Affordable Luxury on the Gulf Shores of Alabama

Do you love to hear the sound of waves crashing on the beach while you are on vacation? I know I do. However, sometimes staying in an oceanfront rental isn’t always the most economical choice. On the Gulf Shores of Alabama, you can actually enjoy affordable seaside luxury without worrying about your wallet.

Where to Stay

Caribe Retreat Gulf Shores Alabama

Located in West Beach on the Gulf Shores of Alabama, the Caribe Retreat has room for twenty people spread out over three floors and in eight bedrooms. If you split the cost with your friends or family, your oceanfront vacation beach house dreams can come true.

Oceanfront Rental Gulf Shores

I recently stayed in one of the four Caribe Retreat homes. There are six king-sized bedrooms in the house, two of which have oceanfront views. I kept the windows and deck slider doors open so that I could hear the waves crash along the shore all day long. There is no need for air conditioning with that ocean breeze, although the home comes with individually controlled, high-end units in each room.

Gulf ShoresThe home is beautifully decorated and the kitchen is stocked with every amenity you might need to cook or entertain twenty people. There is even a separate wet bar with an icemaker. There are flat screen TVs in every room so no one has to fight over the remote. Although the Caribe Retreat sits on the Gulf Shores, and the ocean is only steps away, there are two pools for guests to enjoy as well.Caribe Retreat Gulf Shores Alabama

Where to Eat

Whenever I travel I like to ask the locals where they like to go. I had a chance to ask several of our servers what their favorites spots are to grab a drink or a meal on the Gulf Shores after work. I find they always have the best insider tips on where to eat and what to do. A big thanks to Emmett and Scotty from the Beach House for steering us in the right direction.

The Beach House Gulf Shores Alabama

The Beach House Kitchen and Cocktails is located directly across the street from the Caribe Retreat. Because it is so conveniently located it is easy to have more than one meal there. The menu features fresh Gulf of Mexico seafood, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Plus it has great service and is reasonably priced food. Dine inside or out on their spacious deck.

The Cove Bar and Grill Gulf Shores

The Cove Bar and Grill is a great spot to hang out and hear live music on the weekends. They have a small stage and dance floor, which we put to good use even when the band wasn’t playing. Their jukebox selection is stellar. Shoot pool or grab a bite to eat. This place is popular with the locals.

Flora Bama Gulf Shores Alabama

The Flora-Bama is legendary. Ask anyone where to hear live music and they will send you to the state line. Every night of the week you can listen to local, and sometimes famous, bands play on one of their five stages.  There are several Flora-Bama outposts that straddle two states and two sides of the road. While regretfully we did not make it to the beach bar to hear live music, but we did have lunch at the Flora-Bama Ole River Grill. Feast on baskets of Gulf Shores fried shrimp, fish or oysters. Then wash it all down with their world famous Bushwacker.

More places to eat and shop in the Gulf Shores:

Gulf Shores Day Trips

When you vacation on the Gulf Shores, you have the option to fly into either Pensacola, Florida (PNS) or Moblie, Alabama (MOB). Each airport is equidistant and approximately a one hour drive to the beach. If you have the time to explore, I’d suggest a day trip to either city.

Pensacola, Florida

The Ruby Slipper Cafe is the perfect spot to stop for brunch on your way to the house from the airport. They serve heaping plates of eggs benedicts, bananas foster french toast, and bacon praline pancakes.

The Ruby Slipper Cafe There is usually a line out the door of the cafe on the weekend. Prior to your arrival, use the No Wait App to snag a place in line. Otherwise, grab a Ruby Slipper mimosa (made with OJ and pomegranate) and take it next door to wait in the garden at Al Fresco’s.

Pensacola Florida

Mobile, Alabama

The port city of Mobile is one of the oldest cities in the south and is the birthplace of Mardi Gras. It is a great place to spend the day eating, drinking and shopping.

Loda Biergarten is an excellent place for lunch. They have an enormous selection of beer on tap. Choose from pilsners, ales, lager, stouts and everything in between. Check out their draft list which they change up seasonally to keep the choices fresh. And don’t just go for the suds, they have a pretty stellar selection of food and claim to have the best burger on Dauphin Street.

Loda Biergarten

Backflash Antiques is filled with treasures curated by the lovely Charlan Quiovers. She has a knack for making you feel welcome the moment you step into her store. Take the time to browse her collection to find just the right vintage piece that has been missing from your closet or home.

BackFlash Antiques Mobile Alabama

Hayley’s Bar is a local dive in the middle of town on Dauphin Street. Locals come here to shoot pool and have an ice cold beverage. Old school concert posters line the walls and music blares from the jukebox. Before you play or order a beer, you’ll need to become a private club member. It won’t cost you anything to join. However, it will give you the ability to smoke inside, should you desire to, while patronizing this fine establishment. Who knew there was a workaround so you could still smoke in a bar?

Hayleys Bar

Plan a Vacation to the Gulf Shores

Whether you like to explore, eat out, shop or just hang on the beach with friends, make the Caribe Retreat your base for exploring the Gulf Shores of Alabama. It has plenty of room for a large family reunion or gathering of friends. You are sure to have a great time.

Gulf Shores Alabama

Check out these tips from McCool Travel for more cool things to do in the Gulf Shores Alabama.

Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations were provided by Southern Vacation Rentals. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.

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  1. I certainly do love the Alabama beaches. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have so many amazing places to eat, things to do, and heck, just chilling on that luscious #USGulfCoast sugar sand.

    • Dana Freeman April 6, 2019 at 3:53 pm · · Reply

      I know how much you love the Gulf Coast. I look forward to reading about your travels. I am sure you have some awesome insider tips for my next visit.

  2. My family and I love Gulf Shores and you are exactly right it is still affordable to stay on the beach. One of the things I love is its layed back atmosphere.

  3. What a fun trip! You also gave me a small history lesson with this post – I didn’t realize Mobile was the birthplace of Mardi Gras!

    • Dana Freeman April 6, 2019 at 5:54 pm · · Reply

      I didn’t know that either until one of our servers told us. We are were actually there during Mardi Gras but on Sunday there are no parades so we missed it.

  4. Gulf Shores of Alabama looks like a comfortable place for all the vitamin sea needed. I would probably just curl up on the deck with a book all day listening to the waves. Great find which has attention to detail.

  5. Jerry and Fiona April 7, 2019 at 12:03 pm · · Reply

    Sign me up for a Ruby Slipper mimosa!

    We have a friend (from Vermont, actually) who took an impromptu coast-to-coast road trip and wound up loving Mobile the most out of all cities and towns she hung out in. It must be a great place to be.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Dana Freeman April 7, 2019 at 12:12 pm · · Reply

      Perhaps I know your friend. It is two degrees of separation up here with such a small population 🙂

  6. A beachfront house for 20…that’s great for my extended family! I wonder how much for a week?

  7. We’ll have to check out Southern Vacation Rentals. We’ve been working on a trip to Gulf Shores for diving. I love how they own Flora-Bama. I also love me some praline pancakes.

    • Dana Freeman April 7, 2019 at 6:02 pm · · Reply

      There are a lot of New Orleans flavors throughout the Gulf Shores. I didn’t try the praline pancakes but they sure did look good.

  8. A room for 20 people on three floors and with 8 bedrooms?! Well, this sounds like a great option not only for extended families, friends but also for digital nomads community!

  9. We visited the Gulf Coast last November! It was our first time in that area and we loved it. The Caribe Retreat looks lovely; we were in our RV, but we visited a couple of the places you have mentioned here, including the Biergarten. Fond memories!

    • Dana Freeman April 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm · · Reply

      It was my first time in the area too. I hope to go back. There is a lot to explore and one day in Moblie wasn’t enough!

  10. I love where you stayed. The bed looks super-comfortable! The entire trip looks like a nice way to disconnect from day-to-day life, actually 🙂

  11. Hayley’s Bar sounds like so many in Utah, where you have to become a member of the private club to drink — and as a way to get around the various liquor laws in the state. If it is a private club, so many rules can be bent, though I ain’t hangin’ out anywhere people are smoking inside, for any reason!!!

    • Dana Freeman April 11, 2019 at 4:57 pm · · Reply

      I was in Park City, Utah last year for the first time and was so confused by the liquor laws (restaurant vs. bar). I agree about not wanting to be inside where people can smoke however we really wanted to play pool and the windows were wide open. It helped some.

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