Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Peach Pickin-Gulf Shores/ Orange Beach

We stayed at the beach for 7 days after my brothers wedding. Our good friends rented us their beautiful condo about 1.5 miles from the T in Gulf Shores which was perfect, not to far from all of the fun activities but not to close to the public beach where all the noise and parties happen (wow I sound old). I am always looking for fun family activities that won't break our budget so I searched Groupon for Baldwin County and Mobile for about a month before we went. I also looked through several blogs and coupon books. Here is what we ended up loving and what we could have done without.

Best Dolphin Cruise-HANDS DOWN, Outcast Charter  in Orange Beach. Its actually through Surfs up but they operate out of the same marina as Outcast. It's in the same parking lot as Cobalts, right as you go over the Perdido Pass bridge. We spent 2 hours out on the boat and paid $12 a piece....thats $7 less than the next best deal I could find at $19 a piece. The staff was super friendly, kept our kids safe while teaching them about dolphins and played kid friendly music on the boat. We have the best video of 5-8 pink bellied dolphins, babies included, jumping alongside the boat. This went on for 10 minutes, two times. The rest of the time we watched dolphins swim lazily around us and we enjoyed seeing some of Perdidio Bay. I love that we weren't out in the gulf and could see land on both sides at all times. It was comforting to see how secure the boat rails were and that our kids could stand up the majority of the time, with life vests on. All three kids conked out on the boat ride in and that is how you know the excitement level was HIGH. We would do this again in a heartbeat!!

Heading out to see the dolphins!

Best Dinner/Entertainment Combo for Families-Hands down The Hangout at the Public Beach. I would recommend getting there early and going on a weekday night when there is a live band. On the weekends it gets packed. We went on Tuesday night and our kids CHOWED down on their cheeseburgers and fries claiming them to be the best food on the beach. I had the fish tacos and chips with salsa. I could only eat one taco and the salsa is by far the best I have had in a long time, with a little bit of spice. I actually took some home in a cup and used it the rest of the week. Adam had the nachos and also brought home around 1/2 of them. The staff was friendly, they had competitions and entertainment every 15 minutes inside the restaurant. Adam won the frozen t-shirt contest :) and our kids had fun dancing. When the band started we went outside and played in the giant sand pit, the bubble machine, ping pong tables, other fun games and danced some more. They had a snow cone truck out side and a mining activity for kids. We left stuffed and exhausted! The kids even requested to go back with my parents on Friday night.

 Best Food for your buck View of the beach while eating-EASY PEASY, go where the locals go Sea N Suds. My art teacher from high school lives in Fort Morgan and raved that all of the locals still go to Sea and Suds which tells you something. We got there at 4:45 and waited 30 minutes to get a beach view table...which was fine since they have a bar out on the patio. We looked out over the beach while we drank banana and mango slushies. The bartenders were great and split one slushie into 3 for the kiddos. The beer pitchers are only $8 and the food was the cheapest we had seen. The friend oyster plate was DELISH, yes I had fried food and gobbled it all down...only to pay for it with super swollen feet the next day. The coleslaw was awesome. Goober loved his popcorn chicken and all of the kids meal are served on a frisbee to take home. My mom had a 1/2 lb of steamed shrimp and it was $4 cheaper than anywhere else we ate. We deemed it our favorite and loved that you could walk up from the public beach in your suit and still get great food!

Best Cajun Food-Gulf Island Grill, right across from Sea and Suds. We didn't eat there but met my cousin and uncle there right after our dolphin cruise. I tasted Mason's Roulade and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT!! It was filled with chicken, shrimp, fish, peppers, onion in a dark sauce and served with garlic bread. Mason is a former chef and he licked that bowl clean!!!

Best views of Perdido Pass/Happy Hour-Cobalts in Orange Beach. We didn't eat here, just looked around while waiting for our dolphin cruise. They have a hung tank of sting rays and large fish that the kids can view inside and out. The view of the Perdido Pass and Marina is awesome. The Happy Hour looks amazing with 60 cent oysters everyday from 3-5. They also had a breakfast buffet that was reasonable...I saw shrimp and grits on the menu that sounds delish. They had a long list of Po-Boys that made me wish we were staying....along with a cupcake/pastry area up front that was to die for. You can eat outside in the covered area and we had a coupon for a free appetizer. Its definitely on on our list for next time!!

Checking out the indoor tanks with Aunt Robin. This tank goes through the walls to the outdoor area as well.

Best Beach Activities-just for giggles. Our kids loved being covered with sand and made into mermaids, and then covering mom and dad :). They liked flying a kite, throwing frisbees, throwing those water balls that skip across the water. They liked riding the boogie boards in the pool and on the beach. Sand toys were a hit but more than that building tall mounds of sand and then digging tunnels through them was even bigger! They loved making drip castles with wet sand and they loved taking nets, dipping them in the waves and seeing what they caught. We packed peanuts, pretzels and squeezits and those were the treats while out on the beach. We took homemade guacamole, matzah and rice cakes to the pool and it lasted all of 1 hour ;). I loved taking banana/mango smoothies out on the beach with us in the mornings and the kids loved having water flavored with berries/oranges/grapes....Baby Boy calls it "favorite water" ..not flavored water.

What we didn't so much enjoy---this varies from family to family but we thought Nolans Seafood was good but overpriced...even though we did get to watch American Pharoah win the triple crown there. We thought that the restaurant Bahama Bobs was cute, but always packed and their drinks were way over priced. We WOULD NEVER go to Pirates Cove or the Track for mini golf as it is always packed....instead go to Shrimpys, right beside Mikees and Reds and Ribs for BOGO mini golf. TCBY is always less crowded than scoops and about 1/2 the calories and sugar!!!We weren't a fan of the prices to go parasailing but it would be a once in a lifetime experience!!! The Wal-Mart in Gulf Shores was ALWAYS packed and kinda dirty, I would go right up the road to the Winn Dixie and get the BOGO..especially the stuffed clams (THOSE WERE A HUGE HIT). The Cobb theater in Gulf Shores was clean and a nice place to go on a rainy day.

Momma even found some no sugar added peanut butter yogurt that was DELISH!!

That's it..our peach pickins for the beach. Where is your favorite place or activity??

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