Maybe it’s because the snow melted on my “Animal Crossing” island this week, but I am suddenly eager for summer. I scrubbed down the outdoor furniture, ordered some new Tevas and maternity swimsuits online and invested in a soft-sided Igloo cooler that I plan to fill with ice and tote around with me at all times. And I’m dreaming of all the beachside activities I intend to do while the sun is beating down and this fetus is still safely secured inside my body.
Here’s a short, warm-weather bucket list I’ve come up with, featuring some traditional local favorites and some recent additions to the area that I hope to check out as well. (Most involve optional imbibing.) Maybe they’ll give you some inspiration too, or at least slightly reduce your dread of the inevitable heatwave to come.
Cruisin’ Tikis Orange Beach
Combine your loves of drinking, kitschy decor and boating by renting out the only floating tiki bar in OBA. A new activity at the beach, Cruisin’ Tikis offers three-hour and hour-and-a-half excursions that depart multiple times per day, from various marinas. Cruises go through the harbor and around the bay or the islands and anchor at Bird Island. You bring the food and drink, they provide the vessel, captain, life jackets, cooler, cups and ice. There is a “shot paddle” and Bluetooth speaker on board, so you can blast your own island tunes while really getting lit. The cost is $50-$75 per person, depending on the duration of the trip, or you can rent out the entire bar for $300-$450 (maximum six seats). Take note: There are no bathrooms onboard.
Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss
I genuinely love the Mullet Toss for its no-apologies, redneck attitude. I drive a Dodge Ram, OK? Last year, the event was canceled due to the pandemic, but it returns this year, the weekend of April 23-25. If you’ve gotten your vaccine and feel comfortable rubbing up against a bunch of sweaty, Bushwacker-fueled college kids, then this is the event for you. Maybe this will even be the year you join the competition. The cover charge to get into Flora-Bama is $10/day and it costs an additional $15 to throw a dead fish over the state line. You register on the day of. Kids toss from 10 a.m. to noon and adults toss from noon to 4 p.m., daily. Proceeds go to the Community Drug & Alcohol Council and local Boys & Girls Clubs, and you walk away with a commemorative T-shirt even if you don’t win any awards. How can you lose? (Well, by contracting COVID, but we won’t go there.)
Bellingrath Gardens’ Rose Bloom
As you’ll read in other parts of this paper, Bellingrath Gardens & Home is attempting some new events this year, including its Beers & Blooms fete this weekend. The all-day craft beer fest features Alabama breweries, food trucks, local musicians and springtime blossoms. Tickets are limited, so if you don’t make it in, aim to visit the gardens during its annual rose bloom. Every year around late April (depending on the weather), the rose garden comes to life, displaying more than 2,000 plants from 36 pink, yellow, red, white and orange varieties. If you haven’t seen or smelled this remarkable Southern occurrence before, make 2021 your year to remedy that. Admission to Bellingrath Gardens & Home is $8-$22, depending on age and tour package.
Being active is fun and good. Was that convincing? Well, trying something new is fun and good, and knocking out a sun salutation while balancing precariously on a standup paddleboard (SUP) certainly fits that bill. Orange Beach Yoga and Glow Yoga out of Gulf Shores typically offer special, SUP yoga classes during the spring and summer, which feature on-shore SUP instruction followed by a paddle out to sea and a chill, on-the-water yoga flow. Just jump overboard if you get overheated. Rates vary by studio. Glow also offers $5 classes every Sunday at 11 a.m. at Big Beach Brewing. Go for the yoga and stay for the drinks; yogis get $1 off beer, wine, kombucha and soda after class.
Pensacola Beach Air Show
Keep your social distance while witnessing one of the most exciting events on the coast. The Pensacola Beach Air Show is back this year, July 7-10, and will highlight the boat-rocking acrobatics of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, plus civilian aircraft doing stunts and low fly-overs. Spend the money and rent a boat (or floating tiki bar?) to witnesses the festivities from the canal. You will not regret it. The Blue Angels hold practice sessions along the beach in the days leading up to the show, so you can catch them early if you keep an ear open.
UPDATE: Last month, I wrote about the alcohol home delivery bill (SB 126) currently making its way through the Alabama Legislature. The bill has since been amended to include breweries and distillery tasting rooms as potential delivery partners, and it has received a favorable report from the House Judiciary Committee. The full House is expected to vote on it before the Legislature adjourns in May. Passage of the bill could drastically improve your summer plans.
Alyson Sheppard is Lagniappe’s resident hangover specialist, but she is currently sober. She’s pregnant! Find her on Twitter: @amshep.
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