Have you ever noticed certain things that stir nostalgia within you? Any time I walk on small gravel and hear the crunchy sound it makes beneath my feet, I am transported back to my adolescence, finding my way down a short, winding path from my grandmother’s house to the park which was nothing more than a tall, shiny slide, a pair of swings and a seesaw. Nostalgia. The sound of the ocean waves meeting the sandy shoreline also offers me such a feeling. It floods my mind with trip after trip to Gulf Shores with my husband and how our growing family learned to appreciate all the goodness found in Alabama’s coastal community. And, now that they are older, they enjoy those beautiful feelings of nostalgia that juxtapose new memories they are creating with their own families. Yep, nostalgia.
As a native Alabamian, when folks say they are headed to “the beach,” I assume they mean Gulf Shores. It’s only a short four to six hour commute from almost anywhere in the state and if planned correctly, a stop at Foley’s own Lamberts Café could ward off hunger panes for hours and have the kids (young and old alike) fighting for a famous “throwed” roll!
Now that I am older, I understand that beaches are different depending on the topography and environment of the destination. They are not all as lovely as our Alabama beaches…and I say that with pride and not a sense of arrogance for I have traveled well, and my appreciation for soft, sugar-white sandy beaches is second only to the stunning emerald-colored Gulf of Mexico waters that gently wash over our beaches. We are a blessed people who sing Sweet Home Alabama, because we know that the southern end of our state beckons to us with a beauty only nature can claim.
Like many Alabamians, every year I choose to spend at least part of my vacation dollars right back in my home state. It feels very loyal. It feels right. And the beach makes it feel worthy. Perhaps unlike some folks, though, I love the both the spring and the fall season at the beach…the shoulder season I call it, referring to the seasons which bookend that crazy hot, busy summer solstice. I’ll let you in on my secrets as to why shoulder season is amazing in Gulf Shores!
• You know those luxury lodging places that you feel like you can never afford? The off season comes with a myriad of SPECIALS and DEALS. Oftentimes, you can reward yourself with an extra special place to stay. The Gulf Shores web site is a plethora of information, including places to stay.
• No line no wait! Your favorite restaurant…you know…the one with the two hour wait during the busy summer months…you can just walk in and be seated in the shoulder season! One of my favorites is Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s where fresh seafood and other Southern favorites can’t be beat!
• The beach is your private oasis. You can actually enjoy the beauty and majesty of this piece of paradise without being towel to towel with strangers on the sand. Sure you might have on a long-sleeve tee shirt instead of a swimsuit, but it’s so peaceful and serene.
• Activities and adventures that otherwise seem too expensive (think sunset cruises and paddleboarding lessons) often run specials in the shoulder seasons.
• Sunsets! Yes, I’m fully aware that they take place year round, but when the crowds are gone and it’s less busy, sunsets seem even more magnificent. Don’t forget to make plenty of time to celebrate those amazing paintings in the sky.
There you have it – my secrets. Take them and run (hopefully to Gulf Shores). Maybe you’ll bump into me.
This post is part of a sponsored blog initiative on Gulf Shores for Stay Alabama Beaches but opinions are 100% authentically my own.
Photos are courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism.