When you’re a resident of north Louisiana, it’s slim pickings when it comes to decent beaches within driving distance. Many people even opt to hop on a plane for their own beach getaways. While the closest beach to northwest Louisiana is in Texas, the nicer closest beach lies in Alabama. Gulf Shores isa good 7.5-hour drive, but I’ve done many road trips with my friends for several spring breaks, summers and music festivals to enjoy this beautiful stretch of beach. The lengthy road trip is definitely worth it for the good eats, fun things to do and beautiful beaches awaiting you.
If you’re a fan of live music, bar food and the beach, Florabama is a must-visit when you’re vacationing in Gulf Shores. They have five different entertainment areas on multiple floors to give visitors a variety of music to enjoy, but you’re most likely to find some good country music playing. They’re also home to Oyster Bar, where you can find a full menu of a variety food like burgers, nachos and, of course, oysters.
What’s even more awesome is that Florabama is located on the beach right at the border of Florida and Alabama. So when you need a break from all the hustle and bustle of the bar, you can escape to the beach out back.
Hangout is a popular place for visitors. It’s a full-service restaurant, so you can enjoy some good local eats (though I’ve never actually dined there myself). Sometimes, they also have live music playing. At night, the outdoor area becomes a good place for dancing. They’ll have a DJ, and of course you can enjoy drinks at the bar. Every hour on the hour up until 6 pm, they have a foam party, so you can play in all the bubbles. They also have a sand pit and several outdoor games to enjoy, such as foosball and ping pong.
You can’t leave without leaving a wish on their Wish Wall, and there are also tons of opportunities for good photo ops. On top of all that, there’s access to the beach. Hangout is also host to the annual Hangout Music Festival. You can read about my experiences here and here.
If you want to get away from the crowded beaches and get a little adventuring in, kayaking is a great choice! I kayaked for the first time ever in Gulf Shores, and I really enjoyed it. We went to Gulf Adventure Center, which has since closed since my own adventure, but there are still plenty of places for you to go on a kayaking adventure of your own.
Dolphin cruises are aplenty when you’re in Gulf Shores. It’s the perfect way to watch the sunset, enjoy some drinks and see the beautiful dolphins swimming alongside your boat.
It would be easy to spend an entire day at The Wharf in Orange Beach. The Wharf is home to a variety of stores for you to get your shopping fix in while on vacation. It’s also home to a variety of restaurants, anything from an upscale meal to a down home burger.
Not only are there several places for you to shop and dine, the Wharf is also home to a marina where you can go on a dolphin or sunset cruise, get a tour of the bayous or even rent a boat for a day. You can also ride on one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the south, play a few rounds of mini golf or catch a movie at Carmike. You definitely can’t leave without experiencing SPECTRA, the Wharf’s own sound and light show occurring several times nightly.
GO TO THE BEACH
Of course, you can’t go to Gulf Shores without enjoying some relaxing time at the beach.
I go to Shrimp Basket on nearly every visit to Gulf Shores. I am a huge fan of seafood, so being able to get fresh seafood at affordable prices is my favorite. I always, always, always get oysters when I go to Shrimp Basket, but they have a whole menu full of delicious items. I wouldn’t recommend their side salads because they’re made with shredded lettuce (unless you’re a shredded lettuce person then do your thang), but I would 100% recommend their steamed new potatoes.
Bahama Bob’s was such an easy pick for a lunch spot because it’s located right on the beach. You can do some good beach lounging and then when you’re hungry, just walk on over to Bahama Bob’s and eat right near the shore. I don’t remember what I ate while I was there, but I do remember just overall having a great experience.
It’s easy to fall in love with Tacky Jack’s on looks alone. The restaurant itself is colorful and eclectic, and your mouth will start watering just from reading the menu. If you’re with a group, I recommend getting the nachos. They’re huge and friggin’ delicious.
I always recommend that people go to Lambert’s because it’s not just a restaurant; it’s an experience, and it’s unlike any other. Once you’re seated, you can choose whatever you’d like from the menu, of course, which is full of southern favorites. Along with your meal, you also get pass-arounds. People will come to your table with baskets and pots filled with food, and you can get as many and as much of it as you like throughout your meal, in addition to what you already ordered. On top of that, there’s also a person that walks around with a cart full of bread, and they will throw rolls at you for you to catch and eat. The rolls are huge and delicious. I recommend pacing yourself.
Cosmo’s was a local’s recommendation for good sushi, so we couldn’t pass it up. In addition to their sushi menu, they also have full lunch and dinner menus with lots of seafood favorites. I can’t remember what I ordered, but I can remember that the service was impeccable.
Owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister, Lucy, Lulu’s is the perfect place to unwind with good food and good drinks. On a sunny day, you can enjoy some outdoor activities, like playing in the sand pit. They also have a play area for the kiddos. The environment in and of itself is fun, and it’s adorably decorated. They have a gift shop so you can get your shopping on while you wait for your table. They also have live music every evening. The one negative thing I have to say is to not get the gumbo. Being a Louisiana girl, I should have known that Alabama gumbo would not do the trick. They also didn’t have any hot sauce to fix the problem. Other than that, I had a lovely experience.
HOG WILD BEACH & BBQ
Hog Wild was an accidental stop when we were looking for an Uber after a night at Hangout Music Fest. It was a great find, and the food was incredible. If you want to get away from all the seafood you’re sure to eat while you’re on the coast, I highly recommend visiting Hog Wild for some good BBQ.
We wouldn’t have discovered Mikee’s Seafood if Shrimp Basket hadn’t been so hoppin’, so I’m glad we stumbled over to Mikee’s. Again, I’m a big fan of oysters, and that’s pretty much all I want to eat while I’m near the beach. Mikee’s delivered. Their oysters were fresh, huge and so good.
This may not be exciting for you if you have a Mellow Mushroom in your hometown, but there is no Mellow Mushroom in north Louisiana, so when I was on a girls trip, we jumped at the chance to try it out. Y’all, I love pizza so much, and their pizza was so dang good. I would absolutely eat here again.
This is one of my favorite bars in Gulf Shores just because of the name itself. Being from Louisiana, we love anything that reminds us of home, and Mudbugs (just the name, not the bar itself), did the trick. Mudbugs is a dive bar that can honestly be hit or miss depending on when you go. On one night I went, it was hoppin’, but the next night, it wasn’t busy at all.
The bartenders have always been friendly, and I’ve met some pretty fun people there. On some nights, they do karaoke, which, of course, I took full advantage of, and other nights they have live music. There are also pool tables, horseshoes and darts.
PINK PONY PUB
There are so many things to love about Pink Pony Pub. You’ll easily get intoxicated by the environment of the Pink Pony Pub. It’s inviting both indoors and outside on the deck. Plus, it’s located right on the beach. They have a menu that’s way past traditional bar food, and I hear it’s delicious, but I’ve never indulged in it myself. Now the drinks – yes! They have signature drinks, and you should definitely get in on that. They also have live music and/or karaoke each night. My first visit here, we closed down the bar because we just didn’t want to leave.
Have you ever been to Gulf Shores? What’s your favorite beach?