Showing posts with label What to Do. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What to Do. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Christmas Parade: Where to Watch

Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Parade | Where to Watch
Photo by LuLu's - Click to Enlarge
One of the coolest things we do here in Gulf Shores for the holidays is the annual lighted boat parade for Christmas. Local boat owners go all out rigging their boats with generators and tons of creative holiday lights for your enjoyment. The parade departs from LuLu’s in Gulf Shores and travels east down the Intracoastal Waterway to The Wharf in Orange Beach. This year’s parade starts at dusk on Saturday, December 9th.

The map below shows where the best viewing areas are, along the canal, with plenty of parking. Of course you can watch the parade leave from LuLu’s and arrive from The Wharf, where the whole place is lit up with Christmas lights and decorations, too.

Where to View Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Parade
Lighted Boat Parade Viewing Areas

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Jimmy Buffet Meeting of the Minds 2023

Parrot Heads at Meeting of the Minds Parrot Head Gathering
Parrot Heads
The annual Jimmy Buffet “Parrot Head Gathering,” also known as “Meeting of the Minds,” is coming to Gulf Shores, AL October 25-29. In the late 90s, Jerry Diaz and Scott Nickerson initiated this event in New Orleans. This year, Gulf Shores, where Jimmy spent his formative years on the beach and where is sister, Lulu, still runs the popular Lulu's restaurant & bar, will host a fantastic gathering of Parrot Heads celebrating Jimmy's life. Registration closes on September 15th, and you can find more information at

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

National Shrimp Festival | Dates and Times

Gulf Shores National Shrimp Festival
Credit: Gulf Shores CVB
Looking for an autumn getaway filled with seafood, music, art, and more? Look no further than the Gulf Shores Annual National Shrimp Festival, a four-day extravaganza that promises an unforgettable experience for all who attend. Whether you're a seafood lover, a music lover, an art lover, or simply someone in search of a fantastic time, this festival has something for everyone. Mark your calendars for October 12th through 15th, 2023, and get ready to indulge in a feast for the senses!

Seafood Galore: Indulge your taste buds in the freshest Gulf seafood at the Annual National Shrimp Festival. Drawing in over 300,000 visitors, this festival is a seafood lover's paradise. From succulent shrimp to a variety of other mouthwatering delights, the event showcases the finest culinary creations from 50 local and regional vendors. The boardwalk along the public beach transforms into a haven of flavors, where you can savor the Gulf's bounty while enjoying the breathtaking views.

Live Music: There will be over 100 hours of musical entertainment that will have you dancing and singing along. With a lineup featuring national, regional, and local acts, the festival caters to diverse musical tastes. From the soulful notes of blues and Motown to the energetic rhythms of southern rock and zydeco, and the timeless melodies of jazz and country, the musical variety is bound to resonate with every palate. The tunes will fill the air from Thursday through Sunday, ensuring that each day is infused with the magic of music.

Artistic Treasures: For those with an eye for art, the Annual National Shrimp Festival delivers a visual feast with nearly 200 booths of fine art and arts and crafts vendors. Stroll through the booths and discover a world of creativity, from captivating paintings to unique handcrafted pieces. Whether you're looking to add a special touch to your home or find the perfect gift, the array of artistic treasures is sure to captivate your imagination.

Save the Date: Make sure to reserve your spot at this year's Annual National Shrimp Festival, taking place from October 12th through 15th, 2023. Gather your friends and family, and get ready to immerse yourself in the ultimate celebration of Gulf seafood, music, art, and community. With each passing day of the festival bringing new experiences and memories, this is an event you won't want to miss. Embrace the fall vibes, relish in the flavors, and let the music and art sweep you off your feet. See you there!

WHERE TO STAY: Resorts or Hotels


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Jellyfish | What Purple Flags at the Beach Mean

What Purple Flags at Beach Mean | Jellyfish
Click to enlarge photo
Wondering what the purple flags at the beach mean? It is a warning that “dangerous marine life” is present in the Gulf’s waves. While it could be any type of “dangerous marine life,” in Gulf Shores it almost always means jellyfish. Here’s some local advice on what you can do to best protect yourself, your kids, and the quality of your vacation.

While swimming or snorkeling in the Gulf can be a delightful experience, it's important to be aware of the risks associated with jellyfish stings. Jellyfish stings can range from mildly irritating to potentially life-threatening, depending on the species and an individual's sensitivity. Most jellyfish you may encounter are pretty mild as far as the level of pain experienced, and the duration of the pain. You may never see these jellyfish, because they are clear, snot-like creatures. You may not even feel the sting when it happens. Instead, you may just feel like a particular part of your body feels like a bad sunburn for several minutes to an hour or so.

On the other hand, if you see any jellyfish that is blue in color, stay away! If you see a blue jellyfish washed up on the beach, don’t touch it – and assume a few million more are still in the water. Blue jellyfish in this area are most often the Portuguese Man O' War, and believe me, they will ruin your day. The Portuguese Man O’ War causes intense pain, swelling, redness, and can even lead to systemic symptoms like difficulty breathing or nausea.

If you arrive for your vacation and see purple flags are flying, don't worry that you will have to pee on a family member to treat a jellyfish sting. This local recommends you find a nearby pharmacy and get Stingaway Jellyfish Treatment. It’s an over-the-counter treatment specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms of jellyfish stings. It comes in a “regular” jellyfish version and it also comes in a version for blue jellyfish stings. Might as well grab them both and keep them in your beach bag just in case. 

From the Stingaway website: This topical solution contains active ingredients that neutralize the venom, providing quick relief and preventing further harm. The application of Stingaway helps to alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and minimize the risk of secondary infections. It is important to note that Stingaway should be used in conjunction with seeking medical attention, particularly for severe or allergic reactions.

Having Stingaway with you at the beach might just save you a ruined beach day, or worse, a trip to the ER.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Gulf Shores Jet Ski Rental

gulf shores jet ski rental
Click to enlarge photo
Imagine renting a fast, powerful jet ski to ride in this paradise for watersports enthusiasts seeking a thrilling experience. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a first-timer, a quick trip over to Orange Beach offers the perfect setting for an unforgettable jet skiing experience (the city of Gulf Shores has not issued any business licenses for jet ski rentals).

With its crystal-clear waters, thousands of square miles of bays filled with playful dolphins, and shorelines filled with great water-accessible bars and restaurants, Orange Beach provides the ideal playground for jet skiing. You can hop on your jet ski and feel the rush as you blast through the waves, wind in your hair and sun on your face, or go explore the intricate network of bays, lagoons, canals, and estuaries that cover the area, discovering private, hidden coves and islands to make your own for the day.

Whether you prefer to venture out on your own or to join a guided jet ski tour, there are options to suit every preference. Here is a listing of our recommended jet ski rental companies for your Gulf Shores/Orange Beach vacation.

Alabama Extreme Watersports, located at Bear Point Marina in Orange Beach, offers jet ski rentals and private Waverunner dolphin tours in beautiful Perdido Bay. It is an ideal location because not only is Perdido Bay a beautiful body of water, but Bear Point Marina is just across the bay from Pirate’s Cove, a legendary beach dive bar popular with locals for decades. A visit to Pirate’s Cove is a must-do while vacationing and the very best way (practically the only way) to get there is by water. Ask your jet ski rental attendant to point it out to you. In addition to Pirate’s Cove, Bear Point Marina itself offers a fun outdoor bar and sit-down restaurant for you to enjoy.

Flora-Bama Marine & Watersports, located across the street from the legendary Flora-Bama beach bar, offers rentals on new jet skis and Waverunners with Bluetooth stereos so you can blast your favorite music while blasting through wakes and waves. Their location on Old River, next to luxurious Ono Island, is ideal for those who want to ride over to Robinson Island, a white-sand/turquoise water-surrounded island that is accessible only by water and an extremely popular party spot for locals. Ask your rental attendant for quick, easy directions. Then, after you’re done jet skiing, you can just hop across the street to end your day partying at the Flora-Bama.

Happy Harbor Marina, located on Cotton Bayou in Orange Beach offers jet skis for rent that can accommodate up to three riders. Their equipment is new and well-maintained, and their location offers easy access to popular Robinson Island and Perdido Bay’s thousands of square miles of open water, coves, hidden creeks, and secret islands. With plenty of water-accessible bars and restaurants around the area, you’re sure to have a fantastic experience.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Fishing from the Pier in Gulf Shores AL

pier fishing in Gulf Shores AL
Click to enlarge photo
One of the most fun things you can do while visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, especially with kids, is to go fishing off the Gulf State Park Pier. The pier was damaged by Hurricane Sally a couple of years ago, but it remains open just past the half-way point and the restrooms are still accessible.

You can rent fishing equipment there, if you don’t have your own, but you will need to get your Alabama Saltwater Fishing License in advance at Walmart’s sporting goods counter or by going online here. Also, before you go, it’s a good idea to visit one of the local bait shops in the area to get yourself some frozen squid and mackerel and to make sure you have the right kind of setups for your leaders, hooks, and weights. You can ask the bait shop personnel for some advice on that and about what artificial lures might be working well at the time you go.

Live bait is best, of course, but you’ll need a bait bucket with motorized air pump for that – available at the bait shops. When you’re at the pier, there is almost always a local or two there who will be happy to give you some advice, too – especially if you offer to buy them a drink at the pier concession ;)

how to catch fish from the pier in Gulf Shores
Click to enlarge photo
There is a wide variety of fish that can be caught from the pier including Sheepshead, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Pompano, King Mackerel, Redfish, Whiting, sharks, and more. If you hook something too big to reel up, just yell for help from a local who has a lift basket designed for that purpose. They’ll be happy to help you land your fish – especially if you offer to give it to them after you get some pictures ;)

If you really want to learn something, the Gulf State Park Pier offers a pier fishing Angler Academy for beginners that you can attend. It costs $15 per person and lasts about 2 hours. Angler Academy is by reservation only, so contact them in advance to set it up.

The pier is open for fishing 24/7, but if you need to rent fishing equipment, you’ll need to go during the hours it is staffed (6AM-10PM). There is a restaurant and concession stand available if you get hungry or thirsty, too. Here are the basic fees to expect:

Parking: $3 for 2 hours; $5 for 4 hours; $10 all day parking & includes fishing permit (not to be confused with a State Saltwater Fishing License, which much be purchased separately at Walmart or the link provided above

Fishing permit: $9 for the day; $41 for the week

Rod/Reel rental: $10 for 4 hrs; $20 all day

Sightseeing (if you don’t want to fish): $2 for all day

LEARN MORE about fishing at the Gulf State Park Pier

VISIT OUR FISHING PAGE for more local favorite guides and fishing advice

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Little Lagoon | Best Place to Stay in Gulf Shores

best gulf shores sunset | Little Lagoon
Little Lagoon sunset
Want to see the best Gulf Shores sunsets and eat like a local? Here's a bit of local advice for you. Instead of paying a premium to stay on the beach, find a house on the south side of Little Lagoon. You'll save some money, avoid the inevitable noise, elevator waits, and congestion that comes with staying in a high rise condo, and you'll enjoy the best sunsets the northern Gulf coast has to offer while still being close to all the restaurants, bars, and entertainment.

Gulf Shores' beaches run east and west, meaning the sun does not set over the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer, the sun actually sets behind the high rise condos, ruining the view from the beach. By staying on the south side of Little Lagoon, across the street from the beach, you will not only enjoy incredible sunset water views, but also plenty of fun fishing, crabbing, kayaking, and paddle boarding opportunities.

Little Lagoon is connected to the Gulf via Little Lagoon Pass, so it is a body of water that rises and falls with the tide, keeping it beautiful and clean. Chock full of fish and crustaceans like speckled trout, red fish, founder, and blue crab, Little Lagoon is the locals' favorite place to relax and have fun away from the tremendous crowds on the beach. But when you want to hit the beach, it is just a short walk or bike ride away, giving you the best of both worlds.

Now, about eating like a local: When staying on Little Lagoon, one of the best things you can do on your first day in Gulf Shores is go to Walmart to get yourself a saltwater fishing license and buy yourself a crab trap, a length of rope, some cheap chicken (thighs or drumsticks) and a box of Zatarain's Crab Boil in Bag seasoning. Tie the length of rope to the crab trap, load a couple of pieces of raw chicken into it, drop the trap off your dock into the lagoon, and secure the rope to the dock. Leave it for 24 hours and then go check it. You're likely to have a few nice blue crabs in there, just waiting for you to boil yourself up a fantastic dinner. You can keep re-baiting and setting your trap each day until you have enough crabs to make your dinner (put the live crabs you collect into an ice chest with ice and they will go dormant). 

low country boil with blue crab
Then, when you have roughly one or two crabs per person, the best thing to do is go to Gulf Shores Seafood (a local fresh seafood market near the beach) and buy enough "Low Country Shrimp Boil" meals for your dinner party. It will come cooked and ready to eat with tons of fresh shrimp, smoked sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob. All you need to do then is boil your crabs.

While someone is out picking up your prepared low country shrimp boil, start boiling a pot of water on your stove and follow the directions on your Zatarain's box to prepare your seasoned water. 

When your already-prepared low country shrimp boil meal arrives at the house, toss your fresh crabs into the prepared and seasoned water. They'll be done in just a few minutes (when they turn bright red). 

Now, just toss your finished crabs on top of your already-prepared low country shrimp boil meal and you'll have a feast fit for a King - made with your self-caught fresh crabs!

Here's a YouTube video detailing the crab boiling process, to help you understand how it works. And another video that teaches you how to eat your crabs.

You can find vacation rentals on the south side of Little Lagoon by visiting the websites of local vacation rental agencies you find on Google, or better yet you can visit the VRBO website (Vacation Rentals by Owner). 

Here are the streets you want to be on, so you can look these up when you start searching those sites:

Windmill Ridge Road, Gulf Shores

West 8th Avenue, Gulf Shores

West 8th Street, Gulf Shores

West Lagoon Avenue, Gulf Shores

West Beach Boulevard (WEST OF LITTLE LAGOON PASS), Gulf Shores

Seahorse Circle, Gulf Shores

Staying on the north side of Little Lagoon is great, too. But you won't be facing the sunsets. If you stick to rentals on the streets listed above, you can't go wrong. Just check all the photos to be sure the view isn't obstructed by anything before booking.

VISIT OUR WHERE TO STAY and WHAT TO DO PAGES for more local tips and advice

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Gulf Shores Public Beach Photos

gulf shores public beach photos
Click to enlarge photos
Gulf Shores, Alabama, is home to two of the most beautiful and vibrant public beaches anywhere on the Gulf Coast. Here is some information and Gulf Shores public beach photos to help you choose the best one for you.

Gulf Shores Public Beach, located at the foot of AL Highway 59 South, is the hub of activity and entertainment in Gulf Shores. With its soft, sugar-sand shores and gentle waves, it provides the perfect setting for families and beachgoers of all ages. The main public beach offers a range of amenities to enhance your beach experience. From shaded picnic areas and pavilions to clean restrooms and outdoor showers, to a variety of restaurants and bars just steps away, everything you need for a fun and active day at the beach is readily available. The new boardwalk, a product of the city’s ongoing beautification program, is a spectacular addition offering easy beach walks and a place to ride bikes and scooters. The beach also provides the most convenient parking options, making it more easily accessible for visitors.

Gulf State Park Beach, located just a few minutes east of the main public beach in Gulf Shores, is a true paradise for beach enthusiasts seeking a more laid-back experience. Spanning over two miles along the Gulf of Mexico, this expansive public beach features soft, powder-white sands and crystal-clear, emerald waters. It's the perfect place to indulge in water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Gulf State Park Beach also offers amenities such as picnic areas with grills, clean restrooms, outdoor showers, and convenient beach access points. Nature lovers will appreciate the park's less hands-on approach. The beach isn’t groomed obsessively like the main public beach in Gulf Shores, giving it a more natural look. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to find more shells, driftwood, and other natural wonders that wash up.  Don’t miss your opportunity to explore the park’s trails through untouched coastal dunes and coastal hardwood swamps, too. You’ll see wildlife including cranes, pelicans, crustaceans, alligators, and coastal hawks.

Whether you seek serenity or excitement, Gulf Shores has the perfect public beach to suit your preferences and create lasting memories. Take a moment also to review local advice about what to do, and NOT do, at Gulf Shores' public beaches.

LEARN MORE about Gulf Shores Public Beach

LEARN MORE about Gulf State Park Beach

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for more local favorite activities

Monday, June 26, 2023

Surf Fishing in Gulf Shores | Guided Beach Fishing Trips and Lessons

beach fishing in gulf shores al | surf fishing in gulf shores al
Click to enlarge photo
Want to fish from the beach? You can have a great time casting your line from the beach in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, AL without risking getting seasick on a charter boat. Also known as Surf Fishing, fishing from the beach is great for kids and adults alike. 

Beach Bum Outdoors in Gulf Shores offers guided beach fishing trips that include rods & reels, the correct baits, and lessons on how to catch a variety of fish species from the shore! Cast your line and anticipate encounters with Pompano, Whiting, Spanish Mackerel, Redfish, Bluefish, Jacks, and even sharks. These thrilling catches provide a diverse and exciting fishing experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the help of Beach Bum Outdoors, you’ll be digging your feet into the beach fighting a saltwater catch you’ll never forget!

LEARN MORE about Beach Bum Outdoors

VISIT OUR FISHING PAGE for a list of more local favorites

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.

LEARN MORE about the public beach in Gulf Shores, AL

VISIT OUR PAGES about Where to Stay, What to Do, Food, Golf, Fishing, and Shopping

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Beaches at Gulf Shores Alabama

gulf shores alabama public beach
Gulf Shores
The Gulf Coast of Alabama is home to some of the best white sand beaches in the United States. Nestled along this pristine coastline are the sun-kissed shores of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or simply the joy of sun, sand, and surf, these beach destinations offer something for everyone. Here is some information about each of the main beach options for you to enjoy while visiting:

  1. Gulf Shores: Renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant atmosphere, most of the beaches in Gulf Shores are public and can be accessed freely by visitors. The main attraction is the Gulf Shores Public Beach located at the foot of Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), with ample parking (for a small fee), access to very nice and well-maintained restrooms and shower stations, and convenient beachfront restaurants and bars. Gulf State Park also offers a public access beach with tons of parking (for a small fee), picnic pavilions, and convenient restroom facilities. Each condo tower and beach house in Gulf Shores has private beach access, but all are open to the public at the water’s edge, so it really doesn’t matter where you stay. You can walk the beach as much as you like.
  2. Orange Beach: This area features a mix of public and private beaches, giving visitors a choice based on their preferences. Public beaches like Cotton Bayou Beach and Perdido Pass Beach offer free access and convenient amenities such as picnic areas, showers, and restrooms. Private beaches, often associated with resorts and condos, provide additional amenities like beach chair rentals, umbrella services, and beachside restaurants. Like Gulf Shores, even the private beaches are open to the public at the waterline for walking as much as you like.
  3. Fort Morgan: Situated on the western end of the Alabama coastline, Fort Morgan offers a more secluded and tranquil beach experience. The beaches in Fort Morgan are not cleaned of seaweed every day, so it has a more natural look and feel and it's great for beachcombers who like to look for shells, driftwood, and mysterious creatures that wash up. There is no charge for parking, wherever you can find it. It is generally less populated, so you can set up your chairs and umbrellas with a bit more distance between yourself and the next beachgoers. Plus, Fort Morgan’s beaches are dog-friendly, so it’s the ideal area to stay if you bring the family pet along.

Whether you're seeking the convenience of public amenities or the exclusivity of private resorts, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan have beach options to suit every preference. These Gulf Coast destinations provide a range of experiences, from bustling public beaches with ample amenities to secluded stretches of pristine shoreline. So pack your sunscreen, grab your beach towel, and get ready to create unforgettable memories along the magnificent shores of Alabama's Gulf Coast.

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for more local favorite activities

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

What to Do | Day Trip on the Mobile Bay Ferry to Dauphin Island Sea Lab

guests enjoying the Mobile Bay Ferry ride
Mobile Bay Ferry
During your stay in Gulf Shores, particularly if you have children with you, consider taking a day trip on the Mobile Bay Ferry to Dauphin Island, where you can visit the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Having done this myself with my young son, I can vouch for the fun. The journey begins as you drive your car aboard the Mobile Bay Ferry at the western end of Fort Morgan, the historic site where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico. Aboard the ferry, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the bay, with dolphins occasionally playing alongside the vessel. The 40 minute scenic ride across the bay is a fun new experience that creates a sense of anticipation for what awaits on the island. You can exit your car while crossing the bay and enjoy the salty breeze and views from the deck of the ferry. 

child touching a stingray at Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Upon arrival at Dauphin Island, you'll drive off the ferry to find yourself immersed in a coastal paradise. The island's pristine beaches, abundant wildlife, and laid-back atmosphere beckon exploration. And what better place to dive into the wonders of the marine world than the Dauphin Island Sea Lab?

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is a renowned research and education facility dedicated to marine science. For Marine Biology students, it is a research facility. For the public, it offers visitors a chance to learn about the diverse marine ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico through interactive exhibits, touch tanks filled with fascinating sea creatures, and informative guided tours. Take a stroll on the Estuarium boardwalk, where you can see coastal habitats up close and marvel at the rich biodiversity thriving in the area.

If time permits after the Sea Lab, explore the island further by visiting historic Fort Gaines, a Civil War site, or exploring some of the island's locally owned specialty shops. As the day winds down, you can catch a unique view of the sunset over the bay as you cross back to Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores on the ferry.

NOTE: Pick a nice calm day for this, with a clear forecast. The ferry will be closed if a storm blows up while you are on Dauphin Island, making for a long drive back around Mobile Bay and back to Gulf Shores.

LEARN MORE about the Mobile Bay Ferry

LEARN MORE about the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

LEARN MORE about Dauphin Island and Fort Gaines

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for a list of more local favorite activities

What to Do in Gulf Shores: Visit Beautiful Gulf State Park


Gulf State Park visitors biking on park trail
Click to enlarge photo

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is a haven for nature lovers. Explore the park's extensive trail system, perfect for hiking and biking, offering breathtaking views of diverse landscapes. Paddle through serene lakes and waterways, or cast your line at the Gulf State Park Pier, one of the Gulf Coast's longest piers. Enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the park's natural beauty, or unwind on the white sandy beaches. With its diverse ecosystems and stunning scenery, Gulf State Park offers endless outdoor adventures for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in nature's wonders. 

LEARN MORE about Gulf State Park

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for a list of local favorite activities

Monday, May 22, 2023

What to do in Gulf Shores | Visit the Zoo

child interacting with a monkey at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Click to enlarge photo
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores is a terrific experience for you while visiting the beautiful Gulf Coast. This extraordinary zoo offers a wild experience, boasting a diverse array of animal species and an array of amenities to ensure a memorable visit for guests of all ages.

The brand new zoo is a gold mine for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With over 300 species and more than 900 animals from around the world including majestic big cats, playful primates, exotic birds, and slithering reptiles, visitors are treated to up-close encounters with magnificent wildlife.

Aside from the incredible animal exhibits, the zoo offers a range of amenities to enhance the visitor experience. When hunger strikes, guests have various options to satisfy their cravings. The zoo features a new full-service restaurant that offers a diverse menu, including savory sandwiches, salads, and hearty entrees. Enjoy a delicious meal while taking in picturesque views of the zoo's surroundings.

For those seeking quick bites or lighter fare, snack kiosks are conveniently located throughout the zoo. Indulge in ice cream, popcorn, or grab a refreshing beverage to keep you energized as you explore the animal exhibits.

As you navigate the zoo's pathways, you'll find well-maintained facilities, including picnic areas. Guests are welcome to bring their own packed lunch and relish a leisurely picnic amidst the natural beauty of the surroundings.

So, plan your visit today and immerse yourself in the wonders of this remarkable zoo. With captivating animal exhibits, engaging educational programs, and an array of dining options, your day at the zoo promises an unforgettable journey into the animal kingdom. Enjoy the wildlife, indulge in delicious meals, and create cherished memories with family and friends at this extraordinary destination.

LEARN MORE about the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for a list of local favorite activities

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Hangout at Gulf Shores

interior view of restaurant customers enjoying beach view at The Hangout restaurant in Gulf Shores AL
Hangout Restaurant
If you’re searching Hangout at Gulf Shores on the web, you’re either looking for The Hangout restaurant or the Hangout Music Festival. Either way, we’ve got your answers here.

The Hangout Restaurant is a very popular destination restaurant for tourists, offering a delightful fusion good food, live music, a cool beachy vibe, and a casual atmosphere. It sits right at the Gulf Shores public beach, in the middle of all the action. Best of all, it has an open air feel and great views of the beach and boardwalk, making it a perfect spot to catch some shade, a cool drink (or 3) and people-watch.

music festival crowd enjoying a show at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores AL
Hangout Music Festival
The Hangout Music Festival, hosted by the restaurant, is an annual event each May that transforms Gulf Shores into a mecca for music lovers. This three-day extravaganza brings together dozens of top-tier artists from multiple popular genres, setting the stage for unforgettable performances against a breathtaking beach backdrop. Each night ends with a ridiculously over-the-top fireworks show right on the white sand beach. This festival not only celebrates music but also showcases local art, mouthwatering food vendors, and exciting activities. Having been to this music festival many times, this writer can vouch for its awesomeness. It has to be one of the best – if not THE best – beach music festivals in the country.

Whether you're indulging in coastal delicacies at The Hangout Restaurant or dancing barefoot in your bikini to the beat of your favorite artists at the Hangout Music Festival, Gulf Shores promises an extraordinary experience that combines great food, live music, and the beauty of Alabama's Gulf Coast.

LEARN MORE about The Hangout restaurant

LEARN MORE about the Hangout Music Festival 

VISIT OUR WHAT TO DO PAGE for more local favorite activities

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Independence Day | Fourth of July | 2023

The biggest week in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, AL is Fourth of July Week. Incredibly popular for its Independence Day celebrations, in 2023 the region is offering a ton of fantastic activities, live music, patriotic decorations, and awe-inspiring fireworks shows, including Gulf Shores’ incredible beach fireworks show that attracts hundreds of thousands of proud Americans. So grab a cup of coffee and keep reading for details and important local advice to make your Fourth of July go smoothly. Here is just a sample of what goes on here for Independence Day.

Fireworks Extravaganza: Prepare to be mesmerized as the night sky comes alive with a breathtaking display of fireworks. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will host synchronized firework shows on the beach that will paint the sky with a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors. Find a cozy spot on the beach, bring a blanket or chairs, an ice chest with your favorite beverages, and settle in for an awe-inspiring spectacle that will leave you in speechless. 

July 4th Gulf Shores Fireworks on the Beach
Gulf Shores Beach Fireworks
**LOCAL ADVICE: If you are not staying on the beach or near enough to walk, you will NOT find
parking for the fireworks show if you wait until after 10am or so to get down there. This local advises those who need to drive and park for the fireworks show to GET DOWN THERE EARLY IN THE DAY, pay for your parking at a self-serve kiosk, and just leave your car there if you leave the beach. You can call for an Uber, Lyft, or local cab to take you back to your hotel and arrange with the driver to take you back to the beach for the show. Bear in mind that the driver may not be able to return you all the way to the beach – but they can get you within walking distance. Think ahead about getting yourself an ice chest with wheels. DON'T plan to leave the show by cab, Uber or Lyft. There just won't be enough of them. You will be left walking however far it is back to your car or hotel. Regarding alcohol, technically it isn't allowed on the beach, but if you are discrete and don't behave like you're at a frat party, you'll be left alone by the beach police. DON'T smoke weed. It isn't legal here, and it won't be ignored by the beach police. After the show, be prepared for a lengthy traffic jam (ladies, you should definitely hit a beachside public restroom before you depart). 

The Wharf Orange Beach Fireworks
The Wharf Fireworks
If the fireworks show on the beach sounds like a bit too much trouble for you, you can go to The Wharf in Orange Beach on JULY 3rd for its annual Independence Day Street Party. You’ll enjoy a full slate of fun activities, live music, great food, shopping, a really nice fireworks show, and FAR LESS TRAFFIC!**

Live Entertainment: In addition to the fireworks, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will treat attendees to a range of live music. Local bands will take the stage, at most of the bars,restaurants, and other venues, filling the air with the sounds of toe-tapping music. Dance along to lively tunes and immerse yourself in the infectious energy of the crowd.

Family-Friendly Activities: These coastal towns are renowned for their family-friendly atmosphere, and the Fourth of July celebrations are no exception. From face painting to sandcastle contests, there will be a myriad of activities around the area to keep the little ones entertained. Engage in beach volleyball tournaments, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, or simply relax and savor the tranquil coastal ambiance.

Delectable Dining: The culinary scene in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is second to none. Indulge in a wide array of mouthwatering options as local restaurants and food vendors dish up their specialties. From fresh seafood platters to Southern comfort favorites, there will be something to satisfy every palate.

Plan Your Visit: To make the most of the Fourth of July festivities, plan your visit in advance. Book accommodations early, whether you prefer a beachfront hotel, a high end beach resort, RV park, or a nearby campground. Remember to check the local event schedules and make reservations at popular restaurants to secure a spot.

VISIT OUR LOCAL ADVICE PAGES for more about Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Eat, Where to Golf, the Best Fishing Opportunities, and Shopping Spots