How to Plan The Ultimate Vacation with Alabama Beach Vacation Rentals

As the pandemic has slowed, you’ve finally decided to take that must-needed vacation you’ve put on the back burner for the previous two years. You’re busy planning your stay at in one of our beautiful Gulf Shores vacation rentals, but you’re not exactly sure where to start when it comes to planning your activities, excursions, dining, and nightlife.

The whole purpose of a vacation is to get away, enjoy some new scenery and feel refreshed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We’ve crafted the ultimate guide to help you plan your Gulf Shores vacation rental with ALBVR.

This guide will walk you through our most suggested activities, excursions, and the local’s favorite restaurants, all in one direction so you can sit back and enjoy your vacation once you arrive.

What are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

What Does The Ultimate Gulf Shore Vacation Look Like to You?

Before you start planning your stay at ALBVR, it’s a good idea to sit down and iron out your must-see attractions here in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Maybe you’ve never been to Gulf Shores before and aren’t sure what to plan, or you come every year but haven’t been since the pandemic. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time will you spend in your accommodations?
  • Are you looking for a relaxing vacation or an active vacation?
  • Have you heard of any must-see excursions or restaurants in the Gulf Shores area?

Review your calendar and do your best to book a few things in advance without overloading yourself with too many pre-planned activities. We all know what it’s like to go on vacation, only to arrive at our destination with far too many activities planned. Remember, a holiday is a little more fun when not so scripted!

Top 5 Things to Do In Gulf Shores, Alabama

If you’ve never been to the Gulf Shores before, you’re in for a treat. Below we’ll explore some of our favorite activities and local dining hot spots. Don’t forget to bookmark this blog so you know where to start your planning!

#1 Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park Vacation Spot.

The nearby Gulf State Park is packed with wildlife, and coastal birds, set alongside stunning white beaches and pristine emerald water. You’ll find plenty of lush hiking trails with nine different ecosystems to explore.

In general, the Gulf Shores area is a diverse vacationing spot with the best mix of outdoor activities, amusement parks, dolphin cruises, dining, and more.

#2 Dolphin Cruise Or A Deep Sea Fishing Trip

A favorite activity visitors and long-time residents love is an afternoon dolphin cruise. Grab your day bag and explore the nearby bay on the Gulf of Mexico on an afternoon dolphin cruise.

Your kids will marvel in amazement, and you’ll enjoy the time spent as a family exploring unchartered territories, helping you build memories that last a lifetime. If you’re a large group, Orange Beach Dolphin Cruises should be able to accommodate your special event, or you can always attend one of their regular afternoon cruises.

If you’re looking for more of an adult adventure, you may want to try your luck at some of the many great deep sea fishing in the area.

#3 Show Off Your Golf Game

If you’re looking for the perfect golf getaway, Gulf Shores is the place for you.

A little on the pricier side, we recommend booking one of the less expensive afternoon golf packages like the Pure Palmer at Craft Farms; when you’ve hit your last hole, head up to the 19th Hole and enjoy this picturesque grill with your spouse or favorite players.

#4 Enjoy A Family-Friendly Dining Experience

Friendly Dining Experience

Lucky for you, Gulf Shores is home to some of the best family seafood restaurants that are locally owned and frequented by residents and tourists alike.

Starting with casual fare, try the Beach House Kitchen & Cocktails. You’ll love the vast array of seafood happy hour servicing the best selection of cocktails and lighter bites.


Second on our must-visit dining list is the Fish River Grill. This result is the self-proclaimed funky junky redneck joint, known for the Cajun gator dishes. They’re famous for their Cajun gator bites. The atmosphere here is welcoming to the local crowd, which means it’s one of the best places to grab a bite.

#5 The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Or Waterville Amusement Park

What family doesn’t love a good zoo? Take your family on an afternoon to remember at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. Partake in the extraordinary sloth encounter and discover the world’s slowest furry friend’s attractive lifestyle and habitat details.

If your kids are looking for some waterpark fun, Waterville Amusement Park is a staple attraction. Located approximately 1/4 mile from Gulf Shores beach, the amusement park is in the heart of Gulf Shores and offers easy access for a whole day of fun. Choose from the waterpark or amusement park; you can’t go wrong.


Your time spent here in Gulf Shores will be a time to be remembered. Soon you’ll be itching to come back for more of our pristine beaches, beautiful nature and hiking spots, and those infamous golf courses dad just can’t peel himself away from.

We hope you love it here as much as we do!

Comment below, and tell us your favorite activity to do while in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Top 5 Off The Beach Activities In Gulf Shores And Orange Beach

The beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are absolutely gorgeous. The aquamarine water hits the pure, white sandy as the sun beams down on the coast. It’s truly a gorgeous sight to see. But, let’s be real, you don’t want to spend your entire vacation sitting on the beach. You’ll want to find other things to do.

Well, you’re in luck! The Gulf Coast of Alabama offers plenty of attractions, some giving you a whole new view of nature, and others giving you fun for the whole family. Whatever you are looking for, you’ll find plenty to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Sure, the beaches and the wildlife preserves of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have plenty of fun critters to see, but do they have a kangaroo? Voted by patrons as the number 1 zoo in Alabama, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo provides guests with a number of animal experiences from the truly wild to the truly exotic.

With over 112 species on display, 22 of which are endangered, you won’t be disappointed by the options that the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has. Furthermore, for a little bit more, you can upgrade your experience to have one on one experiences with kangaroos, lemurs, and sloths! And, unlike many zoos and attractions of the sort, parking is completely free!

Outer Limits VR Game Room

Maybe you are looking for something a little more high-tech. With VR technology at a new height of popularity, everyone will have a blast at Outer Limits VR Game Room. Each game experience lasts for 8 to 10 minutes and will cost about $12 a play (though upgrades are available to make the per-game price cheaper). With over 35 games to play, hours of fun can be had at the Outer Limits VR Game Room, where fully immersive entertainment is the norm.

Just bear in mind, there is a 44” height requirement and a 300-pound weight limit on all rides, and the rides are first come first serve, and cannot be reserved.

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Maybe you want more time in nature, but you just want a change of scenery from the beach? The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail provides over 15 miles of trails, with 7 distinct trails taking you through 6 different ecosystems. On the trails, you are likely to see White-Tailed Deer, Alligators, and even Bobcats, and with a butterfly garden and primitive campsites spread all over the park, you’ll find that you can enjoy an afternoon, a day, or even several days on the Backcountry Trails.

Waterville USA

Want to stay cool and experience great thrills? Try the 20-acre amusement park known as Waterville USA. A multitude of thrilling water slides, 17 to be exact, can be enjoyed, or you can lounge around on the lazy river. Tired of being wet? Air-dry yourself with the go-karts! Want to get out of the sun and give your brain a little test? Give the Escape House a test!

The park is generally open from noon to 8 PM and will cost you about $33 per person. You can rent your own private cabana for a little more (good for up to 8 people), and there are 5 different dining experiences with beverages for refreshing and food for nourishing.

The Wharf

The beach will make you hungry, and the sun will make you hot. Take a break from all of that with great shopping and great food in an air-conditioned environment. The Wharf provides some great local shopping with all kinds of charming mom-and-pop shops. The Ginny Lane Bar and Grill is a great spot for seafood at lunch or dinner, or you can enjoy some fine wine at Red or White.

However, outside of the restaurants and shops, there are some great attractions as well. The aforementioned Outer Limits VR Room is in this area, but you can also find, and ride, the tallest Ferris Wheel in the southeast, enjoy laser tag and bazooka ball at Arena: The Next Level Arcade, or enjoy some fun photo ops at the Selfie Museum! While the beaches are nice, there is way more to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach than just beaches.

Shop ’til You Drop In These Orange Beach Shopping Areas!

Orange Beach has been a popular shopping destination for quite a long time. And with the current supply of shopping malls, shops, and outlet stores, shopping has become nearly as popular a pastime as lazing on the beach. What does the Orange Beach shopping scene have that makes it so popular among shoppers? There is one word that describes it best: variety.

Whether you are interested in buying the latest trendy duds, discount shoes, unique artwork, or souvenirs and shells, you will find it in Orange Beach. On top of that, there are also lots of smaller, local stores that offer everything from fun and eccentric to fashionable, elegant, and refined. The opportunities to window shop (and buy) in Orange Beach and the nearby Gulf Shores are truly endless.

The brief introduction below should give you a good idea of what to expect from the Orange Beach shopping scene when you embark on a vacation to Alabama’s Gulf Coast this summer

The Wharf Shopping Mall

At the Wharf you can not only pamper yourself with a fresh hairstyle, rejuvenating spa treatment, or a massage at a variety of salons and spas, if you are desperately in need of a little retail therapy you will have more than enough opportunity at the Wharf. There are many unique stores and boutiques, so you should have no problem finding something that genuinely excites you. Shopping opportunities at the Wharf include birthday gifts, sports gear, and home decor. This shopping center is situated on Canal Road.

Sanroc Cay

Sanroc Cay is literally bursting with shopping opportunities. The courtyard is the ideal destination for tired moms who need some retail therapy. But there’s also more than enough to keep the dads happy. The variety is amazing, from a luxury spa to gifts and home accessories, jewelry, shoe boutiques, and clothing stores.

The Emporium

If you are desperately searching for one-of-a-kind souvenirs to take home to your less fortunate family members and friends who could not join you in Orange Beach, this is a great option. At the Emporium, you will be able to buy truly unique gift baskets with Orange Beach and Alabama memorabilia. Apart from these. there are also a good variety of locally manufactured jewelry, beautiful purses, and sports jerseys.

This charming shopping location will take care of all your apparel needs. If you would like to buy a one-of-a-kind swimsuit that will forever remind you of this magical travel destination, there is no need to look any further than Private Gallery. While you are there, why not match that with the right kind of flip-flops, sunglasses, and other accessories? You will walk out feeling like a celebrity and when you show your purchases to your loved ones back home, they are bound to envy you.

Souvenir City of Orange Beach

This long-time favorite Orange Beach shopping destination offers everything you can possibly think of – made into a local souvenir. The list includes beach toys and beachwear. The isles here are wide so there’s more than enough space to walk without bumping into fellow shoppers all the time. Online reviews also indicate that the prices here are quite reasonable and that they always clearly mark items that are on sale.

Beach Jerky

At this Orange Beach shopping location you have a choice of more than 100 different types of specialty craft jerky products from all over the United States. Do you have a taste for exotic jerky? You will find it here. There’s also beef, buffalo, alligator, deer, wild boar, elk, salmon, and ahi tuna to mention just a few. If your family and friends are jerky lovers, these will form wonderful gifts for any (or all) of them.


Start Your Day With A Breakfast On These Orange Beach Restaurants.

Picture it. You’ve woken up bright and early, before the sun even, so you can get to the beach and watch the sunrise over the gulf. It’s a beautiful sight, quiet and peaceful, with cascades of oranges, yellows, and the occasional purple shining on the endless ocean. Maybe you’ve even taken in some early morning fishing, and now your cooler is filled with dinner for when you return to your vacation rental later that night. Either way, it’s beautiful, peaceful, and perfect.

And then your belly rumbles, interrupting the early morning quiet. It’s time to satisfy that appetite. But where should you go? Don’t worry! Orange Beach has some great options to satisfy that freshly awoken hunger.

The Southern Grind Coffee House at The Wharf

You need food being up this early, sure, but you’re going to need something else to fuel all your adventures later in the day (because the Gulf Coast of Alabama offers a lot of places to visit). You may even be the ‘don’t even talk to me till I’ve had my coffee’ type. Well, how about a place that makes their own coffee?

The Southern Grind Coffee House at the Wharf is a top-tier place to kick your morning off. Not only can you enjoy fresh, homemade coffee (as well as lattes and cappuccinos), but you can also enjoy the waffles that various patrons rave about. The Southern Grind Coffee House also boasts some amazing pastries, so the biscuits are also a must-try. Open for breakfast from 7 AM to 11 AM, 7 days a week, The Southern Grind Coffee House is a delightful way to start your day. You may even be so impressed that you stop there again for lunch, which many a visitor to Orange Beach has been lured into before. There are also a multitude of vegan and vegetarian options if that is what you need.

BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets

While on the subject of coffee, there are other options to get your roasted bean caffeine fix, and some of them are downright fun options. Enter BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets! Making a strong, but reasonable, claim as being one of the best breakfast locations in all of Alabama, BuzzCatz is satisfied to just offer one really good menu. From 7 AM to 11 AM, every day, BuzzCatz offers daily deals to entice all kinds of tastebuds into the door. Waffle Wednesday, where a savory Belgian Waffle is served with creole gravy is absolutely wonderful, and the breakfast burrito and quesadilla on Tortilla Tuesday will definitely leave you satisfied.

The best part is how cheap BuzzCatz is. The daily breakfast specials are sometimes as low as $5. Patrons definitely rave about the sweet treats, especially the cookies, but there are many an Alabaman who will fight you over BuzzCatz having the best breakfast, especially for the price.

The coffee also gets rave reviews, so get your morning buzz on with BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets!

Brick & Spoon Orange Beach

Who says breakfast can’t be a little fancy? If you are looking for something a bit more trendy, but still with some down-home, Southern creole fare, you should check out the Brick & Spoon in Orange Beach. Serving up classic, lowland Southern cuisine with a little bit of that creole kick, the Brick & Spoon is consistently praised for their variations on eggs benedict, including an Oyster Benedict, a lovely way to wake up with some of that ocean salt.

Open at 7 AM and closed at 2 PM, the Brick & Spoon has great service, great food, and a cozy environment that will make you feel at home, but with food that feels like it is coming out of a five-star restaurant.

Orange Beach has lots of options to satisfy your breakfast cravings, and while these three are excellent, you’ll find many options to satisfy your early morning palette.

Summer Vacation!

Plan Your Summer Vacation Here In Orange Beach Or Gulf Shores, AL.

The Summer is here, and for many couples and families, it is time to start thinking about a vacation. But where are you going to go? The beach sounds like a fun way to spend your summer, lounging in the sand, soaking up the rays, enjoying water sports and fishing, or even just being lazy with a refreshing beverage in your hands. But where do you go? Florida can be overcrowded, Hawaii is so expensive, and some beaches just don’t seem…sanitary to lounge on.

You’ve maybe not thought about it before, but a hidden gem when it comes to summer vacations on the beach is Orange Beach and Gulf Shore Alabama. With beautiful beaches, lots of fun things to do, award-winning food, and lovely, affordable vacation rentals that will make you feel like you live in the absolute lap of luxury.

The Beaches

White sandy beaches spread out for miles, the type of soft sand that cradles you like millions of tiny pillows. All kinds of wildlife can be seen, from dolphins to stingrays to blue crabs to sea turtles, and the coziness of the beaches will make it hard not to dose off as you catch those rays (just remember your sunscreen). There are also plenty of charter boats that will take you out on fishing and dolphin-watching excursions.

The Nature Preserves

Want to enjoy nature, but want a break from the beach? You don’t have to go far. Orange Beach has a massive wildlife management program with all kinds of hiking and biking trails for the outdoorsmen and women in you. From Alligator Alley to Gulf Park’s Nature Center, if you want to get out in the wild, Orange Beach and Gulf Shore have plenty for you, and in the summertime, the critters may be particularly active.

The Food

One of the most wonderful things about Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, Alabama is the mixture of fresh seafood and Southern cuisine. From creole to lowlands cooking, you’ll find some of the finest delicacies the south can offer.

From delectable waffles at The Southern Grind Coffee House and outstanding eggs benedict at the Brick & Spoon to fresh seafood from Latrigue Seafood Market and wonderful Cajun offerings at Louisiana Lagniappe, there are a plethora of dining options that are well-reviewed, award-winning, and beloved by visitors and locals alike. The Flora-Bama Lounge, a charming little watering hole and live music venue, is a staple in the community and has a history going back to 1964!

The Shopping

You’re probably going to want to take a break from all that sun at some point, and a nice, air-conditioned store can be a welcome reprieve from the heat. With that said, it’s always nice when the shopping breaks actually provide great shopping, which the Gulf Shore and Orange Beach region can provide.

If you are looking to shop local, The Wharf is a wonderful spot for health and beauty, jewelry, clothing, and all kinds of wonderful wares that local merchants are offering at reasonable prices.

If doing your shopping on a marina sounds up your alley, Sanroc Cay has some great local shops to enjoy, and you may even catch a professional fishing tournament or a pod of dolphins while you shop.

The Vacation Rentals

Of course, you’re going to have to think about where you are going to stay. Forget the hotels and get yourself a vacation rental. Entire homes and condos can be rented, on the beach, for pennies on the dollar. You can live a life of pure bliss and luxury for the price of a standard hotel or even a motel. Don’t crowd your entire family into a single room for a week. Enjoy a full home or condominium for a similar price. Most of the vacation rentals are also conveniently placed near major golf courses and other major attractions, so the convenience alone makes this worthwhile. So, as you plan your summer vacation, just think about all the wonderful things you can enjoy in Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, Alabama.

Top 4 Golf Courses along the Alabama Gulf Coast

Ace Your Golfing Skills on These Top 4 Golf Courses in Alabama’s Gulf Coast  

Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a popular vacationing spot for its white-sand beaches, scenic trails, and unique wildlife reserves. Unbeknownst to many, it’s also home to world-class golf courses, some of which are frequented for their breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. And no matter your level of experience, you’ll find an array of holes designed for both the experienced golfer and fun-loving adventurer.

Kiva Dunes Public Golf Course  

Kiva Dunes is an 18-hole, award-winning course rated the number one public golf course in Alabama in 2017 and given 5 stars by Golf Advisor and Golf Pass. Being on the Fort Morgan peninsula of Gulf Shores, its main attraction is the fact that it’s a natural beach golf course with balmy winds, white sand dunes, and 7,100 yards of play area for the avid golfer.

It’s great for those looking for a relaxing experience, as the course’s design is very forgiving to those who’re just getting started. It ensures that you finish feeling as though you had a great experience despite your score, harnessing the spirit of the game and location. If this entices you, be sure to check out the signature Par 3-5 holes, including the Par 4, 9th hole!

Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club  

This course is peculiar for its three 9-hole courses: the Marsh, Lakes, and Cypress course. Each offers a unique experience from the other as well as differing challenges. The 7,000-yard course underwent renovations, which makes it more accommodating to golfers of all skill levels. What’s more, it’s group-friendly, handicap accessible, and offers free parking to the public.

A big downside is that this course is a part of a club and therefore newcomers may be limited in what they can do and when they can do it. There should be no problem getting into the game itself otherwise, as this course is rated favorably by Golf Digest as one of the “most memorable and enjoyable” courses in the Southeast.

Craft Farms Golf Club 

Craft Farms Golf Club brings a golfing adventure to the public that embodies the beauty of the coast in its design. It features a 36-hole layout, that’s two golf courses just minutes away from Gulf Shores! Both courses provide a challenge with balanced Par 3-5s and a collection of hazards that’ll make you rethink your choice of club and speed.

The cotton creek course is 7,000 yards, a thrilling 4-star course according to Golf Digest, and accented with gentle hills, peaceful lakes, and lush oak trees. It’s geared towards low handicappers, but playable for all under certain conditions.

The cypress bend course, on the other hand, received 4.5 stars from Golf Digest. This 6,800-yard course captures the appeal of coastal golfing better than its sister with its wide layout, stretched white sand bunkers, and seemingly endless views of the water.

Gulf Shores Golf Club  

Gulf Shores Golf Club is an award-winning course and the first ever established in the Gulf Shore area. And though there’s an attached golf club, the public is welcome to putt. You can do so as a vacationer on this course’s 18-hole, classic layout. It’s open 7-days a week, so you won’t feel the pressure of squeezing it into your vacation schedule. However, the practice area is reserved for members only, and those who wish to observe will be charged a cart fee.

But unlike most courses on the list, this course is built for a challenge. If this seems like the perfect place to putt, remember that golf clubs usually have a separate tee time for their members and the public and you’ll likely need to book a time rather than walk in. So be sure to plan ahead!

Top Fishing Sites – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach.

Fishing Trip? Try These 3 Fishing Sites in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach 

Nothing’s better than coastal catches in the Gulf: you could be casting off the side of a boat, braving the vast waters, witnessing a variety of aquatic life underneath you that you can’t find inland. Or surf fishing on white sandy beaches, enjoying a panoramic view of the sea, surf, and sunset.

With miles of shoreline for marine activities, both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach draw in such a large crowd of experienced fishermen from all year round, you’re bound to return with the perfect catch to brag about back home. The question is where to cast your line.

The Wharf Marina in Orange Beach  

The Wharf Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama is Gulf Shore’s largest nautical site facility for fishermen and boaters. Packed with restaurants, bars, shopping, and event spaces, the Wharf is built for the sojourner’s convenience. And since it’s a marina, you can get services like fishing tours, long and short-term slip rentals for deep-water excursions, fishing supplies, and boating essentials from nearby shops.

The Wharf is also home to the most prominent sportfishing tournaments in the Gulf, the most popular sportfishing tournament of them all being the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Series. It’s a multi-tournament group competition that takes place along the Gulf Coast annually between May and July.

This is appealing for those familiar with handling billfish like spearfish, swordfish, and marlin. And for those wanting a relaxing fishing experience, they’ll be glad to know that the tournament is overall lighthearted and designed for fun; All fish are released immediately after.

Gulf State Park Fishing and Education Pier  

You can find both freshwater and saltwater fishing at Gulf State Park Pier. The lakes there – Lake Shelby, Middle Lake, and Little Lake – offer freshwater fish like catfish, bream, and bass. But before you go, you’ll need a freshwater or saltwater license, which you can purchase online. If deep water fishing is what you want, Lake Shelby and Lake Middle have ramps that you can use for a small fee.

The park is home to more than just fishing, though, as the name suggests. The ‘education’ part of the name refers to the informational signs regarding the native birds and aquatic life, including warning signs about alligator sightings. Please remember to review Gulf State Park’s Wildlife Safety Recommendations for how to stay safe while there.

The pier itself is grand, with comfort stations at the midway point, wheelchair-accessible rail fishing, rod/reel rentals, and daily fishing permits attached to daily parking pass purchases. It’s home to the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico, after all: an impressive 1,540 feet, which stands over large king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, ladyfish, and bluefish populations.

Moreover, it makes room for over 2,000 feet of fishing space, which means there are quite a few kinds of fish to find in several areas. Local anglers advise bringing more than a single change of tackle. Luckily there are bait and tackle shops nearby. Just be careful if you’re new to saltwater fishing: some saltwater fish there are known to bite!

Fort Morgan Fishing Adventures  

Fort Morgan sits at the westmost tip of Gulf Shores. It’s an ancient piece of history that’s surrounded by shores, which makes way for plenty of marine activities. If considering a beach rental, not only can you experience fishing at Fort Morgan in several ways, it’ll be more convenient to travel to and from and thus open up additional space in your vacation schedule.

You should know Dixie Bar and Navy Cove are hot spots for Redfish, though if you’re looking for a quieter place away from Mobile Bay’s ship channel, Navy Cove is recommended. The Cove is east facing South Bank and is serviceable for kayak and canoe fishing. For spotted seatrout, the shore at Fort Morgan’s fishing beach provides a scenic view of the Gulf as well as some traditional surf fishing. Look to your east and you’ll see Fort Morgan, where additional boat and kayak ramps are. But don’t forget about Fort Morgan Fishing Marina along South Bank. Charter fishing services are available for those looking for deep-sea catches.

Feel Like A “Local” While Exploring These Destinations In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Gulf Shores Beach

The Gulf Coast is an underrated stretch of beach that can provide a multitude of fun destinations for families or young couples, depending on what you are looking for. Along this beautiful stretch of white, sandy beaches are the two largest coastal cities in Alabama, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Only 15 minutes from each other, there is a lot of destinations to be found for anyone looking. But what do the locals do, and what is guaranteed to be a good time? Take a look at these local options to decide what is worth your time and what might be wasting your time.

Restaurants and Lounges Destinations

Okay, first things first, how do you start your day if you are in the Orange Beach or Gulf Shores area? Well, thankfully, there are two wonderful destinations for breakfast. Open at 7 AM, you could check out the highly-rated Southern Grind Coffee House. Not only does this little local spot make their own coffee (that you can buy in bags), but they offer all the classic Southern breakfasts favorites, like biscuits and gravy.

Also well-reviewed is Buzzcatz Coffee and Sweets, a cute little coffee shop with a lively, fun decor that some have called the best breakfast in Alabama. Super affordable with lots of weekly specials, the cinnamon rolls at Buzzcatz come highly recommended.

Now, when it comes to lunch and dinner destinations, let’s be real. You’re on the coast, and you’re going to want good seafood. Lartigue’s Seafood Market is a great option for some delicious, really fresh seafood, and the tuna dip and the gumbo are absolute must-tries. If you are looking for a bit more of a cajun flavor, Louisiana Lagniappe will also give you some wonderful, fresh seafood with a little bit of that bayou heat. People rave about the blackened grouper, so maybe give that a look.

If you are looking for a destination that is a bit more non-traditional, Blue Water Charters offers a 6-hour lunch cruise where the captain of the vessel will grill you up burgers, sausages, and hot dogs while you revel in the dunes of Robinson Island. It’s a little pricey at $875 for a group of 6, but a cookout on an island in the gulf is going to provide hours of memories.

Finally, if you are looking for a party destination, check out The Hangout. The food is good, with simpler fare from burgers to po’boys to seafood, and there are a bunch of fun frozen drinks for the adults, but what makes this place really fun is all of the events. Live music, outdoor games, foam parties, and more, The Hangout is dining with attitude.

If drinks are what you are looking for, The Flora-Bama Lounge has been a local favorite since 1964. With five stages for local music, craft drinks, and delicious food, The Flora-Bama Lounge is a great spot for mommies and daddies after the children have gone to sleep.

Nature, Beaches, and Attractions

So, now you have an idea of what to eat, but what other destinations have things to do? Well, there are lots. A close walk to a lot of the restaurants is the expansive Gulf Shores Public Beach. Recently renovated, the miles of sandy white beach is perfect for a day of fun in the sun, and there is even a recently built playground for the kiddies. If you are looking for something less crowded, though, Lagoon Pass can be a great spot, especially if you love hermit crabs.

The Wharf is a wonderful spot for shopping and eating, so if you are looking for some time out of the sun, the shops, restaurants, and bars of The Wharf provide a nice relief from the heat.

If you are looking for hiking and biking, the Hugh S. Branson Backcountry Trails are a great place to get in touch with nature. With miles of trails for walking and biking and a plethora of wildlife, from alligators to tortoises to an assortment of birds, the Hugh S. Branson Backcountry is most beloved for how well maintained the trails and facilities are.

Charter boats are also a big attraction in the Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, and the one that is so popular it sells out fastest is the Orange Beach Dolphin Eco Boat. This hour and a half boat trip will take you to the local dolphin pod, where as many as 50 to 70 dolphins will get up close and personal with you.

These are just a few examples of some of the great destinations that wait for you on your trip to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, but take some of these examples and really live like an Alabama local.

4 Things You Should Know About Mardi Gras in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL

“Laissez bons temps rouler”, or, if you don’t speak French, let the good times roll! On Alabama’s Gulf Coast, most people are always down for a good party, and Mardi Gras is the ultimate party of parties! While many people might think of New Orleans when they think of Mardi Gras, real Alabamians know that Alabama is the home (Mobile, specifically) of this festive, colorful celebration. In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL, there are plenty of good times to be had. So, here are a few tips you should know when planning your Mardi Gras trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL.

The Parade and the Traffic

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach both have their own parades on Fat Tuesday, March 1st, and the good news is you can make it to both if you want. The Gulf Shores parade starts at 10 AM, with regular traffic resuming around 11 AM. The Orange Beach parade starts at 2 PM, with roads closing down around 1 PM. With Gulf Shores and Orange Beach being only about 15 minutes apart from one another, the window between streets closing and parades starting gives you two hours to get to your spot, or you can always take advantage of ride-sharing like Uber (which might make things easier, as the roads in Orange Beach can stay closed up to 4 PM on parade days).

Both parades are must-see, as the revelers will be tossing everything from doubloons and beads to the Alabama favorite, the Moon Pie! If the earlier parades aren’t fitting your schedule, then you can enjoy the Mystics of Pleasure parade in Orange Beach on Feb. 26th at 5:30 PM or

The LuLu’s Mardi Gras Anniversary & Boat Parade in Gulf Shores on March 1st at 4 PM.

His Royal Highness, King Cake

While you are letting the good times roll, make sure to experience a wonderful treat known as the King Cake! This seasonal, sugary, delectable pastry is served between Jan. 6th (Three Kings Day) and Fat Tuesday. The classic Kings Cake is a cinnamon pastry, but other flavors like praline and cream cheese have become quite popular as well. The thing these cakes have in common is the wonderful, yet almost clownish color scheme of green and purple. However, people don’t just eat this cake in order to enjoy its decadent flavors; legend has it that, if you find a plastic baby in your King Cake, you’ll have good luck all year. Rouse’s in Gulf Shore is particularly well known for its King Cake, so swing by and have a slice or 3!

Kid-Friendly Options

When most people think of Mardi Gras, they think of debauchery and drunkenness, but that is not all the celebration has to offer, and in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, there are plenty of kid-friendly, family-friendly options to be enjoyed. For starters, the Fat Tuesday parades are great for all ages. Not only that, but in Orange Beach, you can head down to The Wharf for Moon pies On Main! Not only will you experience that above-mentioned Southern sweet treat, but also petting zoos and even a pet parade!

Adult Options

Let’s not kid ourselves, though. Mardi Gras was started as a final celebration of rich foods and good drinks before the days of fasting came. You have nothing to worry about there: Gulf Shores has you covered. The LuLu’s Mardi Gras Anniversary & Boat Parade is not just a fun parade: it’s a celebration of the anniversary of LuLu’s Restaurant! LuLu’s has some amazing seafood, a full bar serving up some excellent Margaritas and craft beer, and live music almost every night. Once the parades are over and the night has come, get your decadence on and enjoy the moonlight breeze from the ocean! These are just a few suggestions of how Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, AL can make your Mardi Gras a great time!

Best places for you & your dogs on Alabama’s Beaches!

Plan on getting away to an awesome vacation rental on the beach?  We all need a break from this virus.  Concerned about a clean rental?  You’re probably wondering if you can bring your furry friends along if you rent a condo for the week?  Well, you don’t have to look any further.. Yep, Alabama Vacation Rentals has your back!  However, It is important to note that the beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach each have ordinances against dogs on the beach. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to leave your best friends behind while you visit our beaches.

The City of Gulf Shores has a dog park where you can let your four-legged friends run and play. The Hugh S. Branyon Trail is also pet friendly and includes a dog park at the southwest edge of Middle Lake.  So there are plenty of places for your pets to run and have a good time.  Both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are excellent places to vacation with your pet!

Another destination that we need to mention is the Fort Morgan peninsula. Located just west of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan is in an unincorporated zone of Gulf Shores and does not have a pet ordinance, so you can have your dogs on the beach. Obviously, it’s very important that you tend to and clean up after your dogs for everyone’s comfort and safety.

Many dog owners love the idea of having their dogs by their side as the explore our beautiful beachside communities. So, with a little planning and understanding of the rules, you can bring your best friend along on your next beachside vacation.  Alabama Vacation Rentals wants to help you make your beach vacation with your pet come true!  If you have any questions, please feel free to Contact Us today!

5 Instagram Spots in Gulf Shores

Your Vacation Rental

Get the postcard of your dreams from your very own vacation rental in Gulf Shores. You’ll post pics of the places you’re visiting, so why not give your followers a glimpse of where you’re staying?

Gulf Shores is a place of sun, sand, history, and fun. You’ll be an Insta-hit as your Instagram followers fawn over your feed. Mara Ashford lives for adventure. She has traveled to 56 countries (and counting!), climbing every mountain and kayaking every river she found along the way. She shares her passion for the great outdoors with the world through her photos and writing

By Mara Ashford

Looking to up your Instagram? Focus on Gulf Shores, a glittering gem on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, with plenty of places to make your feed pop. The beaches, of course, are picture-perfect, but you want more than beautiful sunrises and sunsets and white sand.  

We’re here for you with our picks for the five most awesome Instagram spots in Gulf Shores. A fun fact before we get started: Gulf Shores is one of the fastest-growing cities in Alabama. People love the mild weather, white sand beaches with turquoise water, and a lower cost of living than other parts of the country.

Now, onto the list….

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Picture yourself getting up close and personal with the animals at the zoo made famous on “Animal Planet.” The show captured the zoo’s survival story after the staff was forced to mount the first off-site evacuation of zoo animals in the U.S. ahead of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

“The Little Zoo That Could” captures the zoo’s survival story and relocation to a larger, safer location further inland. The new 25-acre site houses more than 600 animals. The entrance on its own is Insta-worthy. From the parrots’ brilliant plumage to the sloths’ adorable antics, you’ll have plenty of pictures to post. 

Ft. Morgan Historic Site

Add a little history to your Insta-feed. At the tip of Scenic Ft. Morgan Peninsula, you’ll find plenty of scenery with a rich past.

Construction on Ft. Morgan started more than 200 years ago. It played a crucial part in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War in 1864. The U.S. military also used it during the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. It became a historic site in 1946 after the U.S. government ceded it to Alabama. If history isn’t your thing, head to the white sand beaches or visit the wildlife areas. This is an excellent spot for bird watching, and the dunes and marshes make for unique photos.

Gulf State Park Beaches

You’ll find 3.5 miles of beautiful beaches stretching before you here. Access the public beach at the Beach Pavillion, which is a pretty picture on its own.

Hit the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail to explore the 6,150 acres of the park. It takes you through the nine different ecosystems within the park, with photo ops in every direction. Get there early if you want pristine, people-free pictures on the beach.

Gulf State Park Pier

This is the second-longest pier on the Gulf Coast and Alabama’s only public pier. Hurricane Sally did heavy damage here in September 2020, but the pier is partially open again for fishing and photographs.

If you don’t want to drop a line, you can watch the fish swim by. From May through October, sea turtles nest and lay eggs on the sandy shores, and the pier is a great place to see them in the water. From fall through spring, the pier is one of the best sunset spots in Gulf Shores.

Fall will soon be here!

Fall is an excellent time of the year where everything cools down just a wee bit.  The evenings make you want to just sit out on your vacation rental balcony with your favorite beverage and watch the sun set!  What a GREAT time to be lounging on the beach in your vacation rental!  Can’t you just image YOU sitting on this balcony?  You need this and FAST!!  In this time of extreme stress, we all need a little get-a-way.  Alabama Beach Vacation Rentals has your back!  You can also save money by booking direct through our website.  Some other booking companies charge you high fees to use their services.  Not at Alabama Beach Vacation Rentals.  We care about you having a really good vacation and not having to spend extra money to do so!

Come visit the beautiful Gulf Coast!  The beaches at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are simply amazing!  If you are looking for things to do while you are resting at one of our many vacation rentals, you can take a peek here by clicking on this link:  THINGS TO DO

Here is just a few of the events that are scheduled for the fall.  Of course, all events are subject to change and you must abide by all state laws concerning Covid-19.  Let us know if you have any questions.  Simply Contact Us today!


  • Labor Day Weekend Celebration – O.W.A. – Sept. 5,
  • Sweetest Chefs – an “EAT-YALL” Signature Event – Sept. 18-20, 2020
    The Wharf in Orange Beach

  • Bama Coast Crusin‘ – Sept. 24-26, 2020
    The Wharf in Orange Beach

  • 20/20 Vision Fall Tour with Def Leppard and ZZ Top – Sept. 28, 2020
    The Wharf Amphitheater

  • 13th Annual Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Weekend – Nov. 6-7-20
    The Hangout

  • 2020 Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show – Nov. 16-17, 2020
    National Museum of Naval Aviation

Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura roared into Louisiana yesterday as a strong category 4 hurricane and left a path of destruction that will be felt for years to come. As residents of a coastal community, we know the pain that comes with the storms all too well. The mantra here is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We watched both Hurricane’s Marco and Laura because we were in the path when the initial models were first released. Another saying in our community is that you never wish the storm onto anybody. The weather shifted both storms away from our coast and further to the west. Now, those communities to our west are left in a wake of destruction. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those that felt the impact of either storm. If you’re interested in helping with recovery, here are some links that may be helpful:

Covid-19 Update: 4-28-20

Governor Ivey held a press conference today at 11 a.m. and announced that the current “Shelter at Home” order will expire on Thursday, April 30 at 5 p.m. She created a new order that is called “Safer At Home”. Here are some of the new guidelines that will go into effect on April 30:

  • Beaches will re-open with social distancing guidelines in place.
    • No gatherings of more than 10 people and must keep a 6 foot distance from one another (if you’re with people outside of your household).
    • She emphasized that mayors of the coastal communities have committed to enforcing these guidelines.
  • Retail establishments can re-open with 50% occupancy.
  • Restaurants will remain take-out, delivery and curbside pick-up only.

More details on the above “Safer At Home” order can be found at WRBL’s (Montgomery) site:  Here is the official link to her announcement, including a FAQ on beach guidelines:

We’ll continue to keep you posted as we get more details. Hopefully, by allowing our beaches to re-open, it will stimulate guest bookings. This is a good first step in re-opening our economy.

Covid-19 Local Update 4-21-20

This is a Covid-19 local update from ALBVR: Alabama is beginning to plan the re-opening of restaurants, businesses, and the beaches. They have assembled a task force to discuss the appropriate action. The City of Gulf Shores shared recommendations with that task force. Governor Ivey has not released any plans concerning Covid-19 re-opening, but, as soon as this information becomes available, we will post it on this blog. But, the idea that we are investigating how to re-open Alabama and get back to some level of normalcy is encouraging! We hope that everyone is safe and well at home. We will keep you in informed of any updates as we get them. You can see those updates through our mailing list and this blog. Please read the condensed information below from the city of Gulf Shores.

Recommendations on Reopening Local Businesses and Beaches from the City of Gulf Shores.

Officials are presently discussing plans on how to safely restart our country’s economy. So, the city of Gulf Shores began similar conversations with Governor Ivey’s office, along with the Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force Subcommittee. Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth appointed this subcommittee. Senator Chris Elliott joined the discussions on how Alabama can begin to recover while remaining diligent. The city of Gulf Shores provided our recommendations to these discussions yesterday, after a lengthy discussion with State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris. The discussions included specific issues related to safely opening our beaches and our local tourism economy.

It is our belief that we must collectively develop a gradual and measured approach that can evolve as needed. This might include requiring businesses to reopen under modified conditions, because we are concerned for people’s safety. We must all adapt to a “new normal”. Many of our local businesses, their employees and their families are barely hanging on. Their future is uncertain and federal business assistance programs are now out of money. It appears that the only chance of survival for our local businesses is for all of us to find a way to safely move forward together.

Below are the specific recommendations the city of Gulf Shores has provided subject to continued improvements related to COVID-19.

Small Businesses and Food and Beverage Establishments

May 1: All small businesses previously closed can reopen. Food and beverage establishments may offer on-premise consumption subject to social distancing guidelines as set by the State Health Officer. 

Medical and Dental Offices

May 1: All medical and dental offices previously closed can reopen. Elective procedures may resume subject to social distancing guidelines set by the State Health Officer.


May 1: All beaches may reopen for limited recreational use only. The following will be permitted: Walking, running, swimming, surfing, fishing or other similar activities. The following will not be permitted: Congregating and the use of chairs, tents and/or umbrellas. All of these options are contingent on following social distancing guidelines.

May 15: All beaches can reopen for normal activities while being subject to compliance with social distancing guidelines as set by the State Health Officer.