The sites and scenes of Orange Beach & Gulf Shores…

Greetings fellow beach lovers! This is my very first blog post, and I am beyond excited to share with you, ALL the things I love about Alabama’s beach towns: Orange Beach & Gulf Shores (hereafter known as “OBA” & “GSA”).
In a couple of weeks these gorgeous beaches will fill up with spring breakers. Raise your hand if you are ready to put your toes in the sand!
Having lived half my life here, I am often asked: Where to eat? What to do? What’s new? What off-the-beaten-path place is a must see/visit? Press “follow” and put on your “readers” [my over 40 crowd will understand that word] because I have a plethora of answers to be covered in this series of blogs.
Nothing beats the tranquility of the beach…it is like the best therapy you’ve ever had in your life. As fabulous as that sugar white sand is, let’s face it, not every one wants to sit, and build sand castles for 7 days straight.
As of today, ALL Beach Whisper followers will have unlimited access to the information I have as a “seasoned” 23 year resident (and trust me, I’ve done my ‘homework’). You can  use this blog to make the most of your trip to the coast. It allows you to read about the best sites and scenes 24/7, perhaps in the car, from your “smart phone” while riding down the interstate en route to paradise. Think of me as your personal tour guide [like all those new Disney planners everyone is buzzing about on Facebook]. I can’t send you a “magic” armband, but I can arm you with knowledge and make your vacation more magical.
I will lead you to the greatest places, the neatest experiences, (some of which don’t cost you a dime), and the best locations for photo opps, to ensure your coastal vacation is more perfect and memorable than you ever imagined.
Why am I doing this? I love to write, and helping others gives me great joy. I have been searching for a way to “give back” and share all the good things about my town. Alabama beaches have become a popular destination for beach lovers far and wide. During the “tourist season”, I meet visitors while waiting in line at Publix, Starbucks, or restaurants, and I’m consistently asked the same series of questions, once someone discovers I’ve lived here so long. This is my gift, to say, “thank you for supporting my town and choosing our beaches to spend your vacation and hard-earned money”. Please share my blog with your friends. I am relying upon you to help.
Today I’m covering 3 areas: one shopping; a brand new activity; and 3 places for delicious food. Today’s blog is only the beginning; future blogs will reveal more places, sites, and scenes.

SHOPPING:
The must see/must stop place for shopping is Souvenir City (located on Hwy. 59, GSA, one block north of the public beach). Take your family’s picture in the mouth of the shark! This is the first stop for a photo opp! But don’t just snap a pic and leave. Check out their fantastic beach wear, and the largest selection of souvenirs under one roof-hence the name Souvenir City. This place has been in business since the 1950’s because they continue to refresh, reinvent, restock, and treat their customers right.
Bonus: Do not leave the store without a chunk of homemade fudge. If you can dream of a flavor, they likely have it, but you cannot go wrong with good old fashioned chocolate walnut. YUM YUM!

SUPER FUN ACTIVITY:
Gather the group and go for a boat ride (photo opp on STEROIDS). I have on good authority that we have a brand new sightseeing tour boat, in OBA, who also specializes in dolphin watching. This new flat super sized pontoon boat is docked at Bear Point Marina (under new ownership, fyi) in OBA (east Canal Road in Orange Beach).
For reservations, call 251-269-5555.
Their website: www.obadolphincruise.com
Find them on Instagram @OBAdolphin
Find them on Twitter @OBAdolphintales
{Yes, these folks are very connected with social media. Follow them on one of these social outlets for news about their biz, and some really great photos of their dolphin sightings.}
The name of the biz…(get ready) “DOLPHIN TALES“. Isn’t that FUN? I cannot emphasize enough. MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS AT LEAST ONCE. These owners are hands-on and incredibly fun individuals who have 6 years experience in the industry [the dolphin know this captain’s voice and will swim right up to the boat].
They make sure your time spent on their super comfy boat (only one in town with all padded seats!!!) provides great memories for you and your loved ones.  It will surely become an annual tradition for your family, and a highlight of your trip to the beautiful gulf coast. The best thing about viewing wild dolphin and going on private island shelling excursions (they offer these only a couple of times a week-weather conditions permitting- so be sure and ask the reservationist if that is something you want to do)….NO two trips will EVER be alike. Think about it…it’s the same reason why you continually go to the beach, or go fishing, hunting, bowling, or shopping- every experience is a new & unique experience.

Many sites and scenes have changed here in the course of 20+ years! We now have bike lanes, a bike rental store, fishing piers, bird watching areas, cat man trail (future blog will talk about that), exciting nightlife, gorgeous Miami-inspired condos and more condos, and in the progression of the growth emerged some really great restaurants.

What is my favorite restaurant?” I could never narrow it down to just one.
I have a revolving list of really great places to frequent. It mostly depends upon what I want to eat. The three restaurants I am featuring on my first blog are restaurants at which I would visit twice if I were a visitor/ tourist. These restaurants who made the front row seat of my blog consistently get it right.

FOOD: 
1. Live Bait has the BEST gumbo, traditional oyster poboys, awesome homemade cocktail sauce, and a fantastic $7 meat+2 at lunchtime. Live Bait has been in business for over 20 years. BONUS: If you happen to be around OBA on Fridays, make sure you go to Live Bait for the Prime Rib lunch special served only on Fridays for lunch, while supplies last. Be sure you save room for the Reese’s chocolate peanut butter pie. Holy Peanut Butter this little dessert is delish!!!

2. Cosmo’s…need I say more? If you haven’t heard of, or been to Cosmo’s, you may be possibly living under a rock. Among their stellar culinary delights: Sushi (the Volcano roll is a MUST HAVE), the BEST salads in town, a fabulous seafood pasta bowl, and pecan encrusted redfish. OooohhhEEEEE!!! My mouth is watering!
Bonus: $3 “Cosmo’s” during happy hour…from around 3:30-5:00. Cosmo’s has an appetizer that should be on the “100 things to eat in Alabama before you die” list. LAVOSH. An armenian flat cracker, topped with local cheese, melted, ooey and gooey, and served with a side of wonderful marinara sauce. This Cosmo’s original is absolutely divine!

3. Cotton’s = steaks and prime rib. [I get this a lot] “Who comes to the beach for a good steak?” Believe it or not…a lot of people. Cotton’s serves Buckhead Beef, and this high quality beef definitely lends to the high quality flavor of their steaks and prime rib. Cotton’s serves the fluffiest and best baked potatoes in town. Balance that with a side of steamed broccoli, and you are speaking this self-proclaimed “Foodie’s” language.
You are on vacation so indulge! Appetizer splurge alert…
Three Cotton’s apps to eat before you die: ‘Shrooms, Logs, & Skins. This trifecta of 2000+ calories is worth every added inch to your waistline. The mushrooms are stuffed with an herb cheese….(yes, that would be the sounds of angelic choirs singing), the cheese “logs” are hand rolled mozzarella, and the potato “skins” are made with those delicious baked potatoes I mentioned earlier. Here’s an idea on how to avoid the crowd, go to Cotton’s at 4:00 for an afternoon pick me up and have drinks and appetizers. Later, go for a moonlight walk on the beach to feel better about the splurge.

When I acted in plays, and took drama classes in college, my daddy advised me to “Always leave your audience wanting more”…Since daddy handed out so much good advice, I’m going to heed his wisdom, and stop for now- especially since I’m slightly in excess of my goal of 1,000 words per blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If I didn’t mention your favorite place today, don’t worry, I probably will in the future. Give me time. This blog will be written in phases- just as Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither is my blog.
Please share this with your friends who are planning a vacation to OBA or GSA in the near future.
Future blogs will be shorter. Do me one more favor…if you happen to patronize any of these places, share with them that you read about them on the “Beach Whisper’s” blog.
More to come very very soon….Warm wishes from OBA

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