Phew, 2020 has been a hard year, even after the boys returned to school. With two hurricanes heading towards New Orleans (Marco and Laura), a three day staff vacation, and Labor Day, the boys had days off three out of the four weeks that they have been in school. Let’s just say this mama was exhausted and needed an outlet for the boys to burn their endless energy. Therefore, the Saturday before Labor Day, we booked our Gulf Shores, AL family beach vacation for the next day.
Gulf Shores, AL Vacation Rental
Now when you book lodging the day before your trip, during a holiday, the lodging options will be limited. However, we were able to find a nice one bedroom, one and a half bathroom vacation rental on the beach. The great thing about this condo is that it’s located in Palm Beach Resort, which only has five levels. We literally did not run into anyone coming in and out of the elevator, which is perfect for social distancing.
Similarly, the beach had plenty of space for everyone. At the most, there were probably twenty groups of people on the beach in front of our property and only two in the pool. The downside of a smaller property was that it only had a single pool without a hot tub or food service. In fact, my husband walked down the beachfront strip to see if any of the other properties offered food; unfortunately, none did.
The lodging was the most expensive part of our two day and one night Gulf Shores family beach vacation. It cost us about $350 for one night. This price point is about average for the vacation rentals, especially those on the beach. You can potentially find cheaper per night rentals, but most rentals require a minimum of two nights.
We booked this rental through Vacasa.com. You can find our rental here.
Other Lodging Options
We did notice a lot of campsite options in the area. In fact, we were about to book a RV near the entertainment district, OWA, but it was no longer available when we went to book. This RV park had a pool, indoor showers, and other nice amenities. Plus, it was super affordable at only $70 per night.
Honestly, with our fun filled schedule, we were literally in the vacation rental just to sleep. We arrived at 10PM and checkout was at 10AM the next morning. So, we could’ve done a cheaper lodging option.
Things To Do in Gulf Shores
One of the twins continued to mention that he wanted to play in water. Therefore we spent our first day at Waterville USA waterpark and the second day at the beach in front of our rental.
We lucked out and were able to go to Waterville USA Waterpark, link here, on the last day of the season- the Sunday before Labor Day. This waterpark will indeed keep your kiddos entertained as there is something for all ages. It has an infant/toddler friendly area- which includes age appropriate slides, and water slides with twists and turns, which I wouldn’t dare go on.
Regarding COVID-19, the waterpark required a mask for entry. However, once inside, most people didn’t wear one. It was neither empty nor overly crowded. During the majority of the time, everyone was able to keep at least six feet from others, except for when inside one of the water attractions. I personally wore my mask when entering and going to the restroom.
Tickets cost about $34 per adult. Lucky for us, two year olds are free, so we only had to pay for my husband and I- a total of about $75, including tax.
Waterville also has an amusement park which includes mini-golf, go-karts, arcades, and other activities. There is no admission fee to the amusement park. You just pay per activity.
We rented two beach chairs and an umbrella on the beach in front of our vacation rental for $35 per day. We brought the boys’ beach basket which includes a bucket and various shovels. This alone, with a bit of fun in the water, kept them occupied for over three hours. By that time, we were all ready to grab lunch.
The beach is beautiful! You will notice two types of sand- rough sand along the shore of the water and soft white sand filling the rest of the beach. The waves were a bit strong; therefore, there weren’t many people in the water, especially compared to our time in Destin, FL which is also on the Gulf Coast.
You can get all of the details of our Destin, FL beach vacation, here. Destin is about a ninety minute drive east from Gulf Shores.
While driving around, we noticed so many other activities available in Gulf Shores for a beach family vacation, including:
- Gulf State Park- including beach access, tennis courts, nature trails, and more!
- Fort Morgan Road Trail
- Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
- OWA- entertainment destination with roller coasters, restaurants, shopping and more
We ate at two delicious restaurants- Luca’s Eat & Drink and Hog Wild BBQ. Luca’s Eat & Drink offers a menu with a lot of options- including fresh seafood. I had the stuffed grouper which was delicious. The restaurant itself is located in a complex with multiple other dining options. There is plenty of space for the kids to run around and burn energy before dinner.
Since it was Labor Day, we felt obligated to go to a BBQ restaurant. Hog Wild BBQ has been featured on the Cooking Channel. In fact, I ordered the “Nasty G” Sandwich which includes chopped rib, chicken, and pork- topped with gulf shrimp, coleslaw, and a white BBQ sauce. Needless to say, it was delish! I highly recommend it.
Beach Vacation Cost
Our two day, one night Gulf Shores family beach vacation was exactly what we needed to relax and renew our energy. It’s amazing what one night away from the hustle and bustle and being in a new surrounding can do for you.
When I compare the value of the trip to its cost, I can definitely say that this trip was worth every penny. Plus, there are ways that we could’ve done it cheaper:
- Vacation Rental: $350
- Waterville USA Waterpark: $75
- Beach Chairs: $35
- Restaurants: $165
- Gas $50
We could’ve most definitely saved a couple hundred dollars by staying at a less expensive vacation rental, cooking ourselves or going to less expensive restaurants, or not renting beach chairs.
Overall Gulf Shores is the perfect location for a family beach vacation. The icing on the cake is that it’s only a three hour drive from New Orleans and six hours from Atlanta.