About 250,000 people descend on our little slice of paradise each year to enjoy the Annual National Shrimp Festival.

The beachfront festival showcases the Alabama Gulf Coast’s succulent celebrity—Gulf Shrimp—along with a variety of other delightful cuisine, live music of all genres, fine art, handmade crafts, children’s activities, contests and much more. There is truly something for all ages to enjoy.

We wanted to share some ways to make the most of your Shrimp Festival experience from a local’s perspective, so we asked the teams from Meyer Vacation Rentals, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate and Meyer Services to share their ideas. Read on for our Top 10 tips for having a fabulous time during your Shrimp Festival stay.

When the festival kicks off on Thursday at the public beach access in Gulf Shores where Hwy. 59 joins Hwy. 182 in front of The Hangout, it will complete a year-long process to bring an outstanding selection of food vendors, artists, craftsmen, musical acts and others to entertain visitors. “Festival planning is a year-round job for our staff and committee,” said Owen Corcoran, special events and media coordinator for the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, which produces the event. Corcoran added that a not-to-miss venue is the Seafood Sampling Tent, where local chefs will perform cooking demonstrations.

Now, for Meyer’s Top 10 Shrimp Fest Tips:
Pull Up A Chair & Enjoy The Beat
Sarah Kuzma“I’ve attended the majority of Shrimp Festivals over the years, and I’ve enjoyed each one. I love the music and usually have a hard time deciding which band to hear when two of my favorites are playing at the same time. I love listening to the Tip Tops on Thursday evening, so I make sure to set up my lawn chairs to hear this high-energy group.”

Sarah Kuzma, Operations Specialist, Meyer Vacation Rentals

“Bring your collapsible chair! This goes best with your favorite drink, favorite band and the always-famous Cajun Pistol.”

Thomas Willis, Guest Services, Meyer Vacation Rentals

Speaking Of The Food, Why Not Indulge A Little?
“I eat the Cajun Pistols every time. The guy from LA has the better ones. Then, I eat the homemade pork skins and cracklings. I was born and raised here, so I’ve seen this event grow. I enjoy every part of it.”

Paul Dixon, Owner Services, Meyer Vacation Rentals

“The must-have Cajun Pistol is a crowd favorite, but also be sure to try the Shrimp Nachos.”

Thomas Willis, Guest Services, Meyer Vacation Rentals

Remember, The Crowd’s Part Of The Fun
Thomas Ray“In my personal opinion, if a visitor is coming to the festival, the crowd is part of the experience. The Shrimp Festival is a great time not only to meet vendors and to shop but also to socialize with locals and visitors!”

Thomas Ray, Long Term Rentals, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

But You Can Avoid The Masses
“My best advice about the Shrimp Festival is to attend the event on Thursday, when the crowds have not yet built to their peak, and then revisit your favorite vendors on Sunday afternoon for possible negotiable prices. Most merchants would rather sell their items than pack them up.”

Sarah Kuzma, Operations Specialist, Meyer Vacation Rentals

“Thursday evening is when most locals attend the Shrimp Festival. Don’t miss the Tip Tops at 8 p.m. They are always a great way to kick off the festival!”

Judy McMillan, Sales Associate, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

Janice Zarro“A good time to go is Sunday, as the festival is winding down. Less crowds, less traffic. If you can’t make it on Thursday or Sunday, be prepared for crowds and lines. And, definitely dress according to the weather!”

Janice Zarro, Sales Associate, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

Be Patient
“Don’t forget your sunscreen and possibly a hat. But make it a patience hat. There’s going to be a large crowd. So, slow down. Remember, you’re in a city that moves at a slower pace, and that’s great!”

Theresa Berge, Housekeeping Trainer, Meyer Services

“Sometimes, the crowds and long lines indicate the best food and drinks!”

Thomas Willis, Guest Services, Meyer Vacation Rentals

“Sunday is a fun day for the kiddos at the Children's Activity Village. There’s less of a crowd as the festival is winding down. Happy Shrimp Fest!”

Renae Stringer, Sales Associate, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

To Drive Or Not To Drive?
Diane Skelton“As a newer local, I’ve both driven and taken the shuttle. I have found the shuttle to be more convenient. They run constantly, and there is almost never a wait. Shuttle drivers drop you off right at the festival entrance, and there is usually plenty of room for your purchases.”

Diane Skelton, Owner Services, Meyer Vacation Rentals

“Park at Pelican Place at Craft Farms, which is the northernmost pick-up and drop-off for the shuttle. It’s not crowded and is very pleasant. Just sit back and relax!”

Vida Yeager, Sales Associate, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

“As many times as I have been to the Shrimp Festival, we have always driven. It’s around $10 to park, but you do not have to wait for a shuttle to pick you up and take you back to your car. Usually, we find a spot around the Original Oyster House, right off Ala. Hwy. 59.”

Thomas Ray, Long Term Rentals, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

“Exercise caution when parking in yards that offer parking spaces for a fee. Make sure that the person collecting the money for parking is actually the current owner or tenant of the home. There have been rare instances when the owner or renter shows up later to find cars parked all over their yard, and the individual who posed as the owner and collected the money is nowhere to be found.”

Emily Burke, Administration, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

Renae Stringer“Depending on where you are staying while in town you may be able to walk to the festival. If you are not within walking distance, take advantage of the shuttles that run frequently.”

Renae Stringer, Sales Associate, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

Dress For Success
“I suggest dressing in light clothing for daytime, and don’t forget the sunscreen. Wear comfortable shoes at all times.”

Vida Yeager, Sales Associate, Century 21 Meyer Real Estate

“Bring your walking shoes, a hat and some sunscreen!”

Thomas Willis, Guest Services, Meyer Vacation Rentals

Get Your Art Fix
“My favorite part of the Shrimp Festival is the fine arts area in the center of the festival. I am particularly interested in the artists displaying photography and pottery, and have added to my collection over the years.”

Sarah Kuzma, Operations Specialist, Meyer Vacation Rentals

Take A Dip
Don’t forget what makes this area so appealing—our location on the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast. As the sugar-white sand sings with each step you take on our 38 miles of beaches in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key, you’ll be reminded about the wonders of the Gulf and understand why so many people choose the area as their vacation destination throughout the year.
Even though it’s October, pack your swimsuit! You’ll want to take advantage of the many indoor pools available at Meyer’s selection of condominium and house accommodations. So, even if the air temperature is too cool to swim outside, you can enjoy a dip in the pool.

If the weather’s warm enough to swim outdoors, more than 70 of Meyer’s homes offer pools or pool access. Some pools are private, which means they are for the sole use of the guests renting the property. Some pools are shared with guests staying in another property.
Wind Down At Your Shrimp Fest Home
Meyer Vacation Rentals has served as a home base for thousands of Shrimp Festival attendees for all 44 years of the event. Meyer’s Sarah Kuzma reminds guests to find time to enjoy their vacation rentals too. “We welcome our customers back year after year and provide the resources they need to plan an enjoyable festival. I believe the advantages of condo and house accommodations instead of a hotel room for the festival are the common spaces of the living and dining areas and the bonus kitchen. These areas provide a relaxing setting to wind down from the sights and sounds of the festival.”
Wrap Up
Here is a recap of Meyer’s Top 10 Tips for having a great time during your Shrimp Festival stay:
1. If you want to enjoy the live musical entertainment, bring a chair or blanket to spread on the ground. Seating is at a premium at the festival.
2. Shrimp Fest only lasts a few days, so give yourself permission to indulge a little. Be sure to try the Cajun Pistol, Shrimp Nachos, or any one of the other seafood items and treats on the menu at the festival.
3. Because of the festival’s growing popularity, be prepared for the crowd. And if you are bringing kids, keep a watchful eye on their whereabouts, as the festival is bustling with people. The great news is that everyone’s having fun, and it’s always interesting to engage in a little people watching!
4. To avoid crowds, come on what we call “locals’ day”—Thursday. Or, wait until Sunday afternoon when the festival is winding down. You may even uncover some deals from vendors on the last day.
5. Be patient and slow down. There’s no doubt that life moves at a slower pace here in L.A. (Lower Alabama, that is.)
6. Decide whether or not you are going to drive to the festival site. If you drive, you’ll encounter traffic, but there are some great places to park. Parking near the festival site is on a first-come, first-served basis typically for a fee controlled by the private property owner. If you opt to take the shuttle, it’s cheap—only $5 per person per day—and 10 convenient stops are offered along the way. Shuttles operate from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
7. Be prepared to dress for the weather to be either warm or cool. In L.A., it could go either way. Regardless, the sun can be intense, and there is a lot to see at the festival, so bring sunscreen, a hat and your walking shoes. If you forget something, there are plenty of shopping opportunities in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and an outlet mall to explore just a few miles north of the beaches in Foley.
8. Enjoy the wonderful works of art and arts and crafts at the festival. Pick up something new for your art collection, or find something functionally fabulous for your home.
9. Take a dip. Whether it’s warm or cool outside, Meyer Vacation Rentals’ properties feature outdoor and indoor pools to please. Pack your swimsuit, or pick up a new one at our Island shops and boutiques!
10. Wind down at your Shrimp Fest home away from home. When you’re ready to escape from the festival fun, take a breather at your Meyer Vacation Rental condo or house. Enjoy spacious living areas, explore the beach, take advantage of the amenities, step out on the balcony to breathe in the Gulf air—and book your return trip to our little slice of paradise through Meyer Vacation Rentals.