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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!

Celebrate Memorial Day at the Beach

Thursday, 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!

Gulf State Park Luau

It’s the 75th anniversary of the Alabama State Park system and the Year of Alabama State Parks, so expect lots of fun activities at Gulf State Park this year. They started off with a beach bonfire and fireworks celebration on New Year’s Eve, and for Memorial Day, they are hosting a traditional Hawaiian luau! Fire dancers, hula dancers and delicious food will entertain and delight anyone lucky enough to be at this celebration.

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.

Beachy Pinspiration: the Fashion Edition

Monday, 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.

Halloween on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Spooky. Cute. Fictional characters. No matter your costume style, Halloween is a chance to let your imagination soar. Choose from a variety of opportunities for all ages to celebrate this fall holiday along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Halloween, haunted house, gulf shores, alabama, orange beach, foley

For spooky or not-so-scary Halloween fun for any age, the Alabama Gulf Coast is the place to be!

Nightly between 6 and 9 p.m. through October 31, LuLu’s in Gulf Shores becomes BooLu’s, including the Manor of Doom haunted house and maze plus age-appropriate games. The $5 donation goes to local school arts programs—and for another $5 donation, test your climbing and balancing skills on the Mountain of Youth Ropes Course.

Boo at the Zoo speaks to the softer side of the season. With furry, feathery and scaly friends all around, your little ones will squeal with extra delight Thursday, October 25 at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores. The costume contest for kids of all ages begins at 5 p.m., but games, prizes and snacks will round out the fun from 4 until 6 p.m. Admission is $2 for kids, $1 for adults.

Bring the whole family to the Uptown Foley Halloween Party on Thursday, October 25. This free event, 5:30–8:30 p.m., is a block party-style celebration. Local businesses will line the streets, where you’ll enjoy a food court, cake walks, spook house, obstacle course, face painting, free games and treats, an inflatable jump house, and a costume contest for all ages.

Combine trick-or-treating with a shopping excursion at SanRoc Cay in Orange Beach. This Friday, October 26, from 3 until 9 p.m., bring your own bag and pick up treats at the SanRoc Cay merchants. While you are there, enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants, shop to your heart’s content, and even paint a special Halloween mask at Life’s a Canvas.

Get spooked at the Terror on the Gulf haunted house at The Hangout in Gulf Shores. For just $5 (or $25 for a season pass), find your way through the maze—but watch out for creatures! Open 7–10 p.m. for all ages that can handle the fright, then the adults-only version will run from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. for those 18 and over. Dates are Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27, then again October 29–31.

Let your pet in on the holiday fun! Bring your costumed pet, children and self to Magnolia By the Gulf Animal Clinic at Hwy. 59 and Co. Rd. 6 at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 27. Judging begins at 11 a.m. and prizes will be awarded for various categories for pets and people.

skeleton, halloween, gulf shores, alabama, orange beach, foley

Tiptoeing past a scary sight is just one of the many ways to celebrate Halloween in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.

Halloween Family Fun Night at the Bodenhamer Recreation Center in Gulf Shores includes fireside stories, carnival games, dunking booth, a cake walk, and costume contests. This event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, October 27. Admission and popcorn are free, and game tickets may be purchased for 50 cents.

Bring your lawn chairs and blankets Saturday, October 27 for movie night on the marina lawn at The Wharf in Orange Beach. The full evening begins at 6:30 with Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special, followed by Monsters, Inc. at 7 p.m. As the younger children head home, the screen will light up with the scary Poltergeist at 9 and Amityville Horror at 11. Admission and popcorn are free for all movies.

On Saturday, October 27, 7–11 p.m., join the Treasures of the Isle krewe for their Halloween Fundraiser at the Orange Beach Community Center. Your $20 donation includes a dinner of barbecue, chips and slaw. Ice, cups and set-ups will be provided, and you can dance to the music of Knee Deep. Be sure to dress up—you could win prizes in the costume contest!

Of course, you’ll need a place to relax after all the spooky fright of Halloween. Plan now to stay with Meyer Vacation Rentals any time of year for pure peacefulness 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 Pinterest.

LuLuPalooza 2012

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

If you can’t squeeze in enough live music during your busy evenings, you will be ecstatic to learn about the free shows at LuLuPalooza this Memorial Day Weekend at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

lulupalooza lucy buffett lulu's gulf shores alabama band music concert show

Great music, great fun! LuLuPalooza May 26 and 27, 2012 at LuLu's in Gulf Shores.

Starting at noon Saturday and again Sunday (May 26 and 27), four bands are scheduled each day. You’ll hear soul, blues, R&B, funk, gospel, punk, jazz, rock, roots and pop, sometimes all within the same song. The artists are from New Orleans, Florida, Texas, and even Australia: Honey Island Swamp Band, Eric Lindell, The Lee Boys, Geoff Achison, Roddie Romero and The Hub City All-Stars, Dread Clampitt, Bonerama, and Pat McCann. Take a look at our Concerts & Music page to find out who is playing when.

And all the time you are listening (when you can take a break from dancing), you can be enjoying the food for which LuLu’s is so well known. From appetizers to burgers and sandwiches to seafood, the fresh tastes will have your senses dancing. (Food allergies? Ask for any of their six special allergy menus.)

Between meals, kick back with a favorite drink from the full bar, including their original Loopty Lu or LuLu’s World-Famous Bushwhacker. And spend some time marveling over the talents of Frenchy, a renowned live performance painter.

Can’t make it this weekend? LuLu’s has live music every evening, and sometimes in the afternoon, too! Plan to come for a beach getaway any time, and make a visit to LuLu’s a must-do on your activity list. Check out the current specials on condos and houses in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, Alabama, and Perdido Key, Florida.

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.

Three Mardi Gras Parades on the Island

Monday, February 20th, 2012

You’ve been seeing the colors—purple, gold and green in particular—and you’ve been hearing all kinds of animated discussions about fancy balls and informal parties.

Mardi Gras, parade, Fat Tuesday, beads, moon pies

How many throws can you catch? Find out at any of three parades in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on Fat Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

It is Mardi Gras season, after all. And here on Pleasure Island we take on the holiday festivities with not just two, but three parades on the day itself, Fat Tuesday.

To start your day, bring lawn chairs, breakfast or snacks and a thermos of coffee and set up early along Highway 59 anywhere between the Intracoastal Bridge (south side) and the main public beach. The parade will roll at 10 a.m., supplying you with as many beads, moon pies and other treasures as you can catch.

You are bound to make new friends before and during the parade, so after stowing your goodies in your car or house/condo, meet them at any of our fine restaurants to renew your energy before gathering more throws at the next event.

The starting time for the Orange Beach parade is 2:00. You will again want to arrive early to claim your favorite spot along the parade route, so refill your thermos and snack bag and be ready to meet more new friends. Wintzell’s marks the beginning point, and the floats will process eastward to Highway 161.

But wait—there’s more! Scurry over to a spot along Canal Road for the 3:00 Intracoastal Waterway boat parade that runs from The Wharf to LuLu’s. When the parade ends, join everyone at LuLu’s for a daylong party that began at 11:00 with live music by Glen David Andrews from noon until 3. Stay for dinner accompanied by terrific Americana/roots music by Sugarcane Jane from 5 until 9 p.m. It will be a Fat Tuesday to remember: February 21, 2012!

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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