When I hear summer, I always think beach. The two just go hand in hand together, if you’re hot, you look for the nearest body of water to cool down, am I right?! This summer, my family decided to go on a road trip and I was so excited when they picked Orange Beach, Alabama! I’ve driven through Alabama but I’ve never actually stayed and explored. Since my husband and I are trying to check off all 50 states, it was a no-brainer. In a span of 4 days, we got kissed by the sun, saw a baby hammerhead shark, a pod of dolphins, went parasailing and ate the most amazing food ever. Continue below and check out some of our recommendations!
My sister-in-law had dibs on researching and choosing the place for my entire family to stay in. She chose the Phoneix West II condoand she nailed it! We stayed on the 23rd floor and the beach view was striking! With 4 full-size bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, every single room had a balcony with a beach view. Literally one of the most amazing rentals I’ve ever had the privilege of staying in. The condo was right on the beach, had three pools and one of them was a lazy river! We finished out so many nights just floating around the lazy river! We got to meet so many cool people while hanging out on the white, sugary sand and many confided in us that they booked their rentals through Airbnb, which is another great alternative!
To be honest, we only went out to eat twice, but in all fairness with a family of 11, we opted to spend our money on groceries to prepare meals at the condo. However, the two places we did choose, were wonderful. First up was The Hangout, a super popular place in Gulf Shores with incredible beach views, and a pretty impressive menu. All 11 of us were able to find something delicious to nibble on, my top recommendation? Their cheeseburger. Seriously, impressive, and the fries were so yummy I kept stealing my husbands right off his plate. This place also had fun activities outside for families to partake in to pass the time like ping pong, beach balls, and a really cool wish wall.
Flora-bama Ole River Grill
Technically this restaurant isn’t actually in Alabama, it’s right at the border of Alabama and Florida, hence the name? So we actually got to be in two places at once and it was so cool! Apparently, this is Kenny Chesney’s favorite restaurant to eat in whenever he’s in town! After eating their food, we had a good idea as to why. My parent’s favorite dish was the Fried Gulf Fish Basket, which included the chef’s choice of fresh gulf fish. Y’all, their four cheese mac was where it was at! Oh and as far as cocktails go, the bartender hooked the ladies up with a sample of their Key Lime Colada mixed with their Solar Energy and together it tasted like the world’s dreamiest creamsicle. It was a few miles away from the hotel, but 100% worth it.
After a serious debate about whether parasailing was going to be a go, we decided on booking withChute Em Up Parasail which ended up having the best prices by far on the island. We were so nervous, but the captain and his assistant made it so much fun, they eased our worries, played some fun jams and let us hang on the water a little longer and they even extended the awesome boat ride!
The Wharf is considered an entertainment district, which means you can drink while you explore the shops and restaurants. It’s also the perfect backdrop to gorgeous golden hour photographs. It houses a marina as well as a gigantic Ferris wheel. At 8:45 in the evening the entire place lights up and follows the pulsing rhythm of the beats coming from the speakers, turning it into an ultimate dance party. Oh, and if you’re wondering what to sip on while strolling the shops, a Bay Breeze my friend, a Bay Breeze, you’ll thank me later.
There are waayy too many souvenir shops to choose from, but if you’re looking for one with great photo ops, souvenir city is your best bet. Also, they have fresh squeezed lemonade inside that is worth the long lines! Did I mention the super rad shark that awaits you outside the entrance? Enough said.
Overall, this trip was one for the books. I had the honor of sleeping in, lounging on beautiful white, sugary sand and really taking the time to just be in the moment. It was a great break from our everyday lives and a much-needed vacay!
Orange Beach is breathtaking and I have a feeling I haven’t seen the last of it yet. We hope to make this a family tradition.
Tips & Tricks
Bring lots of sunscreen with you, I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s hot and humid and sunscreen will slide right off of you, so make sure you re-apply over and over again at least every 30 minutes.
Bring your own chairs and umbrellas. You don’t have to bring them from home if you don’t want too, the Wal-mart and Dollar General on the island have a ton of chairs and umbrellas for super cheap. OR you can always rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for 40 bucks for the day. (This can get pricey!)
Adhere to the beach signs. Stay off private beaches, and also observe the colors of the flags, if it’s red, the waves are rough and choppy. Also, the water is super clear so just be cautious of your surroundings, you can definitely see what’s swimming around you, it is a beach after all.
If you want a good spot on the sand, go early and claim your territory. We popped out of bed at 6 am, set up at the perfect location and then came back upstairs to sleep a little longer and eat breakfast before we finally made our way down. This was the ideal way to get a spot, right up, close and personal with the waves.
Most of all, have fun, take some pictures (preferably with a phone in a waterproof case) but I highly recommend you turn your social media and electronics off, be in the moment and enjoy everything Orange Beach has to offer!
Let me know if you’ve been to Orange Beach, plan on going or where your favorite family vacation took place, I’d love to hear all about it! Until next time!