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Do you ever feel like you could use a vacation after the holiday craziness is over? We can relate. Start your year off on a high note with a trip to Gulf Shores in January! The offseason offers ample opportunity for rest and relaxation, and when you stay with Harris Vacation Rentals, you‘ll experience the best of the Alabama Coast during this special time of year. 

Keep reading to learn more about our top January activities and travel tips. Then, browse our vacation rentals to find your ideal home away from home! 

Things to Do in Gulf Shores in January 

Please note that some of the experiences listed below may have COVID-19 restrictions. Be sure to check each website prior to your visit.

Outdoor Activities

If you’re traveling from the frigid northeast, you’ll be happy with the weather in Gulf Shores, AL. Our area experiences mild winters with an average high of 60 degrees and low of 39 degrees. Snow is also a rare occurrence, which means you can spend plenty of time outdoors throughout the month of January. Some of our favorite recreational activities include: 

Indoor Fun

Of course, there’s always a chance that the weather might be less than perfect during your Gulf Shores getaway. That’s why it’s important to be prepared with a list of indoor attractions to entertain your group. Enjoy quality time with the ones you love while discovering the unique history of our area. A few places you won’t want to miss: 

Local Events & Happenings

There’s always something going on in Gulf Shores, even during the offseason. Visit a nearby restaurant/bar to chat with the locals and listen to live music. Or, head to the wharf for some festive winter fun. Either way, you’ll get a taste of what life is like here in January. 

Start Planning Your Stay 

Easy Day Vacation Rental

With mild weather, fewer crowds, and lots to do and see, January is one of the best times to visit Gulf Shores. Get the ball rolling on your next vacation by booking one of our luxury rental properties today! We have beautiful selection of homes in Fort MorganGulf Shores, and Orange Beach. Plus, our long-term rentals are perfect for an extended winter stay. Simply select your preferred travel dates and amenities, and we’ll take care of the rest! 

There’s nothing better than a memorable vacation to start the year off with a bang. Check our availability and begin planning your trip to Gulf Shores in January. We look forward to hosting you soon!

Do you reside in Nashville, Tennessee? Are you interested in planning a road trip to a fantastic beach destination? Pack the car and head from Nashville, TN, to Gulf Shores, Alabama! It’s the perfect change of scenery, and the travel time from Nashville to the Gulf Coast is a breeze. To learn how to make this dream vacation a reality—read on! 

When you arrive at your destination of Gulf Shores, AL, you’ll want to be sure to plan exciting activities to fill your time. Our TripShock program is the easiest way to plan all of your fun-filled adventures in one spot. The benefits of using TripShock include a user-friendly booking engine, secure payment, instant confirmation, and the largest selection of activities. 

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How to Get From Nashville, TN, to Gulf Shores

The distance from Nashville to the Alabama Gulf Coast is about 470 miles. You’ll arrive at your destination in no time! 

By Car

The most common way to travel from Nashville, TN, to Gulf Shores is via car. The drive from Nashville will take a little over seven hours. The quickest route begins on I-65 South, which you will stay on for 412 miles. You’ll take Exit 37 and get on I-10 East in Loxley from AL-59 South. Follow I-10 East for about 23 miles to Baldwin Beach Express. Take Exit 49 and follow Baldwin Beach Express, Foley Beach Express, and AL-59 South/Gulf Shores Parkway to your Gulf Shores destination.

Make Pit Stops Along the Way

If you’re not in a rush to get to Gulf Shores and are interested in making your journey into a road trip with some interesting pit stops, we’ve got you covered. Choose from these unique cities and make some stops along the way.

girl with zebra at zoo

 

By Plane

If a road trip isn’t your style, you can also fly into Pensacola International Airport. The flight time is less than an hour and a half. When you land, you can rent a car or take a transportation service and drive to Gulf Shores, which only takes about an hour.

Once You Arrive in Gulf Shores

dolphin

You did it! You’ve reached your destination and arrived in the one and only Gulf Shores! Now what? It’s time to relax, catch some waves, and soak up some rays of sunshine. There’s so much to see and do on the Alabama Gulf Coast; you’ll never be bored. Some favorite activities among locals include:

Browse our complete collection of things to do in our TripShock program and start getting excited about your vacation!

Find Your Perfect Gulf Shores Alabama Vacation Rental

vacation home with pool

Here at Harris Vacation Rentals, we have been helping families create their dream vacations come true throughout Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, for over three decades. We specialize in pet-friendly beach rentals so every family member can join you on your getaway. We are dedicated to making sure you have nothing short of a magnificent experience on the Alabama coastline. Our team is here to show you what true Southern hospitality is all about. With a solid reputation for providing unmatched customer service, we are proud to show you everything this beautiful region has to offer.

We offer beach rentals in all sizes to accommodate both small and large groups. Our beach rentals include condos and vacation houses directly on or near the white sands of the Gulf Coast, and many properties include private pools. Each of our Gulf Shores condos on the beach are kept in pristine condition and feature a myriad of amenities that will ensure you and your travel companions genuinely feel at home throughout your stay. All of our rental locations are conveniently within a short distance of the area’s popular attractions, activities, restaurants, shops, and of course, striking white sands and clear, blue waters. Browse our properties and find your perfect vacation spot today!

If you’re looking for the perfect place to celebrate the summertime with your family, Alabama’s Gulf Shores has everything you need! The Gulf Shores’ outdoor recreation is extraordinary! You can take in the spectacular wildlife or search for dolphins in the Gulf. The magic of Gulf Shores will leave you and your crew with lasting memories! For more vacation inspo and other Gulf Shores adventures, check out TripShock. When you book a Harris Vacation Rentals family vacation rental, you’ll even receive up to $100 off local tours and activities through TripShock. Planning the ultimate vacation has never been easier!

We Highly Recommend Taking Advantage of Gulf Shores Endless Outdoor Recreation Opportunities!

Spend an Afternoon at Alabama Gulf State Park

The Alabama Gulf State Park provides a Gulf Shores outdoor recreation experience like no other. This park boasts tons of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. You can start by strolling along the country’s largest paved trail network, then splash around on Lake Shelby and finally, snap a few family photos on the Gulf State Pier. A relaxing afternoon at Alabama Gulf State Park will leave you wanting more Gulf Shores adventures.  

Discover Wildlife at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

You have to see the stunning landscape of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge! This nature reserve extends along the Gulf Shores for nearly 7,000 acres, and it’s home to many species of flora and fauna. The Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round, and it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and bird watching. With so many unique creatures to see and beautiful vistas to capture, the whole family will be entertained for hours. 

Explore the Bay on a Guided Dolphin Tour 

Hop aboard a dolphin watching cruise for a remarkable outdoor adventure. Several local businesses offer guided tours of varying lengths. One of our family-friendly favorites is the Dolphin eco-tour. On this two-hour nature cruise, you’ll get to see the Gulf Shores from a different vantage point, explore hidden estuaries and, of course, spot the local dolphin pod! Trust us; the kids will thank you! 

Take Your Family to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is widely known as the “Little Zoo” for its starring role in The Little Zoo That Could on Animal Planet. However, despite its nickname, this “little zoo” houses 600 animals, 199 sub-species, and 22 endangered species. When you visit this tropical urban oasis, you’ll find yourself surrounded by curious sounds and a diverse array of animals. The zoo is adjacent to a nature preserve, spreads over 25 acres, and provides up-close sights of the animal exhibits to visitors of all ages.

In March of 2020, the zoo opened in a new park and welcomed record crowds. The new park features more innovative spaces, encourages public education programs, and emphasizes animal conservation. You’ve never seen a zoo quite like this one, so next time you’re in town, be sure to check it out.

Admire Art at Museums Near Gulf Shores, Alabama

The city of Gulf Shores has a rich history, filled with colorful characters, delicate architecture, and region-specific experiences. Throughout many of the museums found in the area, you’ll find exhibits and explanations for events of the past, and when you leave, it will be with a deeper appreciation for life on the Gulf. 

These fascinating museums will take you through time, art, and history by way of their captivating charm and historical significance:

Go for a Helicopter Ride With a Skilled Pilot

For a special experience over the cool blue water, take a helicopter tour in Gulf Shores. Picture yourself buzzing through the clouds, taking in all the views of the picturesque coast. Lost Bay Helicopter Tours offers a vast array of tours. Pick anything from an Island View Tour to a Sunset Tour and you’ll get to see the Gulf Coast like never before. If you think that’s  fun, take on another challenge and book a flying lesson! You’ll be guided by an experienced pilot with incredible knowledge of the skies!

Feel the Sand Between Your Toes

We know you’ve been dreaming of the Gulf Coast’s sugar-white sand and sparkling blue waters! What better way to spend your vacation than relaxing on these pristine and undiscovered beaches? Lucky for you, the Gulf Coast is home to gorgeous beaches in several locations, so you can relax on a different beach every day.

Take some time to explore the beaches in these three areas:  Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Each area has its own special charm and offers endless fun for the entire family. While you are in Gulf Shores, hit the water on a jet ski, kayak, or  stand-up paddleboard. Then, head to Orange Beach or Fort Morgan for a serene beach day away from the crowds. Here, you’ll have plenty of beach fun building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or reading a book in the sand. However you choose to spend your day, make sure it’s on the Gulf Coast.

There’s No Place Like a Harris Home

Once you’ve discovered what Gulf Shores has to offer, retreat to a perfect island-style vacation rental. Unwinding in a Harris Vacation Rentals home is ideal for you, your kids, and even our furry friend! Our private properties span from Orange Beach to Gulf Shores and offer plenty of space for everyone in your party. Make your home away from home on that’s just minutes away from the beach and give your family the getaway they deserve. Spend your spring break, summer, or any other vacation with us. We can’t wait to meet you! Browse our properties and contact us to book an unforgettable beach getaway today! 

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Memorial Day is right around the corner, and that means it’s officially time to start planning your getaway to Gulf Shores, Alabama! Come soak up the sun, build sandcastles, and enjoy the company of friends and family. On Memorial Day, we celebrate the beginning of a summer season filled with long weeks and weekends on Alabama’s white-sand beaches. So, what are you waiting for? Leave school and work behind and come celebrate Memorial Day Weekend in Gulf Shores!

If you’re planning to join us for an unforgettable Memorial Day Weekend in Gulf Shores, you’ll want to plan your itinerary ahead of time. There are so many amazing activities and attractions available along our sugar-white shores. And when you book a Harris Vacation Rentals family vacation rental, you’ll even receive up to $100 off local tours and activities through TripShock. Planning the perfect vacation has never been easier!

How to Celebrate Memorial Day in Gulf Shores

1. Attend The Wharf Boat and Yacht Show

Kick off the weekend with The Wharf Boat and Yacht Show. This highly-anticipated festival will take place March 20th – 22nd in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama. When you go, you’ll find over $150 million in boats and marine products on display, as well as  exhibitor displays, educational workshops, live music, and so much more. Book your stay in one of our Orange Beach vacation rentals to stay near the festival.

2. Hit the Beach

This Memorial Day Weekend, it’s all about the beach! Come relax on our sugar-white shores, sink your toes into the sand, and enjoy bonding with family and friends in a beautiful destination. Play in the Gulf, challenge your friends to a game of beach volleyball, and create memories to last a lifetime! Afterwards, head back to your Harris Property and have a cookout with friends and family. It doesn’t get much better than that!

3. Attend the Memorial Day Weekend Celebration

You definitely won’t want to miss out on the annual Gulf Shores Memorial Day Weekend Celebration. Head to the Park at OWA and bring in the beginning of summer. There will be tons of family-friendly activities and fun festivities, including a fireworks show on May 23rd! 

4. Celebrate the Beginning of Summer at LuLuPalooza

Boogie your way into summer at Lulupalooza! This free event held at Lulu’s offers tons of family fun, delicious food, and great live music. The concert starts at 12 p.m. on May 23rd, 2020 and goes all night long on the outdoor boat stage. But the fun doesn’t end there! While you’re at Lulu’s, make sure to climb the Mountain of Youth Ropes Course and win prizes at the Arcade. 

Book Your Stay in a Harris Property

Are you ready for an action-packed Memorial Day Weekend in Gulf Shores, Alabama? Experience your long weekend to the fullest when you book your stay in a Harris Property. We offer a wide range of gorgeous rentals in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Whether you prefer a beachfront property, a home with a private pool, a large family home, or a pet-friendly accommodation, we are sure to have the ideal vacation rental for your vacation. Check our availability and contact us to book your stay today

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There’s just something special about that first visit to the beautiful beaches in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of slipping off your shoes, walking barefoot across the sand and dipping your toes in the Gulf of Mexico. If it’s your first time visiting Gulf Shores, welcome! Read on to learn about some of the best things to see and do along our sugar-white shores.

Visiting Gulf Shores for the first time? Enjoy your beach getaway to the fullest when you book a Harris Vacation Rentals vacation rentalWe’ve got the best properties around!

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6 Must-Do Activities for Your First Gulf Shores Vacation

1. Visit the Welcome Center

 After settling into your Gulf Shores condo, the first thing you should do is visit the Gulf Shores Welcome Center. Get a coupon book for goodies like free desserts or appetizers at restaurants, as well as discounts on local attractions. Plus, hear about special events taking place during your visit from the friendly and knowledgeable Welcome Center staff.

The Gulf Shores Welcome Center also provides an official vacation guide, free Wi-Fi access, and public computer terminals. It’s open seven days a week, but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.

2. Take Your Photo at The Shark’s Mouth

Next, head to Souvenir City and get your picture taken in the shark’s mouth! It’s a longstanding tradition for families. After you walk through the attraction, browse the store, packed full of great T-shirts, glassware and other gifts to take home. Everyone enjoys the fudge!

3. Have a Blast at The Wharf

You could easily spend the entire day browsing the many shops, restaurants, and family-friendly attractions at The Wharf at Orange Beach. You’ll definitely want to check out the mini-golf courses, arcades, movie theatres, and Alabama’s longest zipline course. And if there’s one thing you absolutely must do, it’s ride the Ferris Wheel! This iconic landmark gives you tree-top views of the coast and costs just $5 per person (kids aged 3 and under ride free).  When night falls, make sure to stay for one of the SPECTRA shows. The popular sound and light spectacular happens nightly and is an experience like no other! Admission is free.

4. Listen to Live Music at Lulu’s

LuLu’s is a family-friendly destination restaurant located just over the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge. A favorite hangout for locals and visitors alike, LuLu’s takes the coastal theme to the extreme with great outdoor seating, children’s activities, and entertainment on stage every night of the week. It’s a must-see if you’re visiting Gulf Shores for the first time! 

 5. Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Take a walk on the wild side at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. The zoo, which opened in 1989, is now home to about 500 animals. See alligators, monkeys, lemurs, tigers and more. Get an up-close look at animals in their natural habitat! Play with lemurs, baby kangaroos and sloths. Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, you’ll love every second of your visit to this world-class zoo.

6. Take a Sunset Stroll Along the Beach

It may be last on the list, but it’s the one thing you absolutely have to do while visiting our beautiful beaches on a first-time Gulf Shores vacation. There’s just something magical about watching the sun sink low into the horizon before disappearing into the aquamarine Gulf waters. Who are we kidding? It’s something you’ll want to do each and every visit.

What Is the Weather Like in Gulf Shores?

Many of our first-time guests ask us when is the best time to visit Gulf Shores. Long story short, the weather is great all year ‘round! Fall is a beautiful season with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the high 40s. Winter doesn’t get much colder, though there may be some heavy jacket days in January and February. By spring, everyone’s ready to hit the beach again as temperatures warm up. Summertime brings highs near 100 degrees, but the cool breeze from the Gulf keeps it nice for beach-goers.

Where to Stay in Gulf Shores

When it comes to the best accommodations in Gulf Shores, AL, look no further than Harris Vacation Rentals! Our gorgeous vacation homes and condos have everything you need for a memorable first time visiting Gulf Shores. Whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront home, a rental with a private pool, or a large family home, we are sure to have the ideal accommodation for your getaway. Are you ready to make memories to last a lifetime? Browse our properties and contact us to book your stay today. We can’t wait to welcome you to paradise!

 

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You don’t have to travel all the way to New Orleans to experience a fantastic Mardi Gras celebration. In fact, no place throws a Carnival party quite like the Alabama Coast! With music, dancing, parades, costumes, and king cake, Mardi Gras Gulf Shores offers fun for all ages. Here’s what to expect at the 2020 extravaganza. 

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About Mardi Gras Gulf Shores

Bring on the beads! It’s almost time for Mardi Gras in Gulf Shores! Many people assume that New Orleans is the birthplace of Mardi Gras, however, the first celebration actually took place in Mobile in 1703. Now, this family-friendly event is one of the most anticipated events in Alabama! You can experience it for yourself during your next visit to Gulf Shores.

The celebrations last throughout February, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to join the fun. From parades and boat shows to live music performances and extravagant balls, there is something for everyone. Many of the events are family-friendly, which sets Gulf Shores and Orange Beach apart from other destinations. There is even a Mardi Gras Kid & Pet Parade, which is always a huge hit with the kiddos!

How to Celebrate Mardi Gras Gulf Shores, AL, in 2020

If you’d like to experience Mardi Gras 2020 in Alabama, you’ll want to plan your visit in February. The following are some highlights of this year’s event. Mark your calendar and start making plans to attend now!

Dress to impress in your finest purple, gold, and green attire. Lulu’s annual Birds of Paradise Ball will take place on February 19th at 7 p.m. The event will feature lively funk music by the Tip Tops, a delicious dinner buffet, and an open bar. Enjoy a fabulous evening of music, dancing, and laughter. Tickets are limited and $75 per person, so get yours today! 

Let the good times roll! This festive parade will take place on Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21st. Don your best mask and watch the extravagant floats glide by. Following the parade, visitors who are 21 and over can head to the Orange Beach Event Center for The Mystical Order of Mirams Ball. 

If you missed out on the Mystical Order of Mirams Parade, don’t fret! There will be another Mardi Gras parade on Perdido Beach Boulevard on Saturday, February 22nd at 6 p.m. All ages are welcome to enjoy the fun. 

If there’s one parade you absolutely must attend, this is it! The 2020 Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade is one of the biggest celebrations around and it’s happening on Tuesday, February 25th at 10 a.m. The extravaganza includes an array of colorful floats, antique cars, costumes, and characters throwing buckets of beads into the crowd. 

After the Gulf Shores Parade, the Fat Tuesday fun continues at Lulu’s! This celebration on the water will begin at 11 a.m. and continue until the late hours of night. Enjoy live music, a dazzling boat parade at 3 p.m., delicious food, drinks, costumes, and more. 

Are you planning to celebrate Mardi Gras in Orange Beach in 2020? Don’t miss the annual Fat Tuesday Parade! This event always draws a large crowd, and this year is expected to be bigger and better than before! It starts promptly at 2 p.m. on February 25th along Perdido Beach Boulevard. 

Bring your kids, bring your dog, and have a blast at The Wharf at Orange Beach! MoonPies on Main is happening on Monday, February 24th. DJ-spun music starts at 4 p.m. and kids activities begin at 5 p.m. With a jump castle, rock climbing wall, petting zoo, and face painting, this is one Mardi Gras event your kids will love. Make sure to stay for the Kid and Pet Parade  and the SPECTRA Sound and Light Show! 

Book Your Stay With Harris Vacation Rentals

Now that you know about the best Gulf Shores Mardi Gras celebrations, it’s time to start planning your trip! If you’re searching for accommodations in the area, we invite you to stay with Harris Vacation Rentals. We offer a wide range of family-friendly vacation rentals in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. Many of our accommodations are also pet-friendly for guests who are traveling with their four-legged friends. The best part? All of our accommodations are located a short distance from the best Mardi Gras parades and festivals! Whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront home, a rental with a private pool, or a luxury home, we are sure to have the ideal Harris Property for your stay. Browse our properties and contact us to book your trip today! We look forward to seeing you this February. 

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If you’re planning a trip to Gulf Shores, you’ve probably already know about popular attractions like Waterville, USA , The Hangout, and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. But what about the area’s best-kept-secrets? If you’re looking to explore Gulf Shores off the beaten path, we’ve got you covered! Pack your bags, book your vacation rental, leave the itinerary to us. Here are three of our favorite lesser-known activities and attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. 

Here are the best things to do in Gulf Shores off the beaten path.

Experience Gulf Shores Off the Beaten Path

1. Alabama Fishing Charters

Have you ever wanted to explore the hidden backwaters and beaches along the Alabama Coast? Now is your chance! There are several fishing charters to choose from in Gulf Shores. However, if you’re looking for a more unique experience, we recommend taking a tour with Nelson Fishing Charters. Tours are captained by Gator Nelson and Matt White, who will navigate you to all of the best fishing holes and hidden gems along the Alabama Coast. From pontoon reef trips and dolphin cruises to nature tours and fishing trips, they offer a little bit of everything. Their local knowledge and experience makes for a fun and interesting tour every time!

2. Orange Beach Waterfront Park

Trade the Gulf waters for a day on scenic Wolf Bay. Orange Beach Waterfront Park is an ideal spot where families with small children can relax and enjoy some quality time together. The water is shallow and calm, and there is a small beach area. Watch the kids build sandcastles, or bring a kayak or stand up paddleboard and paddle away in smooth bay waters. A 400-foot fishing pier offers covered pavilions with seating. Bring your fishing pole and cast a line right from the pier. 

The park is open year-round and is rarely crowded, even on a typical summer day. Picnic tables and grills make it easy to spend the entire day at the park. Restroom facilities are nearby, and an outdoor shower is available to rinse the saltwater away before heading back to your Orange Beach vacation rental

Are you traveling with dogs? It’s also important to note that Orange Beach Waterfront Park is dog-friendly, which is just another reason that we love it so much. Bring your pooch and enjoy a day splashing in the water! 

3. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

You may have hiked or biked the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, but did you know that there are more scenic trails to explore? Just a short drive from Gulf Shores, the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge offers 7,000 acres of protected trails and beaches just waiting to be explored. A great destination for birdwatchers, the refuge is a stopover for more than 300 species of migratory birds. 

If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, you will definitely want to plan a visit to the refuge. Away from all the crowds, there’s a large secluded beach area that feels like a private oasis. Numerous trails offer miles of opportunities to see native wildlife. Relax by the beach and then get out and explore miles of scenic trails. Or, take a short hike along the one-mile-long Jeff Friend Trail and launch your canoe or kayak into Little Lagoon. The possibilities are endless! 

Book Your Stay With Harris Vacation Rentals

Experience Gulf Shores off the beaten path when you book your stay with Harris Vacation Rentals. We offer a wide range of vacation rentals in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Orange Beach. Whether you prefer an intimate condo, a luxury home, or a beachfront property, we are sure to have the ideal vacation rental for your getaway. We also offer pet-friendly properties for guests who are traveling with their four-legged friends. 

If the quiet and tranquility of Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge appeals to you, consider spending your vacation on the Fort Morgan Peninsula. We offer a variety of Fort Morgan rentals near the refuge, including beautiful beach houses and condos. If you prefer to stay near Orange Beach or Gulf Shores, consider booking your stay in Adagio. This great 3-bedroom cottage is ideal for a memorable Orange Beach vacation (and it’s pet-friendly!). Enjoy being just minutes from the waterfront park. 

Are you ready to start planning your family beach vacation? Browse our properties and contact us to book your stay. We can’t wait to welcome you!

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It can be difficult to choose the perfect location for your family beach trip, especially when there are so many amazing options along the Alabama Coast. Where are the best beaches? Are there plenty of activities, dining options, and shops near your vacation rental? What is the nightlife like? Many of our guests ask these types of questions when trying to decide between Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach for their family vacation. To help make planning easier, we have highlighted a few differences between these two great locations. Read on to learn more and choose the destination that’s right for your family!

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Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach: What’s the Difference?

The Gulf Coast is home to the best beaches in the country – it’s no secret. Whether you choose to stay in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, you’ll experience equally beautiful beaches in both locations. Sugar-white sand, sparkling aquamarine waters, and plenty of sunshine await at either destination. Both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach also offer extremely fresh seafood, access to scenic hiking and biking trails, watersport rentals, great shopping and dining. So, what is the major difference? While either of these amazing destinations would be a great choice for your beach getaway, it depends on your family’s personal preference.

Enjoy Exciting Activities in Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores offers more activities and attractions such as Zooland Mini-Golf, Waterville USA, the Gulf Coast Zoo, The Track Family Fun Park, South Baldwin Community Theatre, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and much, much more. From amusement parks and family-friendly fun to exciting nightlife and entertainment, the list of things to do in Gulf Shores is endless. If you’re searching for a vacation rental located in the heart of it all, this would be a great option for your stay. Whether you seek adventure or total relaxation, the possibilities are endless in Gulf Shores! 

Relax and Unwind in Orange Beach

On the other hand, Orange Beach offers a quieter and more laid-back beach vibe. If you’re more interested in lounging by the shoreline during your getaway, this may be more your speed. Cast a line into the Gulf, play a round of golf at Orange Beach golf course, or enjoy spending time with family in your Harris Property. Orange Beach also has its fair share of attractions and activities as well. The Wharf at Orange Beach is your ultimate destination for family fun. Here, you’ll discover fabulous shops and restaurants, Alabama’s longest zipline course, breakout games, arcades, charter boat cruises, mini-golf, a Ferris wheel and more. 

Have the Best Family Beach Vacation With Harris Vacation Rentals!

When it comes to choosing between Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach, you really can’t go wrong. Either destination would be an excellent option for your family beach getaway, especially when you’re staying in a Harris Property! Unlike Orange Beach hotels or Gulf Shores hotels, our spacious vacation rentals offer a unique lodging experience that you won’t find elsewhere. Choose the exact home you want, whether it’s a pet-friendly accommodation, a rental with a private pool, a beachfront property, or a luxury home. The whole family will have plenty of room to unwind and socialize after a fabulous day of adventure!

Harris Vacation Rentals offers vacation rentals in three amazing locations: Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Choose the location that’s right for your family and get ready for your next unforgettable trip to paradise. Browse our properties and contact us to book your stay. We can’t wait to welcome you!

The Gulf of Mexico is home to the most beautiful beaches in the world — it’s no secret. Spanning more than 150 miles, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is known for its dazzling aquamarine waters and sugar-white sand. From swimming and paddling to hiking and waterfront dining, the list of things to do at the Gulf Shores National Seashore is endless! Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy a day in paradise.

For more ideas about things to see and do by the Gulf Shores National Seashore, check out our Activities page. It’s full of tips about the best local activities, excursions, tours, and more. And, when you book a Harris Vacation Rentals family vacation rental, you’ll even receive up to $100 0ff local tours and activities through TripShock. Vacation planning has never been easier! 

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Gulf Shores National Seashore: Top 5 Things to Do

1. Dive into the Gulf

With pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water, it’s no wonder so many are drawn to the natural paradise that is Gulf Shores, Alabama. There are endless water activities to enjoy here, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, boating, diving, snorkeling, and more.  Fly high amongst the clouds on a parasailing adventure, dive to colorful underwater reefs, or cast a line into the sparkling Gulf waters. Do you prefer to stay on land? Lounge by the shoreline and soak up the sun, beach comb for shells and other treasures, or simply sink your toes into the sand and relax. The possibilities are endless! 

2. Indulge in Waterfront Dining and Shopping

When you’re ready to take a break from the sun and surf, head indoors for a delicious meal overlooking the Gulf. Some of our favorite waterfront dining spots on the Gulf Shores include Lulu’s, The Hangout Gulf Shores, and the iconic Flora-Bama. The Wharf at Orange Beach also features a wide array of fabulous dining and shopping options. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual meal or a gourmet four-course dinner, there is something for everyone here!

3. Enjoy Exciting Tours and Attractions

Are you searching for the best dolphin excursions? Perhaps you’re interested in taking everyone on a sunset cruise. No matter what your family decides to do, you’ll have a blast exploring the many attractions in Gulf Shores. Play a round of mini-golf, race go-karts at the Track, or take the kids to the Gulf Coast Zoo, or make a splash at Waterville USA. After a fun-filled day of adventure, come rest your head in your comfortable Gulf Shores vacation rental and relax.

4. Take a Step Back in Time

Discover Gulf Shores’ rich and fascinating past! History-buffs will love exploring the local museums, historic forts, and other sites along the Gulf Shores National Seashore. Discover what life was like for this region’s earliest inhabitants at the Gulf Shores Museum or catch a live reenactment at Fort Morgan historic site. And if you’ve never taken a tour of the Swift-Coles Historic Home, you’re in for a very special treat. With incredible architecture and a unique story, it’s easy to envision what life was like during the Gilded Age in the South.

5. Explore the Great Outdoors

Calling all nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts! Beautiful beaches are not all that the Gulf Shores National Seashore has to offer. In fact, this region is home to miles of scenic hiking trails, state parks, and wildlife refuges. Gulf State Park is one of the most beloved landmarks in Alabama filled with great spots for hiking, fishing, or lounging by the shoreline. Are you interested in wildlife-viewing or birding? Make sure to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to see Alabama wildlife in their natural habitat! Keep an eye out for common and rare animals including bobcats, red foxes, armadillos, alligators, and six-lined race runners. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Book Your Stay in a Harris Property

After an amazing day by the Gulf Shores National Seashore, come kick back and relax in a Harris Property. We offer a wide range of vacation rentals in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Whether you prefer a home with a private pool, a beachfront condo, a pet-friendly accommodation, or a luxury property, we are sure to have the ideal accommodation for your family beach getaway. Plus, you’ll enjoy being just minutes from all of these amazing activities and attractions. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us to start planning your beach vacation today! We can’t wait to welcome you.

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Imagine yourself soaring above the glittering Gulf of Mexico, the wind in your hair, as you take in the jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes below. Your heart is racing in your chest, but you laugh out loud, because this is the most fun you’ve had in years. This is just the beginning of what it’s like to embark on a Gulf Shores, Alabama, parasailing adventure. Words simply don’t do it justice; you’ll just have to experience it for yourself!

Don’t forget to book your Gulf Shores vacation home with Harris Vacation Rentals. We’ve got the best properties around!

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Your Guide to the Best Gulf Shores, Alabama, Parasailing

1. Ike’s Beach Service

Have the best sky-high adventure with Ike’s Parasail in Gulf Shores, AL! This company boasts the highest and longest parasail flights on the entire Gulf Coast. Guests are flown from a whopping 800 feet of line, which is the maximum allowed by the FAA. Excursions last 8 – 10 minutes and offer unparalleled vistas of the beaches and sparkling Gulf. Enjoy the views while you soar through the clouds! In addition to parasailing, Ike’s offers an array of other water sports in Gulf Shores. From kayak and paddleboard rentals to banana boat rides, they do it all! 

2. Pleasure Island Parasail

Calling all thrill-seekers! Would you like to experience a simulated parachute drop? Sign up for an excursion with Pleasure Island Parasail. With several different locations throughout the area, this company will take you as high up as you’d like to go! Whether you’re a beginner or a parasailing pro, they will accommodate all ages and levels of experience. Enjoy a gentle and relaxing glide over the Gulf of Mexico. Or, get your heart racing with a simulated free-fall landing. The possibilities are endless! Pleasure Island Parasail also offers tandem parasails, jet ski rentals, pontoon rentals, and more. No matter what you decide to do, you’re sure to have a blast!

3. Blue Sky Parasail

Another one of our top recommendations is Blue Sky Parasail. This experienced team of certified US Coast Guard captains ensures a safe and fun experience every time! Blue Sky Parasail only uses state-of-the-art equipment and they can accommodate a wide range of group sizes. Custom packages are also available if you’d like to enjoy multiple activities with your adventure, such as jet ski rentals or banana boat rides. 

Book Your Gulf Shores Getaway With Harris Vacation Rentals

Now that you know about the best Gulf Shores, Alabama, parasailing, it’s time to plan your getaway! When it comes to accommodations in the area, no place can compare to Harris Vacation Rentals. Our vacation rentals are conveniently located near all of the best things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama, including dolphin tours, kayaking, diving, fishing, boating, and more.

Whether you’re searching for a pet-friendly rental, a home with a private pool, or a beachfront rental, we are sure to have the ideal property for your stay. We can accommodate groups of any size, for any occasion. Browse our properties and contact us to book your Gulf Shores getaway today! We can’t wait to welcome you!