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Gulf Shores: Sample the Beach Life in Alabama
Nestled along Alabama’s Gulf Coast and conveniently positioned between Mobile and Pensacola, the city of Gulf Shores, AL is one of the region’s most popular vacation destinations. With miles of sandy beaches, the family-friendly city offers everything you need to enjoy a relaxing getaway, from comfortable hotels and pleasant restaurants to exciting attractions and quality shopping.
Life’s a Beach
There’s no denying that the main reason tourists head to Gulf Shores is for its miles and miles of beaches. The city’s motto is, after all, “small town, big beaches”. The warms waters of the Gulf of Mexico lap against the soft, white sands, making for the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Families, couples, friends and solo travellers can all relax in peace on the beach, even on its busy days. Gulf Shores Public Beach is perhaps the most popular of all the beaches in the region. It’s here you’ll find umbrellas, sun loungers, deckchairs and some of the best views on offer. Meanwhile, Gulf State Park features a beautiful beach and the longest pier to be found along the Gulf of Mexico. On this pier, there’s not much more here than a few fishermen – but the views on offer at its extremity are awesome. As you might expect, the beaches are flanked by a combination of hotels, restaurants, amusements and other typical seaside amenities.
Fishing, Sailing and Golfing
If you’re hoping to take in the fresh air but find sunbathing to be a little too relaxed for you, there are a number of outdoor activities open to you in Gulf Shores. Many visitors enjoy a spot of fishing during their time in the city. Some opt to set-up on the beach, whilst others make a beeline for the pier. The best fishing in the region though can be found on the back of a boat. Charter fishing boats are in plentiful supply, meaning you can head out onto the sea and try your hand at netting Blackfin Tuna or Red Snapper. You don’t have to be a fisherman to enjoy the Gulf either. Sightseeing cruises prove popular with visitors, not least because the local coastline, and the wildlife it collects, is fairly attractive. Gulf Shores is also a popular destination with Alabama golfers. You’ll find a selection of courses in or near the city, including public and private options. Popular choices include the courses at Craft Farms, the Kiva Dunes course, and Gulf Shores Golf Club.
Families visiting Gulf Shores will find their diary quickly filled. In addition to the beaches, which no family could decline, you’ll find a selection of child-friendly attractions in and around the city. Alabama Gulf Zoo is one of the more popular attractions in Gulf Shores. The small zoo is home to lions, tigers, leopards, wolves, bears and more. It’s reptile house also hosts a number of intriguing inhabitants. Waterville USA is a theme park with water park rides (open seasonally). Any family travelling with children will need to block off at least an afternoon to enjoy the park, if not the whole day. Meanwhile, Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf, located in nearby Orange Beach, AL, is another great choice. If you fancy a spot of history and education during your trip, Fort Morgan is well worth the visit. Dating back to the early nineteenth century, this star-shaped fort has a long and storied history. You can also enjoy a leisurely stroll around the grounds, which are somewhat of a paradise for birdwatchers.
Shopping in Gulf Shores
If you’re hoping to update your wardrobe or discover a treasure or two during your stay in Gulf Shores, you’ll find a number of suitable options. Plenty of small stores are located close to the city’s beaches and hotels, well within walking distance. The city’s main attraction when it comes to shopping though is Pelican Place at Craft Farms. This multipurpose complex is home to a number of major stores, ideal if you plan on splashing the cash. It also features several restaurants, a movie theatre, and even its own hotel. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a bargain, the Tangers Outlet mall in nearby Foley, AL is a good choice. On the kookier end of the shopping spectrum, check out Souvenir City along the Gulf Shores Parkway. The giant shark model outside the store is truly something else.
Where to Stay in Gulf Shores
When it comes to staying in Gulf Shores, AL, beachfront properties are the first choice for most visitors. It’s not hard to see why. The majority of beachfront hotels in Gulf Shores can be found between West 11th Street and Gulf State Park. This 2.5-mile stretch is home to an array of resort hotels, high-rises, condo-style accommodations, and rental apartments. You’ll also find more economical options situated along Gulf Shores Parkway, the main stretch of road that leads to the beach. The bulk of these are made up of chain hotels, although you may luck upon a cosy, independent choice. Despite being further away, these hotels are still only a short drive or a pleasant stroll from the beach.