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.

 

Fabulous Fall Festivals & Fun This October On The Gulf Coast

Visit the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast in the fall and you may find so many fun adventures you could end up staying for the whole month.

The month of October, especially, is full of opportunities to explore festivals like the Alabama Coastal Birdfest, the Festival of Flavor, the Annual National Shrimp Festival and fun fall activities like corn mazes, hayrides and pumpkin patches.

Alabama Coastal BirdFest

Alabama Coastal BirdFestBird lovers rejoice in the annual John L. Borom Alabama Coastal Birdfest, which is held every October.

In 2016, the festival will be held Wednesday, October 5, through Saturday, October 8.

On Wednesday will be a Hummingbirds Workshop, where Fred Bassett, certified master bird bander, will present an overview of hummingbirds’ habitat, food and migration and discuss how to attract hummers to your yard.

A second workshop will provide an overview of the basics of birding for those who want to enhance their experience during BirdFest and beyond.

Festival events the following days take bird lovers on a variety of excursions and visits:

Wednesday, October 5
o  Hummingbirds Workshop
o  Basics of Birding Workshop
o  Orientation, Presentation & Welcome Reception

Thursday, October 6
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
o  Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Point aux Pins
o  Mobile Bay, DISL Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise
o  Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park
Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
o  Lagan Park & Environmental Study Center
o  Eagle’s Nest Kayak Tour
o  Weeks Bay Paddle
Bon Secour River EcoCruise
o  Alligator Alley Adventure
o  Weeks Bay Sunset Cruise

Friday, October 7
Dauphin Island/Trans Gulf Migration Flyaway
o  Mobile Bay, DISL Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise
o  Splinter Hill Bog
o  Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
Gulf State Park & Perdido Pass
o  Middle Bay Lighthouse Boat Tour
o  Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Kayak Tour
o  Delta Discovery Cruise
o  Bird & Nature Photography Workshop
o  BirdFest Social with Speaker & Silent Auction

Saturday, October 8
o  Dauphin Island Shorebirds
o  Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park
o  Fort Morgan Peninsula/Trans Gulf Migration Flyway
o  Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Point aux Pins
o  Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
o  Delta Discovery Tour
o  Alligator Alley Adventure
o  Wolf Bay Dolphin Cruise
o  Bon Secour River Paddle
o  Fairhope Fly Creek Exploration Paddle
o  Delta Sunset Wine Tasting Cruise

Annual Festival Of Flavor

Festival of FlavorThe Festival of Flavor, scheduled for Oct. 8 in downtown Foley, celebrates local and regional foods and this year is a qualifying event for a Golden ticket to the World Food Championships – The Ultimate Food Fight Experience.

The World Food Championship will be held Nov. 9-13 and highlight some of the most iconic cuisines around the world in categories like barbecue, chili, sandwich, burger, dessert, bacon, seafood, steak and recipe. The recipe category is based on a theme of food, which, this year, is “breakfast.”

A highlight of the Festival of Flavor is the farm-to-table dinner, which is held by the Chicago Street Supper Club. This ticketed event is the first of the festival, happening about two weeks before the actual weekend, and it features a special arrangement of expertly prepared foods for guests who purchase tickets to the meal.

In addition to the food displays and dinners, there are also a number of street vendors on hand to show off crafts and other works of art. Jazz performers and similar live entertainment provide the perfect background music for a relaxing day at the festival. Face painting and other kid-friendly displays are planned as part of the festival.

The Festival of Flavor will be held on October 8 and is open to the public. The festival will have sample tastes not only from competing chefs but also from local breweries, wineries, restaurants, mom-and-pop shops and much more.

45th Annual National Shrimp Festival

National Shrimp FestivalSlated for the second full weekend in October, the Annual National Shrimp Festival is always held Thursday through Sunday.

Free to attend, the festival was started in 1971 and today draws more than 250,000 people to the main Gulf Shores Public Beach area to browse exhibits, arts and crafts vendors, enjoy live music, enjoy kids’ interactive games and, best of all, indulge in the astounding variety of shrimp dishes. Those who don’t like shrimp will be able to enjoy foods like chicken, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, pasta, salads, nachos and even the now famous Cajun Pistol!

Kids are given the royal treatment at the Children’s Activity Village. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., this area features a sand sculpture contest on Saturday, interactive games, make-and-take arts and crafts, face painting, kids’ musical and dance performances, and more.

Locals weigh in on how to make the most of the Shrimp Festival experience.

Bring your best friends down to the beach for the weekend and reserve a three-bedroom condo in Orange Beach.

There are shuttle stops along the way making it easy to catch a ride to the festival site at your convenience.

Or, if the whole family would like to enjoy the festival, which is consistently rated among the top festivals in the country, consider a five-bedroom house in Gulf Shores.

There are plenty of conveniently located beach vacation rental options to suit every taste and size of group in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key.

See our Shrimp Festival deals and specials here.

The Original German Sausage Festival

Elberta German Sausage FestivalAnnually attracting an estimated 30,000 visitors, the Original German Sausage Festival is always held the last Saturday in October and March in nearby Elberta.

The festival is a town fundraiser spearheaded by the Elberta Volunteer Fire Department. Proceeds are used for improving the operations of the fire department as well as the quaint German heritage town located a few miles north of the beach.

Festival organizers sell about 7,000 pounds of German Sausage (with or without sauerkraut – your choice!) at each festival as well as German-inspired and American foods such as cabbage, potato salad, goulash, red beans and rice, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, ice cream, popcorn and peanuts.

Vendors at the festival feature everything from homemade crafts and jewelry to art and even clothing. Music is a big part of the festival, with polka, country, contemporary and German music entertaining festivalgoers. Don’t be surprised if you are invited to join in the dancing fun during for a Waltz or the Schuhplattler!

More October Delights

Magnolia Springs Corn Maze and Pumpkin PatchIn the weeks leading up to Halloween, the Gulf Coast area comes alive with opportunities to celebrate fall.

For example, the Magnolia Corn Maze this year will celebrate its eighth year as a fun local attraction.

Open from Oct. 1 through Nov. 5, the Magnolia Corn Maze is located at Magnolia Farms, a few miles north of the Gulf Shores beaches.

Families can enjoy

o  2 challenging corn mazes
o  Pumpkins
o  A hayride and cow train
o  A petting zoo, pig race and pony rides
o  Knocker ball
o  Jump pad
o  Bazooka ball
o  Corn cannons and duck races
o  Parties and campfires
o  Playground areas for all ages
o  Zombie paintball and the Field of Terror

All Aboard The Pumpkin Patch Express

Pumpkin Patch ExpressOpen from Sept. 30 through Oct. 31, the Wales West Light Railway invites visitors to board the authentic steam train to the kid-friendly pumpkin patch or the haunted barn maze.

Kids will enjoy Wales West’s mini train ride, hayride, refreshments, bounce house, pumpkin cannon, petting zoo and pony rides, café and gift shop.

Kids can also select their own pumpkin at other local pumpkin patches, including Hillcrest Farm, Magnolia Farms and Sanders Pumpkin Patch, for example.

If you’re going to be at the beach over Halloween, there are numerous neighborhoods that love opening their doors to trick-or-treating kids.

Stay On Top Of Gulf Coast News With Meyer Vacation Rentals

 

Sea Star

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.

Biking Gulf Shores

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!

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