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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Spring officially ushers in the high tourist season along the Alabama Gulf Coast – and Alabama’s very own Pleasure Island. By early May, the island will be teeming with vacationers. It’s likely you’ll require more than a week to see all the attractions, eateries, bars, and things to do and events in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, but if a week is all you have, that’s ample time to hit the must-do’s.
When it comes to beach grub, there’s the iconic establishments like Bubba’s, Lulu’s at Homeport, Tin Top, Tacky Jacks, The Hangout, Mikee’s, Sea ‘N Suds, DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen, Doc’s Seafood Shack, and of course, the infamous Flora-Bama. But there are some off-the-beaten path restaurants like Anchor, Flippers, Our Cigar Bar, Coastal Kitchen, O’Choppers, Snappers Lounge, Barefoot Island, and Our Cigar Bar, just to name a few. When it comes to imbibing in a bushwhacker or cocktail with an umbrella, there are dozens of juke joints, honky-tonks, and thatched, pool-side tiki bars to get your drink on. Cheers!
Got a condominium full of little ones? Pleasure Island offers things to do away from the beach like Waterville U.S.A., The Track, Adventure Island, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, The Hangout and much more. If you’re on a budget, there’s plenty to do on the cheap with the kids like Waterfront Park, Gulf State Park Pier, Fountain of Youth at Lulu’s and, naturally, the beach! Yeah, we got beaches—dozens of miles of powdery, snow-white sand. From West Beach to Gulf Shores to Cotton Bayou and Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, it’s endless beach as far as the eye can see.
April and May also means the shoulder season, which means festivals like the Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party. What’s that? Glad you asked. It’s an intimate beach bash for three days at the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package along with tens of thousands of folks from across the country gathered for one purpose: to toss a lifeless mullet from Florida into Alabama and to party in paradise.
Like classic Southern muscle cars? In late April, The Wharf holds its annual Bama Coast Cruise. In May is The Hangout Fest, a three-day music fest held right on Gulf Shores Public Beach, featuring a variety of live music from Friday to Sunday night. Got wine? The Orange Beach Wine Fest in mid-May offers a plethora of crushed grapes at Caribe the Resort, while the Hot Air Balloon Festival in neighboring Foley in early May gives tourists a bird’s-eye-view of Baldwin County.
Lodging options run the gamut from small beach cottages to plush beachfront homes to cozy condos and swanky penthouses. Depending on your lodging budget and needs, the Alabama Gulf Coast offers all kinds of price points. Whether you’re looking for lodging for a romantic getaway for two or a large home for a family reunion or a baseball team, the area can accommodate your needs. But keep in mind, rates don’t dip in the high season.
The beautiful beach communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are no longer a secret, and with good reason. The beaches are some of the most pristine and stunning in the country, while the culinary and entertainment landscape captures the best of the Deep South. So, come on down, y’all. What are you waiting for? The Alabama Gulf Coast is waiting for you.
March is not only one of the most beautiful months that you can spend in Gulf Shores, but also one of the most entertaining! Between concerts, festivals, and more, visitors who decide to come to Gulf Shores during March will have no shortage of fun and fantastic things to do while they’re here.
Below, we’ve put together a brief list of just a handful of the many events that will be taking place in Gulf Shores during March that you won’t want to miss. We hope that you enjoy these events as much as we will!
On March 8th through 10th, the renowned Kiva Dunes Golf Club will host a tournament benefitting kids participating in junior golf. From 9:00am until 4:00pm on those days, golfers can pay $100 to play, and public spectators can watch the event for free. Lunch is provided for players during the event, and awards will be presented in the clubhouse after the event.
Held in Orange Beach each year, the Festival of Art celebrates the talents of artists specializing in watercolor, textiles, wood, paint, sculpture, pottery, glass, and even culinary and musical arts. This year’s celebrations will take place on March 11th and March 12th, from 10:00am until 5:00pm daily at the Waterfront Park. Admission is free to the public, and public parking is available.
The legendary country music performer Luke Bryan will pay a visit to Gulf Shores with special guests Brett Eldredge and Brett Young on March 17th and March 18th, playing at the Amphitheater at The Wharf from 7:00pm until 10:00pm on both nights. General admission to the pit seating costs $79.75, and reserved seating is priced at $79.75 and $39.75.
In March of each year, vendors and dealers in fine watercraft gather in Orange Beach to showcase the latest and greatest in marine technology to the public. Admission is priced at $10.00 per person, though kids ages twelve and under may enter for free. This event will take place on March 23rd through March 26th, from 10:00am to 7:00pm each day.
During the last Saturday of March and October of every year for the past forty years, the nearby town of Elberta hosts a free, fun, and delicious German sausage festival that benefits Elberta’s volunteer fire department and other local nonprofit organizations. This year, the festival will be on March 25th from 8:00am until 5:00pm.
To learn more information about the exciting upcoming events that Gulf Shores has to offer when you book your stay in one of the lovely local Harris Properties vacation rentals in the area, contact our team of dedicated reservation specialists and ask about what you can expect to do or see during your time here!
For the last 43 years in Orange Beach, Alabama, you always knew that spring had arrived when the incredible festivities of the Orange Beach Festival of Art ensued. Well, it is about that time of year again, and the festival goers around here can barely contain their excitement because they know that 43rd annual celebration will be just as memorable as each one before it! Here is what you can look forward to at this year’s two-day celebration on March 11th and 12th, 2017 at Alabama’s premiere art festival.
As the name suggests, the festival is all about celebrating art, and the featured artists will not disappoint. Between the over 100 artists that show up at the festival, you will find every type of art imaginable, such as wood-working pieces, watercolors, oil paintings, jewelry, clay, fish prints, and everything in between. There is so much variety that everyone in attendance is sure to be captivated by the work here—even those who are not artistically inclined.
While you are being visually captivated, you can also enjoy amazing live music acts. You can experience everything from solo folk artists to 8-piece rock bands, all of which embody the casual pace of life on Orange Beach. The best part of this amazing festival is that it is completely FREE!!
This year’s featured artist is Bobby Goldsmith, who happens to be the Best of Show Winner of 2016. He is a known pencil artist, and works with graphite to make his beautiful art. He strives to bring the viewer into his life. He invites them to see and feel things from his perspective, at that particular point in time. He’s an amazing landscape artist, and we are more than happy to have him this year!
Between enjoying the sights and sounds of all the amazing art here, you can enjoy some leisurely activities. There are endless opportunities to do some art of your own, with crafts and painting lessons, and the kids art alley makes this the perfect event for the whole family.
Of course, no celebration in Alabama would complete without amazing food with great friends. That is why the festival provides some of the most delicious food that you will find at any festival. Countless food options with a special emphasis on Southern and coastal cuisine will be available at affordable prices. Some of the area’s favorite restaurants and specialty food and drink shops will be attendance. You will find that the events and displays here all share an emphasis on easy coast living, something that is not difficult to embrace on this beautiful beach.
What you have at the Annual Orange Beach Festival of Art is an amazing collection of artists and the people who love art. It is an unforgettable experience that will have you coming back to this amazing location year after year. Make the trip out to the Alabama coast and experience the best ever Orange Beach Festival of Art.
The easiest way to get there is to find parking at the Wharf, take a $2.00 shuttle to:
26389 Canal Rd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
Or, click here for further directions! To learn more, check out the website: orangebeachartcenter.com today!
No matter what time of year you decide to come visit, there are several constants in Gulf Shores: the beautiful climate of tropical weather, the breathtaking natural environment, and the plethora of fun-filled activities and events that you can experience here.
With as many events as there are in Gulf Shores, there are some that naturally rise to the top of our list of the events you won’t want to miss. Continue reading on to learn more about five of the events that you should absolutely check out in Gulf Shores!
When: February 28, 2017 from 10:00am until 11:00am
Where: Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Each year during Mardi Gras, the city of Gulf Shores kicks off its celebrations in style with its very own parade. Beginning with the famous Pleasure Island Players and the Mystic Order of Shiners, this annual end-of-February parade—one of the oldest in all of Baldwin county—has thrills and entertainment galore.
When: March 23-26, 2017 from 10:00am until 7:00pm daily
Where: 4550 Main St., Orange Beach, AL 36561
Taking place near the end of March every year, the Wharf Boat and Yacht Show showcases the latest models from boat manufacturers and dealers throughout the southeastern United States. With vessels, marine electronics, engines, outdoor equipment, and fishing gear on display worth millions of dollars, there’s no shortage of cool items to see!
When: May 19-21, 2017 from 11:00am until 12:00am daily
Where: Gulf Shores Public Beach at 101 E. Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
This annual three-day music event takes place every May, the weekend before Memorial Day, on the beach of Gulf Shores and highlights the musical talents of a myriad of artists across multiple genres. Ranging from local up-and-comers to musical giants, the lineup of this fantastic festival includes artists like Weezer, Shaggy, Chance the Rapper, Twenty One Pilots, Band of Horses, The Strumbellas, and more.
When: July 12-16, 2017 daily
Where: 4673 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach, AL 36561
Each July, Orange Beach becomes the home of one of the most incredible fishing competitions in all of the Southeast. Anglers from all over gather to attempt to catch the greatest-sized blue marlin of them all, according to specifications set by the competition. Come test your skills out on the water!
When: October 12-15, 2017 from 10:00am until 10:00pm daily
Where: Gulf Shores Public Beach at 101 E. Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Attracting upwards of three hundred thousand people each fall, the Annual National Shrimp Festival brings together musical entertainment from all around the country, freshly caught seafood prepared by award-winning chefs, sand sculpture contests, activities for children, arts and crafts, fine art, car shows, 5k and 10k races, outdoor activities like fishing and hunting, and a singing competition involving local high school singers competing to win scholarships. It’s got something for everyone!
Contact our team of reservation specialists to find out information about these events and more of the exciting activities and attractions that await you in Gulf Shores when you decide to choose the lovely vacation rental properties that are available through Harris Properties for your trip accommodations today.
Nestled along the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Gulf Shores is a lively beach town with plenty to do and see, making it the ideal vacation destination for when you want to escape to the beach for a long weekend. While you’re here, be sure to check out some of the area’s best restaurants, sightseeing hotspots, and scenic beach locales! Below, we’ve put together a brief list of just a few of the many great places that you should visit when you want to have a great time in Gulf Shores. We hope that you enjoy these spots as much as we do!
Bahama Bob’s Beach Side Café has some of the freshest, most delectable seafood around. When you’re feeling peckish for cuisine straight out of the ocean, try Bahama Bob’s coconut shrimp, fried crawfish, or the fresh shrimp salad po’ boy sandwich. Wash it all down with the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Bahama Bob.
If you’re in the mood for something other than seafood, try the hearty breakfast and brunch options at Kitty’s Kafe. Their eggs benedict and country breakfast dishes are to die for, and their Bloody Mary cocktails are a steal for only two dollars.
For a taste of local natural environment of the Gulf Coast, you’ll want to visit the beautiful and tranquil Wade Ward Nature Park. Between its breathtaking views of the wetlands from the boardwalk and its fascinating wildlife, Wade Ward Nature Park is a fun way to experience Gulf Shores outdoors. If you have your pet with you, you may also want to check out the Gulf Shores Dog Park, where your furry companion can explore to their heart’s content.
No trip to Gulf Shores is complete without soaking up the warm Alabama sunshine on the beach! Gulf Shores Public Beach is renowned for its pristine, soft white sand and its idyllic views of the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching for over six miles, this beach connects to West Beach, both of which provide unbeatable sightseeing opportunities. Here, you can gaze out over the crystal-clear waters and let the tide wash your cares out to sea.
As temperatures drop and the rest of the country begins to turn chilly, the lovely beach town of Gulf Shores is far, far removed from the frigid winds, icy rain, and slowly building snow you might see elsewhere. Our temperatures may feel more like a summertime beach, resting comfortably in the 60s to mid-70s and dropping to the low 50s to high 40s at night for the majority of the season, but we still celebrate the winter season in style. Read on to learn more about the fantastic events and other holiday festivities coming to Gulf Shores in 2016!
Beginning November 3rd and ending November 13th, Gulf Shores will host the 32nd Annual Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival, where festival-goers can have an intimate concert experience, attend listening rooms, and learn more about the stories behind the songs written.
On November 4th and 5th, you can satisfy your oyster cravings at the 9th Annual Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout, where celebrity chefs and breweries from across the country team up with local chefs and brew masters to cook delicious seafood and serve delectable craft beers with live music.
Local institution Flora-Bama hosts its annual Thanksgiving Potluck on November 24th to take the stress out of your Thanksgiving preparations and share with the community, while the Santa Drop on December 10th allows kids to see Santa drop into Gulf Shores by airplane and safely land on the gorgeous white sand beaches behind Flora-Bama!
From November 25th through December 31st, the Bellingrath Gardens and Home—a beautiful historic home with extensive and exquisite gardens—are open for the Magic Christmas in Lights event, with the exception of Christmas Day. This holiday light display features over 15 scenes comprised of 1,000 set pieces and 3 million lights, spread throughout the entirety of the 65-acre estate gardens and accompanied by nightly choral performances, free-flowing hot chocolate, and opportunities to take photos with Santa!
To make the trip to Bellingrath Gardens even more memorable (and save yourself a few hours of driving), take the beautiful Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan at Mobile Point to Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island. This scenic trip takes just 40 minutes and offers a breathtaking view of the Bay and its inhabitants, including various birds and marine life. To learn more about the Mobile Bay Ferry, visit www.mobilebayferry.com.
At Harris Properties, we love sharing the beauty of our little town on the Alabama Gulf Coast by providing high-quality vacation rental properties and superior customer service. Having a nice to place to stay and friendly staff members to help you out only sweetens the vacation experience!