Fall is my favorite time of the year along the Alabama Gulf Coast. This week we will celebrate the National Annual Shrimp Festival for four days. There will be music, arts & crafts, fine arts, a retail market, a children’s village, an outdoor village, a sand sculpting contest, our very own “American Idol” contest, a 10K & 5 K run, and FOOD, lots and lots of food.
About 700,000 people came last year and it was much warmer than usual. We may have the same amount of people, but the weather will be much cooler.
Since we live here, I have the advantage of knowing how to visit the festival as a local and a tourist. I’ll be glad to share my insights.
Walking to and from the festival along West or East Beach isn’t difficult and most of the roads along the T, where Gulf Shores Parkway/Hwy. 59 South and Hwy. 182 meet, are closed to through traffic. This makes it a little less hectic. But if you’re walking, keep in mind that it is still very busy. There will be shuttles and a few rides on wheels, cash only, usually $5.00 per person. Several businesses are available for parking as well, also $5.00 per vehicle. Some residential areas will also offer paid parking. The worst thing you can do is to park on one of the shoulders of the neighboring roads, thinking you won’t get stuck. Tow trucks make a killing, (I’m guessing), during this time. Happens every year with many, even the big 4-wheel drives, getting stuck in the sand. It’s not worth it when it only costs $5 to park where you are safe.
Early mornings, the festival opens at 10 A.M. see schedule here, tends to be less crowded, getting food earlier rather than later will result in less wait time. Several booths selling drinks and water are located throughout the layout. But it is hard to eat and walk. Bringing a few chairs and setting up on the beach is an option. There are a few areas with tents and tables. Music at night is very entertaining and enjoyable, plan not to miss Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster.
If you skip eating at the festival there are many restaurants to chose from, but get there before or after the rush 4 P.M. – 6 P.M. Check out the shops and shopping centers, most have end of season sales going on. Expand to include those you haven’t visited before, you may surprise yourself with a few deals. If you see something you want, better get it then. Don’t put it off because if probably won’t be there later. I’ve learned this the hard way. The festival T-shirts go fast too. If you want your size and color don’t wait till the next day.
It takes half a day to walk through and look at all the booths and vendors. Some of my favorites are the bug people, the leather store, and the outdoor village.
Take your time to enjoy your visit. There’s plenty of beach to walk on, food to eat, and shops to visit.
If you love visiting as much as I did, you may want to make the move, LIKE I DID. No regrets here. After 23 moves, it was and will be the best one ever. Talk to my friends at REALTY EXECUTIVES GULF COAST, 3479-B Gulf Shores Pkwy, right beside the new Gulf Shores Visitor’s Center. Call to talk to someone at (251) 968-4300.
Who knows, you may can pick up a deal there too. Why not invest in a vacation home that you could possibly rent out. This year has been our busiest year yet.
Still have questions, see here.