Families for generations have always enjoyed Gulf Shores vacation. When many people refer to the Alabama Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores is often the beach that comes to mind. The oldest of the Alabama beach communities of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Orange Beach, the city has a special place in many visitor’s hearts.
Each of these three beachside communities offers visitors something different, but how do you decide which one meets your travel style? Read on to see how a Gulf Shores vacation checks off the boxes for your next beach getaway.
What Makes Gulf Shores Tick
Unlike the sleepy community of Fort Morgan, the City of Gulf Shores is a small, but bustling beach town. For families who want to be in the heart of the action, Gulf Shores is your destination. For a Gulf Shores vacation, the downtown beach area offers a variety of restaurants, shops and attractions, many in walking distance of Gulf Shores condos and beach houses. Teens love the main public beach area, and it’s easy for parents to keep an eye on everyone with spacious, wide-open beaches.
What’s New in Gulf Shores AL
The main public beach in Gulf Shores saw a makeover in 2018. The area, also known as Gulf Place, now includes grassy areas, picnic tables, shade, fitness areas and more. In addition, an AccessMat was installed by the City of Gulf Shores to make it easier for wheelchair travelers and anyone with limited mobility to get to the water during a Gulf Shores vacation. The 200-foot mat stretches from the sidewalk towards the Gulf and then runs parallel to the water. The mat is changing the way those in wheelchairs get to experience Alabama’s white-sand beaches.
Gulf Shores Events
If you love a great festival, then Gulf Shores is your go-to beach town. The Annual National Shrimp Festival is held the second weekend of October and offers four days of live music, arts and crafts and, of course, thousands of pounds of fresh, Gulf shrimp! The festival has been going strong for 47 years and is a fun (and delicious) addition to a Gulf Shores vacation
Oyster lovers should head south the first weekend in November for The Oyster Cook Off and Craft Beer Weekend at The Hangout. Celebrity chefs and Food Network stars offer cooking demos and local and regional chefs go head-to-head for the best oyster bites. There’s even an oyster shucking contest for festival goers! This two-day event includes a craft beer night where dozens of labels of brew can be sampled.
Less than a decade old, but one of the biggest events on Alabama beaches is The Hangout Music Festival. Gear up for three days of nearly non-stop music located directly on the beach in Gulf Shores. If you love to tap your toes and dance in the sand, this festival has your name on it. Festival extras include carnival rides, hammock beach, roller disco and even a wedding chapel. Held the third weekend of May, the festival hosts nearly 40,000 music lovers. However, if a three-day music festival doesn’t float your boat, we recommend a Fort Morgan or Orange Beach vacation during this weekend. Roads near the main public beach will be closed during Hangout Music Fest.
Where To Eat During Your Gulf Shores Vacation
There’s no shortage of good eats on a Gulf Shores vacation! Whether you love a great beachside dive like Bahama Bob’s or prefer something a little more refined like Bill’s By the Beach, dive in and dine out. Bahama Bob’s is a Gulf Shores tradition for many families. Simply walk up from the beach and feast on a shrimp po-boy with great views of the water.
Wine lovers can’t miss a dinner at Bill’s By the Beach during a Gulf Shores vacation. With one of the largest wine collections in Gulf Shores (more than 115 selections!), there’s a pour you’ll love. They are also known for Bloody Mary’s that are piled high with extras. It’s really a meal in a glass with shrimp, bacon and even a slider! Ruby’s Signature Shrimp & Grits and the Crab Cake Dinner are must-order dishes at Bill’s.
Gulf Shores Attractions
Water, water, everywhere, but you still must go to Waterville USA. The waterpark is packed with adrenaline-pumping slides, a lazy river, wave pool, and FlowRider. There’s even a separate area for younger kids to splish and splash. There’s also a wooden roller coaster, arcade and amusement park with go-karts.
Little, but mighty, don’t miss a stop at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. There are few places where you can hold baby kangaroos or personally interact with lemurs, and the beach zoo is one of those places. Fair warning! The lemurs love to take selfies and may just takeover your camera and phone!
Gulf Shores AL Condos
Whether you choose a condo or a Gulf Shores beach house, you’re close to everything. Beach houses offer a great option for large families or those who want additional privacy. Add a private pool to the mix and you’ve made your guests very happy! In Gulf Shores, there are accommodations on Little Lagoon, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll also find a great selection of pet-friendly vacation rentals.
Now, tell us, does Gulf Shores fit your vacation travel style? Stay tuned to find out how it compares to a Fort Morgan or Orange Beach vacation in our three-part series on travel styles.