20 Reasons to Vacation on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

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Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama are exceptional vacation spots for the family!  There are so many things to do in Gulf Shores from relaxation to adventure, you’ll find something special there for everyone in the family.

With an endless array of sights, activities, and natural beauty, the clear blue waters and white-sand of the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores beaches provide the ideal spot for fun and relaxation.

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The top attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach revolve around the water.

The beaches are free to the public so your family can lay out on the beach for hours and build sandcastles.

Gulf State Park also offers access to several miles of the coastline, along with Lake Shelby, where visitors can swim or try their hand at various water sports.

You can also take a dolphin tour or enjoy the water slides at Waterville USA.  After a day in the sun, head over to The Wharf in nearby Orange Beach for an evening of shopping and dining.

orange Beach

Best Beaches In Gulf Shores

Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway with the family, your hubby, or maybe you are in need of a solo vacation Gulf Shores has everything you need.

Wanna go parasailing or sit on the dock fishing?

In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, there are miles of pristine white quartz sand washed by blue-green Gulf waters.

Gulf Shores beaches are a year-round attraction, whether you came to swim, sunbathe, get in some yoga at sunrise or take a romantic walk at sunset.

Here are a few of my family’s favorite beaches on Alabama’s Gulf Coast: Even though the beaches are not private there is enough space to build sandcastles, lounge, or just listen to music without bothering your neighbor.

  1. Alabama Point East 
  2. Gulf Shores Main Public Beach 
  3. Lagoon Pass Beach
  4. Cotton Bayou 
  5. Gulf State Park Pavilion
  6. Romar Beach 

The warm blue Gulf waters off of Alabama’s coast will make you forget all of your worries and relax.  The water was so warm that it literally felt like a sauna!  

After a full day at the beach, your next task should be figuring out what to eat for dinner.

Where to Eat in Gulf Shores

Speaking of dinner, the biggest delight for me was the massive number of seafood restaurants.

 Everyone knows how much I love seafood!!

 If I could eat seafood every day I would, and Gulf Shores offered a variety of restaurants for every palate.

Two of my favorites were Acme and LuLu’s.  

Both offer more than just great seafood, which is important because even though I love seafood my husband does not; so if you have picky eaters in your family these are still good options because they offer a variety of dishes.  

At LuLu’s you can sit waterside and watch the boats come while waiting for dinner.

My favorite restaurant is Acme because of the chargrilled oysters.  

I have been a fan of Acme for years since I first ate at the one in the New Orleans French Quarter.  It is the largest of any of the Acme Oyster Houses and it has the same open-air concept.  

The staff is just as friendly and prompt, and the char-grilled oysters did not disappoint.


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Things to do in Gulf Shores

1. Wharf in Orange Beach

The Wharf is home to one of the largest Ferris wheels in the South.

There are also zipline tours, laser tag, bazooka ball, and excursions from the marina, or sit back and enjoy live performances, dinner, and shopping in the Wharf. 

2. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is home to over 500 exotic animals including lions, tigers, primates, wolves, and reptiles.

You can even get close and personal with animals like kangaroos, lemurs, snakes, and sloths.

Bird-lovers from across the country also flock to the Gulf Coast to enjoy the different Orange Beach and Gulf Shores birds.

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail features several bird-spotting locations including the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, which has recently been extended and now winds more than 27 miles through Orange Beach.

The Branyon area is one of the last intact maritime forests in coastal Alabama and an important stopping point for millions of migrating birds each spring and fall.

Keep your binoculars handy for everything from tiny hummingbirds to majestic herons.

3. Dolphin Tours

Gulf Shores plays host to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, including bottlenose dolphins. You can get up-close to these playful mammals by joining in on a dolphin cruise.

Dolphins typically travel in pods, so you’re likely to see several animals on any excursion you take.

There are several different tour operators in the area, most of which leave from nearby Orange Beach. 

Fun Boats Dolphin Cruises earns routine praise from recent visitors not only for the number of dolphins seen on the tour but also for the company’s well-known water fight on deck.

I also recommend Cetacean Cruises for its relaxing atmosphere and friendly, knowledgeable crew.

4. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Taking its name from the French phrase meaning “safe harbor,” Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of stunning wildlife.

Each year, migratory songbirds stop on the refuge’s land to rest and eat before continuing their migration along the Alabama coastline. In addition to the various birds,

Bon Secour also preserves endangered species like sea turtles and the Alabama beach mouse. To take in the wildlife, visitors can hike one of the refuge’s trails, kayak, or canoe through its waters or try their luck at fishing.

5. Waterville USA

The park, which spans 20 acres, offers both water and theme park rides.

Visitors can float their way down the lazy river, brave the waves in the wave pool or shoot down one of several waterslides.

Meanwhile, those looking to stay dry can take advantage of Waterville’s amusement park, which features attractions like mini-golf and go-karts.

6. Alligator Alley

See over 450 alligators from hatchlings to mature adults, relaxing, sunbathing, courting, and nesting in their natural environment with an opportunity to feed them.

Meet Captain Crunch who is 13 feet, 2 inches long, and weighs over 800 pounds. He holds the world record for bite strength at 2,982 pounds.

Where to stay in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

If you are traveling with a crowd or best relax when surrounded by the comforts of home, then Alabama Gulf Coast beach houses have got you covered.

Choose an Orange Beach or Gulf Shores vacation rental right on the sand or in a community with public beach access nearby.

Your beach house will grant you space and amenities to maximize your time away.  

Visiting the area this weekend or next?   Check for Vacancies.

1. Turquoise Place

I stayed at Turquoise Place and I don’t know where to start because this place was so AWESOME!  Every little detail from the decor to the amenities.

 I loved the assigned parking and it’s all in a 3 level garage!  Wristbands that work as access cards similar to theme parks, which are ocean/waterproof.

 It just made it easy to access your room without searching for keys.  The indoor pool was never busy and always clean, which included a sauna and steam room.  

 My room was huge and opened up to an outside patio right on the beach.  If you decided you wanted to stay in and cook dinner instead of eating out; each unit is equipped with stainless steel appliances and utensils in the kitchen.  

The living room was spacious and the bathrooms are huge!!  I will most definitely be going back.

Spacious white-sand beaches stretch across the Gulf of Mexico setting the stage for memorable days in the sand and surf with those who mean the most.

Enjoy a gated and secure atmosphere for a worry-free vacation experience.

Click here to book now!


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Kiva Dunes Resort, located within a conservation area on the Fort Morgan peninsula minutes from Gulf Shores, is home to over a mile of sugar-white beaches, natural lakes, and vibrant greenery, perfect for a beach-side escape. 

The resort at Kiva presents Alabama’s coastal beauty and charm with vacation rentals range from coastal homes to fully-furnished condos – each offering varying access to the resort’s four poolstwo restaurants, and over 3,000ft of private beachfront

Click here to book now!



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Discover the most secluded vacation destination in Orange Beach, because you deserve to get away from it all.

Designed with families in mind, they offer a wide range of relaxing condos and amenities.

You won’t have to go far to enjoy luxuries such as our lazy river, pools, slides, saunas, hot tubs, tennis courts, and more.

A vacation to Gulf Shores offers the same sandy beaches,  outdoor adventures, and great dining you’d find in other faraway places, but Gulf Shores is a short drive from Tennessee, Arkansas, or Louisiana.   Have you vacationed in Gulf Shores?

Click here to book now!


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4. The Lodge At Gulf State Park

The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel is located on the white sands of Gulf Shores, AL.  The location inside the naturally beautiful 6,150-acre Gulf State Park makes us a truly unique destination because of their size and the diversity of our preserved ecosystems.

Their commitment to sustainable tourism is evident throughout the property. Enjoy beautiful beach and park views from our guest rooms, suites, and restaurants.

The beach location provides easy access to a host of water activities.

Dine on locally sourced, freshly prepared cuisine at our 5 restaurants. Each offers a unique flavor and feel and all participate in meaningful sustainability initiatives.

Click here to book now!


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When to Visit Gulf Shores

The best times to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama is March through May and September through November.

I suggest going in the off-season because summers and extremely busy and substantially more expensive. 

If you decide to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in late spring and early fall the weather is still warm, there are a variety of festivals during these months.

If you’re interested in visiting during the summer months of June, July and August be aware these are three of the area’s wettest months and also the most popular.

You’ll also want to book your hotel or vacation rental well in advance if you’re visiting in the summer to secure the best price.


Weather in Gulf Shores




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What is your favorite thing to do in Gulf Shores?  I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


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  1. Truthfully l would never have thought about Alabama as a travel destination. I had no idea they had beaches too. Very cool. Must reconsider next time we are close by. Thanks for sharing :-).

  2. Oh wow!! Like you I have my own preconceived notions about visiting beaches in the US. I always prefer the Caribbean because the water is so blue/turquoise and the sand is so soft/clean. I am happy to read your post on the Alabama Coast. I might actually have to make a weekend getaway. Oh and I’m definitely down for the seafood. Thanks.

  3. I would never think to visit Alabama as a vacation destination. But this post makes me think what I might be missing. Because I love a good foodie vacation!

  4. Right on time! I’m moving to a new country this summer and my passport will be hemmed up by a foreign consulate. I’ve been building a list of domestic locales I could enjoy while I’m home, totally forgot about the Gulf Shores. Saved!

  5. I love your reasons to visit Alabama. I’ve never been. Give me good food, and I will visit anywhere… I mean, as long as it is safe!

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