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.

Restaurants Open For Thanksgiving

There’s no need to tote a turkey with all the trimmings to cook at the beach. That’s because several restaurants in the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast area plan to open their doors to serve the holiday meal. Here are a few to consider:

Bahama Bob’s Beachside Cafe

Bahama Bob's601 West Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores
(251) 948-2100
Serving: Special Thanksgiving menu.

Bubba’s Seafood

Bubba's24621 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 974-1800
Serving: Special Thanksgiving menu.

Cobalt The Restaurant

Cobalt28099 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 923-5300
Serving: Thanksgiving buffet.

The Hangout

The Hangout 101 E. Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
(251) 948-3030
Serving: Traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Hazel’s Restaurant

Hazel's25311 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 981-4628
Serving: Thanksgiving buffet.

Jesse’s Restaurant

Jesse's Restaurant14770 Oak St., Magnolia Springs, AL
(251) 965-3827
Serving: Thanksgiving buffet.

Live Bait Food & Spirits

Live Bait Food & Spirits24281 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 974-1612
Serving: Thanksgiving buffet.

Ribs & Reds Restaurant

Ribs & Reds128 East First Ave., Gulf Shores
(251) 948-7337
Serving: Regular and Thanksgiving menu.

Shipp’s Harbour Grill

Ship's Harbour Grill27842 Canal Road, Orange Beach
(251) 981-9891
Serving: Special Thanksgiving menu.

 

 

Voyagers

VoyagersBallroom Seating Times: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Perdido Beach Resort, 27200 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach
(251) 981-9811
Serving: Traditional Thanksgiving buffet.

 

Cook At Your Beach Home Away From Home

All of Meyer Vacation Rentals’ beach condos and houses are outfitted with full kitchens, making it a breeze to prepare your own Thanksgiving meal if you choose.

Rental Home KitchenOur kitchens are stocked for typical, everyday use, including dishes, pots, pans, glassware, silverware, etc., but since each unit is unique in its offerings, consider planning ahead to bring your favorite holiday cookware and baking dishes.

Even better news is that there is no need to pack groceries in the cooler, as there are several local options. Supermarkets like Publix, Winn-Dixie, Rouses, Wal-Mart and more are located in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and keep regular hours during the shoulder season.

Something unique about these supermarkets is that many will even prepare your Thanksgiving meal for you, in part or in full. Just give them a call in advance to place your order.

Publix Super Market (Ala. Hwy. 59 – Gulf Shores): (251) 948-1281

Publix Super Market (Perdido Beach Blvd. – Orange Beach): (251) 980-1400
Rouses Supermarket (Ala. Hwy. 59 & Fort Morgan Road – Gulf Shores): (251) 948-4715
Wal-Mart Supercenter (Fort Morgan Road – Gulf Shores): (251) 968-5871

Winn-Dixie (Perdido Beach Blvd. – Orange Beach): (251) 981-1796

Looking for local seasonal produce? Stop in at Burris Farm Market in Loxley on your way south to the beach. Here, you’ll find everything from sweet potatoes and squash for your casseroles to delicious homemade pies and breads along with other seasonal favorites.

Burris Farm Market (Ala. Hwy. 59 – Loxley): (251) 964-6464

Select a four-bedroom beach house as your Thanksgiving “home away from home” this year, and have room for the entire family!

World Food Championships — The Ultimate Food Fight — Commits To Wharf In Orange Beach Through 2018

World Food Championships (WFC) organizers announced they will conduct the Ultimate Food Fight in Orange Beach, Ala., for at least two more years after its fifth anniversary this November.

Thanks to a multi-year agreement with its host partner, The Wharf in Orange Beach, the dates for the next three WFC championships are now set:

  • Nov 7 – 15, 2016
  • Nov 6 – 14, 2017
  • Nov 5 – 13, 2018

“This was a key element to our move to Orange Beach,” said Mike McCloud, CEO of World Food Championships. “It was important to forecast our future dates for many of our sponsors and partners, many of whom want to build meeting and corporate events around our week of Food Sport.”

McCloud continued, “We are thrilled with The Wharf as our new host partner and Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism as our destination partner, as well as the support we are getting from the community and corporate sponsors in the Orange Beach area.”

This year’s tournament is expected to draw more than 400 teams from 20 countries and 45 states, all vying for a part of the $300,000 prize purse.

Championship organizers said Final Table contestants at the 2016 World Food Championships will have to bring their “A” game this year or risk having their dishes get sacked by one of the judges affectionately called “Killer B” by locals, who also know him as Bob Baumhower.

A former University of Alabama and Miami Dolphins defensive lineman, Baumhower will join WFC’s celebrity roster of Final Table judges. Baumhower boasts a robust career in both football and culinary achievement. Baumhower is the CEO of Aloha Hospitality International, a culinary lineup of restaurants including Baumhower Restaurants, Bimini Bob’s, Dauphin’s, and La Floridita, a Cuban-themed speakeasy that will open in downtown Mobile later this year.

Find condos or beach houses in Orange Beach that are just the right size for everything from a romantic getaway to a family vacation.

Best Seafood Restaurants In Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach & Perdido Key

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A huge part of the appeal of a Gulf Coast vacation is dining out at local restaurants that serve the fruits of the Gulf of Mexico—seafood.

Below is a list of some local favorites that offer everything from grilled and fried shrimp and oysters from a top-rated seafood shack to Tasso-encrusted grouper over Yukon gold feta mashed potatoes from a waterfront fine dining restaurant.

Acme Oyster House

216 E 24th Ave., Gulf Shores

Acme Oyster HouseFirst opening in 1910 on Royal Street and later on New Orleans’ Iberville, where it still operates today, Acme Oyster House has begun a new tradition of tastiness in Gulf Shores in the new Waterway Village District along the Intracoastal Canal Waterway.

On any given day, you’ll find raw or chargrilled oysters sold by the dozen and half-dozen, along with entrees featuring a New Orleans flair (jambalaya, seafood etoufée, oyster Rockefeller soup, red beans and rice, po-boys). Platters are generously sized and feature everything from crab cakes to fried or grilled shrimp, fish and oysters.

Cayman Grill

26189 Canal Road, Orange Beach

Cayman GrillCayman Grill in Orange Beach sits on the Intracoastal Canal Waterway and has plenty of space for groups of all sizes.

When you walk in, you’ll see an exhibition kitchen with a wood burning grill and open-hearth oven. Chefs use ingredients from local farmers and fishermen as well as regional sources to ensure they serve the freshest selection.

If you want something simple, try a wood-roasted pizza. Or, enjoy the fresh catch of the day, soft shell crab, jumbo Gulf shrimp or select oysters. House specialties range from Gulf fish to filet mignon.

Cosmo’s Restaurant & Bar

25753 Canal Road, Orange Beach

Cosmo'sLocated in Orange Beach in a village-like setting, Cosmo’s is a local favorite.

Here, you’ll find local seafood, pasta dishes, sushi, hand-cut steaks and more. One of the local favorites is the banana leaf wrapped fish, named by the Alabama Tourism Department as one of the “Top 100 Dishes To Eat Before You Die.”

Of course, if you’re looking for fried fish or shrimp, you can find it here. But, if you’re looking for something just a little different, try the pecan redfish or the shrimp and Andouille pasta. If you prefer a steak, the Tournedos are twin four-ounce medallions of beef tenderloin grilled and served over sweet potato cakes, grilled green tomatoes and Portobello mushrooms. Then, it’s topped with roasted tomato relish. Hungry yet?

Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

26029 Canal Road, Orange Beach
1140 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores

Doc's Seafood ShackIf you’re looking for a true locals dining experience, stop into Doc’s Seafood Shack in Orange Beach for a meal.

For 32 years, this place has welcomed visitors who are looking for great food in a not-so-fancy atmosphere.

Enjoy a cup of the highly regarded seafood gumbo and a platter of oversized onion rings to start. Then, move on to a plate piled high with shrimp or oysters (or both).

There are also grilled and baked fish and shrimp dishes. And, if you want to bring in your own catch, the good folks at Doc’s will cook them up for you!

Fisherman’s Corner

13486 Perdido Key Dr., Perdido Key

Fisherman's CornerWhile meat lovers will find steaks seasoned and cooked to impress, the cuisine at Fisherman’s Corner, just as the name implies, focuses on seafood.

Creole linguini, pasta Cioppino, fresh seafood dinners, seafood platters, shrimp and grits, crawfish etoufée, New Orleans barbecue shrimp and more highlight the menu here.

Proprietors at Fisherman’s Corner are also proud of their award-winning wine list, recognized as one of the best in the nation by Wine Spectator magazine, so be sure to give it a look. Then, consider a piece of their decadent bread pudding. You won’t leave hungry!

Flora-Bama Yacht Club

17350 Perdido Key Dr., Perdido Key

Flora BamaEnjoy some chargrilled oysters at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club before moving onto one of the house specialties.

House specialties include blackened trigger, chicken Pontchartrain, hand-cut certified Angus beef filet mignon, sesame-wasabi pea crusted yellowfin tuna and more.

You’ll also find staples like burgers, grilled fish sandwiches, fried baskets and po-boys. A variety of salads rounds out the menu at this favorite locals’ hangout.

Ginny Lane Bar & Grill at The Wharf

4851 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach

Ginny LaneIf you are going to be here on a Sunday, stop by the Wharf in Orange Beach for Ginny Lane’s champagne brunch. Southern-style eggs Benedict, Cajun omelet, biscuits and gravy, crab cake Benedict, steak ‘n eggs, Southern comfort, and shrimp and grits are on the brunch menu.

Come for lunch or dinner, and you’ll find everything from bayou grouper to crab cakes and bacon-wrapped shrimp. There are also fried, broiled and steamed platters, pasta dishes, and kid favorites.

You’re sure to enjoy your dining experience at Ginny Lane, but you might also want to check out the proprietors’ other restaurants, Villaggio Grille at the Wharf and Gilbey’s Seafood & Steak at the Publix Shopping Center in Orange Beach.

Mikee’s Seafood

205 E. 2nd Avenue, Gulf Shores

Mikee's SeafoodTuesdays and Fridays are all-you-can-eat mullet or whitefish days at Mikee’s Seafood, a casual dining favorite of local residents. Enjoy all the fish you can stand prepared fried, broiled or blackened along with sides like beans, greens, and jalapeno cornbread cakes. Yum!

Po-boys, burgers, oysters, shrimp and a host of specialty entrees round out the dining experience at Mikee’s, so named for the chef. And, be sure to save room for a delicious slice of peanut butter pie.

Original Oyster House

701 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores

Original Oyster HouseAlways attracting a crowd who enjoys a quality dining experience, the Original Oyster House is located at the quaint Bayou Village shopping center in Gulf Shores.

When you get here, you’ll learn about the seafood specials of the day before you order. Some greater starters include fried alligator bites or crawfish tails. The fried green tomatoes are also super yummy!

Of course, there are the deep-fried favorites, but you might also enjoy blackened Mahdi topped with fried crawfish tails and Tasso and Conecuh County sausage cream sauce. Or, how about bourbon grilled Ahi tuna and fried shrimp. You can also create your own platter or indulge in shrimp Florentine or a hearty steak.

Enjoy a homemade dessert (key lime pie or mile-high peanut butter pie) from the Oyster House or walk a few steps over to Matt’s Homemade Ice Cream for a cool treat.

Sea-N-Suds

405 East Beach Blvd, Gulf Shores

Sea-N-SudsThe only truly on-the-beach (or should I say “above” the beach) dining experience in Gulf Shores, Sea-n-Suds restaurant is an iconic spot for a meal or a cold beverage. Walk up the boardwalk, and you’ll find yourself high above the white-sand beach and looking out over the Gulf of Mexico.

For lunch or dinner, a personal favorite is the shrimp sandwich, loaded with fried shrimp and tartar sauce. If you want something a bit more substantial, you can also enjoy stuffed crabs, fried oysters or shrimp, a seafood platter, a crab claw dinner, a full salad bar, sandwiches and one of the best hamburgers on Pleasure Island.

Shipp’s Harbour Grill

27842 Canal Road, Orange Beach

Ship's Harbor GrillFor a unique waterfront dining experience, head over to Shipp’s Harbour Grill, where you can eat outside or on the top deck and see the beautiful marina just outside.

Visit Shipp’s for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Or, if you’re too early for dinner, try one of their small plates for a quick snack.

House specialties feature blackened tuna, grouper Pontchartrain, Gulf Coast snapper, black sesame tuna, coconut grouper, snapper pesto, Creole grouper, jumbo lump crab cakes and much more.

You can also indulge your taste for fried seafood, sushi or hand-cut, USDA-certified Angus beefsteak.

For dessert, try the Southern Comfort bread pudding, pina colada cake, drunk brownie or crème brulée. Oh. My. Goodness. This stuff is good!

Shrimp Basket

Hwy. 59, Gulf Shores
26651 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach
14600 Perdido Key Dr., Perdido Key

Shrimp BasketOwners of Mikee’s Seafood also own the Shrimp Basket restaurants, where you’ll find the usual fried, grilled or blackened dishes.

Order a fried basket served with shrimp slaw, hushpuppies, fritter and another side. Add a fried stuffed crab for a little extra cash.

Here, you’ll also find seafood gumbo, shrimp etouffee, red beans and rice, raw oysters and more. They’ll even top a salad with some of their seafood delights or provide a steamed platter with new potatoes, corn on the cob and shrimp slaw. Po-boys are stuffed with fried, grilled or blackened shrimp, whitefish, catfish, chicken strips, oysters or crawfish. You can’t go wrong with that!

The Steamer & Baked Oyster Bar

124 W. 1st Ave., Gulf Shores

The SteamerWith the same owners as the Shrimp Basket and Mikee’s Seafood, there is a major commitment to providing quality seafood at the Steamer Baked Oyster Bar.

Located behind Souvenir City in Gulf Shores, The Steamer serves raw, steamed and baked oysters along with a full menu of steamed and grilled seafood.

On the menu are baked parmesan oysters, baked alfredo oysters, baked blue cheese oysters, baked Mexican oysters, baked Bama oysters, baked Rockefeller oysters, baked Cajun crawfish oysters, or a combination.

You’ll also find sandwiches, lobster, steak, crab cakes, chicken and pasta.

Tacky Jacks

27206 Safe Harbor Dr., Orange Beach
1577 Hwy. 180, Fort Morgan
240 E. 24th Ave., Gulf Shores

Tacky Jack'sOne of the coolest things about the Tacky Jacks restaurants is that you can drive to the restaurant or arrive by boat. All three locations are waterfront.

When you arrive, order an appetizer of Mexican Garbage, which is the ultimate in beef and cheese nachos. Tortillas are piled high with meat, cheese, tomato, onions, black olives, sour cream, jalapeno peppers and salsa.

Then, order one of their famous Bushwackers, a creamy concoction known as an “adult milkshake.” This specialty drink features silver rum, coconut rum, coffee liqueur and a 151 floater. Oh, and ice cream. Or, if you’d rather get in your vegetables, Tacky Jacks Bloody Mary is made with Whiskey Willy’s and garnished with lime, lemon, olive and picked green beans.

Entrees and platters feature everything from steak and grilled mahi-mahi to oysters, Ahi tuna, shrimp and grits and steamed royal reds.

Wolf Bay Lodge Orange Beach

26619 Perdido Beach Blvd.

Wolf Bay Lodge Orange BeachA local seafood tradition since 1973, Wolf Bay Lodge opened a new restaurant in Orange Beach a few years ago at Zeke’s Marina. The menu is varied, and the food always good.

Start off with an appetizer of Cha Cha’s crab dip, featuring a sweet Bourbon sauce served hot. Or, some fresh smoked tuna dip. Or, maybe even an order of coconut shrimp. You won’t be disappointed.

Homemade soups include seafood gumbo or lobster chowder. And there’s an extensive salad bar featuring the expected vegetables along with bonus potato and pasta salads.

Sandwiches run the gamut from po-boys to burgers, while entrees feature generous portions of seafood, shrimp and grits, fish of all kinds, chicken, steaks, pasta and more.

Save room for dessert, as it will be hard to pass up the coconut cake or chocolate lava cake.

Eat at a different restaurant every night while you are on the Gulf Coast. Stay in a beach condo or house in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Perdido Key.

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.

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