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. I can see myself, toes in the sand with a good book. 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
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.
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.
The 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.
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 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 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.
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:
- City Donut – no-frills coffee and donut shop
- The Flying Harpon – local bar with New Orleans style po’ boys
- Waves Grocery & Liquor Store – Family owned convenience store and market
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 while patronizing this fine establishment. Who knew there was a workaround so you could still smoke in a 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.
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.