Free & Fun Things To Do In Orange Beach

There are many ways to explore Orange Beach during a beach vacation without shelling out lots of cash. Here are a few places the locals said you should try:

Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum

Operated by the City of Orange Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the Indian and Sea Museum was originally built in 1910 as a schoolhouse. It has served as a museum since 1995 and was moved to its present location across from City Hall in 1999.

Open Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Wednesday during the winter months from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum houses local artifacts and memorabilia relating to the area’s Native American and fishing heritage. Families of early fishermen have donated supplies and collectibles that remind of the challenges and achievements of the earliest days of the local fishing industry.

Gulf State Park Beaches

There are two public beach accesses in Orange Beach, both falling within the operation of Gulf State Park.

Romar Beach, with a limited amount of free parking, is perfect for a quick beach stroll or last-minute lunchtime break. The access is located 6.8 miles east of Ala. Hwy. 59. Future plans call for construction of restrooms and rinsing showers.

Cotton Bayou is located at the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 182 and Hwy. 161. Nestled between condominium buildings, this access is a busy spot that offers restrooms and outdoor showers on site as well as ample free parking.

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail takes visitors throughout the region, including Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which begins at the Perdido Pass bridge on Ala. Hwy. 182 and east of Ala. Hwy. 59.

Beginning at Perdido Pass – Alabama Point East, enthusiasts might see a Snowy Plover, a species of conservation concern, which nests in the area. Alabama Point also provides critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse, and a wide variety of shorebirds are commonly seen in summer. In winter, common loons feed in the pass during changing tides.

Other spots to visit on this loop include Boggy Point, which offers an excellent view of Robinson Island, a roosting site for herons and egrets, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails, where there are 11 miles of paved trails providing access from six entry points to habitats such as sandy oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, relict dune swales, seepage swamps and a pitcher plant bog. Interpretative signs placed along each trail identify many of the natural features of the maritime forest.

The loop also takes visitors to the Gulf State Park Pavilion, the Gulf State Park Nature Center/Education Center, Marsh Bridge, Shelby Lake Picnic Grounds, Gulf State Park Fishing Pier, Little Lagoon Pass and Wade Ward Nature Park.

From the loop sites in Gulf Shores, you would continue north on Ala. Hwy. 59 to the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 180/Fort Morgan Road to continue onto the Fort Morgan Loop.

SPECTRA Light Show at The Wharf

Take the kids to The Wharf for the SPECTRA Sound & Light Spectacular at 7:30, 8 and 8:30 p.m. SPECTRA incorporates sophisticated choreographed lighting effects with popular music to deliver an enlightening entertainment experience. Palm trees light up to the sound of the music.

Before, during and after the show, browse shops, stop in for a gelato or a cup of coffee from Southern Grind or enjoy dinner at one of many restaurants.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida.

At just over 20 miles from Orange Beach, the museum is located on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola and contains more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Aviation displayed in 35,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on the 37-acre grounds.

On-site attractions include the Naval Aviation Memorial Giant Screen Theater, flight simulators, Flight Deck Operations exhibit, cockpit trainers, Kiddie Hawk play area, Flight Deck store and Blue Angels 4D Theater.

Watch The Blue Angels Practice

The world-famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels are based at NAS Pensacola and can be seen practicing over the museum at NAS Pensacola most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. Practices typically begin at 11:30 a.m., and last about 55 minutes. Admission to practice is free and open to the public.

The outside viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the museum flight line north of the museum. Signs are posted to direct visitors to viewing and parking locations, including limited parking for handicapped visitors. Open bleacher seating is available for 1,000 people.

Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, Clay Studio & Hot Shop

The Coastal Arts Center, located just east of the intersection of Canal Road and Hwy. 161, is home to a temporary gallery and gift shop in the construction trailer located at the front of the cultural campus. Once construction is complete on the center’s brand new building on Wolf Bay later this year, the gallery will become part of the permanent structure. Local and regional artists featured include watercolorists, potters, painters, photographers, sculptors and textile artists.

The Clay Studio showcases the work of in-house ceramics artist Maya Blame-Cantrell. The public is invited to make their own clay pieces. Call (251) 981-ARTS for reservations.

Enjoy a visit to the Hot Shop by appointment only. You can make your own glass creation during sessions at 9 a.m., Monday through Friday. The session includes a 30-minute live glass-blowing demonstration of an ornament, flower and paperweight. Then, choose which one you would like to create for yourself.

Kayak Or Canoe In Wolf Bay

There are 10 designated canoe trail sites posted along the shores of Wolf Bay, Bay La Launch, Arnica Bay, Bayou St. John and Cotton Bayou.

Load up your canoe or kayak and dock from one of the sites on Gulf Bay Road, Cypress Avenue, Waterfront Park, Palmetto Extension, Harrison Park, Mississippi Avenue, Look Rook Road, Wilson Boulevard, Boggy Point or Cotton Bayou.

Keep your eyes peeled to see dolphins or a variety of birds, like the brown pelican, egrets or herons.

Curl Up With A Good Book

If you came to the beach and forgot a book, stop by the Orange Beach Public Library to pick up a library card; residency is not required.

There are cozy spots indoors and outdoors at the library to read your selections. Check out the calendar for story time, book club meetings, and other gathering times and special events.

Perdido Key State Park

Perdido Key is a 247-acre barrier island near Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico. White sand beaches and rolling dunes covered with sea oats make Perdido Key State Park a favorite destination for swimmers and sunbathers. Surf fishing is another popular activity. Boardwalks from the parking lot allow visitors to access the beach without causing damage to the fragile dunes and beach vegetation. Covered picnic tables overlooking the beach provide a place for family outings.

The park is open for daily use from 8 a.m. to sunset and features tow parking areas and eight covered pavilions. Big Lagoon State Park, just across the bridge on the mainland, is open for camping and hiking.

Walk, Jog or Bike Backcountry Trails

Orange Beach is a great place to explore the 16 miles of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails.

A collaborative effort between the City of Orange Beach, Gulf State Park and property owners along the trail’s alignment, the trails were historically used by the area’s indigenous people as well as explorers and settlers.

With maps available at all trailheads, it’s easy to pick out a few trails to explore.

Along the (all paved) trails you will find restrooms and water fountain, bridges, interpretive signage, bike stands, places to stop and relax and a picnic pavilion.

You might even see a “Lefty” the alligator mom and her three babies along Rosemary Dunes Trail.

And, at the intersection of Cadman Road and Rosemary Dunes Trail is the new Boulder Park, which invites kids to climb on large boulders to enhance coordination, strength and flexibility. Located next to the Pavilion and Butterfly Garden about 1½ miles from the Catman Road Trail, Boulder Park is a favorite of local children.

Play At Waterfront Park

Located a quarter of a mile east of County Road 161 on Canal Road, Waterfront Park is a family park on scenic Wolf Bay.

Amenities include a 400-foot fishing pier with covered pavilions and seating, a bayfront beach, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, a paved walking path and parking.

Enjoy A Round Of Disc Golf

On Canal Road adjacent to the dog-friendly “Unleashed” Dog Park, play a round of disc golf at the City of Orange Beach disc golf course.

The trees, shrubs and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for players. There is no greens fee, and you won’t need a golf cart to enjoy this course. Bring your own discs, though.

Go Boating

The City of Orange Beach purchased Robinson Island and Bird Island in 2003 to preserve them from development. Today, the islands are a sanctuary for birds and wildlife and is used by residents and visitors as a gathering spot.

There are two public boat launches in the city, both of which offer paved parking and are operated by Gulf State Park: Boggy Point Launch at the end of Marina Road off Hwy. 61 and Cotton Bayou Launch on Hwy. 182 just east of the Hwy. 161 intersection.

The Boggy Point launch is the nearest to the Perdido Pass Bridge and is directly adjacent to the main channel with lots of marine traffic.

When visiting Orange Beach, bring the entire family and book a beach house. Or, if it’s a smaller crew, a condo could fill the bill.

Major Amusement Park To Open Near Gulf Shores This Summer

OWA, a 520-acre, $500 million entertainment destination/amusement park, is coming to Foley, Alabama, this summer.

Located just seven miles from the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, the “city within a city” entertainment complex will feature a 14-acre lake; 154,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space; and a 14-acre amusement park with 20 rides (including one major roller coaster).

Italian company Zamperla is providing three of the roller coasters, a number of thrill rides and a range of family attractions for OWA.

One of the coasters will be a clone of the 125-foot-tall looping steel coaster Thunderbolt at New York’s Coney Island, which features a 110-foot vertical lift and four inversions, including a dive loop, a corkscrew and a heart-line roll.

OWA will give vacationers the sense they are strolling the streets of a small Southern town evolving through time.

Distinct districts punctuate the landscaped grounds. Guests strolling around the lake will encounter the Warehouse District, which is made up of larger-scaled structures that appear to have been used for manufacturing or as a train depot. These structures are meant to evoke the image of historic buildings in Foley and at OWA will house shops and dining establishments.

As guests continue around the lake, they will come upon Main Street, where they may shop for homemade goods and apparel, enjoy a cup of coffee at the coffee shop, or taste delicious candy at the candy store.

At the edge of town is a city park and the amusement park area, where guests will find everything from carnival rides and games to thrilling roller coasters and other major attractions.

All along the way are benches or structures to relax beside the water. There’s even an island in the center of the lake to unwind and enjoy the scenery.

Future plans call for the addition of an indoor/outdoor waterpark with attached hotel and resort-level RV Park.

OWA is adjacent to the Foley Sports Tourism Complex, which is composed of 16 multi-use fields for soccer, lacrosse, football and sand volleyball. The complex also includes a 90,000-square-foot indoor events center for gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball and indoor volleyball tournaments.

A three-bedroom house in Gulf Shores or a three-bedroom condo in Orange Beach would be a perfect spot to call home for a visit to the beaches of the Gulf Coast, area attractions and amusement parks such as OWA.

Best Pools In Gulf Shores

Ask anyone why they like swimming pools, and you’ll get a variety of answers. It’s refreshing. You can exercise without putting stress on your joints and muscles. It’s a great way to relax. It’s fun.

Meyer Vacation Rentals offers more than 1,000 beach condos with pool access in the coastal communities of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key, giving guests the opportunity to take full advantage of the benefits of swimming.

Some of the resort-style pools Meyer guests can enjoy on vacation feature lazy rivers, slides, concession areas and more. In addition, they are often located adjacent to other on-site amenities such as indoor pools, children’s pools, hot tubs, fitness rooms and more.

Here are just a few Meyer beach properties with super fun pools:

Phoenix On The Bay

Phoenix on the BayWith a giant Phoenix mosaic embellishing the bottom, one of Phoenix on the Bay’spools not only offers a refreshing respite, but it is also eye-catching.
This bright, clear pool is surrounded by a slow-moving lazy river that inspires visitors to grab a float and hop in for a relaxing spin around the courtyard.

A twisty yet inviting slide adds a little excitement for kids of all ages. A children’s pool rounds out the options.

Pools are located near amenities such as grilling stations, picnic tables and green spaces.

An indoor pool flanked by floor-to-ceiling glass windows means guests can swim regardless of weather or time of year.

Check availability at Phoenix on the Bay.

Caribe, The Resort

Caribe ResortBeautiful blue water surrounds you atCaribe, The Resort in Orange Beach. The front of the resort-styled property faces the Perdido Pass area, while the back overlooks Old River and the Intracoastal Canal Waterway.

Caribe offers more than 40,000 square feet of pool options: a lazy river, zero entry pools, kids’ pools, layered pools and lots of slides, all of which are surrounded by large comfortable decks and numerous hot tubs.

Check availability at Caribe, The Resort.

Turquoise Place

Turquoise PlaceWith five swimming pools and three indoor hot tubs, there is never a shortage of places at Turquoise Place to enjoy the water.

The complex, located in Orange Beach, features two heated indoor pools, a children’s pool, an outdoor pool and a zero-entry, seasonally heated outdoor pool. In addition, a 450-foot lazy river invites guests to kick back and go with the flow!

A poolside bar and grill offers the convenience of a frosty beverage and a bite to eat at any time.

The lazy river is surrounded by nearly a half an acre of sun deck and is located adjacent to a children’s playground.

Check availability at Turquoise Place.

Phoenix West II

Phoenix West IIWhen you vacation at Phoenix West II in Orange Beach, swimming at one of the pools is a must.

There is a large outdoor pool, an expansive and winding lazy river with a water slide, a children’s pool and a hot tub. An indoor pool provides a perfect break from the sunshine.

Gail F. of Chattanooga, Tennessee, said the pools at Phoenix West II were a big hit with her family. “We needed a large, spacious and comfortable property to accommodate three families. The space was amazing with plenty of room for kids and family. We especially enjoyed the two living areas and dining room. The pools and lazy river were a hit every family member. The beach and weather could not have been more beautiful. Thanks for a lovely respite away from reality. We are definitely coming back!”

Check availability at Phoenix West II.

Oasis At The Wharf

Oasis at the WharfThe Oasis Pool at The Wharf is a tropical paradise in the middle of a main street atmosphere.

There are three pools, including a zero-entry wave pool, a lagoon pool, a children’s area, a lazy river, waterfalls, a whirlpool spa, sandy beaches, a hammock island with rustling palms, and a grill to purchase snacks, meals and cold beverages.

If you’re staying at The Wharf, the Oasis is the perfect way to enjoy a tropical island atmosphere.

Check availability at The Wharf.

Beach Club

Beach ClubA coastal retreat, Beach Club, located in the quiet and scenic Fort Morgan area, spans more than 86 acres of private beaches and natural surroundings. Tucked into those natural surroundings are numerous pools, ranging from those located at your specific complex to those at the Clubhouse.

The Clubhouse pools include a heated indoor pool, where you might pick up a morning fitness class; an outdoor pool heated seasonally during March and April; a children’s pool; and a hot tub.

The Clubhouse is also where you’ll find the spa, the Coast Restaurant, a fitness center, a game room, and more amenities. A daily resort fee provides access to the Clubhouse.

In all, there are four outdoor pools, four hot tubs, and a poolside bar and grill at Beach Club.

Check availability at Beach Club.

50 Years Of Fun In The Sun

Meyer Vacation Rentals has been helping families create forever memories at cool pools across the Gulf Coast since 1967.

Check availability at vacation properties with pool access.

Celebrate Memorial Day at the Beach

boy holding flag on beach

Spend Memorial Day weekend on the Gulf Coast with Meyer Vacation Rentals!

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of summer. Have you found yourself planning family trips and outdoor events? If a long weekend on the beach appeals to your sentiments, then you are not alone. Thousands of sun-hungry visitors and locals alike will flock to the shoreline of area beaches and their corresponding deep waters. Where will your plans take you? If you’re heading to Alabama or the NW Florida Gulf Coast, then we have a few suggestions to add to your itinerary.

Fort Morgan Memorial Day Tribute

We can’t think of a more creative way to spend your Memorial Day holiday than the Memorial Day Tribute at historic Fort Morgan. Go back in time, Monday, May 26, with historical interpreters and live demonstrations throughout the day. You can even participate if you’d like! Historical interpreters, dressed in period uniforms of the United States Army from different eras of the fort’s occupation, will conduct special guided tours of the fortification throughout the day. Also, artillery, small arms, and other demonstrations will show the complexities that have faced the military garrisons at Fort Morgan.

Fort Morgan was built after the War of 1812 but is best known for its part in protecting, or attempting to protect, the Mobile Bay ship channel during the Civil War. On August 5, 1864, when Union Admiral D. G. Farragut led his fleet past the guns of the fort and into the bay with the loss of only one ship, we recall his famous quote of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” The Memorial Day Tribute is from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the fort, located at 51 State Highway 180 West, Gulf Shores, Ala. 36542 (very end of Fort Morgan Road, past the ferry). Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children 6-12. Fort Morgan’s phone number is 251-540-7127 and you can also find more information at their website.

Celebrations at the Wharf

Saturday, May 24 starts the 100 Days of Summer Kick-Off at The Wharf. Celebrated country artist Dylan Scott will perform, starting at 6:30 at Main Street at The Wharf. The Pepsi Beach Ball Drop at 8 p.m. will feature 2,000 inflated beach balls bouncing around throughout the crowd. After the ball drop, the 2014 premier of SPECTRA, The Wharf’s Sound and Light Spectacular will continue the entertainment. And that’s not all! Sunday, May 25 at 7 p.m., classic rock legends Foreigner, Styx and former Eagles member Don Felder will be serenading Orange Beach with their Soundtrack of Summer tour. Bring your family and enjoy the open air amphitheater located waterfront near the Wharf Marina.

The 10th Annual LuluPalooza

Another fun, family-friendly event happening Memorial Day weekend is LuluPalooza. Located right on the Intracoastal Waterway at Lucy Buffet’s famous Lulu’s restaurant, LuluPalooza is always fun and friendly. Details on this event have not been announced, but it will be taking place all-day Saturday, May 24. Lulu brings the best regional funk, blues, soul and rock and roll, so this is a party you won’t want to miss!

Gulf State Park Luau

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

Beach and Waterfront Accommodations

If you’d like to spend Memorial Day weekend somewhere on the Alabama or Florida Gulf Coast, then check out our large selection of vacation rentals including both gulf-front and waterfront condos and beach houses throughout Perdido Key, Fla., Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Fairhope, Ala. We are filling up very fast, so book now for the best selection! We can be reached 24/7 with any questions or concerns at 888-463-8016.

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

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.

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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.

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