Gulf Shores: Sleep, Eat and Play in the Redneck Riviera Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
Gulf Shores, Alabama, famously known as the “Redneck Riviera,” has been luring tourists from the southeastern U.S. for decades. The attraction is pretty straightforward: good roads make a reasonably easy drive to the closest beach for the land-locked Southerner yearning for the sea. “The Season,” like most coastal towns, runs from Memorial Day to mid-August with a big influx around spring break. However, travelers not as bound by the school calendar can find Southern hospitality year round. It’s low on pretense, but high on relaxation.
Gulf Shores’ main thoroughfares are a T formed by Highways 59 and 182. It’s pretty easy to find a place to stay on 182. There are houses of every size for rent, condos and small hotels. Just about every amenity and price range can be accommodated somewhere along this road. Price varies widely and depends largely if it’s on the beach side of the road or not.
There are no less than two bajillion places to eat in Gulf Shores. At the obvious risk of making enemies, I recommend my two favorite spots.
The Hangout: This landmark in Gulf Shores stands literally where Highway 59 ends. It boasts multiple bars, live music, outdoor seating and super casual atmosphere. The reason we will go back time and again: the sand pile.
The sand pile is exactly what it sounds like, an enormous pile of sand with tunnels for kids (and a few adults) to play in while waiting for food. The only thing better than the sand pile is the foam machine. It’s a machine that every so often will produce foam bubbles for the kids to play in.
I really don’t remember much about the food or margaritas we ordered on our trip in April. They must have been good. I would have remembered if they weren’t. We had such a great time laughing and playing that the food was a little bit secondary to our concerns.
Sea N Suds: Billed as the only beachfront dining on the Alabama Gulf Coast, this casual treasure is just delicious. It’s not the sensory overload of The Hangout, but who can take that all the time?
Sea N Suds is located on the pier behind Boardwalk Condominiums on Highway 182. The atmosphere is comfortable and the wait staff is friendly. It has the feel of a neighborhood restaurant you’d frequent weekly at home.
The food is why we love Gulf Shores: straight from the sea. They can prepare it in a variety of healthy ways, but let’s be serious. These people can fry anything. And it’s delicious.
Gulf Shores is a tourist’s paradise. There is no shortage of putt-putt, go-karts, arcades or shopping. There are hiking trails for nature lovers, museums for history or navel buffs, and concert series year round for the musically inclined. It wouldn’t have Redneck in the nickname if there weren’t also plenty of tattoo parlors.
My little family prefers to spend our time at the beach, and that’s about it. We build sand castles, hunt seashells, read books, roast our bodies in the sun and listen to the waves crash on the shore. We slow our breathing and really, truly rest.
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch — we are going back from whence we came.”
— John F. Kennedy
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