Sunday, June 30, 2019

Other Things To Do At Gulf Shores (Part 2)

Gulf State Park pier
We also visited the Fishing Pier at Gulf Shores.  If you are camping at Gulf State Park, you will get a pass that allows entry onto the fishing pier, free of charge (not including fishing fees).

This large, wide pier is 1540 feet long.  At the entry, there is a "tiki" type bar, bait shop, fishing gear rentals, and restrooms.
Gulf State Park fishing pier


Gulf State Park fishing pier


Gulf State Park fishing pier

One of my favorite things about Gulf State Park is the network of paved trails.  They have a fantastic system
Gulf State Park trail
of paved trails along with raised bridges.  These trails run through the campground, the canals/lakes and over to the fishing pier area.



Gulf State Park trail


Gulf State Park trail

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this sign.  "Swim at your own risk" takes on a whole new meaning.

And yes, there are alligators.



We spotted this one on a trail overlooking a canal.  There was a kayaker on this canal who was blissfully unaware of the alligator.



Other Things To Do At Gulf Shores (Part 1)

Gulf State Park beach
The main attraction in the Gulf Shores, Alabama area is the beach.  As I explained in my Gulf State Park campground review post, that although the beaches are beautiful, I don't really enjoy just laying around on the beach all day.  Fortunately, there are many other things to do at Gulf State Park.



Dauphin Island ferry
We rode the ferry over to Dauphin Island one day which was one of the highlights of our trip.  





This is a popular attraction and I recommend you get there early to get a place in line.  They have room for
Dauphin Island ferry
28 vehicles max.  We got there for the 8:45 am ride from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island.





Dauphin Island ferry


Dauphin Island ferry


Dauphin Island Ferry




Fort GainesOnce we got to Dauphin Island, we decided to tour Fort Gaines.  On a previous camping trip, we toured Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island.  Fort Gaines is a similar military fort.

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines


Fort Gaines

I also recommend traveling up Hwy 59 North to Foley, AL and visiting the Farmer's and Fisherman's market if you are there on a Saturday or Tuesday.  When we go camping, I like to try and find out if there are any local farmer's markets close.  We got fresh corn, tomatoes, okra, squash and local honey.

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores Alabama Campground Review

Gulf State Park bridge to pier
We camped at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama the last week of June 2019.  Gulf Shores is just west of Orange Beach, Alabama.  The main draw to this area is, of course, the beaches.  They are beautiful white sand beaches at the Gulf of Mexico.

I like the sound of the surf and I think the beaches are very pretty, but I am not really a "beach" person - meaning I don't just like to hang out at the beach all
Orange Beach AL
of the time.  Fortunately, there are a lot of other things to do at and around Gulf State Park.  See my posts Other Things To Do At Gulf Shores (Part 1) and (Part 2).

If you like the beach, this may be a place you want to consider camping at.


Orange Beach AL



Orange Beach AL



Orange Beach AL




I couldn't help but wonder how this area looked before all the condos blocked the beaches.  This area
Orange Beach AL
brought to mind the lyrics from the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi, "paved paradise, put up a parking lot".



The traffic to get to the Gulf State Park area was horrendous.  We left our house in north Mississippi on Saturday morning and we encountered wrecks and traffic jams from Jackson, MS all the way south through Hattiesburg to the Gulf.  Really, there is no good way to get around it.


Gulf State Park
Now, on to the campground review.  The campground has close to 500 campsites, most are RV full hookup sites with a few tent only sites.  The campground is well laid out in sections with several bath houses, a swimming pool, campstore and laundry.  None of the sites are on the beach, but some are on a lake.


Gulf State Park


Gulf State Park site 155
Our site was #155.  I chose this site based on the shade it looked like it had on Google satellite view.  We were very happy with this site.  It had privacy and shade. 


Gulf State Park site 155


Gulf State Park site 155


Our campsite had a 30/50 amp electric, water, sewer, and grill.  You have to bring your own above-ground fire ring, if you want a campfire.  Since it was 100 degree + heat index, we did not even consider a campfire.


Gulf State Park

There are warning signs everywhere about alligators.  You may never see one, but please keep an eye out for your children and pets!

This is one of the lakes that border the campground.


Gulf State Park


Gulf State Park


Gulf State Park camp store
The Campstore was stocked with a few grocery items, ice cream, T-shirts, and camping/RV supplies.  They also had bicycle rentals.  There were several ice machines that took credit cards.  The laundry was very well maintained.  The bathhouses were air conditioned and clean.
Gulf State Park dog park

There is a dog park in the state park (down the street from the campground).  They have a separate area for small dogs.

We made our reservations on the Alabama State Park website.  Due to this being a resort area, there are a bunch of extra fees that get tacked on to your campsite fee.

We enjoyed our stay at Gulf State Park and were very pleased with our campsite. Our cell phone service worked great and we could pick up many over the air TV stations.

Getting There:  This area is very popular and highly developed so traffic is a nightmare.  We were coming from north Mississippi, so we went through Jackson, over to Hattiesburg, down through the tunnels at Mobile and then to the gulf.  We chose to get off I-10 at the Baldwin Beach Express, then over to Foley Beach Express (toll road).  We figured it would be quicker than the over-developed Hwy 59 corridor.  Wrong.  It was packed.  If we were to go again, I would opt for Hwy 59 through Foley, turning left on Fort Morgan Rd.  Follow Fort Morgan Rd to Hwy 182 - turn left and then another left onto the Campground Rd.  This is the way we went back and it was much easier.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Other Branson

When I think of Branson, the first thing that comes to mind is the entertainment strip and all of the shows.  That is not something that neither Rick or I was interested in, so we found other things to do while in the Branson area.  We stayed at Table Rock Lake State Park.  The lake is beautiful and you could spend your time their or on one of the walking trails without ever leaving the state park area.
TABLE ROCK LAKE


We did go into downtown Branson and walk along the boardwalk (actually sidewalk) that runs along Lake Taneycomo.  

LAKE TANEYCOMO


LAKE TANEYCOMO

BRANSON FOUNTAIN


BRANSON
While were were downtown, we went into Dick's 5 and 10 store.  This store was a has ALL kinds of toys, candy, souvenirs, Christmas stuff, etc.  You can spend quite a lot of time just looking at all the stuff they have.

BRANSON


BRANSON
We also had ice cream at Mr. B's.  This was an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that I also recommend visiting.









BRANSON



BRANSON FISH HATCHAERY
One of my favorite places we went to was the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery.  It is free (except if you want to feed the fish).  They have gumball type machines with fish food in them.  The fish hatchery raises both rainbow and brown trout to release into Lake Taneycomo. 



BRANSON FISH HATCHERY

BRANSON FISH HATCHERY


TABLE ROCK LAKE VISITOR CENTER
Another place I enjoyed visiting was the Dewey Short Visitor Center.  Inside, you will find a history of the dam at Table Rock Lake and the history flooding in the area.  The visitor center is 3 stories with observation decks on the 2nd and third story.  From the 3rd story, you can look out over the lake and see the "shelf" rock.



TABLE ROCK LAKE VISITOR CENTER

TABLE ROCK LAKE VISITOR CENTER

TABLE ROCK LAKE VISITOR CENTER


BRANSON CRAFT MALL
We also visited the Branson Craft Mall.  This building is set up with vendor booths and a restaurant in the back.  We bought several things there and took pictures of ourselves in the big chair at the front.













We also stopped at the Scenic Overlook that looks out over Lake Taneycomo.  This overlook offers great views of the area.

LAKE TANEYCOMO


SHOWBOAT BRANSON BELLE
One of the things that we didn't do is go on the Branson Belle.  This is a very popular venue in Branson.  It is a big paddle wheel boat that offers lunch (or dinner), a show, and a cruise on Table Rock Lake.  The price for adults is $55, which isn't too bad when you consider the meal and boat ride.  I really didn't care about the entertainment portion.  If we had been there longer, I may have gone on the lunch one in order to see the lake from the river boat.

SHOWBOAT BRANSON BELLE


Even if you are not into the "shows", the Branson area has a lot to see and do.  We enjoyed our trip here.