Enjoy A Romantic Beach Getaway With Your Sweetheart

It goes without saying that your sweetheart will be more relaxed away from home without the pressure of daily responsibilities.

A romantic getaway is one of the best ways to de-stress and reconnect. And the beaches of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Orange Beach, Ala., and Perdido Key, Fla., are among the most romantic spots in the world for a retreat with your significant other.

Here are 9 ways to enjoy a little one-on-one time during a romantic getaway to the Gulf Coast.

Paddle In The Moonlight

A moonlight paddle is a romantic way to explore the area’s backwaters or the Gulf of Mexico. With the help of a guide and rented equipment, Gulf Coast Paddle Board offers both moonlight and sunset paddles around the islands of Orange Beach. “All the couple has to do is book a tour with us and show up,” said the company’s Zach Rounsaville.

To learn how to navigate the waters via canoe or kayak, another option is to take a class the Wind and Water Learning Center in Orange Beach. Operated by the City of Orange Beach, the learning center’s classes accommodate people of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds. The Wind and Water Learning Center is an active member of US Sailing and an affiliate of the American Canoe Association.

The Wind and Water Center also offers Sail Camp sessions during the summer for children, which is open to visiting kids.

Perdido Key, Fla., also offers numerous places to enjoy the water from a canoe, kayak or paddleboard.

Fly High In A Hot Air Balloon

Hot air ballooning over the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area is certainly a peaceful activity. In fact, it’s often been the site of wedding proposals.

Passengers gently lift off into an adventure to view the area’s most scenic vistas from a whole new vantage point. You will float over the countryside with virtually no sense of motion, and the only noise you’ll hear is the occasional hiss of the burner.

Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company, located just north of the beach, provides scenic balloon excursions or tethered hot air balloon rides.

Or, book a beach stay during the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival, typically held in May.

Commune With Nature

There are many opportunities to explore nature during a visit to the Gulf Coast, including a visit to the seven trails that make up the 15-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex through Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and the Gulf State Park.

Along the trails, explore the butterfly garden, freshwater marshes and coastal hardwood swamps. Maybe even catch a glimpse of a bobcat on the twin bridges or a white-tailed deer on Gulf Oak Ridge. You might even see an alligator warming itself in the sun.

In Florida, Perdido Key State Park offers a nature trail that runs along the bay side of the park, offering views of an estuary where dolphins are frequent visitors.

Or, between Pensacola and Perdido Key, Big Lagoon State Park features crisscrossing nature trails that allow you to explore the lakes and the observation tower.

Indulge In Relaxation & Pampering

A great way to enjoy some special time together is to visit a local spa for a little pampering.

Eden Spa & Salon, located in Palm Pointe center in Orange Beach, welcomes couples to enjoy an hour-long massage. Other services in addition to a full menu of massages include facials, body treatments, aromatherapy, salon and more.

Evolve Fitness & Spa, located at The Wharf, is another option for services such as fitness training, sunless tanning and relaxing massages. Massages run the gamut from Swedish to therapeutic deep tissue.

The Spa at The Beach Club, located at the Beach Club Resort, features in-spa or in-room couple massages, soothing whirlpool, steam rooms and a full-service salon. During a couples massage, enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or champagne in a candlelit private room.

Serenity at the Beach Salon & Spa at San Roc Cay shopping center in Orange Beach offers a full menu of couples services, including massages, facials, body treatments and combinations of services. “Couples massage is a great way to introduce massage to a partner who has never had a massage before in a way that makes them feel more comfortable the first time,” said Serenity owners.

A full-service Aveda hair salon and day spa, Fusion Spa Salon features services like waxing, massage, and hair and nail care. Located at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Fusion offers a wide range of services, including hair, makeup, waxing and nails; facials; massage; and body treatments.

Dinner With A View

There are numerous restaurants to enjoy a romantic dinner for two, especially for those who enjoy a glass of wine.

Located at Caribe the Resort in Orange Beach is Cobalt The Restaurant, which is accessible by car or by boat. Nestled under the Perdido Bay Bridge, the restaurant features a spectacular view of the bay from every table. Oysters, pasta, sandwiches and creative fresh fish entrees are always on the menu.

With a view of Wolf Bay, Cayman Grill features a large outdoor deck and an 8,000-gallon stingray tank inside. Wood roasted pizzas are a specialty, but so is the seafood, which ranges from jumbo Gulf shrimp, oysters, yellowfin tuna and more. Steaks and pastas are also popular here.

Featuring fresh Gulf seafood, steaks and sushi, Shipp’s Harbor Grill in Orange Beach offers an extensive menu of fish, steaks and more. The view from this restaurant is outstanding, with windows looking out over a beautiful marina. Three of seven dining areas offer waterside dining, allowing you to relax and watch the harbor lights come alive during the evening.

Breakfast For Two

There are numerous restaurants for enjoying a romantic breakfast or brunch.

A local favorite is Another Broken Egg Café in Orange Beach, where breakfast creations range from Eggs Benedict and Gourmet Omelets to Biscuit Beignets, Cinnamon Roll French Toast and more.

In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, the morning is the perfect time to dine outdoors at Tacky Jack’s to enjoy the hearty Farmer’s Omelet, featuring potatoes, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, sausage, ham, and American and cheddar cheese inside and out. Other tasty options include the Shrimp Omelet, Pork Chop and Egg Platter, Shrimp and Cheese Grits and the Wheelhouse Pancake.

An iconic locals’ favorite for breakfast is Hazel’s Nook in Gulf Shores. Famous for its breakfast buffet and omelet station, Hazel’s has some of the best biscuits and gravy in L.A., Lower Alabama, that is. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the laid-back casual atmosphere, coupled with down-home Southern cooking.

Always a fun place for brunch (and read the clever puns on the marquee sign in front) is the Brick & Spoon in Orange Beach. Menu staples include Shrimp and Grits, Beignets and Cornmeal-dusted Louisiana Oysters. Also popular for breakfast or brunch is the Bloody Mary, where you can select from nearly two dozen vegetable garnishes and even proteins like shrimp, baked bacon strips, seafood deviled eggs and even something called a beef straw. It’s an adventure!

Ride The Ferris Wheel

A landmark on the Gulf Coast is the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf. One of the tallest Ferris Wheels on the Gulf Coast, take a ride with your sweetheart for a treetop view of the Gulf and the surrounding area.

Before or after your Ferris Wheel ride, stop by the Southern Grind Coffee House for a cup of brewed coffee, an espresso, a cup of tea or a frozen drink. Dine indoors or outside on the patio for breakfast or lunch. Or, choose from a selection of fresh Italian Gelato for a cool sweet treat.

Watch The Sunrise

One of the features that truly sets apart a beach vacation to the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is the prevalence of vacation rentals with private balconies.

From your balcony, enjoy the peace and solitude of watching the waves crash onto the shore, see dolphins frolic in the Gulf, and watch the sun rise or set with your special someone.

The sunsets are one of the most spectacular natural features of this region, and when you stay in Fort Morgan beach houses, you have a front row seat to this beautiful phenomenon. Fort Morgan rentals are also conveniently located near Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, which offers a serene setting in which to watch the sunset.

Linger On A Lazy Sunday Morning

Coming to the beach on Friday for a romantic weekend getaway but need to get back to your responsibilities on Monday?

Check in Friday afternoon, play all day Saturday and then sleep in late, enjoy brunch at a nearby restaurant and get back on the road Sunday afternoon at your preferred pace. This is easy to do with a three-day stay checking in on Friday and out on Monday.

A perfect way to save up to 25% at select condos and houses is by filling two- or three-day gaps between existing reservations.

Revel in the solitude of Fort Morgan in a one-bedroom condo.

Be in the middle of all the entertainment action in a one-bedroom condo in Gulf Shores.

Orange Beach and Perdido Key also offer many one-bedroom options to choose from.

Grant Money To Help Keep Gulf Coast Areas “Forever Wild”

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MONTGOMERY, Ala.—Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has approved more than $63 million for six Alabama projects that address high-priority conservation needs, including the acquisition and restoration of significant coastal habitats in key focal areas, and the continuation of fisheries monitoring.

“One of Alabama’s greatest natural treasures is its Gulf Coast, and it’s vital that we continue to provide the necessary funds to ensure our coastline is restored from the devastation caused by the 2010 oil spill,” Bentley said. “This $63 million from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will support long-term recovery efforts and provide for future efforts to return wildlife populations to their normal levels. I appreciate the efforts of our local, state and federal partners who are working so hard on the continuing resurgence of the Alabama Gulf Coast.”

In 2013, a U.S. District Court approved two plea agreements resolving certain criminal charges against BP and Transocean related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The funds represent the fourth installment from NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF). A total of $356 million will be paid into the Gulf Fund over a five-year period for conservation projects in the State of Alabama.

The number of awards from the GEBF in the state of Alabama now stands at 19, with a total value of more than $115 million. All projects were selected for funding following extensive consultation with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Alabama 2016 Projects

Multifaceted Fisheries & Ecosystem Monitoring in Alabama’s Marine Waters and the Gulf of Mexico – approximately $4.4 million

This project represents the third and fourth years of the fisheries monitoring effort in the state of Alabama.

The data collected will be used to improve ecosystem-based management capabilities, assess the recovery of reef fish stocks in association with other fisheries restoration efforts, and improve and expand single-species stock assessments for managed fish species.

Bon Secour-Oyster Bay Wetland Acquisition Project – approximately $12.5 million

This acquisition project will protect and restore approximately 935 acres of diverse coastal habitat in the City of Gulf Shores.The tidal marshes, maritime forests, and freshwater swamps located in this project area are important habitat for many species of conservation significance including threatened and endangered species such as the Alabama red-bellied turtle and the eastern indigo snake, and various wading birds. The tidal wetlands and swamps serve as a nursery for commercially important shellfish and finfish and play a crucial role in the water quality and ecological function of the Oyster Bay, Bon Secour, and Little Lagoon watersheds.

The tidal marshes, maritime forests, and freshwater swamps located in this project area are important habitat for many species of conservation significance including threatened and endangered species such as the Alabama red-bellied turtle and the eastern indigo snake, and various wading birds.The tidal wetlands and swamps serve as a nursery for commercially important shellfish and finfish and play a crucial role in the water quality and ecological function of the Oyster Bay, Bon Secour, and Little Lagoon watersheds.

The tidal wetlands and swamps serve as a nursery for commercially important shellfish and finfish and play a crucial role in the water quality and ecological function of the Oyster Bay, Bon Secour, and Little Lagoon watersheds.

Dauphin Island Conservation Acquisition – approximately $3.5 million

This project proposes the acquisition of approximately eight acres of remaining undeveloped beachfront (1,200 linear feet) on a mid-island section of Dauphin Island.This primary barrier island provides important nesting, loafing, stopover, and foraging habitats for a variety of coastal birds, shorebirds, neotropical migrants, and other avian species, as well as nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles. In addition to the acquisition, funding is included to design and construct a dune walkover and fencing to protect habitat while allowing limited and appropriate public access.

This primary barrier island provides important nesting, loafing, stopover, and foraging habitats for a variety of coastal birds, shorebirds, neotropical migrants, and other avian species, as well as nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles.In addition to the acquisition, funding is included to design and construct a dune walkover and fencing to protect habitat while allowing limited and appropriate public access.

In addition to the acquisition, funding is included to design and construct a dune walkover and fencing to protect habitat while allowing limited and appropriate public access.

Lightning Point Acquisition & Restoration Project – Phase I – approximately $6 million

This project will protect and restore a key stretch of coastal shoreline at the mouth of Bayou La Batre River.Specifically, the project includes the acquisition of more than 100 acres of coastal habitat and the engineering and design for restoring approximately 28 acres of marsh and 1.5 miles of

Specifically, the project includes the acquisition of more than 100 acres of coastal habitat and the engineering and design for restoring approximately 28 acres of marsh and 1.5 miles of intertidal nearshore breakwater.The acquisition targets represent more than 2 miles of nearly contiguous undeveloped waterfront adjacent to existing protected lands owned by the State of Alabama, Mobile County, and the City of Bayou La Batre.

The acquisition targets represent more than 2 miles of nearly contiguous undeveloped waterfront adjacent to existing protected lands owned by the State of Alabama, Mobile County, and the City of Bayou La Batre.

Fowl River Watershed Restoration: Coastal Spits & Wetlands Project – Phase I – approximately $1 million

Restoration of important coastal spits and wetlands within the lower reaches of Fowl River is a significant priority action identified in the recently completed Fowl River Watershed Management Plan, funded under a prior GEBF award.

This project will fund engineering and design studies to develop a solution to stabilize and protect four priority in-river wetland spits and restore marshland throughout the intertidal portions of lower Fowl River.

Additionally, this project will fund hydrologic modeling and a marsh health and recovery study for the watershed to provide managers a valuable tool to guide and prioritize future restoration projects throughout the Watershed.

Gulf Highlands Conservation Acquisition – approximately $36 million

This project proposes to acquire, conserve, and manage 113 acres with 2,700 feet of Gulf frontage beach/dune habitat – the largest, privately held, undeveloped beachfront parcel remaining in coastal Alabama.Protection of this key habitat would benefit nesting sea turtles, migratory

Protection of this key habitat would benefit nesting sea turtles, migratory birds and shorebirds, as well as the endangered Alabama beach mouse.

In addition to the direct acquisition cost, the project includes funding to support future management and stewardship of these important coastal habitats, including but not limited to invasive species control, boundary postings, and human disturbance management via strategically placed dune walk-overs, fencing, and interpretive signage.

Once acquired, the parcel will be deeded to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Parks Division for long-term management and inclusion in their Fort Morgan Parkway management area with limited public access.

Once acquired, the parcel will be deeded to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Parks Division for long-term management and inclusion in their Fort Morgan Parkway management area with limited public access.

“This announcement today concludes over nine months of continued interaction with NFWF and our grant recipients to develop these outstanding projects,” Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner N. Gunter Guy, Jr. said. “They are the products of several of our watershed management plans funded in an earlier NFWF phase, as well as projects which build on the priorities outlined in the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s Coastal Conservation and Management Plan. It is exciting to be able to actually realize the benefits of those planning efforts which are designed to create a stronger, healthier coastal Alabama.”

Enjoy the diverse and beautiful coastal habitats found in and around Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Orange Beach, Ala., and Perdido Key, Fla., by bringing the entire family to the area to stay in a five-bedroom house.

Places to explore the unique landscapes of the area include Gulf State Park, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Weeks Bay Reserve, and more.

Explore The Beach & Other Natural Wonders Of Gulf State Park

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Beaches, a lake, a fishing pier, a golf course interwoven into the natural landscape are a few of the things you’ll find at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

While vacationing in your gulf-front condo in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Perdido Key, make time to explore the beautiful beaches and the other wonders of Gulf State Park.

And, while the park is known for its two miles of white-sand beaches fronting the Gulf of Mexico, it also boasts a new dog pond, a championship golf course, a covered beach pavilion, tennis courts, hiking trails, and a fishing pier that is 20-feet wide and extends 1,512 feet into the Gulf.

Beach & Fish

The beaches of Gulf State Park are some of the most beautiful ones in the world, boasting sugar-white sand and emerald-green waters. Park at the pavilion for only $5 and enjoy the convenience of restrooms, showers and a covered picnic area.

Nearby, the Gulf State Park Pier is a fishing hotspot for vacationers and local residents. Bring the family and fish from the 20-foot-wide, 1,512-foot long pier. The only thing you need to remember is to make sure that you have your fishing license, which can be purchased at the pier or online before you arrive.

Cotton Bayou Beach is another public beach nearby Gulf State Park. It is 5.1 miles east of Alabama Hwy. 59 and offers a limited amount of free parking. The restrooms, outdoor showers and parking area are conveniently close to the beach, so no need to lug all that heavy beach equipment too far!

Another state park beach option is Alabama/Florida Point, where parking is free, and there are miles of beaches to enjoy the sun and surf. A picnic area, outside showers, and restrooms are located on site.

Golf

Combining the natural scenery of Gulf State Park and the design of Earl Stone, Gulf State Park’s 18-hole championship golf course offers an exceptional experience and the natural beauty found only on the Alabama Gulf Coast.Opened in 1974, the Refuge Golf Course, part of the Refuge Golf Club & Grill, boasts 6,593 yards of landscaped courses, a driving range, a putting green, a pro shop, and the convenient Refuge Grill.

Opened in 1974, the Refuge Golf Course, part of the Refuge Golf Club & Grill, boasts 6,593 yards of landscaped courses, a driving range, a putting green, a pro shop, and the convenient Refuge Grill.

Bring The Pup

While most Gulf Coast beaches do not permit dogs, the new Dog Pond at Lake Shelby is a great place for your puppy to stretch his legs.

Enjoy the Dog Pond from 8 a.m. to sunset. If you want to bring your dog along as you explore the nature trails, the park welcomes you to do so as long as he’s on a leash.

Find dog-friendly vacation rentals.

Nature Center & Trails

Snakes, opossum and turtles are just a few of the animals you might see at the Gulf State Park’s Nature Center and also on a hike through the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system.

The Nature Center is a living museum with animals and plants that call the Gulf Coast home and was built to inspire visitors to care about the Gulf Coast environment and its animal residents. The Nature Center also offers fun and interactive programs like guided nature walks.

Kristal from Indiana commented after her stay at Royal Palms that her family enjoyed the location near the state park, condo had everything they were looking for and it wasn’t crowded.

Parker J. of Ashland, Mo., said they visited for a month last February not only to escape the cold but also to “bike the trails at the Gulf State Park.”

Gulf State Park I Do’s

The Gulf Coast is an amazing place to stage weddings, receptions and honeymoons. Gulf State Parkoffers a number of locations suitable for wedding ceremonies and receptions, including the Gulf State Park Pavilion. Suitable for 50 or 200 guests, the pavilion is located directly on the beach and provides a covered venue with tables and plenty of room for celebration.

Meyer Vacation Rentals is a terrific resource for those planning a Gulf Coast wedding. Find a list of wedding-friendly houses, photographers, event planning services, caterers, rental companies and more service providers whose goal is to make your day even more special.

Visit Gulf State Park from your a four-bedroom beach house or a three-bedroom vacation rental condo.

 

Stay On Top Of Gulf Coast News With Meyer Vacation Rentals

 

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Stay on top of the latest headlines and issues affecting Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan, Fairhope, Perdido Key and the surrounding areas on Meyer Vacation Rentals’ News Page.

Here are a few recent headlines and news snippets from around the area:

 

Orange Beach Tops List For 2016 Vacations

TripAdvisor reviewers have named Orange Beach No. 2 on its top 10 list for travelers’ choice destinations on the rise. (MORE)

 

Poseidon’s Playground Gets A Little More Fun

A pyramid, a rocket and a steel structure were deployed at Poseidon’s Playground, an artificial reef located in Orange Beach, giving divers more unique statues to explore. (MORE)

 

2016 Hangout Fest Tickets On Sale

Want to attend Hangout Fest 2016? Buy your tickets and reserve your preferred accommodations before both run out. (MORE)

 

Shorts & Flip Flops For The Christmas Tree Lighting At The Wharf

It was a festive—and warm—scene at The Wharf in December as people enjoyed the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. Bands played, children sang and wrote letters to Santa, and more. (MORE)

 

Dune Restoration Underway At State Park

The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project team has begun work to restore the equivalent of more than 50 football fields of dunes flattened in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan. (MORE)

 

Stay tuned to our News Page for regular updates on local news.

Dream Drive: Hwy 180, Fort Morgan, AL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon Boat Races

The distant sound of a single drum floats across the water, keeping time like a metronome. In the distance you see long, narrow boats with paddles moving in sync like the bows of an orchestra’s string section. What else could it be but a dragon boat race?

dragon boat race, perdido key, florida, orange beach, gulf shores, alabama, meyer vacation real estate rental

Cheer on your favorite dragon boat team and enjoy arts & crafts, live music and children's activities in Perdido Key this weekend.

If you’ve never seen or participated in such a race, your opportunity is this weekend in Perdido Key, Florida. Beginning at noon on Saturday, April 14, you can be paddling or cheering for your favorite team when they launch from The Oyster Bar in Perdido Key, 13700 River Road.

But there’s even more to do! Bring the little ones to play at the water’s edge during the race, and keep them entertained before and after the race with planned children’s activities. Take some time for yourself to shop the arts and crafts booths and listen to the live music. And everyone will enjoy a close-up look at the boats after the race. Admission is free, so bring the whole gang.

All ages and all skill levels are welcome, even if you’ve never been in a boat. You can participate as an individual and be assigned to a boat, or come as part of a group of co-workers, friends and family. Boats, training and equipment are part of the $50 paddler fee, as well as a team photo and an official event T-shirt. You can register online up to an hour before the event.

For more details about the Dragon Boat Race and surrounding activities, contact the Perdido Key Visitors Information Center at 850-492-4660.

Make this into an impromptu beach weekend! Check out the available vacation rental properties in Perdido Key—just plug in your dates near the upper left of your screen, and choose any other search options below that to find your ideal getaway location.

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Real Estate on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

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