Shoreline Towers is in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I have never been to Gulf Shores before, so I was excited to see the area and get to know another beach location near me.
Day One Arrival
I had driven down and then over to Gulf Shores. The trip itself was a long one. It took over 14 hours,, so I broke it down into two days of driving. Sure, I could have flown, but decades of travel to Florida and other areas on the East Coast had cemented in my mind the need to drive for vacations within this range. Much beyond 14 hours though these days and flying would become a reality quickly.
Video by Things ToDo
This resort was a sight for sore, tired eyes when I pulled up. I tell you 14 hours of driving is more these days that it used to feel like in my 20s. Especially traveling solo. On this trip it was just me for my own experience since no one else could get off work for a mini vacation at the last minute. Sometimes I get an offer to write about one of these resorts from TZort on a last-minute availability basis. If I am not crazy busy, I love to take them up on it.
I mean, who does not like a paid vacation right?
The name here pretty much tells you what to expect from this small resort. A beachfront tower on the Gulf of Mexico. Simple but amazing at the same time.
What will grab you here is that the towers are right on the ocean. I mean right on a great sandy beach with a pool that is feet from the Gulf. Truly a great location.
The rooms here are more than I would expect in that they have great tile or wood plank floors. I imagine with all that sand you would lose carpet here in a year if you tried to go with a carpet.
The resort amenities are only surpassed by the room amenities.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Wheelchair Accessible
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- BBQ Grills
- Business Center/Fax
- Fitness Room
- Hot Tub
- Outdoor Pool
- Kid’s Pool
- Kid’s Activities
- Laundry Facilities
- Movie Rentals
- On-Site Security
- Outdoor Pool
- Sauna/Steam Room
Now it seems the onsite laundry facilities were likely from a time before they had the villa washer and dyers. Which I love to have so you can wash and dry a bathing suite after being in the ocean or pool. It helps you avoid that cold bathing suite that was hung up to dry in the shower from the day before thing.
Here you had the choice of 2- or 3-bedroom villas that were a spacious 1,450 sq ft in size. That meant nice sized living areas, bedrooms, baths, and even a full kitchen. I imagine the kitchen loses some size in the 3-bedroom units but I was staying in the 2-bedroom villa so I am not sure.
Here check-in is at 3PM, which was nice since most places make you wait until 4PM for check-in. After 6 hours of driving today and 8 the day before, I was ready to get sorted and settle in.
After checking into the villa, and putting my bags down, my stomach reminded me I had neglected it. So, I headed off for an early dinner.
Across the street, I found the Beach House restaurant and walked on over. I did not want to get back in the car anytime soon. This was a local joint with a happy hour that included $5 appetizers and discounted drinks too. Score one for the dude on a mini vacation!
I sailed into a pair of appetizers first and a few of a drink they called the Battle for 82. I was sure there was a story behind that name, but I was hungry and a little tired with that feeling I was still moving from the car, so I did not ask.
I had Coconut Shrimp and Fried Cheese from the app’s menu, then 2 hours later and more than a handful of drinks I ordered an entrée but ordered it to go. I wanted to eat back in the room, looking out over the ocean for dinner. It was only 6PM, and I felt like if I ordered now, I could get back and watch the Sunset. It seems like in the last 10 years the sunsets seem more powerful for me. More meaningful and important with each passing year. Maybe I feel like at 50 I too am headed for the Sunset of my life. I know that seems a little deep, but it is what it is, right?
I took crawfish mac and cheese back to the room along with dessert, which was Key Lie Pie. I would not have gotten dessert had it not been Key Lime Pie, but that is hard to beat when it is done right, so I had to try it. It was a good pie slice for sure. But the crawfish mac was the thing. Wow, that was tasty. I had poured on some hot sauce before I left the restaurant and was glad I did. That just seemed to make the whole thing pop.
Sunset was impressive. Not as emotionally stirring as Hawaii, but very nice indeed. The clouds seemed to change the tint of the sky a few colors as the sun hung lower and lower in the distance.
This was starting off to be a great get away.
Day Two at Shoreline Towers
Oops, I did it again. No, that is not a Brittany reference that is the foolish traveler who left the curtains to the room wide open. This meant as the sun came up, I got up, wide awake up. I missed the sunrise itself, but I did manage to get moving when woken by the early morning sun.
I had been so out of it that I did not stop at a grocery store on the way in, as I sometimes do when I know I will have a full kitchen at the ready in my villa. I went to look online to see what was open this early and serving breakfast in the area.
I had hit the bed early last night after the two days of driving and those killer drinks from the nearby restaurant. So, this was truly going to be a break in my fast from the night before, as the name implies. I was hungry too. Maybe there is a buffet nearby?
Online I found a buffet that featured breakfast and lunch buffet style so I thought that was for me. It has 4.4 for the online reviews, which if you know food reviews was very high. It was called Hazel’s Nook, and I was going to head in that direction soon. They opened at 6:30AM so as soon as I got out of the shower and dressed; I hit the road for the short drive over. You will find this great breakfast spot near the beach road to the area of Highway 59.
They say this is a World-Famous Buffet I do not know about that. But clearly the locals and many travelers knew about the location. By 7AM it was already hopping with happy eaters. In just a few minutes I was happy as I could be, even with sweat tea along with my breakfast. Between that pancakes, eggs, sausages and more, I was quickly in breakfast heaven.
The food was great and service was friendly. I felt like I was in the movie “Defending Your Life” where the main character sits down for breakfast and the waitress suddenly appears with exactly what he just ordered. That is what is great about buffets, not just the choices and options, or even being able to get a little of a lot of things, but the speed of it all. If you are hungry, there is no faster way to get something than to get to a buffet. 20 minutes later I was so full that I felt like if I went to strait to the beach some kids would try to push me back in thinking I was a beached whale.
I am a sucker for a breakfast buffet and this was a great one with all the items you could want. Too many to list, really. 3 kinds of eggs, pancakes, hash browns, several kinds of sausages with links, patties, and even some southern spicy sausages. I was happy to see biscuits and gravy as well, which is something you only really see at a southern breakfast buffet. If you go to the gulf, shores, make sure to check them out. Two thumbs way up.
Gulf Shores is a beach town. With the beach taking the lead on the things to do by a mile. Some beach towns have tons of attractions and there are some in the area, but this is not Myrtle Beach, or Orlando. This is a very beach focused area which is neat in a way.
Yes, you can certainly do all kinds of things on the water here too like cruise in a boat, fish, kayak, or more. Because you also have a great sound side. I wanted to start off with something touristy. I am a sucker for all the tourist stops. Here for me that meant a trip to the local Zoo. I figured a little walking around the Zoo would do me good working off a few calories from the breakfast buffet.
The Zoo did not open until 9 AM however so that meant I had like an hour to kill so I drove around since I was well rested and took the area in. Once I had the lay of the land and some ideas on other things to do during my stay, and where things were, I headed back to the Zoo.
As Zoos go, this is a smaller zoo but one that has many animals with over 300 animals on site. I stopped in to visit Katrina, who is a black leopard that was gifted to the Zoo from legend Jack Hanna. In some ways she seemed tame, like you could just go hang out with her, but still she looked powerful.
Next I went to the reptile building, and then on to the Bengal tigers Rajah, Rani and Omar my high school mascot was the Tiger we were the Tabb Tigers and these tigers would have made high school kids pee themselves if they ran up on them in the wild. Truly impressive beasts, and amazing to look at.
The Zoo even has a petting area not for the Tigers but for the normal petting Zoo animals that any rational person would be OK with their kids feeding or petting. That is a cool thing to do as a parent or grandparent. I can recall a few trips to the local small zoo near my home that had a petting zoo set up, and that was great when I was a very little guy. I opted out on this trip since I was solo and felt to cool to go down petting zoo memory lane with an audience around watching on. In life, not much concerns me with doing things solo, but for some reason I get a weird feeling still from time to time.
The Zoo also has stage shows with a few trained animals that reminded me of the show growing up I went to at Bush Gardens Williamsburg. Very cute and engaging. Perfect for kids to learn a little and get excited too.
All in I think the Zoo ticket paid for itself today about 5 times over. I spent more than half a day here for the adult price ticket of less than $20. Kids are less than $15 and kids under 2 are free. Which seems far since they will not remember it.
I love history, so next on my list was Fort Morgan. The fort was active during the War of 1812 under a different name, then later it became active again as Fort Morgan during the Civil War. Built largely with slave labor and from local brick materials, it is a one-of-a-kind Fort in some ways. Tickets to the Fort are only $8 and if you are a history, buff like me, it is one you do not want to miss.
Even though I had that huge breakfast, I was starting to get hungry after most of the day and the Zoo and now the Fort. So, I looked for somewhere neat to grab a bite near the Fort.
I quickly found one of the few places on this part of the island, Tacky Jacks. It felt like both a local hangout and a tourist friendly spot. They even have a virtual tour online. Two points for their marketing person.
I started with friend green tomatoes which when done right like these are amazing as an appetizer. Tacky Shrimp here is the specialty,, so I was all in and ordered a pound of them. It is a seafood fun time with a seafood broth that is spicy and served with French bread to dip into the broth like it was au jus for a French dip. It should go without saying that this was a meal fit for a king, but served casual and fun with a beer and a smile.
I also got a Firecracker shrimp PoBoy to go that I figured would be my dinner watching the sunset again. They seemed to have killer tacos here too,, so I got a fish taco and a beef taco too for the room and night ahead. Better to have too much food than not enough and let things close on you in a beach town.
I still had not shopped,, so I did not have any snacks or breakfast items. Maybe I would do that tomorrow?
Day Three at the beach as it should be
Since the beach was the main attraction, that is how I intended to spend my day. First things first however, it was back to the Nook for the breakfast buffet (it was more than good enough to warrant another early breakfast). I got there after 8AM and had to wait for a table for like 10 minutes, which was no big deal. I knew it was worth that wait and then some.
With the beach, there is hardly a spot better than the beach right at the resort. I often like to go check out the beach sites maintained by the State park systems but here I just walked right out onto the beach from my villa and had an amazing day. It was nice being able to go back to the villa to rest some with the sliding glass door view of the Gulf too.
I keep wanting to type sea instead of Gulf. If you have not been to the Gulf of Mexico, it is far too darn big to call it a Gulf in my estimation. It should just be another sea. So expansive are the views that it truly does seem to be endless, like a sea.
Later in the day I got to thinking, why not dive here on the Gulf? I have not been scuba diving in a few years, but if I could get a wet suit to fit me somewhere, I could go check out the local waters from underneath. That is when I looked up the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef Project and found some local dive companies too.
From their website:
As home to the largest charter fishing fleet on the Gulf and one of the largest artificial reef programs in the world, here on Alabama’s Coast we love our Gulf waters. The Alabama Gulf Coast Reef & Restoration Foundation is committed to sustaining and enriching both the habitats and the recreational opportunities of those waters. Join us in exploring and supporting our Gulf waters.
The LuLu (formerly M.V. Yokamu) is a 271-foot coastal freighter with a 39-foot beam that has been prepared for deployment off Alabama’s coast. Removed doors, windows and hatches provide excellent diver access to the cavernous central cargo hold that’s 200-foot long, 39-foot wide and 28-foot deep. Forward of the hold, the ship has a very large forepeak with two large compartments. In addition, the stern has a massive superstructure that extends four levels. Each level has several rooms, including the bridge, for divers to explore and fish to colonize. Divers can even get a view of the ship from inside the wheelhouse.
At 57 feet tall, the Yokamu will be easily accessible, approximately 12 miles offshore from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in 115 feet of water. The location will require only a short run offshore, allowing easy access for fishermen and more bottom time for recreational as well as technical divers.
I found a local dive business and before I headed that way, I inquired about a big boy dive suite rental, and it was funny that they seemed to think of one guy that was the local giant who dived who might have a suit to fit. 2 hours later I was on a boat getting into another guy’s wet suit as a rental and testing my equipment as best I could remember. The dive community is a great bunch of people almost anywhere in the world. My niece teaches scuba in Tahoe and has dived all over the world, I was certified in the early 1990s and let mine lapse more than a few times over the years. But I can talk a good game, and can still remember how to set up the gear and dive safely.
The local business was so accommodating that I have to give them a shout-out. Thanks to Down Under Dive Shop for the trip out to the Lulu and the great experience.
After scuba I needed to get some rest and I even skipped dinner. That tells you how tired I was. It was fun, but it knocked me out from an energy perspective.
Day Four more of the beach before I have to go
I woke early, but not with the sunrise. Thanks to curtains that worked I woke around 8AM so I could clear our shower and pack in time for the checkout. I never feel like I am ready to check out early in the morning. I understand that they need time to clean and get the rooms ready for the next guests I just do not like the sense of hurry. Once checked out, I cleared it with the staff to spend a few hours still with my car in the parking lot and my body on their part of the beach.
Then I moved out and started the drive to the next resort. I was going to stay at another location near here since I had driven over to Alabama for this trip. I wanted to make the most out of that 14-hour drive.
If you want to have a great vacation and save a small fortune on the room book with TZort for the win.