Coastal Restaurant Orange Beach


Coastal Restaurant Orange Beach brings a fresh, classic CoastAL fare featuring chef inspired dishes, local seafood, seasonal favorites, and indulgent desserts. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat while you’re on the beach, or a date night with spectacular views, CoastAL’s combination of indoor and outdoor seating is the best of both worlds.

Even in the cooler months, the clear enclosure and the heaters kept us comfortable without blocking the view of one of the prettiest stretches of beaches in Orange Beach. There are easy access walkways to the beach and plenty of parking making this a sure hit.

We enjoyed the marinated crab claws and fresh tuna dip. These are two of our favorites and we weren’t disappointed. The crab claws can be fried or marinated. My recommendation is definitely the butter marinated option. The presentation was on point with the flowers and the biodegradable plates, utensils and straws. Live music and an active bar would be great for date night, but the open seating made it fun for a family lunch. We love that they post their music schedule online so we can find our favorite performers. You can see their calendar here.

There are plans for even more expansion and we can’t wait to see what phase 2 of CoastAL Restaurant Orange Beach brings. The staff at CoastAL were enthusiastic and helpful and made the experience even better. This is a definite repeat stop. Plus, we love the play of words in the name!

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Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and Safari Club Restaurant

The Safari Club Restaurant at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores is a great brunch spot! You do not have to pay to visit the zoo to eat at the Safari Club and the entrance is just to the side of the main zoo entrance. The menu had something for everyone in our group. They also have a kids menu with smoothies, pancakes and fruity pebble parfaits! They don’t just offer brunch. Lunch is open all week and they have a dinner menu on the weekends. There is a full service bar on site and the Safari Club Restaurant partners with the Zoo in catered events at special venues throughout the animal habitat areas if you are looking for a special occasion event.

Now it is time to check out the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo! The zoo runs about $85 for our family of 2 adults, 2 kids to visit. It is small enough to see in an hour or two and has enough add on activities to make a day of it. There are several meet and greet opportunities with different animals for an additional charge. We would like to come back for the sloth and the kangaroo! You will enter and exit through the gift shop which is usually my least favorite part of any trip. This gift shop has some really unique items and is worth a look. There are plenty of bathrooms throughout the zoo. During the busier times of the year, there are activities and presentations in multiple spots. There is also a 200 foot eagle soaring ride if you need a little more adventure in your life.

Check out The Safari Club Restaurant at https://safariclubgulfshores.com

and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores at https://www.alabamagulfcoastzoo.com/

Follow more of our adventures here

The Hangout Polar Bear Plunge

Hundreds of people lined the beach in front of the Hangout in Gulf Shores to raise money for local charities and to celebrate the New Year for 2023! It had been a cold and rainy week, but we woke up to blue skies and 70 degree weather. It was perfect for a polar bear plunge. Can you spot us in the picture? We are in the red and blue swimsuits near the middle. We were welcomed out with gumbo and hot cocoa. This is our new tradition! Join us next year!

The Hangout is always a popular destination with kids activities, live music, active servers and dining entertainment. Check them out at https://www.thehangout.com

Lulu’s Gulf Shores New Year Noon

Lulu’s Gulf Shores always brings the fun! New Year celebrations are no exceptions. On New Year’s Eve, Lulu’s held a beach ball drop at noon for the kids. There was live music, entertainers, balloon artists, sand castle competitions and more people than you could count. Parking was in the extended lots and lines were long, but everyone was in the mood to celebrate. Thank you, Lulu’s for always being our spot for holiday celebrations!

Crystal River Archeological Park

The Crystal River Archeological Park is a fantastic place to go.  Crystal River can get a bit crowded during scallop season or manatee season.   The Park offers amazing views of the river from the top of the largest mound.  Multiple burial mounds, middens and an air conditioned visitor’s center make up the park.  Because the park is located directly on the river, there is often a cool breeze even in the hottest part of July and August.  Crystal River Archeological Park is one of the more impressive ancient sites we have visited, especially considering it was rescued from being a trailer park.

The largest mound has stairs that allow you to climb to the top.  The other mounds give an idea of the size of the native population for this area.  Beads and other trade items show trading from the Ohio River Valley down to Meso America. A paved walking trail winds around the site. There are two stone stele.  One contains a carving of a soldier with hair flowing behind him.  Stop and see if you can find him! The rangers at the Park are very knowledgeable and always eager to talk about the area.  There is a $3 per car honor system payment as you come in the gate.  The Park is tucked away in Crystal River.   It could be easily overlooked, but add this one to your GPS and head out to explore.

Crystal River Archeological Park
Stairs to top of largest mound

Crystal River Archeological Park
Image of carving in the stele

Crystal River Archeological Park
Can you see it?

Other ideas in the area: Visit Homosassa to see Monkey Island, Eat at the Freezer and check in on Lu the Hippo or Kayak with Manatees at Three Sister Springs

Homosassa Fun Things to Do (hint: there is a hippo)

Homosassa Fun Things to Do! Some days we head South about 70 miles to Homosassa to visit the manatees, eat at one of our favorite restaurants “The Freezer,” and check in on Lu the Hippo. Lu is a retired Hollywood actor that was made a Florida resident by Order of the Governor to ensure he could stay in his home when it became a state park. You can also check out the monkeys on Monkey Island while enjoying a drink or an ice cream at Florida Cracker Kitchen.  If you are looking for fun things to do, Homosassa may be worth the drive, just stay out of the splatter zone.

Our first stop is the Ellie Schiller State Wildlife Park where you can meet Lu and go down to an underwater manatee viewing area. It is amazing how the cool spring keeps the viewing area cool even in the summer. We see manatees in the Park even when it is not prime manatee season.

Lu the Hippo
Lu the Hippo

Homosassa Fun Things To do
Lu the Hippo

Manatee in the rehab area of the State Park

Bald Eagle with an amputated wing. Most of the animals in the park are there due to injury.

Homosassa Fun Things To do
Native birds. In the winter, there can be thousands of migratory birds.

Homosassa Fun Things To do
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park Map

Next, on our stop is just a few minutes up the road to the Freezer tiki restaurant.  It only takes cash, but does have an ATM.  There menu is on boards around the restaurant. If you sit outside, you will need to come to the bar to order. If you sit under the roof, even on the porch, the wait staff will come to help.  It is always busy, so going when it is not prime dinner or lunch time is recommended.  Also, it is open air, even inside.

Homosassa Fun Things To do
The Freezer restaurant

Homosassa Fun Things To do
The Freezer menu. Be sure and bring cash ( or use the ATM on site).

Homosassa Fun Things To do
Perfectly boiled shrimp at The Freezer. Also, check out the crab legs and mullet dip.

A pre-Civil War Sugar Mill is located between the Park and the Freezer is a good stop to explore some “old Florida.”

Homosassa Fun Things To do
Sugar mill near the Freezer. It has been abandoned since the Civil War.

The Original Florida Cracker Resort and Kitchen is also just a few more minutes up the road.  Monkey Island is right in front of the restaurant. You may need to pay $5 for parking when it is busy.  A great ice cream shop is just next door.

Homosassa Fun Things To do
The Cracker Resort and Monkey Island Bar

Homosassa Fun Things To do
You might be lucky enough to catch a popsicle delivery by “boat” out in the spring

Other things to do in the area: Crystal River Archeological Park or Kayak with Manatees at Three Sister Springs

Check out the Marina

The boats start coming in from their trips by afternoon and a great way to end the day is to relax at the Marina. Cold drinks are served and there’s lots of room on the top decks to check out the view. Often times there is a food truck to grab a snack.





Kayak Steinhatchee

Bring your own kayak and use the launch area right at the Landing Resort. On high tide you can explore up the creek on property. Paddle up to Steinhatchee falls and then enjoy letting the river bring you back to the resort. If you need to rent a kayak there are a few options that will help deliver you or the kayak where you need to go.