As tempting as it is to stay in the air conditioning late this summer, you may be forgetting (or maybe have not experienced) the amazing high that comes from an outdoor adventure. Whether kayaking, paddleboarding, boating or bike riding, we are all surrounded by opportunity to #OptOutside.
REI is an active clothing and footwear brand that started a movement called Opt Outside at the end of 2015. The brand closed the doors to its retail stores on Black Friday, encouraging customers to find an activity outdoors for the day. The response was overwhelming and is now a marketing model for other brands. REI has produced a series documenting outdoor activities, events and stories through social media.
Personally, I would rather be in a hammock or paddling a kayak any day. Many of us love fashion but not the act of shopping. Sometimes, walking into a store you may know exactly what you want and be in the checkout line within a matter of minutes. Others enjoy the browsing experience.
Whatever your shopping method, you have to admire REI for its risky experiment in closing its doors on the busiest shopping day of the year. We have not seen the last of the Opt Outside marketing movement and for those of us on the Gulf Coast, outdoor adventures are plentiful.
After moving back to Mobile from Tampa, I struggled to find affordable watersport rentals. I hit the jackpot after stumbling upon Eastern Shore Watersports. The small beach-like rental shack is across from the boat launch in Fairhope (about a mile south of the pier) and has kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles, a Boston Whaler and pontoon boat plus motorized scooters and snacks for your adventures. Their prices are unbeatable: $45 for a half day (four hours) for a paddleboard and they will even haul it to the water for you. Seriously, are you putting on your flip flops yet?
Paddleboarding is a water sport that takes some balance, but even if you don’t have the strongest equilibrium, sitting on the board and paddling from the launch to Fairhope Pier or docking the board on the sand to feed the ducks during your exploration of Mobile Bay is not a bad way to spend a Saturday.
You have your choice of tandem or single kayaks at Eastern Shore Watersports. If you have never taken a ‘yak out on the bay on a sunny day, I would suggest a tandem and sharing the paddling responsibility with a friend. For those who want a good workout, rent a single kayak for the same price ($45/half day).
There are no barriers on the bay so you can paddle from Fairhope to the causeway if you choose. Drop by one of your favorite Causeway hangouts for a po’boy and head back to the boat launch in time for sunset. Mobile Bay is perfect for paddling because you aren’t hit with high surf and the current isn’t extremely strong. During low tide, the waters are flat and perfect for a novice paddler.
Next on the list is renting a beach cruiser and exploring downtown Fairhope. One of my favorite hangouts on a sunny day is Windmill Market. There are several local vendors set up inside the market, a small cafe/deli and Frios Pops. Grab a drink from the café or a Frios Pop and head back to the picnic area where there is usually live local music in the afternoons.
After an hour or so taking in the surroundings at Windmill, pedal on over to Pinzone’s Italian Village and park your bike to browse shops. I’m a big fan of walking through Fantasy Island Toys. Why? Because, why not? Fairhope has some of the best shops in South Alabama, from Sway to Deja Vu.
Stop by Adrenaline while you’re out on a day adventure for inspiration and maybe a new hiking backpack or Fatboy lounge chair (if you haven’t tried this amazing new invention, you are missing out). A half-day bicycle rental costs $25 a day, and Fairhope is the perfect city to explore by bike.
It’s hot outside and the humidity is unmatched by other parts of the country, but here on the coast we are surrounded by opportunity to cool down somewhere other than a pool or indoors with air conditioning. Spend a few hours on the water or pedaling under shade trees and you’ll realize how much you love summer here on Mobile Bay.
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