Gulf coast vacation ideas?

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chedv
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Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:25 pm

Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by chedv » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:02 pm

I’m looking for a location on the beach and within walking distance of restaurants and hopefully a shopping mall. Preferabley NW Florida or Alabama area. This would be in March ‘18.

The last few years we’ve stayed at the Calypso in Panama City beach. It is right beside Pier Park, which has numerous restaurants, shopping, and activities for the family. Just looking for a similar setup in a different locale.

Thanks!

trasmuss
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by trasmuss » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:39 am

We're leaving next week for Gulf Shores Alabama. The Best Western there is right on the beach. There seems to be a lot to do with plenty of walking paths, history, etc. Next week will be colder than we like but the prices for an beachfront room with a balcony were less than $100 per night and we're from Minnesota so it will still be "walk worthy". The prices will be higher in March but the weather should be great.

We're driving from Minnesota so hopefully we don't run into storms!

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jeffyscott
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by jeffyscott » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:13 am

We have stayed in and liked both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL. We are not really into shopping or restaurants, but I think Orange Beach is a little more developed, though it has been a while since we have been to Gulf Shores and when we did stay there we were out of town toward Fort Morgan.

Last January we stayed 3 nights in a gulf front room in Orange Beach and walked to fast food restaurants and two grocery stores for meals, which we took back to eat on our balcony. We did have to cross a highway. There were also restaurants and stores in the same area that we could've walked to.
press on, regardless - John C. Bogle

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by jabberwockOG » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:49 am

Sadly the Redneck Riviera/Gulf Coast has been "discovered" over the last 10-15 years. I'd suggest completely avoiding going anywhere near any Florida panhandle or Alabama Gulf Coast towns either Spring break weeks or all the Summer weeks when the Gulf Coast beach areas are horrendously crowded and traffic on the primary roads literally gridlocks multiple times per day.

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fortfun
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by fortfun » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:00 am

chedv wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:02 pm
I’m looking for a location on the beach and within walking distance of restaurants and hopefully a shopping mall. Preferabley NW Florida or Alabama area. This would be in March ‘18.

The last few years we’ve stayed at the Calypso in Panama City beach. It is right beside Pier Park, which has numerous restaurants, shopping, and activities for the family. Just looking for a similar setup in a different locale.

Thanks!
How old are the kids?

9liner
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:03 pm

Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by 9liner » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:15 am

chedv wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:02 pm
I’m looking for a location on the beach and within walking distance of restaurants and hopefully a shopping mall. Preferabley NW Florida or Alabama area. This would be in March ‘18.

The last few years we’ve stayed at the Calypso in Panama City beach. It is right beside Pier Park, which has numerous restaurants, shopping, and activities for the family. Just looking for a similar setup in a different locale.

Thanks!
Lived in lower Alabama for while with the military. Hated Panama City Beach. Loved Destin and anything farther west. Destin was more of a family crowd. Less misbehaving teenagers on spring break.

texasdiver
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Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:30 pm

Last time I did a Gulf Coast beach vacation with the family we stayed at the Destin West resort which is actually on Okaloosa Island just across the bridge from Destin: http://www.destinwest.com/ Okaloosa Island is the barrier island that separates Destin and Fort Walton Beach. It's a big condo complex with it's own lazy river pool complex for the kids. A lot of the condo owners rent their own private units through VRBO which is what we did and found a very nice 3 br unit with bunk beds that was perfect.

They don't rent to spring breakers at this complex so you'll have zero college students. If I recall, they won't rent to anyone under 25. We were there at peak spring break week and only saw other families. You can google search "VRBO Destin West" to find a lot of private owner rentals. The older units are along the beach. The newer units and pool complex are across the road but the complex has its own private skybridge with access to the beach. We stayed in a newer unit across the road from the beach and didn't find the walk across the skybridge to be any hassle.

There are some decent restaurants within walking distance but you have to drive across the bride to Destin to get to all the fancy malls and shopping and bigger attractions. The advantage to Okaloosa Island is that you basically have the beaches to yourself. We were there during spring break (for TX schools) in late March and we could walk miles on the beaches without running into any crowds. Destin's beaches are MUCH more crowded because there is a much greater density of hotels and condos. The disadvantage is that you have to get into a car and drive if you want the fancy shopping and bigger selection of shops and restaurants. But it's only 10 minutes away.

We have also stayed at several condo complexes within Destin over they years but for a family vacation we preferred Okaloosa Island to get away from the beach crowds but still have the adult nightlife next door.

chedv
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by chedv » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:32 pm

fortfun wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:00 am

How old are the kids?
2 and 5. So they are pretty easy to entertain. We were in Destin last year for a wedding. I liked it too but seemed like we drove everywhere. Thanks for the replies. I’ll look into the Best Western in Gulf Shores.

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lthenderson
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by lthenderson » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:49 pm

chedv wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:02 pm
Just looking for a similar setup in a different locale.
Not sure if this qualifies as a different locale, but we've used VRBO to rent beach side houses throughout the Panama City Beach area, probably spanning a 7 or 8 mile area. We've done it for the last seven years and have enjoyed the variety of things nearby as we have used different rentals.

texasdiver
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Re: Gulf coast vacation ideas?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:51 pm

chedv wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:32 pm
fortfun wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:00 am

How old are the kids?
2 and 5. So they are pretty easy to entertain. We were in Destin last year for a wedding. I liked it too but seemed like we drove everywhere. Thanks for the replies. I’ll look into the Best Western in Gulf Shores.
For something different, maybe Seaside FL which is just a bit east of Destin. It's a quaint stylized master planned residential beach town that is supposed to be walkable. I think it was used as the set for the Truman Show. It was popular with some of my co-workers. I think it's all mostly rental houses not big complexes.

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