Christmas Open House in Gulf Shores

The twinkling lights in stores and on houses, the oversized plastic candy canes and snowflakes attached to the city’s light poles, the wreaths in the windows, the seasonal music in stores and on the radio . . . there’s no mistaking it—it’s Christmas time!

Christmas, holiday, open house, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Santa

Share the holiday cheer with your neighbors at the City of Gulf Shores' Christmas Open House on Thursday, December 1, 2011.

Your entire family is invited to celebrate as a community (whether you are a resident or visitor) when the City of Gulf Shores opens its doors Thursday, December 1 at 6:00 p.m.

You’ll find an abundance of holiday joy spread among four locations, all within walking distance of each other: Gulf Shores Museum, Thomas B. Norton Public Library, Erie Meyer Civic Center and Bodenhamer Recreation Center. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there, joined by some of their elves to help with photo opportunities (bring your camera!) and hand out treats. Whether listening or dancing, you’ll enjoy music by the Mobile Symphony Brass Quintet and Brent Burns. Crafts, stories, and activities such as a moonwalk bounce house will keep the children entertained, and everyone will marvel at the train sets, award-winning gingerbread houses and holiday village.

You can pick up a schedule of entertainment at any of the four locations mentioned above or South Baldwin Community Theater, or you may call 251-968-1172 for more information. And please plan to arrive with a gift to donate to Toys for Tots so that less-fortunate children also may feel the warmth of the holiday season.

Stay informed of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on Facebook and Twitter.

Arctic Express in Lower Alabama

Starting Friday, November 25, you and your little ones can leave Lower Alabama on a magical train ride to see Santa at the North Pole.

Wales West Light Railway, Arctic Express, Christmas, Santa, holiday, children, family

Experience the magic of a ride on the Arctic Express, straight to Santa! Departure from Wales West in Silverhill, Alabama.

The mile-long ride begins at Wales West on America’s only steam-powered, Welsh narrow-gauge railway. The train, Dame Ann, has been transformed into the Arctic Express to help fulfill Santa’s wish to visit with as many children as possible. Families ride past decorated Victorian-style buildings, gardens, woodlands and Lake Victoria, marveling at the million-plus lights that sparkle along the way.

Meeting, visiting and taking pictures with Santa (don’t forget your camera!) is only part of the North Pole experience. Santa’s elves will be busy handing out collectible wooden toy locomotives that can be taken home as is or decorated at the arts and crafts table. The kids may wish to make Christmas cards or an ornament, too, while they are there.

Once the train arrives back in Lower Alabama, everyone gets hot cocoa, a cookie and a candy cane to enjoy—plus on the weekends other special activities will be presented. But that’s not the end of the evening! Jump on a miniature train for a free ride past festive decorations, let the kids go shopping at the Elf Emporium, work off some steam at the playground, and take advantage of even more photo opps at the locomotive wall. Light lunch, dinner and snack foods are served at the café, and many train-related gifts—including Thomas the Tank Engine items—may be purchased at the gift shop.

North Pole transportation is available Fridays 4–9 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 1–9 p.m., and as of December 14, a nightly schedule of 4–9 p.m. is added. It’s a tremendous amount of fun for just $12 per person (no charge for ages 13 months and younger). You’ll find Wales West on County Road 9 in Silverhill—take Highway 59 north to County Road 32 west, then turn north onto County Road 9; the railway is two miles ahead.

Make it an extra-special excursion by bringing your family to the beach for a long weekend! You may find the perfect place for your small family to be a 3-bedroom condo in Fort Morgan. Your larger family will be thrilled with a roomy 4-bedroom house or condo in Orange Beach. For true bonding time, you and your extended family can enjoy staying under one roof with a 6-bedroom house in Gulf Shores.

Stay informed of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on Facebook and Twitter.

Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride!

It may not be a true horse-drawn sleigh as in days of yore, but a real sleigh would require snow—something we don’t see much of here along the Gulf Coast. I don’t know about you, but I’ll opt for a modern, makeshift sleigh rather than the snow!

Hugh Branyon Trail Orange Beach Alabama

Take a modern sleigh ride through the Christmas-themed Hugh Branyon BackCountry Trail, for free on Friday, December 10.

Oh—you may not know what I’m talking about. Let me fill you in:

Tonight in Orange Beach, Alabama, a gift of nostalgia is being offered. When you arrive at City Hall between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m., you will be given a ticket for a sleigh ride. Okay, it may feel more like a hay ride, as you’ll be sitting on benches attached to an open-air trailer pulled by a truck. But when your group is called and you step on the vehicle, let your imagination conjure up a one-horse open sleigh (name that song!), decorated just as you like.

As your sleigh follows the Hugh S. Branyon BackCountry Trail, you’ll discover carolers singing songs of the season, Santa’s workshop in high gear (are you on Santa’s list this year, good or bad?), a lovely Nativity scene and more. A number of schools, churches and businesses are involved to make this a special evening for everyone.

Before and after your excursion through Christmasland, stay warm with hot chocolate and cookies provided by Shipp’s Harbour Grill as you chat with friends old and new.

Your admission fee is simply a nonperishable food item or cash donation for the Christian Service Center. The donations will be put to immediate use to assist those in our communities who are struggling this holiday season and beyond.

So bundle up and bring your family for a taste of an old-fashioned winter gathering. And tell everyone you know to come enjoy the perfect ending to a perfect day (name that song!) during this sure-to-be-popular community event. Need more information? Call City Hall at 251-981-6979 or visit the Orange Beach Community Website.

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 Real Estate on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

THAT’s Not a Sleigh!

Throughout the year, folks brainstorm, make drawings, decide on budgets and assemble their crews for the big night, all with the hope of bringing back the coveted first place awards for the Nautical Night of Lights boat parade in Orange Beach, Alabama, on Friday, December 11.

Nautical Night of Lights and Light Up the Arts - both events Friday, December 11 in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Nautical Night of Lights and Light Up the Arts - both events Friday, December 11 in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Now in its 24th year, the competition seems to grow stronger each December. Awards are given in three categories: sailboat, powerboat 32′ and under, and powerboat 33′ and up. Judging is based on lighting, music, and crew attire – and there is no end to the creativity on these literal parade floats.

You can greet Santa and enjoy the free parade of his escorts along the Intracoastal Canal, beginning at Zeke’s Marina at 5:00 p.m. and moving through Terry Cove at 5:30, Bear Point at 6:30, The Wharf at 7:30, and ending at LuLu’s Homeport Marina at 8:30 p.m. Just pick a time and a location and join the community in this festive event. For more parade information, contact the Chamber at 251-968-7220.

Looking for even more fun to fill the entire evening? The Orange Beach Arts Center is hosting Light Up the Arts to coincide with the parade. Starting at 6:00 p.m., enjoy wine and chili as you admire the wonderful variety of art works on display. Buy a handblown wine glass (use it for your wine that evening!), participate in the live auction, purchase your favorite work of art, and relax to the beautiful Christmas music played by harpist Rose Brueske.

The OBAC is located along the water (26389 Canal Rd., just .3 miles east of Hwy. 161), so just step outside to cheer the parade as it goes by – and at the same time, tap your toes to the music of Top Hat and Jackie.

All proceeds from the evening support educational programs and more at OBAC. For more information regarding Light Up the Arts or the Orange Beach Arts Center, call 251-981-2787.

Let us help you arrange your holiday beach getaway at up to 50% off, give the ideal present of a gift certificate good toward a beach vacation, or plan for your next reunion or family vacation. We look forward to serving your with STAR Treatment!

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