Justin’s Beach Report 2016
It has been two years since I have traveled to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach with my family. This year was probably the best beach trip I have ever had. The water was clear, the weather was nearly perfect and we went with another family that was, like us, down for a good time.
We have stayed here before and while it is far from the cheapest place on the gulf, it is as nice as any place you will plop down for a week and put sand between your toes. This year we rented a condo on the 27th floor it was just outstanding.
The living room fixture had me a little nervous, but none of the kids came back missing any appendages.
Keep in mind there has been a big change this year at GS/OB. In the past we used to bring all our beach items down on Saturday, set up a camp and leave it there for the week. Now you are asked to have ALL of your items off the beach by an hour after sundown and you can read the regs here. I really loved in the past that people from Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and many other places might argue over who had the best football team, but worked on the honor system never to mess with other people’s belongings even when they were unattended. However, rules are rules. I will say it sucked taking everything up and down each day, but luckily my 16-year-old son and his buddy who tagged along on the trip carried most of our chairs, toys and skim boards in a blowup raft that we used during the day. I strongly encourage it as a dual-use item. And if your teen has a buddy that is as well behaved as my kid’s friend is, you may want to consider that as well.
We started out our first day as we arrived into the area from The Rock as we always do at Lulu’s which is Jimmy Buffett’s sister’s place. (http://www.lulubuffett.com/gulf-shores/). Yes it is a little commercial, but the service is good and it is a great place to let the kids run around and grab a bite before you can check into your condo. We got there around 1pm and couldn’t get into our condo until about 4pm anyway so we relaxed and killed some time (and some LA Caviar-“LA” meaning “Lower Alabama”).
After a trip to the store we checked in and headed to the beach.
In addition to the usual chilling in the surf and letting the youngsters run wild, we did a few other fun things during the week. I played golf twice at Craft Farms- http://www.craftfarms.com/. Beautiful Palmer design with two 18 hole courses. Cypress Bend is far easier in my book than Cotton Creek. Not sure how long it runs, but they had a special. $85 for the first round and $40 more for the second if it is played at either course within seven days. Pretty good deal.
The place is perfectly manicured and the staff is fantastic.
My buddy and I got paired with a retired guy named Tom and his son Joe from Carbondale, IL. Tom is a nut and sounds like a long-lost cousin of Larry the Cable Guy. He may or may not have cracked a beer before we cracked our first drives (at 7:05am mind you). But even if he did, what the heck, we are on vacation right? We had so much fun we played with them again on Wednesday morning and made plans to meet them some time in Tunica.
On the last day of the trip we went snorkeling on the Sail Wild Hearts Catamaran. We had three kids under 10 and two 16-year-olds, none of whom had ever snorkeled so I was a little nervous. They ended up all doing well and we had a blast. Although the fish were sparse at best, the ride and crew were both great.
They also do a sunset cruise and I strongly recommend if you haven’t ever gone. http://sailwildhearts.com/
Something else that was a little different this year is that we ate in at the condo as much as we ate at local restaurants. We hit our usual spots:
http://thehangout.com/ for breakfast where kids eat for basically nothing and get some bubble time to boot!
The ever-expanding and improving The Gulf for dinner and drinks. It is a great setting at the foot of the Perdido bridge and has plenty of space for the kids and parents to roam. Nothing else like it that I have seen along the gulf.
We also spent about 90 minutes at Florabama in the middle of a particularly hot day for some bingo. Try it before you criticize. It is dumb fun and it is in the shade!
Our favorite new (to us) casual spot is owned by an Arkansan and his wife. The Flip Flop Deli Shop in Gulf Shores is a no frills deli and ice cream joint that is lots of fun thanks to Toma (devout Hog fan) and Darcie (devout Iowa Hawkeye fan from Burlington, IA). We will be back soon.
And sorry about Maddux spilling half of his icee on the floor! I will say he REALLY enjoyed his first walking taco. It is a midwest thing so if you don’t understand it, go by the Flip Flop and get one.
And as I mentioned we also cooked in a LOT. Every unit in Turquoise has a nice grill and a hot tub on the deck so it makes the outdoor living as good as it can be. Blalock Seafood is my new go-to spot. I got great fresh shrimp, grouper, mahi mahi, tuna and the red snapper was CLOWN TOWN (that is a good thing for the uninitiated). I would show you some pics but it got eaten too quickly. If you are staying on Perdido Beach Blvd it is pretty close to you. Our final night we grabbed some filets, great sourdough bread and salad at Publix and topped it with some crab from Blalocks with a little bernaise sauce. Money.
If you have any questions feel free to email me about anything and I will be happy to help if I can.
Have a great summer vacation wherever you are headed!