On the Road with Pensacola Mom Collective
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As we were getting ready for the first day back to school after an exciting summer full of camps, parties, crafts, movies, ice cream, and travel, I asked my two daughters about the highlights of their summers. My oldest daughter, who was 11 at the time, was lucky enough to have had a very special summer of travel, complete with trips to Washington D.C., Boston, and London (she has no idea how lucky she is!). When it was her turn to tell me what her favorite part of the summer was she quickly responded with “Orange Beach.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, our annual trip to Orange Beach, Alabama, has become a highlight for our entire family, but I did not think It would be able to compete with London!
I guess I was wrong…
Where to Stay
Staying at one of the condos at the Wharf or at the SpringHill Suites allows you to park your car once and easily walk to restaurants, stores, a movie theater, a Ferris wheel, and a popular concert venue. There is a large outdoor lagoon-style pool, but note this is about a 10-minute walk or a quick (free) shuttle ride away.
The Lodge at Gulf State Park
This beautiful hotel is far from what you may expect a “state park lodge” to be. Instead, The Lodge is a full-scale high-end Hilton resort. Beautifully appointed rooms, a fabulous pool and beautiful beaches await you. If the gorgeous facility was not enough, the restaurants and hotel lobby bar are equally amazing.
Where to Eat
Owned (and named after) Jimmy Buffet’s sister, Lulus is my kids’ favorite spot for lunch or dinner in Gulf Shores. It is much more than a restaurant and features a ton of activities for kids and adults. My girls love getting their hair braided and getting henna tattoos. There is also a ropes course, caricature artists, and an arcade. Add in the live music and some great frozen drinks, and you have a perfect summer afternoon. Expect a long wait during the summer or try to secure a spot with their “limited reservation” system.
Coastal is a brand new restaurant to Orange Beach and absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Not only are the beachside views breathtaking, but the food and drink options are exceptional. Make sure to check out their website to see their daily live music schedule. If a great setting and great food aren’t enough, their gift shop is equally impressive.
Florabama Yacht Club
Across the street from the world-famous Florabama is the Florabama Yacht Club. Don’t let the name fool you, this restaurant is open to the public and extremely casual. You can access the restaurant by car or boat and you will not be disappointed by the friendly staff, great food and great music.
Where to Play
OWA is a family-friendly entertainment complex with an amusement park, indoor water park, shopping, restaurants, and a theater. Everyone will enjoy the non-stop fun all in one central location. Check the website for the show schedule!
A visit to LA (Lower Alabama) is not complete without stopping by the WORLD FAMOUS FloraBama. This beach bar is a musical paradise and has hosted many famous singers and songwriters. With live music every day, you will not want to miss what they have in store at one of the five beachside music venues. You cannot leave without trying the very best Bushwhacker around! Note: kids under 18 are allowed until 6pm.
Located about 20 minutes from Gulf Shores, the Tanger Outlets in Foley are a great stop to take a break from the sun and enjoy some great deals. Everyone in the family will enjoy the diverse range of outlet stores.
If you haven’t taken the short trip from Pensacola to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you are truly missing out on an exceptional family-friendly spot less than an hour from home.
This area of LA (lower Alabama) boasts beautiful beaches, delicious restaurants, arcades, shopping, and an amusement park. While it can be done as a day trip, I highly recommend making a long weekend out of it and really “getting away.”