Domestic,Travel

Fan Guided Adventure Visiting Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Alabama

gulf shores and orange beach

Last month I was invited to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Alabama to experience a fan guided adventure in the area. This was unlike any adventure I had ever had to date. What exactly do I mean by fan guided? Well, GSOB Tourism invited me and another blogger, Karen of Family Travels on a Budget, to come to the area for 3 days and allow our entire itinerary to be dictated by fan votes on social media! Sounds awesome and just a little bit nuts right?  Show up and let our readers and complete strangers decide what we do and what we eat? This was definitely an adventure I couldn’t refuse so I was happy to accept the challenge.

Visiting Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Alabama was a completely new region of the country for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that I had no idea Alabama had actual beach towns! The motto for GSOB is “It’s a whole different state.”  Boy are they ever different from any part of Alabama I’ve been to before this trip?!  In this post I’ll share with you the fan selected activities and meals that highlighted some of the best the Alabama Gulf Coast region has to offer.

Vote #1: Big Beach Brewing Co vs. Swift-Coles Historic Home

On the first day of voting the fans had to choose between a tour of the Big Beach Brewing Co. or the Swift-Coles Home tour.  Beer beat out history so to the brewery we would go. Big Beach Brewing Co. is a new hot spot in the area that just opened this past October.  With a taproom boasting 12 craft beers and cozy but chic decor I think it’s safe to say they will be around for the long haul. This place is absolutely adorable and it really appealed to my inner diva.

alabama gulf coast

The front lawn with the massive swing was super cute. They also have corn hole and picnic tables to just enjoy the breeze. Inside is the absolutely stunning bar and some of the most unusual beer taps I have ever seen. There is plenty of seating and very comfy chairs around the fireplace.  Be sure to check out their very eclectic collection of coffee table books too.

The tour of the brewery was interesting. It’s a 10 barrel brewing system with four fermenters. Our guide walked us through the process from the grains and hops until it makes it into the cold room and into the tap. I even tasted raw hops. No gracias! Never again. It was horrible and I’m really not sure why I volunteered to do that. We’ll blame it on the alcohol I guess.

Visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama

During our tasting we tried 5 beers. Since I’m not a huge beer drinker I knew that I would lean more towards the lighter beers. To my surprise I found a beer that I actually liked enough to drink a pint of. Now that’s saying something. The Rod’s Reel Cream Ale was very tasty and light. If you’re a non beer drinker, this one just might change your mind. It certainly did for me.

big beach brewery

My favorite feature at the brewery is this upper deck that overlooks the brewery  on the side of the main building.  It’s like a little treehouse nook up there where you can sip your ale and watch the sunset through the trees in the most comfy producer’s chairs ever. When you find this little spot you’ll thank me for it.

Vote #2: Clara’s Loom vs Footgolf at GlenLakes

The second fan vote was for us to learn how to weave on a loom at Clara’s Loom or for us to play footgolf. I was open to either one of these since they were both completely out of realm of experience. The fans decided to send us to Clara’s Loom.

Let me just say that Celia, the owner of Clara’s Loom Coastal Textile Center is ahhhmazing. She is a straight shooting, tell-it-like-it-is sweetheart.  She introduced us to her world of yarns and looms with humor, fun, and a whole lot of patience.

We were able to select yarn and start weaving our very own fashion bibs. At Clara’s she offers classes for the novice to the more experienced and open studio time for experienced weavers that just need the use of equipment to work on a project. This is a really fun and unique kind of adventure if you’re looking to try something different.

Here’s some video footage of our weaving lesson on the loom:

Weaving on the small hand looms that we used was definitely a challenge but after a while I finally started to get the hang of it. It’s tedious work for sure but definitely rewarding when you start to see the weaving pattern come together.

We didn’t have enough time to finish our projects so Celia was kind enough to complete our fashion bibs for us and mail them to us. Here is how the finished product turned out.

clara's loom

Vote #3: Lunch at The Gulf vs Luna’s Eat & Drink

the gulf

 

The fans got the chance to decide our lunch plans for one of the days and they sent us to The Gulf. This is a waterside restaurant with arguably the best views on the island. What makes the Gulf so unique? It’s one of the most eco-friendly eating establishments you’ve ever seen. It’s made completely from repurposed shipping containers! They also make an effort to use all repurposed materials throughout the design. I was blown away at the ingenuity of this design.  Not only is it good for the environment but it’s so cute!  They even have 2 walls of grass and sod on the outside walls to help insulate the temperatures inside of the shipping containers.

Visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama

All of the seating is outdoors providing breathtaking views of the gulf no matter where you are. I really enjoyed my mahi mahi tacos and my blackberry mojito. For dessert we had fried pita chips dusted with powered sugar with a goat cheese mousse with berries.

Visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama

Vote #4 Dinner at Louisiana Lagniappe vs. Voyagers

The fans sent us to Voyagers within the Perdido Beach Resort for dinner. This is a fancy, put on some lipstick, white tablecloth type of eatery. I was really wowed with the ambience and the decor when we first entered.  I was even more impressed with the mouthwatering menu selections.

I was really excited to have a new foodie adventure. I tried Ostrich Carpaccio as an appetizer for the first time. It’s more like a red meat than related to poultry. Would I eat it again?  Sure I would.

voyagers

For my entree I selected the Florida lobster crusted ribeye accompanied with black truffle mashed potato and heirloom carrots with herbsaint hollandaise. The ribeye was cooked perfectly as requested and it was so much food. Needless to say my inner foodie was very pleased.

Visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama

After all of these fabulous meals and adventures it was such relief to have an amazing waterfront condo to return to every evening. Laura’s vacation rentals provided accommodations for us at the Caribe Resort. This property was awesome and I had everything I could possibly need in my furnished penthouse.

I really don’t think there could have been a bad choice from the fans with such great selections of things to do and places to eat. It was very cool to have no control over most of my trip and just go with the flow. I would love to have more trips like that where the readers get to give their input.

Over those 3 days I had a jam packed itinerary and we also had dining experiences and activities that weren’t selected by the fans.  I’ll be sharing with you in another post my other favorite experiences, amazing meals, and details on my penthouse condo accommodations during my visit to Gulf Coast and Orange Beach.  It’s just too much greatness to cram into one post and I want to be sure to do it justice.

Special thanks to Gulf Coast & Orange Beach Tourism for inviting me and sponsoring this trip. Accommodations, meals, and activities were provided by the tourism board and their partners in exchange for my honest review of my experience. See full disclosures here.

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visiting gulf shores and orange beach

 

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Sara Broers
    December 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    I am so glad you were able to experience a sliver of paradise in Alabama!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      December 22, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      It really was a sliver! There’s so much I still didn’t get to do so I can’t wait to go back.

  • Reply
    Kim
    December 23, 2016 at 12:44 am

    I would definitely have to check out that brewing company! This sounds like a fun visit. I’ll add it to my list.

  • Reply
    Ty
    December 23, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Looks like you had a great time and your pics are amazing. I added this to my bucket list of places to visit.

  • Reply
    Nadeen
    December 23, 2016 at 4:59 am

    I really enjoyed this adventure!! I loved all the fan picks although I voted for the foot golf lol. The food and the views at the restaurants looked amazing. I love any trip that gets me to a beach!

  • Reply
    Kemkem
    December 23, 2016 at 6:42 am

    OMG I would have loved every bit of this tour. The beer and those tacos alone make it worth it. So glad you had a most enjoyable day. If l ever make it there, l’m doing the tour 🙂

  • Reply
    Tanya
    December 23, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Girl, these pictures are so inviting. I’m glad you had a great time.

  • Reply
    Yaya @Randomly Yaya
    December 23, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I love that the fans were the ones that picked out your itinerary. That truly makes it a fun adventure. This review is right on time too because I was just researching the gulf shores as a trip to take with some other bloggers.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      December 23, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Oh that’s awesome. Please be sure to subscribe so you see part 2. There are sooooo many good places to eat that I’ll be highlighting in that post.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      December 27, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Awesome Yaya. If you have any questions let me know.

  • Reply
    Tryphena Wade
    December 25, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I really enjoy the idea of a fan guided trip! The food looks really delicious and I think I would have enjoyed the lesson at the loom. And anything near the beach is okay with me!!

  • Reply
    Nicole Brewer
    December 26, 2016 at 11:02 am

    How awesome was this idea! Never really would’ve considered Alabama as a vacation spot, but now I’m intrigued thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      December 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

      I was pleasantly surprised to Nicole. And I’m just barely scratching the surface with this post.

  • Reply
    Jonna
    December 26, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Wow I would’ve never thought Alabama had beach towns either! I love the idea of having the fans choose where you go on social media. Sounds like the fans made some good choices!

  • Reply
    Tiffany H.
    December 27, 2016 at 2:32 am

    I think this is a cool concept. I like planning my trips but its nice to allow someone to pick for you because they may choose something that you wouldn’t normally do thus creating new experiences. Lobster crusted ribeye looks great

  • Reply
    Ramona from Addicted to Fries
    December 27, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I’ve never been to Gulf Shores, but I’ve heard about it. Your experience sounds awesome. The pictures look amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Eva
    January 6, 2017 at 4:52 am

    My husband’s cousin got married on an Alabama beach.. I too was like… beach? Alabama? I didn’t go, but the photos are beautiful. Looks like I should check it out!

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