Beach Houses Are Right-Sized For The Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whole House, Whole Family, Whole Lot Of Room

Part of the wonder of a vacation, whether traveling alone or with family and friends, is experiencing something that takes you outside the realm of ordinary life—new destinations or exciting attractions, perhaps.

An important component of the overall vacation experience that builds anticipation and generates excitement is the joy of finding the perfect accommodations.

Vacation rental houses at the beach are gaining popularity among travelers who are in search of an accommodations experience that goes far beyond what the typical cookie-cutter hotel room can provide.

More Space, Less Money

In a Meyer Vacation Rentals beach house, you and your friends and family can stay under one roof, with everyone able to enjoy more space at a lower price than they would in a hotel room. When you rent a house from Meyer, you will pay up to 50% less per square foot than you would in the average hotel room, making traveling with others even more economical when costs are shared.

A typical hotel room, at just over 300 square feet, simply does not offer the space that a Meyer Vacation Rentals house, ranging from just under 1,000 square feet and one bedroom like Plum Cute all the way up to more than 10,000 square feet and 20 bedrooms like Pearl, can offer.

Some of Meyer’s houses with numerous bedrooms even have multiple master suites and balconies or decks, giving family branches the opportunity to enjoy scenic views of the Gulf, lagoon, bay, golf course or other vistas in the privacy of their own spaces.

In a beach house, vacationers may also huddle in spaces like the living room, kitchen, dining room, media rooms, private balconies or other spots designed especially for allowing friends and family to catch up, play games or even do nothing at all.

Making Meyer’s beach houses so unique is that each one is individually owned and decorated, with owners taking great care to incorporate a coastal themed decor.

With the ability to accommodate more guests comes the need for everyone to be able to wash clothes, towels and swimsuits. All Meyer houses are furnished with washers and dryers and sometimes even multiple units.

Cook In Or Have A Meal Catered

In a beach house, it’s easy to dine in or prepare meals in your fully equipped kitchen. Or, if you have a large group and have rented a house with a sizeable kitchen, you might even want to consider having a special meal catered, perhaps for a wedding party.

Many of Meyer’s houses feature kitchens that are caterer friendly, with more than one refrigerator, stove, icemaker and dishwasher, and lots of countertop and cabinet space.

The Extras

Beach houses often have many of the same amenities you would find in a resort-styled condo complex, either on site at the house or within the community.

Some have private pools and hot tubs, game rooms, Jacuzzi tubs, exercise rooms and more, while others offer access to amenities like golf courses, pools, hot tubs and tennis courts.

For example, vacationers staying at one of Meyer’s houses within the Cottages at Romar neighborhood in Orange Beach enjoy access to the community zero-entry, saltwater pool; a cozy fire pit; bathhouses; a private access beach with walkover; and gated entry.

If you want to bring your dog, Meyer has more than 50 houses that are dog-friendly, including many in Fort Morgan, where leashed dogs are allowed on the beaches.

Another bonus when renting one of Meyer’s beach houses is that the majority of them are equipped with coded keyless entry locks, meaning you are able to bypass the rental office and check in directly to your house. Key codes are provided via text or email for participating houses.

Meyer’s beach houses in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key fill quickly for popular vacation weeks. Make your selection now for your preferred week.

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Dream Drive: Hwy 180, Fort Morgan, AL

Years ago, I remember reading one of the major travel magazines that did a piece every month called “Dream Drives.” It featured a beautiful place to take a road trip, and what to do, see, and eat along the way. Hwy 180 is a dream drive that can be done in a day and is hidden from the hustle and bustle of Gulf Shores.

Hwy 180, or Fort Morgan Peninsula, is a 22 mile stretch of land with Mobile Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other side. I can’t tell you the countless people I run into who have visited Gulf Shores, some several times, and have never driven down this road to see what Fort Morgan has to offer.

Fort Morgan map view

Why should you go? Fort Morgan’s remote location makes it seem worlds away from the busy condo buildings, souvenir stores, and restaurants. It is natural, beautiful, and since building has been restricted to a minimum, it is sparsely populated and untouched in many areas. There are also some very special spots along the way you must see.

Cycling and Biking: If you are an avid cyclist, you need to bring your bike. There’s a bike lane that stretches from one end to the other, and with the small amount of traffic driving this road, you can feel totally safe. Not to mention, down and back is a flat 44 miles, so getting several miles in is easy. For those who like to bike, but aren’t as comfortable riding on the road with cars, or prefer the more relaxed beach cruiser way of getting around, there is a winding bike path adjacent to the road on the right side of the highway that extends part of the way down the peninsula, about five miles. Riding along the golf course, under the Spanish moss, is a great way to stay active while enjoying a leisurely ride. If you have a large group going and can’t fit all your bikes on your rack, you can rent from a local company that will deliver them to you. To pick up the path, park your car at the grocery store at the corner of Hwy 180 and 59.

Fort Morgan bike trail

Bird Watching: If you are into bird watching, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail Fort Morgan Loop, offers several opportunities, since much of the Fort Morgan Peninsula is in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The birding trail and sites are well marked with signs along Hwy 180, and here is a site that lists the locations and species most often in occurrence at that location.

Little Lagoon: Little Lagoon is situated between the land that is West Beach and a 10 mile portion of Fort Morgan. It is about ½ mile wide and consists of brackish water from Lake Shelby and the water that comes in at the pass from the Gulf of Mexico. There are three opportunities to see the lagoon up close on Fort Morgan: Lagoon Park (pictured below), Pine Beach Trail or Jeff Friend Trail, with the last two also being on the birding trail. The day I took this photo, it was overcast and the lagoon was perfectly still, like glass, mirroring every object.

Lagoon Park

Shipwreck: Continuing down Fort Morgan, turn left at mile marker 6, make a right at the end of the road, and you’ll find the Rachel, aka The Mystery Ship. The Rachel is a 155’ Schooner believed to have been built around 1923. As you can imagine with any old relic, there are so many stories surrounding it. Many say the ship was a Civil War era ship called the Monticello that left Mobile Bay in the 1860s. Other legends say it was a rum runner and call it the “Whiskey Wreck” trying to smuggle liquor during Prohibition. Depending on shifting sand and weather conditions, the ship may or may not be exposed, but it is definitely a sight to see. It’s lying flat on the beach in someone’s backyard. Literally, it’s almost right under their deck. There isn’t any parking, and it’s located in a residential area, so remember to be respectful when walking through the area. You can park a few lots away, and you’ll see signs posted in the areas where you cannot park. Currently, there is a vacant lot of open sand you can walk in without walking under a private house. Again, just be respectful, and remember, this isn’t a tourist destination, it’s a residential neighborhood.

mystery shipwreck

Eat: You must try Tacky Jacks 2 at the Gulf Shores Yacht Club and Marina at Fort Morgan. This two story structure, which looks like it was once a house, sits right on Mobile Bay. In the summer months, the sun sets in Mobile Bay. In the winter it sets in the Gulf of Mexico, and both are equally beautiful. Tacky Jacks is a chain around Gulf Shores, but we love this off-the-beaten path location. Upstairs is the restaurant, downstairs is the bar, and from either level you can see the water. They have some of the best bushwhackers on the Gulf Coast, and if you’re brave (and you must be) order one with a floater. If you go in the summer, as I mentioned above, you will be treated with this breathtaking view from the deck.

Tacky Jack's sunset

And while this isn’t a tourist destination, one of the most recognizable houses on Fort Morgan is the very last house on the left as you head down where the fort property begins. In different light and weather conditions, it reminds me of the perfect setting for a romantic movie or a scary, psychological thriller. The location, the isolation, and the size all come together to make a perfect setting. As you drive towards the fort, the house is concealed until you are past it, so once you make it to the clearing as you enter the fort property, look back over your left shoulder and out towards the water. And by the way, that really was the sky that night. This was taken with my iPhone and no special editing or filter.

Fort Morgan sunsets

Fort Morgan: This is the main reason you drove down this road and will be the highlight of the drive. Fort Morgan State Historic Site is a Civil War fort. It is not to be missed and neither are the views. The fort is located at the very end of Fort Morgan Peninsula, and don’t be fooled when you drive up to the parking lot. You can’t see a bit of it from the outside. It’s protected by a sloping grass wall, a common engineering feature of many forts. After walking through the arched tunnel, you’ll see the entrance. At the top of Fort Morgan, you have the best view of the mouth of Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island and the Gulf of Mexico. You can do a self-guided tour and spend as much, or as little time as you like, but exploring the rooms and grounds is fascinating for all ages. The entrance and grounds are all protected areas, and from the parking lot, you can walk out onto the beach where the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay meet. The museum is free and houses many relics and past lenses from the lighthouses around the area.

Fort Morgan entryway

Now you’ve come this far and you have an option to extend your day by chartering a small boat for a couple of hours to explore Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

If you decide to charter a boat at Gulf Shores Yacht Club and Marina at Fort Morgan (back at Tacky Jacks), be sure you plan in advance by calling the marina, as boats aren’t always available on a walk up basis. It is a small marina with only a few boats there at certain times. I recommend allowing yourself the morning to drive and get out and explore all the locations and schedule a boat ride in the afternoon. You could even do the fort before heading to Tacky Jacks for lunch, and then catch a boat after lunch. The picture taken below is the marina in off-season. You can see now why you need to plan ahead. As you can see below, even if you are there in off-season when the sun sets on the gulf side, the sky on Mobile Bay is still stunning at sunset.

sunset at Gulf Shores Yacht Club and Marina

Sand Island Light House: On a clear day you can see Sand Island Light, and it’s so hard to believe by looking at how far away it is, at one time, it was connected to land. You must see this lighthouse while you can. It is currently on Lighthouse Digest Magazine’s Doomsday List, a list naming the most endangered lighthouses in the country. You can’t go inside of it, but it is regarded as one of the last great masonry lighthouses on the Gulf Coast. Massive granite rocks have been placed at the base to prevent further erosion. When it was originally constructed in 1838, it was the tallest lighthouse ever built. The lighthouse also has so many stories to tell. It has been hit by several hurricanes and was even blown up when Confederate soldiers found Union soldiers in the lighthouse spying on Fort Morgan. The structure you see today was built in 1873 and is 125 feet tall. If you don’t make this portion of the trip, when you are standing on top of Fort Morgan, imagine if you can, walking from Dauphin Island to Sand Island Light. Dauphin Island residents currently own Sand Island Light and that was the lighthouse’s connection point.

Sand Island Light House near Dauphin Island

Dolphin Watching: Well, if you haven’t seen a dolphin at some point on your trip while sitting on the beach, I’m very surprised. They are all over this part of the Gulf of Mexico and in Mobile Bay, so you are just about guaranteed to see at least one during your trip. If not, there’s an even better chance you’ll see them on a boat. They are everywhere. The lighthouse is about 3 miles off shore, so keep your eyes open for dolphin when heading out there.

Many of us go on vacation to park our butts in the sand and do nothing. We rush around at home, why would we want to do anything on vacation, right? I hear you. I promise you, even if none of the other stops along the way interest you, at least drive down to the end and see the fort. It is a remarkable place, and you don’t need to be into history to enjoy it. I guarantee it will be one of the most memorable parts of your trip. Relax and enjoy the drive!

All information and photographs were provided by our guest blogger Cassandra Buckalew.

Entrepreneur and designer, Cassandra Buckalew, is an Atlanta native. She and her husband own a home on Fort Morgan and fell in love with the area after their first visit in 2006. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta and owns a trolley company, a pedicab company and a ghost tour in the metro Atlanta area. She has traveled all over the world but spends her down town rejuvenating on Alabama’s beautiful coast. She enjoys the Gulf Coast lifestyle and friendly laid-back attitude. A lover of photography, travel, design, food and fashion, you can follow her images and adventures on her instagram account at: cassbuckalew or her Facebook design page: Cassandra Buckalew Interiors. She can be reached at: cassbuckalew@gmail.com.

Cassandra Buckalew

SEC Beachfest 2012

Start warming up your arms for weeks of high-energy fist pumps. Begin your food planning for weekly sports-related snacks. Get your voice back in shape to enthusiastically sing your favorite school’s fight song.

SEC BeachFest, football, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Meyer Vacation Rentals, Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Meet current and legendary coaches, play beach games, swap stories with players and fans, enjoy two great concerts, and participate in even more family-friendly fun at SEC BeachFest August 23–26, 2012 in Gulf Shores, AL.

And now there’s one more preparation for an awesome SEC football season: Pack your bags and head to the beach!

Get psyched to meet current and legendary coaches August 23–26, 2012, during the first SEC BechFest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. There’s no question that you’ll know these names: Nick Saban of Alabama, Gene Chizik of Auburn, Les Miles of LSU, Pat Dye of Auburn, Gene Stallings of Alabama, Vince Dooley of Georgia, R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M, and Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee.

ESPNU’s SEC preview show will be broadcast from the beach, and it will include the current coaches. Get the inside scoop from these hard-hitting leaders during town hall discussions with the fans. You may even learn a few new moves from the icons of Southeastern Conference football at the FanZone sports clinics and games.

For some, it may be hard to understand that SEC football isn’t at the top of your loved one’s list. We understand your disappointment. But don’t leave those folks behind! Fueled by BP, FanZone will also host family and kids’ activities such as a sandcastle-building competition, beach games, beach volleyball, touch football with SEC legends, a 5k run and one-mile fun run, and a waffle breakfast. You can even get a foursome together and participate in the SEC BeachFest Golf Scramble.

In keeping with the excitement-filled “something for everyone” weekend, you’ll be treated to two fabulous evening concerts: Celebrate 35 years of rockin’ beats with the B-52s on Friday night, and dance on the sand Saturday night to Grammy-winning voodoo funk by Dr. John.

Each SEC school will have a fan/alumni headquarters at LuLu’s (Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee), Tacky Jack’s Gulf Shores (LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M) or Tacky Jack’s Orange Beach (Alabama, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri), so be prepared to swap stories and relive great football and school memories between 5:00 and 8:30 each evening.

To make the weekend even more appealing, we’ve arranged for you to get your 3rd night free in a condo or your 4th night free in a house when you stay with Meyer Vacation Rentals—AND you’ll get FREE passes to the weekend’s activities (each ticket is a $25 value). Get all the details, then get busy warming up for a fantastic SEC football kickoff event 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 MySpace.

Army Band in Gulf Shores and Foley

Patriotic music moves us. Marches inspire us. And the sound of a military band excites us.

Army Band, free performance, concert, gulf shores, foley, alabama June 2012

Two opportunities to enjoy the 151st Army Band patriotic concert: Tuesday in Gulf Shores and Friday in Foley.

This week, you have two opportunities to experience all of the above!

The 151st Army Band’s Concert Ensemble will be performing Tuesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. in Gulf Shores. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and snacks, and choose your spot in the lawn behind the Erie Meyer Civic Center, 1930 W. 2nd St. This is a free event, so bring your family and friends—the more the merrier!

Can’t make it Tuesday? You’ll also find the military musicians playing Friday, June 22 at 7 p.m. at Heritage Park in Foley (corner of Hwy. 59 and 98). Their appearance, preceded at 6 p.m. by the Alabama Baton Corps, is part of the free weekly Music and a Movie event that also includes a farmer’s market (3–6 p.m.), so be prepared to shop and then stay for the evening to view Forever Young on the large inflatable screen.

It’s not too late to join us at the beach for this weekend! Take a look at what is still available for your arrival this Friday, June 22, then start packing for a fun-filled, sunny getaway on the beautiful white sands of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan or Orange Beach (Alabama) or Perdido Key (Florida)!

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

Book Signings in Gulf Shores

If you haven’t visited Just Books and Coastal Video in Gulf Shores during your beach trips, be sure to put it on your list—especially if you are in town this Saturday, June 16.

just books coastal video movies gulf shores alabama rental games

Visit with nine authors Saturday, June 16, at Just Books and Coastal Video in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you will have the opportunity to meet, chat with, and get autographs from nine authors! Their stories or their lives (and sometimes both) involve our Southeastern locale. Some of the material is true to life and some is fiction, and it’s always entertaining.

Stop by to enjoy an afternoon with the following authors:

Gilbert Morris—Christy Award-winning author of more than 200 books, Mr. Morris created the series The House of Winslow among many others, and has just published his most recent book, The River Rose from the Water Wheel series.

Chris Warner and Joe GilchristBushwhacked at the Flora-Bama was released earlier this year, detailing the history of the Flora-Bama Lounge at the Alabama/Florida state line and sharing some philosophies of the future of our country’s entrepreneurial opportunities.

Roger Reid—Among his acclaimed young-adult novels is his newest, Time, which follows teenaged Jason Caldwell through another exciting mystery-solving adventure.

Margaret Childress Long—From a native’s perspective, The Best Place to Be: The Story Of Orange Beach, Alabama describes the history and the people of Ms. Long’s beloved home.

flora-bama lounge, alabama florida state line, bar, joe gilchrist, chris warner

Read about the tough times and the great times behind the scenes at the famous Flora-Bama Lounge in this 2012 publication.

Harvey H. Jackson III—Covering the 1930s to present day development of the Alabama Gulf Coast, Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera begins with the worries of World War II’s effect on the area and includes the recovery from economic and natural disasters.

Ryan Anderson—Ms. Anderson weaves a mighty story in each of her thriller/murder mystery books, the most recent of which is Undelivered.

Paris Love—Coach, speaker, consultant . . . and now author. Debut novel Growing Pains proves the importance of true friendship as her central characters work their way through the ups and downs of the quest for true love.

Mark J. HaindsYear of the Pig chronicles a hunter’s year-long pursuit of wild pigs in America to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Pig (2007).

While at Just Books and Coastal Video in the Bruno’s shopping center on Hwy. 59, don’t forget to pick out a couple of additional books for your beach reading, and also purchase or rent your favorite DVDs or games (system rentals available) to share with your family or friends. Need more details? Give them a call at 251-968-6828.

If you can’t make it here this weekend, join us when you can! How about staying in a 2-bedroom Gulf Shores house?  Or, with more than 1500 properties to choose from—small to large and budget to luxury—we’re sure to have something that fits your needs.

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 Twitter and Facebook.

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