The Purple Octopus:
This is such a cute huge store. This is right by the beach where Highway 59 ends. They have aisles and aisles of classic souvenirs like t-shirts, bathing suits, air-brushed t-shirts, shark tooth jewelry, and other little knick-knacks. They also have carved coconut heads and Tiki statues. What coconuts and Tiki statues have to do with Gulf Shores, AL, I do not know. They also have live hermit crabs that are native to the Gulf Shores area, along with cute little habitats/cages to take home. They have the standards and the tried and true objects of remembrances that any typical souvenir shop. Other than the cute purple octopus on the roof, they are also independent. That means a lot to me.
Souvenir City is all up and down Perdido Boulevard along the beach. Souvenir City in Gulf Shores does have the most impressive entrance, however. They have a giant shark mouth in front of the door. It is rather cool to enter a building through a shark’s open mouth. At the very least, it is a great photo op for the kids. Souvenir City is a bit more modern and has a broader selection than the Purple Octopus. They also have a very good air-brush artist, Ken…… In addition to regular souvenirs like t-shirts and knick knacks, Souvenir City has some art items like sand sculptures, wooden carved creatures like dolphins and sharks. They have cute purses and a wide arrange of swimsuits. They have a sign in the swimsuit section that says “ask attendant for more sizes.” They have kids, mens, misses, and women’s sizes. One of the cutest sections of Souvenir City is a long aisle of stuff animals with an arch of cuteness. I loved the stuffed shark.
Not only do these two stores have souvenirs, they also have beach toys, beach blankets, and beach towels. They had floaties and boogie boards (the surf shop is across the street). Boogie boards are short, broad boards that are for skimming along the shallow shore. I have seen mostly kids play on these. “Falling” off a boogie board is more like just stumbling into the water. Still, I am too cautious of my joints to risk any kind of falling. But, I might try it this summer anyway.
The Purple Octopus and Souvenir City are cute and a great place as the last stop for a souvenir before you head back home. It is also a good place for the kids to run around and look at the aisles and aisles that remind them of their trip they just went on. Now that I am a resident of the area, I think there are so many other options for authentic household items to remember your trip to the Emerald Coast like local artists jewelry at the Prosperous Pelican in Orange Beach on Canal Road or “Artworks”, an artists’ cooperative at the Villagio in Perdido Key, but these two souvenir shops are great for those always popular tourist takeaways.
I love travel. I have traveled to many places in the United States as well as Europe. On my trip to Amsterdam and Brussels instead of getting a miniature Manikin Pies in plastic, I opted to pay a little more and get an authentic Delft tulip vase. When I went to New Orleans, I purchased a garnet necklace in the French Quarter by a local artist. Do not get me wrong. Souvenir City and The Purple Octopus are fun places. But when you go on vacation, think about what aspect of the trip you want to remember. Also, a t-shirt that says “Spring Break 1998, Gulf Shores, AL” what is the lifespan of that memory? Sure, you can brag to your friends for about a week, and I think airbrushed shirts are very cute. In fact, staff of G2K have gotten some to go to events, but is that the only way you want to remember your trip? Think about also getting a shell necklace, a carving of a sea turtle that you were lucky to see swim beside you while snorkeling, or perhaps a beach towel that every time you get out of the shower and dry off, so you can remember your time in the sun.
**There are tons of Souvenir Shops all over Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, these were just the first two were writing about**