I was a guest on a Gulf Shores girl’s trip recently. Flights, accommodations, meals and excursions were included. This is my honest take on what I loved, the things we did and the ideal girl’s getaway to Gulf Shores.
My dream state often involves a beach house, waves, tangerine sunrises and blazing crimson sunsets that stain the sky. In this scenario, I picture myself staying here writing for a month, or more. Recently, I had a brief taste of that on a Gulf Shores Girl’s Trip to Fort Morgan’s Barefoot Beach House.
In November, as our 12-day girl’s trip neared a close, we pulled into a spacious luxury beachfront home in Gulf Shores. With its squeaky white sand beaches, fresh seafood, fun entertainment and ample opportunities for soft outdoor adventure, Gulf Shores, Alabama is the perfect destination for a girl’s trip.
After spending nine days in Mobile Alabama, Coastal Mississippi, Louisiana Northshore and New Orleans, the thought of ending our twelve day girl’s adventure at the beach was sheer poetry. The sight of the waves, a trailing spit of beach with colourful private beach houses and walkways leading straight to the water’s edge, were all welcome respite before heading home.
Here’s how we spent our days while there.
What to Do in Gulf Shores
No girl’s getaway trip would be complete without a spa treatment.
The Spa at the Beach Club
After checking in to Barefoot Beach House, we drove straight to the spa nearby for treatments. The Spa at the Beach Club is a full-service Aveda salon and spa open to the public and guests staying at The Beach Club, a vacation rental resort owned by Spectrum Resorts.
Robes on, two of us settled in to relax in the quiet zen waiting room. The grey tones on the walls and nature sounds plus soft robes set the scene for a magical afternoon facial. Frankly, I’ve never had a facial before, so this was long overdue. The glycolic acid facial peel left my face feeling refreshed, smooth and soft. Loved the atmosphere and it was more than worth the drive from the Beach house.
The Wharf entertainment district is one of my favourite spots to visit when in Gulf Shores. From the gorgeous ferris wheel to the coffee shops, restaurants and adorable stores, there’s a little something here no matter what you want to do and it is very pet friendly as well.
While I have been to The Wharf before, I have never seen it all dressed up for Christmas. Lit with the charming colours of the season, the area breathes charm. Check out the adorable Christmas train ride.
High Cotton Bath
Do a little bit of shopping first, but then go do a quick class at High Cotton Bath. We made our own lotions and scrubs. It was a perfect way to spend a couple of hours on our Gulf Shores Girl’s Trip. Together, we all experimented with scent combinations. I loved what I came up with – peppermint, vanilla and a little hint of caramel that smells divine. My daughter was pleasantly surprised by this gift. Thankfully, she shares and I adore the scent, because it reminds me of Christmas and of Gulf Shores.
Choose your beads and make something gorgeous and unique just for you. They offer classes and drop in projects too and are very affordable. Highly enjoyable. I chose a necklace and we each were able to hand stamp a word or mantra into a charm.
Hummingbird Zipline Course at The Wharf
Alabama’s tallest zipline with some of the best guides ever. This was a lot of stairs, not going to lie, but it was worth it for the rush of flying across each zipline. It terrifies me a bit every time and near the end when the guides stated lift your feet so the alligator doesn’t get you, well you almost believe it and don’t really want to take your chances.
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
Immerse yourself in nature on the 28 mile backcountry trail through the Gulf State Park.
WE rented bikes at a nearby bike rental business and explored the park, which is well equipped for walking and for cyclists too. The trail is paved, but also there are huge stretches of trail that have wooden walkway over marsh.
Rent a Bike
This was so much fun. I can’t even tell you. I wish you a friend that you can rent a bike with Beach Bike Rentals and hit the trail, even if it’s been ten to 15 years since you last rode a bike. We had the cutest bikes ever for this fun part of our adventure.
Walk on the Beach
I heard a few people say this while we were there on our trip this time. I have come to believe it. Gulf Shores Alabama is paradise and a walk on the beach should be one of the first things you do and one of the last before you leave too.
Where to Eat in Gulf Shores?
The beauty of staying in a beach house like the one we stayed in, is that you can easily bring groceries in for breakfast, lunch and maybe dinner. That can save you money depending on your goals during the vacation. But, if you want to splurge on lunch or brunch, there are so many scrumptious Orange Beach and Gulf Shores breakfast restaurants in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
This was the highlight of all the meals that we had in Gulf Shores Alabama this time around. We have been to Gulf Shores before and I highly recommend a few other restaurants like Fishers as well. But, the first evening we got to Gulf Shores we were treated to a wine dinner featuring five Oregon imports at Perch. Located on East Beach Blvd., the wine bar and restaurant is easily accessed from The Lodge at Gulf State Park.
A wine dinner takes place at Perch every Thursday night. The night we were there we enjoyed Oregon wines from Pinnacle Imports. Lodge executive chef and Lodge Bar Master Jillian Cooper nailed it and were on site to explain the pairings. These Thursday night wine pairings in late 2019 were exceptional and affordable.
From the owner of Fishers, Playa is a new favourite, featuring a menu of Gulf seafood with a side of Latin American inspiration. Clean, lovely space with great service and a large menu. You should be able to find something here to enjoy.
Famous breakfast spot with a 50s vibe on the main beach strip.
DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen
OH, this place is such a sweet family run beach destination. There’s a huge variety of foods here, largely seafood inspired. Try the Royal Reds, which I’ve never eaten before. Basically, these are gigantic meaty prawns and very tasty indeed. Super friendly service at this beach destination, popular since the 80s.
Anchor Bar and Grill in Orange Beach
One of the nicest things about the Anchor Bar and Grill has always been the view. Their lunch offerings are tasty and unique and frankly the bar, shaped like a boat, is charming. Don’t underestimate the food here, because that would be a mistake. The tuna poke is legendary, but for me the dish that knocked my socks off was this – a breakfast/ brunch meal with tater tots topped by sunny side up eggs.
Cook Your Catch
You can also cook your catch here at Anchor Bar and Grill. Located on Hudson Marina with views of Terry Cove, this unassuming waterfront spot is also family friendly and has some of the best bar food I’ve had in Gulf Shores. I had a chicken and waffles lunch that was so spicy I couldn’t finish. This is southern food with a kick.
Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar
An institution in Alabama, straddling the Florida and Alabama border, the Florabama has been immortalized on TV and in the news many times over. With church service that takes place every Sunday inside the bar. There’s nothing quite like this. The weekend we visited, close to US Thanksgiving, the preacher landed on the beach outside after sky diving in order to make a point to one of the newest members of the congregation.
We didn’t eat anything here. We each sampled the famous drinks instead, live entertainment and the ambiance, which is roadhouse chic.
Also, the Florabama is right on the beach and the bar is open during the lively church service. Bushwackers and the Bible. Church will never be the same again.
The Yard Milkshake Bar
You have never seen anything like these milkshakes. Crazy huge, super sweet and oh, so good. We shared a peanut butter milkshake and a mermaid one that was as decadent as the day is long. Did you know that The Yard Milkshake Bar was featured on Shark Tank? LOVE that show. Also, they got their investment deal with Mark Cuban and it’s easy to see why.
Known for their sushi and locally sourced fish, Big Fish is a bit of a drive but the fish is a highlight. Our last meal in Gulf Shores Alabama before our departure the next day, Big Fish was a great choice. I had the grouper and it was moist and flavourful. I’m a fan of grouper and I enjoyed this meal, a worthy farewell dinner on our girl’s trip.
Where to Stay
Barefoot Beach House is a vacation property owned by Harris Properties, a management company owning numerous condos and beach homes with pet friendly options too. In 2017, we stayed in a Brett Robinson Condo called the Phoenix II, which had a totally different vibe. Both have their merits, depending on what kind of vacation you want. Close to the main beach or secluded beach house?
Make it Supersized
Late last year, I embarked on a Gulf Shores girl’s trip. Our adventure started in New Orleans when we landed on a Thursday and spent a weekend there consuming great food and exploring the city, absorbing that chaotic energy and seeking out new experiences – burlesque brunch, and a Segway tour come to mind! Then we landed in Louisiana Northshore, and on to Coastal Mississippi’s secret coast before driving to our third state for two stops in Mobile, Alabama and Gulf Shores.
Alabama has such sprawling squeaky sand beaches, that never seem crowded. The friendly people and outdoor activities beg to be tried at least once.
The only issue with dreams is that you have to wake up sometime. Leaving these Alabama beach views for rainy, gloomy winter days at home in Ontario, was kind of crushing. Not going to lie. After our 12 days of great food and memorable experiences, heading home to winter seemed kind of tragic. And then the pandemic hit.
If anything, this beach house stay reminded me dreams are worth having and they are motivating. Sometimes they also help you get through the tough times in between.
Right now, check with local businesses and bylaws for openings and closings and follow the rules, please for everyone’s safety.