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Trip Report Gulf Shores trip report

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Wanted to weigh in with this (belated) trip report on our jaunt to Gulf Shores, AL. Thanks to all of those who offered advice!

We drove to Gulf Shores in May from Jackson, Miss., with our 10-month-old in tow. We had a nice drive down; the weather was amazing, and little man was remarkably well-behaved. We stopped in Hattiesburg (Miss.) for lunch, where we got burgers and spread a blanket on the ground on the campus at USM so everyone could enjoy the sunshine and stretch a little. (We walked through the rose garden before leaving, and it was GORGEOUS. I hadn't done that in such a long time. The plants are beautiful. Some of the stems had so many roses on them that they bowed down to the ground.)

When booger got squirmy about an hour later, we also stopped in Lucedale (Miss.). There is the sweetest little public park there, in the old downtown area. We swung booger in the baby swings, walked around some, and chatted with other parents who were there. It was very nice.

By early evening, we were checking into our condo. We rented a unit at Royal Palms, which is east of where I59 meets 182 (at the shoreline). I had never rented there before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. We needn't have worried. It was PERFECT! We had a one-bedroom, two-bath unit on the very top floor (14). Because Royal Palms abuts Gulf State Park on one side (and because this is one of the lower-density properties in the area), we had a beautifully uncrowded beach during our stay. Plenty of room to walk, look for seashells, and spread out. Plus, the condo had an indoor heated pool (perfect for little man), an outdoor pool, a spa, a sauna, and a steamroom. Also, note that Royal Palms is directly on the beach, not across the street from it. You come out of the elevator directly onto the boardwalk. Very convenient. I would definitely stay at this property again.

And we ATE! We had wonderful meals at Gulf Island Grill (grouper . . . mmmmmmm . . .), Gulf Shores Steamer (pricey, but fabulous small steamer basket filled with crab, mussels, shrimp, and oysters), DeSoto's Seafood Kitchen (one of my favorite all-around places - great service, great food, great prices), Big O's Seafood (yummy oysters!), Old World Pizza and Bakery (get the signature "Old World" pizza), Bahama Bob's (fabulous burgers, ocean-front restaurant), Daylight Donuts, Hope's Cheesecake (Oh. My. Lord. Get the sampler and eat on it all week.) and soooooo many other places. I am sufficiently stuffed. I left complete reviews of all the restaurants we frequented online at TripAdvisor.

I also read tons of trashy books, spent time with my family, and enjoyed the beach. One night on the balcony, two pelicans flew so close to us that we could almost touch them. (We really enjoyed the balcony. There were great views from up there, and hubs and I liked taking snacks out there during the baby's naps and watching the human parade below. Margaritas are much better with an ocean view, no?)

Sometimes, I'd take the baby out early in the morning to walk along the scalloped edge of the water. We'd discover the tawdry and sublime had washed up on shore during the night - a jellyfish, interesting pieces of driftwood, some discarded sand toys, starfish, all kinds of shells, the foam boob from a woman's swimsuit top. Then, we'd sit down for a bit. He'd pat the sand, run his fingers through it, watch other people walking by.

This was a different kind of vacation for me. Usually, I'm the early riser. You know, the one with the checklist? I know what I want to see in each destination. I drag people to museums and landmarks and the oldest church in Paris. But this trip was different. First of all, we had the baby with us (first trip with baby), so that definitely impacted our schedule. Secondly, there isn't too much to do in Gulf Shores besides just enjoy being there at the beach. So I had to learn to slow down a little. Once I did, it was really worth it.

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