While you’re stuck inside for now, many of you may be starting to make summer (or even fall) plans. One great spot you may not have heard of is the tiny beach town of Perdido Key. Within an hour of Pensacola, FL and Gulf Shores, AL, it’s convenient yet distanced far enough to avoid many crowds. Below is all you need to know to plan a weekend or three-day getaway.
Nestled between two towering condo buildings, you will find a cute strip of townhomes is right on the main road, connecting Perdido Key to Orange Beach and eventually Gulf Shores. Very convenient location, with great access to convenience stores, restaurants, and activities. If you manage to get a townhouse in the A or B section (Villas 1-7), you will be on the side of the road with direct beach access; you even have a private boardwalk to your private strip of beach. We were lucky enough to stay in Villa #3, so this was the very from our (very large) back deck:
Islander Food Shack.
Just five minutes from Molokai Villas is this sweet little bar and grill, which seems very popular with the locals. There is indoor seating as well as the outdoor patio complete with string lights. The menu has plenty of options, even for vegetarians, and they have both bushwhackers and frozen margaritas “on tap” in Icee machines inside. Their fries are delicious, and the atmosphere was very welcoming!
A feature of the newly-reopened zoo is this delicious restaurant! The décor is phenomenal; they clearly spent lots of time and money choosing pieces to adorn the walls. Vintage photographs line the walls, ceramic monkeys hang from the lamps, and elephant tusks (faux, of course) jut out from the wall behind the bar. The menu is extensive, with lots of options that you cannot find anywhere else in town. You don’t even have to pay the zoo entrance fee to eat here; it has a separate door. It even has a large balcony so you can look out over the zoo while you dine. They have a brunch menu for Saturday and Sundays.
This restaurant can be found in this adorable little strip mall, on the top floor so you get a great view of the ocean. It features a unique menu: half Japanese, half typical beach fare. You can get a catch of the day platter, along with sushi or miso soup. The restaurant also features a bar, and several aquariums to look at while you dine.
This easily could have fit into the “Dine” category, however I will list it here as it serves no true meals. These are classic New Orleans style snowballs. Since I have never been to New Orleans, I cannot vouch for their authenticity, however they are fabulous! They boast over 100 flavors of snow cones, and they even have some special combinations with add ins as well. Each location has signature flavors, too. If you’re unsure which to true (it’s a tough choice!) they will give you a tiny cup with a sample of the flavors you want to try. I went with a flavor I’d never heard of in snow cones before- Tamarind- and I was not disappointed. I also list this under play because once you enjoy your icy treat, they have giant yard games to play, as well as this giant snow cone cut out to take a picture with. Pretty far from the main part of town, but definitely worth the trip. Fairly close to the zoo, which I detail below, in case you want to combine the two activities into one day.
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
Just 30 minutes away from Molokai Villas is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which just opened at its new location in March 2020. Gorgeous décor is scattered throughout this 100 acre property, and there are lots of unique options for animal encounters. You can pet a baby kangaroo, a sloth, an anteater. There is a petting zoo in which you can feed several different farm animals. My personal favorite was the giraffe feeding, where you get to feed lettuce to two of the giraffes. The gift shop offers some typical wares, but some unique ones as well. The zoo was the subject of an Animal Planet docuseries ten-or-so years ago, and copies of that are for sale along with painted prints created by animals throughout the park. There is even a brand new restaurant on location, which I talked about above. Wonderful experience!
Coming home on I-65 North? Stop by Priester’s Pecans, a general store/candy factory at exit 142. You can go upstairs to view the candy being made, or shop downstairs for freshly made candy and pies. They even have lots of boutique items as well, in case you forgot to grab a special someone a souvenir. Don’t pass up the Fiddlesticks, they are lifechanging!