Orange Beach/Gulf Shores- What to do and Where to be.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a blog post. Life got busy, I stopped taking time to do things I love, like blogging and cooking. Here it is, 2022, and Chris and I hadn’t really gotten away anywhere since 2020 (at least for more than a couple nights and holidays with family). We needed a reset. The last time we had been to the beach was our honeymoon in Hilton Head, which was special, but also extremely boring (our theory is that Hilton Head isn’t that fun unless you have lots of money and enjoy golfing and dropping hundreds of dollars on a spa day). We wanted our next beach trip to be much more fun. We were thinking of finding a cheap trip to Mexico or spending a little more to go to Seaside, FL. But our need for a break kinda snuck up on us. We hadn’t saved up the money yet for a Mexico or seaside trip, but we both took off work, desperate to get away, just for the sake of changing our routine for a week.

Sometimes, no matter how much you love your jobs, your life, or each other, your brain just needs that reset. Something different to look at, something different to do, and a new place to spend time together for a week. We decided to go to Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area because my parents already go every year for my Dad’s conference, and sharing a condo is much cheaper. So after spending a few days at the lake with Chris’s parents for Easter, we headed to the beach for a few days, just me and Chris, and then my parents came a few days later.

Let me just ay one thing… Orange Beach is so much better than 30A (At least for us).

Let me explain before a million of you come at me. Seaside is beautiful. It’s quiet, small, no big condos or huge tourist attractions. Just a pretty beach, bicycles, and family. In orange beach, there is just so much more to do. There is waterparks and mini golf, more resurants than you could ever eat at., not to mention the prices are actually affordable for normal people like ourselves. There is the Tanger outlets and the Warf to shop at. But the best part…. there is literally no one there mid April. I can’t tell you how many times we went into places to buy a Tshirt or a soda and they told us to take more than we payed for because it was the off season and they had to get rid of it. There was maybe one or two other people on the beaches, and it made for the best sunrise and sunset walks. We never had to wait for a table or the elevator. It was perfect.

Places to Shop

The downside is that it was pretty cold. Typically, it should be warmer this time of year there (at least that’s what the locals were telling us. We spent an hour or two reading on the beach and would be ready to do something else so we could warm up. This is why we were thankful we chose Orange Beach over Seaside. We spent pretty much an entire day at the Tanger outlets, surprisingly we spent much less money than we expected but we both got some great shoes and my back pain is already thanking me. For the full list of stores at this Tanger location click here.

One day we went to The Warf. I love the Warf, but I had a hard time with their prices. I hardly bought anything for myself, but there are several stores we recommend checking out. Seaside Shoes and Swim was literally my personality in store form. between the sparkly Steve Madden shoes and Stoney Clover bags, I was in heaven. It was one of those stores where you want everything in it but can’t decide which thing to purchase so you leave with the cheapest pair of earrings you find and it makes your whole day (aka my new daisy earrings, and they were only $15). Chris loved Kilwins, where we found lots of fudge, carmel apples, and any sweet treat you can think of. Of course I rode the ferris wheel one day and there is also an Arcade, but we didn’t get a chance to check it out. The Spice and Tea Exchange was probably our favorite spot. The whole store is lined with glass jars of any spices you would want. We got some of their popcorn salt, and it was amazing. If you’re looking for a great place to sit by the marina, Ginny Lane Bar and Grill has the best Blue Crab Dip. We weren’t too impressed with our entree but we only ordered one thing. There’s also a taco place and bar outside by the water if you want to check it out

PLACES TO EAT

So if you follow me on instagram, you know that we like to eat. It is probably our favorite part of going to new places. The first day we were there, we went to Bubba’s Seafood House because we were craving a super casual restaurant with fried shrimp in a basket. That’s exactly what we got along with some shrimp and grits. You can’t go wrong with either of those dishes at the beach.

Once my parents joined us later in the week, we went to The Ruby Slipper for breakfast. I don’t think we will ever go to breakfast elsewhere when we are in orange beach. It is the perfect brunch spot. The ruby mimosa paired with crawfish toast and stuffed french toast is top notch. We highly recommend.

The Restaurant of all restaurant’s that you have to go to is the Gulf Shores Steamer. Chris and I love crab legs, and we’ve had some good seafood after working in the aquaculture industry, but these crab legs were the best seafood we have ever had. It was heaven on a platter. I cannot emphasize enough how much you need to eat here.

For a nice custard treat we went to Ritta’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard. I think it was my first time having custard but of course it was great. I wouldn’t be sharing it with you if it wasn’t.

Thing’s to Do

Of course there are a million places to play mini golf in the area (which is always a must for me). But there is also a waterpark, and an adventure part that you could check out if you’ve to kids (or without kids… we don’t judge). We didn’t go to them but they look like a lot of fun!

One of my other favorite parts of this area is how close it is to Fort Morgan, and the Mobile Bay Ferry that can take you to dolphin Island. It’s only a 30-40min drive over to Fort Morgan, we didn’t tour this fort but we did get on the ferry there (of course my biologist husband search for all sorts of wildlife while waiting on the ferry). The ferry ride was only 30mins to Dolphin Island. I do suggest looking at the website to see the ferry times and prices before you go (click here). Once in dolphin Island we toured Fort Gaines, had lunch at Islander’s Restaurant, and went to the Alabama Aquarium at the Dolphin Island Sea Lab. When waiting for the ferry to head back you can also get some ice cream across the street and wait on the dock.

Places to Stay

This is one of the biggest differences between seaside and Orange Beach. Seaside is mostly made up of houses and doesn’t even allow high rises in the area. Personally. I feel like there is nothing better than looking at the moon’s reflection on the ocean from a condo high up in the sky. We always use VRBO to book condo’s and each time there is a different management company that oversea’s and cleans them. the majority of the time, the companies are more than happy to help if there is any problem’s with your condo. I honestly don’t know all the places that we have stayed over the years, but both Tidewater, and The Seaside Racquet Club and Beach Resort (in Orange Beach) have both been perfectly fine for the price. Nothing fancy but it’s all we needed. You should be able to search for those specific locations on VRBO. I just put in “Orange Beach Tidewater” in the search bar and it pulls up several condos in that one building for rent.

Beach Necessities- click here

I searched high and low for a swimsuit that I felt confident in and these were it (and under $50). The mesh beach bag, matching mini bag, and the shoes, were all only $10 or under and just as good quality as any name brand bag. Of course we needed all the sunscreen and vitamin C so we wouldnโ€™t come home sick. And thereโ€™s nothing like curling up in a beach chair with a couple books:)

What in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area did we miss? What should we check out on our next visit there?

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