Another location of the frequent vacation variety, Gulf Shores served as my family’s February getaway for a few years. Although being in college stopped me from joining my family down south this past year, I still have my fair share of Gulf Shores knowledge. The actual shoreline in Gulf Shores is lined by a mix of high-rise and home style condominiums with a beachfront store or restaurant every so often. Every building that serves as a living space in this area is built one story off the ground to accommodate for potential flooding that can happen during hurricanes and other such weather events. If you’ve never been to a southern coastal area, the buildings “on stilts” might be the first things that catch your eye. My family has never chosen a high-rise condo, as we would rather have the feeling of a miniature home by the sea than a balcony view 20 stories up. The beaches at Gulf Shores gave us plenty to do – beach soccer, flying kites, building sand castles, or just walking along the water’s edge enjoying the sound of the waves. One of our favorite restaurants, Bahama Bob’s, also sits right next to the beach, only a couple of buildings down from our regular condo. Speaking of restaurants, our Gulf Shores experience was never complete each year without a visit to De Soto’s Seafood Café, Lambert’s (home of the throwed rolls), and a trip back into the bay to pick up some fresh shrimp. Seafood is the dish of choice in the area, unsurprisingly, and there truly is nothing like fresh seafood by the sea (or ocean, or gulf…). Beyond the food, Gulf Shores can be a little geared toward the tacky tourist image, with large souvenir and surf stores dotting every street corner. If that’s what you’re into, then there’s plenty to do, but if you’re like me and prefer the less touristy approach to vacationing, some of the aforementioned restaurants may be more up your alley. Gulf Shores is also outfitted with the normal entertainment venues that complete any other city, such as movie theaters and mini golf courses. Since we often were in the area during Mardi Gras, we even headed to a nearby town for a Mardi Gras parade (the family friendly variety), another cultural experience of southern living. Gulf Shores has always been a relaxing getaway for my family from work and cold temperatures, and I’m sure other travelers have found it to be just as welcoming as we do.