Alabama Coasting Magazine Articles


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GulfQuest is the world’s only maritime museum dedicated to the historical, cultural and economic significance of the Gulf of Mexico. With 90 interactive exhibits, simulators, displays and theaters, GulfQuest offers immersive experiences in an array of maritime topics including early settlements and trade routes, marine archeology and shipwrecks, Gulf marine  life, weather and hurricanes, marine and coastal environments, maritime commerce and shipbuilding, ship navigation and communication, offshore oil/gas platforms, and much more.
 
GulfQuest’s newest traveling exhibit SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure, contains over 500 authentic shipwreck artifacts, a variety of interactive elements and graphic display panels. SHIPWRECK! allows visitors to experience the thrill of shipwreck exploration while investigating some of the world’s greatest maritime stories. Featuring authentic shipwreck artifacts recovered in the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel and Mediterranean Sea, the exhibit takes visitors on a voyage through more than 2,000 years of seafaring history. A variety of authentic shipwreck treasure, decorative porcelain figurines, personal items like combs and tooth brushes and even the 300-year-old logarithmic calculator on a folding rule – the oldest ever recovered on a shipwreck site, is on display.

The pioneering techniques and technology that allowed the discovery of these wreck sites are also presented. A full-size replica of ZEUS, an eight-ton Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which acts as the archaeologist’s hands and eyes in the deep ocean is part of the exhibit. Guests can test their skills by attempting to pick up artifacts with a working model of ZEUS’ robotic arm. An interactive version of the SS Republic photomosaic is also on display. Visitors can zoom in on specific areas of the photomosaic to find artifacts as small as a domino. More than 2,500 digital photographs, taken by ZEUS, were stitched together to create this large scale photographic map of the wreck site. Photo: Tad Denson, MyShotz.com. Artifacts being collected by ZUES’ robotic arm. Finally, SHIPWRECK!’s "World of Pirates” interactive gallery and activities immerse visitors with the lore, legends, and facts of pirates of the Caribbean, Barbary Corsairs, Privateers and Buccaneers. Guests can learn how to identify pirate vessels on the horizon using spyglasses, raise the banners of notorious pirates, learn to tie essential knots for life on the high seas, and create their own pirate in an interactive game!

GulfQuest is on the Mobile Riverfront at 155 South Water Street. It’s open Thursday through Saturday. Admission is $14 for adults; $11 for youth ages 5-17; free for those 5 and younger; $13 discount for seniors, active military or college students. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.gulfquest.org.


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Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a breathtaking alternative to the beach for both visitors and Alabama residents alike. Located in Gulf State Park and offering seven trails in six ecosystems over more than fifteen miles, it is a perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors all year round. Amenities and activities include:

Guided EcoTours - Friendly and knowledgeable tour guides help you explore the wildlife of our Pleasure Island with a 2 hour trip through the pristine woodlands and natural habitats of the Backcountry Trail. Reservations are only $15 per person.

The Kids Boulder Park - Bringing more fun and attractions to the already adventurous trail, rock climbing at the new Boulder Park keeps kids in shape and helps to develop both physical and mental skills.   Coordination, strengthening and flexibility are just a few benefits that result from the sport while promoting focus and other positive attributes to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Butterfly Garden & Pavilion - A vivid array of colors from blooming flowers and butterfly wings make the Butterfly Garden a perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the trail. The nearby Pavilion, offers a screened enclosed cabin style building is conveniently near the trails restroom and water facilities.

Primitive Campsites - Nestled among tall pines, scrub oaks and 15 miles of breathtaking Trails is the addition of the new Primitive Outpost Campsite. Reminiscent of a Huck Finn adventure, this amenity hosts three individual sites, constructed with canvas tents supported on rustic hardwood floors and roped together with framed recycled downed trees.

Geocaching - All ages can enjoy and appreciate a good treasure hunt; and that’s what you get when you go geocaching on the Backcountry Trail! Home to many beautiful birds, animals, plants and flowers, but more recently it has become home to hundreds of containers called geocaches. Details at geocaching.com.

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is open during daylight hours only. No motorized vehicles. Bicycle speed limit is 10 miles per hour. No fires or smoking. Pets must be leashed at all times. For more details, including upcoming events go to backcountrytrail.com or call 251-381-1180. For information on the Alabama State Parks, go to alapark.com/gulf-state-park.

In addition to the Trail’s many attributes, it is also considered a bird watching paradise and listed on the Alabama Birding Trail Registry.


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Webster’s online encyclopedia defines Jubilee as "the name used locally for a natural phenomenon that occurs from time to time on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. During a jubilee, blue crabs, shrimp and fish swarm toward the shore in such numbers that the shallow water near land seems to boil with life.” For those of us who live on the Alabama Coast, it is a celebrated community event and a mysterious – and most welcomed – gift from nature. For visitors and locals on the Alabama Coast, this time of year offers a ‘jubilee’ of a different sort as the whole Mobile Bay area comes alive with an abundance of festivals and events - from art and music to coastal cuisine and outdoor activities. It’s a bountiful harvest just waiting to be caught.

WATERWAY VILLAGE ZYDECO & CRAWFISH FESTIVAL & 5K RUN April 15, Gulf Shores |  The Waterway Village Zydeco and Crawfish Festival boils up a beaucoup of fun in Gulf Shores. Locals and visitors are invited to sink their teeth into hot, juicy crawfish throughout the day while dancing to the infectious rhythms of some of the best Zydeco bands from around the South. There will be arts and crafts vendors and children’s activities. This third annual event is a result of a unique collaboration between the City of Gulf Shores, the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism and Waterway Village merchants, including Acme Oyster House, Lulu’s, Tacky Jacks, Gulf Coast Arts Alliance, The Diner, ByWater Bistro, Big Beach Brewing Company and Wheeles Karate Academy. The festivities will kick off at 8 a.m. with the Zydeco and Crawfish Festival 5K benefitting Furrever Homes.  The good times will roll all day long as the crawfish pots begin boiling at 10 a.m. and the Zydeco sounds will be grooving until 6 p.m.

DAUPHIN ISLAND GUMBO FESTIVAL April 28-29, Dauphin Island |  Don’t miss the 8th Annual Dauphin Island Gumbo Festival. This Year’s Gumbo Festival will be April 28th and 29th outside of Fins and Pirate’s Bar & Grill! Tickets are only $10. All proceeds from this year’s cook-off will help build the new basketball courts on Dauphin Island and help fund other kids projects on Dauphin Island. This is an island event you won’t want to miss. For more information, check out Fin’s Bar on Facebook.

INTERSTATE MULLET TOSS April 28-30, Orange Beach |  The Interstate Mullet Toss is always held the last full weekend in April. The Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party is legendary. What started as just a reason to party has become one of the biggest beach parties on the coast. People from all over the globe come to throw a mullet from a 10-foot circle in Alabama across the state line into Florida. There is a $15 entry fee to toss a mullet, and winners will receive prizes such as trophies and Flora-Bama gift certificates.  Not to mention it’s a great excuse to throw a weekend long party, with lots of fun activities, great music and food! Each year over $20,000 is raised for local charities, especially youth organizations.  Noon, Fri.; 10 a.m., Sat. & Sun 17401 Perdido Key Dr., Perdido Key. Parking is $10 per car and lots will be manned by local charities and youth sport groups. Celebrity tossers are at high noon Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Shuttles at $5 per head will be running non-stop starting 7a.m. on F. - Sun. Pick up spots are the Publix parking lot in Orange Beach and the Winn-Dixie lot in Perdido Key. For more info contact (850) 492-0611 or visit www.florabama.com
 
DELTA WOODS & WATERS EXPO April 30, Spanish Fort |  The Delta Woods and Waters Expo, an annual event sponsored by the City of Spanish Fort and held at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center, to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the MobileTensaw Delta.  Featuring a variety of informative presentations, exhibitions and interactive displays by experienced outdoorsmen, professionals, educators and enthusiasts, the Delta Woods & Waters Expo includes numerous fun and exciting hands-on demonstrations which allow attendees to learn and practice new skills with one-on-one instruction.  The mission of the Delta Woods & Waters Expo is to promote responsible and enjoyable outdoor recreational experiences through a fun and educational event. 9:00am to 4:00pm. Admission is free. www.deltawoodsandwatersexpo.com

13TH ANNUAL GULF COAST HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL May 4-6, Foley |  More than 40 balloons will light up the fields and soar through the skies, May 4-6, during the 13th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival presented by the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and Tanger Outlets. A family friendly event, the festival has activities for everyone! Festival admission is free with select activities for an additional charge. At the festival grounds, the whole family can enjoy carnival rides, tethered balloon rides, balloon glows, balloons in flight, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and live music and more! Balloons fly at dawn and dusk each day weather permitting. The festival kicks off on Thursday, May 4 with a balloon glow from 6-7pm, at Tanger Outlets located at 2601 S McKenzie St in Foley. The excitement moves to festival grounds on Friday, May 5 from 2-10 pm and Saturday, May 6 from 6am-10pm. On Saturday morning the first annual Color Dash 5k run will begin at the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, in downtown Foley, ending at the festival grounds! Runners will run through streams of color while the balloons take flight overhead! Come out and enjoy Mustache the Band and The Molly Ringwalds among other local favorites. Other highlights include a VIP area where, for a small fee, you’ll have a place to rest and enjoy freshly prepared heavy hors d’oeuvres, water, soft drinks and adult beverages. For more information on the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival or to purchase Balloon Bucks, VIP passes, directions and parking, please, visit www. gulfcoastballoonfestival.com or call 251-943-3291 * All balloon flights and displays are weather permitting. Winds must be less than 5 mph to safely inflate balloons on the festival grounds.

3RD ANNUAL DOG RIVER MUD BOTTOM REVIVAL MUSIC FESTIVAL May 7, Dog River |  Dog River Clearwater Revival (DRCR) organizers are hosting a fun afternoon created to raise awareness and funds while bringing families down to the river to enjoy great music along the way. The third annual Mud Bottom Revival Music Festival at the Dog Pond is set for Sunday, May 7 from 3 to 7 p.m. (doors open at 2pm) with event headliner – the famous Willie Sugarcapps, whose members are individually and collectively well-known and loved both locally and nationally. Two other local favorites, Ryan Balthrop and Slide Bayou, as well as Crowned Jewelz join the line-up. Those attending are encouraged to bring their own beverages, while food will be available for purchase from the Smokin’ Gringo food truck and Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream. Pam Denham - 251.656.3843 or pdenham6400@att.net

ORANGE BEACH WINE FESTIVAL May 13, Orange Beach  | The Orange Beach Wine Fest is one of the most cherished tickets on the island. The festival showcases over 120 wines, three live music acts, food from distinguished local restaurants, boat tours of the bay, custom wine glass, custom wine bag, and even craft beer for the un-winies ...... all for only $45 if you buy before the event. Waves of Wine Fest begins at noon and we have live music for the entire event. Various local artist are chosen for their talent of blending sweet musical harmonies to the taste of the event. We also provide a seating area in front of the stage for those guest who started counting the number of wine samples they have taken. Every ticket holder is provided with a cruise around the bay during the event. Local boats will be arriving at the docks of Caribe Resort and will take you and your friends for a tour of the bay islands. The boats will be running during the entire day so you can enjoy the scenery at your leisure. We will also have several yachts docked for your viewing. Select local restaurants like Cobalt, Cosmos, Sunset Corkroom and Rum Sisters will be providing delicious hors d’oeuvres. Cheese and bread selections will also be available in a designated area. The event takes place at Caribe Resort, therefore Cobalt restaurant is next door for those who want something more substantial.

GALLERY OF GARDENS TOUR May 19-20, Downtown Mobile |  Explore nine charming gardens in three historic Mobile neighborhoods.  In support of Mobile Botanical Gardens, residents in historic the Oakleigh Garden District, Church Street East and de Tonti Square are opening their gardens for the Gallery of Gardens2017. All the gardens are within a two mile radius, so put on your walking shoes or grab your bike and come see what can be done in seven courtyards and two larger spaces.  Master Gardener docents will be available with plant lists and personal knowledge to tell you what is growing in each garden.  Tour hours are from 10:00am – 4:00pm each day. Tickets are $30. For more info go to www. mobilebotanicalgardens.org.

HANGOUT MUSIC FESTIVAL MAY 19-21– Gulf Shores |  Imagine listening to your favorite bands with your toes in the sand, surrounded by your closest friends; that’s the Hangout Music Festival. An annual three-day music festival held at the public beaches of Gulf Shores, the event features many genres of music, including rock, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music. General admission tickets are $289. VIP passes are $1,099 and Super VIP passes are $1,599. Join us in Gulf Shores, Alabama for music’s ultimate beach vacation. Visit the website for more info: hangoutmusicfest.com

DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL June 10, Mobile |  Dragon Boat Racing is back in South Alabama for year four! Help  Fuse Project  impact more local children in 2017 by signing up to participate on  Saturday,  June 10th  at  USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park! With origins dating back 2,300 years, dragon boat racing is a fun, unique cultural event featuring adrenaline-pumping action. Teams of 21 people race in authentic 46-foot long Hong Kong style dragon boats. Competitors rave about the excitement, friendly competition and community spirit surrounding the sport. All ages, skill levels and physiques perfect their stroke and timing for the ultimate teamwork experience! Fuse Project’s Dragon Boat Festival brings the most fun and unforgettable fundraising experience to the Mobile / Baldwin County area! See how well your team can compete against other local corporate and community teams – and who will win off the water raising money for children in our local community!



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Oysters. There are a few things that make communities along the Gulf Coast truly unique and vibrant places to live… not least among which is the beauty of the environment all around, surrounding residents and visitors with salty vistas and an abundance of tropical foliage. It’s no surprise that the fresh coastal vibe even shines through in our favorite local cuisines… shrimp, crabs and of course… one of the most celebrated of all… oysters. If you haven’t noticed by now, folks along the Gulf Coast really like their oysters anyway they can get ‘em: raw, Bienville, Rockefeller, Cajun… even repurposed as art or jewelry. The oyster is a versatile and amazing creature and often even seen as a symbol of the region. 
 
Though (as with many things in this day and age) there has been a definite decline in the gulf coast oyster population which is why the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) has recently implemented a new initiative. According to the ACF Executive Director Mark Berte, the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling Program is an idea that has been circulating the region for almost a decade, but it’s taken the recent support of some local restaurant owners and a two-year grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Fund to really turn it into a reality. 
 
The mission of the program is to collect the shell remnants from area restaurants and return them to the gulf coast to help replenish the vastly diminished local oyster beds, encouraging the repopulation of the species in our waters. But the benefits don’t stop at simply making more oysters… these amazing sea creatures also "provide habitats for fish, shrimp and crabs, they prevent shoreline erosion and clean the waters by filtering out silt, sediment and excess nutrients,” Berte explains. According to experts, oyster shells can grow more than a dozen adult oysters on just a single shell and each adult oyster can filter up to 15 gallons of water a day. That’s a pretty impressive day’s work for a little bi-valve! 
 
According to the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling Program’s FAQs, here’s how the whole thing works: the ACF collects oyster shells from restaurants that currently throw them away and then put that important natural resource back into the water so they can help foster reef development and help new oysters grow. Once the shells are collected, they will be stored outside for about 6 months. From there the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will then load them on to barges and put the shells back into designated restoration areas. 
 
With currently 112 bins in circulation at 16 different restaurants in Mobile and Baldwin counties, ACF plans to begin the second phase of the program and will be looking to add restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Over the summer, they will seek to continue expanding to other interested restaurants all over coastal Alabama. The grant will cover the first two years of funding and then they hope the project will be self-sustaining after that point. The program has had such success launching this initiative so far that ACF Executive Director Berte is projecting that an astonishing 2.7 million oyster shells will be collected by year’s end, which will translate into roughly 7 whole acres of restored oyster reefs. 
 
If, like most of us here on the Gulf Coast, you like oysters… join the effort to sustain our wonderful ecosystem (even if you’re just visitin’): encourage your local seafood restaurants to participate and keep an eye out for other ways you can get involved!


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Owner Suzanne Davis has an eye for unique treasures from all over. A talented artist in her own right, she has hand picked local artists to showcase their creations - intriguing abstract paintings, glass art on canvas, oyster jewelry, and a wonderful collection of driftwood art. 311 De la Mare Avenue, Fairhope. 251-232-8174.
 
Visit them on Facebook.


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As you step across the threshold of Knu Spa, you immediately leave the bustle of downtown Fairhope and enter a calm, inviting, environment created by owner Karen Ou to present her concept of what a spa experience should be. Originally nurtured in a family business in Orlando, a personal transformation with skin care and weight loss, spurred Karen to open Knu Spa. She brings to Fairhope a commitment to offer the finest spa and wellness services on the Eastern Shore, incorporating both traditional and holistic treatments. Everything is focused on the individual, from personally tailored spa and massage treatments to the careful selection of health and wellness products used and promoted within the Spa. This singular philosophy extends to the staff as well. Assembled for their friendliness and professionalism, each member also brings distinct skills and personalities, assuring all clients of the right fit and a healthy and relaxing spa experience.

Karen’s personal emphasis is on skin care and she offers a full range of facial treatments including microdermabrasion and peels. It is also why she is an advocate for the innovative line of NuSkin products and their dedication to health and wellness. Finally, Karen is a proponent of the health benefits of regular massages. In addition to helping with sore muscles by increasing and improving circulation, a massage can help relieve depression and anxiety, aid in a good night’s sleep, and boost immunity.

The spa is located at 59 North Section Street and the hours are Monday thru Saturday from 9:30am to 7:00pm. While walk-ins are welcome, appointments are recommended. Call 251-929-5099. 


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Alabama Coasting was proud to be a sponsor and supporter of the recent World Food Championships in Orange Beach. As expected, the week produced an outstanding series of food competitions, introductions to chefs and foodies from around the world and a taste-tantalizing array of food experiences.  Our "little extra gift” was meeting Tara and Adnane Ijai founders and chief ambassadors for the ‘Love Glasses Revolution’ – a movement created to share love in the world through inspirational ‘love glasses’. Their mission with these heart shaped sunglasses is simply to empower each other to see the world with love.
 
The love glasses are a symbol to remind you that you can filter out the hate and negativity. Wearing them helps you share a crucial message to the world that you live on your terms and you write your own narrative. As Tara tells it: "The world can sometimes be a cold and lonely place. For this reason, at Love Glasses Revolution, we try to encourage love and random acts of kindness. We inspire people to respect, love and appreciate one another through our love glasses. They symbolize the message we represent – to SEE love and to BE love!” Our Alabama Coasting team was proud to join the Love Glasses Revolution! We invite you to join us by getting your own "love glasses” at www.loveglassesrevolution.com.


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While the many charms and amenities found in and around Daphne make for a great family excursion or daytrip, city leaders know the community has the potential for much more. Margaret Thigpen, Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, markets the City of Daphne as a great destination for major events, tournaments, conferences, reunions and other group business. "My goal”, says Thigpen is to spread the word about all that Daphne and the Eastern Shore have to offer, from meeting spaces to sports infrastructure, to places to stay, places to eat, and places to play.”  And the numbers back her up.  
 
The Daphne Civic Center, which serves as a centerpiece for community events also boasts more than 20,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space which accommodate groups from forty to seventeen hundred. The center also regularly hosts a number of balls and dances, and is an ideal venue for weddings and receptions. A more intimate setting that boasts a fantastic view, Bayfront Pavilion on beautiful Mobile Bay can host groups from as few as 20 to just under 300. The 7000 square feet of interior space is complemented by a huge waterside deck complete with an outdoor chapel area. Both of these facilities are within one mile of all the Daphne hotels with almost 800 available rooms. Daphne’s prime Eastern Shore location also makes for easy travel to all that the Alabama Coast has to offer - from Mobile to the snow white Gulf beaches. Daphne is truly the center of it all. For information, go to discoverdaphne.org or call 251-626-5300.