Golfing along the Gulf Coast

Alabama’s Gulf Coast boasts more than just beautiful sandy beaches and fantastic weather. Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and the surrounding areas are home to several of the state’s best and most beautiful golf courses. In fact, the state’s top rated course – Kiva Dunes – is located between Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores, just down the road from our beautiful beach houses and condo rentals.Golf Gulf Shores

The golf community in and around Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan is comprised of many wonderful golf courses, including four pristine and famous golf courses within the limits of Gulf Shores. Each offers challenging holes, stunning scenery, and a variety of landscapes. These beautiful courses offer unique and memorable golfing experiences, with most just minutes from the landmark of Fort Morgan.

Cotton Creek at Craft Farms

3840 Cotton Creek Circle

Gulf Shores, AL 36542

This course is the original Arnold Palmer signature design, offering challenge and Southern charm. It’s one of only two of Arnold Palmer’s Alabama projects, and it’s sure to impress. It features rolling fairways, rippling greens, dwarf Bermuda grasses, several lakes, and more than 7,000 yards from the tips.

Cypress Bend at Craft Farms

3840 Cotton Creek Circle
Gulf Shores, AL 36542

The sister course to Cotton Creek, Cypress Bend is the other Arnold Palmer masterpiece in Alabama. Year-round conditions are lush and green, making it a must-play course no matter when you visit Fort Morgan or Gulf Shores. It holds a 4 ½-star rating from Golf Digest and features “staggered tee boxes, sprawling bunkers, top-quality putting surfaces, and year-round lush conditions.” The lakes accented by cord grass offer a breezy, coastal feel at almost every hole.

 

Kiva Dunes

815 Plantation Drive
Gulf Shores, AL 36542

The number one rated golf course in Alabama, Kiva Dunes is truly stunning. It was designed by former U.S. Open Champion Jerry Pate and is Alabama’s only beachfront golf resort. It has been named among Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Best Public Golf Courses,” and showcases the native sand dunes, lakes, and natural wildlife areas. The 7,092-yard course is secluded, seaside, and is convenient to the full-service clubhouse on site.

 

Peninsula Golf & Racquet ClubIMG_1123

20 Peninsula Blvd.
Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Created by Earl Stone, this 27-hole course on Mobile Bay features more than 7,000 yards from the tees. It is located on 820 secluded acres, with the Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve on two sides of it. It has been consistently ranked 4 stars by Golf Digest, and it is home to an abundance of natural vegetation and lakes.

There are also several wonderful courses nearby, some of which were designed by famous golf pros!

Glenlakes Golf Clubsolider creek

9530 Clubhouse Drive

Foley, AL 36535

Lost Key Golf club

625 Lost Key Drive
Perdido Key, FL 32507

Rock Creek Golf Club

140 Clubhouse Drive
Fairhope, AL 36532

TimberCreek Golf Club

9650 Timbercreek Boulevard
Daphne, AL 36527

Christmas Celebrations in the Gulf Shores Area

It is that time of year and all across our area it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, despite the warm weather. The street lamps through out the area are lit up and covered in garland.  Recently the City of Foley had their Christmas Tree lighting and welcoming Santa. This year the event was quite grand with Santa escorted by the Police and Fire departments. This year the City of 20151204_183333Foley went all out adding tons of new lights in the Train Park, and around the newly built Centennial Clock Tower. Guests to the Tree lighting enjoyed regular sized trees decorated by local business and community organizations, hot chocolate, carols sung by local children’s choirs, and a count down to lighting the of the Dr. Seuss like tree.
The second most popular spot after visiting Santa in the pavilion was the miniature village. This area has miniature replicas of local city landmarks and even little trees to light up the tiny town. This area features buildings that are a couple of feet tall and painted and even occupied by townspeople or sometimes Santa’s elves. This popular little village had a line just as long as the line for Santa.  20151204_180849 The newly constructed clock tower with star and surrounded by angels was a favorite spot for photos.
Foley isn’t the only place that has holiday festivities this time of year. Gulf shores recently hosted a Christmas Parade on the streets and in the Inter-coastal Canal both are a site to see as they are dominated with lit up boats. Lighting the boats for Christmas is a tradition that is particular to coastal towns. If you haven’t seen a boat parade you need to make time to see one of these parades.

The Gulf Shores Christmas Parade closes down Hwy 59 and proceeds right down through the heart of town ending just before the beach. Of course candy and prize are tossed by passing floats. Holiday music fills the air as light covered floats and boats head toward the gulf. As inmost small towns everything shuts down when a parade comes through the streets. The high school band plays and marches and different sports teams and the homecoming court is part of the action as well. A great parade to sit and enjoy and then you can continue your evening at a local restaurant.  IMG_4523 The annual Christmas boat parade starts at 6 and continues on until it is done. Many people stake out their spot early on the canal or a pier and pack a picnic to enjoy the parade.Fresh Market Christ Boat If you are not up for roughing it and a picnic enjoy the parade from the side of the canal enjoy it from one of the many canal side restaurants while enjoying a wonderful meal. Be sure to pack your hot coco and your camera and enjoy all the fun of the local Christmas activities.

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, offers lots of fun things to do, from geocaching, biking, and days on the beach to golfing, fishing, and exploring the nature center. Open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., you could spend the entire day exploring here! The two miles of gorgeous beaches offer room to kick back in a chair, throw a Frisbee or football, or splash around in the Gulf. Beyond the beach, enjoy recreational activities, the Nature Center, and more.

Nature Center

A nice place to cool off and meet some interesting critters, the Nature Center at Gulf State Park is home to native plants and animals. The “living museum” aims to teach people about caring for the environment and its many living things. It’s open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and entrance is $1 per vehicle into the campground area.IMG_1199

Fishing & Education Pier

The pier at Gulf State Park has 2,448 feet of fishing space along the rails. You’ll find trash cans, lights, and bench seating, as well as some great chances to catch some fish. There is even an indoor seating and concession area, as well as a retail store where you can get tackle and souvenirs. The pier is also wheelchair accessible.fishing pier

Refuge Golf Club

Set in the scenic Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Refuge Golf Club is a beautiful 18-hole championship course designed by Earl Stone. It features 6,593 yards of landscaped courses, along with a driving range, putting green, and pro shop. It’s open from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days a week with reasonable daily fees. Play 18 holes for $24.99 ($21.24 for seniors and $12 for children) or nine holes for $14.99 ($12.74 for seniors and $10 for children). Cart fees are $9 and $15 for nine holes and 18 holes, respectively.

Hiking, biking, beach fun

There are 15 miles of trails in Gulf State Park, spanning Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. Trails feature a variety of terrains, providing opportunities for people of many skill levels to bike, walk, and run.
IMG_1190
Dog-friendly fun

Gulf State Park is dog friendly in several areas! As long as your well-behaved four-legged friend is leashed, you can bring him or her along on the trails and at the picnic area.IMG_1194 You can even unleash pets at the Dog Pond at Lake Shelby, where they can run, play, and swim. The dog park is on the west end of the parking lot below the Gulf Adventure Center. Just be sure to check the rules before heading over.

 

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

When visiting the Gulf Coast, one might see a seagull flying around waiting to be fed, a pelican plunging into the water to grab its fishy lunch, or one of the many shore birds wading at the water’s edge pecking for food and nesting. Alabama’s Gulf Coast is home to many feathered creatures – not just the ones we see hanging around the beach area. In the late 90s, a birding trail was opened to offer the opportunity for people around the world to come experience a wide variety of bird species along the Alabama Gulf Coast.548386_329999303727100_100001510997017_856982_1705441458_n

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is 200 miles, consisting of six birding loops between Baldwin County and Mobile County. The loops can be followed in order, in full or in partiality. The six birding loops include:

  • Gulf Shores – Orange Beach Loop
  • Fort Morgan Loop
  • South Baldwin County Loop
  • Easter Shore, Mobile Bay Causeway and Blakeley Island Loop
  • Mobile – Tensaw River Delta Loop
  • Dauphin Island Bayou La Batre Loop

Fort Morgan Loop

The closest to our Sunset Properties community, Fort Morgan Loop starts at the intersection of AL 59 and AL 180 in Gulf Shores. Most of the Fort Morgan Peninsula falls in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, making it great for birding and enjoying nature. As you explore the Fort Morgan Loop, you’ll run across the Jeff Friend Trail, Pine Beach Trail, Mobile Street, The Pines, Fort Morgan, The Stables, Ferry Landing, Middle Ground, The Fort, and The Marsh. All of these trails offer a variety of terrain and views, as well as a number of conveniences – easy parking, restrooms, a snack bar, a museum and more.

While on one of the many loops listed above, you will see birds such as Black Bellied Plovers, Clapper Rails, Indigo Buntings and so many more. Directional and informational signs along the way will guide you easily along the loops.  Plan your days accordingly; tackle a different trail each day or you could even do two or three during a day. Each loop is close enough to where you could drive to one after another. In between each trail, you and the family could stop and grab a bite to eat at one of the favorite local restaurants or take a look inside one of the many gift shops.

Not just for the bird lovers, these trails offer something for the outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Along with the birding trail, there is a time for hunting. The season usually lasts from October until February; however, non-consumptive use is allowed all year long. Along with hunting, you can also grab that fishing pole and take out the boat or stand on the coast for a relaxing day of fishing. So grab those binoculars, fishing poles, and more and come experience an outdoor paradise that’s fun for any age!

Red, White and Blues Air Show 2015!

Saturday July 11th is the date for the Red, White and Blues Air Show over Pensacola Beach. Just before the air show some antique planes will fly WWII Veterans in honor of their service. There are about 11 planes taking WWII Veterans. These special planes will be a show all to themselves. The main event will start at 2 p.m. be sure to travel and get your spot on the beach early.

Some tips for being prepared for the Air Show. Be patient! There will be lots of traffic and it will be hot so be over courteous and kind to your neighbors. The worst thing that could happen on such a fun day is if tempers rise and fights occur. Remember this is a family event. There will be impressionable little ears and eyes everywhere. Be sure to wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Bring food and lots to drink! Have FUN!!!

The 2015 air show line-up includes the RV-8 speed demons; fat albert, a C-130 Hercules that flies support for the Blue Angels; an MX2, an unlimited aerobatic aircraft that spins and rotates at high speeds; and a one of a kind Extra 300SHP; plus a biplane that roars and races.

I remember going to these shows every year as a child and have wonderful memories. Load up your family and make the trip to Pensacola Beach you will not regret it. After the Air show the Blue Wahoos will be playing the Montgomery Biscuits and after the ball game there will be a fireworks show over Pensacola Bay.

Girls’ Getaway to the Gulf

Aching for some serious girl time? Need to catch up with friends and just relax? About to break out into “Girls just wanna have fun”? Head to Fort Morgan, Alabama, and enjoy a girls’ getaway on the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. From fine dining and relaxing spas to great shopping and beach fun, there are plenty of things to make your time with the girls memorable! Here are just a few ideas for a girls’ getaway to Fort Morgan, Alabama.

Pamper yourselves.
Can you think of a better way to spend a girls’ day out than getting massaged, primped, and pampered? Hit up one of the area spas to give yourselves some much-needed unwinding time. Some spas in and around Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores include:

Massage Therapy of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
3645 Gulf Shores Pkwy. Suite 109
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
251-223-7838

https://www.beach.massagetherapy.com/

Fusion Spa Salon
4778 Main Street
Orange Beach, AL 36561
251-224-4247

https://fusionspasalonaveda.com/

Emerald Coast Esthetics, Inc.
1574 Gulf Shores Pkwy
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
251-752-3223

https://www.eceagelessbeauty.com/

The Spa at the Beach Club
453 Beach Club Trail
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
866-348-9112 or 251-224-2772

https://thebeachclub.spectrumresorts.com/spa/

Play in the sun.
Of course, there are tons of fun things to do at the beach, especially when it comes to outdoor activities. Take walks on the beach, set out a beach chair and soak up the sun, take a dip in the water, go on a dolphin cruise, go deep sea fishing, visit historic Fort Morgan, or take a walk along the many beautiful nature trails.

Shop ‘til you drop.
Just down the road from Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores offers tons of fantastic shopping. There are outlet shops, high-end boutiques, and shops boasting one-of-a-kind gifts. If you want to do some shopping but are looking for a little more than the beach stores, check out:

SanRoc Cay
27267 Perdido Beach Blvd
Orange Beach, AL 36561
251-981-5423

Pelican Place at Craft Farms
3800 Gulf Shores Parkway
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
251-968-3638

Original Oyster House Boardwalk
701 Gulf Shores Parkway
Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Tanger Outlet Center
2601 S. McKenzie
Foley, AL 36535
251-943-9303

The Wharf in Orange Beach
4830 Main Street
Orange Beach, AL 36561
877-942-7325
251-224-1000

Wine and dine.
Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores boast a wide variety of restaurants to meet any tastes. You can grab a quick bite to eat, indulge with dessert, or dress up for a night on the town and a fancy dinner. Some top picks in the area include:

  • Tacky Jack’s 2 – just across the street from our condos!
  • The Hangout
  • Original Oyster House
  • Lucy Buffett’s Lulu’s
  • Shrimp Basket
  • Mikee’s Seafood Restaurant
  • Louisiana Lagniappe at SanRoc Cay
  • King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant
  • DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen
  • Cobalt the Restaurant
  • Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar

Be Dolphin SMART

Gathering crowds and pointing fingers often mean one thing on the beaches of Fort Morgan – a dolphin sighting! It’s so exciting to see dolphins traveling through the waters along the Gulf Coast, especially when they’re “performing” for the crowds. You may see them splashing, circling, playing, jumping, or flipping out of the water. They truly are beautiful and magnificent creatures, and we must keep them safe in order to continue enjoying them. Being dolphin SMART is about knowing how to react around dolphins for the safety of yourself and the animal.

The Dolphin SMART program was created in Key West, Florida, and promotes responsible dolphin viewing. You can enjoy the dolphins, but at a safe distance! The acronym “SMART” is an outline of basic dolphin etiquette. SMART stands for:

Stay at least 50 yards from dolphins
Move away slowly if the dolphins show signs of disturbance
Always put your vessel engine in neutral when dolphins are near
Refrain from feeding, touching, or swimming with wild dolphins
Teach others to be Dolphin SMART

In October 2008, Orange Beach, Alabama, hosted its first Dolphin SMART training session. The hope is to create a safe and healthy environment for the dolphins in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Orange Beach.

Dolphin viewing in and around Fort Morgan

If you want to spend the day, or just a few hours, out on the water, check out these area dolphin cruises and tours. The professionals guiding these trips are sure to provide you with a fun and scenic day – hopefully with lots of dolphin sightings! If you’re out in the water along the beaches of Fort Morgan or Gulf Shores, remember to follow the proper etiquette. It will ensure the safety of these wonderful animals and of yourself and your family!

Fins and Family Fishing Charters
4170 Spinnaker Dr. Unit 1223i
Gulf Shores, AL
251.979.2691
https://www.finsandfamilyfishing.com/

Flora-Bama Marina & Watersports
29603 Perdido Key Drive
Orange Beach, AL
251.980.5222
https://www.florabama.com/

Dolphin Fun Dolphin Cruises
27844 Canal Road
Orange Beach, AL
251.971.1893
https://dolphincruises.net/

Cetacean Cruises*
25991 West Perdido Avenue
Orange Beach, AL
251.550.8000
https://cetaceancruises.com/

*Certified Dolphin SMART business

Holiday Events at the Beach

The holidays are all about family and fun, and Christmas vacations at the beach are no different! Fort Morgan is a scenic and relaxing place to spend the holidays. You can sit back and enjoy the gorgeous beach views or sink your toes in the sand during morning walks. But you don’t have to be a total beach bum to enjoy Christmas at the beach. Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, and surrounding towns offer jam-packed community calendars, hosting holiday events throughout December.

Christmas Shows
Your little princess will love Cinderella (Enchanted Edition) at the South Baldwin Community Theatre beginning December 5. On December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14, watch Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless fairy tale come to life! On December 8, head to the Foley Civic Center for the Baldwin Pops Christmas Concert: Frozen Christmas – a free Christmas concert for the whole family! And Christmas with the Nelsons comes to the Erie Meyer Civic Center at 7 p.m. on December 9, taking guests on a digital sleigh ride with live vocals and hilarious stories of the Nelsons’ family Christmases.

Santa Claus is coming to town!
December 11 boasts one of the biggest holiday events when Santa Claus comes to town! SanRoc Cay in Orange Beach, Alabama, will welcome Santa and invite children to get photos taken with Santa and his elves with Vacation Beach Portraits. Until December 21, you can also have Winter Wonderland photos with Santa taken at The Wharf – just $10 per photo! Find more Santa fun on December 13 at Tea with Santa at Villaggio Grille at The Wharf or the Santa Drop at Flora-Bama! On December 13, LuLu’s will welcome Billy Claus, the big brother of Santa Claus, who will be on hand to take photos and take kids’ letters from the letter writing station to his brother in the North Pole! At dusk, the Nautical Night of Lights Boat Parade will begin, so there will be plenty for both children and adults to enjoy. On December 20, kids can have another chance to meet Santa before he heads back to the North Pole to prepare for Christmas Eve. A hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon, and eggs will be served before it’s time to take photos with Santa! Admission is just $5, and children under three years old are free!

More holiday fun
If you need to pick up some Christmas gifts, be sure to stop by the Merry Market at The Wharf from December 12-13, where you’ll find unique gifts, handmade arts and crafts, and fine art pieces. Admission is free, so you could spend hours browsing here. Get in the holiday spirit with horse and carriage rides at The Wharf on December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, and 21. As you ride, take in the beautiful holiday lights and decorations!

Interspersed throughout these exciting holiday events are karaoke and open mic nights at area restaurants and bars, so you can belt those holiday tunes all you want! Lulu’s will feature new live entertainment throughout the holiday season, and local restaurants will feature some of your favorite holiday foods. Round out your Christmas at the beach with the Christmas Potluck at Flora-Bama – complete with turkey and ham. Those attending are encouraged to bring a covered dish to share, making the potluck feel so much more like a family affair! What a wonderful way to spend the holidays during your vacation to Fort Morgan!

Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show in Alabama

Known for their impressive air skills and long-standing traditions, the Blue Angels pilots of the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron have a mission to “showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.” Their first show was at Craig Field in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1946, and the Blue Angels have been stunning crowds ever since! It’s estimated that 11 million people see the air shows each year, not counting the 50,000 people the Blue Angels visit during school and hospital visits.

This November, the Blue Angels will be performing their Homecoming Air Show at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida. Admission is free, and gates open at 8 a.m. each day. When the show begins at 9 a.m., spectators will be in for a treat! The Blue Angels Flight Demonstration team will fly at 2 p.m. and sign autographs after. Along with the amazing flying skills, the Homecoming Air Show includes static aircraft displays, food and drink, vendor booths, attractions, and virtual reality experiences! There is even a Kids’ Zone that features virtual games and a bungee jump.

What to bring
Air shows are very loud, so those with young children are encouraged to bring protection for their ears. Layers of clothes help protect against the wind on the tarmac, and blankets and chairs are allowed. You can also bring small camera and diaper bags, but coolers, backpacks, pets, food, and drinks are not allowed.

Blue Angels aircraft
Over the years, the Blue Angels have flown more than 10 different aircraft. They originally flew four aircraft in the “Diamond” formation and then began flying six aircraft to include solos and precision formation flying. Today, the Blue Angels fly the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules with their own modifications, including an inverted fuel pump, a smoke-fluid system, a stop watch, an adjustable constant-tension stick spring, and the Blue Angels paint scheme.

Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show
November 7 – 9
National Museum of Naval Aviation
1750 Radford Blvd
Pensacola, FL 32508
850.453.2389

If you need a great place to stay while you’re in the area, check out our condos and beach houses near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Instead of staying near the traffic of Pensacola, you can stay in the peaceful town of Fort Morgan. Enjoy the beautiful beaches of Fort Morgan, along with the many activities in the area, before heading to Pensacola for an exciting show!

Birding in Fort Morgan

Birding, also known as bird watching, is the observation of birds in their natural habitats. Birding can be done with the naked eye, through a pair of binoculars, even though the powerful lens of a camera. The town and historic sites in Fort Morgan, Alabama, have been designated as one of the “One Hundred Globally Important Bird Areas,” being the site of annual migration routes from everything from hummingbirds to bald eagles!

While the beautiful beaches of Fort Morgan offer many guests all that they could ask for, the wildlife in the area is one of the most impressive features. Birding is a seasonal venture, particularly spectacular in the spring and fall, however, migrations take place all year-round. The unique peninsula of Fort Morgan is the first landfall and last departure point for thousands of migrating birds!

Bird banding has become quite a venture in Fort Morgan, Alabama. Bird banding entails capturing large numbers of migrating birds and harmlessly placing a band around their leg as a way to track and monitor population levels as well as the condition of the birds. Bird banding allows researchers to gain crucial insight into the effects that variables such as temperature, storms, and other weather conditions have on these migrating animals.

Bird banding gathers a remarkable crew of trained and dedicated volunteers to capture and release these animals, and it is quite a sight to see! Bird banding in Fort Morgan is open to the public, inviting one and all to come check out this unique and impressive adventure. The bird banding takes place over the course of a little over one week’s time, both in April and in October.

Fort Morgan, Alabama, is also home to several sites on the Alabama Costal Birding Trail. Considered to be a birder’s paradise, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail spans over two counties and was developed during the late 1990s as a way to offer bird enthusiasts a way to enjoy the incredible diversity that this area has to offer. Each loop that the trail offers features different ecological regions, and the one in Fort Morgan features five different sites for your recreational use!

The Fort Morgan birding loop starts AL 180, which runs until the end of the peninsula. The majority of the Fort Morgan birding trail is nestled in Fort Morgan Historic State Park. Serious birding enthusiasts can pick up a checklist at the museum in preparation for the wonderful wildlife activity they are about to witness!

If storms are in the area during the springtime migration, many guests get to witness awe-inspiring “fallouts” of migratory birds. The animals retreat to the peninsula to take refuge, in numbers and types greater than what are normally seen. Spring is one of the best times to view colorful neo-tropical birds – photographers flock to the area during this time to capture these spectacular animals on film.

The season of fall brings the neo-tropical birds back to Fort Morgan, and in addition, hundreds of migrating hawks! During this time you can view everything from red-tailed to sharp-shinned hawks. Winter brings many water birds and sparrows to the area, including chipping sparrows and white pelicans. Summer is considered to be the “slow” season of birding in this area, but can bring sandwich terns and rock pigeons to the area.

Birding in Fort Morgan is a popular activity that draws many tourists to the area. Since there are few hotels in the area, many visitors choose to stay in our lovely beach condos and houses right along the Fort Morgan beaches. Migration season is an excellent reason to enjoy a beach vacation to Fort Morgan, Alabama!