Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Public Beach Gulf Shores

public beach Gulf Shores with picnic tables and shade pavilions
Click to enlarge photo
The public beach in Gulf Shores is our most crowded beach. It has the most available parking, and it is the primary beach that many locals, day-trippers, and visitors who are not staying in beachfront accommodations go to. So, if you like a busy beach buzzing with activity and lots of happy people, this is the one for you.

Where to find it: Located at the dead end of Gulf Shores Parkway (Hwy 59 South), the public beach offers parking for a fee of $15 per day (7am – 2am), paid at self-service kiosks you’ll see scattered around the lots. To find the parking lots, you can go straight through the stoplight at Gulf Shores Parkway and Beach Blvd or turn right onto West Beach Blvd. There are more parking lot entrances on your left and your right within the first block or so you travel.

What it has: The public beach has a lot to offer. Not only is it our largest beach, but it also has a beautiful new boardwalk, volleyball courts, grassy areas, shady pavilions, picnic tables, clean new restrooms and shower stations, and some nice beachfront restaurants/bars you can easily walk to.

About alcohol and other intoxicants: According to the posted rules at the public beach, alcohol is not permitted. However, it is this writer’s opinion (and experience) that the no alcohol rule is in place so that the beach police can break up large, obnoxious parties and prevent situations like kegs being brought down onto the sand. If you pack yourself a few beers or whatever you like in an ice chest you can carry down from your car, and you don’t behave like you’re at a frat party, you’ll be left alone by the beach patrols. As far as other intoxicants go, DON’T do it. Weed, for example, is NOT legal in Alabama and whenever the beach patrol gets wind of it, they WILL follow their noses to you, and you’ll get to spend a lovely night in the City Jail and spend a ton of money trying to extricate yourself from the situation.

When to go: During the busiest months (June/July/August), it is strongly recommended that you get yourself down there by 10am to give yourself the best chance of finding a parking spot. By Noon you are guaranteed to be completely out of luck. Locals’ favorite time to go to the beach is late afternoon, around 4pm-5pm. Not only is the evening a great time to be on the beach as the heat of the day dissipates, but it is also the time of day that the day-trippers and tourists who have been there all day start to leave in droves. You’ll find parking much more easily and you’ll have a more enjoyable time as the sun goes down.

What to do: While visiting our beaches, just be smart and courteous to others and you’ll have a great time. Bring and wear plenty of sunscreen, pick up all your trash, obey the flag system warnings (Red Flag means dangerous surf), and don’t leave your chairs and umbrellas unattended after sunset. The city will remove them if you do – and they will be gone forever. During the day, don’t leave valuables unattended. Like any public gathering place, thieves go there. Cell phones, speakers, paddleboards, expensive sunglasses, purses, and even your ice chests are targets for criminals.

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