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Biking Gulf Shores

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Biking, or cycling if you may, is an amusement for some and a lifestyle for others. Along the beach area, you’ll see a variety of bikes and biking enthusiasts. The beautifully streamlined carbon fiber road bike, the iconic beach cruiser, the handy, traditional trike perfect for holding all of your beach supplies… You may even see a unicycle. An interesting option to consider while you’re at the beach is a ‘fat bike’. A fat bike is somewhat like a mountain bike, but it has much thicker, fat tires that allow for effortless maneuvering of loose, sandy conditions. It also works for snow, which we had for the first time in 20 years this past winter.

biking hugh branyon backcountry trail

A biker rides a recumbent bike on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.

Alabama and Florida laws biking laws vary slightly, but it’s important to note that they’re in place for your safety as well as the safety of others on the road. For the sake of simplicity and your well-being, we’re going to recommend the same setup for both states. Any person under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet, but adults might consider the use of one as well, especially when it comes to high speeds, heavy traffic or hilly terrain. Be prepared for evening rides with a bright, white head light and a rear red reflector as well as a rear red tail light. Riding around at night without lighting is simply not safe, and it’s also illegal. Sometimes it helps to double up on your headlights with a head lamp, in particular for dark trails that are secluded from city and street lights. For example the trail on Fort Morgan Road, at night can be pitch black and very intimidating. Riders should not wear headphones; all senses should be engaged in the ride.  You may see plenty of bikers riding the sidewalks down 59 to the public beach, but technically, bikers are not allowed to ride on the sidewalks in Alabama. In Florida, however, they are, as long as you yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks, and give an audible signal before passing pedestrians.

flora spotted along the backcountry trail

Flora spotted along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

If you’d like to rent a bicycle, there are several shops that can help, including Infinity Bicycles out of Orange Beach, Beach Bike Rentals in Gulf Shores, in Perdido Key and Pro Cycle and Tri out of Fairhope. We spoke with Bill Gable, owner of Infinity Bicycles, about which local trails are the most popular. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail out of Gulf State Park was top of the list. The trail system is 10 miles long and composed of 6 trails, each with their own distinct ecosystem. He also mentioned the latest extension, Coyote Crossing, which connects the Backcountry Trail with the 6 miles of trail along Fort Morgan Road. If you’re interested in biking further down the peninsula, you should know that it’s very dangerous, since there is no bike trail, and traffic is often going very fast around the curves of the road. Bill did say that once you get to Martinique or Kiva, the road becomes substantially safer as traffic is much less this far down the peninsula. A great option for those who are up for it is to bike from these areas down to the ferry. It’s only $5 one-way to ferry with your bike over to Dauphin Island, and exploring will be much easier on two wheels. Infinity Bicycles also hosts two weekly ride-a-longs on Saturday morning. Riders can choose from a 30-35 mile road ride, averaging around 17 mph in speed, or a leisure, no-drop ride, where the ride is only as fast as the slowest rider. The road ride is at 7:30 a.m. and the leisure ride is at 10:30 a.m. If you would like to participate, they ask that you call ahead to let them know you’ll be joining. They also recommend a bike in good working order (although you can rent bicycles from them as well), a helmet, water, and ID, a spare tube, nutrition and emergency money. They can be reached at 251-974-1727.

Another biking event you can catch this month is the 29th annual Tour de Beach, with over 400 cyclists expected to participate September 20-21. The two-day ride has 25, 45 and 75 mile options, with rest stops set up in key areas like historic Fort Morgan and Mullet Point Park in Fairhope. Riders are asked to raise at least $200 to benefit the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. To register or learn more, visit bikeMS.org or call 1-800-FIGHT-MS.

Looking for a place to stay? We have vacation rentals in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Fairhope, Alabama as well as Perdido Key, Florida. Be sure to check out our rental specials; they’re updated weekly!

Bucket List: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Friday, June 27th, 2014
Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival Mass Ascension

Cross ballooning off your bucket list on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Up, up and away! The butterflies never came as we gently lifted into the air. Waving goodbye to our ground crew, the scene before us got smaller and simultaneously opened up to bigger views of the sky and ground. It was just after sunrise and the soft dawn light and puffy clouds provided the perfect backdrop as more balloons followed behind us.

The beauty of a mass hot air balloon ascension is undeniable and totally accessible. *Every year, the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival brings balloonists from all over to the small town of Foley, Alabama, just minutes from the beautiful coastal city of Gulf Shores. Entry to the festival is free, and the entertainment includes an interactive hot air balloon display, a hot air balloon glow and mass ascension, tethered rides, live music, a frisbee dog show, kids zone, arts and crafts village, retail marketplace, antique tractor display and more. The festival always takes place on Father’s Day weekend, so keep that in mind when thinking about a unique gift for dad. Daredevils can schedule a tethered ride, which usually cost $15-$20 per person.

Hot Air Ballooning on the Gulf Coast

It truly was a stunning end to the 10th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival.

10 Things I Learned From My Hot Air Balloon Experience

  1. Hot air ballooning is one of the earliest forms of flight, and it is actually very safe. Leave the butterflies at home!
  2. During tethered rides, if a large balloon had just one tie-down, it could lift up an entire van.
  3. You can’t just take off and touch down anywhere. Landowner relations are an important part of determining your launch site and landing place.
  4. Direction is determined with a mylar balloon. To find our launch site, we drove into the wind, away from our predetermined landing spot.
  5. You don’t turn in a hot air balloon. You rotate.
  6. Your job is to help watch for power lines, even if the pilot says otherwise. Beyond that, just lean back and enjoy!
  7. Ballooning is a very expensive hobby. By supporting a pilot with your business, you help keep the art of ballooning alive and well.
  8. Because of their massive size, shape balloons are a dying art. One shape balloon can cost up to $200K for just the balloon itself and can weigh up to 1400 pounds.
  9. Larger balloon generally have a smoother landing due to their weight. It helps if you soften your knees.
  10. Hot air ballooning is fun — really, really fun!
Orange Beach Hot Air Balloon

Take dad for a tethered ride on Father’s Day weekend at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival.

If you would like to schedule an untethered ride in a hot air balloon with one of our local pilots, be sure to contact them in advance. Winds must be less than 5 mph to fly, so balloonists are very restricted in terms of when they can go up. Typically, your flight will be scheduled at dawn, because the winds can die down to almost 0 mph around that time. Ready to check something off your bucket list? Here are some local balloon pilots and their contact information.

Balloon: Let’s Get High
Pilot: Captain Ellis Calvert
Location: Orange Beach, AL
Contact: 251-752-2248

Balloon: Hope Floats
Pilot: Tommy Rachel
Location: Magnolia Springs, AL
Contact: 251-970-FLYU (3598)

Pilot Warren's pirate balloon

If you were to hold this image to a mirror, it would read “Not all treasure is silver and gold me mates, for a gift of flight be precious. A Pirates Life For Me!”

If you are travelling to the area, we highly recommend you stay near the coast! Meyer Vacation Rentals has one of the largest selections of condos and beach houses in the area, and the search feature has a variety of different filters to make your search easy. How does that sound? A beach getaway and a magical hot air balloon ride. Share in life’s wonderful experiences with your friends and family.

I’d like to send a special thank you to Pilot Tom Warren and crew of American Balloons (Land O’ Lakes, FL) for the fantastic, fun and thoroughly safe experience, as well as Pilot Tommy Rachel for all of his hard work organizing the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival and finally Meyer Vacation Rentals for being a sponsor of this local event and helping to keep ballooning alive and well on the Gulf Coast.

American Balloons in Florida

Thanks to Pilot Tom Warren and crew for the wonderful experience!

Perdido Key Kayak, Barbeque & Blues Festival

Monday, 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!

SEC Beachfest 2012

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Start warming up your arms for weeks of high-energy fist pumps. Begin your food planning for weekly sports-related snacks. Get your voice back in shape to enthusiastically sing your favorite school’s fight song.

SEC BeachFest, football, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Meyer Vacation Rentals, Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Meet current and legendary coaches, play beach games, swap stories with players and fans, enjoy two great concerts, and participate in even more family-friendly fun at SEC BeachFest August 23–26, 2012 in Gulf Shores, AL.

And now there’s one more preparation for an awesome SEC football season: Pack your bags and head to the beach!

Get psyched to meet current and legendary coaches August 23–26, 2012, during the first SEC BechFest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. There’s no question that you’ll know these names: Nick Saban of Alabama, Gene Chizik of Auburn, Les Miles of LSU, Pat Dye of Auburn, Gene Stallings of Alabama, Vince Dooley of Georgia, R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M, and Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee.

ESPNU’s SEC preview show will be broadcast from the beach, and it will include the current coaches. Get the inside scoop from these hard-hitting leaders during town hall discussions with the fans. You may even learn a few new moves from the icons of Southeastern Conference football at the FanZone sports clinics and games.

For some, it may be hard to understand that SEC football isn’t at the top of your loved one’s list. We understand your disappointment. But don’t leave those folks behind! Fueled by BP, FanZone will also host family and kids’ activities such as a sandcastle-building competition, beach games, beach volleyball, touch football with SEC legends, a 5k run and one-mile fun run, and a waffle breakfast. You can even get a foursome together and participate in the SEC BeachFest Golf Scramble.

In keeping with the excitement-filled “something for everyone” weekend, you’ll be treated to two fabulous evening concerts: Celebrate 35 years of rockin’ beats with the B-52s on Friday night, and dance on the sand Saturday night to Grammy-winning voodoo funk by Dr. John.

Each SEC school will have a fan/alumni headquarters at LuLu’s (Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee), Tacky Jack’s Gulf Shores (LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M) or Tacky Jack’s Orange Beach (Alabama, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri), so be prepared to swap stories and relive great football and school memories between 5:00 and 8:30 each evening.

To make the weekend even more appealing, we’ve arranged for you to get your 3rd night free in a condo or your 4th night free in a house when you stay with Meyer Vacation Rentals—AND you’ll get FREE passes to the weekend’s activities (each ticket is a $25 value). Get all the details, then get busy warming up for a fantastic SEC football kickoff event at the beach!

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 Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Summer Beach Games

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

“Ready . . . set . . . go!”

beach games gulf shores coast 360 summer 2012

Kids compete in beach games Thursdays at Gulf Shores Public Beach.

Each Thursday through the end of July, ten children between the ages of 7 and 11 will have the opportunity to participate in old-fashioned beach fun.

From 11 a.m. until approximately noon at the Gulf Shores Public Beach, these kids will race, throw, bend and twist their way through games as they compete for the winning position.

Register at 10:45 to play Hula-Hoop, Fish in a Barrel, Bucket Ruckus, Low-Tide Slide and Seafood Scramble. But be there early, as there is only room for ten children, so it’s first come, first served. The top three will receive special awards, but all participants walk away with a souvenir for their efforts.

You’ll find the fun—whether participating or watching—at Lifeguard Station #4. For further information, call the game sponsor, Coast360, 251-967-7572.

Still looking for the perfect vacation place for your family? Look no further! Perhaps a 3-bedroom condo or house in Orange Beach will fit your needs, or maybe a 2-bedroom Perdido Key property is just right. With more than 1500 vacation rental properties on or near the beach, all sizes and budgets, it’s easy to find what you are looking for.

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 Vacation Rentals on Twitter and Facebook.

Bands, Barks and Brews

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It’s a public play date for Spot, Rover, Fido, and their owners!

Bands, Barks and Brews 2012 baldwin county humane society gulf shores alabama orange beach the wharf

Bring your dog to Bands, Barks and Brews this Sunday, April 29, 4–8 p.m. at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama.

This Sunday, April 29, bring your friendly, leashed dog to the marina lawn at The Wharf for a little social engagement with his or her neighbors during Bands, Barks and Brews presented by Ginny Lane Bar and Grill. A leash-free area will be available for the furry friends to romp and run together.

Between 4 and 8 p.m., you’ll enjoy activities such as the weiner dog races and pet exhibits. An energetic show by the very popular dance band The Tip Tops will keep things lively throughout the event. Admission is free, but bring along a little cash for the art show, food and—of course—a brew or two.

Fans of Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa will have opportunities to purchase $5 raffle tickets at The Wharf merchants. The drawing will be held at 8:00, when the winner will be awarded four VIP tickets to the May 4 concert at The Amphitheater at The Wharf. (Need not be present to win.) All proceeds benefit The Humane Society of Baldwin County.

Stay with us for the concert May 4—or any time before May 16—and get an extra night FREE when you reserve at least three nights in a condo or four nights in a house. The Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is waiting for you!

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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