Alabama’s sister cities of Orange Seaside and Gulf Shores are a pure playground with 32 miles of public seashores with white sugar sand and heat blue gulf water. Between them sits Gulf State Park, with in depth trails by all 9 coastal ecosystems. All of this enjoyable and sweetness is complemented by scrumptious eating places, thrilling nightlife, and distinctive locations to remain.
As Alabamians, we’ve visited the state’s southern coast many instances and have compiled this record of our high ideas and tips so you possibly can have one of the best Orange Seaside / Gulf Shores trip ever! We’ll provide the inside scoop on what to do, the place to eat, the place to remain, and when to go to so you possibly can discover like a neighborhood.
Plan Your Seaside
Going to the seashore solely counts as soon as your toes hit the sand, so we’ll begin there. We wrote a whole article concerning the 13 Finest Seashores of Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside. It’s a superb learn with bunches of knowledge layered into interactive maps, however right here’s the thin.
Fort Morgan Peninsula has 15 miles of pristine seashores with loads of privateness. Gulf Shores has 3.5 miles of seashore with many entry factors with showers and restrooms, together with a choice of eating places simply off the sand. Gulf State Park has just a few well-developed parking and entry areas with distinctive sights just like the Gulf State Park Pier and Gulf State Park Pavilion. Orange Seaside has 4.5 miles of sand that completely enhances staying in seashore condos. Lastly, from Perdido Go to the Florida Line is a self-contained seashore expertise with “one among the whole lot,” together with a snorkeling space and Alabama’s widest swath of sand.
Professional Tip – A seashore trip begins with selecting your seashore. Can’t resolve? Attempt just a few
Take pleasure in Gulf State Park
We consider Gulf State Park separates Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside from different Gulf Coast locations. It has 6,150 acres of pure areas encompassing all of the coastal ecosystems, together with two miles of seashores. The truth that a nature protect of this magnitude is so near seashore cities is exceptional, however the well-developed multi-use path system is phenomenal.
USA Immediately named the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Path one of the best leisure path within the nation for 2023. It’s a 28+ mile paved path system for leisure riders (or hikers or wheelchairs) with a number of exit factors that may accommodate even essentially the most severe bicycle owner.
Professional Tip – Gulf State Park has a complimentary (sure, free!!!) bike share program.
Discover Bon Secour Nationwide Wildlife Refuge
Congress established Bon Secour Nationwide Wildlife Refuge to guard neotropical migratory songbird habitat and threatened and endangered species. It’s an vital stopover and staging habitat for migratory songbirds through the fall and spring migration, making it a world-class chicken location. The refuge additionally protects the final remaining undisturbed seashore mouse habitat in Alabama.
Guests of Bon Secour NWR can benefit from the 2-mile Pine Seaside Path because it winds by the coastal ecosystem, previous a birding tower between Little Lagoon and Gator Lake, and thru the dunes to achieve the secluded Pine Seaside. It’s not solely a journey by nature however a visit again in time earlier than Alabama’s coast was developed.
Professional Tip – Pine Seaside is essentially the most secluded seashore on the Alabama Coast.
See the Dunes at Johnson Seaside Nationwide Seashore
Technically in Florida, the Johnson Seaside Nationwide Seashore presents guests an opportunity to get misplaced in dunes of pure white sugar sand. It’s a seven-mile seashore on the far east finish of Perdido Key. A park street accesses the primary three miles; the ultimate 4 can solely be accessed by foot or water.
The farther east you stroll, the extra “pure” the surroundings turns into. You may even understand that “Johnson Seaside” could possibly be a double entendre . Even and not using a stroll on the wild aspect, the Nationwide Seashore incorporates essentially the most lovely dunes west of Santa Rosa Island.
Professional Tip – Mix a visit to Johnson Seaside across the Blue Angels observe schedule for added pleasure and fly-bys.
Take the Ferry to Dauphin Island
The Cellular Bay Ferry to Dauphin Island is greater than a handy method to hyperlink Alabama’s seashores to Mississippi’s coast and the metropolis of Cellular.. It’s typically thought of “the Gulf Coast’s Most Scenic Drive” and saves vacationers hours of driving time by offering a journey hyperlink throughout the mouth of Cellular Bay.
The 40-minute journey between Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan at Cellular Level supplies fabulous views of the 2 historic forts that when guarded the doorway of Cellular Bay. You may even see birds, dolphins, or different sea life alongside the best way.
Professional Tip – Go to the Alabama Aquarium on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to “justify” the journey.
Go to the Previous at Fort Morgan
Cellular Bay is likely one of the most beneficial waterways in America. Cellular was based as the primary capital of French Louisiana years earlier than New Orleans was established. It’s additionally the seaport for the Tenn-Tom Waterway, a 234-mile man-made waterway that linked the Tennessee River to the Gulf of Mexico that required 1/3 extra earth moved than constructing the Panama Canal! Guarding the doorway to Cellular Bay are the once-vaunted Fort Morgan and Fort Bowyer.
Fort Bowyer prevented the British from taking Cellular through the Warfare of 1812, and its improve, Fort Morgan, stored the Accomplice port of Cellular open because the South’s final port till the ultimate months of the Civil Warfare. Through the Battle of Cellular Bay, Union Admiral David Farragut shouted his well-known quote -“Rattling the Torpedoes – Full Velocity Forward!” Whereas the precise textual content may need modified with historical past, working by a torpedo subject (tethered mines) was a greater possibility than going through the withering hearth from Fort Morgan, resulting in a Union victory. Immediately, the location is a dwelling historical past museum that showcases the evolution of American seacoast fortifications.
Professional Tip – Admission to Fort Morgan is free for lively, reserve, or retired army with ID.
Attempt a Paddle Path
Do you know that Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside haven’t one however two paddling trails? The Orange Seaside Canoe Path has 12 designated canoe path websites posted alongside Wolf Bay, Bay La Launch, Arnica Bay, Bayou St. John, and Cotton Bayou. In August of 2019, the Again Bay Blueway was launched, which takes guests by Coastal Alabama’s distinctive waterways with a complete of 21 launch websites on 4 distinct trails: Fort Morgan Path, Little Lagoon Path, Gulf State Park Path, and Orange Seaside/Wolf Bay Path.
These trails provide you with entry to the again bays, the place you’ll discover dolphins, eagles, osprey, and extra as you paddle on flat water. You possibly can hire kayaks from a number of native firms and even guide a guided naturalist tour.
Professional Tip – Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside have over 100 miles of premier paddling adventures.
E book a Boat Tour
Orange Seaside is likely one of the premier leisure boating areas alongside the Gulf Coast. It’s completely sized for tour boats to tour Wolf Bay on sundown dolphin excursions that vary from romantic class to kid-friendly playful. You’ll additionally discover marinas near Perdido Go with a brief sail to the Gulf of Mexico, the place you possibly can go scuba diving, deep sea fishing, or simply benefit from the wind and the waves.
We love Orange Seaside for boating since you’re on an island that separates the again bays from the Gulf of Mexico, and these distinctly totally different experiences are solely a few miles from one another.
Professional Tip – Plan a “add on” exercise to a ship tour like scuba diving paired with kayaking or Wolf Bay paired with the Wharf.
Eat Early and Search for Paper Coupons
We hope you’re hungry in any case these enjoyable issues to do as a result of this subsequent part of trick and ideas is all about Eating in Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside. Our first tip may sound like one thing your grandparents would counsel, however perhaps they’ve realized one thing of their journeys across the solar.
First off, Alabama’s seashores have a occurring blissful hour. It’s not simply consuming, both. You will get scrumptious appetizers and small plates at a number of the coast’s finest eating places at kicking costs. If you wish to save much more cash, you’ll discover old-school coupon books in places throughout city, however essentially the most complete assortment is at Welcome Facilities.
Professional Tip – Test in on the Welcome Heart for reductions on actions too!
Search for Hidden Eating places
There isn’t any scarcity of Orange Seaside and Gulf Shore eating places, however a number of the finest ones are hidden in plain sight. For instance, Alabama’s first licensed inexperienced restaurant is the Safari Membership exterior of Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. You possibly can eat a inexperienced and clear dinner whereas listening to the animals settle right down to mattress, however you may by no means realize it as a result of the zoo closes at 4:00.
One other hidden gem is lodge eating places just like the Lodge at Gulf State Park signature eating places Foodcraft and Perch or Voyagers within the Perdido Seaside Resort. You get scrumptious meals, typically at a waterfront desk, and perhaps even with stay music too. The closest eating to the water isn’t even in a restaurant in any respect, however a catered seashore picnic from the Seaside Mothers.
Professional Tip – Hidden eating places make unbelievable date concepts.
Prepare dinner Your Catch
Orange Seaside is called the “Purple Snapper Capital of the World!” and a bunch of fishing charters are ready to take you offshore to check your luck. Add in surf fishing, fishing piers, and the area’s in depth again bays, and also you simply may get hooked.
Fishing is enjoyable, however making an attempt to maintain your catch recent till you get residence isn’t. Plus, there’s nothing like freshly caught seafood. That’s the place Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside “Prepare dinner Your Catch” eating places are available. They do all of the work. All it’s a must to do is eat and luxuriate in.
Professional Tip – Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside Tourism has an in depth record of “Prepare dinner Your Catch” institutions.
Expertise Nightlife on the Wharf
The Wharf is coastal Alabama’s premier leisure district, with loads of leisure & sights, eating places & eateries, bars & tasting rooms, and buying to go round. Nonetheless, the enjoyable doesn’t cease when the solar goes down.
From stay music to laser mild exhibits, you’ll discover one thing to stimulate your senses with a “to-go” plastic cup in your hand. Come for a ship tour or a chunk to eat, however be sure you keep for the enjoyable. If you happen to’re planning on “an excessive amount of enjoyable,” Springhill Suites is simply across the nook .
Professional Tip – The Wharf has a ten,000-seat amphitheater with a significantly good lineup.
Keep at The Lodge at Gulf State Park
With regards to locations to remain in Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside, have you ever heard of the Lodge at Gulf State Park? They attempt to be “A Distinctive Vacation spot On The Alabama Gulf Coast The place Nature Is At Your Doorstep” and hit the mark ten-fold. It’s on the seashore, subsequent to Gulf Park Pier, with a pedestrian bridge main throughout Seaside Blvd to Lake Shelby. The lodge is embedded in Gulf State Park however solely 2-miles from the primary Gulf Shores Seaside.
With distinctive places comes distinctive duty, and the Lodge at Gulf State Park works in live performance with the park’s naturalists to be the premier stewards of the land. The truth is, they’ve a mission assertion to “be a global benchmark for environmental and financial sustainability, demonstrating finest practices for out of doors recreation, training, and hospitable lodging.” They begin with in depth recycling packages, solar energy, turtle-safe lighting, and storm water-safe parking, nevertheless it continues past there. Landscaping utilizing native species that may thrive with out irrigation, chemical pesticides, or fertilizers includes 75% of the location, and a dune rehabilitation program offsets all of the land displaced throughout building.
Professional Tip – The Lodge is a Hilton Property, so earn and use your Hilton Factors.
Lease a Penthouse
The Emerald Coast from Gulf County, Florida, to Gulf Shores, Alabama, has lengthy been considered a driving vacation spot for your complete household. There are numerous condos to select from in Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside, however why not go large? Stay out your individual Actual Housewives of Florabama fantasy in a luxurious rooftop apartment at Turquoise Place.
Think about watching the sundown out of your personal, wrap-around balcony with a scorching tub included. Get up to a panoramic dawn from the main bedroom, then clean up with a soak in your jetted jacuzzi tub with a Gulf view or double rain bathe. Possibly ship the children right down to play within the 450′ lazy river and actually benefit from the facilities. It’s not each day you get a double bathe! Talking of children, they’ll love the direct seashore entry, and also you’ll love the countless provide of seashore towels that by no means want to return upstairs.
Professional Tip – Lease instantly from Spectrum for complimentary breakfast, lounge entry, and extra!
Beat the Crowds With Fall Shoulder Season
This may appear paradoxical, however one of the best time to go to Alabama’s Seashores, based on Climate Spark, isn’t the busy summer time season. It’s the autumn shoulder season when the skies clear and the warmth and humidity abate, however the ocean continues to be heat sufficient to play in. Once you embody lodge specials, uncrowded seashores, and shorter dinner traces, it’s a no brainer!
Until you will have children who’re out of faculty, you’ll need to come within the spring or fall shoulder season. Who is aware of, perhaps you’ll have a lot enjoyable you’ll come down for each. It looks like we at all times discover a cause to go right down to Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside.
Professional Tip – Even when it’s “wet” on the seashore, it normally doesn’t rain all day
See the Blue Angels
The Blue Angels are a flight demonstration squadron of the US Navy and the second-oldest formal aerobatic group on this planet. The “Blues” return to their residence base in Pensacola, Florida, in March and proceed working towards all through the present season, which ends in November. Then, they return to their winter roost in El Centro, California, till the subsequent season.
You possibly can see the Blue Angels in Pensacola’s two annual airshows, the Pensacola Seaside Airshow in July and the Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow in November. There are much more viewing alternatives as they take to the skies over Pensacola for about 40 practices all through the present season. Since Naval Air Station Pensacola is simply about 20 miles from Orange Seaside, it’s straightforward to bike Perdido Key, kayak Massive Lagoon, take a seashore day at Johnson Seaside, or guide a ship tour down the coast to see the present.
Professional Tip – Test the Blue Angels observe schedule for extra particulars.
Gas up in Foley
It’s a few 45-minute drive from I-10 right down to the Alabama coast or an hour and a half out and again. Which, in automobile phrases, is a half tank of fuel. You’ll almost definitely must get fuel someplace, so why not plan forward? It simply makes cents. Plus, you will get the potty breaks and snacks out of the best way, so that you’re able to rock and roll if you get to city.
There are numerous apps you should utilize. We like GasBuddy or simply trying to find “fuel” on Google Maps. If you happen to don’t want fuel, the Gulf Shores Welcome Heart has clear bogs and many good data for guests.
Professional Tip – Use the GasBuddy Journey Price Calculator to save cash alongside your route
Making the Most Out of Your Orange Seaside / Gulf Shores Trip
There you will have it, 17 ideas and tips to go to Alabama’s Seashores from skilled vacationers who occur to stay in Alabama. You don’t must observe each one among them, however we hope you’ll have seen no less than one that may make your journey to Gulf Shores and Orange Seaside just a bit cheaper, just a little extra enjoyable, or each
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