A Travellerspoint blog

Still have shopping to do? Head to Alabama Gulf Coast

Can you believe it's almost Christmas? Wasn't Labor Day just last week?

Seriously, though, if you still need to do some holiday shopping, why not make a trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast and hit some of the spots where you can find lots of stores, lots of variety and lots of bargains. You can get your shopping done in record time and still have plenty of time to enjoy great meals and views of the spectacular Gulf of Mexico.

One of the places not to be missed is in nearby Foley. At the Tanger Outlets, you can shop at more than 125 stores. That's brand-name merchandise at outlet prices – all in one spot! You can find clothing, shoes, housewares, accessories and dozens of specialty shops.

In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, shoppers can head to The Wharf and The Pinnacle to find a range of options for gifting needs, something to fit any price point.

Situated around and between these destinations are dozens of shops that house unique boutiques and artists' studios. While perusing www.thebeachiscalling.org, I found some great ideas for gifts for a couple friends. There are a artists here who make pottery, including one who makes pieces inspired by Appalachian face jugs – which my friend adores! And there are artists here who make custom jewelry, do intricate beadwork and needlework, paint, sculpt, carve – the list goes on.

So come on down. There's still time to get in some shopping – for others and for yourself. And if you're lucky, you might even get to see “Sandy Claws”!

Posted by Carol W 14:42 Comments (0)

Turn out the lights, the turtles need you!

Remember how we moms are always (always!) saying, “Turn off the light when you leave the room!”? Well, now we have even more proof that we're right. If you won't do it for us, for the sake of the household budget or for the environment, do it for the sea turtles.

That's right, sea turtles.

The Alabama Gulf Coast is home to several species of sea turtles, including some species that are threatened. It turns out, one of the biggest threats comes from a seemingly innocent source: artificial light. Scientists call it “coastal light pollution.”

Female turtles return to the beach where they were born to nest and lay their eggs. Bright lights on beaches can cause the turtles to become disoriented, leading them to drown in swimming pools, wander into traffic or fall victim to predators.

Hatchlings count on the lights of nature to guide them from their nests to the ocean. For the tiny critters, it's a long trek filled with peril, and that peril is compounded when bright lights confuse little guys.

Scientists from Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and lots of volunteers work in the local Share the Beach program to make sure that sea turtle nests remain undisturbed and that hatchlings have a save trip to the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone can help by following guidelines for lighting. It's good for the earth, and it's good for the turtles.

Posted by Carol W 19:44 Archived in USA Tagged educational Comments (0)

Another type of nesting: Special birds come South to roost

The Alabama Gulf Coast is known as a wonderful place for birding. In addition to natives, migratory guests make the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach a stopover or temporary home.

Of all the many types of birds that come and go, my favorite type is, of course, the snowbird! (For those who might not know, “snowbird” is the affectionate nickname given to those who spend the winter months in the South and the warmer months elsewhere; since they “fly south for the winter,” they are dubbed “snowbirds.”)

Any area visited part of the year by travelers welcomes guests during its off-season because that helps the local economy. But with snowbirds, there's so much more than simple dollars and cents. The snowbirds who come to this community are “invested” in it in the deepest sense of the word. They don't just come to stay here for a few months, they live here, and they become part of the community. They volunteer; they take part in fundraisers; they help with community projects. They make this a better place to live and to bring up families.

It is such a joy to see friends come back after months away. Although there are all sorts of ways to keep in touch, there's nothing quite like a seafood meal shared with the Gulf of Mexico as a backdrop and exchanging tales of the time away.

Welcome back, snowbirds!

Posted by Carol W 19:43 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Shopping and Fishing - a happy holiday mix

OK, ladies, if you are having a hard time getting your hubby to commit to coming to the Alabama Gulf Coast so you can get an early start on your seasonal shopping, sit him down at the computer, direct him to www.thebeachiscalling.org and have him click on the “Fishing” tab. When the drop-down menu opens, help him find the “What's Biting?” section. There are a year's worth of archived articles there, and they have interviews with local charter captains about what's biting and how to catch it.

Bull reds (redfish), trout and flounder are among the draws this time of year. And remember, with the mild daytime temperatures, a fishing excursion can be a relaxing way to while away some time, say, while your honey hits a few shops, boutiques and specialty stores.

The two of you can go back to the home page and then hit the “Packages & Deals” tab to look for specials.

Just remember, with the right bait, you can land him hook, line and sinker!

Posted by Carol W 22:36 Comments (0)

Gulf Coast Hostess

I love to be a great hostess, and I love to have people come stay at my home. Sometimes, circumstances don't allow that. Maybe there are too many people and not enough house; maybe there are friends (and we do have some of these types) who just feel more comfortable in their “own” accommodations. They love to spend time with us, hang out, catch up, shop, sightsee, whatever – but then be able to feel as if they aren't “overstaying their welcome” by going to a hotel, condo or other rental facility. Hey, if it means they come more frequently and stay an extra day, we're good with it.

We know we have friends we'll see a lot more this time of year than during the summer. They will take advantage of the great rates to be found on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and they'll make several visits.

I have a plan for the next trip. I'm going to propose a boy/girl weekend. The gals will take over the rental, and we'll make sure to get one of the “shop 'til you drop, then hit the spa” packages” available at www.thebeachiscalling.org. The guys can have the house to themselves, and we'll have three days to catch up, chill out and plan for Christmas!

Posted by Carol W 22:35 Comments (0)

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