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When it comes to going to my happy place, the beach is for sure up in my top 3! Anything with white sand and crystal blue waters will call my name on a regular basis. There are so many gorgeous beaches in the world that are in my bucket list, but the last few years have been about getting in a low maintenance, easy, affordable beach trip with the kids to introduce them to the wonders of the ocean. We had heard for years that Gulf Shores, Alabama is the place to go for pretty beaches and cheap, easy family fun. I’ll be honest, when I think Alabama, the beach had never before come to mind, but we finally decided to give it a go a couple years ago! We loved it so much we went back the following summer.
The drive from the Dallas area is about 10-12 hours, depending on the number of potty stops you make. Matt is a power “through and get there” kind of a guy, but I can only stay still for so long. I have to get up and move! When I started looking at the drive, I discovered that we would be in Vicksburg, Mississippi right around lunchtime. When I was growing up, my 5th Grade teacher, Mrs. England, was so passionate about teaching US History that the 5th Grade field trip was always to the Civil War Battle Grounds at Vicksburg. She brought the Civil War to life for us. The second I saw it on our map, and I remembered being there with her, I knew that would be our stop to get the wiggles out! And bonus that it was educational!
For both of our trips, we stayed at the Spectrum Beach Club Resort in Gulf Shores. It sits right on the beach! And is a condo rental property you can rent directly through the property management company or through VBRO to pick the exact condo you wish to stay in.
I choose a bottom floor each time for the amazing grassy area off the patio, and for the ease of lugging our stuff to and from the beach. I’m all for the upper-level rooms with the beautiful views of the water, but for the ages the boys are at, the bottom floor was perfect! We had so many sand toys and chairs to bring back and forth, and in the evenings the grown-ups were able to hang out on the patio with a glass of wine while the kids played catch on the lawn. It was the perfect set up!
The drive times out so that we arrive right before at sunset. While Matt unloads the car and runs to grab something for dinner, I take the kids down to the beach to “just check out the water and dip our feet in.” You can see how that works out for me! Ha! Not that I can blame them! I’m always just as excited to be out of the car and running around.
On our first trip down, we were starving as we pulled into town and stumbled upon this incredible little place called Gulf Shores Seafood that has since become a multi-visit staple for our Gulf Shores Trip. This place is not to be missed! You grab all of your food to go and can choose from an assortment of amazing seafood boils. Not to be missed are their key-lime pie & the beer-cheese dip! I’m craving it now just writing about it.
My kids don’t sleep in, even on vacation. So I’ll normally take them on a walk down to the water while we wait for Matt to wake up. We take our nets and go shell hunting (don’t worry, we set them free after we look at all the colors and sizes). One thing we did not know on our first visit was that we could rent beach chairs, so I’d normally lug our chairs down to the beach to claim our spot. On our second visit, we still brought the chairs we owned for extra seating, but we also rented two making it so we never had to worry about claiming a spot! Once I’ve given Matt some time to come to, we head back up to the room for breakfast and for mom to get some much-needed coffee!
The best part of a beach vacation is that it really needs very little planning. While I know Gulf Shores has a putt-putt place, a water park, and other attractions like that, most of our day’s “plans” are based around enjoying the sand and surf. We always bring a couple of boogie boards with us for the kids to body surf with!
If the kids do start to get “bored” one of my favorite things to do is to tell them to bury each other! Luke is usually totally dedicated to the task! If done properly this will take a good 30 minutes to an hour! LOL!
The beach has a variety of rentals available from chairs & umbrellas to water equipment. You can rent jet skis, and also arrange dolphin tours, parasailing, or a banana boat ride! We had a blast on the banana boats, so much so that we forgot to get any pictures!
One of the great amenities at the Beach Club is the Village Hideaway! It is located at the front of the property, and at night it comes to life with live music and a selection of food trucks! There is also an ice cream shop inside by the gift shop, and I would definitely recommend the salted caramel flavor!
Each night the lawn features different activities from laser tag to balloon artists and various treats! One night the boys had s’mores and shaved ice in the same night! Talk about a sugar rush! Good thing there was a bounce house to go burn it all off in!
The coolest part of the Village Hideaway is that you really can go up there every night and have a completely different experience. The boys loved the active games like bounce houses and laser tag, but they also loved our lower-key night playing life-sized chess & checkers.
There are 3 pools on the property. Two are smaller and are a bit quieter if you’re looking for minimal activity. The main pool is a hub of activity with a pool bar & grill, poolside crafts, and various water games. The kids met new friends playing on the floating turtle and competed in a cannonball competition. It was a great place to go and hang out in the afternoons when we had as much salt water and jellyfish scares as we could handle for one day.
The Coast Restaurant sits above the pool and has a beautiful view of the ocean. It is a more upscale dining option featuring selections of sushi, seafood dishes, and steak or chicken.
A little more our speed was the Village Hideaway. Located up at the front of the property by the Village Lawn and activities, the Village Hideaway is casual dining with a great bar selection, and an arcade inside to entertain the kids while they were waiting on their meals. Among our favorites off the menu was the Coconut Shrimp, Mac & Cheese that Landry claimed was the BEST Mac he had in his life (it was really stinking good), and the Shrimp & Grits. There were definitely several evenings where I opted for the Stress Reliever…you know, family travel!
The great part of The Beach Club is that it offers the best of both condo rentals, and staying at true resort property! You really can have as much or as little activity as you want to in your stay. Cook in the room every night, or go out without ever leaving the property. We cannot wait to go back!