The Gulf Coast of Alabama is one of my favorite places in the entire world. There is so much to do and see, but there is also plenty of sun, sand, and relaxation to be had. Are you a vacationer that plans your days down to the minute or are you more of a easy going, whatever happens happens kind of traveler? I’m a mixture of both. I love to have a game plan, but I’m learning more and more each day (thanks, kids!), that sometimes the most fun things can happen when you least expect them to. Regardless of how you plan, it’s probably nice to know what to do, where to stay, and where to eat, right? Here are my best suggestions for where to stay, eat, and play on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
Where to Stay
I wrote briefly a little while back about our stay at Turquoise Place, but I really want to expound upon what I wrote earlier. If you are looking for high class accommodations with incredible views, spacious floor plans, and wonderful amenities, Turquoise Place is the place for you. Choose between 3, 4, or 5 bedroom accommodations with anywhere from 2,300 to 4,756 square feet of living space including a balcony area complete with a jacuzzi and a gas grill. If that wasn’t enough, there are multiple indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, steamroom, fitness center, children’s playground, and a 450 foot lazy river! Talk about luxurious! I was thrilled to discover all of the options available for my family, no matter the ages of our group members. We will definitely be planning another visit to this gorgeous home away from home.
What to Eat
This is, by far, the longest section of my post today, but stick with me because it is well worth the read. When I visited the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area a few weeks ago, I was floored to find more than just delicious Gulf seafood available to me. If you’re going to be sampling the seafood, and I highly suggest you give it a try, you definitely want to sample the shrimp and grits from Cobalt Restaurant in Orange Beach. Their spectacular bay views make this a great spot for boat watching, so take a chance and sit out on the deck to enjoy the entire dining experience. For a special night out, I highly recommend Nolan’s Restaurant and Lounge in Gulf Shores. Their surf and turf options are well-seasoned, expertly prepared dishes, so make sure you ask about the chef’s specials (and don’t forget to order some crab cakes!). Midnight Confessions, their in-house band, provides nightly music, and there is a dancefloor to encourage you to get up and shake your groove thing (you know you want to!). If you’re ready to take a break from seafood, you must give Luna’s Eat and Drink and The Beach House Kitchen & Cocktails a try. I’ve already written about my amazing salad from The Beach House, so I’ll just remind you again that you need to go there, pronto! I want to highlight Luna’s Eat and Drink because this restaurant would be a great location to catch the big game at while enjoying their savory burgers and sweet desserts. I know finding a TV in the fall is important for many when planning a getaway, and Luna’s is a great choice for this activity. With several big screens inside and out, the sports fan in your life can get their fix while noshing on some flavorful comfort food and a wide variety of craft beers not available anywhere else in Orange Beach. Considering a breakfast out or a brunch for your stay? I recommend Bill’s by the Beach in Gulf Shores. At home, my family does not eat breakfast out. It’s much easier and simpler for our morning routine to eat foods we have on hand. It is a lovely vacation treat to eat breakfast out somewhere. Bill’s will not disappoint you. I highly recommend ordering the Bananas Foster Pancakes and the Poinsettia “Eye Opener” to start your day off right (two words: homemade syrup….I’m drooling right now just thinking about it!). Bonus: there is a fun “play area” underneath the restaurant to entertain the masses while you wait (if there is even a wait). Bill’s also has excellent Gulf seafood and happy hour specials that run from 1-7pm on weekdays.
How to Play
So many options for how to play in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Are you needing some time away to just let go and experience a little freedom? Take advantage of Turquoise Place’s lazy river, steam room, or sauna. Reserve a chair right on the beach and bring your favorite book. Head down to Turquoise Place’s sister resort, The Beach Club, and sign up for a relaxing massage. There is no wrong way to slow down and enjoy your stay on the Gulf.
But what if you’re feeling adventurous? Do you need to get your mind off of things and get your body moving during your stay? Well then, I suggest a eco-tour via kayak with Wild Native. As sore as my arms were after our journey, there was a distinct feeling of connecting with the world around me while we were out in Wolf Bay. We spent a few hours of our morning searching for wildlife and hearing about the ebb and flow of nature from our talented guide, Johanna. I also had the great fortune of embarking on a sunset dolphin cruise with Cetacean Cruises in Orange Beach. This cruise was the perfect ending to our stay. I saw several dolphins swimming in the bay while enjoying a smooth sailing experience complete with wine, snacks, and great conversation. I know my girls would love their daytime nature cruise, so I can’t wait to take them back and give that a try as well.