If you’re here I’m hoping you read my last post about Gulf Shores, AL and all the reasons our family loves it (and we think yours will too!). Perhaps you’ve even planned your own “Sweet Home Alabama” getaway and are looking for some advice on the best places to grab a fried shrimp po’boy or something to do when you need a break from the sun. Well, you’ve come to the right place my friends. Read on to discover some of our favorite stops along the Gulf Coast then feel free to explore the area on your own following our recommendations OR trying something totally different! Either way, remember, the beach is calling and you should GO! 🙂 Scroll to the end of this post to find some fun pics too!
FYI- I am going to assume you’re all quite Internet-savvy and so I am not going to post the addresses, hours of operation, menus, etc for these fine establishments. That’s why we have Google Maps. And Yelp. And smartphones. Ok- glad we cleared that up. 😉
If you only go out to eat once in Gulf Shores, you should go to Lulu’s. The atmosphere is beachy-keenly-perfect (a marina, live laid-back music!), the food is above-average Southern-style beach food (crab melts, fried oyster/shrimp platters and the Lulu’s burger are our favs!) and there’s a ton of fun things for the kids to do while you wait for a table or enjoy a Crazy Sista Honey Ale (things like giant sand piles, high-ropes courses and hula hoops…). It’s a favorite for the kids and Matt and I alike…don’t miss it!
If you go out to eat more than once (which you seriously should- you’re on vacation after all!) make the quick 15 minute drive to Foley for a dining experience like no other. Where else do you have to catch your food in midair? And not just any food- oversized, hot-out-of-the-oven, super-soft and tasty rolls?!? This is the infamous “home of throwed rolls” and if that wasn’t enough excitement for one evening, the actual food is down-home country cooking in giant portions and the fried okra and other family-style pass around starters are well worth the drive and inevitable overindulgence gut ache. You were warned.
Brick & Spoon (Orange Beach)
Lovely, slightly upscale place that’s just perfect for Sunday brunch. Try the crab cakes benedict, the crepes, and the mimosa flight. Cheers!
The Southern Grind (Orange Beach)
We are serious coffee people and Gulf Shores is lacking a bit in the legit espresso department. Until we found this place. The costal-chic decor inside is absolutely lovely and the coffee, lattes, breakfast burritos and baked goods are well worth the drive. Especially for coffee snobs like us. 😉
A perfectly shabby beach shack for fried seafood and frozen beach drinks. Nothing fancy here, but it’s one of the only beach-front restaurants we’ve found and a great “beach dive” bar with very respectable seafood.
City Donuts (Orange Beach)
Another option for espresso (sort-of) but the highlights here are the various sticky-sweet-fried-dough gems with creative toppings. Buy a box and take it to the beach for a quick sugar-rush…I mean breakfast. 😉
Acme Oyster House
AKA Date Night. This place is nice (and not that fancy actually) and we have taken our kids here and they loved the fried seafood platters. But it’s a bit pricier and doesn’t have the kid-friendly bells and whistles that Lulu’s does so head here on a date night or couple’s night out. If you’re feeling adventurous have an oyster shot (fresh oyster, cocktail sauce & vodka) for a slippery, spicy, memorable start to your tasty seafood dinner.
We haven’t been here in a few trips but we went once for pancakes and they were tasty. That’s all I know. 🙂
DeSotos Seafood Kitchen
A newer discovery for us that was recommended by locals as the best seafood in town. Seafood + beach vacations = no brainier so we tried it and it was fantastic! Fantastic but not cheap. It was kid-friendly and very fresh and we’ll definitely be back.
A very fun and very well-located option for a beach drink and live music, a classic fried seafood/burger menu, or our personal favorite, a romp in waist-high bubbles or a roll down a giant sand hill (for the kids people…for the kids!). The decor here is wacky and fun- don’t miss the impressive rubber ducky wall or the collection of vintage lunch boxes. This place would be a bit spring-breaky depending on when you go but during the daytime/early in the evening it’s a totally PG family fun place.
S & S Seafood Market
The best place we’ve found for take-out fried or grilled super-fresh shrimp. Grab a dozen or two (call ahead!) and hit the beach for an arguably perfect sunset picnic. Don’t forget the remoulade- it’s to die for!
Burris Farmer’s Market
A bit of a drive (45 min to the North) but a way-fun place for fresh, local fruits, veggies and preserves. If peaches are in season buy as many as you can carry!
Rouses’s Grocery Store
If you’re a foodie like me, this store is like a mini-vacation. So many fun and unnecessary and fancy and delish options to stock your vacation-rental pantry with! It’s a bit pricy (as compared to wal-mart but ugh- please don’t send me there while I’m on vacation) but it’s way fun so as long as you have a little gourmet-grocery-self-control, plan to putter for an hour or so and you’ll have a grand old time. Its in a great location- right off the main road into the beach zone. Please do me a favor and check out the fancy cakes and the seafood/produce sections for sure!
Surf Style, Souvenir City, etc
You’ll see them on the main drag coming in and may be turned off by the super-kitschy touristy nature of these surf and gift shops but you should really walk through that giant shark mouth and buy a magnet or seashell windchime. Then go across the street to Surf Style for great comfy tshirts and awesome beach-ware (cover ups/dresses/hello!) for the whole family.
Blue Angels And Naval Aviation Museum
History buffs? Speed-needers? Just down the road (45 min-ish) in Pensacola is an amazing, extensive, huuuuge aviation museum with tons of full-sized actual planes from all eras of Naval Aviation history. The museum could take all day depending on how much you soak in, but the real highlight here are the Blue Angels, who train here and offer free performances quite often throughout the year. Check their schedule online to confirm but if you can catch their shows you must do so. Even if you have to miss a little time in the surf, the experience is so impressive I don’t think anyone will mind.
The hot yoga classes here are seriously awesome. The offer drop-in rates at any class or weekly “traveling yogi” packages. Rejuvenate and detox while you vaca…how sweet is that?!
Pirate Island Adventure Mini-Golf
Not your everyday mini-golf! Putt putt your way through haunted caves, a pirate ship, and luscious tropical landscaping while learning fun facts about real-life pirates and competing with your kids for the most hole-in-ones or fewest wiffs, depending on your family’s style.
Fun place to raise your heart rate and spend some dough racing go-karts around tracks of varied difficulty. Check the height limits for little ones who want to drive and/or ride along so as not to disappoint any little speed demons. The big wood track is especially fun for adult driver and riding-along-screaming-with-delight kiddos.
Outlet Mall in Foley
I’m not a shopper but if I were, I’d head here. Lots of brands that people tell me are good. If you make it out there, let me know. 😉
An up-and-coming entertainment district in Orange Beach with shopping, dining, music venues, a marina, and a giant Ferris wheel all with an upscale/classy vibe. A refreshing change from most of the dive-y beach shacks we’ve come to know and love in Gulf Shores. You’ll find Southern Grind coffee here so grab a cup and putter through this lovely area.
Ok…phew…I apologize profusely if this is information overload for you! As I said before, we’ve been down here a lot and I have a lot to say about this lovely, approachable beach town. I promise not all of my posts will be this detailed. 😉 As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any questions or places I’ve missed or tips of your own. But I sincerely hope you’ll be able to make your own memories down in Gulf Shores, AL sooner or later. It’s good to go my friends!
Until next time,