Fall is culinary festival season along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have become a culinary mecca. Foodies from far and near converge on Alabama beaches for fun, sun and endless eats. Whether you’re a wine lover, seafood aficionado or just love a fun festival with great food and live entertainment, you’ll find a Gulf Shores or Orange Beach festival that’ll tickle your taste buds.
Read on for some of our favorite festivals and book your beach vacation rental before the other foodies decide to cook up a good time on Alabama beaches this fall.
If you’re looking for the perfect activity to add to a couple’s Gulf Shores vacation or a beach momcation, The Wharf Uncorked Wine & Culinary Festival is it. With more than 100 wine labels available for sampling, you’ll definitely find the pour that’s right for you. Culinary masters will give cooking demonstrations throughout the Orange Beach festival, and local restaurants will offers samplings of their most unique and popular dishes.
Main Street at The Wharf closes down for the wine festival, and ticketed guests are given a branded wine glass for sampling, in addition to other swag bag goodies. Tickets to the Orange Beach festival start at $60 per person.
Pack your stretchy pants for the 47th Annual National Shrimp Festival. This Gulf Shores festival is one of the longest-running events on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Thousands of pounds of fresh, Gulf shrimp are served up daily by award-winning chefs. Even if shrimp isn’t your cup of tea, festival goers will find plenty to chow down on and stay entertained. Beach concerts and live entertainment will take place throughout the four-day Gulf Shores event, including more than 300 arts and crafts and fine art vendors.
Admission to the Annual National Shrimp Festival is free.
One of our favorite Gulf Shores events, The Hangout Oyster Cook-Off & Craft Beer Weekend boasts the best in creative oyster preparations and ice-cold craft beer. Regional and local award-winning chefs and restaurants compete for the People’s Choice award for their oyster creations. Stick around for cooking demonstrations by Food Network stars, including Martie Duncan, Cory Bahr and Rusty Hamlin. James Beard Award finalists will also be on hand at the Gulf Shores event.
Admission to The Hangout Oyster Cook-Off is $10 per person and tasting ticket booklets are $30 for 15 tickets.
The biggest event in food sport will be played out at The Wharf. This Orange Beach festival hosts more than 1,500 chefs and home cooks who compete in nine different culinary categories, including barbecue, chili and steak. Onlookers at the World Food Championships can watch chefs go head-to-head in the competition kitchens and then race their dishes to the judging tent. The VIP Lounge is the best spot to catch all the action, but tickets sell out quickly.
Tickets can also be purchased for a Progressive Yacht Dinner, where a small group of diners go from yacht to yacht for five different courses. In 2018, the Tasting Pavilion will be bigger and better than ever before and will showcase savory samples of dishes from local and national food brands.
Harris Properties has the perfect vacation rental for you and your traveling group! Click here now to browse our rentals by bedrooms in Orange Beach.
Ignore that school bell. On Alabama beaches, summer is still in session! Spend the last days of August soaking up the sun and creating vacation memories with family before the kids hit the books. There are plenty of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores events to keep you as busy as you want to be.
When you’re not building sandcastles, kayaking or treating the family to their favorite beach breakfast spots, check out these hot, late-summer Orange Beach and Gulf Shores events and get back to the beach before back to school.
ARRR you ready for a unique Gulf Shores breakfast? Stop by The Hangout with the kids. Don’t forget your best princess and pirate costumes!
Tap your toes to two of country music’s biggest stars, Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town at The Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach on Aug. 2. Grab a bite to eat at your favorite Orange Beach restaurant at The Wharf before the concert, and then take a post-concert Ferris wheel ride and enjoy the night sky.
Bring your appetite for the last Southern Grace dinner of the season at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina. The grand finale features Emeril Lagasse of Food Network acclaim.
There are no other Gulf Shores events like this one! Watch uniformed re-enactors tell the story of one of the most significant battles fought on the Alabama Gulf Coast. There will be cannon fire, small arms demonstrations and much more.
Grammy-winning Imagine Dragons will take the stage at The Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach for their Evolve Tour on Aug. 7.
Get your dancing shoes ready for Dancin’ in the Streets DJ Night at The Wharf on Aug. 11. DJ Matt will create a boogie-worthy block party from 7 to 10 p.m.
Don’t miss the gravity-defying feats of the Blue Angels at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in nearby Pensacola, Fla.
Keith Urban will rock the stage, country-style, at The Wharf Amphitheater on Aug. 25. Don’t miss your chance to tap your toes in person!
Start your Labor Day weekend off with a run in Gulf Shores! Then, you won’t feel guilty for all that great food you devour during your Gulf Shores vacation.
One of the most-anticipated culinary events of the year takes center stage at The Wharf. For the 5th year in a row, The Wharf Uncorked Wine & Culinary Event will serve up more than 100 wine labels for sampling, as well as delicious culinary creations from local and regional award-winning chefs.
White-sand beaches and clear turquoise water as far as the eye can see are hallmarks of an Orange Beach vacation. Alabama beaches are comprised of three main vacation spots – Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan.
The sister cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach blend together, and many visitors don’t recognize where one ends and the other begins. However, each offers its own unique qualities. Guests who’ve been coming for generations are oftentimes loyal to one city or the other. However, if you’re a first-time visitor, catch up on each area in our three-part series on the individual travel styles of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan.
An Orange Beach vacation is filled with spacious, white-sand beaches, especially near Alabama Point. Here, you’ll find visitors sunning, swimming and snorkeling. Robinson, Bird and Walker Islands are also located near this area and provide a beautiful setting for a day of fun in the sun. Only accessible by boat, these islands are popular spots for boaters on the weekends and kayakers during the week on an Orange Beach vacation.
Visitors who want to experience the islands can rent a pontoon boat at Flora-Bama Marina and spend a half or full day cruising the waterways. Beach your boat and set up your chairs for the day. If you’re not an experienced boater, go kayaking with Coastal Kayak Excursions. Captain Glenn will provide you with a guided tour of the backbays or transport you and your kayak to Walker Island where you can spend the day paddling through the crystal-clear water.
An Orange Beach vacation isn’t complete without a trip to The Wharf. This shopping and entertainment district is a hot spot for fun located on the Intercoastal Waterway. Home to the Hummingbird Zipline, a miniature golf course, the tallest Ferris wheel in Alabama and a 10,000-seat amphitheater, there’s an activity for everyone! The amphitheater has hosted Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Florida-Georgia Line and many more. You’ll also find a great assortment of Orange Beach restaurants at The Wharf, including the award-winning Bayes Southern Bar & Grill.
Visitors are flocking to Orange Beach for its unique culinary offerings. Foodies have found a new cuisine-centric destination in this coastal city. Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina boasts a James Beard Award nominee in Chef Bill Briand. This waterside restaurant prepares world-class dishes in a coastal comfortable atmosphere. On the opposite side of the menu is The Gulf, a waterfront restaurant made entirely of shipping containers. There’s no shortage of Instagram-worthy entrees at either of these unique Orange Beach restaurants.
Orange Beach is also home to the World Food Championships, where more than 1,500 chefs and home cooks compete for bragging rights and prize money. In addition, wine enthusiasts will enjoy The Wharf Uncorked Wine & Culinary Event. More than 100 labels are available for sampling at the wine festival during your Orange Beach vacation.
Orange Beach is considered the charter fishing mecca of the southeast. With more than 100 charter boat captains and one of the largest artificial reef systems in the country, it’s a haven for seasoned fishermen and those casting a line for fun. People come from all over the country for an Orange Beach vacation to watch or participate in some of the biggest fishing tournaments in the southeast.
The Blue Marlin Grand Championship of the Gulf hails from The Wharf in Orange Beach and is held every July. Hundreds of anglers cruise out to the Gulf in hopes of claiming a piece of the $1 million prize money. Billed the “greatest show in sportfishing,” spectators are invited to view the weigh-ins and are entertained with a boat parade, as well.
Held in May each year, the Orange Beach Billfish Classic means big fish and big money! Weigh-ins for this Orange Beach fishing tournament are held at The Wharf.
For those who want to cast a line and reel in a great Orange Beach vacation, it’s easy to book a charter fishing trip with an experienced captain from nearly any marina in this beachside city. Choose a four- or eight-hour trip or even an overnight Orange Beach charter fishing trip.
From spacious Gulf-front condos to bayside beach houses, you’ve got plenty of accommodation options during an Orange Beach vacation. You’ll find a great selection of dog-friendly vacation rentals, as well. When determining your travel style, ask yourself if you’d prefer a community pool with beachfront access or if the additional privacy of a beach house better meets your needs.
Now, let’s hear it. Read our entire Travel Style series and tell us which Alabama beach community best meets your travel style.
Summer fun unofficially kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, and for many that means sun, sand and surf in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. While the calendar gives us three days to soak up the sun, build sandcastles and enjoy the company of friends and family, it’s really only the beginning to a summer season filled with long weekends at the beach or even week-long adventures on Alabama’s white-sand beaches. But, for this one weekend each year, a whole different level of excitement is in the air as families leave the school books behind and embark on their annual trip to Alabama beaches.
You can feel the energy and promise of a memorable summer the moment you drive over the bridge into Gulf Shores. From toe-tappin’ tunes to cannons firing to celebrate our military history, there’s something for every member of the family.
The Wharf Concerts and Dining
Plan ahead and get your tickets now for the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach on Sunday, May 27. Arrive early and have pre-concert cocktails and appetizers at Ginny Lane Bar & Grill. You can’t go wrong with the Fried Green Tomatoes and Blackened Shrimp or the Loaded Nachos! If you decide to start your Memorial Day vacation early, arrive early on May 24 to see Dwight Yoakam in concert at The Wharf.
While you’re still at The Wharf, stay for the SPECTRA Sound and Light Show. It’s like no other on Alabama beaches and incorporates choreographed lighting effects with music. The Wharf closes down Main Street so the kids (and adults) of all ages can dance to music from their favorite movies and bands. Shows are held nightly at 7:30 and 8 p.m. and are the cherry on top of a family-friendly Memorial Day weekend. There’s plenty more to do at The Wharf, too! Play a round of miniature golf, laser tag, shop or just watch the boats come and go at the marina.
Orange Beach Vacation Rentals near The Wharf
Just a short drive from The Wharf is Coastal View in the Tradewinds complex in Orange Beach. You and your crew can enjoy incredible Gulf-front views from the 10th floor in this one-bedroom condo. Despite being a one-bedroom condo, you can still sleep six comfortably with the hallway bunk beds and a sleeper sofa in the living room. You may never want to leave, but with the beach just steps from your door, we do encourage venturing out!
Historic Fort Morgan
History will come alive at historic Fort Morgan during its annual Memorial Day Tribute on May 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Interpreters in full military uniform will perform demonstrations of period drills, including artillery demonstrations at the water battery. It’ll be an exciting day to relive history and celebrate the memory of those who gave their lives during battles at the historic fort.
Fort Morgan Vacation Rentals
Stay close to the action, but enjoy the quiet seclusion the Fort Morgan area offers at Brainstopper, a luxurious eight-bedroom Fort Morgan beach house. Your stress will melt away as you kick off summer with up to 26 of your closest friends! Brainstopper is ideal for multi-generational family vacations with grandparents, aunts and uncles.
If there were ever two things that went together perfectly, it would be holidays and food. Add the beach into the mix and you’ve got a trifecta of goodness! What could be more perfect than a hearty helping of barbecue on Memorial Day weekend? Stop by Hog Wild BBQ in Gulf Shores for eats you’ll want to write home about. Our must-try dish is the Tantrum sandwich. This delish dish is piled high with signature pulled pork under French fries and topped with white barbecue sauce.
If you’d rather relax on your balcony than wait in a restaurant, you’re in luck! You can order your barbecue to go through Gulf to Go, a restaurant delivery service that makes house calls in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. Gulf to Go offers delivery from more than 20 Gulf Shores and Orange Beach restaurants. It’s perfect for those days when you’ve had a little too much fun and sun and a Gulf breeze in a comfy patio chair is calling your name.
No Memorial Day beach vacation would be complete without a heaping helping of seafood. Prior to your arrival at your Gulf Shores vacation rental, ask if your rental’s kitchen comes equipped with a stock pot or other large pot. Plan a low country shrimp boil with all the fixings – Gulf shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. Stop by a Gulf Shores seafood market like Blalock Seafood & Specialty Market to purchase shrimp directly off the boat. Insider tip! Pick up a container of smoked tuna dip, and prepare to share it! You’ll want to pick up a pint to take back home with you, too! Consider it an edible souvenir from your Memorial Day beach vacation!
We’ve talked about Memorial Day events and eats, but what you’re really coming for are the beaches! Park your flip flops in the sand and enjoy the sun and surf of a Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation. Pack your star-spangled swim trunks, and spend the day playing beach volleyball, building sandcastles and relaxing with an ice-cold drink.
The Gulf State Park pavilion and pier are both popular spots to set up camp for the day. However, you can also have your own slice of paradise when you book a Gulf Shores rental. Gulf-front beach houses are great options for those who want to spread out and take in the view. Somewhere in Time 1 and Somewhere in Time 2 are quaint beach houses just steps from the Gulf of Mexico. Both comfortably accommodate up to 12 guests and are pet-friendly rentals, as well. You’ll have no trouble celebrating the summer from the deck of a beachfront, Gulf Shores vacation rental.
What else should you check out while you’re toasting the summer on Alabama beaches? Be sure to read our blog and explore these 4 Hot New Beach Attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Don’t miss this top tip for saving money on your next vacation rental, too.