Gulf Coast Getaways

As the temperature rises, why not turn thoughts to the beach? Boasting some of the best beaches in the U.S., the Gulf coastlines of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida offer a great way to get away from the hectic pace of everyday life. With its combination of shopping, history and beautiful water along fine, white sand, the Gulf Coast is the ideal vacation destination for families, friends or couples. Whether relaxing in a beachfront condo or biking a backwoods trail, lifelong memories are made with a Gulf Coast Getaway. Here’s where to stay and what to see and do when you go.

Just over the Louisiana border, The Mississippi Gulf Coast features sandy beaches and plenty of natural beauty. Visitors can take a guided tour along the Pascagoula River, known as the “Singing River” with its miles of cypress swamps and wild life or experience the Wolf River by canoe or kayak. For the angler, Mississippi offers limitless chances to hook the big one. With over 200 species of fish in the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, fishing charters will more likely be described as adventures. Over 20 courses designed by golf greats such as Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate give visitors a chance to swing for the green.
 
Art and culture are also thriving on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Stop by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art or one of the many galleries and boutiques that feature the work of local and regional artists. Or step back in time at Beauvoir. The newly restored Jefferson Davis Home will open its doors June 3, 2008.
 
Eleven casinos bring the excitement of 24-hour gaming, headline entertainment, and celebrity chefs to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And Harrah’s and Jimmy Buffett’s new venture, Margaritaville, will soon add more gaming fun. Whatever you like, there’s always a festival or reason to come and relax … it’s the Mississippi Gulf Coast. To find out more visit: www.gulfcoast.org or call (888) 467-4853. Think that’s all? Not even close. While in Gulfport, take the kids for a day of education. At the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, Mississippi’s only children’s museum, visitors can crank a crane, touch a tornado, sort seafood, cross a creek, understand a pulley fully, construct a Kapla creation, tromp in treehouses and much more. Situated on six oak-filled acres in a renovated 1915 school, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center offers two floors of interactive exhibits, colorful painted murals, lots of imaginative play and outdoor picnic areas. Families with pre-schoolers can enjoy Bear Cub Club every weekday from 10 a.m. – noon. Upcoming events include “Happy 10th Birthday” on  LMDC, May 17 and “Dora the Explorer,” on May 27-31. Admission is $7 for children and adults. The Discovery Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. “Free Friday Nights” offer free admission for all visitors from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Hop over to the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center where learning and laughter go hand-in-hand. For more information call (228) 897-6039 or visit the Web site at www.lmdc.org.

Mississippi has a lot to offer, but if the “Heart of Dixie” is more your style, then you won’t be disappointed with 32 miles of the whitest sand, sparkling blue water and tons of activities for the whole family. Whether vacationing with family, escaping with the one you love or spending a week golfing with the guys, Alabama’s Gulf Coast offers the perfect balance of non-stop activity and lay-around-doing-nothing time. Cool off with the kids on a lightening-fast ride down a giant waterslide or take a zoo safari. Putter around on one of our championship golf courses. Cast your line on a deep-sea adventure, dreaming of the one that won’t get away. Travel back in time with a visit to Fort Morgan, the site of the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay. Or shop ’til you drop at outlet stores, antique shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques.

When all that action makes you hungry, head to the table. With the world’s best fishing hole, succulent, fresh-off-the-boat seafood is the order of the day. Choose from seaside family hangouts where sandy feet are welcome, white linen candlelit romance for two or downright dives that serve up some of the finest food and fun to be found. To find more information about Alabama’s Gulf Coast visit www.alabamascoast.com or contact (877) 690-0044.

Located on Alabama’s majestic Gulf Coast, The Beach Club offers picturesque surroundings, luxurious accommodations and endless views of pristine water all in one place. Add in a village of shops, restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, green spaces and a full service spa and there’s no need to ever leave. An extra indulgence at The Spa makes it the best place for undoing all that your busy life does to you: products by Sonya Dakar. The Spa at The Beach Club is the only spa in Alabama to offer the line, which is a favorite of Hollywood celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore.

The Beach Club is just a few miles from the action of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach but its natural setting of dunes and sea grass on the quiet Fort Morgan Peninsula make it seem like a remote destination. The resort offers rooms in majestic tower residences with sweeping gulf views or charming lakeside cottages, two options for finding just the right home away from home during your Alabama Gulf Coast vacation. For reservations or more information, please call 1(888) 260-7263 (SAND) or email inquiries@beachclubal.com. The Beach Club is located at 925 Beach Club, Gulf Shores, AL 36542.

Or feel welcomed to a paradise in paradise, a luxurious escape to sugar white beaches, emerald green Gulf waters and first-class amenities. Whether you’re looking for solitude, renewal with a loved one or a wholesome family vacation, you’ll find it at the Island House where every room has a gulf front view. World class local attractions include catamaran rentals and instruction, parasailing, snorkeling and scuba diving, sunset and island cruises, golfing, turtle watching, bird watching, day spas, historic Fort Morgan and Waterville USA water and amusement park. Island House Hotel is conveniently accessible from I-65 and I-10 and is located in Orange Beach, Ala. Directly on the Gulf of Mexico, seven miles east of Gulf Shores. To find out more visit www.islandhousehotel.com  or call (800) 264-2642.

If you want to keep exploring, then drive east to Florida’s panhandle, where you can find your way to the Lost Island – Perdido Key. A bit quieter and a little less populated, one of Perdido Key’s primary attractions lies in its “off-the-beaten-path” tranquility. Located about 15 miles southwest of Pensacola, its very name – Perdido – is Spanish for “lost,” which makes a lot of sense to visitors, who love to lose themselves in breathtaking beaches, a relaxed pace and world-renowned Southern hospitality that welcomes people to come as they are.

More than 60 percent of the 15-mile island is protected parkland boasting white-sand beaches and emerald-colored waters. While getting back to nature is what draws visitors to Big Lagoon State Recreation Area, Gulf Islands National Seashore and Perdido Key State Recreation Area, Perdido Key’s eclectic mix of offerings keeps them coming back. But this family-oriented, condo-setting destination is more than a nature lover’s paradise. Ample opportunity for adventure with water sports abounds, with kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, shopping, feasting on seafood direct from the Gulf of Mexico and year-round festivals, another part of life on Perdido Key. With moderate year-round temperatures and plenty of sunshine, there is always reason to celebrate. From the Interstate Mullet Toss to Thunder on the Coast powerboat races and the Creatures of the Big Lagoon Haunted House and Hayride, there is something for everyone. For more information, call the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce at (800) 328-0107 or visit www.RelaxInPerdidoKey.com.

Once you’ve chosen your destination, you can find plenty of places to stay. From rentals to more permanent options, the Gulf Coast offers an array of abodes in which to relax after a day on the beach. Wherever you decide to vacation, the following is a list of places to stay – for a night, a weekend, or a lifetime.

You can enjoy your favorite coast along 50 miles of sugar-white sand beach and blue azure gulf waters of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island Ala. and Perdido Key, Fla. Meyer Real Estate offers getaways for every traveler at 2,000 vacation rental beach homes and condominiums located in 180 buildings representing the largest vacation selection on the gulf coast. There are upscale luxury condos on the gulf-front, as well as mid-range priced condos and value priced properties often desired by budget-conscious families. Spacious living areas, gulf-front balconies and fully-equipped kitchens enhance your retreat to paradise. A wide variety of floor plans and decors are available and Meyer Real Estate also allows prospective renters to preview interior and exterior property photos, take a virtual tour or shop on-line using the interactive Treasures of the Gulf Vacation Planner at MeyerRE.com. Enter the Exploration Beach Vacation Giveaway and reserve a vacation getaway online or call the 24-hour reservation specialists at (866) 269-6927. Ask about specials for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the 4th Annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival in June.

Dale E. Peterson Vacations is a full-service vacation property management company located on Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast. Starting in 1987, Dale E. Peterson Vacations offers vacation homes, condominiums and villas with offices throughout the area from Panama City all the way to Navarre Beach. The majority of the vacation properties offer a family fun package that includes water park tickets, golf, deep sea fishing and movie rentals. With a variety of properties available there are accommodations for every size group or budget. For more information visit: www.destinresorts.com, call (800)336-9669 or email vacation@destinresorts.com. 
The Wharf offers everything you’d expect in a luxury resort and then some. There’s Main Street where you can shop ’til you drop; fine restaurants to tempt your taste buds; a marina just steps away from Main Street to dock your boat; and the tallest Ferris Wheel in the southeast for those looking for a sky-high view of it all. “Vacation” just isn’t the right way to describe this ultimate experience on the Gulf Coast. That’s why locals in the know refer to it as “doing The Wharf.” Our beautifully decorated Levin’s Bend condominiums are totally furnished for family fun and relaxation. Balconies are equipped with natural gas grills and offer glorious sunset views. At The Wharf, discover more ways to have fun than you could ever imagine.

Henderson Park Inn is a luxurious New England-style bed & breakfast nestled in the heart of Destin, Florida. Recently restored and renovated, the inn is now open for business. The inn is protected by a mile of private shoreline on the Emerald Coast, next door to Henderson State Park. This B&B for adults only, offers elegant rooms with plush bedding and a complimentary bottle of wine and fruit to celebrate your getaway. Rooms are individually decorated and have verandas or terraces overlooking the Gulf – most have whirlpool tubs and fireplaces. All rooms offer beach service and towels, flat screen TVs, high speed internet and ceiling fans. The community refrigerator is always stocked with soft drinks and chocolate – eat all you want! Bicycles are lined up waiting for guests to enjoy a ride down scenic 98 after a day on the beach. A complimentary full breakfast is offered daily as are light lunches and snacks.

Henderson Park Inn is the perfect place for a romantic getaway or relaxing vacation. Check out the Web site at www.hendersonparkinn.com for more details. Convenient on-site check-in is available 24/7. For reservations, contact Henderson Park Inn, 2700 Scenic Highway 98 East, Destin, FL 32541, or call (866) 398-4432 for reservations. Established in 1984, Cruise & Vacation Shoppe specializes in unique, luxury travel world wide, including cruises, resorts and beach rentals along the Gulf Coast. Cruise & Vacation Shoppe is located at 115 Metairie Road, in Metairie, LA. To book a vacation call (504) 833-1984 or (866) 424-5262 or visit www.cruiseandvacation.com, www.cruisesfromhome.com, or www.crescentcitycruises.com.

Beach Rentals of South Walton, Inc. is a family owned and operated vacation rental management company that represents individual owners, whose vacation properties are located along Scenic Highway 30-A in South Walton (mid-way between Panama City and Destin) – and include Dune Allen Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Gulf Trace, Grayton Beach, Seaside, Seagrove Beach, Seacrest Beach and Inlet Beach. They offer something to fit everyone’s needs from small condos to large, private, beach homes, gulf front to gulf view, with or without community or private pools. The rental company offers the beauty of unspoiled beaches with white sandy shores and emerald green waters in an area with many unique shops, excellent restaurants and an abundance of golf courses. Water parks, outlet shopping, movies and more are all just a short drive away. Reserve your vacation rental with Beach Rentals of South Walton and receive FREE Golf, Free tickets to Big Kahuna’s, Free tickets to GulfWorld and unlimited movie rentals DAILY and for a limited time, mention code “NOM” when booking and receive your 5 percent discount TODAY!  Beach Rentals of South Walton’s office is located in Seagrove Beach and a satellite office is located at Grayton Corners in Grayton Beach. Let Beach Rentals of South Walton, Inc. assist you in finding the perfect vacation spot for your families summer vacation. For more information visit www.beachrentalsofsouthwalton.com or call (888) 541-0801. Stay where you are “Treated Like Family.”

Leading luxury real estate developer Turnberry, Ltd. has unveiled Turnberry Harbour, an upscale master-planned residential community located in Destin, Fla. Situated on 80 acres along the Choctawhatchee Bay within the award-winning Regatta Bay Golf Course, the development will feature a 34,500-square-foot clubhouse, luxurious spa and fitness center, tennis club and casual and fine dining restaurants. Introductory residences include a 19-story condominium tower and two, four-story maisonette buildings.

Offering magnificent golf course, Bay and Gulf of Mexico views, the tower will be comprised of two- and three-bedroom floor plans, with two spectacular penthouses also available. The maisonettes will feature two, three-bedroom floor plans. Prices range from the $900,000s to $2.5 million.
Snaidero “Certosa” Italian kitchen and bath cabinetry, Giallo Light granite kitchen and master bath countertops, Thermador appliances, marble bathroom flooring and walls, Jacuzzi hydrotherapy tubs, and expansive private balconies are just a few of the standard amenities awaiting Turnberry Harbour residents. Tower features include an elegant two-story lobby with 24-hour valet service, front desk attendant and security personnel, social room, and lushly landscaped pool deck overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. Prospective purchasers can learn more at Turnberry Harbour’s sales and model center, which features a fully-decorated three-bedroom residence. The center is located at 4503 Turnberry Harbour Drive. For more information, call (850)650-4500 or visit www.turnberryharbour.com.

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