When winter weather gets too wintry and you begin to feel that you can’t take another day of snow, sleet, and gray skies, it may be time to plan a vacation to somewhere summery. You want to visit an area where the sun shines often, and cold is merely a slight inconvenience, especially as cold could be nothing lower than 60 degrees! If that area also happens to offer sandy beaches and Gulf waters that stretch out to the horizon and beyond, beachfront bars serving frothy tropical drinks, and vacation escapes draped in comfort and luxury, all the better! Everything mentioned above can be enjoyed in the coastal town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, a town filled with the eternal vibe of summer, and also offering all the festivity of a holiday celebration. And because less is never more at the shore, our Poole & Associates holiday hideaways will add an extra layer of wonderful to your winter getaway, keeping you warm on chilly nights, providing cheer as you celebrate your favorite winter holidays, and offering all the comforts of home even as you may be miles and miles away from your own backyard. This Gulf Shores guide to a perfectly beachy getaway in our Gulf Coast hometown will have you wishing that the black X’s on the days leading up to travel time would move a little faster!
Find Your Joy
Every day is a new adventure in Gulf Shores, and although nights will get chilly in the winter months, moderate daytime temps may encourage you to bury your toes in the sand every day at sunset, watching the sky come alive in kaleidoscope of fiery color. Our sunrises are also spectacular, and if you are a morning person, you will definitely want to toss on a jacket over your pajamas, and head to the beach watching with open mouth as the skies cycle from midnight black, to dusky gray, then pink, and then, just as at sunset, explodes into fire! Even those who are not morning people should experience an Alabama sunrise at least once during their stay; you can always go back to bed and sleep for a couple of more hours at the conclusion of the show—just remember to draw your curtains closed so the sun doesn’t interrupt your snooze!)
Take a Tour of the Town
Your first day in town could end up being confusing if you don’t really have an idea on what interests you (besides the beach—the beach always interests everyone!) and we suggest signing up for a tour of the area, checking everything out at the beginning and taking note of the activities or sites you want to explore later on your own. From the sky, Gulf Shores is simply amazing and Lost Bay Helicopters provides a thrilling birds eye view of the region. Located at 3190 Airport Drive, their tours range from a quick fly by of the beach to a 30+ minute Gulf Coast Experience Tour exploring all that makes this region unique while also revealing a few “secrets” that they only share with their closest friends. For those who prefer to keep their sightseeing closer to the earth, Coastal Segway Adventures offers a two-hour Back Country Tour through Gulf State Park, exploring its natural beauty and providing the opportunity to catch glimpses of the creatures that make the park their home, including alligators, tortoises, and delicate butterflies with wings that may be all the colors of the rainbow! This tour is perhaps the best way to experience nature at its most serene, and if you really love the park, you can return to it as often as you like! Located at 20115 State Park Road in Gulf Shores, this beautiful stretch of land and sea offers serenity and fun to every person who visits, and its trails and picnic spots are open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.
A Foodie’s Tour of Gulf Shores
This unofficial tour is the tastiest one in town and is one you will salivate over participating in, plus, all it will cost is the price of the meal. There aren’t any “guided foodie tours” in Gulf Shores, but with a few suggestions from your Poole & Associates friends, we can promise that this tour will be the most satisfying.
Start your mornings out with breakfast at Kitty’s Café, 3800 Gulf Shores Parkway #100, a spot that we have heard on good authority offers the best biscuits in town! Ok, we were the ones deeming it so; those biscuits are so good, they have become our newest obsession, but that’s not the only item on the menu that will have you salivating! The menu is a tribute to all the good old-fashioned cooking our Alabama mamas are known for, and if you leave hungry, well, we will have to put that on you, because their servings are generous and their food is the stick to the ribs type that you will dream about long after you have returned to your own comfy bed at home. Their “kitten’s” menu will delight your pickiest little traveling partners and because they are open for lunch too, it may be in your best interest to return for a midday break. Kitty’s Café is closed on Sundays, so be aware and maybe choose to make your own Sunday brunch in your Poole & Associates holiday haven!
Of course, once you have had your first “taste” of the beach, chances are you won’t want to have it out of your sight and if this is the case, a lunch at The Hangout Gulf Shores will be the best way to soothe your pangs of hunger! Open every day of the week starting at 10:30 and located on the beaches of Gulf Shores, this will be your first opportunity to enjoy the fresh seafood found in town. We are particular to Ultimate Seafood Boil, offering a massive portion of snow crab, mussels, Gulf Shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and sweet corn, but if that’s a little too much food for you, we definitely recommend their Shrimp & Grits! Devouring the sweet seafood as the ocean plays accompaniment to live music on the weekends is one of life’s greatest pleasures and yep, The Hangout offers that activity as well! Make a day out of it, starting for lunch and staying through the final encore and as a sweet treat that will make you smile, try a Bushwacker, a cocktail that doubles as a dessert, created with Malibu Coconut Rum, coffee liqueur, and ice cream.
Festive and Bright
Now, after your tours of sky, land, and food, you may think we have forgotten that you are exploring the delights of Gulf Shores over the winter holidays, but proving that we have considered all the things that will make your trip one you will never forget is an easy thing to do! The Gulf Shores holidays in your own hometown have probably started feeling stressful and chaotic as you shop, clean, shop some more, and cook until your back is breaking and you can’t even enjoy the food you have prepared. In Gulf Shores, however, the holiday celebrations take on a beachier and more relaxed vibe, something our guests deserve on every level!
The early days of December are for preparing for the big day, starting with the Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade, generally held the second Saturday in December. We all love a parade, that’s for sure, but if you have never witnessed a parade of boats decked out in their holiday finest, you are about to experience a treat that will spoil you for all other parades! Starting at dusk, the cavalcade of boats leaves Lulu’s Gulf Shores, (another waterfront restaurant you simply must try!) skimming over the dark waters to their ending destination in nearby Orange Beach. The magic can be witnessed anywhere along the canals from both towns offering a Christmas celebration that is uniquely Gulf Shores.
The business of Christmas is very important indeed, especially to your tiniest travelers, and the most special of traditions can be followed with the opportunity to take Photos with Santa at the Wharf! Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, the Wharf in Orange Beach becomes our tropical version of the North Pole and rumor has it that Santa will even pose with pooches, so if you are missing your sweet fur child, be sure to stop by and check out everyone else’s whispering secrets in Santa’s ear! The Wharf is destined to be your one stop holiday spot, offering stores that make your holiday shopping easy, as well as delicious restaurants and from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, an ice skating rink! Live out your Hallmark Christmas movie fantasies, doing circles on the ice with your favorite human and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa from the Southern Grind Coffee House after your turn on the ice.
A Clean Slate
There’s something about the new year that creates an optimism in even the most pessimistic of people. We feel like once we have crossed from 11:59 to 12:00, all our failures, disappointments, and worries from the previous year will be erased, leaving a clean slate of days spread out before us, waiting to be filled with the most wonderful of activities! If your winter journey has you camped out in our holiday hideaways over New Year’s Eve, your celebrations are destined to be special ones!
Not everyone is able to stay up to midnight, especially if you are one of those early risers who has awakened with the sun every day of your stay, and that is perfectly ok. Lulu’s comes into the spotlight again, offering a Noon Year’s Eve at Lulu’s, a daytime party that counts down to noon! Offering sandcastle building, zoo animals, face painting, live music, and an excitement that is palpable, your kiddos will want to get there when the fun begins and stay until the final countdown to noon.
Not ready for the fun to end at the crack of noon? That is perfectly ok because the Wharf offers its own Street Party that continues until that big crystal ball drops down over Times Square at midnight! Offering more of what you experienced at Lulu’s Noon Year’s Eve, plus a massive fireworks display at the beginning of the new year, be sure to make reservations at the restaurants found at the Wharf, so you don’t have to leave when hunger pangs strike!
For those seeking a more adult celebration, Flora-Bama Lounge, Package & Oyster Bar, located in Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida is known for its legendary celebrations, and its Flora-Bama New Year’s Eve Bash will show you the correct way to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new year. And finally, showing that good things come to those who wait, when the clock strikes 12, (noon, that is, on New Year’s Day) Flora-Bama celebrates the blank slate with their annual Polar Bear Plunge! The water is cold, for sure, but nowhere near as frosty as it can be in northern states, and if you submerge yourself completely, be prepared to enjoy a free beer and a free lunch of ham, black eyed peas, greens, and cornbread!
Relax with Poole & Associates
No matter how you spend the precious minutes of your days and evenings in Gulf Shores, coming home to our holiday hideaways at the end of every day will be a reward in itself! Watch all the new Hallmark Christmas Movies on state-of-the-art televisions, take a nap on Christmas day on the softest of sofas, and celebrate the end of the old year sitting on balconies that overlook the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Every minute will be your favorite one when you choose any of our Poole & Associates escapes to make your own over the winter Gulf Shores holidays. Reserve your favorite today!