Sitting pretty on the Intercoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores, Alabama, LuLu’s is a restaurant experience that offers food, music, sand, adventure, and the opportunity to walk on water. Founded by Jimmy Buffet’s sister, Lucy Buffet, LuLu’s serves 4,000 people a day in the summer season and is known for adding something new every year to the “complex” (because calling LuLu’s a restaurant isn’t quite enough).
The first thing that caught my eye upon walking up to LuLu’s was the three-story climbing structure and arcade. Cool idea for a restaurant add-on, I thought.
Then I spotted a gift shop that looked like it was transplanted directly from the beach. I paused, wondering if I was in the right place. Walking down the sandy path – lined with Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and umbrellas – I found an outdoor bar, face-painting and hair-wrapping stations, a snow-cone snack bar, a stage, and a big beach volleyball area. What is this place? I thought I was here to eat lunch?
Finally I approached the main restaurant and was seated at a table with a beautiful view of the Intercoastal Waterway. Just outside the restaurant was another big sandy area and another stage – LuLu’s has free, live music every night. Kids were playing with hoola-hoops on the sand and splashing around in the Fountain for Youth. You know how your kids never want to leave the beach, but you’re ready for some adult food, beverage, and social time? LuLu’s is the perfect place to achieve that elusive blend of family and adult time. In addition to the activities I’ve already mentioned, kids can rent time in LuLu’s “Water Walkers” – inflatable balls (think hamster ball) that let them walk, roll and flip on the water without getting wet!
Some friends had recommended I get the smoked tuna dip, and it did not disappoint with its chunky, smokey, and not-too-creamy taste. It was served with a ton of saltine crackers, but I would have liked something a bit more sturdy, like a pita chip. Between all of us at lunch, we sampled nachos, burgers, chicken, fried, onion rings, fried pickles, and fried green tomatoes. Everything was delicious. My son loved the chicken finger options – not only the usual kid-meal chicken fingers, but non-fried options like the blackened, which he loved.
We visited LuLu’s at lunch and didn’t experience a wait, but I’m told that is rare, especially at dinner time in the summer. They don’t take reservations and the wait can be up to two hours, but I don’t really see that as a problem when you have so many ways to pass the time! Let the kids loose in the arcade, the Mountain of Youth, or in the large sand and water play area, then grab a seat at the bar and listen to live music until your table is ready. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Disclosure: I was a guest of LuLu’s courtesy of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Ala. Opinions are all my own.