An Easy Island Getaway to Alabama's Gulf Coast
For a variation on ocean swimming, hit the slides at Waterville, an amusement park with both wet and dry attractions. Everyone's talking about FlowRider, the newly unveiled wave simulator, but tots will probably prefer the giant, colorful bouncy-house, which is also fairly new. The park is open weekends in the spring, and every day in the summer.
Two of the most highly recommended restaurants in the Gulf Coast resort area are Calypso Joe's, which has its own kiddie recreation area, and Lulu's, which is owned and operated by Jimmy Buffett's sister. Both are located on a marina, with ocean views.
The Wharf is a bustling, ever-growing shop-dine-tainment destination situated on the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to shops and restaurants, it has a 15-screen multi-plex theater, a 10,000-seat amphitheater, and arguably the tallest Ferris wheel in the Southeast.
Hotel accommodations in the area range from the luxurious Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, on the shore of Mobile Bay, to the mid-priced and locally owned Perdido Beach Resort, to the value-oriented, bare-bones cabins on Lake Shelby. However, the bulk of Gulf Coast lodgings are condos and vacation home rentals -- as befits a wallet-friendly family vacation spot. Agencies like Sugar Sands Realty manage 30 or more properties, while other agencies are more specialized. There are also plenty of owner-managed rentals. For an exhaustive list, check the "Lodgings" section on gulfshores.com.
If you want a smidgen of big-city flavor to spice up your beach vacation, drive over to historic Mobile or down the coast to bustling Pensacola, which marks the end point of the Flori-bama Gulf Coast region. For more area information, visit gulfshores.com.