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Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

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Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Old 06-27-19, 12:51 AM
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Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

My wife has decided she wants to go to the beach in Gulf Shores, AL ...

No, I don’t know why. But I owe her for being a patient and loving wife while I umpired most of the summer. I told her to pick somewhere for a “long weekend” in a few weeks.

So ... anybody ever been there? Thoughts on what to do/see/eat?
Old 06-27-19, 01:07 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Haven't been, but know people who have. Enjoy looking at the oil refineries on the horizon while you relax on the beach. Not sure what Alabama was thinking with that one.
Old 06-27-19, 09:13 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

When we lived in Nashville we would travel down for our beach vacations, last time about five years ago. The beaches are nice, clean white sand, being the gulf the water isn't wavy unless there is a storm near by. King Neptune and Mikee's are good seafood places. If you like oysters and shrimp pretty much every place has them. The Track is a great family fun park with go-karts, bumper boats, etc. The hangout is a fun place with live music every night.
Old 06-27-19, 09:37 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Has she been watching Floribama Shore?
Old 06-27-19, 09:58 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

We have gone to Perdido Key (Florida, right across the border from Gulf Shores) for the past few summers. It's less crowded and typically less expensive than Gulf Shores, there is no view of any refineries that I can recall, and it only takes a few extra minutes to get to everything. There is very little to do in Perdido Key itself, and we haven't been overly impressed with any of the restaurants in the immediate area. Lillian's is some of the worst pizza I have ever had.

One of our favorite "one stop shopping" spots is in Orange Beach, a complex which houses a couple of good restaurants (Cosmo's and Luna's) and the best craft beer and wine shop in the area (Maggie's). Brick & Spoon is another good restaurant over that way. Lulu's is a tourist trap, and Flora-Bama (which straddles the FL/AL border) is for assholes.

We have an 8-year-old to entertain, so we have done a dolphin cruise (a chartered boat that goes out on the intracoastal and ocean for a couple of hours, showing you some sights and trying to get dolphins to jump in the wake), The Track (multi-level go-kart track and some carnival rides), and Pirate's Island (mini golf and arcade) in years past. Pirate's Island is the most underwhelming of the three. They recently built an amusement park named OWA in Foley, with a couple of roller coasters and several other rides. We haven't been there yet, and I remember thinking it was quite expensive for its size, but it looks like tickets are down to $30 this summer (which is still high for a park that small).

If I think of anything else, I'll update this post or make a new one.
Old 06-27-19, 10:32 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Can’t recall any specifics, but I’ve vacationed at Orange Beach and had a great time.
Old 06-27-19, 02:43 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
Has she been watching Floribama Shore?
I don’t even know what that is, so ... possibly?
Old 06-27-19, 02:47 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by printerati View Post
We have gone to Perdido Key (Florida, right across the border from Gulf Shores) for the past few summers. It's less crowded and typically less expensive than Gulf Shores, there is no view of any refineries that I can recall, and it only takes a few extra minutes to get to everything. There is very little to do in Perdido Key itself, and we haven't been overly impressed with any of the restaurants in the immediate area. Lillian's is some of the worst pizza I have ever had.

...

We have an 8-year-old to entertain, so we have done a dolphin cruise (a chartered boat that goes out on the intracoastal and ocean for a couple of hours, showing you some sights and trying to get dolphins to jump in the wake), ...
I’m not sure if that was a testimonial to go to Perdido Key or not to go to Perdido Key ...

The dolphin cruise sounds like something she might enjoy ... do you remember any details on it?

Thank you everybody, keep the ideas coming!

How is their zoo? We typically enjoy zoos.
Old 06-27-19, 02:55 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Drive down to Fort Morgan.

Eat at Wolf Bay Lodge and Cobalt.
Old 06-27-19, 04:51 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post


I’m not sure if that was a testimonial to go to Perdido Key or not to go to Perdido Key ...

The dolphin cruise sounds like something she might enjoy ... do you remember any details on it?
I would recommend Perdido if you prefer less crowded beaches and quieter surroundings, realizing that it will take a few extra minutes (and I do mean a few, maybe 10 at the most) to get to the better entertainment in Alabama. If you want entertainment options within walking distance (aside from the beach), Perdido would not be the best choice, but most stuff in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach is not very consolidated anyway.

I can't remember the name of the dolphin cruise place we used, but there are a number of them. We may have found one on Groupon. I know it wasn't one of the glass bottom boats, and I don't believe it was Blue Dolphin since their boats don't look familiar.

If you or the wife are into military history, the Naval Aviation Museum is nearby in Pensacola, which is decent (but nowhere near as extensive or elaborate as the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH). The Blue Angels are stationed out there as well, and you can watch them practice on certain days of the month. We haven't spent a lot of time in Pensacola otherwise, but "downtown" seems nice, and while the restaurant itself isn't much to look at (to put it mildly), Hip Pocket Deli has the best gyro I have ever had.
Old 07-01-19, 10:28 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by printerati View Post
...Hip Pocket Deli has the best gyro I have ever had.
I'm not saying that I don't believe you (and the Yelp reviews for this place would seem to back you up), but I do find this rather amazing. It has been damn rare for me to find a gyro that is even decent below the Mason-Dixon line.
Old 07-01-19, 02:43 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
It has been damn rare for me to find a gyro that is even decent below the Mason-Dixon line.
Frankly, I find this to be true for a lot of things (we have family throughout the South), and I was initially as skeptical as you are. I suppose I could add the caveat that I have not spent a significant amount of time anywhere that has a significant Greek/Mediterranean population or a significant number of gyro places, but I have eaten my share of them around the country, and Hip Pocket's was the best so far.
Old 07-02-19, 07:26 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by printerati View Post
Frankly, I find this to be true for a lot of things (we have family throughout the South), and I was initially as skeptical as you are. I suppose I could add the caveat that I have not spent a significant amount of time anywhere that has a significant Greek/Mediterranean population or a significant number of gyro places, but I have eaten my share of them around the country, and Hip Pocket's was the best so far.
I went to high school in Chicago and have had a lot of gyros from Greek establishments, so my standards are pretty high. That said, sometimes there are outliers. I remember that a guy who used to be a cook at one of the popular cheesesteak joints in Philly moved down to Birmingham, AL with his wife (who had gotten a good job) many years ago and decided to open a cheesesteak place down there. I went a couple of times and they were fantastic. The place went out of business in a little over a year, IIRC.

Honestly, making a good gyro isn't actually very complicated so long as you can make a solid tzatziki, find some good pitas and invest in a proper vertical broiler (same machine used for doner and schwarma more often than not). Most of the places in Chicago just by gyrokones from Kronos or one of the other suppliers, slap them into the vertical broiler, and slice off meat throughout the day. However, you have to sell a lot of gyros to make it worth the hassle. Most other places just grill these flat strips of meat that are all beef (instead of beef/lamb like they should be) and are basically Greek-seasoned Steak-um strips. That leads to a very inferior gyro compared to the real thing.

Last edited by jfoobar; 07-02-19 at 07:33 AM.
Old 07-02-19, 08:29 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

When I was growing up I had grandparents in Foley, just north of Gulf Shores. It was nice back then. Last time I went about 6 or 7 years ago it had turned into some Redneck/White Trash Mecca.

If you want something relaxing and non-touristy, I recommend the Flagler Beach, FL area. A friend lived there a few years ago and I really liked it. It was a great place to be around nice scenery and not have so many damn people everywhere.
Old 07-10-19, 09:06 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

OK ... so ... since there is a tropical storm (possible hurricane) brewing, now I am in need of emergency Plan B.

Any suggestions on a southeast destination with a beach that is going to miss most of the severe weather ... OTTER TWIN POWERS ACTIVATE! Shape of ????

Old 07-10-19, 11:40 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Where are you traveling from? Hilton Head Island, SC is peaceful and beautiful. There's enough to do but not overly built up like other locales. Of course the Atlantic isn't near as nice as the Gulf. A friend of mine swears by Jekyll, Island in GA. Not developed at all. They have wild horses roaming everywhere. Very remote and a quiet getaway.

I haven't followed weather reports so I'm not sure what you're trying to avoid.
Old 07-10-19, 11:54 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Just watched local weather. Right now computer models are saying avoid central Louisiana. But it can always change direction.
Old 07-11-19, 03:43 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by Michael Corvin View Post
Where are you traveling from? Hilton Head Island, SC is peaceful and beautiful. There's enough to do but not overly built up like other locales. Of course the Atlantic isn't near as nice as the Gulf. A friend of mine swears by Jekyll, Island in GA. Not developed at all. They have wild horses roaming everywhere. Very remote and a quiet getaway.

I haven't followed weather reports so I'm not sure what you're trying to avoid.
This:





We opted to go with Savannah, GA and Tybee Island, close to Hilton Head. Also figured we can move a little more north if we feel like it (Myrtle Beach appears to be a few hours away also).

I’ll look into Jekyll Island. Looks like it is about an hour and a half away.

Last edited by Abob Teff; 07-11-19 at 03:49 PM.
Old 07-11-19, 03:46 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by TomOpus View Post
Just watched local weather. Right now computer models are saying avoid central Louisiana. But it can always change direction.

When we started talking about a trip, I started to suggest New Orleans. Never been there but want to go. Glad I didn’t pick that one this time.
Old 07-11-19, 03:54 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Can I get a thread title change? Travel Tips: Help Me Avoid A Hurricane Edition.
Old 07-11-19, 04:15 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post

We opted to go with Savannah, GA and Tybee Island, close to Hilton Head.
I hope you'll post an update with a full report. We have considered spending a week there instead, but neither of us have been in that area before.

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post

When we started talking about a trip, I started to suggest New Orleans.
This time of year is absolutely miserable in Louisiana. Naturally, we're heading down there in a couple of weeks to visit my wife's family.
Old 07-11-19, 10:12 PM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Can I get a thread title change? Travel Tips: Help Me Avoid A Hurricane Edition.
Hurricane season is June to October.
Old 07-19-19, 12:03 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by Michael Corvin View Post
Where are you traveling from? Hilton Head Island, SC is peaceful and beautiful. There's enough to do but not overly built up like other locales. Of course the Atlantic isn't near as nice as the Gulf. A friend of mine swears by Jekyll, Island in GA. Not developed at all. They have wild horses roaming everywhere. Very remote and a quiet getaway.
We spent two days at Tybee Beach and one day at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island ... not sure where your friend goes, but I found it to be FAR from undeveloped and remote. We definitely preferred the small coastal town feel of Tybee.

We arrived on Jekyll Island feeling like we had arrived in a gated community. Beautifully elegant and upscale landscaping adorned the road leading to the island. Then we were greeted by a toll booth ($8 charge to enter the island). We followed the GPS to the beach and passed a mall and convention center on the beach. The “white sand” beach was utterly filthy. It wasn’t pollution or litter, just naturally dirty. While we enjoyed the variety of wildlife we saw, most of it was dead and washed up on the shore: a mid-sized turtle, a horse shoe crab, and a 24-inch shark that washed up next to us while we sat in the water. The water was extremely murky and looked like Illinois river water.

We were at the end, away from the “tourist” sections by the mall and convention center so it was very empty. We saw more people fishing than relaxing on the beach. Perhaps if we had gone down to the developed side it would have been different.

We preferred Tybee by a long shot ...
Old 07-19-19, 01:06 AM
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Re: Yet another travel thread: Gulf Shores, AL

Originally Posted by printerati View Post
I hope you'll post an update with a full report. We have considered spending a week there instead, but neither of us have been in that area before.
We loved Tybee Island. It was the small coastal town feel that we were looking for. Yes, you can tell it is heavily “touristy” with most of the town seeming like vacations condos/rentals, but it still is a small town.

The first day we parked near City Hall and a “surf” shop where we bought beach chairs and an umbrella (more on that later). We walked around the corner and just a block to the beach. Easy and quick access, with quick access back to the car if we needed anything. The beach was not overly busy and we had a great time. We walked just a short way down the beach to a great restaurant (The Deck) for a late lunch (more on that later).

We went to Savannah to walk around downtown and grab a late dinner (Savannah Seafood Shack). Unfortunately it was raining lightly, so we didn’t get to do too much exploring.

Day two we went to Jekyll Island (see above) during the day but came back to Tybee that night for a sunset dolphin cruise (Captain Derek’s) that was fantastic. We grabbed dinner on Tybee (Coco’s) and walked the beach under an almost full moon.

Day three we went back to Tybee and toured the lighthouse, had lunch at North Shore Bar and Grill on the beach, and then went to the beach on the North Beach side.

TIPS AND RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Tip #1 — download the Tybee Island parking app. Parking is $3/hour no matter where you park on the island. When we arrived, the couple parked in front of us was pumping quarters into a parking meter. You couldn’t see the screen on it and there were no stickers telling you how much parking was. You can also find machines which will give you a parking receipt to place on your dash. To me, the app is the way to go though. It will tell you how much time you have left without having to track it or run back to your car/the meter. You can extend your time without going anywhere and your paid parking covers your vehicle anywhere. If you decide to go to another part of town, your time is still good. The drawback: even extending time is another two hour minimum. Not a big deal if you plan right though.

Tip #2 — Don’t go to the North Beach side unless you are going to need quick access to restrooms or want to have showers and changing rooms when you are done. That is the only place on the beach with public bathrooms and showers. It also is the busiest parking area as it also has a restaurant, the lighthouse, the fort/museum, and the beach amenities. As I said, we parked right by City Hall. There are clean restrooms in the park behind City Hall that we used to change (no shower though) and the beach was just around the corner.

Tip #3 — If you need chairs and/or an umbrella, you can rent them on the beach. 2 nice chairs and a large umbrella are $30/day. If you are going more than one day (or will use them in the future) we bought 2 folding chairs and an inexpensive umbrella for about $50 at The Funky Fish.

RESTAURANTS

The Deck: located on the beach near the City Hall access area. Very good food, very friendly service, reasonable prices and drink specials. Indoor seating is air conditioned. Outdoor seating and bar also available. We split the shrimp tacos and received a nicely presented tray of three grilled shrimp tacos. Highly recommended!

Coco’s: We went after our sunset dolphin cruise which was literally on the same docks (adjoining parking lot) and were greeted with “Our kitchen closes in 6 minutes.” We were seated and given time to look over the menu. Food was good, but was virtually all fried and a bit overpriced. Not bad, but the lack of steamed/grilled seafood was disappointing and the service was not good. We split a sampler platter which was all fried but tasty.

North Beach Bar and Grill: located in the beach near the lighthouse and North Beach entrance. Inside is NOT air conditioned. Service was awful - not sure if the staff was feeling the heat or what, but nobody was attentive, happy, or seemed like they had any desire to be there. Food was mediocre. I ordered the fish tacos and received one soft tortilla in a bowl with a small scoop of slaw piled on one end and two skinny fried strips of fish. It was definitely not what I was expecting. I will say they did have great hand cut french fries though!

The Crab Shack: The HIGHLIGHT of our on island dining experiences. Wish we had gone earlier to spend some time there — they have live gator pits where you can feed the (baby) gators, a gift shop, and plenty of decor worth exploring. A true (recreated) bayou experience, we sat outdoors on a deck constructed around an old tree that had strands of lights run on it. Every table had a hole in the middle with a trash can underneath. We split a country boil that was cooked exquisitely! Messy as hell, but mind numbingly delicious. My only criticism was the food could have been cooked with a bit more seasoning, but that might have hidden just how fresh and well cooked the food was. Prices may look a little high, but aren’t bad as you get A LOT of food. We split an appetizer (divine Deviled Crab) and the country boil for 1 person and were stuffed. NOTE: take bug spray! As we were feasting, so were the mosquitoes. DEFINITE RECOMMEND!

One last food recommend, but it is in Savannah — The Savannah Seafood Shack. Looks like a hole-in-wall downtown, but wow! I would place it in a tie with The Crab Shack for the best damned thing we ate the whole trip. Crab Shack was a little fresher seafood, but Savannah Seafood Shack blew them out of the water with their seasoning on the low country boil. Just the right amount of heat and salty made this downright addictive. DEFINITE RECOMMEND!

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