Choose the Alabama Gulf Coast for Your Next Homeschool Fieldtrip

By: Raven Hunter

            Homeschooling offers many appealing advantages to a child’s education, among those being schedule flexibility and creative license. Not only can homeschool families organize schoolwork around family plans without having to worry about makeup work or excuse notes, but they can also use those family plans as educational opportunities to broaden their students’ learning horizons! With the COVID-19 pandemic making virtual school a popular schooling option, many public school families are also experiencing these benefits, and Alabama’s Gulf Coast gives all at-home learners the opportunity to make the most of them. If your student is learning at home, here are some destinations in the Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan area that will make your next educational vacation one to remember:

            Fort Morgan State Historic Site

            Fort Morgan is a historical preservation of the fort built to refortify its predecessor, Fort Bowyer, in 1819. The site offers a detailed account of the site’s complicated history from the war of 1812 to World War II through a series of information panels spread throughout the site that will allow you and your students to absorb the history while being immersed in the location itself. As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, tours of Fort Morgan are currently self-guided. While this change may seem disappointing initially, this independence will give your at-home learner the opportunity to explore and learn at their own pace. What better way to develop a love of learning? Sunset Properties offers several rentals on Alabama State Highway 180 that are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Fort Morgan, making the site perfect for an early morning start to a full day of educational fun! Admission is only $5 for children and $8 for adults with a $20 deal for families of two adults and two children. Prepay for your family’s tickets today!

            Nature Exploration

            If at-home learning has you always looking for opportunities to explore the outdoors, Alabama’s Gulf Coast offers many places for you and your kids to connect with nature! Also on AL 180 is Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge. This refuge contains four different nature trails and offers your young learners multiple different avenues to experience the coastal wildlife, such as birdwatching (seasonal for spring and autumn), interpretive material and activities, photography, and fishing if you have anglers in the bunch! Over in Gulf Shores, Gulf State Park also offers many opportunities for your children to discover a love for wildlife with attractions such as the Interpretive Center, the Nature Center, and the Forest Pavilion & Butterfly Garden as well as many trails with rest stops to make for a relaxing and bonding nature experience. The park also encourages you to teach your children about the importance of conservation with their many initiatives! Make sure to include a day immersed in the wonder that the coastal flora and fauna has to offer to your family’s learning vacation!

            Family Fun, Dinner, and Dessert

            After a long day of learning and fun, you may be looking for a fun place to unwind as a family. Alabama’s Gulf Coast has no shortage of family-friendly hangout spots! Hangout, appropriately named, in Gulf Shores offers live bands and seafood for the whole family. Come and attend an event, or just relax and enjoy dinner accompanied by the sounds of the band of the evening. For dessert, you can head over to Chocolate Corner & Ice Cream for a quick to-go treat of ice cream or chocolate. Rated five stars on Yelp, this parlor offers takeout and delivery services for sweet treats from milkshakes and frappuccinos to truffles and chocolate bark! These delicacies will be perfect for you and your family to wind down and remember the fun times you had on your family field trip.

If you’re looking to seize the creative spontaneity made possible by at-home learning, then Alabama’s Gulf Coast is the place to go to give your family relaxing and educational fun!

Should I rent a beach home or a hotel room in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan?

Someone who knows I write blogs for Sunset Properties asked me, “Do you always stay in a condo or house when you go on vacation? Don’t you ever stay in a hotel?”  To answer honestly, I had to say “yes”.  Like everyone else who has ever traveled and stayed overnight somewhere, I have stayed in a hotel.  Do I like it for longer than one or two nights?  Absolutely not.  I like to spend my money wisely.  I like having my privacy and I enjoy the luxury of staying in a home away from home instead of just having a bedroom.  For business travel, a hotel is ok, I guess.  But for vacation, I much prefer having all the amenities I am accustomed to in my personal home available to me in my vacation home.

Here are five reasons why staying in a beach house or condo can be a better choice than renting a hotel room:

1.      Comparing the costs, beach homes are the better deal.

Oftentimes we are fooled into believing a hotel room is cheaper and therefore it is the better deal.  For years, our brains have been conditioned to think that way.  The fact is, that when we compare apples to apples (I mean, as close as we can compare said apples) the beach condo or house is the better deal.  Let me prove this.  For the week of August 9-13, 2021, which would be for four nights, we have the following options.  A large internet booking site posts a hotel that is right on the beach in Orange Beach for $1226 total cost including estimated 13% taxes and fees.  That sounds pretty good, right?  This is probably a nice hotel, too.  It’s part of a well-known chain with a great reputation.  And this room has a pool view.  Can’t beat that, can ya?  So for right at twelve hundred dollars, you can rent a two-bed room (not a two bedroom) right on the beach in Orange Beach.  Breakfast is not included with this reservation.  Then I searched Sunset Properties for the same time period.  I found this: for about $1263 (all fees included) only about $40 more than the hotel room I mentioned, you can book a one bedroom condo with a sleeper sofa and a private balcony that overlooks the beach in Gulf Shores.  That’s right!  For almost the same amount of money, you can bookIsland Winds West 177 in Gulf Shores.  Like the hotel room, this condo doesn’t come with breakfast, either, but, unlike the hotel room, it does come with a fully stocked kitchen that has full size appliances.  All you have to do is stop by Rouse’s and get some breakfast groceries or go out to eat breakfast. But let’s face it, you were going to have to do that anyway, if you rented the hotel.  So, maybe you can beat the hotel deal!

2.      Privacy matters for private matters.

So, we’ve all been in a hotel room when we overheard our neighbors.  Maybe they were talking, or singing or the kids were playing loudly.  It happens, right?  We sort of expect it.  But when we are on vacation, do we really need to know what our neighbors are doing?  As for me, I’d rather not.  And hotel turndown service and restocking the toilet paper is great for a couple of days.  But after that, when I’m on vacation, I don’t always want to pre-clean my room before the housekeeper comes.  I’d rather just relax a bit and leave my clothes on the floor if I am tired from a long day of beaching.  A beach home is definitely the way to go for longer stays!  When you book a beach home, house or condo, you get so much more privacy during your vacation.  When you reserve a condo, like Gulfside Townhome 31, much like an apartment, some neighbor noise does filter through.  But when you reserve a beach house, like Alta Vista, for example, it is like being in your own home.  When you’re cooking that great local Alabama Seafood you purchased right off the boat from one of our amazing seafood retailers and you are singing along to your favorite Jimmy Buffett song, your neighbors won’t be able to hear you.  No one will come and turn down the covers for you each day while you’re away and no one will come and restock the toilet paper, but the overall benefits really outweigh the inconvenience of having to buy your own restock roll.  And, once your seafood is ready, you can enjoy it right on your own balcony overlooking some of the most beautiful beaches that surround the Gulf of Mexico.

3.      Amenities like well-stocked kitchens with full size appliances alleviate stress.

I love to dine out when I travel.  I love to dine out in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan.  That’s no secret.  I actually will admit to being a Destination Dinner Diner ( a little term I coined which is actually quite fitting!).  Like a lot of folks I know, I will look ahead to find the best places to eat before I travel.  And we do have some great places here along the Alabama Gulf Coast!  Want to know where to have a memorable breakfast or brunch?  Check out my breakfast/brunch blog.  How about a great place for a Bushwacker?  I have a Bushwacker blog. The list goes on.  At Sunset Properties, we are happy to make recommendations on our favorite local spots.  But what about those days when you don’t want to wait in line at a restaurant to be seated?  When you’re not feeling especially people-ly and you just want to go in for the night and cook your own seafood and have your own adult beverages?  In vacation peace and serenity.  We can’t really do that in a hotel, can we?  But if you were staying a few days in Happy Clam, located just two streets from the beach, you can have it all.   This lovely beach house has a great kitchen, stocked with everything you need to cook any meal, except your menu items.  It also has a grill for your use.  And if you have too much of your favorite adult beverage, you won’t have to drive home after dinner, because you’ll already be there!  So to review, you can get a really nice private beach home, with a great kitchen and grill, that’s a five minute walk to the beach, for about the same cost as a hotel.   I’d say that’s a win, win, win, win, stress-free WIN!

4.      Everyone, including the dog, has their own space.

Most of us like to travel with our dogs.  They are as much a part of our family as our human relatives are.  Frequently, unless your dog is a service animal, this is not an option when staying in a hotel.  Leaving our dogs at home while we go away on vacation can get expensive.  If you have to rent a space at a doggie spa or vet, your vacation cost can go up exponentially.  If you have to get a neighbor, friend or relative to doggy-sit, you also face extra charges.  Both are great options, and we have all tried them, but they also cause stress on our fur babies.  Not only are they sad because we are away from them, but they are left in the care of semi or total strangers, and that can make them terribly uncomfortable.  Why not pack up Spot’s favorite toys and bed and bring him with you?  When your family stays in adog friendly Sunset Properties beach home, everyone can enjoy their vacation.  When I say everyone, I actually literally mean “everyone”.  Check out the dog friendly breath-takingly beautiful beach home Grace.  Up to twenty humans can stay here.  And dogs, under certain restrictions, are welcome, too.  There are so many things you can do with your dog along the Alabama Gulf Coast, I can’t think of one reason to split up the family and leave your fur baby at home.

5.      The staff gets to know you by name and can help you customize your vacation.

While some hotels do have consistency in staffing, many, many do not.  When you call in to check on a reservation or for assistance at your hotel, often you’re just a “last name and a room number”.  But at Sunset Properties, a small family-owned company, our staff turnover is very low.  That works to our guest’s benefit!  We get to know you by name and many of our guests become our friends.  We learn about your family’s wants and needs and are able to help you customize your reservations to line up with your vacation goals.  Where do you want to stay in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan?  Do you prefer a condo or a house?  Pool or beach front or both?  Bay front or boat slip needed?  These are things we learn about our guests, and we are able to offer vacation homes to meet each of these wants and needs.  Again, for a less personal experience and for a quick on night stay, a hotel is probably the way to go.  But if you want a vacation that specifically meets your family’s lifestyle, reserving a beach home from Sunset Properties is probably going to provide you with the memories you’re hoping for.  

Though there are too many to list them all here, this little blog outlines some reasons why I prefer staying in a vacation home instead of a hotel.  If you have questions about a home you’re considering booking, reach out to us.  At Sunset Properties, we are very familiar with all of our available homes, and we are happy to answer questions you may have.  Remember, if you’re looking for someone to turn down your covers and restock your toilet paper during your stay in one room, that’s not us.  But if you’re looking to be the King or Queen of one of the nicest “Sand Castles” on the Alabama Gulf Coast, reach out to us at Sunset Properties.  We can definitely get you a key to a castle that will fit your whole family’s needs.

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370

What to do if a Hurricane Threatens Your Gulf Shores Vacation Fun

Now that the Alabama Gulf Coast is open for business and we are all rebounding from last year’s pandemic closures, we know you are ready to book your beach vacation getaway or flexcation soon!  Your friends at Sunset Properties want you to make the most of your beach vacation experience.  We want you and your family to enjoy all the great restaurants and attractions available here on our Alabama Gulf Coast.  We want you to dip your toes in the welcoming waters of the salty Gulf of Mexico and enjoy listening to the seagulls chatter and watching the dolphins play in our back bays of Orange Beach.  We want you to enjoy walking on our sugary sandy white beaches in front of the Hangout in Gulf Shores.  We hope you get to go boating and fishing and parasailing in Mobile Bay, if those things appeal to you.  But we also want you to be prepared just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.  Here are some tips on What to do if a hurricane threatens your vacation fun in Gulf Shoes, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan:  

  • Know where you are

Keeping up with exactly where you are on a map is so important. Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico tropical weather, whether you’re dealing with a tropical storm or a hurricane, may not affect all parts of the Gulf Coast with the same severity.  What can be considered a major storm in one area of the Northern Gulf can be little more than a rain event just a few miles away.  Know where your vacation home is in relation to any severe weather that may be in the expected or affecting the Northern Gulf Coast.  Just because there is tropical weather in The Gulf of Mexico doesn’t necessarily mean your vacation has to be altered.  Sometimes, all it means is there is no swimming allowed in The Gulf for a day or so due to rip currents/tides.  And if that’s the case, you will still have a great time staying with Sunset Properties.  Most of our vacation homes have pools either right on site or only a short walk away.

  • Know exactly what you’re dealing with

Tropical weather can appear in several different forms.  The ones that seem to catch our ears here on the Alabama Gulf Coast are tropical storms and hurricanes.  What’s the difference?   As defined by www.weather.gov a tropical storm is a tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds ranging from 39-73 mph (34 to 63 knots). And a hurricane is  a tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or greater (64 knots or greater).  Both usually only last a day or so.  It’s the strength of a storm that determines whether our island roads and businesses remain cautiously open or have to close temporarily for safety.  While no one likes to deal with tropical weather, knowing what you’re dealing with will make things more manageable.  And understanding that when authorities determine the situation is severe enough to ask residents and guests to leave or delay returning to our island home, we all must comply.

  • Be weather aware

Weather reports are often available a week or so out and it’s a good idea to check out our local weather within a couple of weeks of your arrival.  Not only will this help you plan what to bring to wear, but it can give you an idea if severe weather is possible or likely during your vacation.  While we love to say it’s always sunny and 75 here sometimes, we have to admit, it’s neither sunny nor seventy-five.  We urge you to get a weather app for your phone that will allow you to not only track out local weather here in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, but will also allow you to get alerts that follow you while you’re in our neighborhood.  Sometimes the weather at The Dunes near Fort Morgan is perfectly sunny under breezy blue skies, while the weather in Gulf Shores at Lighthouse 607 or Harbor House 30 can be rainy and over in Orange Beach, at Seaside Beach and Racquet 2104 or Caribe C Penthouse 14, they may be looking at the brightest rainbow in memory.

  • Buy travel insurance

When you book with Sunset Properties, long before you check in to Navy Cove 2113 or Hangar Outer, we will offer you the option to purchase travel insurance.  Get it.  Go ahead and purchase the insurance.  You insure everything else important in your life, why would you not insure your vacation?  This is the one big leisure expense you saved for and planned on all year.  Make a small investment in travel insurance and guarantee yourself a financially secure vacation.  For details on all the different travel insurance options, take a look at our blog detailing reasons you really do need this.

  • Develop a Plan B

All business savvy folks have a Plan B, just in case Plan A falls through.  Great vacation planners do this, as well.  We cannot overstress the importance of purchasing travel insurance.  You save all year for your  beach vacation;  the kids are so excited and hyped up; you have your four legged baby all vaccinated and ready to roll, then you realize the weather will just not cooperate with your plans.  If you cannot check into your vacation rental because it is simply not available, check with Sunset Properties about rescheduling for a different date.  Call as soon as you know you cannot arrive on time!  Do not delay notifying our staff with this request.  With some restrictions, this may be an option.  Also, try not to get fixated on only one of our great properties.  Be sure to look at all of our inventory, just in case you have to change your beach home address.  While this may never happen to you, and we sincerely hope it doesn’t, it is always good to have your Plan B in place.  After all, no one likes an unfamiliar, unexpected vacation surprise.  Book your favorite home, but go ahead and take a look at all we have available, and decide which of our amazingly family and dog friendly beach homes could be your second or third choice.

  • Expect the unexpected

Expect the unexpected and plan for it.  No one likes that guy Murphy who has all those gloom and doom (if-it-can-go-wrong—it-will-go-wrong) “laws” and we are convinced he is related to Mayhem, because he seems to pop up at the most inopportune times.  We don’t like him and most of our guests don’t care much for him either.  But there’s no harm in preparing for the worst.  While none of us can stop a hurricane or a tropical storm, we can at least prepare.  And tropical weather or not, it is always a good idea to throw in a rain poncho when you’re coming to your beach home.  While it doesn’t rain all day every day during the summer months along the Alabama Gulf Coast, it usually rains for a few minutes, most days.  Be prepared for afternoon showers as you enjoy your stay with us.  Ponchos and flip-flops are totally normal in our neighborhood!

  • Understand your cancellation or rescheduling options

We know that sometimes you just have to cancel or reschedule your vacation.  Things come up.  While we do our best to accommodate our guests and make changing plans as easy as possible, we hope our guests will do their part, as well.  Ask your reservationist for specifics on rescheduling your trip if the need arises.  Know your options.  There may be fees associated with this and the property you were initially hoping for may or may not be available for your new dates.  Get all the details when you make your initial booking.  We, at Sunset Properties, are only a click or call away and we will be happy to help you understand all of the options that are available to you when you make your reservation.

  • Consider changing your destination city

If vacation home choices in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan become unavailable during your scheduled time, how about considering visiting an alternative location?  Sunset Properties also has a lovely vacation home in Park City, Utah.  While Park City is obviously a long, long way from the Alabama Gulf Coast, our vacation home Silver Saddles is as spectacular a home as you have come to expect from us.  It is a three bedroom, three and a half bath 2,000 square foot ground floor condo located in this beautiful mountain resort area.  Vacations in Park City, in both summer and winter, are memorable!  Rescheduling your summer trip away from the Gulf of Mexico and visiting Park City, located about thirty miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, may just be one of the best vacation decisions you and your family ever make!

If you have questions or need suggestions on what to do while you’re staying with us on the Alabama Gulf Coast, check out or blog on Romantic Things to Do in Gulf Shores or Things to do With Your Kids in Gulf Shores.  We live, work and play right here in beautiful south Alabama and we would love to offer suggestions on how to make the most of your time in our area.  And if a summer stay in the stunning Utah mountains appeals to you, we can help you get your Park City vacation set up, also!  See you soon!

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370

Post-pandemic Golfing in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan – Top Five Courses

Now that the Covid-19 case numbers have decreased and we are starting to hang out with our friends again, we golfers are excited to get back out on the courses!  Here along the Alabama Gulf Coast, our amenities are starting to open back up fully in our island home.  A post-pandemic golf weekend in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan may be just what the doctor ordered to help you get over those pandemic lockdown blues!  There is no better time than now to make up for all the missed tee times from last year and according to Sports Show , golf ranks among the ten most popular sports in the world, so it is no coincidence that some of the best golf courses in the world are found right here along the Alabama Gulf Coast.  But how do you know which course is right for you?  To make your decision easier, we have listed the top five golf courses in our area:

  • Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club 

Located just off Fort Morgan Road, Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club is another of our local favorites.  Peninsula offers three separate 9 hold courses:  Lakes, Cypress and Marsh and we encourage you to play all three.  Combine two of the three to make an 18-hole round.  Each provides a distinctly different challenge and reward.  Finding this type of variety in one resort location is not always easy.  Make sure to visit the Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club website  to learn about tee times and fees.  Sunset Properties is proud to offer the golfer with discerning taste an elegant beach home located about ten minutes from Peninsula Golf and Racquet ClubCoquille at Martinique is a six-bedroom, five bath gorgeous beach home located in the golf cart friendly gated community of Martinique just off Fort Morgan Road.  After a day of golfing and enjoying the sun and breezes that flow through the Peninsula Golf Course, you’ll only be a short trip from a relaxing shower and a private sunroom or deck where you can enjoy your evening cocktail.

  • Craft Farms Golf Resort

Every serious golfer knowsCraft Farms Golf Resort is one of the top resorts in the country.  The Cotton Creek Course and The Cypress Bend Course were both designed by the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, making them extremely appealing to anyone who swings a club.  With perfectly trimmed fairways and surrounding areas unmatched in beauty, these 18-hole courses are a must for any golfer, pro or otherwise.  Craft Farms, located at 3840 Cotton Creek Circle in Gulf Shores, about fifteen minutes from the beachfront luxury home Lighthouse 607, offers beautifully furnished clubhouses managed by a knowledgeable and professional staff.  These courses are both challenging and entertaining.  To book your tee time, visit the Craft Farms online.  To get a closer look at the exquisitely decorated Gulf front beach home called Lighthouse 607, visit Sunset Properties.   Make sure you give Craft Farms a serious look, too.  After all, you may find Arnold Palmer designed the perfect course for You!

  • One Club Golf

For one of the most distinctive golfing experiences around, try One Club Golf.  Along with traditional day time golfing outings, One Club Golf offers golfing after dark.  That’s right, you can experience this glowingly fun way to golf, after the sun goes down. With Sunset Golf, Glow Golf and Golf Happy Hour, we are sure everyone in your family will have a blast.  So much of what we think of when we consider visiting a beach resort town, revolves around enjoying sunny days.  Well, with this new twist on a favorite sport, starry nights are in style, too!  Conveniently located at 4000 Gulf Shores Parkway in Gulf Shores, One Club Golf is just a short drive to the Bon Secour River area where Hangar Outer is located.  If enjoying the stars is something that appeals to you, be sure to consider Hangar Outer.  This special beach home was constructed out of an old airplane hangar and it is perfectly and appropriately located for any sky watcher.  Surrounded by 380 feet of water, the views of both water and sky are unmatched!  So after a day or night of golfing at One Club Golf, come home and continue your fun experience of enjoying twenty-four hours of fun at Hangar Outer!

  • Gulf Shores Golf Club 

Located in the heart of Gulf Shores at 520 Clubhouse Drive, Gulf Shores Golf Club is a semi-private club.  Guests are welcome to play this top rated Alabama golf course, along with members.   This beautifully kept 18 hole course is home to several local non-golfing residents.  Raccoons, squirrels and alligators can be found on or near the course.  The course has some challenging holes, as well.  Trees and ponds make navigating this local favorite fun and exciting. While you’re here, be sure to visit the Pro Shop and clubhouse.  Gulf Shores Golf Club, built in the 1960s, is an icon in our area and we know you will want to visit it while you’re in our neighborhood.  Speaking of neighborhoods, one of our favorites is the Fort Morgan Community.  Just minutes from Gulf Shores Golf Club, Tetherdown is a Mobile Bay front beach home just waiting for you and nine of your friends.  If a guy’s or girl’s golf weekend that includes fabulous views of the water is your goal, be sure to give this beach home a look.  Tetherdown, like Gulf Shores Golf Club, is surrounded with the natural wildlife that makes the Alabama Gulf Coast so inviting.  Be on the lookout for dolphins in Mobile Bay and possibly raccoons, squirrels or alligators near the home.  Also, if you see any of our Alabama Beach Mouse friends, please don’t disturb them.  They are endangered and we need them to help us keep our dunes intact.  

  • Kiva Dunes Resort and Golf

The Golf Course at Kiva Dunes has just over 7,100 yards of play area and is one of the top courses in Alabama.  Located just off Fort Morgan Road at 815 Plantation Road near Gulf and Golf East and Gulf and Golf West, Kiva Dunes is a completely public course.  In April 2018, it was ranked the top public course in Alabama by Golf Advisor.  The golf course, itself, as well as the professional staff, constantly receive rave reviews from guests and locals alike.  We are quite partial to them, as well!  Because of the novel location of this amazingly manicured course, which is literally between The Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay, the winds that pass over it change frequently.  Winds blow across the course from both the Gulf and Mobile Bay.  As every golfer knows, as the winds that blow across a course change,  the course, itself, changes.  This makes each golfing experience at Kiva a unique one. If you’re looking for a course that is constantly a challenge, well-kept and managed by super friendly folks, and is within walking distance from beautifully decorated beach homes that sleep up to seventeen of your closest golfing buddies, Kiva Dunes Resort and Golf is perfect for you!  For tee times and fees, visit Kiva Dunes online.

If you’re looking for a great place to practice and just hit a few balls around, be sure to visit The City of Orange Beach’s Orange Beach Golf Center located at 4700 Easy Street in Orange Beach.  Easy Street is just off Canal Road near The Wharf in Orange Beach.  The Orange Beach Golf Center features 9-Hole, Par-3 Course, lighted driving range, practice putting/chipping greens, practice sand bunker, and Pro Shop.  This golf venue is so lovely and well-kept.  We encourage island guests to visit The Orange Beach Golf Center for a relaxing afternoon.

Many of you have heard about the great courses in our area, but you’re not sure which one or ones to visit.  As locals, we’ve tried them all.  We are happy to recommend these courses, managed by our neighbors and friends, to you, our guests.  We believe you will fall in love with Golfing the Gulf Coast, just like thousands have before you.  And if you’re a repeat guest golfer, welcome back!

Remember, your vacation home is just as important as finding the perfect place to tee off.  Visit us at Sunset Properties and we can help you find those perfect accommodations for you and your family or you and your golf buddies.  From private pools to dog friendly options, to vacation homes with places to park your golf cart or your personal watercraft, at Sunset Properties, we have them all!  And we can’t wait for you to see them!

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370

Ten Ways to Know You Love About the Alabama Gulf Coast – Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan

Lots of us are participating in social media challenges these days.  We, at Sunset Properties, are fans of many of these.  One of our favorites is the “tell me you love (something) without telling me”.  Here’s ours:

Tell me You Love the Alabama Gulf Coast without Telling Me You Love the Alabama Gulf Coast

1.      I daydream about playing mini golf at Pirates Island.

Mini golf is something we all did as kids.  As adults, we tend to gravitate to larger courses like those at Craft Farms or Gulf Shores Golf Club.  But sometimes we do admit, we find ourselves daydreaming about those warm spring and early summer afternoons when all we wanted to do was sink a purple ball into a silly hole as we golfed our way around a pirate ship shaped mini-golf course.  Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf located just north of the Intracoastal Holmes Bridge still offers fun and silly adventures for the whole family.  Time to make your daydreams a reality!

2.      My favorite picture on my camera roll has my bestie getting tossed off a giant flamingo by a rolling wave.

The waves of the Gulf of Mexico are unpredictable at best.  As long as the red flags are not flying, swimming in the Gulf is usually a wonderful experience.  The warm, salty water can make most achy joints feel nice.  Floating with the kiddos or you sweetheart is a great way to pass an afternoon.  With private beaches attached to great beach home subdivisions like The Dunes, enjoying the Gulf can be a daily indulgence while you’re in Gulf Shores.  That image, however, of your best friend tipping not-so-gracefully off that giant flamingo is still one for the record books!  We know.  We all have an image similar to that one on our camera roll, too!

3.      I have walked through the mouth of a shark.

Not everyone can say they’ve walked right through a shark’s mouth without getting so much as a scratch.  If you can, you are one of the special folks who really loves the Alabama Gulf CoastSouvenir City, located in the heart of Gulf Shores since 1956, is one of our favorite gift shops.  With everything from magnets to fudge, t-shirts to coffee cups, they pretty much have something for everyone.  We can’t think of one person who loves the Alabama Gulf Coast and hasn’t walked through the shark’s mouth.

4.      I know exactly how long it takes to get from Tanger Outlets to the Intracoastal Bridge.

About 15 minutes.  That’s the answer.  It takes about 15 minutes on an average day to get from everyone’s favorite coastal outlet mall in Foley to the WC Holmes Intracoastal Waterway Bridge that leads onto the island if you enter via Alabama Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway).  If you choose to stop and shop at the Tanger Outlets in Foley, you’ll find more than eighty retailers ready to help you with some retail therapy.  But if you love the Alabama Gulf Coast, you already know that!  Just like you already know that when we leave the mall, we’re only about fifteen minutes away from the most beautiful coastal scenery anywhere surrounded by 32 miles of sugar white beaches.

5.      There is still sand in my backseat floorboard from my last visit.

Speaking of beaches, if you truly love our coastal paradise, there is still some sand in your backseat floorboard from your last trip down.  We ask that you watch out for the sea oats and Alabama Beach Mice and please stay off the dunes when you visit the beaches.  Please take your trash with you and leave only footprints when you visit the beautiful shoreline in Orange Beach, but those who love the Alabama Gulf Coast tend to take flip flops full of sand home with them.  And it ends up in the backseat floorboards.  There is seemingly no way to get all the sand out of a car.  But, honestly, who would want to?  Why not carry around a few grains of one of your favorite places on earth? After all, it’s just a tiny reminder of where your heart longs to be.  You love the beach and little island just like we do.

6.      I look forward to visiting two-toed sloths.

Like those of us who live on Island Time, two-toed sloths move at their own pace.  Usually, it’s a much slower pace than everyone else.  But that’s ok.  And like you, we love our friends, the sloths, who live at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.  We stop by to see them as often as we can.  They remind us to slow down, chill out, and enjoy all that our wonderful island home has to offer.  Speaking of slowing down, did you know there is a lazy river at Caribe B Penthouse 4?  Enjoying that makes for a wonderful afternoon.  But, if relaxing in a penthouse condo’s lazy river isn’t your thing, how about relaxing in a beach home right on the beach in Gulf Shores?  Check out Castaways 7B.  If you want to slow it down even a little more, take a look at Tortuga Bay, which is perfectly placed in the quiet Fort Morgan community.

7.      I have library cards for both the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Public Libraries.

While we’re on the topic of relaxing, we know sitting on a balcony overlooking the gleaming waters of the Gulf of Mexico, listening to the melody the waves make while reading a great book makes you smile.  The beach and books just seem to go together.  But, there’s no need to bring a book from home when you can borrow one from the Orange Beach Public Library or the Gulf Shores Public Library.  You already know the good folks at both the Orange Beach Public Library and The Gulf Shores Public Library only require a valid form of identification (a driver’s license) to get your library card.  We know your library cards have been safely parked in your wallet since last year and you’re itching to use both!  Our local libraries have great hours and are serving patrons in spite of the pandemic.  Check out The Gulf Shores Library’s website for their hours and The Orange Beach Public Library’s website for their hours.  

8.      My all-time favorite gumbo comes from Sea-N-Suds.

Your mouth starts to water each time you think about an ice cold beer perfectly placed beside a big ole bowl of Sea-N-Suds gumbo.  Admit it:  you can almost see that super cold condensation rolling right down that superbly chilled bottle as the amazing aroma of your favorite gumbo floats by your nose.  Inhale the goodness!  Since 1975, this uniquely styled restaurant has been serving up some of the freshest Alabama Seafood and coldest beers around.  Parking is sometimes a challenge for this wonderful local eatery, so why not consider staying at Lighthouse 607.  You can walk to Sea-N-Suds from that impeccably decorated beach front luxury condo.

9.      I know swimming at Alabama Point East can be challenging, but the fishing is amazing.

Fishing is more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle.  If you are a professional angler at heart, but choose to make your living some other way, we know you love to fish on the west side of the bridge at Alabama Point.  The swift waters that rush into and out of our back bays of Orange Beach offer some of the best fishing anywhere.  The beach at Alabama Point East Park is also a great place to spend a day with your family.  We don’t recommend swimming too far out in the swift waters, but the easy waves that touch the sandy shore are always perfect.  With restrooms nearby, you know you can’t go wrong enjoying a day here.  You might even catch a hermit crab or two.

10.    When I pass Shell Banks Baptist Church, Fort Morgan is just a few more songs away.

Fort Morgan Historic Site is a place locals and guests fall in love with after just one visit.  It may seem a long drive from the heart of Gulf Shores out Fort Morgan Road to the Fort, but if you pass the trip by enjoying our local radio station Sunny 105.7FM and noticing local landmarks, the drive doesn’t seem so long.  One such landmark is Shell Banks Baptist Church.  About eight miles west of the intersection of Gulf Shores Parkway and Fort Morgan Road, is the location of Shell Banks Baptist Church and Cemetery.  This particular place is extremely special because before any Europeans inhabited our island home, the Native American (Indian) village of Achuse was located on the site.  The first Spanish Explorers recorded a visit with these early inhabitants in 1539.  But anyone who loves our Alabama Gulf Coast already knows this.  Once you pass this landmark, you know you’re almost half-way to Fort Morgan. Turn up your radio and sing along as you finish your drive to the end of Fort Morgan Road.  Just outside the fort gates, you’ll pass The Dunes and The Indies.  Your perfect vacation home might just be inside one of the condo complexes.  Once you reach the fort, get ready for a fun-filled day of exploring both inside and outside the historic walls.  Inside the fort, you already know you’ll find years of history and memories just waiting to me made.  Outside, the beaches of magnificent Mobile Bay await you.

We know you love our family-friendly Alabama Gulf Coast just as much as we do.  If some of these ways don’t ring true with you, we’d love for you to tell us You Love the Alabama Gulf Coast Without Telling Us.  Use our comment section below for your thoughts!  At Sunset Properties, we listen to our guests.  We listen and respond.  We are a family-owned company and our guests become our extended family.  When you’re ready to return to your Island-Home-Away-From-Home, give us a call and we will be happy to help you find the perfect place to stay!  And if you’d like to own your own Island-Home-Away-From-Home, we can help you with that, too!

www.sunsetproperties.com 

251.543.1370

Let Your Imagination Blossom as You Tour Gulf Coast Museums This Spring 2021

Spring along the Alabama Gulf Coast is one of the nicer times of the year to visit.  The flowers are blooming and the sand is starting to warm up.  The weather is wonderful!

It’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy all that our coastal Alabama home has to offer.  When folks visit us in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan in the spring, they often ask what to do to pass their time as  days lengthen.  Everyone loves the beach in the middle of the day, but what about the longer afternoons and early evenings?  We, at Sunset Properties, love to suggest visiting our local museums!  Filled with our unique history and enticing ideas about the future of Coastal Alabama, the museums in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and surrounding areas should definitely be part of your spring trip to the beach.  Local museums are open and taking precautions to keep down the spread of COVID-19, so this will be a great way to social distance with your family!  While you’re visiting us this Spring Season, we hope you will let you imagination blossom as you tour our local museums.

Gulf Shores Museum

Located in the heart of Gulf Shores at 244 West 19th Avenue,  in a house that predates World War II, the Gulf Shores Museum, itself, is of historic value.  The home once stood proudly on West Beach and belonged to the Cole family of Mobile. After Hurricane Fredric ravaged our Gulf Coast in 1979, the Coles graciously donated the house to the City of Gulf Shores.  For years, the former beach home served as the public library for our little town, but in 1999, it was converted into the museum we love to visit now. Additionally, when the museum was created, the Oyster Bay Baptist Church donated their steeple and it adorns the garden surrounding the museum.  Since 1999, the museum has been filled with artifacts and information about the history of Gulf Shores from its small beginnings to the thriving little beach town it is today.  Local families and families who love for our local area have made invaluable contributions of time and resources to this museum.  Museum guests will find information about industries in our area.  Insightful details about storms that have impacted us is readily available.  And there are always a few hidden treasures that we do not want to spoil here.  Take our word for it, a trip to the Gulf Shores Museum will be a great way to spend a warm spring afternoon!

Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum

Located at 25805 John M. Snook Drive, not far from Orange Beach City Hall, is The Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum Right off, you may be asking who is John M. Snook and what is an “Indian and Sea” museum?  Well, John McClure Snook was an entrepreneur, businessman, and forward-thinking resident of South Baldwin County who led and grew our very first telephone company.  Snook’s father, Ward Snook, founded Gulf Telephone in 1929.  For more information on the Snook family, check out The Snook Foundation’s website. The contributions this family made and continue to make to our area are irreplaceable.  And why Indian and sea?  Those two entities are the foundations on which Orange Beach was built.  Our first settlers inhabited an area near what we know as Caswell, near modern-day Bear Point.  These Native Americans preceded any European settlers and were the first to live in and love our beach home.  As for the “sea” part of the museum, that is a little more obvious.  Orange Beach is known for professional and recreational fishing, as well as being a great place to enjoy other water sports.  The Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum is located in what was formerly a one-room schoolhouse built in 1910.  Today the museum houses many Native American artifacts, information about the farming industry that once thrived on our island, and plenty of information about the Gulf.  Make sure you stop by and visit the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum.  The building may be small, but the information inside is way bigger than you can imagine!

Baldwin County Heritage Museum

The Baldwin County Heritage Museum is a great place to spend an afternoon discovering the history of our whole county.  Located at 25521 US Highway 98

Elberta, Alabama (home to the world famous Elberta German Sausage Festival), which is about an hour drive from Gulf Shores, The Baldwin County Heritage Museum is filled with local history.  In addition to our fishing and water-based businesses, Baldwin County, Alabama, historically and even today, boasts a strong agricultural economy.  As is evident by all the beautiful flowers all around our island home, we just love to grow stuff!  We grow satsumas, lemons, cotton, beans, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and even grass (sod) for homes and golf courses.  This tradition and love for the land started with the earliest families who lived here.   Our love of the outdoors extends from the Gulf to the far northern tip of our county.  The Baldwin County Heritage Museum allows visitors to step back in time and see displays of some of the most common household items and farm equipment that many folks used years ago.  Set up like little rooms, complete with everything you’d commonly find in each, the museum is such fun to explore.   If you like antiques, you will absolutely love this place!  The folks at the museum are friendly and knowledgeable about all that they showcase and they love educating locals and visitors alike about life in the 1900s in what was largely rural South Alabama.  If you’re a homeschool parent, this outing would make a great field trip.  If you’re working from home due to COVID-19, this outing will offer a bit of stress relief.  And we’re pretty sure you’ll not only learn something from this visit, but leave with a happy feeling, as well.  Make sure to put the Baldwin County Heritage Museum on your ‘must-see’ list as visit our Coastal Alabama Museums this spring!

Foley Railroad Museum

Everyone seems to know about the Tanger Outlets located just north of Gulf Shores in Foley.  But did you know that just to the north of the Tanger Outlets, Foley has one of the nicest railroad museums around?  That’s right!  At the intersection of Alabama Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway) and Highway 98 (Laurel Avenue) is The Foley Railroad Museum and Model Train Exhibit.   This unique collection is housed inside the historic depot which was built in 1909, because the first depot built in 1905 was destroyed by fire. The Foley Railroad Museum should definitely be on your list of stops as you discover Baldwin County’s history.  At the turn of the 20th Century, railway travel and transport in Alabama was booming.  Train tracks were being constructed to connect our coastal towns to the ones far north of the beach.  Mr. John B. Foley, a businessman who was originally from Chicago and the person for whom Foley is named, made a personal investment to help build the railroad from Bay Minette to Foley.  This later became known as the Louisville and Nashville or  L & N RailroadThe Foley Railroad Museum also houses one of the most in-depth model train displays anywhere.  Some modifications have had to be made to this exhibit’s schedule due to the pandemic, so you should reach out to them directly for dates and times this part of the museum is open to the public.  And, hey….while you’re in Foley, why not go ahead and visit the Tanger Outlets, as well? 

Fort Morgan Museum and Gift Shop

So, we have given you a simple way to tour the history of Baldwin County, Alabama by visiting the museums in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Elberta, and Foley.  But what about Fort Morgan?  No museum tour would be complete without a stop at the beautiful Fort Morgan Historic Site.  And no fort visit would be complete without a visit to the Fort Morgan Museum and Gift Shop.  Located at the far west end of Fort Morgan Road just outside Gulf Shores, just past The Dunes Subdivision, is the pristinely kept fort, itself, surrounded by a picturesque nature-filled part of our island.  We mention the fort frequently in our blogs, because there really is a lot to see and do year-round here.  Any day is a good day to visit Fort Morgan.  You can fish from the beaches, walk your dog inside the historic walls of this former battleground or just take some time and stroll around and learn about Coastal Alabama HistoryFort Morgan’s Museum and Gift Shop is filled with memorabilia from the wars that affected Alabamians.  Personal letters, uniforms and even household utensils are on display.  We love this museum and gift shop because there are not only eye-catching things to look at and learn from, but also unique little souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else in our area.  We believe that if you visit Fort Morgan, you will come to love it, just as we do!

We know most folks come to south Alabama to visit our sugar white sandy beaches, enjoy the Gulf breeze and float in The Gulf of Mexico and visiting a museum isn’t always the first thing folks think of.  But beautiful coastal Alabama is so much more than a great place to enjoy the beach.  It is an all-around great place to visit!  And no matter what time of year you’re planning on coming, there is always something great to do.  

At Sunset Properties, we offer our guests vacation homes that become more than just ordinary places to stay.  From one bedroom poolside condos, to multi-room Gulf front luxury houses, we offer our guests an Alabama Beach Home.  We hope you will take some time this Spring to explore the museums that are all around your beach home.  We hope you will let your imagination blossom as you discover the bright history that led us all to today.  And when you’re making your vacation home decision, we hope you will keep Sunset Properties in mind.  You’re already on ours!

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370

It’s Fall along the Alabama Gulf Coast! It’s Shrimp Feastival Time!

Like y’all, we at Sunset Properties were all pretty bummed when we heard the 2020 Annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores was cancelled due to the pandemic and amidst COVID-19 concerns.  We love supporting our Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and gathering with our besties and hanging out for hours at the Shrimp Festival and it hit us pretty hard when we found out this year’s event was cancelled.  But, here on the Alabama Gulf Coast, we always try to make the best of any situation and we started thinking about finding other ways to celebrate our favorite local crustacean and still manage to stay within the CDC guidelines for social distancing.

We decided to have our own Shrimp Feast-ival!  And we think you might like our idea…so here goes:   You were planning on coming to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan anyway with your family or closest friends, right?  So, go ahead and come on down and spend a weekend with us Feasting on our favorite local seafood Alabama Gulf Shrimp!  But, where should we go?  Well, that’s easy thanks to Sunny 105.7 FM, our local radio station.  Each year, they hold a People’s Choice Awards allowing locals to choose their faves, and this year’s winners were just announced.  Here are some great places to have your own 2020 Shrimp Feast-ival by visiting our 2020 Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winners:

Duck’s Diner

This year’s winner of the People’s Choice Award for breakfast and lunch is one of our faves, too. We have to give a big ole shout out to the fine folks at Duck’s Diner in Orange Beach.  Start your Shrimp Feastival at Duck’s for breakfast. This fun restaurant is located at 4560 Easy Street, right off Canal Road in Orange Beach.  We love their shrimp and cheese omelet and we think you will, too. Pair it with a side of French toast and a slice of tomato and you’re talking about a plate full of island goodness!  If coffee is your breakfast drink of choice, you can have it with or without Bailey’s Irish Cream.  And if a Bloody Mary rounds out your perfect morning meal, make sure to order one while you’re dining at Duck’s.  Congratulations to Duck’s Diner for being named a Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winner!

DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen

If you haven’t been to DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen, before now, you have really been missing out!  DeSoto’s was voted this year’s People’s Choice Winner for the Dinner Restaurant category, but this isn’t their first win.  DeSoto’s has been consistently providing great food and a wonderful atmosphere for more years than we can count.  They are located a block off Gulf Shores Parkway at 138 West 1st Avenue.  They offer inside and outside dining.  But what will you eat while your Feastival-ing?  That’s easy!  Steamed Royal Reds!  (Royal Red Shrimp 1 lb).  You may not know it, but you do want this! (thank us later!) What are Royal Reds, you ask? Royal Reds are beautiful crimson shrimp.  They are larger than other shrimp, much sweeter and have a texture like a lobster.  They can be harvested all year long, but their actual “season” is from mid summer to late fall, making October a great month to enjoy them.  How perfect is that?  You’re planning on coming to your own Shrimp Feastival and we believe you’re coming at the exact perfect time to enjoy the best our island has to offer!  Congratulations to the whole crew at DeSoto’s, 2020 Sunny 105 People’s Choice Winner, for yet another thumbs up from your island neighbors and friends!

Papa Rocco’s

This year’s winner for best place to eat pizza should surprise no one.  Papa Rocco’s (home of warm beer, lousy pizza–not really!)  since 1985, is one of our favorites, too.  How will you celebrate your Shrimp Feastival with these guys?  We don’t even have to ponder that a second…order Papa Rocco’s Seafood Primavera Pizza.  Don’t even think about it, just do it.  Then pair it with a seriously cold beer and enjoy!  Your pizza will be slam full of perfectly cooked seafood, including your little celebratory crustacean, and overflowing with melty-gooey-cheese.  If that doesn’t make your mouth water just thinking about it, your tongue must be sleeping!  Wake it up and don’t miss an opportunity to stop by Papa Rocco’s located at 101 West 6th Avenue, right off Gulf Shores Parkway, while you’re in Gulf Shores.  Congratulations to our buddies at Papa Rocco’s Pizza for being named a 2020 Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winner!  

Tacky Jack’s

You cannot really have the complete Shrimp Feastival experience without enjoying the best atmosphere along the Alabama Gulf Coast, so you definitely need to stop by Tacky Jack’s and you’ll quickly see why they were voted this year’s Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winner for Island Atmosphere. And while you’re at Tacky Jacks, you can have your choice of “feastible” shrimp.  We love the Firecracker Shrimp.  But it comes with a bit of a bang!  So, if you’d rather enjoy something a little less explosive, go with everyone’s favorite Peel & Eat Shrimp.  No matter which you choose, if you’re in the mood for an adult beverage, we suggest having a bushwacker while you’re there. Tacky Jacks has three locations on our island, so no matter if you’re staying with Sunset Properties at the Caribe in Orange Beach, or at Lighthouse 607 in Gulf Shores or at Dream in Fort Morgan, there is a Tacky Jacks, complete with the best Island Atmosphere around, near you!  Congratulations to all our friends at Tacky Jacks for being one of this year’s Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winners!  We are definitely fans, too!

Flora-Bama

What kind of festival or Feastival would be complete without a trip to the World Famous Flora-Bama Lounge, Package and Oyster Bar?  It just so happens that our friends at our favorite local beach bar/honky tonk won the People’s Choice Awards for Best Live Music.  We were so not surprised to hear this.  After all, The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival starts and ends with the Flora-Bama.  You can hear some of the best music anywhere when it’s Songwriters Season!  But for your Shrimp Feastival, what do we recommend?  Visit the Ole River Grill and order Key Lime Shrimp and enjoy this unique appetizer outside on their open air deck.  The food and service are fantastic and the view is phenomenal!  The Old River Grill is located at 17400 Perdido Key Drive in Perdido Key, Florida, which is (as we say) just on the other side of Orange Beach right across the Florida State Line.  No Shrimp Feastival weekend would be complete without at least one stop at the Flora-Bama! Congratulations to the whole team at the Flora-Bama for being chosen this year’s Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winner for Best Live Music!

We know 2020 has been a year of uncomfortable changes resulting from the pandemic.   Having a year without the Annual National Shrimp Festival is unlike one we’ve seen in over 45 years.   We, at Sunset Properties, want you to know that even though we are saddened by all the cancellations that have happened this year, that we take your health and the health of our team seriously.  The Alabama Gulf Coast is open.  Our beaches are open.  Fun places to play are open.  Great places to eat are open.  Sunset Properties is open.  We are open and operating under the guidelines set forth by health officials.  And you are welcome to come hang out with us.  If your kids are attending school virtually this year, why not come on down?  Use the Wi-Fi in our vacation homes and enjoy the view of the pristine Alabama Beaches as the kiddos learn.  If you’re working remotely, go ahead and pack up your laptop and head south.  Why not set up your office right on a balcony facing the Gulf? And if you had planned time off to attend the Shrimp Festival, why not come anyway and have your own Shrimp Feastival?!  Give us a call, and we’ll get your reservation ready.  See you this fall in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan!

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Helpful links:

For more information on this year’s Sunny 105 People’s Choice Award Winners, check out Sunny 105’s website and Facebook page.

For more information on The Annual National Shrimp Festival or to shop their online store,

check out their website and

to virtually visit our Coastal Alabama Business Chamber click here.

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370



Make the Alabama Gulf Coast Your Fall 2020 Virtual School Science Classroom

When most people think about visiting Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan, they think about a summer trip because school starts back in the fall.  But 2020 has given us a whole new perspective on how school should look.  Traditional classrooms and desks are being replaced with kitchens and dining tables and chalkboards with laptops.  These days all you need is a laptop or tablet, a peaceful place to study and some Wi-Fi, right?  Well then, why not spend at least part of your 2020 fall school year in South Baldwin County, Alabama?  The Alabama Gulf Coast has so much to offer curious minds.  

Here are five great virtual school science report topics for fall 2020:

 Monarchs

Many of our traditional fall guests were disappointed to learn the Annual National Shrimp Festival was cancelled this year due to concerns about the possibility of COVID-19 virus spread in the large crowd.  We urge you to come on down to the beach in October anyway to see a different kind of crowd:  Monarchs.  That’s right!  They will be everywhere!  Monarchs, as majestic as their name implies, by the thousands could be passing through our area.  Often overlooked because of all the other fun things going on down here in October, this year the Monarchs can have the spotlight.   Monarch butterflies, the ones with the pretty yellow, orange and black colorful wings, are migratory insects.  They actually travel from the US to Mexico and back twice each year.  Monarchs that reside in the Eastern parts of America during the spring and summer travel to Mexico in October to begin their winter season there.  Our little part of the Alabama Gulf Coast just happens to be in the migratory path of some of these insects.  As they pass through our area, thousands of them can be seen along Fort Morgan Road and all around our island.  They spend their winter months in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico.  From Gulf Shores, by way of Interstate 10 West then south into Mexico, it’s about 1500 miles to these mountains where the Monarchs spend their winters.  Because many of the butterflies spend their springs and summers along the East Coast of the US, their total trip can be as far as 3000 miles.  These little guys fly three thousand miles just to hang out for a few months!   According to the US Forest Service, the Monarchs follow the magnetic pull of the earth and notice the sun’s location in the sky for directions to their winter home.  According to AL.com, these butterflies can be seen in South Alabama from late September through early October.  What better science project than to write a report about the migration of these magnificent insects after seeing the migration first-hand?  

Ospreys

Another great science report topic is to observe and write about ospreysOspreys, also called fish hawks, are sometimes mistaken for eagles.  They are actually large raptors (we love that word:  “raptors”) and they live along the Alabama Gulf Coast.  Some of them migrate further south in the winter, while some choose to stay here with us.  With their pretty brown wings and white bodies, they are easy to spot.  As you travel around our island, look up at the tops of old dead trees or on special platforms that resemble power poles with little board floors nailed to the top of them.  That’s where our local ospreys build their nests.  These platforms can be seen from Fort Morgan to Orange Beach and all points in between.  There are a few of these near Lake Shelby in Gulf State Park.  Ospreys are amazing fish hunters and can often be seen soaring over Mobile Bay fishing.  Their talons (or toes and toenails) are super sharp and so is their vision.  Ospreys are protected animals and we are blessed to have so many around our little island home.

Alabama Beach Mice

The Alabama Beach Mouse is another protected animal who shares our island home with us.  This nocturnal little mammal is covered with buff and white fur and he is almost camouflage against the dunes in which he lives.  The Alabama Beach Mouse primarily feeds on seeds from sea oats and other coastal plants and small insects at night.   The mouse is a tiny little guy, weighing less than about three nickels.  You may catch a glimpse of them running in and out of dunes around your vacation home.  But remember, the Alabama Beach Mouse is an endangered species and it is illegal to catch or kill them.  Instead, they are fun to watch from a distance as they scurry along their little ways.  The mouse is an important part of our coastal ecosystem.  He makes his home among our sea oats which help hold our dunes in place.  The Alabama Beach Mouse is the coastal cousin to most other field mice found in our state.  Our tiny neighbor, however, makes his home exclusively from Ono Island in Orange Beach to Fort Morgan.  We, at Sunset Properties, happen to think he has exquisite taste!

Sea Turtles

Three main types of sea turtles have been known to nest along our Alabama Gulf CoastLoggerhead Sea Turtles seem to be the most common in our area, although Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles and Green Sea Turtles have also been seen.  Another protected animal, we want you to know about these magnificent creatures, but urge you not to go near them.  Mama Loggerhead turtles, who normally spend their days swimming, floating and hunting for crabs and shrimp (two of our supper favorites, too!)  in the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico or one of our back bays, find their way onto our sandy white beaches to dig a hole and lay their eggs.  Sea turtle nests can be found from May to October and there are ways to observe them without disturbing them.  For more information on sea turtle conservation, follow this link to Share the Beach, a great group of folks who monitor sea turtles all year long.  You might get invited to participate with the Share the Beach folks and help baby turtles find their way back to the Gulf.  Doing this outside of a conservation group is a really bad idea.  Damaging a sea turtle nesting site is not only illegal, it’s just mean.  These turtle moms travel for miles across the Gulf and choose to lay their eggs along our Alabama Gulf Coast and we consider it a privilege they picked us.  To disturb these baby turtles as they grow inside their shells and prepare for their journey back to the Gulf is something no local would ever do.  Instead we work together to help them start their new lives safely.

Lemurs

The first four animals we listed are native, at least in part, to our area.  Some are protected by law, and, although you can find some pretty great pictures of the areas in which they live, and maybe even catch a glimpse of one of them, it is not necessarily a good idea to handle them directly.  The non-native Lemur, however, is a totally different option.  Lemurs, as we all learned in the hilarious movie Madagascar, are natives to that African island and those surrounding Madagascar.  However, our Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has a small lemur population and those little primates are super friendly and you can actually hold them, pet them and play with them.  The word “lemur” is taken from the Latin word “lemure” which means ghost or spirit.  Their little faces and white ringed tails give them the appearance of a spooky supernatural spirit being.  They are, instead, quite social and fun to interact with, far from spooky!  The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo offers a Lemur Encounter experience and we urge you to visit.  Operating under CDC guidelines for social distancing, our Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is open and the Lemur Encounter is one you won’t want to miss.  We cannot think of a better way to expertly submit a virtual report on lemurs than to have an actual visit with them.  Be sure to contact the good folks at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo for times and specifics on your encounter, but don’t miss the opportunity while you’re visiting us this fall!

We, at Sunset Properties, know you were probably disappointed when you learned the Annual National Shrimp Festival was cancelled for October 2020.  We were, too!  But we want you to know that there is still plenty to see and do on our island home.  So come on down, anyway.  Instead of booking a short weekend trip, go ahead and pack up the virtual school supplies and come stay with us for a week!  We have affordable fall pricing for families and vacation home options that range from one bedroom condos to luxury beach houses that sleep up to 20 people.  Bring your small dog, too, and choose one of our fur baby friendly rentals.  If you need more ideas for virtual school reports, check out our blog on Five Great Ways to Watch Dolphins Play.  Dolphins always make great topics!  We are looking forward to seeing you this fall and will help out your schoolers any way we can!  

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370

Ten Important Things to Bring on Your Beach Vacation in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan This Summer 2020

With all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we know you are wondering about your long awaited and eagerly anticipated beach trip to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan.  If you’re wondering what to bring, you’re not alone.  Many of you have called and asked us at Sunset Properties and Anchor Vacations what to bring.  While we are happy to make suggestions on the phone, we thought we’d just post a blog to help you guys out.  We pride ourselves on providing you, our guest families, with well-stocked beach vacation homes.  Having said that, however, there are still a few things you’ll need to bring from home to ensure you have the best possible beach experience during this Covid-19 cautionary time.

Here is a list of our ten important things to bring to the beach this Summer 2020:

  • Your Family

Pack up as many members of your tribe as you can fit into your vehicle and come on down!  The weather on our little island home is perfect and the rolling waves of theGulf of Mexico are spectacular.  Can’t find a boarding spot or doggie hotel for your fur baby?  No worries!  Bring him or her, too!  More than 25 of our beach rental homes are dog friendly (with some restrictions) and your four-legged friend is just as welcome as any other member of your family. If you get here and need a local dog sitter, just reach out to the good folks at Sea Paws Dog ResortThey will love on your furry family members while you’re out doing human things.   As you embark on your vacation rental search, check out our dog friendly home named Sea Turtle, a delightfully decorated beach home in the Bay to Breakers Community in Fort Morgan.  This magnificent home features six bedrooms and five full baths (and 1 half bath) and sleeps up to 17 humans and 2 dogs.  Like we said, pack up all your family members and come on down.

  • Sunblock 

We think bringing sunblock goes without saying for most folks, but we always list it anyway.  A bad sunburn can quickly ruin a great vacation for everyone!  Our local hospital is accustomed to treating folks with burned skin, and we have complete confidence in the good folks at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, but we hope you won’t have to visit them while you’re here.  While the FDA recommends an SPF of at least 15, the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) recommends a sunscreen with at least an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30. Sunblock is available in many stores around our island if you forget to pack it before you leave home.  Just remember to apply and reapply it all day long while you’re out enjoying our island paradise.  Even if it’s cloudy, apply sunblock.  Take it from us Locals, you can still get a pretty bad burn on a cloudy day. 

  • Shades

And pack your sunshades.  Protecting your eyes is always important, especially at the beach.  The sunlight creates glare off large bodies of water and things that reflect its light.  For example, our beautiful sandy white beaches can cause glare on bright days.  Glare is actually defined as sunlight that hinders sight.  It’s not a good thing.  Protecting your eyes, however, is always a good thing.  In addition to eye wear, think about adding a visor or ball cap to your bag.  These will help shade your eyes and the delicate skin on your face.  Remember to bring shades that protect against UVA and UVB rays, just like your sunblock will do for your skin.  And remember the kiddos!  They need shades, too!  

  • Toilet Paper

We urge you to bring toilet paper.  Your condo or beach home will have a starter roll in each bathroom.  To elaborate, Dunes 204 is a one bedroom, two bath condo overlooking the pool in The Dunes condominiums near Fort Morgan.  This home, with its super comfy sofa and fun bunk beds, will have toilet paper in each bathroom, but will likely not have extra rolls for you.  And keep in mind: our housekeepers do not restock that for you during your stay.  Even before the pandemic and Covid -19 issues that we have all faced this year, we asked our guest families to bring toilet paper from home.  It is more important this year than ever that you guys do that.  Pack your extra toilet paper along with all your other personal toiletries.  While our local grocery retailers have done a great job of keeping us stocked with toilet paper, we all know there can be shortages.  

  • Your Favorite Foods and Snacks  

Do you have something special you like to snack on?  We all do!  We suggest you pack your favorite snacks for your trip to visit us in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan.  Again, our local grocery retailers like Rouses Market in Gulf Shores have done a great job of keeping their shelves stocked for locals and guests alike, but with the uncertainty that seems to be going on all around us, you cannot go wrong bringing your favorite non-perishable foods from home. All of our vacation destination homes feature fully stocked kitchens.  Take a look at the pictures of Shellchase.  In addition to the updated kitchen, you will find pictures of five bedrooms.  This home has sleeping accommodations for 12 people. This home also has plenty of outside living space, too.  Whether you will be enjoying your snacks on the private beach, in front of the TV or in your own personal deck space, we know you’ll love all that Shellchase has to offer!

  • A Beach Blanket

Social distancing is still important to us along the Alabama Gulf Coast.  Beach blankets, for the most part, provide a space large enough for a few of the same family members to enjoy sunning and watching the waves safely together.  Our Safer at Home guidelines for the state of Alabama, encourage a six foot space between non-related families.  Enjoying your own beach blanket will be a great way to help you determine proper spacing.  We want everyone to enjoy their trip to our beautiful beaches and stay healthy both here and when you get back home.

  • Your Phone, Camera and Selfie Stick

Most of us have become dependent on social media to keep us up to date on local happenings and current events including our friends’ lives.  Just as we have come to rely on Facebook*, SnapChat* or Instagram* to help us keep up with our friends, they use it to see what we’re up to, as well.  Don’t forget your phone, camera and selfie stick.  We know you will find lots of opportunities to share how much fun you’re having while you’re in our neighborhood and we know you’ll want to post the best pics you can.  What better way to record your memories of your days and nights of fun in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan than by sharing them on your social media?  You’ll want to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf and eat breakfast at Ruby Slipper Cafe.  All of these will give you great opportunities for some fun pics!

  • Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is something everyone needs these days.  Be sure to pack some for your beach trip.  We encourage you to remember what the CDC recommends about handwashing and sanitizing.  For a refresher course,  follow this link to the CDC website for their latest recommendations.  You will most likely find sanitizer available in some of our retail shops and restaurants, but it’s always good to have a small bottle of your own with you.  And you might as well go ahead and pack a face covering or cloth mask.  While many of our retailers are not requiring you to wear one to enter their business, you can’t go wrong by sticking one in your purse or backpack, just in case. Be sure to pack one for each member of your family.  As of now, face coverings are not required on the beach areas or to use our pools or swim in the Gulf, nevertheless, having one handy is a great way to be prepared. 

  • Beach Towels

When you lease a vacation rental home from Sunset Properties, you will arrive to find meticulously sanitized bathrooms stocked with bath towels, wash cloths and kitchen towels for your whole crew.  It will not, however, have any beach towels.  We strongly suggest you bring at least one beach towel for each person in your group.  We ask our guests not to use our linens on the beach or at the pool.  Brightly printed, happy themed beach towels are a great way to display your personality on the beach and at the pool.  Your beach home will have a washer and dryer, so you’ll be able to do your laundry while you’re staying with us.  Be sure to bring your favorite laundry detergent, too.

  • Patience

And lastly, don’t forget to pack your patience.  We know you and the kiddos are super excited to be going to the beach.  This year, the excitement is especially strong because we have all been cooped up inside for much of the spring.  But the simple fact is, there are only a couple of ways to reach our Alabama Gulf Coast by car and they will most likely be heavily congested.  Expect delays.  But don’t think of them as delays.  Think of them as opportunities to make memories with your family as you travel.  Take a few minutes and stop and visit our neighboring cities on your way down.  Maybe plan a stop at Buc-ees in Loxley or Tanger Outlets in Foley to break the drive.  Maybe even stop and have a roll thrown at you at Lambert’s Cafe.  After all, you’re on vacation and the best part of your trip is literally just ahead!

At Sunset Properties and Anchor Vacations, we are so glad to invite you back to your vacation home!  We know once you get to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan, all your troubles will just float away with the Gulf breeze.  No matter what’s going on in the world around us, the waves of the Gulf are always calming, the pristine white sandy beaches are always inviting, and your company is always welcome.  So, go ahead, pack up the family (don’t forget furry Miss Speckles and friendly Mr. Spot!), gather a few necessities, and come on down!  Your perfect vacation home is just a call or click away!

www.sunsetproperties.com

251.543.1370

*Facebook and Instagram are owned by Facebook, Inc.

*SnapChat is owned by Snap, Inc.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve 2018 in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Celebrate New Year’s Eve 2018 in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

With Christmas only a short time ahead and a brand new year following quickly just behind, you’re probably already thinking about where you’ll be when the ole clock strikes midnight on December 31.  Why not make some amazing memories with you family or just your sweetheart right here on the Alabama Gulf Coast?  We are proud to have some of the best night spots anywhere in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and we, at Sunset Properties, hope you will make plans to visit one or all of them on New Year’s Eve 2018.

  • The Wharf

The Wharf is so much more than just a shopping mall.  It is an entertainment district unlike any other we’ve found.  It’s like a mini-city located inside one of our favorite beach towns, Orange Beach. We all know what Main Street at Disney looks like, but have you ever spent New Years on Main Street at The Wharf?  With attractions like one of the the largest Ferris Wheels in the southeast and a seasonal ice skating rink just a few minutes from The Gulf, holidays at The Wharf are unmatched.  This year you can expect to find kids activities beginning at 11 AM and ending at 9 PM.  Bring the kiddos out to see the confetti drop at noon, stay for face painting, a bouncy house and even a mechanical bull, along with so much more!  Adults can expect to have a blast, too!  Live music begins at 7PM and lasts til midnight, when the best fireworks show on our island will blow you away!  With coffee shops and dress shops, fireworks and music, food and fun; with a giant marlin drop at midnight, it should come as no surprise, that we recommend spending some or all of your New Years Eve at The Wharf in Orange Beach.  

  • Lulu’s

Lucy Buffet’s Lulu’s in Gulf Shores is an entertaining place to go all year, so the fact that we recommend it for New Years fun should come as a shock to no one.  With great food, fabulous beverages and actual cool stuff for the kids to do, Lulu’s in Gulf Shores should be on your short list of places to visit holiday season!  The New Year’s Eve Celebration at Lulu’s starts at 10AM on December 31st and lasts all day til 3PM.  What’s different about New Year’s Eve at Lulu’s?  We for starters, their beach ball drop.  Have you ever been under a beach ball drop?  Not just one beach ball, hundreds of colorful beach balls drop from the ceiling at Lulu’s at noon on New Year’s Eve.  Just to be there to see that should be in your plans!  Along with that super fun event, there will be face painting, live music, sand castle building and crafts.  And lets not forget Lulu’s great food!  It’s the holidays and what is a must-have dessert in the south during the holidays?  Bread pudding!  Lulu’s has bread pudding with a wonderful twist:  they make theirs with Krispy Kreme brand donuts.  If that doesn’t make your mouth water, your tongue must be dead!  Lulu’s also has menus to accommodate folks with allergies to gluten, shellfish, eggs, dairy and more.  If a family friendly, affordable event is what you’re looking to do for New Year’s Eve, go to Lulu’s.  We think you’ll be glad you did!

  • The Hangout

Everyone who has ever been to the heart of Gulf Shores knows The Hangout is a groovy place to go!  You may have heard about the world famous Hangout Music Festival, but did you know they also host fabulous New Year’s Eve events?  That’s right!  They have a family friendly event that starts on December 31st at 2PM and lasts for five hours.  At The Hangout, on New Year’s Eve afternoon, your family can enjoy a yummy buffet, movies on a big screen, hair braiding, football playoff previews, and a colorful balloon drop with prizes in every balloon.  This is truly a fun event for the whole family!  With the public beach right in front of The Hangout, what better way is there to watch the last sunset of 2018?  After the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t stop!  Evening events at The Hangout are geared more toward adults.  Beginning at 2PM and lasting til at least midnight, The Hangout will provide a buffet, complimentary champagne at midnight, a balloon drop with great prizes and, of course, football playoff previews on TV.  So get a group of your favorite kiddos together to enjoy the afternoon events at The Hangout and stay with your adult friends to ring in the New Year in the heart of your favorite Small Town with a Big Beach!

  • Flora-Bama

If an adult-only New Year’s Eve is more your thing, you have to get to state line before the calendar flips!  New Year’s Eve in one of America’s most celebrated road house bars The Flora-Bama Lounge Package & Oyster Bar is like nothing you’ve ever done before.  The celebration and music will begin at 7PM and last until 3AM on New Year’s Day.  For one all-inclusive ticket, you’ll get an all-you-can-eat buffet starting at 7PM an lasting until around midnight, breakfast sandwiches starting at midnight, champagne, party favors and music music music!  We strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance.  This party is a big party and folks come from all over to be at the Flora Bama when the clock strikes twelve!  Tickets can sell out and we don’t want you to miss out, so if this party on the beach sounds like something you will enjoy, go ahead and get your tickets now!   And don’t forget to come back to the Flora-Bama at noon on New Year’s Day 2019 for the Annual Polar Bear Dip.  Join a couple of hundred of your next best friends for a dip in The Gulf of Mexico followed by a traditional New Year’s Day lunch of black-eyed peas, cornbread and ham.

  • Cosmos or Cobalt

So you don’t really care about face painting and fireworks.  You rode the Ferris Wheel back in the summer and climbing a rock wall just isn’t your idea of ringing in the New Year.  Instead you have a nice romantic evening in mind. Or maybe you just want to have a really great dinner with your family.  You want to get dressed up in your favorite new holiday clothes and go out to eat where a friendly, professional staff serves you amazing food that makes your eyes shine and your mouth happy.  We totally understand.  For you, we suggest Cobalt, The Restaurant located on Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach or Cosmos Restaurant & Bar located on Canal Road.  Both of these wonderful restaurants have special menus planned for New Years Eve.  During the summer, reservations are not customary for these places.  However, for New Years Eve, reservations are not only accepted, but strongly encouraged.  A limited number of walk-in guests will be seated, but we can’t stress enough how important a reservation for December 31st will be.  Seating will begin at 4PM and the last guests will be seated at 9PM.  A full bar will be available and you can expect specially prepared menu items like a seared filet or creme brulee.  We know champagne is the drink of choice for New Year’s Eve, but you are on Island Time and you can never go wrong with a great rum drink.  At Cosmos, try Momos Rum Runner and at Cobalt, try a Dragonfly.  If you’ve eaten at either or both of these great dinner spots during the summer, expect something totally different for New Year’s Eve.  At Cosmos and Cobalt they believe a special night deserves a special menu and they are creating one only available on this date.  

We know how you choose to send out the old year and ring in the new one is an event as individual and exceptional as you are.  We have given you a list of our five favorite ways to do it and we hope one of these works for you!  Don’t forget to check out our list of New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep and when you’re planning your vacations, large or small, in 2019, give us a call at 251-543-1370 or hit us up online at info@sunsetproperties.com.  We will be thrilled to help you find just the perfect vacation home to fit your needs. 


Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from all of us at Sunset Properties and we wish for your family much joy and prosperity in 2019.

Come back and see us again real soon!