fun at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile, where exhibits change frequently and the IMAX theatre add an extra level of entertainment.
Whew, that seems like a lot of action and fun adventures and it is. So now you just need to pack up the kids and head to the beach. But first check our specials and Hot Deals to pick up a bargain on your accommodations at a condo or beach house. Your vacation property comes equipped with a full kitchen, private bedrooms and baths plus a living area and balcony. Chose a gulf-front view overlooking the sugar-white sands and rolling gulf surf or a serene backwater vista.

See you at the beach.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Frank Brown International Songwriters Fest Coming to the Gulf Coast Nov 7-17, 2013

Ryan Balthrop
"Music soothes the soul” and if a song gets in your head you might sing it in the shower, your car or karaoke. But where do your favorite songs originate? Join us on Florida and Alabama’s Gulf Coast November 7-17, 2013 at the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival to find out.

Who are the songwriters?
Over 200 songwriters from around the country converge on the Gulf Coast during this 11-day musical treat. Some are Grammy Award winning songwriters and others are up and coming stars of tomorrow. Either way it’s a thrill to hear their original songs performed in this up close and personal manner. And if you are fortunate you will get to hear these authors tell the story behind the songs. You might get extra lucky and witness an impromptu jam session with a group of musicians.

Some of the writers attending this year are Larry Hentley (“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler), Brett Jones (“If Heaven Wasn’t so Far Away” by Justin Moore) and Will Rambeaux (“Wild One” by Faith Hill).

Where’s the action?
Over the 11-day course of the festival, songwriters will take the stage all along the Gulf Coast at 13 venues in Florida in Pensacola and Perdido Key and 17 Alabama venues in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. The venues range from the famous Flora-Bama roadhouse, where the festival originated, to family-friendly environments where you can enjoy a meal in addition to the music. Some of the settings are ideal for true music lovers who enjoy a “listening room” experience.

Willie Sugarcapps at The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm

What’s the cost?
Most venues hosting the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival are free; however a small cover change will be collected at the door at some establishments.

Why the name?
You would expect a songwriters festival to be named after a famous giant in the music industry. Well you would be wrong. For 28 years the late Frank Brown, or Mr. Frank as he was known, served as the night watchman at Flora-Bama. He was well respected for his moral values, integrity and strength of character. The festival is dedicated to this well-respected gentleman who retired at age 91 and passed away in 1988 at age 93.

Mr. Frank lives on today in the celebration of music and in the memories of those who knew him and knew his philosophy on life. As he said “success is when a man gets what he wants and happiness is when a man wants what he got.”

Where can I stay?
Accommodations at Meyer Vacation Rentals range from gulf-front condos in Perdido Key near Flora-Bama to beach houses and condos in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. Grab a bunch of friends or bring the family and share the joy of this rare musical treat. We are offering a special 3rd night free in a condo or 4th night free in a house that will be music to your ears. 

See you at the beach!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tropical Storm Karen Leaves Behind a Treasure on Alabama's Gulf Coast

Q: What is left behind on our coast when a tropical storm fails to come ashore?
A: Beautiful shells and wonderful sunny weather!

Last weekend when Tropical Storm Karen was advancing towards the northern Gulf Coast, we saw an impressive display of high surf. City officials took the appropriate action of prohibiting swimming because of the dangerous rip currents, however I can tell you that it is an awesome sight to see.

We waved a big goodbye to the storm as it simply broke up without landfall for us or our coastal neighbors. Following the storm threat our area is now experiencing cooler, sunny, beautiful weather just in time for the 42nd Annual National Shrimp Festival (Oct. 10-13), which is held directly on the beach in Gulf Shores.

Yesterday we went on a beach field trip to document the beautiful weather and calm seas and found a treasure trove of amazing shells now deposited on our shores. I know what you're thinking about our work assignment - tough job but someone has to do it.

Fall may be pretty in your hometown but speaking from experience in my area of the world, there is nothing as wonderful as a fall trip to our gorgeous beaches.

Fun food festivals are another reason to visit Alabama's Gulf Coast this fall. The weekend following the Shrimp Fest you can enjoy local food, wine and beers at the Alabama Festival of Flavor, held in historic downtown Foley on Saturday, October 19th. And in just a few weeks we'll be back at the beach at The Hangout enjoying seafood, music and SEC football at the Oyster Cookoff event on Saturday, November 9th.

See you at the beach.

Related articles:
Gulf Shores Annual Shrimp Festival
Alabama Festival of Flavor Highlight Local Fare
The Hangout Oyster Cookoff Gulf Shores

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bonus 14-day Red Snapper Season Begins Oct. 1

Did you miss the short window of time to catch red snapper in June this summer? No worries. You get another chance to haul in a few beauties from the Gulf, beginning at 12:01 a.m. October 1st and ending at 12:01 a.m.on October 15th.

Red snapper fishing facts:
·        The common size for red snapper is from one pound to 8 pounds with a typical maximum of 20 pounds. FYI, the world record is 50 pounds, 4 ounces.
·        Red snapper is a hard-fighting fish that uses strong, head-shaking tactics.
·        The daily bag limit for the fall season will remain two, 16” or longer fish per day.
·        Light ocean tackle, or heavy spinning and bait casting tackle can be used.
·        Typical bait is dead Cigar Minnows, Pilchards, cut fish or squid.

The Orange Beach Fishing Association, a group of over 100 fishing charter boats located at eight marinas, is a good resource for both six-passenger charters and multi-passenger fishing charters, as you plan your fall fishing trip.

Accommodations vary from large beach houses ideal for a large group of anglers to condos ranging from one- to four-bedroom sizes located in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key and Fort Morgan. Take advantage of the ShrimpFestival 3rd night free offer during part of the fall bonus red snapper season for a sweet discount on the already lower fall vacation rental prices.

Once you’ve caught your bag limit, there are lots of other entertaining things to see and do on the island. And, of course, red snapper is part of the coastal cuisine, so be sure to check the menu at your favorite waterfront restaurant for this delicious fish cooked to perfection.

See you at the beach.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What to bring to Shrimp Fest 2013 in Gulf Shores

Before Gulf Shores was the award-winning beach resort destination that it is now, there was a time that visitors only traveled here in the summer. Once Labor Day came and went most businesses, in fact almost all businesses on the island, closed for the winter. A group of locals got together over 40 years ago and decided to have a big after-season party and the Shrimp Festival, now known as the National Shrimp Festival, was born. Locals invited family and friends to join them at the October party and before long more festivities were added and over time summer guests found a reason to return to party in the fall. I guess the rest is history as they say and now this four-day festival is one of the top rated events in the Southeast.

This year’s National Shrimp Festival will be held October 10-13 at the public beach in Gulf Shores in front of The Hangout. Our free night special (promo code 13SF) is a great way to save some cash to spend at the festival.

What should you bring to the National Shrimp Fest? I suggest you bring:

Shuttle fare
Plan to “Park-N-Ride” the shuttle for $2 each way, since fest parking is virtually non-existent. Click here for shuttle locations and schedule.

Your appetite
This event, now in its 42nd year, did not get the name National Shrimp Festival sponsored by Zatarain’s for
no reason. Rows of food booths pay tribute to this crustacean with a variety of shrimp and other seafood dishes along with some favorite festival foods. After all who can resist a funnel cake? Just don’t toss any leftovers to the seagulls or you will not be popular with neighboring festival goers. If it sounds like I speak

from experience, unfortunately I do.

You can even pop into The Hangout for a meal and some shade in the middle of the day if you wish. Or grab your shrimp po-boy, some curly fries and a cold drink and take a seat on the benches along the boardwalk with a front-row view of the gulf waves and sandy shore.   

The kids
The Children’s Art Village is always popular with the little ones for hands-on art projects and entertainment geared to their age.

Your wallet

Admission to the festival, even the musical entertainment, is FREE. I do, however, recommend that you bring funds for purchasing unique treasures from some of the most talented artists and craftsmen in the region.

Over 130 arts and crafts vendors from around the country bring their hand-crafted goods to show and sell. With business names like “Rock Candles Rock”, “Bodacious Beads” and “Soapy Delight”, who can resist the urge to buy?

An additional 60 artists bring their works of art to the beach in the juried fine art section. Be sure to check out the photography, jewelry, pottery, oils, pastels, watercolors and wood carving before these artists close down at sunset.

The Retail Marketplace features vendors such as Diamond Jewelers, Purdy Girl Boutique, Viper Sauce and Uncle Jesse’s Hushpuppy Maker, along with another 50 other “stores” on the street.

A sand shovel and props
Saturday (Oct. 12) the popular, family-friendly Sand Sculpture Contest begins at 11 a.m. and you will want to either watch on get in on the action. So grab the bucket furnished for this event and get digging. Then you can post your creation for all your Facebook friends to see and be jealous that they didn’t get to go too.

Running shoes
The 10K Run begins at 8 a.m. and the 5K Run starts at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (Oct 12) at the Orange Beach Sportsplex located 4385 William Silvers Parkway in Orange Beach. Here are the details so you can register in advance.

Your outdoor sportsman
A brand new “Outdoor World” section of the fest will feature boating, hunting, and outdoor recreation vendors, which will be of particular interest to everyone who enjoys these activities.

Sunscreen, a hat and a jacket
Sunscreen and a hat are standard gear since the Shrimp Fest venue is along the beachfront. The suggestion of a lightweight jacket is for the possibility of cooler evenings when the sun goes down and the party continues. Most years the festival weather is warm, in the mid to high 80’s, but on occasion it can be cold in the middle of October, so definitely consult the Weather Channel when you are packing for your trip.

A folding chair
Review the entertainment schedule to choose either the East or West music stage and drop off your folding chair when you first arrive. Once you’ve walked throughout the festival grounds you can return to your ready-made seat in front of the stage. Of course with just a little effort you can move to the other stage for more music.

Each year Thursday is known as “local’s day”, partly because we love the local bands that play such as Lisa Christian, Elaine Petty, Willie Sugarcapps and the Tip Tops and partly because it is less crowded so it’s a great day to visit.

A brand new entertainment feature happens on Saturday (Oct. 12) from 10 a.m. to noon when emerging local youth talent will be showcased in the Shrimp Fest Idol Contest.

I hope you’ll find these suggestions from a long-time festival attendee helpful. If you have not yet reserved your condo or beach house for Shrimp Fest weekend, I encourage you to make your plans now and get your free night.

See you at the beach.

Related Articles:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Food is the star at the Alabama Festival of Flavor (Oct 19)

As a native Alabamian I take special pride in the upcoming Alabama Festival of Flavor, since it will showcase the food, wine, beer, arts and crafts of my home state. Last year’s inaugural event got off to a very good start and the changes planned for this year’s event are exciting.

The 2nd annual Alabama Festival of Flavor will take over the streets of historic downtown Foley on October 19, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vendors will display and sell products made in Alabama, such as local honey, handmade soaps, crafts and works of art. A free Kids Fun Zone will entertain the younger crowd.

Entry to the festival is free and there will be numerous free seminars conducted by professional chefs on a variety of food preparation subjects, such as how to prepare fresh fish or grow a garden. Regional jazz performers will fill the air with festive music.

One of the events I’m most interested in seeing is the Amateur Heirloom Recipe Cook-off. Home cooks will compete in three categories 1) appetizers 2) entrees 3) desserts using their family recipes handed down from generation to generation. Each cook must incorporate one key ingredient in their dish that will be provided to the contestant, which should be an interesting twist to “grandma’s recipe.” Tickets will be sold to sample these tasty treats and vote on the People’s Choice award. I am fascinated by this concept and look forward to tasting the creations.

Two other ticketed sections of the festival center around wine, beer and food. The Alabama Beer and Wine tasting tent will serve Alabama-based beer, wine and various dishes and the cuisine for the VIP tent will be premier international wines and food.

Enjoy back-to-back fall festivals in October at the National Shrimp Festival (Oct 10-13) and Alabama Festival of Flavor (Oct. 19). Plan to spend two weeks so that you can attend both events and provide promo code 13FOL to get the second week free (some restrictions apply).

Join us to find out what’s cooking on the coast.

Related articles:
Get your taste buds ready for the Alabama Festival of Flavor
Gulf Shores Annual Shrimp Festival

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Flying High on the Coast in Gulf Shores


Pure exhilaration is how I felt stepping off the tower platform and flying through the air high above Lake Shelby on the Hummingbird Ziplines a few days ago. This amazing experience, at the Gulf Adventure Center in the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, lasts about two and one half hours and begins with gearing up and practicing close to the ground.

In "Ground School" each person is taught how to safely maneuver through the course. The primary function to learn is how to use the brake pad on your gloves to slow your descent when necessary. There are two guides to send you on your way and catch you, sometimes literally catching you. Our guides were fun, funny and placed each one of us at ease.

Groups of twelve “zippers” set off on the adventure every 45 minutes and by the end of the course you are new best friends. Our group ranged in age from 12 years old to a 73-year old celebrating her birthday with her family. Interestingly there were only 2 guys in our group but of course that varies. My companion and I were the only locals and we met and bonded with visitors from Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Pennsylvania. It’s so cool to cheer on your fellow flyers and either encourage them to fly or congratulate them as they reach the tower you just landed on.

The minimum age to participate is 8 years old but the primary criteria to ride the Zipline is weight – a minimum of 65 lbs. and a maximum of 260 lbs. The scientific principle is the heavier the person the faster they fly across the cable to the next tower, although it seemed to me that everyone in our group went equally fast.

The scenery is extraordinary because you overlook the beautiful beach, Gulf waters and Gulf State Park fishing pier as well as the waters of Lake Shelby with its abundant wildlife. These incredible views of both waters are possible because Lake Shelby is the closest body of fresh water to salt water in the world. If you get lucky you just might see some of the resident alligators in the ponds as you zip to your next station high above this 6,000-acre park. The seven towers were designed to blend in with the natural setting and are built from natural wood, no concrete, using giant poles harvested specifically for this attraction.

One of my favorite parts of the experience was the professional photography capturing this special moment, since it’s impossible to take photos while you are flying through the air. If you have a pocket that zips or closes with Velcro, you can take along your camera or camera phone and take photos from the towers.

The Hummingbird Ziplines at Gulf Adventure Center is open year round, so the time of year you choose to explore this coastal treat will determine what you should wear. Closed-toe shoes are a must and tennis shoes are preferred. If the weather is warm shorts and a cool shirt are best. I suggest that you eat a hearty meal and drink a bottle of water before you begin, since there are lots of steps to climb on each tower. 

Calling a day or two in advance is necessary because this experience is extremely popular. You will pay when you reserve your day and time and you can even download the waiver so that you can complete it in advance. This saves time when you arrive and gives you the chance to check out the items in the gift shop. You know you will want a t-shirt or other souvenir of your coastal adventure. Our group went on the 5:15 p.m. zip and that placed us flying towards the sunset over the lake on our final leg of the journey.

I highly recommend adding the Hummingbird Ziplines to your “to do” list on your next visit to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan or Perdido Key. In fact, I’ll bet one time won’t be enough and you will repeat this exhilarating trip at different times of the year. The attraction offers a loyalty program making each future adventure cost less.

See you at the beach.

Related article:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Top 5 SEC BeachFest activities in Gulf Shores

2013 SEC BeachFest (Aug 16-18) gives fanatic football fans a venue to get it in gear. When this event was launched last August a wide variety of activities were offered and believe it or not even more fun is in store for BeachFest goers this year.

Here’s my top 5 BeachFest activity list:

  1. Music – Friday night (Aug 16) kicks off with Mark Broussard bringing his “Bayou Soul” style to the beach beginning at 8 p.m. His music is a mix of funk, blues, R&B, rock and pop and is ideal to listen to with your toes in the sand. Country music singer Rodney Atkins follows on Saturday night (Aug 17) at 8 p.m. His concert is also located right on the beach with the surf rolling in nearby. 
  1. FanZone – This entertaining, interactive attraction at BeachFest on Friday (Aug 16), Saturday (Aug 17) and Sunday (Aug 18) includes lots of family activities such as sports clinics with former football players, beach volleyball, beach football, corn hole competitions and more. In the Legends Pavilion you can watch talk show-type interviews with legendary coaches and players. Some of the coaches who will conduct “town hall chalk talks” include Pat Dye (Auburn), Gene Stallings (Alabama) and Vince Dooley (Georgia) and you can find the complete list here. You can even take a photo with the Dr. Pepper National Championship Coaches Trophy. 
  1. Golf – Register Thursday (Aug 15) at Craft Farms for the golf scramble on Friday (Aug 16). The 8:30 a.m. shotgun start happens at Craft Farms, Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club and Gulf Shores Golf Club. 
  1. Run – On Saturday (Aug 17) the 5K begins at 8 a.m. and the 1-mile fun run begins at 9 a.m. The course is described as fast and flat. It goes out alongside Little Lagoon and returns alongside the Gulf of Mexico. 
  1. Fishing – Zekes Landing Marina is the location for Saturday’s fishing challenge from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Aug 17) with a weigh-in party sponsored by Wolf Bay Lodge from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. A kids pier fishing tournament happens on Sunday (Aug 18) at the Gulf State Park fishing pier.
Score big points with your fans by putting SEC BeachFest on your calendar and securing accommodations in Gulf Shores or nearby beach areas now. SEC BeachFest tickets, valued at $25 each, are FREE with your accommodations. The 5K run, golf scramble and fishing challenges have separate entry fees. Enjoy a 3rd night FREE in a condo or 4th night FREE in a house with promo code 13BF-T (subject to availability, some restrictions apply).  

No matter which SEC team is your favorite, you will find lots of other fans to share your passion and lots of fun at the 2nd annual SEC BeachFest located at the Public Beach in Gulf Shores, which is adjacent to The Hangout.

Be sure to stop by our Meyer Vacation Rentals photo booth for free fun pictures in your wildest costume. See you at the beach!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Ten Tips for Hot Air Balloon Fest Fun

This will be year nine of my participation as a volunteer and my own personal enjoyment of the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival that will be held in Foley on Father's Day weekend (June 14-15). I'm happy to share my 10 tips to boost your festival fun:
  1. Start with a glow. The festivities kick-off on Thursday night (June 13) with a spectacular balloon glow at Tanger Outlet where these colorful hot air balloons light up the night sky. The festivities starting at 6:30 include children's entertainment and opportunities to win prizes from Tanger Outlet stores.
  2. Park and ride. Parking at the festival is $5 but an even better idea is parking at Tanger Outlets and riding the free shuttle that runs Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  3. Go to the dogs. Check the schedule and make time to see the Disc Connected K-9 World Famous Frisbee Dog Show. These amazing animals rescued from shelters are trained to perform and they seem to love every minute. I predict you will too.
  4. Get ice cream & corn dogs. No matter what diet you may be trying to stick to the homemade ice cream is a treat you can't pass up. The awesome corn dogs and other delicious temptations are sure to put you in the festival frame of mind.
  5. Bring your wallet. There's no entrance fee for the festival but you are sure to find a souvenir or unique hand-crafted item to remind you of the good times.
  6. Take the kids. Not only will the little ones love the hot air balloons and dog show they can explore the free Kids Zone featuring alligator petting (yes we pet our alligators in the South), face painting, dancing, limbo, rock climbing wall and more.
  7. Get your groove on. Dance the night away to the sound of Rhythm Intervention (Friday) and the Tip Tops (Saturday).
  8. Look down on the crowd. A limited number of tethered rides in a hot air balloon, which means a mini-ride with a great view up above the festival grounds, can be purchased in advance at South Baldwin Chamber or at the event.
  9. Rise early. If you want to watch the actual hot air balloon pilot competitions set your clock and arrive at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, then head to the beach for a nice nap and come back around 5 p.m.
  10. Look to the skies. Each evening (weather permitting) around 7 p.m. the spectacle you have been waiting to see occurs as 45 beautiful "floating works of art" grace the skies above the festival grounds. Bring your camera to capture the magic of this sight you will never forget.
What a great way to share precious memories this Father's Day and see the sights at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival just minutes north of the beautiful beaches.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Acme Oyster House Branching Out to Gulf Shores

Excited local residents gathered at Canal Park in Gulf Shores on May 8, 2013 for the unveiling of plans for Waterway Village and the announcement that Acme Oyster House will build in this new waterfront development.

Acme Oyster House has been a landmark in the French Quarter in New Orleans for 103 years, so the news that they will build an 8,000 sq. ft. restaurant on our coast is thrilling. And to give us a (literal) taste of how special this news really is, they treated us to a wide array of seafood delights including their world-famous chargrilled oysters.

The new Waterway Village development, made possible by a $1 million BP grant, will soon take shape along both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway creating a unique downtown atmosphere. This  pedestrian-friendly area will feature quaint streets with tree-lined sidewalks, inviting seating areas, decorative lamp posts and a waterfront boardwalk offering dining, shopping and entertainment.

Currently LuLu's at Homeport Marina and Tacky Jack's are located within this newly designed Waterway Village area and Acme Oyster House will join them in the coming months. No doubt you will want to place all three restaurants on your coastal agenda.

Related articles:
3 Great Places to Get a Bushwacker in Gulf Shores
Three Foods You Have To Try During A Gulf Shores Vacation
3 Popular Shrimp Restaurants in Gulf Shores