I absolutely love Gulf Shores, this is one of our families #1 vacationing spots. It has been rebuilt pretty good since the hurricanes (not sure if this summers affected them much or not though). The outlet mall is great - I usually find a lot of great deals there on a normal day so black friday I can't even imagine!!! Here is the link to the mall:
As far as the beach goes, it will be a bit nippy at that time of year so water activities are probably out. Jackets and pants would be needed for evenings as well. There are a lot of great places to eat - some of our families favorites are Lamberts (home of the throwed rolls, I promise you will not leave this place hungry, very good food and very entertaining atmosphere), Sea and Suds (we like this one for lunch, decent prices and you are at the end of a short dock over the ocean, good frozen drinks here), Lulus (owned by Jimmy Buffets sister, neat beachy atmosphere), the place right before you get to the T into the beach that just north of the Shell shop, not sure of the name but I think it has oyster in the name??? but it has good shrimp po boy sandwiches there. There is one place we go off the beaten path that is by far one of the best restaurants ever, I will ask my mom what the name of it is and let you know. What kind of food do you like? THat makes a difference as well.
As for fun we like to shop (at the outlet mall of course
), there is a few really neat putt - putt courses there. We go to a place called The track (I think it is called) that has go carts (a wooden course that is really neat) and some thrill rides like bungee jumping and arcade games, there is putt putt here, but I don't suggest it because the other courses are a lot better as far as being different. We like to walk the beach at night with nets and flashlights and catch crabs, it is fun and challenging and then we let them go, it was great fun as a kid and now it is great nostalgia and now that I have a 4 year old I can say I am doing it for her
! Another family tradition of ours is that we go to Pensacola one day - it is about a 45 minute drive or so and eats at McGuires Irish Pub (it has hundreds and hundreds of 1 dollar bills hanging everywhere - really neat and great food) and eat and then we go to the Grey Hound races. There is about 10 races in an evening and with your hotel/condo room key you get in for free. We go in together in pairs and make $2 bets (the minimum) on which dog will win, we don't get rich by any means, but every now and then we might double our money by the end of the night. We have alot of fun doing this and it really has a lot of families at it, it is relatively cheap and so much fun. The twist ice cream cone there is to die for and last time there it was only a buck and a half! A fun place to hang out if you are taking an older group is the Flora-Bama Bar, it is half in Alabama and half in Florida. You can get in if you are under 21, but they put really big X's on your hands - they usually have a live band (or 2 or 3) playing on different levels, looks like a total dive, but it is good fun. I will probably think of more and post later. You are making me want to go!!!!