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.

2013 Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-off

IMG_7027_bBring your appetite to The Hangout’s 6th annual Oyster Cook-off, an all-day event, November 9th. Innovative chefs from around the region will showcase their favorite Cajun, Rockefeller and raw oyster dishes. A panel of celebrities will judge the submissions based on flavor, creativity and presentation. The winning teams will take home cash prizes and tickets to the 2014 Hangout Music Festival. Tasting tickets are only $2, and admission to the festival is free. You can also get a book of 20 tasting tickets for $30. Cast your votes for the People’s Choice award, and enjoy the raw talent at the shucking competition.

There are plenty of other things to do at the cook-off beyond eating oysters. Dance to live music, watch the annual Alabama-LSU rivalry game on the big screen or just enjoy the variety of craft-brewed beers. And remember, the beach is only a few steps away.

IMG_8348_bNeed a place to stay for the festival? Meyer Vacation Rentals, a preferred lodging partner for the 2013 Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-off, is giving away a free night’s stay. There are also limited number of free tickets to the exclusive preview party, November 8th, available to Meyer guests. The Oyster Cook-off is located on the grounds of The Hangout Restaurant, at the end of Hwy. 59, at the public beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Did You Know?

IMG_8142_bThe history of Oysters Rockefeller is quite interesting. It all began in New Orleans, circa 1899, at Antoine’s Restaurant. Founder Antoine Alciatore had developed a recipe for snails Bourgigno. After a shortage of French snails, Antoine’s son, Jules Alciator, adopted the dish into what we now know as Oysters Rockefeller. Oysters were rarely cooked prior to this, and Jules is known as a culinary pioneer. Antoine’s is the oldest running family business, and the original Oysters Rockefeller recipe is a closely-guarded secret. It was said that on his death bed, Jules vowed that it would stay that way forever.

Oysters R (always) In Season

IMG_7009_bHave you ever been told not to eat oysters in the months without an R in the spelling? It doesn’t really apply anymore. Refrigeration and our advanced shipping industry ensure that oysters are safe to eat year-round. The warm waters consistent with the R-less months of May, June, July and August do not make oysters any less safe to eat. They do reproduce during these months, and that can have an effect on their flavor, but interestingly, oysters can reproduce at any time during the year in our warm Gulf waters.

Kids and Oysters

All oyster lovers have to develop a taste for them at some point. If your kid wants to try oysters, start them off easy. Even picky eaters and compromised immune systems can handle oysters baked, broiled and chargrilled. Eating raw oysters can be a fun adventure for the little ones. You might want to dress it for them the first time with their favorite spices. I prefer my raw oysters served on a Saltine cracker and topped with cocktail sauce, horseradish, lemon and a dash of hot sauce! How do you like your oysters?

Hungry for more? Take a look our highlight’s from 2012’s Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-off.

Perdido Key Kayak, Barbeque & Blues Festival

Perdido Key’s first annual Kayak, Barbeque & Blues festival is being held Saturday, August 31st over Labor Day weekend. The two and four mile race course starts and ends at Galvez Landing. There will be solo and tandem kayak races, as well as a paddleboard competition. Following the races, you can head to Hub Stacey’s for live music and BBQ. The BBQ cook-off will be judged by a blind tasting, and all the entries will be available for purchase.

Regional blues artists Larry T. Wilson & Big Muddy play from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by Johnny Barbato and The Lucky Doggs from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Johnny Barbato and the Lucky Doggs won the duo award in both 2011 and 2012 for the regional roundup of the International Blues Competition, representing the Gulf Coast and the Gulf Coast Blues Society.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m., South Florida’s Blues Brothers Soul Band will be rocking the stage with their musical talent and entertaining antics. The Blues Brothers Soul Band is a tribute to the original Blues Brothers with the stage presence to prove it. If you need a break from dancing, browse the booths of the arts and crafts vendors on site. Who doesn’t love festival goodies?

When the music’s over, they’re not turning out the lights. Don’t miss the stunning fireworks show, planned and produced by Pyrotecnico, a fireworks company with more than 100 years of business behind them. And to give the whole event a little extra local flavor, they’re ending it with more water sports. They had to get permission from the Coast Guard to make this happen, so make sure you stay for the flyboarding demonstration! The flyboarder will be wearing an LED suit, so that it’s visible to the crowd.

Want to Participate?
Prizes will be awarded to the top athletes in each class (solo, tandem, & paddleboard). First place for the two mile course will receive $200, followed by $100 for second and $50 for third. First place for the four mile course will receive $400, followed by $200 for the second and $100 for the third. If you register in advance, it’s only $25 for the two mile course and $45 for the four mile course, and they’re giving military personnel a 25% discount. You can also get half-price kayak and paddleboard rentals (that would be $25 a half-day) if you rent from Perdido Paddleboard Company and Pensacola Kayak and Sail at the race location.

Where to Stay
Meyer Vacation Rentals has you covered. The BBQ and Blues Festival special is running through September 2nd, and it include a free nights at all non-gulf-front condos. Search available properties to find out where you’d like to kick back and relax. Mark your calendars!

Halloween on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

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.

Oktoberfest in Perdido Key

October is just around the corner. That means it’s time for Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest, Perdido Key, FL, German, accordion, music, folk, tradition

Dress in German folk attire (you could win a prize!) or come as you are. Perdido Key Oktoberfest is filled with music, games, brats and beer. Join the festivities October 5 & 6, 2012!

The 3rd Annual Oktoberfest in Perdido Key, Florida, is proof of the success of their first two events. It has already outgrown the one-day schedule, so this year you have two days—October 5 and 6, 2012—to raise a toast to the folk traditions of Germany.

You’ll be treated to a musical performance schedule that features Buttons and Bows (accordionist Julie Council with her 9-year-old grandson Christopher Conger), Josef Mit Dehr OomPa, and the German band Bayrisch Blau that plays everything from polkas to American contemporary pop/rock.

Of course, the food is a huge favorite at the festival. Brats, schnitzel, pretzels and more will be savored by all ages. Children will enjoy the setting of the root beer garden that includes a bounce house. And the adults have the opportunity to sample a number of German beers by purchasing a $20 set of 10 tickets; single tickets can be traded for sample sizes of ale, or two tickets will return a full-size serving of your favorite variety.

Start warming up now to win one or more of the festival games described below. One game will be played every 15 minutes between 2:30 and 4 p.m. on Friday, and between each music set the remainder of the event.
›  Hammerschlagen—Be the first to pound the nail into the wood.
›  Stein Race—Run the course the fastest without spilling the beer.
›  Masskrugstemmen—Hold a beer-filled, liter-size stein at a 90-degree angle as long as you can. (This is harder than it sounds!)
›  Keg Roll—Push the keg through an obstacle course.
›  Brat Toss—Toss brats with a partner, using buckets.

Don’t forget to wear your traditional German clothing—at 5:45 each day, prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed male and female!

This free family-friendly event begins Friday, October 5 at 2 p.m. and Saturday, October 6 at noon; closing time is 8:00 both evenings.

You’ll find the fun at 13200 Gulf Beach Highway, on the former Sacred Heart Soccer Fields next to the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center.

Come for the weekend—or better yet, stay a few extra days! Make it a cozy getaway in one of Perdido Key’s 1-bedroom condos or bring the family and stay in a 3-bedroom Perdido Key condo. No matter how many in your party, you’ll have a wonderful time at Perdido Key Oktoberfest and the beach!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Back-to-School Beach Bash

You may not know it by the weather, but summer is coming to an end. At least it is for students and their families. Rather than bidding the season a sad farewell, come celebrate it with free live music and s’mores at the beach!

smores, s'mores, beach bash, back to school, gulf shores, alabama

Free s’mores and live music on the beach! Bring your family to celebrate the end of summer at Gulf Shores Public Beach on Friday, August 10, 2012.

This Saturday, August 18, the City of Gulf Shores will host the second annual Beach Bash. Starting at 5 p.m., it won’t be hard to find the activity at the west end of the public beach. You’ll see campfires surrounded by folks of all ages creating and savoring (or gobbling) toasty, melty, oh-so-good s’mores. And others will be enjoying shaved ice.

With all that extra energy from the treats, you and the kids will have a blast dancing to the music played by DJ Shawn Weaver.

Send the season out with a simply yummy event. Round up your beach blankets and chairs, a cooler of cold beverages, and your family and friends, then relish the final evenings of relaxation before school activities kick into gear.

How about celebrating even bigger with a last-minute back-to-school beach getaway? When you stay by August 25 and pay for 4 nights, you’ll get two more nights FREE! Check out the details, then start packing for some fabulous end-of-season bonding with your family.

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.

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