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.
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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.

 

Food Crawl on the Gulf Coast Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan offer more than just seafood

You might think that your only option for food in Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, Alabama, is seafood. And while seafood is delicious, and you probably do want to splurge on it while you’re at the beach and can get the freshest choices, the restaurant options in these Gulf Coast towns provide something for almost every taste. Take a virtual trip around the world as we show you some of the restaurants that represent a variety of cultures and tastes. You can satisfy your sweet tooth, grab a quick burger, fill up on Southern favorites, or splurge on a sushi dinner.

Seafood
Of course we can’t leave off seafood – it’s a staple here at the beach! Tacky Jack’s 2 is a great pick shrimp_20pic_20107-122x79in Fort Morgan, and it’s just across the street from Sunset Properties. Along with a varied menu, Tacky Jack’s 2 will cook up the catch you bring in from the day’s fishing! Connected to the Gulf Shores Yacht Club & Marina, this local favorite promises to serve up fresh seafood. You can even sit outside, eat, and watch as the fishing boats head into shore for the day. The Original Oyster House has seafood and Cajun specialties (and an expansive salad bar), and DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen offers daily lunch specials starting at just $6. Other great seafood restaurants in the area include: Mikee’s Seafood, the Shrimp Basket, King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant, and Cosmo’s (in Orange Beach).

Mexican
If you’re in the mood for tacos, burritos, chips and salsa, and your other Mexican favorites, try photo 1Tequila Mexican Restaurant, Cactus Flower Cafe, or El Toro Mexican Restaurant, all located along Gulf Shores Parkway.

Italian
Whether you want pizza, pasta, or calzones, Gulf Shores has a few great options. Stop by Papa’s Pizza or Crico’s Pizza & Subs on Gulf Shores Parkway, or head to The Wharf to try Villaggio Grille. Papa Rocco’s has pizza, oysters, and live music, and Old World Bakery offers dine in, carry out, and free delivery.

Sushi
Located on Canal Road in Orange Beach, Cosmo’s Restaurant & Bar is worth the drive for great sushi. Enjoy an outdoor bar, unique boutique shopping, and a dog-friendly atmosphere on the patios. Aji Sai Asian Cuisine also has a wide variety of rolls made fresh (located at The Pelican Place at Craft Farms).

Southern
Because they’re located on the Gulf Coast, restaurants in Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, AL offer the Southern classics. Dine on grits, cornbread, fried pickles, turnip greens, and all those other great Southern comfort foods at area eateries such as Original Oyster House, Bahama Bob’s Beach Side Cafe, LuLu’s, and The Hangout.

Breakfast
If you can bring yourself to get out of bed and away from the beach early enough, there are several great breakfast spots in Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores. Just across the street, Tacky Jack’s 2 offers 20140225_102905mimosas, Bloody Marys, breakfast burritos, and more. Or you can head into Gulf Shores and get some coffee and treats at Cafe Beignet. Down the road in Orange Beach, Cobalt The Restaurant serves a breakfast buffet during spring and summer and a Sunday brunch year-round from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Vacation Rental Company Vs. Rental By Owner

We often get questions about the advantages of renting from a rental company verses from an owner directly.  Well, both have their advantages. The information in this blog comes from a previous post on our blog about who to vacation with and a new blog written by Tricia Howarth for the Vacation Rental Managers Association about how to rent your property. Speaking from the rental company side the advantages we see come from the problems people who rent from owner mention to us as they come through.  As a rental company we are here on site if there is a problem big or small we are here to help!  If you have to change rooms for some reason, say a leak, we have a large selection of properties to offer you in place of the problem room.  A rental company is just a phone call or a few steps away, where as most rental by owners are a phone call away but often in another state with just a cleaner to help you with problems.  Having a rental company  is handy for information, or if you happen to lock yourself out, or just the strange emergencies that come up.  We have people stop for everything from restaurant suggestions and clogged disposals  to Jellyfish stings, and missing bottle openers.  The nice part about a rental company is they have a staff of people close by to help with any and all problems.  Because of the large stock of condos we can often match or beat the pricing of a Rental by owner and provide additional service that guests want and need to make their stay worry free!

As Ms. Howarth mentioned on the other side of things if you are renting your property to make money you should make an educated decision. Most people by a place at the beach or the mountains to enjoy! They don’t usually want to spend lots of time and effort making reservations dealing with tax issues, marketing your property and maintenance calls, not to mention regular information calls about the area surrounding your property. She gave a great question to consider, “How does the return on the time it takes to do all these items compare with your regular earning potential during these hours or the value of time spent doing things you love?”

Property managers have contingency plans in place for emergencies and security for your property and for vacationers personal and financial information. These plans include onsite personnel, specialty locks and codes and. Are you prepared for computer hacks, or accidents on your property? DO you carry insurance that will cover if something does happen? How do you know your property is secure if you don’t hire someone to check on it? Property managers have the insurance, plans for accidents, and personnel in place to keep your property and your guests and their information secure. Keep in mind implementing any of these on your own is an added expense to your bottom line. Or it will be included in what you will pay in management fees each month.

Think about when you are on vacation. It is nice to have all the perks, the special attention of a staff to answer your questions. After all without happy guests you are not making money. Management companies hire specialists in guest services who are personable and happy to help twenty four hours a day, seven days a week even on holidays. Are you friendly at 4 AM when you get a call about being locked out or someone not having the Wi-Fi code? The satisfaction of your guests is what brings in future rentals. One bad review because your home wasn’t clean or the AC didn’t work when your guest arrived can ruin your future rental potential for an unexpected amount of time until you can get some positive reviews to counter act the negative information. Haven’t you heard good news travels quick bad news travels even quicker.

Exposure is not in the form of a beautiful printed pamphlet any more. You need a website to advertise on, and other options to advertise your property through multiple venues to allow the most exposure. These are fees that are also included when going with a management company.

IF you have the time, patience and money to Rent by Owner it is certainly a rewarding way to earn an income. The professionals in this field are excited and happy to help when you are ready to put your property in their hands.

Tripping.com’s Best Beaches in Alabama

According to their website; Tripping is the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals. They also have a wonderful blog and from their research Fort Morgan is the number 2 beach in Alabama. Fort Morgan has historical draw and quiet beautiful beaches. No wonder it ranked number 2 in their research. We have a few more reasons that Fort Morgan is one of the best choices for a beach trip in Alabama.

Of course Tripping.com is correct. The Civil War era Fort Morgan is a wonderful place to visit and has huge historical significance. The battle of Mobile Bay was a big turning point in the war and was recently reenacted at the One hundred and fiftieth anniversary. This was almost entirely a sea battle and took place just off of the coast. The battle pitted two generals against one another whose backgrounds were so similar one would think the details of their lives were made up. This battle is certainly worth the research for anyone who is interested in our country’s history. The battles details range from captivating to humorous and even some of the gore that comes with war. Absolutely worth the time and the trip to the end of the island to visit Fort Morgan.

This article was about the beach! So let me tell you a little about why Fort Morgan has the best beaches. Fort Morgan had miles of federally protected beach which means it is untouched by development. In most places the island / peninsula is only half a mile across. So this means you have easy bay access to fish, kayak, boat, or participate in any number of water activities that are not easily enjoyed in the sometime rough gulf waters.

Then you also have the gulf beaches that are sugar white and as I mentioned basically untouched by development. You can explore eighteen miles of beach all the way to Fort Morgan on foot in the water or even take a bike trip down Fort Morgan road. This beach is home to shore birds, dolphin, fish, sea turtles, skates, sting ray, manta ray, tons of shells, crabs, snails, sea stars, and even the rare horseshoe crab. The school children in the area are involved a program that breeds and hatches out horseshoe crabs to repopulate the area waters with this ancient species.

Many of the Fort Morgan beaches are dog friendly as well. So if your furry friend travels with you they are welcome in the Fort Morgan area. The only place dogs cannot go are the refuge areas. Those are located in different areas all down the Fort Morgan peninsula. These refuges are set up to protect local wildlife and habitat. Some of these areas have hiking trails that include the pine Beach Trail, the Jeff Friend Trail and the Gator Lake Trail. These are fun and informative trails for any interested in nature. Late summer and Fall is a great time to visit the area to witness the cool weather and the sea turtle hatching season, bird banding, and the numerous festivals.

In our opinion Fort Morgan is the top beach to visit in Alabama. Fort Morgan has a little bit of everything for any traveler. Water sports, Nature, history, BEAUTIFUL scenery, great restaurants and quiet beaches. You should check it out for yourself! See you soon.

Beach Vacation From the Rental Company’s Point of View

For the longest time no one I knew friends, family, strangers believed that my job was an actual real job as an assistant manager for a property management company at the beach. Everyone thought I just checked a few people in each day then had the rest of the time to go and play in the sugar white sand and emerald green water. There are so many more things involved. Some are fun, some very time consuming, some frustrate you to no end and others give you a laugh every time you think of them. More often than not we are playing a counselor in some form or fashion listening to people who really need a getaway from their everyday life.

My first funny experience was a couple of guys who just walked in off of the street. They were already feeling really good and continued to drink once they checked in. They went up to their room and came right back down because they did not remember what their room number was and their keys were coded. I told them their room number and even wrote it down for them. I ran into them again at the elevator later and once again they unsure which room to go to. I had them wait right there while I grabbed a sharpie and wrote their room number on their hands. They were sure not to get lost now.

The very time consuming situations come into play when people simply refuse to read the information that we send them. This leads to very long phone conversations about what to bring and what there is to do in the area. Not to mention we have to deal with the angry calls from people who did not know what they rented or where they are going, or where to get the keys for their rental. Take ten minutes and read or watch the videos they will save much confusion.

The most frustrating thing that I have had to deal with is the guest that calls with lots of complaints but does not allow us to attempt to fix them. We try very hard to send you into a property where everything works and it is clean and beautiful for your stay. However if we miss something please give us a chance to make it right. It typically only takes a moment and we can make your stay that much more enjoyable.

One of those situations that will make you laugh every time you think of it is different for each of us. For me it is some of the funny things kids say when they are so excited at check in. Or the dogs enjoying their first trip to the beach and playing in the water. For my bosses it is the people who called and being very serious asked them to turn the waves down that they were too loud and they could not sleep. Sometimes the requests we get are over the top and there is absolutely nothing we can do. Sometimes we are so frustrated we want to run screaming out the door but most of the time we love our job just like you. Helping people have a wonderful vacation well its one of the best, most challenging jobs I have ever had.

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.

July 4th Fireworks Shows in Gulf Shores for 2015

July 4, 2015 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular
Annual Community Events
The Wharf in Orange Beach
4830 Main Street

Orange Beach, AL 36561
251-224-1000
Website
July 4th featuring: Fireworks Spectacular at 8:45pm SPECTRA: at 8:30 pm; 9pm; 9:30 and10pm, Face painter, bouncy houses

9:00 PM
Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration at Gulf Shores Public Beach

Dates & Times
July 4, 2015 9:00 PM
Location

Gulf Shores Public Beach
City of Gulf Shores, 101 East Beach Blvd. Gulf Shores, AL, 36547
Admission
Free to public.
Event Info
The City of Gulf Shores will celebrate the Fourth of July with a stunning fireworks display, beginning at 9 p.m. on
Saturday, July 4.

“We are excited about continuing our rich Fourth of July tradition and invite all locals and visitors to celebrate with us at the Gulf Shores Public Beach,” said Programs and Events Manager, Brigette Reynolds.

According to organizers, the fireworks will be shot from a barge stationed due south of the West 2nd Street beach access point.
“All public beach areas will provide spectators with an incredible, front row seat,” said Reynolds. “We can’t thank Cassity Brothers Construction enough for their help in securing the barge for us to put on this wonderful show.”
In addition to the fireworks, Sunny 105.7 FM will be broadcasting a patriotic musical element that will coincide with the show.

For more information about the City of Gulf Shores’ Fourth of July fireworks, contact the Special Events Division at 251-968-1174.
Contact Us
PHONE: 251-968-1174
WEBSITE: https://www.gulfshoresal.gov

11th Annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival, May 2nd!

Don’t miss the 11th Annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival! This annual event brings balloon enthusiasts from all over the country to participate in the glow and host rides for event goers. This is one of our favorite events in the area and something we always try to make time to enjoy. Be sure to enjoy the prizes and sales at Tanger Outlet in Foley on the 30th of April from 7 to 8:30 in the evening. On May 1st at the Foley Sports Complex enjoy a carnival, Crawfish boil, Live music, Arts and crafts, and tethered rides at Dusk.

Dates & Times
May 2, 2015 2:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Location

Foley Sports Complex, 18507 US Highway 98 West, Foley, AL 36535
Event Info
THURSDAY, APRIL 30
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM Tanger Outlets Kickoff and Glow Event
Hot Air Balloon Glow, Four Day Super Sale, Spin the wheel for free prizes

FRIDAY, MAY 1
2 PM – 10 PM Foley Sports Complex
Carnival by Mitchell Brothers Carnival
2:00-10:00 pm
World Famous Disc Connected K-9 Frisbee Dog Show
Crawfish Boil
Arts, Crafts and Food
Live Entertainment: Sugarcane Jane 5:00-7:00 pm
Tethered Rides at Dusk
Live Music Headliner: Chee Weez 8:30-10:30 pm
Hot Air Balloon Glow at Dusk

SATURDAY, MAY 2
6 AM – 10 PM
Foley Sports Complex
Carnival by Mitchell Brothers Carnival 2:00-10:00 pm
World Famous Disc Connected K-9 Frisbee Dog Show
Crawfish Boil
Arts, Crafts and Food
Live Entertainment: JERI 2:00-4:30 pm
Live Entertainment: Rhythm Intervention 4:30-7:00 pm
Tethered Rides at Dusk
Live Music Headliner: Escalade 8:30-10:30 pm
Hot Air Balloon Glow at Dusk

Contact Us

PHONE: 251-943-3291

WEBSITE: https://www.gulfcoastballoonfestival.com

Address
18507 US Highway 98 West
Foley, AL 36535

Contact

251-943-3291

Vacation Special for Mother’s Day 2015!!!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY from Sunset Properties. Join us at the beach this Mother’s Day weekend two nights only $299.00 in a 1 bedroom, 2 bath condo that sleeps up to 6 people!!! You deserve a getaway for taking care of everyone in your life so drop a hint to your loved ones and then let them take care of you in the sunny weather at the beach. Fort Morgan is the perfect quiet getaway for your family or just you if you want a getaway by yourself! Be sure to take advantage of this special before we booked up!

We look forward to celebrating with you! See you soon.