Picture a perfect day at the beach: blue skies, a gentle breeze and turquoise waters lapping at the shore of a sugar-white-sand beach. Alabama’s 32 miles of pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico set the scene for holiday memories that will last a lifetime. The cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are located on what’s known to locals as Pleasure Island. When visitors reach the island and first glimpse the waterfront condos and colorful beach houses, and smell the fresh Gulf air, a sort of transformation is set in motion – life seems to slow down, and worries melt away. This family-friendly beach destination has seen generations return year after year, and with so much to see and do, it’s no wonder. Beyond the beautiful beaches, there’s a wide variety of activities and attractions for all interests and ages.
Seafood Fresh from the Gulf
As you might expect, seafood is the centrepiece of dining in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and an abundance of restaurants feature the fresh, local seafood for which the area is known. Area chefs and restaurants have garnered national attention for their use of local cheeses and produce, and several are included in the Alabama Department of Tourism’s list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die”. Restaurant varieties range from relaxed to upscale with choices for every dining style, including waterfront locations, open-air restaurants featuring live entertainment, and family-friendly options with children’s play areas, making many of the restaurants destinations in themselves.
Beyond the Beach
The fun doesn’t end when you venture off the beach. From zip lines and waterparks to golf courses and fishing charters, there are entertainment choices for everyone. Nature enthusiasts enjoy miles of walking and biking trails, dolphin cruises, diving or snorkelling trips. History buffs can step back in time and explore the area’s rich history at historic Fort Morgan and the local museums. And for shoppers seeking the perfect souvenir, the island’s many boutique, souvenir and specialty shops are perfect for treasure hunting.
To experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the coast on a grand scale, plan your trip during one of the area’s many festivals and events. The Wharf’s Boat and Yacht Show in March is the largest show of its kind on the Gulf Coast. The Hangout Music Festival takes place in May, right on the beach, and features three days of music on multiple stages. In October, The Annual National Shrimp Festival attracts more than 250,000 guests and features arts, crafts, children’s activities, live entertainment and of course, shrimp. November’s Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival features Grammy Award-winning songwriters as well as up-and-coming artists. Visit during the Seventh Annual Oyster Cook-Off in November and sample the creations of celebrity chefs from across the U.S.
Take in the View
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer a wide selection of accommodations from beachfront condos and national hotel chains to private beach houses and full-service resorts, with accommodations to fit any budget.