Family, Foley, Gulf Shores, restaurant, vacation

How crowded is Gulf Shores? Just visit Chick-fil-A for breakfast to find out

Living in Foley the neighboring city to the north of Gulf Shores and 14 miles from the beautiful white sand beaches has taught me some things over the last year. Being a “local” and learning to gauge the tourists and visitor activity is one of those senses you learn to develop. As well as learning other “local” tips for managing day-to-day life in an area that attracts millions of visitors each year.

  1. Learn the “back roads and shortcuts”. Highway 59 can become a bog of cars with all the influx on the busy days and weeks of the year. The Beach Expressway also can be quite congested depending on the time and day of the week. We quickly learned about the two lane road’s that run parallel to Highway 59. One will even bypass all of Foley and drop you at the beginning of Gulf Shores.
  2. Stay away from the center and south end of Foley on tourist days. Fortunately we bought a new home on the North end of Foley and both of us work about 2 miles from home. So we can avoid the overcrowded and congested areas of Foley to get to work and lunch.

So the question is….”How crowded is Gulf Shores and the surrounding area?”

What barometer can we use to know what the tourist climate is like each day? See with Sports Tournaments, vacations, spring breaks, and the other countless reasons we all flock to the Lower Alabama hot spots, each day is different. One day can be slow and laid back and the next BOOM chaos and back-ups!

The answer is surprisingly CHICK-FIL-A. Chick-fil-A is the gauge we use to monitor the tourist activity in Foley and Gulf Shores. Ranae and I eat breakfast together almost everyday and choose Chick-fil-A as our spot. Apparently most people who travel choose to “Eat Mor Chikin” as well. However busy the restaurant and particularly the drive-thru is helps us to plan and determine what routes to use and areas to avoid for the coming day.

  • Monday and people are rolling into the Chick-fil-A then they are leaving and things should be clearing up throughout the week.
  • Thursday or Friday and things are hopping at the Chick-fil-A and look out for a packed weekend at those wide sandy beaches.

By the way Chick-fil-A in Foley is an absolute great place to stop and eat anytime of the day. Never can get enough Chicken and of course waffle fries. Great service and always exceeds our expectations!

So join the crowds or the “locals” and just visit a nearby Chick-fil-A to see how busy your town will be for the coming day or days.

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When you visit Gulf Shores stop by Foley Chick-fil-A for breakfast and be sure to say “HI”


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Family, restaurant, vacation

To Cook or Not to Cook While on Vacation

So you’ve rented your vacation home and it comes with a fully equipped kitchen. Then the dilemma starts. Should we eat in and cook all our own meals? Or should we eat out and discovery the local restaurants? There is no correct answer to these questions because every family is different. But I can share some experiences I’ve had while traveling with just my husband and also with the whole family.

If you’re traveling with your family you need to consider the cost of eating out. After ordering an appetizer, individual entrees, a few drinks and desserts, at the end of the dinner you may be looking at a tab of over $100 for a family of four. Seven days of eating like this really adds up. I do think it’s important to try a few local restaurants during your stay. Afterall, you’d be crazy not to try the fresh seafood while visiting the Gulf Coast at some point on your visit. There have been trips I’ve taken with just my husband when we ate out every meal. Those are the vacations when I truly want to relax and not worry with the cooking and clean up.

When we have rented vacation homes or condos with a fully equipped kitchen, I do try to take advantage of this as much as possible.

  • Plan your meals well in advance before leaving for your trip. MAKE  LISTS!!!! You’ll need two separate lists. One list will be the dishes and the recipes that go with them. The second list will be your grocery list. I always try to take as much of the dried food with me from home. For example, if I’m making chili I know that the recipe calls for canned tomatoes and chili beans. If these are items that I already have on hand, I pack them up and take them with us. If there’s a recipe that will call for a cup of flour, I’ll go ahead and measure that out into a plastic sandwich bag and bring it from home. That way I’m not buying a 5 pound bag of flour while on my trip just to use 1 cup of it. I also may shop at my hometown market before the trip to gather all the other dry items I may use in the condo. This helps cut down on the time spent grocery shopping on my vacation.
  • I use my second grocery list for the market nearest my vacation home. On this list I have all my cold, frozen and fresh products.
  • There are food markets that offer grocery pick up or delivery to your condo. I know the Wal-Mart in Gulf Shores, Alabama offers the grocery pick up. If you are able to arrange a pick up plan with them, that’s one less thing you have to worry about when you arrive to your vacation town. Let them do the shopping for you. And it’s a free service. Do your research on these markets before you leave your home. This could pay off and save you lots of time.
  • We typically always eat breakfast in our condo everyday. There are those mornings we wake up to bacon, eggs and pancakes. On days that we need to leave the condo to head out to our activities quickly, it’s usually a cereal or Eggo day. By eating breakfast in the condo  you’ve saved between $30-$40 per day.
  • Lunches in our condos are usually sandwiches and chips. Peanut butter works great too. The best part of staying in a beach condo is that you can take your lunch with you to the beach and have a picnic right on the sand. Eating lunch from your condo will save you $50-$60 per day.
  • Dinner time!!!!  I just got one word that makes all the difference when planning meals on your vacation. CROCK POT!!!!!!!!!  Honestly, I’ve never stayed in a vacation home or condo that provided a crock pot for us. I’ve always brought mine from home. It’s the best thing. I can throw in our dinner in the morning after breakfast, turn it on low and allow it to cook the entire day. I’ve made beef pot roast and potatoes, lasagna, taco soup, French dip sandwiches and cube steak, just to name a few. Then we typically have enough leftovers for lunches the next day. Clean up with the crockpot is easy too. Most of them allow the stoneware to be removed and can be placed in the dishwasher. Voila!!! Clean up is done. By choosing to dine in for dinner, you’ve saved over $100 per day.
  • Snacks!!  Keep fresh fruit handy for snacking. Or if you are craving a little something sweet, refrigerated cookie dough is your friend. All you have to do is pop them out on a cookie pan, bake as directed on the package. And you have fresh-baked cookies. When your family smells those cooking baking, you’ll be their hero for sure.

Have fun and plan for as much or little cooking as you want to take on while on Vacation. A good mix of eating in and exploring the local top restaurants works best for our trips. Always find and try something new and enjoy the local favorites.

Comment any thoughts and suggestion!

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Family, vacation

How to keep from half killin’ your kids while traveling.

Traveling with family should be one of life’s greatest joys. Take as many trips as possible with your family because those are the memories they’ll always have. Leading up to the day that you leave for your trip is so exciting as you collect your snacks and road games and map out your route. Everyone piles into the car and then you get 15 minutes into a 10 hour drive, then the dreaded question from the back seat blurts out. “ARE WE THERE YET????” And who can blame them? They are as excited as you are to reach their destination.

Here are some things I have learned from traveling with our three daughters and now two grandkids through the years.

  • What time should you leave for your long journey? This question can be an important one. Will the kids do better on the road during the daylight hours or is it better to travel overnight while they are sleeping? The best answer to this question depends on your particular family and their needs. Another factor is you may have to reach your destination at a certain time. Overnight traveling is convenient when the kiddos are very young and for those kids who fall asleep easily in the car. However for the driver this can be very exhausting. It’s also a good idea to have someone stay awake with you to keep you from dozing off. Staying up later than usual or driving overnight can take a toll on you. Sure you get to your destination a half day sooner, but then you’ll have to take a nap when you get there, while your kids are raring to go. We seemed to have better trips during the daytime hours. We would get up early and hit the road first thing. Eating breakfast at home before you leave is up to you. We always stopped about an hour into our trip to grab some breakfast because that was one thing they looked forward to.
  • Make frequent stops. It’s ok to stop every hour and a half to 2 hours. Whether you’ve stopped at a gas station or at a rest stop, make the break an enjoyable one. Take a short walk around the rest area. Go to a souvenir shop on the side of the road and take in the local items. One time at one rest area, they had a gentleman there who was dressed like a pioneer man and he was making pottery. We stood there for half an hour with our granddaughter just watching him and listening to his stories. This is what we call “local flavor.” When you’re able to take in all that the area has to offer.  The excitement about road trips is that there is always something to stop and see. Go ahead and pull off the interstate and drive 15 miles out of your way to see the largest ball of twine. It’s ok to be random. This is what your kids will remember the most. Take time to smell the roses as they say.
  • After every stop, pull out a “surprise” for each of the kids. Part of my pre-vacation planning fun is to collect silly, cheap toys, books or gadgets. This certainly keeps things interesting and the kids are pleasantly surprised and entertained at the same time. This goodie bag technique works so well, that our daughter does this for her children.
  • Snacks. Oh yummy. Why is it that traveling makes you hungry? Packing snacks is a fun thing. It’s best to pack fruits, veggies, and nuts. Stay away from sweets, salty chips and sugar based sodas. Fill a small cooler with water bottles.
  • Picnic. Who doesn’t love a picnic? Having a picnic lunch at a rest stop or park can be exciting to a kid. Pack a plastic table cover, paper towels, loaf of bread, deli turkey meat and cheese and you have yourself a picnic. You can also bring along a jar of peanut butter. Just don’t forget the plastic knife.
  • Games. I LOVE ROAD GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!  My favorite one is the ABC game. Someone calls out a topic (ie. cereals or animals just to name a few). The first person starts with the letter “A” and has to name something from the topic that begins with that letter. Then the next player’s letter is “B” and has to name something in the same topic for that letter. You keep going until someone stumbles then they’re out. Of course you can set your own rules and topics.
  • Pictures. For the older kids. Bring a small camera just for them to document their road trip. They could play a game to see who can take the most pics of a certain tree or different license plates.
  • Shoes. I let my kids wear flip-flops while traveling because they like to kick them off in the car. However, I have them keep their sneakers in a handy spot. This way when we feel like pulling over to the beautiful state park that offers a 15 minute hike to a water fall, their shoes are ready to go and they don’t have to pull out the packed luggage to dig around for them.
  • Overnight Bag for longer trips. Sometimes during travel it becomes necessary to stop overnight at a roadside hotel or inn. For this reason I recommend that you pack a small separate overnight bag with all your necessities that you’ll need just for that night. It’s ok to pack everyone’s items in this one smaller bag. This way you don’t have to unload the entire car just for the one night.
  • Luggage space in the car. Does your vacation home offer a washer and dryer in the unit? If so, this is a wonderful benefit to you! You can wash your clothing every few days which means you can pack lighter. This saves you space in your car. Also remember the luggage “grows” during the vacation. Dirty laundry, souvenirs, and other items just don’t go back in the suitcase the same as it did at home.

Never let the kids be an excuse to not travel and experience the world around you. The fact is your children should be the main reason why you travel.

Show them the world through others eyes and help them to grow and expand their minds and appreciation of all that this wonderful world of ours offers!

They will bring up memories of these trips for decades to come and the journeys (good or bad) will mold the character of who they are.

Comment and Share your tips and suggestions.


Family, Orange Beach, restaurant

How good is GT’s On The Bay?

Honestly words cannot describe how good GT’s On The Bay is!​ They offer a diverse and one-of-a-kind menu filled with amazing combinations of flavors. I almost always get the daily Dinner creation. No matter how exotic or crazy it sounds you can always trust the chef to inspire your taste buds and thrill your stomach. That is to me the true test of a restaurant when they create things I would never think of. I can just let go of my pickiness and trust the genius artist and food craftsman the chef is. I always say someone with more food talent and understanding choose to combine these ingredients and so who am I to judge. Just ENJOY!! I have NEVER been disappointed in the food or service from GT’s On The Bay. They have a Pirate ship and sandbox for the kids to play in and be entertained, boat pier for water access, and one of our favorites….an oversized Adirondack chair for those selfies and family photos!

What to order…

  • Daily Dinner Special. Check their ​Facebook page for the picture and description of the #dinnerspecial​

  • Appetizer you have to try the Cajun Empanadas or the Totchos

  • Burgers Blend of ground chuck, short rib and brisket and they are huge

  • Pizza baked in a stone hearth pizza oven just right

When you go during the peak times they have two hostess stations one outside for the patio seating and one inside. Park on the side of the building and then walk directly to the gorgeous back patio area to be seated looking out to Wolf Bay. If you want inside seating then park out front and go in the main entrance.

Be sure to walk out onto the pier on Wolf Bay especially during sunset to see all of nature’s beauty.


Family, Foley

What is OWA?

OWA is a family amusement Park and a free Downtown district with timeless streets lined with restaurants and shops. OWA is an entertainment hotspot filled with live music, events, and activities that continues to grow in its offerings. It stands for “big water” and lives up to that name with the water features and pedestrian bridges around the quaint streets and shops that form the Downtown District. We are season pass holders for The Park which is the amusement park section of the entertainment venue  with 21 rides for thrill seekers and families alike.

OWA just opened a little over a year ago and they are growing and adding new attractions constantly. Currently the Downtown District offers….