When you hear the word beach what is the first thing to come to your mind? Mine is Sunburns & Sand everywhere it doesn’t belong.
》Things to do in Pensacola:
I highly recommend going to the Pensacola Light House & Museum, you can climb to the top (172 Stairs) and see for miles the clear beautiful blue Ocean. Plus, it is very close to the Naval Aviation Museum & Fort Barrancas which is a NP. For those of you who do the NP Passports, you can get three different stamps here representing the Pensacola Light House, Fort Barrancas & The Advanced Redoubt (which you have to have a guided Ranger tour to see). You can easily spend the whole day exploring these areas.
*The Naval Base recently rerouted all visitor traffic for the above-mentioned sites through the west gate.
Of course, they also have some great beaches as well.
》Food in Pensacola/ Perdido Key, FL:
Have y’all ever heard of the MelloMushroom Pizza? They offer a lot of variations for people with different allergies & sensitivities, plus vegan & Vegetarian options as well. Although I didn’t eat it this trip several of my family members did and they said it was simply delicious.
Hmmm… it was goodish? I had the Red fish with asparagus & green beans and my husband had the seafood pasta. Both were mediocre, the green beans I had were literally just steamed no seasoning on them at all. I could make both dishes at home for a fraction of the cost.
We went to the location near Perdido Key, FL. The food was very small portions. I got the red beans & rice, my husband got an etouffee, and my father-in-law got their grilled chicken salad. Overall, we liked the food. But we wouldn’t go back again. Some of the staff really seemed out of it, and my husband’s appetizer didn’t come out until we already had the check. So, needless to say it was not our favorite stop on the trip.
》Things to Do in Orange Beach/ Gulf Shores, AL:
Fort Morgan, State Historic Site
Now this is a cool Fort. Built in the shape of a pentagon, it has layer after layer of protection. Many grand archways (My first thought was I wish I could family photos here), and they let you wander up and down all the stairs and tunnels as you’d like. That is just the start, the whole end of the peninsula is part of Fort Morgan there are many battlements and buildings throughout the property to see and explore. I just wish it had been better taken care of.
Gulf Shores State Park
They have some amazing trail systems in this park, you can go so many different places and directions. My husband and I walked the loop around Lake Shelby, across bridges, water ways, and it was all paved. Which can be a good and bad thing for your feet, especially when you didn’t check how far this hike was before you started. Oops. But it was great to get out and see the natural environment in Gulf Shores.
This was a huge outlet mall. Name a store and it’s there, and the prices are actually outlet prices. The Columbia store was a personal favorite on this trip as I found some of their SPF shirts for less than half the price. Which I haven’t been able to do very often. They also had stores you don’t often find at an out let mall such as TJMaxx or a Book store. The mall is outdoor and has an inner ring and outer ring of stores.
There are several public and private entrances to the beach (saying several is probably an understatement), many of which offer easy access to the beach. If you are on a public beach you cannot use your own umbrella or tent, due to a new law/regulation because of all the flying umbrellas (Who knew?). There were not many waves on the beach more like genital rolls which were very relaxing and refreshing, although I love splashing through the waves. Also, there were not very many sea shells or sand dollars to be found here, much to my husband’s disappointment (Okay mine too). So eh, it’s a beach what more is there to say?
WOW that was amazing. For those of you who fear heights its actually not bad, you don’t feel how high up you are because the ocean is so big (We had several people who are really afraid of heights, I mean 2ft off the ground and goes into a break down scared). But they actually enjoyed it which surprised all of us. Plus, you don’t even have to get wet if you don’t want to. I loved the peace and quiet, the cool breeze and the lovely view for miles upon miles. If I could I would spend all my days up there.
》Food Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, AL:
A yummy 50’s diner in period decor, waiters/waitresses dress from the era and you can even sit in some sweet old cars while eating. They serve breakfast all day and have a great selection of comfort food, including some milk shakes you have to see to believe. Our waitress Maria was one of the best I’ve ever had before, she kept our table of 10 in order and stocked with refills. Plus, she made us all laugh.
A unique riverside restaurant with tape over every surface that you are encouraged to write your name on. It was definitely an experience. Not a very long wait to get in (for a group of 16, only 20 mins), however, after you order your food be prepared for a minimum 45 min wait until you receive your food. I had their fish tacos and my husband had the shrimp po-boy, he loved it :). Mine lacked flavor though as I couldn’t have their special sauce due to it containing dairy.
A cute little cafe/restaurant in the middle of Gulf Shores State Park. It has some truly amazing salads, baked potatoes and yummy looking desserts. While they could use a little bit more southern hospitality, their food does make up for it somewhat.
Yo Ho Rum & Tacos.
Oh, my goodness. The tacos, so many different choices, and they are all pretty great (group of 16 each trying different flavors). I also liked their chicken bacon avocado sandwich, Mmmm it tasted so good. It has a great atmosphere, live music, a view of the water and their staff was very accommodating with our big group (two of which have severe allergies to Peanuts & Dairy). I would highly recommended going here if you have to pick just one place.
We actually did not get to eat here, as it was upwards of 2.5 hours to get seated. None of us really thought any food was worth waiting that long for. But it looked like a cool place with bunches of things for kids to do (ropes course, volley ball, sand pits, arcade… all designed for a younger audience).
With this being a family reunion type of vacation, we had 18 people plus a baby so finding a place to stay together was not easy. We did end up splitting the group up a bit.
Phoenix West II
Part of the family rented a condo in the Phoenix West II condominiums. It is a 36-story building with a huge 19 story attached parking garage. The condo rental came with access to an indoor pool and an outdoor pool with a lazy river, as well as private beach access. Also included was full gym access, hot tubs and saunas and long elevator rides. The only thing the family didn’t like was how long it took for an elevator to get to you. They only have 6 centrally located elevators for the entire building. Otherwise, the space was great and had an amazing view of the shore line and the wharf.
Another part of the family stayed here. it has the same amenities as the Phoenix West II minus the large parking garage and this building was not quite as tall either. The private beach was nice and the place was in general a quiet restful space.
My husband and I stayed here, The Lodge, Hilton run hotel, is in the middle of Gulf Shores state park. It was beautiful. Our view was of the ocean :). They have an outdoor pool, a game room, several snack/ bar areas, and private beach access that truly is private; there is not another hotel or condo place for miles in either direction. Breakfast (If you are a gold or diamond member) is included with your stay and this one is actually good! So may fresh fruits, an omelet making station, Gulf Shore Smoothies, specialty jams and breads… the smell of the ocean from their outdoor eating balcony. All make this breakfast one for the books. The Lodge also has another restaurant and a conference center/ meeting room. They do offer valet parking (In a cover parking garage) or self parking (Out in the open). The Lodge is also located right across the road from Shelby Lakes, which has many walking/ biking trails that lead all over the place.
As you get to know me, you will realize that I am not one to just sit on a beach. I much prefer to be exploring and expanding my knowledge of the areas around me. However, this beach trip was a wonderful time spent with family that we don’t get to see often enough. I would love to know if there is something you like to do in this area that I missed or if you have any recommendations for future trips 🙂
Thanks in Advance and Safe Travels,
The Travelers Wife