Guide to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Alabama
Turn up the country music and grab your sunglasses, bathing suit and beach bags because I am taking you to Gulf Shores, Alabama in my latest blog post. This family friendly destination will have you wanting to go back summer after summer. These are my suggestions on where to go and what to eat while at Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. Get ready to Roll Tide at the white sand beaches of Alabama!
I have partnered with Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism for this post. I was given suggestions and ideas for my vacation while in Gulf Shores. The best part for me, they had zero restrictions when it came to my blog post. This is all, my honest opinion, with no constraints.
Let me just start with, I fell in love with Alabama when my daughter and I toured the University of Alabama a few years ago. This university offers the most generous scholarships to EVERYONE who can achieve their academic qualifications. If you have the grades and really great SAT scores, you will be awarded a full ride scholarship to the university. It is not a MAYBE or COULD, but you are guaranteed a scholarship. If you have an all star academic student in your household, go ahead and click on the elephant below for more information. Yes, this applies to in-state and out-of-state students!
Keep in mind, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach draws in large crowds during the summer months. As of July 15, 2020, masks are required in public spaces and it had been extended to August 31, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Also, restaurants are operating at 50% capacity.
Please note, at the time of my travel, there was not a mask order in place
The closest airport is Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Florida.
Why a beach in Alabama?
While its neighbor is the alluring and popular Destin, Florida, which seems to get all of the attention, Gulf Shores is equally just as exquisite. Gulf Shores is known for its southern hospitality, great restaurants, laid back beach life attitudes, white sand beaches, plus the added huge bonus, the locals have the most adorable southern accents. All of these reasons I give you, have made Gulf Shores and Orange Beach my new favorite southern beaches.
Bless your heart Destin, Florida, y'all been removed from my top spot.
Gulf Shores is right next door to Orange Beach, which together they make up 32 miles of the most magnificent blue green water and the whitest sand.
This picture was taken straight from my camera. No Photoshop or Lightroom was used in the making of this picture. No filter.
Responsible and Sustainable Tourism
As travelers, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are taking care of the places we visit. Here is how you can be responsible during your trip to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach:
Always fill in your holes before you leave. These holes can be deadly traps for nesting female sea turtles and they can be extremely dangerous for people taking a walk on the beach at night.
Turn out your lights May 1st through October 31st! Remember to turn off all porch lights and shut your curtains, so internal lights are not visible from the beach at night. Mother sea turtles and hatchlings can become disoriented by the bright lights. Also, only use a flash light on the beach, if you have red filter over the light.
Do not disturb a nestling female. Please admire her from afar.
Please keep off of the dunes. Staying off the dunes will help to preserve their dunes system and the habitat it provides.
Where To Go in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
Hello, this is the reason why you came, right?!
Well, welcome to the Gulf of Mexico, where the water is the perfect temperature, like bath water. As a southern girl, I like my water warm, just like my pecan pie.
We were able to watch this gorgeous sunset from our balcony everyday. It's worth the 6 hour drive from Texas to Alabama, to see this sunset every evening. Breathtaking! I suggest you spend a little extra dough and get a condo with an ocean view.
We are on the lazy side when it comes to travel, so we always rent the chairs and umbrellas located on the beach. We like to carry as little as possible, when heading to the beach. Remember, the more you take, the more you have to bring back up with you.
This is how you know we are lazy professional travelers. We forgot to bring a cooler, so we just grabbed our kid's sand bucket. Do not worry, no children were affected by our poor decision that day. We packed plenty of sand buckets for everyone.
Any structures or equipment left on the public beach after 8:00 pm, will be removed and disposed of by beach patrol. Also, pets are not allowed on the beach.
Bring a flash light, because when the sun goes down, it is crabbing time! If you look out your window at light, then you will notice a ton of people on the beach with flashlights. If you are wondering what they are doing, most likely they are crabbing. Families love to spend hours just chasing the sand crabs around the shore line.
Please be responsible when crabbing. Please stay away from the yellow tape area, which is where the sea turtle nests are located. Please do not shine a light at the nest because it confuses the hatchlings.
Before going crabbing, please pick up free red filters from the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Welcome Center. Lights out May 1st through October 31st is during the turtle nesting and hatching season.
If you love the movie Jaws (dun dun dun), take a 15 minute ride on a banana boat. Banana boat stations are located all over the beach and they are not hard to find.
Just watch out for Jaws! Just kidding...Great Whites are NOT found in the Gulf of Mexico. 🙌🏼
The Track - Gulf Shores
3200 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
This place is located off the main highway in Gulf Shores. It's the perfect spot to unwind after a long day at the beach. Enjoy go karts, bumper boats, arcades, family rides, mini golf and so much more. There is something for every age.
They have a wide selection of tracks from toddler self-drive track, standard track, wooden 3-story track and a slick track. If you have back problems, I suggest you stay away from the slick track. It gets crazy when you are sliding all over the place!
This wooden 3-story track is by far the best.
The double rider line never has a wait.
My kids loved the bumper boats.
The best part about their arcades, is you actually can win! I won over 4,000 tickets in under 30 minutes! My hands were full!
Enjoy shopping, dining and live entertainment at the Warf. They even have a ferris wheel and ziplining. Most importantly, they offer dolphin cruises throughout the day!
You can see over 200 live alligators. How cool is that?! We heard this place is really awesome and we are still bummed that we missed out.
Souvenir City of Gulf Shores
217 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
This store is HUGE! Whatever you are looking for, they have it here.
They even have spots for you to take a picture with a shark. You can be his lunch!
Their most popular item for sale are the hermit crabs.
What to Eat
Warning: Due to the 50% occupancy rule, wait times can vary from one to three hours at the majority of the restaurants. Call ahead seating is encouraged.
The one thing you must try when in Gulf Shores & Orange is a Bushwaker cocktail. It is delish! It's a popular cocktail that you will find at all your favorite restaurants.
Fun Fact: President Obama was photographed drinking a Bushwacker in Orange Beach, Alabama on July 15, 2010. See...it's even worthy of a president.
The Ruby Slippers Cafe
24151 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
Let me start with this place is POPULAR! This restaurant was started in New Orleans, so the Cajun influence is strong with this one. If you love Eggs Benedict, then you will be in heaven because they have a massive selection. We could not make up our minds, so we tried the sampler.
We were in a sampler mood, so we even tried the biscuit sampler. The onion jam on the side was interesting.
or have an yummy Mimosa for breakfast.
The Hang Out Gulf Shores
101 E Beach Blvd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Warning: Bring cash for parking. You will be reimbursed.
This beachy restaurant is a must when in Gulf Shores. When I think of #beachlife, this is the place I think the phrase was created, where swimsuits and flip flops are the acceptable dress attire. Imagine yourself on the outside, on a white sand beach with a live band, then head inside and you will find a very entertaining DJ. The DJ will come out on the floor and mingle with guest. This is a great place for someone who is having a birthday.
If you have kiddos make reservations for the pirates and princess breakfast.
I suggest getting their crab legs, they are delish.
The owners of Hang Out started a restaurant, down the street, called the The Spot. If the wait times are insane at the Hang Out, then check out their new establishment that is equally just as cool. Shhhhh...try to keep this place a secret.
This is where you will find my favorite Bushwacker made with Peanut-butter Whiskey. OMG good!
205 E 2nd Ave, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
This was my husband's favorite Cajun seafood restaurant and it is frequently mentioned on all of the Gulf Shores Facebook pages. Hello jalapeno and bacon oysters! Yum!
De Soto Seafood Kitchen
138 W 1st Ave, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
This spot is a popular seafood restaurant among the locals. The fried green tomatoes were
2981 S McKenzie St, Foley, AL 36535
Home of the thrown rolls. This is American food, with all you can eat sides. When they are not throwing rolls at you, they are offering sides. The staff hands out fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni with tomatoes and they have molasses and apple butter for the rolls they throw to you. No need for a plate, I was hangry!
Here are some added suggestions:
I suggest you join my favorite group, “What‘s Happening in Gulf Shores” on Facebook. These people know everything!
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