Are you guilty of leaving vacation days on the table? According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee leaves 54 percent of their paid time off unused. Maybe you don’t have a full week you can devote to a beach vacation. Or, maybe you have one planned, but need a weekend getaway to tide you over before then. Don’t let life get in the way of living. When you only have a few days free on the calendar, a weekend getaway may be just what the vacation doctor ordered. If that’s the case, we’ve got ideas on how to spend a three-day Gulf Shores vacation.

Day 1 in Gulf Shores

Day one is your arrival day. Most Gulf Shores vacation rentals have a 3:30 p.m. check-in time, but don’t let that stop you from soaking up the sun on Alabama’s white-sand beaches. Call ahead and make arrangements to use your vacation rental’s amenities like pools and beaches. Nothing will melt away stress like putting your toes in the sand and listening to the waves. Then, when your accommodations are ready, you’re just a quick walk to your home-away-from-home.

Dinner

Orange Beach restaurantAfter you’ve checked in and gotten settled, head out for dinner at Luna’s Eat & Drink. You don’t want to miss out on the apps at this Orange Beach restaurant. Wet your appetite with one of more than 30 local and regional craft beers and an order of Luna’s Beer Cheese Dip. You’ll have to pace yourself, because this delish appetizer is a creamy blend of Swiss, cheddar and dark beer served with soft pretzel bites. It’s the perfect starter to a low-key night with good food and good friends on your Gulf Shores vacation.

Evening

Walk off that Beer Cheese Dip with a stroll on the beach. Bring your flashlights and watch tiny sand crabs scurry through the sand. When you’re done, enjoy the nighttime sights and sounds from your Gulf Shores vacation rental balcony or deck.

 

Day 2 in Gulf Shores

For your first, full day in Gulf Shores, start with breakfast on the balcony. Relish the cool morning air and sound of the waves crashing along the shoreline. Take in the view and relax. This is YOUR time! (Until the kids get up, that is!)

Morning

 Orange Beach Kayak Eco-tour Coastal Kayak Excursions. This Orange Beach kayak tour is unlike any other on the beach. Choose the Paddle & Play option to be transported from Caribe Marina to Walker Island via pontoon boat and spend the morning paddling around Robinson and Bird Islands at your leisure. You can also take an eco-kayak tour. Captain Glenn will motor you to the backwaters of Wolf Bay where he will guide you through the area, giving your group individual attention. This private tour is perfect for families, and with Captain Glenn’s expert guidance it’ll provide the memories of a lifetime.

Lunch

No Gulf Shores vacation is complete without a visit to LuLu’s. If you’re lucky, the Crazy Sista herself might pop in to say “hello” and wish you much Gumbo Love. Who is the Crazy Sista? Lucy Buffett, of course! Famous in her own right as a creative culinary master and author of several taste bud tempting cook books, Lucy is sister to legendary singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Jimmy has been known to drop in and perform an impromptu concert for Lucy’s restaurant guests, too. Both the young and young-at-heart enjoy a stop at LuLu’s. There’s a large sand area for the kids, as well as a sand volleyball court and the Mountain of Youth ropes course. Ask for a table by the water and watch the boats float by on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Afternoon

Gulf Shores condoYou’re at the beach, so enjoy it! Spend the afternoon getting in some R-and-R. Before your trip, inquire about onsite beach chair and umbrella rentals at your Orange Beach or Gulf Shores vacation rental. If onsite rental chairs are available, leave yours at home and enjoy a hassle-free vacation experience. For a quick getaway, taking advantage of onsite services like this one can save you precious time. Coastal Bliss, a one-bedroom condo, and Ray of Sunshine, a two-bedroom condo, both offer beach chair service at The Beach Club Resort in Fort Morgan. The Beach Club features a host of other onsite amenities, as well. Once you arrive, you may not want to even venture out to other Gulf Shores attractions! Here, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at the resort’s ice cream shop, dine at one of two full-service restaurants, order to-go food at a poolside tiki bar and grill or treat yourself to a massage at the onsite European spa. Other condos at The Beach Club include the three-bedroom Endless Summer, three-bedroom Lil Bit of Paradise, two-bedroom Living Water and the three-bedroom Sunset Paradise.

Dinner

Get your seafood fix at one of the area’s longest running Gulf Shores restaurants, Original Oyster House. Of all the restaurants in Gulf Shores AL, the Original Oyster House is a vacation tradition for many families. Order up one of the restaurant’s signature dishes like Joe and Dave’s Favorite Oysters, eight mouthwatering Gulf oysters baked with garlic cocktail sauce, locally sourced Bill-E’s small Batch Bacon and grated Parmesan cheese. While these oysters are definitely slurp worthy, you’ll want to wear your stretchy pants for the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie! This decadent dessert has a hint of Khaula and is big enough to share (or not). And, if you just can’t get enough, you can buy a whole pie to go!

Evening

Chase the sun on a sunset sail aboard Wild Hearts, a 53-foot open ocean catamaran. Wild Hearts offers an Orange Beach dolphin cruise unlike any other at the beach. Once you leave the bay through the Alabama Point bridge, the sails are dropped, motors are turned off and the wind powers you through the Gulf of Mexico in search of resident bottlenose dolphin pods, and, of course, a magnificent sunset.

 

Day 3 in Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores nature trailsIt may be the last day of your Gulf Shores getaway, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop just yet. Have a leisurely morning and take your time getting packed before checking out of your Gulf Shores rental at 10 a.m. After you’re packed and ready, head to Beach Bike Rentals and rent bikes for exploring the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. There are 27 miles of paved trails and lakeside boardwalks that are ideal for getting a glimpse of beach nature. The kids will also enjoy climbing the rocks at Boulder Park along the trails, as well as the Butterfly Garden.

After you’ve worked up an appetite, feast on a Shrimp Po’boy at Bahama Bob’s, a Gulf Shores restaurant that’s a favorite among locals. Take in the views from this beachside eatery and know that you’ve had three days well spent on Alabama’s beaches. Hopefully, it’ll tide you over until your next weekend getaway.

For more ideas for your next beach vacation, read Four Hot New Beach Attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and read our number one tip for booking your vacation rental.