Re-discover Your Inner Child Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Though I missed Be a Kid Again Day on July 8th–and you may have too, it’s never too late to connect with our inner child. And don’t we all need that considering not only our own busy lives but also what’s going on in the world. Sigh! It’s enough to make you want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head. But here’s another suggestion.

Why not head to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, two twin beach towns along the Gulf Coast known for their miles and miles of sugar-white sandy beaches and myriad water and land activities as well as great seafood and lots of you-can-only-find-it-here fun. Want examples?

Think prehistoric creatures that go beyond the big screen this summer. That’s right. It’s Jurassic Golf. But don’t worry. You don’t have to run from these creatures. Your only concern at this indoor, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course is whether you can get finally get a hole-in-one,

Or further your education. That’s right. But this isn’t calculus. Instead it’s Sand Castle University, a program teaching “students” the very best ways to build sand castles. Yes, soon you’ll be the beach equivalent of Frank Lloyd Wright. Well, maybe not. But you’ll certainly have some Instagramable moments.

Those covers aren’t looking like such a great option anymore, are they?

Well, let’s do some more convincing. Building sandcastles and playing miniature golf with prehistoric relics calls for sustenance. And since calories don’t count on vacation (honest, trust me on this) check out The Yard Milkshake Bar for their creative mind-bending dessert concoctions served in jars. 

The options at City Donut include their unique, made-from-scratch donuts with toppings like Nerds or Fruity Pebbles, or you can just go glazed–all are yummy.

Now that we’ve gotten dessert out of the way, sit down for dinner at LuLu’s, a family-friendly restaurant which not only has great coastal cuisine (including allergy-friendly dishes) but also features ropes courses (including the Mountain of Youth, a three-story climbing structure), an arcade, a seasonal caricature artist and live music. Oh and views of the water. Last time I was there I saw a dolphin pop up but he didn’t stop to say hi.

Fortified, stop at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo which offers up-close and personal animal encounters with kangaroos, lemurs and sloths. For kangaroos and lemurs, kids must be at least 3 years old to attend, but sloths will hang with guests of any age.

Thye’re definitely not hands-on or good for close encounters but the zoo recently brought in three new African lions (Daniel, Chadwick and Regina from the Pittsburgh Zoo) to assist in lion conservation efforts. Guests will be able to spot them as they’re introduced to the zoo’s resident lion, Nandi.

Nothing is more relaxing and rejuvenating than getting out in the fresh, coastal air. Hop on a bike at Gulf State Park and enjoy the 28 peaceful miles of the Backcountry Trail. The park offers a free bike-share program, so visitors can explore the nine different ecosystems that make up the park. Bikes in the park are designed for adults and bigger kids; if you have younger children, several local bike shops rent kids’ and tandem bikes. And if biking seems like too much effort, that’s okay. The park also offers more than three miles of public beach to the visitors who prefer to just sit on the sand and listen to the sound of crashing waves.

Looking for a day trip from the Gulf Shores? Consider Magnolia Springs, a true step back in time.

Convinced? Then begin planning your trip at https://www.gulfshores.com

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2022

Even if you can’t make it down for Mardi Gras this year, there’s no reason to miss out on the fun. Here are our options for celebrating the holiday in person or from home. So start planning so you don’t miss out on the fun.

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile is THE birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States, with the American celebration dating back to 1703. In this city, where MoonPies are the most coveted parade “throw” and beads hang from trees year-round, Mardi Gras is truly a way of life.

Planned Events:

A full listing of planned events can be found at Mobile.org. All events are subject to change.

  • The 2022 parade schedule extends from January 29 to March 1.
  • A tradition that started in 2021 is continuing to roll into the 2022 Carnival season. The Mobile Porch Parade is a socially distanced way for Mobilians to join in the fun by decorating their homes and registering to be on the official parade map. Everyone is invited to follow the “parade routes” – by way of foot, car or bike – at their leisure.

Celebrate at Home

  • To help get you in the spirit of the season, Toomey’s Mardi Gras features one of the largest inventories of Mardi Gras supplies anywhere in the world. Headquartered in a 70,000-square-foot facility is overflowing with beads, costumes, masks, and decorations. And that’s just the start. They even have MoonPies.
  • Local women-owned business ellenJAY offers a seasonal Mardi Gras Combo Box, Inside are four beautifully decorated mask sugar cookies, four chocolate chip sammies with vanilla buttercream and Mardi Gras sprinkles, and four cinnamon teacakes. The 12-count combo box is $59.95.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Head to  Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and celebrate Mardi Gras on the beach.

Planned Events:

A full listing of planned events can be found at gulfshores.com

. All events are subject to change.

  • Don’t miss the Orange Beach Mardi Gras Parade. Organized each year by the City of Orange Beach, this year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, February 26.
  • They all love a parade. That’s why the city of Gulf Shores offers both land and sea parades on Mardi Gras With the oldest parading order in Baldwin County, the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade will take place at 10 a.m. on March 1. Later that day, the Mardi Gras Boat Parade, organized by Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s, sets sail. 

Celebrate at Home

  • Possibly the most famous of all Mardi Gras dishes is gumbo, and we’ve got a great recipe to share. Excerpted from Lucy Buffet’s “Gumbo Love” recipe book, Summer Seafood Gumbo. Ignore the name, this gumbo is good year round.

Coastal Louisiana

Coastal Louisiana epitomes the Cajun French expression “Laissez les bon temps roulez,” or as we would say “Let the good times roll.” Historically, New Year’s celebrations overlap the Carnival season kickoff starting on the Epiphany (January 6) and continuing on through Mardi Gras beginning this year on Tuesday, March 1.

Planned Events:

A full listing of planned events can be found on each destination’s website. All events are subject to change.

  • Lafourche Parish is recovering from the impact of Hurricane Ida last summer, but Mardi Gras is giving residents of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou some reasons to celebrate. Here’s a complete list of the festivities scheduled for this year.
  • Located a short 40 minutes from the French Quarter, St. Tammany Parish is home to such quirky and unforgettable Mardi Gras parades as the Carnival in Covington Parade on March 1.
  • In Southwest Louisiana, the famed Iowa Chicken Run, an event that winds its way through the small town of Iowa to collect ingredients for a celebratory gumbo, is scheduled for March 1.

Celebrate at Home: