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!

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.’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 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.

Alex Goes To College!!!

Earlier this year we had an opportunity to apply for a scholarship to send a staff member to Southeastern Tourism Society Marketing College. This scholarship gave our Alex the opportunity to meet and learn from marketing professionals that specialize in tourism. Alex is our newest full time staff member she has been with us almost three years. Alex came to us with fantastic knowledge of social media and wonderful customer service skills. With these skills we immediately put her covering our marketing. Over the years she has learned and grown so much knowledge. She brightens each and every day and puts her heart and soul into her job. We believed nominating her for this scholarship was a must. Alex naturally was doing great with our marketing so with some professional advancement training we knew she would grow in her job by leaps and bounds.

In her classes Alex learned the difference between marketing and advertising, secrets of Travel packaging, how to brand our area as a destination, marketing in the digital world, top trends and economic impact of tourism, how to market with festivals and events and creating brochures. Already Alex has put her knowledge to work and is improving and making changes in our marketing strategies.

Alex joined other marketing specialists from all over the southeast in this week long intensive study to market tourism industry businesses and tourist destinations. She made some great friends and contacts in this field and is looking forward to next year and the knowledge will be added to the foundation she received in this first round of classes.

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
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

Gulf Shores Public Beach
City of Gulf Shores, 101 East Beach Blvd. Gulf Shores, AL, 36547
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

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

Foley Sports Complex, 18507 US Highway 98 West, Foley, AL 36535
Event Info
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

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

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


18507 US Highway 98 West
Foley, AL 36535



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.

Bringing Baby to the Beach???

As I move closer to when my little one is due my mind is wandering to the beautiful weather outside and how I will get ready to take my sweet little boy down to the beach once he is old enough to go. I grew up on the beach going with my family and friends as often as possible when I was a child. We certainly didn’t have the high end of everything to protect us but we absolutely had a fantastic time and have wonderful memories from every childhood trip to the beach. I remember my dad setting up a parachute with a long bamboo pole in the middle and stakes around it to protect us from the sun while we played near or in the water. We always had fishing pole, and sunscreen most of the time we camped out and had an amazing amount of fun. But I certainly remember getting some terrible sunburns as a child and that is a terrible thing to happen on vacation so I wanted to give you a few hints to keep you little ones safe, burn free, and with lots of happy beach memories.

There are some fantastic new products for kids now that were not available when I was a child in the 70’s and 80’s to help keep them from being sunburned. The first is clothing with SPF. You can get hats, shorts, shirts and swim suits with a great SPF to help protect your little ones from the sunburns. Be sure to look for the proper sunscreen for your little ones as well this will give you that little bit of extra protection. Apply sunscreen before you head out to the beach and often while you are in the sun! When I was a child my parents were creative with the sun protection. Notice my little brothers turban or cloth diaper to protect his little head.

Make a safe spot for your little one to enjoy the water too. When my brothers and I were kids my parents dug us a little lagoon just past the major break in where the water washes on to the beach. They made a small wall with an opening for some water to wash in then closed it up so we weren’t trying to fight with the waves as they came in. Or if they left it open it was just a small bit so a trickle of water could get in to our little pool area. I have seen mothers bring small blow up pools down to the beach they fill those with beach water and put them near the water and under the shade so the little ones can enjoy the beach but not be over whelmed by waves and too much sun.

Instead of a parachute which is awesome if you are up for the work! You can now rent umbrellas and chairs so you don’t have to worry about taking lots to the beach beyond your sunscreen and a bag with snacks and sunscreen. I remember everyone carried an armful of things when we went to the beach but we had a fantastic time most of the time. I have a few extra suggestions of things to throw in that beach bag to help keep your little ones cool calm and collected.
1. Inexpensive beach toys, dollar store is perfect for these! Something to build a sand castle and pour and sift, sand and water will keep them busy for hours.
2. A plastic zipper bag for treasures. I would suggest something that will trap smell just in cast they pick something that is still alive and you don’t find it right away!!!
3. Baby powder will help get all pesky sand off as you head in for the evening.
4. SUNSCREEN, don’t forget it!
5. Flip flops for the walk back if they are walkers.
6. Wagon to pull them in if they are not walking.
7. Hats, sunglasses, clothing with SPF material.
8. Water, fruit, cooler, to stay hydrated.
9. White Vinegar, just in case jellyfish are nearby. Even broken parts of them can cause stings.
10. Trash bags. For diapers or trash you may make. You always want to leave the beach cleaner than it was when you got there.
11. Camera for those irreplaceable candid moments in the sun!

A visit to the beach with little ones can be fun and educational for all involved just remember to tap in to that inner boy scout or girl scout and BE PREPARED! This will make your trip so much more enjoyable and memorable! See you at the beach!