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The Lodge at Gulf State Park

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The Inside Scoop

Tips from in-the-know travelers

We asked the team at Gulf Coast Lifestyle and Huntsville Lifestyle, plus our friends Lynlee Hughes and Brooke Wahl, to give us their best insider travel tips for a few elite summer destinations. Whether you’re headed to the mountains or to the beach, let them inspire you to make the most of vacation this season. 

Gulf Shores, Alabama 
by Ashley Roberts, Publisher of Gulf Coast Lifestyle

“Originally from South Louisiana, my family has been fishing and vacationing the Emerald Coast of Florida since the early ‘80s. We started coming to Coastal Alabama in the late 1990s, when more marinas were available. I always wanted to live here, and I am so blessed to call it home. I love where I live, and I hope you will love it, too.”

Is there a must-visit bed & breakfast or boutique hotel? 
The Lodge at The Gulf State Park is new and amazing — the website doesn’t do it justice. It is beautiful and pristine without any high-rise condos around. And for those seeking the solitude of Fort Morgan, The Beach Club Resort & Spa is an oasis of comfort and charm with everything you need on site. 

What great restaurants do you suggest for summer lunches and outdoor patio dinners?
We have two new, amazing restaurants. CoastAL Orange Beach was featured in my March issue, and this is THE place for a chill lunch and dinner, plus it has the best view. Perch restaurant at The Lodge at Gulf State Park serves small plates and craft cocktails and a million-dollar view! 

Share a few must-visit attractions that visitors should not miss. 
The Surfside Shuttle just won an award for "The Original Bushwacker Tour” — hands down the coolest tour going. Try a different Bushwacker at 4-5 stops, each with a unique waterfront view. It's one of the best things I have ever done as a local. 

Outdoor spots to take in the beauty of ‘Bama?
Gulf State Park and our 32 miles of white sand beaches. One of our Gulf State Park trails just won an award! Also Anonyme Cruises — it’s an electric boat, very upscale and covered. Captain DD can take you in the back bays and canals and show you Osprey and Bald Eagle nests. I have been five times now, and I love that the dolphins always find us! The Anonyme is known for mimosa cruises, birthdays, engagements, anniversaries or just chilling with friends, enjoying our amazing sunsets.

How about something kid-friendly?
OWA Amusement Park has a new indoor- outdoor water park called Tropic Falls! 

And something off the beaten path?
Gulf State Park’s Learning Campus isn't well-known, but it's fun and educational about our unique ecosystem. Families love it. Another unique experience is chartering a yacht for fishing or cruising our island. My favorite charter yacht is FEELIN NAUTI. 

Anything else you think a visitor should be aware of before a trip? 
It's turtle nesting season May 1 through October 31, so be careful of these precious nests when you visit! 

Nantucket, Massachusetts
by Lynlee Hughes, Arc Realty Co.

“My husband and I went on a trip in 2017 that included Boston and Nantucket, and we fell in love with Nantucket. We loved the East coast, all of the houses and the general vibe. It was so laid-back with amazing food, scenery and great shopping. We love beach towns that are quaint, walkable, and kid-friendly so our kids can enjoy it as well. It's a beautiful place, and we now go 3-4 times a year!”

Is there a must-visit Bed & Breakfast or boutique hotel? 
We love the Greydon House or White Elephant. 

What great restaurants do you suggest for summer lunches and outdoor patio dinners? 
Cru on the harbor right on the water is a must! We also love The Nautilus for dinner. It is so hard to get into because it is tiny, but it’s worth it!

Share a few must-visit attractions that visitors should not miss. 
Cisco Brewers, Jetties Beach and Brant Point Lighthouse.

Great places to grab a drink? 
Sister Ship, Galley Beach Restaurant and The Chicken Box! 

Outdoor spots to take in the beauty of the area?
‘Sconset Bluff Walk, Steps Beach, Cisco Beach, and the village of Wauwinet. 

Something particularly kid-friendly? 
The Nanpuppets Show — public shows usually twice a week. We love taking our kids to get an ice cream at the Juice Bar, then to play on Children's Beach, which is a kids playground on the beach. Also the Maria Mitchell Association Aquarium and The Critter Cruise are so much fun! 

Something off the beaten path? 
Visit Bartlett’s Farm for strawberry picking or tomato picking. They also have wonderful breakfast sandwiches. 

Anything else you think a visitor should be aware of before a trip? 
Wear comfortable shoes! And layers! 

Huntsville, Alabama
by Amy Bailey, Publisher of Huntsville Lifestyle 

“Huntsville is a very special place. Although it is bustling with growth and amenities, it somehow retains small-town charm. It's a place where people are friendly, down to earth, and truly love where they live. I am so grateful to call it home. If you take a day trip or weekend excursion, here are some 'must dos.'”

Is there a must-visit Bed & Breakfast or boutique hotel? 
The AC Hotel is located downtown with an incredible view of Big Spring Park. There's also The Jefferson, another downtown choice located right next to our historic Square.

What great restaurants do you suggest for summer lunches and maybe outdoor patio dinners? 
Domaine South is one of my favorites. It is a French-American bistro with a lovely atmosphere that overlooks Big Spring Park. Also, La Esquina is a high-end Mexican restaurant with incredible food and refreshing cocktails and mocktails. For a healthier lunch of delicious local fare and fresh seasonal ingredients, try Mason-Dixon. Also Poppy & Parliament for fish and chips or Alabama staple Moe’s for BBQ.

Share a few must-visit attractions that visitors should not miss. 
Any of the LandTrust Trails are great for morning or evening hikes when the heat isn't sweltering. From Alum Hollow to Bankhead, the North Alabama terrain is always fun to explore.

Huntsville Museum of Art is also a MUST. Featuring incredible regional artists and weekly events for adults or kids, our museum is a treasure. Being positioned next to Big Spring Park allows for a nice stroll, feeding the ducks and live music from one of our troubadours.

Something kid-friendly? 
Huntsville Botanical Gardens is the best place to take the whole family. The gardens have lots of interactive exhibits for children, and it has so much green space, it is a great option to just let the kids run free and roam. Wednesday nights feature Golden Hour, a lawn event with live music where you can bring a blanket or chairs and a picnic.

Something off the beaten path?
Huntsville Revisited Museum is an interesting stop. Although this is a small museum, it is full of cool Huntsville artifacts, and the curator, William Hampton, is one of the most resourceful Huntsvillians—his stories will intrigue and delight you.

Anything else you think a visitor should be aware of before a trip? 
Huntsville's downtown area is gorgeous and will make you fall in love with our neck of the woods. Take time to spend an afternoon or morning sipping coffee at Honest, walking around the Square, grabbing lunch and doing a little shopping at Caley Paige, Elitaire, Roosevelt & Co., In Bloom, Rivenbark & Roper Antiques, and, of course, the historic Harrison Brothers Hardware.

Cashiers, North Carolina
byBrooke Wahl, Arc Realty Co. 

Is there a must-visit Bed & Breakfast or boutique hotel? 
High Hampton Inn! 

What great restaurants do you suggest for summer lunches and outdoor patio dinners? 
The setting at Canyon Kitchen cannot be matched for dinner. Cocktails while sitting in the canyon on a breezy summer evening are a winning combination for me. My kids love Slab Town Pizza — the menu is great, and there's great outdoor space for kids to run around. And I love the club sandwich and a crisp glass of rosé at Cornucopia.

Share a few must-visit attractions that visitors should not miss. 
Hiking the many trails around Whiteside Mountain is an activity with routes for all desired levels of intensity. The area is known for incredible golf courses, and, while I much prefer to be on the tennis courts, the mountain terrain and 70* temperatures can get me on a tee box.

Great places to grab a drink? 
The bar at High Hampton Inn has fabulous cocktails and specifically leans into seasonal ingredients without overdoing it. I love the Lakeside Lemonade.

Outdoor spots to take in the beauty of the area?
Lake Glenville and the surrounding views are worth the stop! They really capture the essence of Cashiers being enveloped by nature's beauty.

Something kid-friendly? 
My children love Cashiers as the ultimate playground. Their usual agenda is to swim, hike, play tennis, bike and eat their weight in the Cashiers Farmers Market blueberry pie.

And something off the beaten path?
The area has wonderful antique stores and local art. One of my favorites is the Not All Beige summer pop-up, curated by one of my favorite tastemakers, Molly Blankenship, @notallbeige.

  • Downtown Huntsville
  • Big Spring Park, Huntsville
  • Bartlett's Farm, Nantucket
  • Brant Point Lighthouse, Nantucket
  • The "Feelin' Nauti" charter yacht in Gulf Shores
  • The Lodge at Gulf State Park
  • Cocktails at the Perch in Gulf Shores
  • Lake Glenville, Cashiers
  • Whiteside Mountain, Cashiers
  • Cocktails at the High Hampton Inn
  • Charlotte and Alice Wahl