Celebrate Memorial Day at the Beach

Written by Meyer Vacation Rentals on April 10th, 2014
boy holding flag on beach

Spend Memorial Day weekend on the Gulf Coast with Meyer Vacation Rentals!

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of summer. Have you found yourself planning family trips and outdoor events? If a long weekend on the beach appeals to your sentiments, then you are not alone. Thousands of sun-hungry visitors and locals alike will flock to the shoreline of area beaches and their corresponding deep waters. Where will your plans take you? If you’re heading to Alabama or the NW Florida Gulf Coast, then we have a few suggestions to add to your itinerary. Fort Morgan Memorial Day Tribute We can’t think of a more creative way to spend your Memorial Day holiday than the Memorial Day Tribute at historic Fort Morgan. Go back in time, Monday, May 26, with historical interpreters and live demonstrations throughout the day. You can even participate if you’d like! Historical interpreters, dressed in period uniforms of the United States Army from different eras of the fort's occupation, will conduct special guided tours of the fortification throughout the day. Also, artillery, small arms, and other demonstrations will show the complexities that have faced the military garrisons at Fort Morgan. Fort Morgan was built after the War of 1812 but is best known for its part in protecting, or attempting to protect, the Mobile Bay ship channel during the Civil War. On August 5, 1864, when Union Admiral D. G. Farragut led his fleet past the guns of the fort and into the bay with the loss of only one ship, we recall his famous quote of "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The Memorial Day Tribute is from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the fort, located at 51 State Highway 180 West, Gulf Shores, Ala. 36542 (very end of Fort Morgan Road, past the ferry). Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children 6-12. Fort Morgan's phone number is 251-540-7127 and you can also find more information at their website. Celebrations at the Wharf Saturday, May 24 starts the 100 Days of Summer Kick-Off at The Wharf. Celebrated country artist Dylan Scott will perform, starting at 6:30 at Main Street at The Wharf. The Pepsi Beach Ball Drop at 8 p.m. will feature 2,000 inflated beach balls bouncing around throughout the crowd. After the ball drop, the 2014 premier of SPECTRA, The Wharf's Sound and Light Spectacular will continue the entertainment. And that's not all! Sunday, May 25 at 7 p.m., classic rock legends Foreigner, Styx and former Eagles member Don Felder will be serenading Orange Beach with their Soundtrack of Summer tour. Bring your family and enjoy the open air amphitheater located waterfront near the Wharf Marina. The 10th Annual LuluPalooza Another fun, family-friendly event happening Memorial Day weekend is LuluPalooza. Located right on the Intracoastal Waterway at Lucy Buffet’s famous Lulu’s restaurant, LuluPalooza is always fun and friendly. Details on this event have not been announced, but it will be taking place all-day Saturday, May 24. Lulu brings the best regional funk, blues, soul and rock and roll, so this is a party you won't want to miss! Beach and Waterfront Accommodations If you'd like to spend Memorial Day weekend somewhere on the Alabama or Florida Gulf Coast, then check out our large selection of vacation rentals including both gulf-front and waterfront condos and beach houses throughout Perdido Key, Fla., Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Fairhope, Ala. We are filling up very fast, so book now for the best selection! We can be reached 24/7 with any questions or concerns at 888-463-8016.
 

Dream Drive: Hwy 180, Fort Morgan, AL

Written by Meyer Vacation Rentals on February 18th, 2014
Years ago, I remember reading one of the major travel magazines that did a piece every month called “Dream Drives.” It featured a beautiful place to take a road trip, and what to do, see, and eat along the way. Hwy 180 is a dream drive that can be done in a day and is hidden from the hustle and bustle of Gulf Shores. Hwy 180, or Fort Morgan Peninsula, is a 22 mile stretch of land with Mobile Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other side. I can’t tell you the countless people I run into who have visited Gulf Shores, some several times, and have never driven down this road to see what Fort Morgan has to offer.
Fort Morgan map view

Map view of the Fort Morgan Peninsula

Why should you go? Fort Morgan’s remote location makes it seem worlds away from the busy condo buildings, souvenir stores, and restaurants. It is natural, beautiful, and since building has been restricted to a minimum, it is sparsely populated and untouched in many areas. There are also some very special spots along the way you must see. Cycling and Biking: If you are an avid cyclist, you need to bring your bike. There’s a bike lane that stretches from one end to the other, and with the small amount of traffic driving this road, you can feel totally safe. Not to mention, down and back is a flat 44 miles, so getting several miles in is easy. For those who like to bike, but aren’t as comfortable riding on the road with cars, or prefer the more relaxed beach cruiser way of getting around, there is a winding bike path adjacent to the road on the right side of the highway that extends part of the way down the peninsula, about five miles. Riding along the golf course, under the Spanish moss, is a great way to stay active while enjoying a leisurely ride. If you have a large group going and can’t fit all your bikes on your rack, you can rent from a local company that will deliver them to you. To pick up the path, park your car at the grocery store at the corner of Hwy 180 and 59.
Fort Morgan bike trail

A view from the bike trail on the Fort Morgan peninsula

Bird Watching:If you are into bird watching, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail Fort Morgan Loop, offers several opportunities, since much of the Fort Morgan Peninsula is in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The birding trail and sites are well marked with signs along Hwy 180, and here is a site that lists the locations and species most often in occurrence at that location. Little Lagoon: Little Lagoon is situated between the land that is West Beach and a 10 mile portion of Fort Morgan. It is about ½ mile wide and consists of brackish water from Lake Shelby and the water that comes in at the pass from the Gulf of Mexico. There are three opportunities to see the lagoon up close on Fort Morgan: Lagoon Park (pictured below), Pine Beach Trail or Jeff Friend Trail, with the last two also being on the birding trail. The day I took this photo, it was overcast and the lagoon was perfectly still, like glass, mirroring every object.
Lagoon Park

Lagoon Park is beautiful no matter the weather.

Shipwreck: Continuing down Fort Morgan, turn left at mile marker 6, make a right at the end of the road, and you’ll find the Rachel, aka The Mystery Ship. The Rachel is a 155’ Schooner believed to have been built around 1923. As you can imagine with any old relic, there are so many stories surrounding it. Many say the ship was a Civil War era ship called the Monticello that left Mobile Bay in the 1860s. Other legends say it was a rum runner and call it the “Whiskey Wreck” trying to smuggle liquor during Prohibition. Depending on shifting sand and weather conditions, the ship may or may not be exposed, but it is definitely a sight to see. It’s lying flat on the beach in someone’s backyard. Literally, it’s almost right under their deck. There isn’t any parking, and it’s located in a residential area, so remember to be respectful when walking through the area. You can park a few lots away, and you’ll see signs posted in the areas where you cannot park. Currently, there is a vacant lot of open sand you can walk in without walking under a private house. Again, just be respectful, and remember, this isn’t a tourist destination, it’s a residential neighborhood.
mystery shipwreck

They call this mystery shipwreck the Rachel. Find it on the beaches of Fort Morgan, Alabama.

Eat: You must try Tacky Jacks 2 at the Gulf Shores Yacht Club and Marina at Fort Morgan. This two story structure, which looks like it was once a house, sits right on Mobile Bay. In the summer months, the sun sets in Mobile Bay. In the winter it sets in the Gulf of Mexico, and both are equally beautiful. Tacky Jacks is a chain around Gulf Shores, but we love this off-the-beaten path location. Upstairs is the restaurant, downstairs is the bar, and from either level you can see the water. They have some of the best bushwhackers on the Gulf Coast, and if you’re brave (and you must be) order one with a floater. If you go in the summer, as I mentioned above, you will be treated with this breathtaking view from the deck.
Tacky Jack's sunset

Tacky Jack's can always be accessed by land or by sea.

And while this isn’t a tourist destination, one of the most recognizable houses on Fort Morgan is the very last house on the left as you head down where the fort property begins. In different light and weather conditions, it reminds me of the perfect setting for a romantic movie or a scary, psychological thriller. The location, the isolation, and the size all come together to make a perfect setting. As you drive towards the fort, the house is concealed until you are past it, so once you make it to the clearing as you enter the fort property, look back over your left shoulder and out towards the water. And by the way, that really was the sky that night. This was taken with my iPhone and no special editing or filter.
Fort Morgan sunsets

This house has a great view, and you can too on your dream drive down the Fort Morgan peninsula.

Fort Morgan: This is the main reason you drove down this road and will be the highlight of the drive. Fort Morgan State Historic Site is a Civil War fort. It is not to be missed and neither are the views. The fort is located at the very end of Fort Morgan Peninsula, and don’t be fooled when you drive up to the parking lot. You can’t see a bit of it from the outside. It’s protected by a sloping grass wall, a common engineering feature of many forts. After walking through the arched tunnel, you’ll see the entrance. At the top of Fort Morgan, you have the best view of the mouth of Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island and the Gulf of Mexico. You can do a self-guided tour and spend as much, or as little time as you like, but exploring the rooms and grounds is fascinating for all ages. The entrance and grounds are all protected areas, and from the parking lot, you can walk out onto the beach where the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay meet. The museum is free and houses many relics and past lenses from the lighthouses around the area.
Fort Morgan entryway

The historic Fort Morgan is located at the very tip of the Fort Morgan peninsula.

Now you’ve come this far and you have an option to extend your day by chartering a small boat for a couple of hours to explore Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. If you decide to charter a boat at Gulf Shores Yacht Club and Marina at Fort Morgan (back at Tacky Jacks), be sure you plan in advance by calling the marina, as boats aren’t always available on a walk up basis. It is a small marina with only a few boats there at certain times. I recommend allowing yourself the morning to drive and get out and explore all the locations and schedule a boat ride in the afternoon. You could even do the fort before heading to Tacky Jacks for lunch, and then catch a boat after lunch. The picture taken below is the marina in off-season. You can see now why you need to plan ahead. As you can see below, even if you are there in off-season when the sun sets on the gulf side, the sky on Mobile Bay is still stunning at sunset.
sunset at Gulf Shores Yacht Club and Marina

Get ready to charter your boat! We're going for an adventure through Mobile Bay.

Sand Island Light House: On a clear day you can see Sand Island Light, and it’s so hard to believe by looking at how far away it is, at one time, it was connected to land. You must see this lighthouse while you can. It is currently on Lighthouse Digest Magazine’s Doomsday List, a list naming the most endangered lighthouses in the country. You can’t go inside of it, but it is regarded as one of the last great masonry lighthouses on the Gulf Coast. Massive granite rocks have been placed at the base to prevent further erosion. When it was originally constructed in 1838, it was the tallest lighthouse ever built. The lighthouse also has so many stories to tell. It has been hit by several hurricanes and was even blown up when Confederate soldiers found Union soldiers in the lighthouse spying on Fort Morgan. The structure you see today was built in 1873 and is 125 feet tall. If you don’t make this portion of the trip, when you are standing on top of Fort Morgan, imagine if you can, walking from Dauphin Island to Sand Island Light. Dauphin Island residents currently own Sand Island Light and that was the lighthouse’s connection point.
Sand Island Light House near Dauphin Island

The Sand Island Light House is currently listed as endangered through Lighthouse Digest Magazine. See it while you can!

Dolphin Watching: Well, if you haven’t seen a dolphin at some point on your trip while sitting on the beach, I’m very surprised. They are all over this part of the Gulf of Mexico and in Mobile Bay, so you are just about guaranteed to see at least one during your trip. If not, there’s an even better chance you’ll see them on a boat. They are everywhere. The lighthouse is about 3 miles off shore, so keep your eyes open for dolphin when heading out there. Many of us go on vacation to park our butts in the sand and do nothing. We rush around at home, why would we want to do anything on vacation, right? I hear you. I promise you, even if none of the other stops along the way interest you, at least drive down to the end and see the fort. It is a remarkable place, and you don’t need to be into history to enjoy it. I guarantee it will be one of the most memorable parts of your trip. Relax and enjoy the drive! All information and photographs were provided by our guest blogger Cassandra Buckalew. Entrepreneur and designer, Cassandra Buckalew, is an Atlanta native. She and her husband own a home on Fort Morgan and fell in love with the area after their first visit in 2006. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta and owns a trolley company, a pedicab company and a ghost tour in the metro Atlanta area. She has traveled all over the world but spends her down town rejuvenating on Alabama’s beautiful coast. She enjoys the Gulf Coast lifestyle and friendly laid-back attitude. A lover of photography, travel, design, food and fashion, you can follow her images and adventures on her instagram account at: cassbuckalew or her Facebook design page: Cassandra Buckalew Interiors. She can be reached at: cassbuckalew@gmail.com. Cassandra Buckalew
 

Play Out Your Resolutions on the Gulf Coast

Written by Loren Powell on December 19th, 2013
The holidays can be very hectic, and when we add the pressure of New Year’s resolutions, sometimes our good intentions can spiral out of control. Don’t let the stress get you down! Without pressure, we wouldn't have diamonds or pearls. All of us are yearning to be okay and to be better than we were last year. I’m going to get outdoors more and enjoy nature. I’m going to learn a new hobby or skill. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to travel more. I’m going to spend more time with my family. I’m going to give more and take less! As we reach to live bigger and better, remember to take it slow, and build your new habits up one at a time. There are plenty of ways to play out your New Year's resolutions on the Gulf Coast, so start 2014 as the best you that you can be. Learn a New Skill or Hobby Why? When we learn new skills, we add new pathways and connections in our neural system. These connections help our brain age healthily. By growing the capacity of our brain function, we continue to increase our imagination and deepen our perspective. This can lead to better relationships and even better functioning on the job. How: If you want to learn a new skill, we’ve got plenty of places to flex your muscle memory along the Gulf Coast. Try your hand on a chartered fishing boat. Your captain and crew will help you reel in a big catch and will educate you on the various Gulf ecosystems. Explore your creative side at the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach. Get hands on with a pottery wheel at The Clay Studio and feel the heat at Alabama’s only public access glass studio, the Hot Shop where you can make your own glass creation. Blow a glass ornament, garden flower, twisted desk flower or paperweight. hot glass Get Fit Why? The benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise extend far beyond that beach body. From keeping your mind healthy into old age to elevating your happiness and inner peace, there are plenty of reasons to honor your temple. Remember, it’s your body, and it’s the only one you’ll ever have! Treat it with respect. How: One of the best ways to keep your body engaged is to quiet that mind chatter! A yoga studio is a great place to exercise this skill, and we happen to have a fantastic yoga studio in Gulf Shores. Glow Yoga hosts beginner workshops to integrate you into the practice and heated power yoga classes to help you get long and limber. Hot yoga is a great way to detox your body through your skin (this gives your kidneys and liver a break!), so go ahead and kill two birds with one stone. Whatever you do, keep it fun and watch out for their specialty workshops like paddleboard yoga. Speaking of paddleboards, the Gulf State Adventure Center rents out paddleboards by the hour or day, and as long as it’s not windy, even beginners will experience smooth sailing across Lake Shelby. glow sign Enjoy More Family Time Why? By spending time with your family, you relationships and learn more about yourself and others. Our families are a foundation for our lives. Reinforce valuable life skills in your children and loved ones by giving them a little bit of your time every day. How: There are plenty of ways to enjoy more family time together, and simple things can make the most impact. Go jogging along the shoreline with your spouse. Explore the national seashore or our lovely state park system. Take the kids on a beach trip and team up to see who can make the best sandcastle, or enjoy a board game on a night in. Looking for something a little more special? Take a ride on a hot air balloon! The neighboring town of Foley has a hot air balloon festival in late spring, but there are also rides available for purchase all year long. If your family isn't complete without your canine companions, bring them too! Fort Morgan is a dog-friendly beach, and Meyer has plenty of dog-friendly houses and condos that would make the perfect home away from home. shelling Travel More Why? Travel makes us happy, which is why we stand by giving experiences instead of things. Your dad is more likely to enjoy a round of golf over a new pair of golf shoes. Things break and get lost, but memories can last forever. Give the gift of happiness! Get out and explore the world. How: Consider travelling in the off-season. Everyone wants to come to the beach in the summer, but the beach is beautiful all year long. Travelling in the off-season allows for cheaper fares, and as a bonus, it’s usually much less crowded. Another perk of beaching it in the south is our sub-tropical climate. We often have sunny winter days well in the 70’s. Even short trips are good enough to break up the monotony of your routine, so come for a weekend or take a few days off during the week. For those of you who are able to travel during the weekdays, we run great specials for the midweek. We also run discounts on certain properties based on owner preference, so check out our Hot Deals section, or check out our specials section for time and event based discounts. Meyer makes it easy to travel on a budget. bch beauty
 

Beachy Pinspiration: the Fashion Edition

Written by Loren Powell on December 2nd, 2013
It’s not even winter yet, and we've got beach on the brain. The cold season never lasts long around here, but even if you aren’t feeling the heat quite yet, it’s always good to keep a little beachy inspiration with you on a cold day. Our staff mermaid has some stylish picks to kick start your Pinterest and maybe even your holiday wish list! Goldfish Kiss Flash Tattoos Goldfish Kiss Flash Tattoos Goldfish Kiss blogger Rebekah Stein keeps the beach babes ooh-ing and ahh-ing every day. Her vision is fresh, rad and ultimately beach chic. She partnered with Flash Tattoos to create these adorable metallic, temporary tattoos, for the beach bum in all of us. Sassafras Maui Cinch Short Sassafras Maui Cinch Short These wet-to-dry cinch shorts are perfect for the beach, surfing, hot yoga and even a day on the stand-up paddleboard. Sassafras Maui is a brand with a conscious. These hand-made shorts look great and come with their own good karma. Purusha People Mermaid II Leggings Purusha People Mermaid II Leggings Purusha People is another brand dedicated to women feeling good in their bodies and committed to using ethically-sourced fabrics and materials. These leggings are perfect for the mermaid in your life. Black Pearls from Pearl Love! pearllove Black pearls are so beautiful and won’t get washed out against our white sand! Adorn yourself with nature’s finest. They were also featured on the latest Hunger Games movie. I predict they'll be everywhere for 2014. Elven Forest Hooded Swimsuit Bikini Top Elven Forest Hooded Bikini I love the hood on this bikini top. You can use it to shield your face or shoulders from an abundance of sun or remove it when you just want a standard bikini top. I can also see this being a great addition to your Hangout Fest wardrobe! Hope you liked these beachy pinspirations! Find more like these on our Pinterest account at Meyer Vacations.
 

2013 Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-off

Written by Loren Powell on September 26th, 2013
IMG_7027_bBring your appetite to The Hangout’s 6th annual Oyster Cook-off, an all-day event, November 9th. Innovative chefs from around the region will showcase their favorite Cajun, Rockefeller and raw oyster dishes. A panel of celebrities will judge the submissions based on flavor, creativity and presentation. The winning teams will take home cash prizes and tickets to the 2014 Hangout Music Festival. Tasting tickets are only $2, and admission to the festival is free. You can also get a book of 20 tasting tickets for $30. Cast your votes for the People’s Choice award, and enjoy the raw talent at the shucking competition. There are plenty of other things to do at the cook-off beyond eating oysters. Dance to live music, watch the annual Alabama-LSU rivalry game on the big screen or just enjoy the variety of craft-brewed beers. And remember, the beach is only a few steps away. IMG_8348_bNeed a place to stay for the festival? Meyer Vacation Rentals, a preferred lodging partner for the 2013 Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-off, is giving away a free night’s stay. There are also limited number of free tickets to the exclusive preview party, November 8th, available to Meyer guests. The Oyster Cook-off is located on the grounds of The Hangout Restaurant, at the end of Hwy. 59, at the public beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Did You Know? IMG_8142_bThe history of Oysters Rockefeller is quite interesting. It all began in New Orleans, circa 1899, at Antoine’s Restaurant. Founder Antoine Alciatore had developed a recipe for snails Bourgigno. After a shortage of French snails, Antoine’s son, Jules Alciator, adopted the dish into what we now know as Oysters Rockefeller. Oysters were rarely cooked prior to this, and Jules is known as a culinary pioneer. Antoine’s is the oldest running family business, and the original Oysters Rockefeller recipe is a closely-guarded secret. It was said that on his death bed, Jules vowed that it would stay that way forever. Oysters R (always) In Season IMG_7009_bHave you ever been told not to eat oysters in the months without an R in the spelling? It doesn't really apply anymore. Refrigeration and our advanced shipping industry ensure that oysters are safe to eat year-round. The warm waters consistent with the R-less months of May, June, July and August do not make oysters any less safe to eat. They do reproduce during these months, and that can have an effect on their flavor, but interestingly, oysters can reproduce at any time during the year in our warm Gulf waters. Kids and Oysters All oyster lovers have to develop a taste for them at some point. If your kid wants to try oysters, start them off easy. Even picky eaters and compromised immune systems can handle oysters baked, broiled and chargrilled. Eating raw oysters can be a fun adventure for the little ones. You might want to dress it for them the first time with their favorite spices. I prefer my raw oysters served on a Saltine cracker and topped with cocktail sauce, horseradish, lemon and a dash of hot sauce! How do you like your oysters? Hungry for more? Take a look our highlight's from 2012's Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-off. '
 

Perdido Key Kayak, Barbeque & Blues Festival

Written by Loren Powell on August 26th, 2013
Perdido Key’s first annual Kayak, Barbeque & Blues festival is being held Saturday, August 31st over Labor Day weekend. The two and four mile race course starts and ends at Galvez Landing. There will be solo and tandem kayak races, as well as a paddleboard competition. Following the races, you can head to Hub Stacey’s for live music and BBQ. The BBQ cook-off will be judged by a blind tasting, and all the entries will be available for purchase. Regional blues artists Larry T. Wilson & Big Muddy play from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by Johnny Barbato and The Lucky Doggs from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Johnny Barbato and the Lucky Doggs won the duo award in both 2011 and 2012 for the regional roundup of the International Blues Competition, representing the Gulf Coast and the Gulf Coast Blues Society. From 5:30 to 8 p.m., South Florida’s Blues Brothers Soul Band will be rocking the stage with their musical talent and entertaining antics. The Blues Brothers Soul Band is a tribute to the original Blues Brothers with the stage presence to prove it. If you need a break from dancing, browse the booths of the arts and crafts vendors on site. Who doesn't love festival goodies? When the music’s over, they're not turning out the lights. Don't miss the stunning fireworks show, planned and produced by Pyrotecnico, a fireworks company with more than 100 years of business behind them. And to give the whole event a little extra local flavor, they’re ending it with more water sports. They had to get permission from the Coast Guard to make this happen, so make sure you stay for the flyboarding demonstration! The flyboarder will be wearing an LED suit, so that it’s visible to the crowd. Want to Participate? Prizes will be awarded to the top athletes in each class (solo, tandem, & paddleboard). First place for the two mile course will receive $200, followed by $100 for second and $50 for third. First place for the four mile course will receive $400, followed by $200 for the second and $100 for the third. If you register in advance, it’s only $25 for the two mile course and $45 for the four mile course, and they’re giving military personnel a 25% discount. You can also get half-price kayak and paddleboard rentals (that would be $25 a half-day) if you rent from Perdido Paddleboard Company and Pensacola Kayak and Sail at the race location. Where to Stay Meyer Vacation Rentals has you covered. The BBQ and Blues Festival special is running through September 2nd, and it include a free nights at all non-gulf-front condos. Search available properties to find out where you’d like to kick back and relax. Mark your calendars!