Beach Houses Are Right-Sized For The Family

A 1- to 4-bedroom house on the beach can be the perfect-sized accommodations for your family’s vacation

When planning a vacation to the beach, it is often more cost-effective to choose a beach house over a hotel room. In a nutshell, you get more space for your money.

A typical hotel room is only 325 square feet in size and has a tiny bathroom. When you’re bringing the family, all their beach gear, sunscreen, swimsuits, flip flops, coolers and more, you’re shoving an awful lot of stuff into a pretty cramped space.

In a family-sized beach house—one with anywhere from 1-4 bedrooms—there’s room for the adults and kids to spread out and enjoy their own private spaces.

No tiny bathroom for everyone to share, no pool noodles and skim boards strewn across the entryway, no sharing one single closet, no piling on beds in wet swimsuits to watch TV, no sharing a tiny table or countertop to eat meals, and no packing wet and dirty clothes in a bag to take home or haul down to the Laundromat.

Unlike hotels, beach houses not only feature private bedrooms and bathrooms, but they also have fully equipped kitchens with full-sized appliances, a washer and dryer, their own balconies, multiple TVs, comfortable living areas and more.

A recent search of two- and three-bedroom houses in Meyer Vacation Rentals’ inventory of 1,100+ condos and beach houses during summer yielded some interesting results.

We found that during a peak summer week in June, vacationers could rent a three-bedroom beach house in Fort Morgan that sleeps up to 10 people for just a few dollars more than a typical hotel room with two queen beds. “So, for a few dollars per night more, Meyer offers two more bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. That’s a pretty good deal,” said Meyer Vacation Rentals Operations Specialist Sarah Kuzma. “It’s definitely worth the time for vacation shoppers to take the time to compare.”

Meyer offers many one- to four-bedroom houses with a variety of view options. These houses sleep anywhere from two to 15 people. Some even feature their own pools and other fun amenities.

To sleep up to 4 people, browse one-bedroom houses.

To sleep up to 10 people, browse two-bedroom houses.

To sleep up to 13 people, browse three-bedroom houses.

To sleep up to 15 people, browse four-bedroom houses.

For larger groups, browse five- or more bedroom houses.

Come To The Beach For The 2017 Wharf Uncorked Food + Wine Festival

The 2017 edition of the Wharf Uncorked Food + Wine Festival will be held at The Wharf in Orange Beach Sept. 14-16.

The fun three-day event features tantalizing wines, live entertainment, a pinch of Southern flair and a dash of Gulf Coast hospitality.

This festival raises raise funds for Make-A-Wish® Alabama—an organization devoted to granting wishes to Alabama children with life-threatening medical conditions. The 2016 Wharf Uncorked Event raised $15,251 for Make-A-Wish® Alabama through generous donations, live and silent auctions, and the Chef Table Raffle.

The Wharf Uncorked featured demos from renowned chefs, cuisine and wine tasting tents, live and silent auctions, and wine auctions and sales.

There will be 150+ wine labels on hand, and guests will be able to sample and purchase fine wines from vineyards ranging from local to domestic and imported.

Chefs will be on hand for cooking demonstrations, food tastings, cookbook signings and cooking competitions.

Tickets may be purchased to customize the guest experience.

SCHEDULE

Thursday, Sept. 14
VIP Kickoff + Chef Showdown
The weekend will begin on Main Street from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with a roster of high profile guests, an open bar with a signature cocktail, an auction preview and of course, high-end wine tastings and food samplings. Guests will see Chef Brody Olive of Perdido Beach Resort face off against two local chefs in a battle to defend his title at the Chef Showdown. Early bird tickets are $30. Regular ticket pricing begins July 7 at $35 and last minute pricing is $40 starting Sept. 1.

Friday, Sept 15
Local Wine Dinners
The Wharf offers a wide variety of fare from more than 10 restaurants on property. Several of these chefs along with others along the Gulf Coast will curate dinner menus and signature wine pairings for the Local Wine Dinners. Guests can make a reservation directly through the restaurant of their choice.

Saturday, Sept 16
Grand Tasting
All festival activities lead up to the Grand Tasting that will take place from noon-4 p.m. Main Street and Wharf Parkway will be lined with vendors offering samples of food and wine. Guests will have the opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite, and the night will close with a ceremony of awards. This year, the champion of The Wharf Uncorked will be an automatic Elite Qualifier for the World Food Championships in November back at The Wharf.

When not sipping on wine or enjoying all the fun associated with the wine event, make time to play at the Wharf. And bring the whole family.

There are concerts at the 10,000-seat outdoor amphitheater held throughout the spring and summer, miniature golf, a brand new zip line course, the largest Ferris wheel east of the Mississippi River, a movie theater, plenty of dining and boutique-style shopping, and more.

Bring a few friends and stay right in the middle of the fun at The Wharf condos. Or, to stay nearby, reserve a two-bedroom beach condo in Orange Beach.

7 Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Resorts Featuring Lazy Rivers

Gulf Shores Pools With Lazy Rivers

When vacationing in the Gulf Shores area, you’ll find many wonderful pools, including several with lazy rivers.

 

 

 

 

By Sarah Kuzma

Floating along on my inner tube past the rides and slides on Waterville USA’s Crystal River is my idea of a relaxing time in the sun.

The lush tropical setting of this soothing ride even includes a refreshing waterfall to cool off when a splash is just what I need.

Of course, most of the waterpark visitors are scurrying around to capture the thrills of the 17 water slides, the wave pool, and Flowrider, but I’m perfectly content to relax on the one-third-mile of lazy river that never ends.

But the waterpark is not the only opportunity to relax on a lazy river on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. In fact, there are now eight condominium resorts featuring this family-friendly amenity.

Here’s my guide to your coastal lazy river adventure.

4 GULF FRONT LAZY RIVERS

Turquoise Place is the address for luxury on the coast, so it’s quite natural that a 450-foot lazy river is a featured amenity at this upscale Orange Beach resort.

No doubt the entire family will savor the experience of the peaceful, slow-moving waters overlooking the bright white sands and gorgeous blue waters of the Gulf beach from this unique vantage point.

Phoenix West provides an upscale, spacious backdrop for beachside fun and relaxation with its lazy river that includes an exciting slide and overlooks the sugar-white beach in Orange Beach.

Phoenix West II is the newest addition to coastal condominiums in Alabama and just like its sister property a lazy river with a waterslide is a feature of this luxurious resort. Pools and hot tubs complete the beachfront amenities that provide a world-class view.

Crystal Tower is quite exceptional since the actual condo dwellings are situated on the north side of West Beach Boulevard along the coast in Gulf Shores.

No worries about crossing from the condo to the beach since an air-conditioned pedestrian bridge delivers you directly to the pool, hot tub and the largest lazy river on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

At Crystal Tower, you have the views and advantage of gulf-front amenities and your accommodations are priced a little lower than the Gulf-front rental rate.

2 LAZY RIVERS ON THE BAY

Caribe Resort built its 18-inch deep, 980-foot-long lazy river to the upper deck, where you’ll also find more pools and slides for the young and the young at heart.

Located where Ole River intersects with Terry Cove at Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, you have the opportunity to pick your view of the calm, backwaters to the north of the resort or the sand and surf of the Gulf to the south.

In fact, there’s even a shuttle when you are ready to trek over to the Gulf beach. I guess you could say it’s the best of both worlds.

Phoenix on the Bay II is another choice for family fun on the lazy river ride where the waterfront views of picturesque Terry Cove in Orange Beach are never boring.

A LAZY RIVER ON THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY

The Wharf rises above the Intracoastal Waterway with its bustling marina, boutique shopping, exhilarating nightlife, movie theater, thrilling Ferris wheel, excellent seafood restaurants and an amphitheater bringing popular entertainment to our coast.

A tram conveniently moves you and your family from the condo buildings along the waterfront to the inland Oasis at The Wharf. There, you will not only find the lazy river, complete with a waterslide but also a zero-entry pool, lagoon pool with waterfalls and even a sandy beach at Hammock Island at this charming Orange Beach destination.

Even though the waterpark at Waterville USA closes at the end of summer, the adventures along our beautiful coast extend year-round. I hope this lazy river guide will assist you to find your piece of paradise by searching properties with lazy rivers.

See you at the beach!

Have Fun & Stay Healthy Playing Tennis At Gulf Shores Condos With Tennis Courts

A beach vacation is a perfect time for the whole family to relax, have fun, eat well and, yes, even stay fit.

One way to both have fun and stay fit is to play tennis while on vacation. A sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime because it can be played at any age regardless of ability, tennis offers many physical, social and mental benefits.

And a beach vacation is the perfect place to enjoy the sport of tennis thanks to the variety of tennis facilities available.

Physical Benefits Of Playing Tennis
When you play tennis for just one hour, men are likely to burn up to 600 calories and women up to 420. That’s because tennis provides a full-body, aerobic workout.

One of the sport’s newest trends is “cardio tennis,” a high-energy fitness activity that conditions your heart and lungs. A fun game played in a group headed up by someone who feeds players a special cardio tennis ball, cardio tennis sessions feature drills to give players of all abilities an ultimate, high-energy workout.

A typical cardio tennis program includes a short dynamic warm-up, a cardio workout and a cool-down phase. The majority of the program is the workout phases, which lasts anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes. Most of this portion includes fast-paced drills designed to feed balls to players based on ability and fitness levels.

If traditional tennis play is your preferred cardiovascular workout, traditional doubles or singles are good choices and are considered as effective as jogging or participating in an indoor cycling class.

In addition to the cardiovascular benefits of playing tennis, the game also works to strengthen legs, arms, and upper body.

Social & Mental Benefits
A recent study performed at Southern Connecticut State University tested the psychological benefits of several sports and among non-athletes. Tennis players scored higher in self-esteem, vigor, and optimism as well as lower for factors like confusion, tension, anxiety and depression.

It’s easy to motivate friends and family to play a friendly match or two during vacation since there are so many sunny days to enjoy at the beach.

More than 300 Meyer Vacation Rentals properties feature access to community tennis courts.

For properties that do not have tennis courts on site or nearby, there are public tennis courts.

The Orange Beach Tennis Center, located at 4851 Wilson Blvd., is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and features eight lighted medium speed hard courts. The on-site Pro Shop offers Wilson rackets, tennis shoes, apparel, and accessories.

The George C. Meyer Tennis Center in Gulf Shores is located at Johnnie Sims Park and is composed of six soft courts, 12 hard courts, an indoor clubhouse and a pro shop. Lighted outdoor courts are available daily until 10 p.m.

Reservations may be made 48 hours in advance.

The Perdido Key Tennis Center, located at 16880 Perdido Key Dr., is a public facility featuring 10 lighted outdoor courts.

Tennis lessons are available at these public facilities.

Click here to browse Meyer’s inventory of vacation rental properties with on-site or community tennis courts.

Places To Visit On The Way To Gulf Shores

For many, the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is the closest beach to home.

In fact, the Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key Gulf Coast region is only about a five-hour drive from Birmingham, Ala.; a 6.5-hour drive from Atlanta; a 4.5-hour drive from Baton Rouge, La.; and a nine-hour drive from Houston.

Just for fun, we’ve condensed the drive on U.S. Interstate 65 from Birmingham into a two-minute video, noting a few fun stops at landmarks along the way.

Next time you’re planning a beach trip, remember, we really are just a short trip away! Journey to the beach in the video below. Then, read on to learn more about these Alabama landmarks.

Priester’s Pecans – Fort Deposit

Visible from U.S. Interstate 65 in Fort Deposit, Ala., Priester’s Pecans is a major landmark south of Montgomery for those headed to the beaches of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key.

It’s worth pausing your journey to pick up a sweet pecan roll, a pecan pie or brownies, or even a bag of honey glazed pecans for the family to enjoy as a special treat while at their condo or beach house.

You’ll feel like you have taken a trip back in time when you step up onto the porch of the quaint Country Store. Here, you can purchase anything from pure virgin pecan oil, homemade jams, jellies and preserves, snack mix, pies and so much more.

Priester’s Pecans got it start back in the early 1900s when L.C. Priester decided to offer refreshments and a little taste of the South at his Texaco gas station that serviced travelers headed between Mobile and Montgomery. When customers began asking for the pecans to be cracked, L.C. had to begin hiring some helpers who sat on his back porch cracking pecans. Soon, the back porch could no longer handle the volume, and a larger facility was purchased, and the rest is history.

Fort Deposit is only 2 hours and 45 minutes from the beach.

Bates House Of Turkey – Greenville

You know you’re about halfway between Birmingham and Gulf Shores when you see Bates House of Turkey in Greenville, Alabama, just south of Montgomery.

Bates House of Turkey serves free-range turkey raised right on the nearby Bates Turkey Farm. The farm has been in the Bates family since 1923.

The family’s landmark restaurant opened in 1970 and serves only turkey from their farm and all the tasty “fixins.”

Enjoy an old-fashioned roast turkey dinner with cornbread dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, rolls or corn muffin. Or, a Southern-style hickory smoked turkey sandwich or hot open-faced turkey sandwich may be more to your liking.

Whatever your preference, Bates House of Turkey is a great place to stop for a healthy, tasty meal. You can even pick up a whole turkey, sliced ham, turkey sausage, peppered turkey jerky or a smoked turkey breast for sandwiches at the beach.

This is one down-home dining experience you won’t want to miss on your way to the beach.

Greenville is only two hours and 35 minutes from the beach.

Hank Williams Boyhood Home & Museum – Georgiana

Just east of U.S. Interstate 65 in Georgiana is the Hank Williams Boyhood Home and Museum, where you can see the church pew where Hank Williams stood and sang as a child and the front porch where he learned to play guitar.

The facility is dedicated to the memory of Hank Williams Sr. and contains memorabilia and artifacts such as the country and western singer and songwriter’s cowboy hats, album covers, newspaper clippings, sheet music and more.

This 1850 house is the only home remaining that Hank Williams lived in prior to becoming a Nashville star. It opened as a museum in 1993.

Georgiana is only two hours and 22 minutes from the beach.

Burris Farm Market – Loxley

If you’re looking for fresh fruits and vegetables to take to your beach house or condo, be sure to stop by Burris Farm Market on your way.

You won’t be able to miss this family-owned and operated local farm-fresh produce market, as it is in the center of town in Loxley.

Rick and Jeanine Stewart, owners of Burris Farm Market pride themselves on their constantly changing products and the opportunity to provide fresh quality, healthy meals to locals and visitors alike.

Burris Farm Market also offers homemade jams, preserves, pickles, sorghum, molasses, cheese, salads, and baked goods for sale.

Burris Farm Market will open a new location at The Wharf in Orange Beach on Memorial Day weekend.

You’re almost here! Loxley is less than an hour’s drive from the beach.

For a quick beach getaway, book a two-bedroom condo in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Perdido Key.

For a longer visit and a larger group, a four– or five-bedroom house could fill the bill.

Free & Fun Things To Do In Orange Beach

There are many ways to explore Orange Beach during a beach vacation without shelling out lots of cash. Here are a few places the locals said you should try:

Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum

Operated by the City of Orange Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the Indian and Sea Museum was originally built in 1910 as a schoolhouse. It has served as a museum since 1995 and was moved to its present location across from City Hall in 1999.

Open Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Wednesday during the winter months from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum houses local artifacts and memorabilia relating to the area’s Native American and fishing heritage. Families of early fishermen have donated supplies and collectibles that remind of the challenges and achievements of the earliest days of the local fishing industry.

Gulf State Park Beaches

There are two public beach accesses in Orange Beach, both falling within the operation of Gulf State Park.

Romar Beach, with a limited amount of free parking, is perfect for a quick beach stroll or last-minute lunchtime break. The access is located 6.8 miles east of Ala. Hwy. 59. Future plans call for construction of restrooms and rinsing showers.

Cotton Bayou is located at the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 182 and Hwy. 161. Nestled between condominium buildings, this access is a busy spot that offers restrooms and outdoor showers on site as well as ample free parking.

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail takes visitors throughout the region, including Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which begins at the Perdido Pass bridge on Ala. Hwy. 182 and east of Ala. Hwy. 59.

Beginning at Perdido Pass – Alabama Point East, enthusiasts might see a Snowy Plover, a species of conservation concern, which nests in the area. Alabama Point also provides critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse, and a wide variety of shorebirds are commonly seen in summer. In winter, common loons feed in the pass during changing tides.

Other spots to visit on this loop include Boggy Point, which offers an excellent view of Robinson Island, a roosting site for herons and egrets, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails, where there are 11 miles of paved trails providing access from six entry points to habitats such as sandy oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, relict dune swales, seepage swamps and a pitcher plant bog. Interpretative signs placed along each trail identify many of the natural features of the maritime forest.

The loop also takes visitors to the Gulf State Park Pavilion, the Gulf State Park Nature Center/Education Center, Marsh Bridge, Shelby Lake Picnic Grounds, Gulf State Park Fishing Pier, Little Lagoon Pass and Wade Ward Nature Park.

From the loop sites in Gulf Shores, you would continue north on Ala. Hwy. 59 to the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 180/Fort Morgan Road to continue onto the Fort Morgan Loop.

SPECTRA Light Show at The Wharf

Take the kids to The Wharf for the SPECTRA Sound & Light Spectacular at 7:30, 8 and 8:30 p.m. SPECTRA incorporates sophisticated choreographed lighting effects with popular music to deliver an enlightening entertainment experience. Palm trees light up to the sound of the music.

Before, during and after the show, browse shops, stop in for a gelato or a cup of coffee from Southern Grind or enjoy dinner at one of many restaurants.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida.

At just over 20 miles from Orange Beach, the museum is located on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola and contains more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Aviation displayed in 35,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on the 37-acre grounds.

On-site attractions include the Naval Aviation Memorial Giant Screen Theater, flight simulators, Flight Deck Operations exhibit, cockpit trainers, Kiddie Hawk play area, Flight Deck store and Blue Angels 4D Theater.

Watch The Blue Angels Practice

The world-famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels are based at NAS Pensacola and can be seen practicing over the museum at NAS Pensacola most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. Practices typically begin at 11:30 a.m., and last about 55 minutes. Admission to practice is free and open to the public.

The outside viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the museum flight line north of the museum. Signs are posted to direct visitors to viewing and parking locations, including limited parking for handicapped visitors. Open bleacher seating is available for 1,000 people.

Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, Clay Studio & Hot Shop

The Coastal Arts Center, located just east of the intersection of Canal Road and Hwy. 161, is home to a temporary gallery and gift shop in the construction trailer located at the front of the cultural campus. Once construction is complete on the center’s brand new building on Wolf Bay later this year, the gallery will become part of the permanent structure. Local and regional artists featured include watercolorists, potters, painters, photographers, sculptors and textile artists.

The Clay Studio showcases the work of in-house ceramics artist Maya Blame-Cantrell. The public is invited to make their own clay pieces. Call (251) 981-ARTS for reservations.

Enjoy a visit to the Hot Shop by appointment only. You can make your own glass creation during sessions at 9 a.m., Monday through Friday. The session includes a 30-minute live glass-blowing demonstration of an ornament, flower and paperweight. Then, choose which one you would like to create for yourself.

Kayak Or Canoe In Wolf Bay

There are 10 designated canoe trail sites posted along the shores of Wolf Bay, Bay La Launch, Arnica Bay, Bayou St. John and Cotton Bayou.

Load up your canoe or kayak and dock from one of the sites on Gulf Bay Road, Cypress Avenue, Waterfront Park, Palmetto Extension, Harrison Park, Mississippi Avenue, Look Rook Road, Wilson Boulevard, Boggy Point or Cotton Bayou.

Keep your eyes peeled to see dolphins or a variety of birds, like the brown pelican, egrets or herons.

Curl Up With A Good Book

If you came to the beach and forgot a book, stop by the Orange Beach Public Library to pick up a library card; residency is not required.

There are cozy spots indoors and outdoors at the library to read your selections. Check out the calendar for story time, book club meetings, and other gathering times and special events.

Perdido Key State Park

Perdido Key is a 247-acre barrier island near Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico. White sand beaches and rolling dunes covered with sea oats make Perdido Key State Park a favorite destination for swimmers and sunbathers. Surf fishing is another popular activity. Boardwalks from the parking lot allow visitors to access the beach without causing damage to the fragile dunes and beach vegetation. Covered picnic tables overlooking the beach provide a place for family outings.

The park is open for daily use from 8 a.m. to sunset and features tow parking areas and eight covered pavilions. Big Lagoon State Park, just across the bridge on the mainland, is open for camping and hiking.

Walk, Jog or Bike Backcountry Trails

Orange Beach is a great place to explore the 16 miles of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails.

A collaborative effort between the City of Orange Beach, Gulf State Park and property owners along the trail’s alignment, the trails were historically used by the area’s indigenous people as well as explorers and settlers.

With maps available at all trailheads, it’s easy to pick out a few trails to explore.

Along the (all paved) trails you will find restrooms and water fountain, bridges, interpretive signage, bike stands, places to stop and relax and a picnic pavilion.

You might even see a “Lefty” the alligator mom and her three babies along Rosemary Dunes Trail.

And, at the intersection of Cadman Road and Rosemary Dunes Trail is the new Boulder Park, which invites kids to climb on large boulders to enhance coordination, strength and flexibility. Located next to the Pavilion and Butterfly Garden about 1½ miles from the Catman Road Trail, Boulder Park is a favorite of local children.

Play At Waterfront Park

Located a quarter of a mile east of County Road 161 on Canal Road, Waterfront Park is a family park on scenic Wolf Bay.

Amenities include a 400-foot fishing pier with covered pavilions and seating, a bayfront beach, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, a paved walking path and parking.

Enjoy A Round Of Disc Golf

On Canal Road adjacent to the dog-friendly “Unleashed” Dog Park, play a round of disc golf at the City of Orange Beach disc golf course.

The trees, shrubs and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for players. There is no greens fee, and you won’t need a golf cart to enjoy this course. Bring your own discs, though.

Go Boating

The City of Orange Beach purchased Robinson Island and Bird Island in 2003 to preserve them from development. Today, the islands are a sanctuary for birds and wildlife and is used by residents and visitors as a gathering spot.

There are two public boat launches in the city, both of which offer paved parking and are operated by Gulf State Park: Boggy Point Launch at the end of Marina Road off Hwy. 61 and Cotton Bayou Launch on Hwy. 182 just east of the Hwy. 161 intersection.

The Boggy Point launch is the nearest to the Perdido Pass Bridge and is directly adjacent to the main channel with lots of marine traffic.

When visiting Orange Beach, bring the entire family and book a beach house. Or, if it’s a smaller crew, a condo could fill the bill.

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