(Photo courtesy of Fleur Design via Flickr)
I’ve been going to Gulf Shores, Alabama, since the early 70s, and I still love it as much as I did when I was a kid wearing floaties. Now I’ve got kids of my own, and the reasons for that affection are the same. While other beaches offer better shopping, more sophisticated dining, and more houses that belong on a magazine cover, Gulf Shores maintains a simplicity that’s hard to replicate. It’s very much a family place, with wide beaches and blue-green water. The vibe of the whole place is laid-back and very Southern. (Any place that proudly calls itself the Redneck Riviera is obviously without pretension.) In Gulf Shores, you’re left to enjoy the things that matter most at the beach: sun, sand, water, food, and family. That’s the equation for a perfect vacation.
King Neptune’s Seafood is located in a small building with oyster-shell parking lot on Hwy 59, and boasts great oysters on the half shell, as well as Po-Boys. And one specialty worth a try is the Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp appetizer. The tomatoes come fried, served with fried shrimp and rémoulade. (Map)
Best family dining and night life
Lulu’s at Homeport Marina is owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister and he occasionally plays there. Good live music, and she supports local shrimpers and serves Gulf-only shrimp. For a great appetizer, try L.A. Caviar: black-eyed peas in balsamic vinegar. It’s surprisingly great. (Map)