Shore Things: Alabama’s Gulf Shores

Above: A wooden walkway to the Gulf of Mexico on the Alabama Gulf Coast
Above: A wooden walkway to the Gulf of Mexico on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Powdery white sand beaches and the warm Gulf of Mexico are what draws locals from nearby states to the Gulf Shores of Alabama, but this little gem is worth a long weekend getaway for anyone needing to hit pause and get away from city life. With loads of outdoor activities to immerse yourself in, the delicious—and hard-to-find elsewhere—royal red shrimp (these are deep-water crustaceans with a sweet meatiness to them) to indulge in, and of course buckets of sunshine, a jaunt here makes for a well-rounded R&R solution.

Where to stay
Look outside from your spacious balcony at Turquoise Place and with the blue waves crashing onto the shores of powdery white sand, a row of crisp blue and white beach umbrellas shading sunseekers lounging on the beach, you’d swear you’re in the south of France. The modern and almost overly spacious condo-style units in this tower on the beach make it a superb outpost for a getaway with your squad.

Where to eat
The shabby chic shack vibe of the shipping containers that compose The Gulf makes it an ideal spot to grab lunch with a view of the beach. The packed menu makes it hard to choose, but you can’t go wrong with the mahi-mahi sandwich or shrimp tacos and an icy cold lemonade. As for the best brunch in town? We bet on the shrimp and grits Bill’s By the Beach, but it’s just as pleasing for dinner for a fried fish po’ boy paired with one of the more than 100 wines on the menu. Vacationing with your significant other? Take them to Big Fish for your one fancy dinner out. Don’t let its location in a strip mall dissuade you. The seafood here is never frozen, and the infusion of international flavours (chef-owner Leck Lilayuva is inspired from his travels around the world during his a modeling career) in the inventive dishes, such as the firecracker shrimp fried rice and delectable tuna sashimi, make it stand out from all of the fried southern delicacies you’ll find in the area.

Where to get an endorphin rush
With access to the Gulf of Mexico, while there are plenty of workouts on land you could take part in, you simply cannot skip watersports while here. Take a stand-up paddleboard lesson with Water Warriors, where you’ll be taught different styles of turning your SUP and making it a core workout in the still waters of Wolf Bay rather than the more typical leisurely SUP outing. Kayakers will get those arms working with a paddle on the quiet waters of Little Lagoon with GoGo Kayaks. Triathletes should plan their Gulf Shores visit for early September to time it with the Brett Robinson Alabama Coastal Triathlon, which offers both a short “sprint” distance for newbies and a longer intermediate distance for the more seasoned triathlete.

Where to drink
Stopping into the rainbow-bright Lulu’s for a Mudslide cocktail is a rite of passage in this part of the country. This dessert-like drink has been known to convert those who don’t think they like sweet, ice cream-based drinks (it might have something to do with the three types of booze it’s loaded with). For a cold beer or two with a healthy side of live music, Flora-Bama is where to strut to at night for a night out with the locals; here you’ll find four stages so there’s surely at least one band that gets your toes tapping.

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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