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Insider’s Guide For Vacationing on The Alabama Gulf Coast Beaches

Gary Lambert Jr.

Do you love vacationing on beautiful beaches but get annoyed with the crowds of the mainstream tourist destinations? Are you someone who enjoys exciting excursions, or do you prefer kicking your feet up and relaxing on the beach? Let me tell you why you should put the Alabama Gulf Coast at the top of your list.

I work and live on the Alabama Gulf Coast which gives me the unique opportunity to provide a locals guide to the area. The Gulf Coast stretches from Texas to Florida; however, vacationers tend to hit only the typical tourist spots. Woefully unaware, they fall into the trap of overcrowded beaches and overpriced accommodations.

Alabama beaches are known for their emerald-green waters, fine white sands, and true southern hospitality. It boasts a little more than 32 miles of pristine sugar-white sand beaches. There are more than 10 public beaches along the coast that often have picnic facilities, restrooms, and outdoor showers. With numerous destinations to explore, the Alabama Gulf Coast is the perfect getaway spot to relax and unwind or satisfy your adventurous side.

The Alabama Gulf Coast is just the place to feed your traveler's soul!

Things You Can Do on the Alabama Gulf Coast

The Alabama Gulf Coast offers various recreational activities on and around the water. Each of our coastal communities offer a unique atmosphere with activities for everyone. From fishing on the Gulf State Pier to catching a concert at The Wharf, everything you could desire is only moments away.

Here are some of the places that made my list for you to explore on your next vacation to the Alabama Gulf Coast. I broke the list down by city, but you could easily hop from one to another in no time.

If you are looking for more places to visit on your next vacation to the Alabama Gulf Coast you can always swing by the Welcome Center too. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are jointly represented in one convenient location and their website is also a great place to plan out your stops. There are free local maps, brochures, and recommendations for dining, lodging, and more. The welcome center also provides free WiFi. Drop by and make sure you get yourself a full-color official vacation guide.

Gulf Shores – “Small Town, Big Beach”

If beaches with a lively, outgoing environment are your thing, then Gulf Shores is the vacation destination for you. The moment you cross over the intercoastal waterway you can smell the salt in the air and feel the sun on your skin. Buildings transition to colorful pastels indicating the beach is near. The warm emerald water coupled with the soft white sand meld into our (somewhat) hidden paradise.

You can rent yourself a colorful beach house with direct access to the sands. Party not big enough for a house? Then reserve a room at one of our beautiful beachfront condos with resort style amenities. Looking to spend your time on the beach and save up? A hotel room is readily available to rest your head between adventures!

Have an itch to get out and do something unforgettable? You can book a parasailing excursion granting you a bird’s eye view of the waters below. Looking to test your angling skills? Charter a day of deep-sea fishing and reel in some monster snapper. Enjoy kayaking on the calmer protected waters or sign up for a dolphin cruise.

If you love seafood, then you are sure to love the fresh gulf seafood that is served at almost every restaurant nearby. Besides the numerous seafood options there are places to suit every appetite. An exciting part of dining here is that there are some restaurants that’ll cook the fish you just caught!

The Hangout

The tower at The Hangout a restaurant  and bar located right on the beach in Gulf Shores AL

People come from far and wide for the amazing hamburgers and seafood. Although they do have some of the best seafood in the area, The Hangout is much more than just a restaurant. It is the perfect place for families with children to relax while the kids go crazy about the bubbles in their “Foam Parties.” Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the numerous family activities they offer throughout the day.

When the sun goes down, the atmosphere shifts and the “children-free” hours begin. The entire place livens up, along with the music, to feel more like a beach party than a restaurant. Enjoy expertly mixed drinks with friends while sitting around the fire pit. Listen to live music and dance the night away in the sand.

Who doesn’t love good music, right? The Hangout is the home of The Hangout Music Fest that has taken the coast by storm. Music-loving travelers come from all over the world to enjoy the multi-day music festival. Multiple stages are set up around the block with major artists of every genre gracing the stages. This award-winning music fest is held in Gulf Shores, Alabama, which is only a small drive away from the airports in Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL.

It is one of the top choices for tourists who like to let loose and have some fun.

Gulf State Park - Pier / Beach / Trail / Campgrounds

Sand and Surf at The Gulf State Pier between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach AL

The Gulf State Park is a massive 6,500 acre public recreation area. Offering everything from scenic trails and campgrounds to beautifully maintained beaches you are sure to fall in love.

The Gulf State Park’s Pier held the title of the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico until fairly recently, when it was beaten by 5 feet. However, It remains a close second, projecting out over the waves an astounding 1,540 feet.

It’s rumored that even sailfish have been caught from the pier so be prepared for a fight if you decide to try fishing! You can buy your fishing license and gear up at the tackle shop on-site for a day of pier fishing or head down to the beach and try surf fishing.

The Gulf State Park Beach lets you maximize your beach time without getting too far from other activities. The warm turquoise-waters gently lapping against the sugar-white sand are simply mesmerizing.

If you’re not feeling like spending the day on the water, there are plenty of other activities like the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex.

There are 28 miles of improved trails and boardwalks throughout the park. These trails allow adventurous souls to explore 9 distinct ecosystems as they walk, run, or bike their way around. As you take in the stunning natural scenery, keep an eye out for the elusive Bobcats and American Alligators that call this place home.

Also, if you’re an avid bird watcher or “Twitcher” you’ll be amazed by the diversity of bird species that nest in this peaceful preserve.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Entrance to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Also known as the “Little Zoo That Could,” from the docuseries aired on Animal Planet in 2006, it has continued to be an extremely popular attraction. With over 300 animals and unique activities this is a must-visit destination for everyone.

In 2020, the Zoo moved from its original home that opened in 1989. The newly constructed facilities are a few miles further inland than the previous location. However, the grounds are designed to create an immersive environment for visitors while the new enclosures ensure that the residents are comfortable and content.

The “Animal Encounters” allow guests to meet and interact with some of the zoo’s gentler inhabitants. It won’t be long before you realize “up-close and personal” was an understatement. Just try not to smile and laugh as lemurs climb around you before sitting on your head for a break. The memories made here are unforgettable, but don’t forget to get pictures to prove your story to everyone back home!

When you’re looking for a family friendly activity away from the sand, the Zoo should be at the top of your list. Don’t think that the Zoo is for kids only though. Plan a date with your special someone to explore the grounds and let your inner child free together

The Track

Had your fill of relaxing on the beach and want a little more excitement in your vacation? Get your adrenaline pumping at The Track Family Recreational Center.

Prepare yourself for a breathtaking drop as you and two of your bravest friends are strapped into harnesses and hoisted up 110 feet. Pull the cord and your flight begins reaching speeds of up to 70 mph. Strike your best superhero pose as you swing down and soar through the air.

Kicking it down a few notches to a less terrifying level of excitement, you can check out the unique go-kart tracks. The Wild Woody is their signature racecourse that takes drivers up a 3.5 story spiral wooden tower that plunges back down before circling back. If you aren’t a fan of heights, there’s the family track where you can ride in double karts or go head-to-head in the single karts. Don’t miss the slick track though if you want to test your drifting skills as you slip and slide around the course.

No worries about your smallest group members being left out. The park has “Kids Country” which is exclusively dedicated for the younger kids in your group. This part of the amusement park has a mini carousel, Ferris wheel, airplane ride, mini go-cart tracks, and more.

Bring your family, friends, or partner to enjoy the daytime or a fun evening. The park has something for all ages and abilities, including a mini golf course and massive arcade as well.

Souvenir City

Shark Mouth entrance to Souvenir city in Gulf Shores a gift shop by the Beach

Souvenir City has been an icon in Gulf Shores, Alabama since opening in 1956! An eye-catching shark mouth in the front and a pirate ship in the back offer the perfect vacation picture opportunities.

With over 30,000 square feet of shopping, you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for. Souvenirs of every shape, size, and style can be gifted to friends and family that didn’t come with you or pick something up to remember your trip by.

Waterville USA

If you want to have fun in the water but not feeling like dealing with the sand, Waterville is your go-to. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Gulf Shores just ¼ mile from the beach.

The water park has tons of unique water rides and slides for everyone in your party. Adrenaline seekers and leisure lovers have a plethora of things to choose from.

The adrenaline seekers in your group should hit The Screaming Demon first. This water slide is a nearly vertical drop from 60 feet up. It’s pretty much everything your parents warned you not to do and more.

For those of you that are just looking to relax and take things slow, give the Crystal Waters River a visit. Grab a tube and slowly drift along this river that stretches 1/3 of a mile as it meanders around the park. You’ll coast through tropical landscapes as you pass by the other slides and rides in the park.

Your little ones have plenty of choices as well. From WaWa World for the youngest guests to the shrimp boat village for those in between, everyone is guaranteed to have a blast.

This isn’t just a water park though! There’s also an entire amusement park complete with complex escape rooms!

The amusement park has attractions like Cannonball Run roller coaster, Trampoline Thing, Nascart, 36-holes miniature golf, large arcades, and much more.

So, plan a day of thrills and chills for the whole family.

I Love Shrimp Sign at The Annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Annual National Shrimp Festival

Drop the formal name at the door because it’s known locally as just “Shrimp Fest.” Oh, and did I mention that admission is FREE? 2022 marks the return of this beloved event from an unfortunate two-year break, due to the pandemic.

This 4-day long event has been held “almost” every year since it began in 1971. In the beginning only a few hundred people came to enjoy freshly prepared seafood beside the beach. The main dish was shrimp gumbo and was cooked by local churches and community organizations.

Since those early years, the festival has experienced a tremendous amount of growth. Chefs, artists, and musicians travel from all over the US to take part in the festivities. You can now expect to share a meal with over 300,000 of your closest friends.

Two stages are erected on the main road to entertain the festival goers with live music. There are typically a variety of national, regional, and local artists of nearly every genre. With over 100 hours of live music how can you complain?

In 2022 the sponsors of the event are claiming that 10,000 pounds of shrimp will be prepared by the best chefs in the area! You can devour them any way you want.

“Boiled shrimp, steamed shrimp, fried shrimp…” – Bubba G.

Fort Morgan – The Scenic Peninsula

Historic Fort Morgan

The Civil War Aerial View of the Fort at The End of the Fort Morgan Peninsula strategically positioned at the mouth of Mobile Bay

Fort Morgan isn’t actually the first military fortification that called the Fort Morgan Peninsula home. Fort Bowyer earns that distinction because it was built in 1813 to combat British warships in The War of 1812. Constructed primarily out of logs and sand, it isn’t really visible today like Fort Morgan is.

The Fort we see today began construction in 1819 and was a massive undertaking. Construction wasn’t completed until 1834 due to its remote location. It was formally named Fort Morgan in 1833 to honor Revolutionary War hero General Daniel Morgan.

Seized in 1861 by Alabama troops, the fort became the first line of defense for the Confederate City of Mobile. The vital location made it a prominent military base for over 100 years. By taking part in four major wars, from the Revolutionary War to World War 2, there are also plenty of ghost stories attached to the grounds.

It has appeared on numerous paranormal investigation shows over the years, to include Expedition X in 2021. Visitors often report hearing sounds and feeling they are being watched. So, if you’re a history buff, paranormal believer, or skeptic you can’t miss a tour of Historic Fort Morgan.

Mobile Bay Ferry

Fort Morgan Ferry Leaving Dauphin Island Mobile towards Fort Morgan Peninsula by Gulf Shores AL

Vacationing on The Alabama Gulf Coast and leaving without riding the ferry across Mobile Bay would be a huge mistake! The Mobile Bay Ferry allows visitors to enjoy a mind-blowing view of the Gulf Coast at an extremely affordable rate.

This 40-minute scenic ride connects Fort Morgan in Baldwin County, to Dauphin Island in Mobile County by traversing the mouth of Mobile Bay. During the ride, you’ll likely come across coastal birds like pelicans, and ships heading out to the rigs. There is even a chance of seeing dolphins playing in the bay as you take in the sights and smells of the Gulf of Mexico.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge consists of approximately 7,000 acres of mostly untouched coastal habitats.

The refuge shelters more than 360 distinctive animal species which makes it a great place for kids and adults to get outdoors and explore nature.

There are four trails - covering a broad range of habitats - that you can hike on and discover the habitats. As you hike, you’ll come across different kinds of lizards, alligators, turtles, snakes, and many other native reptiles and birds.

Your kids will absolutely love them, and you can also learn more about the species.

It’s also a great idea to grab a free Discovery pack from the welcome center. The pack comes with a map of the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge and other necessary items needed for an informative self-guided visit.

Orange Beach – “Life Is Better Here”

If beaches with a relaxed, leisurely environment are more your thing, then Orange Beach is the vacation destination for you. This small city sits on the border of Alabama and Florida with easy access to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The beaches are covered in a sugary-white sand that contrast against the deep forest green water of the Gulf.

You can rent one of the beautiful beachfront condos and enjoy the resort style amenities as you unwind. From the upper floors of the towers, you will enjoy views of the open Gulf and the beaches below. If you aren’t lucky enough to get a beach side room, there is still a good chance you will have views of the bays or intercoastal. The most difficult part would be deciding which condo to choose.

Ready to get out and explore the area but not sure where to start? Orange Beach offers something for everyone! While Gulf Shores tends to have the livelier reputation, there are still plenty of places to grab a drink and let loose. Orange Beach is home to the Flora-Bama and the Wharf after all.

Boating is a massive part of the culture here which is why there are marinas in nearly every direction. You can charter a romantic sunset cruise or cast off for a day of fishing from the many marinas. Or just set a lawn chair out at Alabama Point and watch the boats go by.

Here are some of my favorite places to explore and would make the most of your vacation in Orange Beach AL.

The Wharf Amphitheater

Father and Daughter attending a Concert at The Wharf Amphitheater Brooks and Dunn

Craving some entertainment while on vacation or looking for an excuse to visit Orange Beach? The Wharf has got you covered with a 10,000-seat open-air amphitheater! The sound is on-point which makes it the perfect spot to enjoy any concert or show with your friends and family.

The biggest names in music come to play this coastal concert venue. Recognizable names from Tim McGraw to 3 Doors Down take the stage on a regular basis. Make sure to check the calendar and plan accordingly

The Wharf

Family walking around a Car Show at The Wharf Entertainment district in Orange Beach AL

Not sure what to do today, but don’t want to sit on the beach after yesterday’s sunburn? Head over to The Wharf for some fun. You can ride the 112-foot-tall Ferris Wheel, go to the theater, try your hand at Axe throwing, or attempt an escape room.

The Wharf is a family-friendly Entertainment District where events are going on all year round. Some events are massive, like the Wharf Boat & Yacht Show, which has over 380 boats and yachts on display, both in the water and on land. They say that the total value of the boats is over $100,000,000 plus! Plenty of smaller events are also held regularly as well, which includes the nightly SPECTRA Laser Light show.

Besides the attractions, the wharf is full of unique shops and restaurants. Walk around and browse the unique shops before grabbing a bite to eat. From fine dining to messy tacos every major food group is covered.

This is the perfect place for a date night with your special someone. Take a break and enjoy a night out by the water with a mixed drink in hand.

Dolphin Cruises

Dolphin Cruises from The Wharf in Orange Beach AL

Dolphin Cruises are one of the best experiences for your vacation. It is the best way to get out on the water and watching the wild dolphins play is the cherry on top.

Orange Beach has quite a few options when it comes to dolphin cruises and each option is unique. There are trawlers with a second story, catamaran sailboats, glass-bottom boats, huge center consoles, and more! While there are benefits to each, you should evaluate your requirements before making a selection. Things like restrooms, handicapped accessibility, and amenities will differ.

Another thing to consider is their policies, like a dolphin guarantee for instance. Some companies will offer a free voucher for another cruise if you don’t spot dolphins on the first trip.

When you see them, don’t get too hypnotized and forget to capture the moment on camera!


Flora-Bama Lounge on the Alabama Florida State Line

When in Orange Beach, you don’t want to miss the never-ending beach party at the Flora Bama. This restaurant has been here since the mid-1960s, and they claim to be the “most famous beach bar in the country!” This bold claim alone is enough to take a peek and judge it for yourself.

The restaurant is named after its distinctive location on the Florida-Alabama state line. Flora-Bama is the perfect spot if you want a fun night out. The lively atmosphere here enhances the quality of your care-free getaway.

What sets the bar apart is their live music and incredible concerts. If you’re a party lover, then the concerts will complete your vacation. Plus, you can also watch the sun go down from the beach with a cold beer in your hand.

Have you ever felt like throwing a fish over a state line? If so, then let me introduce you to the annual Mullet Toss! This quirky event has been held at the Flora-Bama since 1985 / 1986 where participants, quite literally throw a dead fish on the beach. Some say that the catalyst for its national attention was when Kenny Stabler, an NFL quarterback, and former University of Alabama star player, was filmed throwing the fish in 1988. That footage was aired on national television and the event hasn’t stopped growing since.

Oh, and if you’re into “Jersey Shore,” I should mention that there is a “Floribama Shore” tv series… Can’t say that it represents the area very well, and luckily wasn't actually filmed here, but I can only wonder how they got their name.

Seafood Festival & Car Show

Classic Truck at The Wharf with Ferris Wheel in the Background

Some of the many festivities held at The Wharf annually is a slew of car shows. From tricked-out trucks to meticulously restored classics, there’s a show just for you. If you want to enjoy a good car show and food along with it, the Seafood Festival & Car Show is the right event for you and your family.

The festival is celebrated every February at The Wharf. You’ll get to see vintage cars, enjoy live music, and have delicious seafood at the festival. What’s better than good food and beautiful cars? Having the show right by the water!

Hundreds of cars come from all over the country to compete for the top prize. Visitors get to wander around the expansive show talking with owners and voting for their favorites.

Alabama Point

Perdido Pass Bridge at Alabama Point with New Fishing Wall and Boardwalk on the East side of the pass.

Alabama Point is on the West bank of Perdido Pass with Florida Point on the East bank. It should be noted that, despite the name, Florida Point is still in Alabama!

Alabama Point has a seawall with recreational areas. This is one of the favorites among local fisherman who take advantage of the transitional waters. The protected bay waters inside the pass are teeming with smaller fish which invites larger sportfish to enter the pass in search of food.

Florida Point on the West side of Perdido Pass is a fantastic beach for you and your family to relax while enjoying the view. Visitors can enjoy the beaches while watching boats head out to the open waters of the gulf.

The beach isn’t usually too crowded, making it the perfect spot for some family fun in the sun. Spread out your towels and head for a dip in the warm gulf waters. Kids can play in the sand while parents relax and catch some sun.

The best part of Alabama Point is that you can walk across the Perdido Pass bridge. This massive bridge spans the gap and towers over the pass allowing massive sailboats to pass under it at full sail. This is one view you won’t forget!

Gulf Coast Ducks

When you visit the Gulf Coast, you might want to catch a tour of the area. Covering both land and water, these exciting tours are the only ones of their kind. So, get ready for this quirky one-of-a-kind experience in Orange Beach.

Gulf Coast Ducks lets you buckle up in a restored WWII amphibious craft. These distinctive vehicles are designed to transit land and sea with ease. Labeled as DUKW Boats, aka Duck Boats, they made their first appearance on the beaches of Normandy, France during WWII. They were only used by the US Military during WWII and The Korean War. However, the surviving DUKWs have made a massive comeback, gaining popularity in recent years as tourist craft, requiring only slight modifications for the comfort of passengers. They were Military vehicles after all, and comfort is not really a factor in the designs.

The energetic tour guides will guide you along the pristine waters of Cotton Bayou. A full 60-minute tour provides plenty of time to learn about Orange Beach. While cruising, you’ll learn about the local history, tourism industry, native wildlife, and also the historic reconstruction efforts of the beach community.

Foley - "The Heart of the American Riviera"

This vibrant city acts as the gateway to the sandy beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Whether you’re visiting Foley on your way to the beach or planning to stay for a while, there is no shortage of enjoyment to be had. Foley welcomes you with all of the southern hospitality you could ask for.

A plethora of coastal attractions will keep you entertained without needing to wash the sand off at the end of your day. Rather than heading to a crowded beach, explore the rivers and bays sown throughout the city by kayak or canoe. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, venture out along one of the many well-maintained nature trails the city offers. The tranquility of the outdoors and the subtropical climate is hard to pass on, but Foley has something for everyone.

Events are held throughout the year, from local art shows to hot air balloon festivals. The festivities and activities are sure to engage and entertain everyone in your party. Downtown Foley is home to a model train museum and medical museum that are just a short walk away from one another. Make sure to swing by Stacey’s Old Tyme Soda Fountain while wandering the downtown area. This place always feels like it drags you back in time to the 1950’s, with all of your worries melting away before your ice cream does.

Numerous opportunities await visitors, from a day of shopping to amusement parks.

Foley has entertainment options for everyone, from families to retirees. Swing by on your next trip to the beach and you’ll see what I mean.


Entrance to OWA Theme Park and Shopping

While this 520-acre amusement park is the newest addition to the city, it’s already one of the favorites. This is a family-friendly destination with rides and games to entertain everyone in your party.

Rollin’ Thunder is the largest roller coaster at the park. Designed with daredevils in mind, the 114-foot vertical drop accelerates you to over 55mph. Barreling through loops, corkscrews, and rolls, it’s sure to excite even the most stalwart riders. However, the fun doesn’t end there for those insatiable thrill seekers among you. Just hop in line for any one of the 6 other thrill rides in the park to keep the fun going.

If you’re anything like me, we can do without the heart stopping, adrenaline fueled rides. Luckily, there are 15 other family-friendly and children’s specific rides throughout the park to keep everyone happy. Plenty of midway games are available for anyone not able or willing to strap in on the rides. There’s even a splash pad for the little ones to cool off during the heat of the summer.

The sheer volume of activities is sure to make it a worthwhile stop on your vacation. So don’t skip OWA when you’re planning your next vacation.

Downtown OWA

Murder Creek Moonshine in Downtown OWA Shopping District

While technically this is just another part of OWA, the Downtown area is unique. It’s completely FREE for guests to visit and roam the streets.

There are a slew of restaurant choices in the downtown area. The largest and most recognizable is Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Offering southern styled dishes straight from the Deen Family recipe book.

Besides restaurants, you can swing by Murder Creek Distillery to sample many of their flavored moonshine’s. Word of advice, mix the blueberry moonshine with lemonade for an unexpectedly delicious blend of sweet and tart. Their moonshine is available in mason jars to purchase and take home for later enjoyment. Though, you can also order cocktails to sip on and enjoy as you walk around.

Entertainment options don’t end with the theme park either. Everything from arcades to wakeboarding is available in the downtown area. Take in a magic show at the Brandon Styles Theater for a night of laughs with the family.

Downtown OWA has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for some great food or searching for some entertainment.

Tanger Outlets

Shopping has never before been this enjoyable! Spending a day at the mall is better when it’s filled with the brands you love at incredible prices.

Outlet malls differ from typical malls in a few unique ways. The most beneficial difference for you is that manufacturers sell their own products directly to the public. By removing other retailers these outlets can save you anywhere from 3%-72%. That savings is nothing to sneeze at!

Another unique difference is that the Outlet Mall is outdoors with connected breezeways rather than being enclosed like most malls. This makes it a great place to not only shop ‘till you drop, but also a great chance to get outside and take in some fresh air. Every store specializes in a particular manufacturer so no more searching for your favorite brands.

There’s also a carousel, putt-putt golf course, splash pad, and playground to keep the little ones with you content.

Lambert’s Cafe

Lamberts Cafe in Foley, AL home of the throwed rolls

I have intentionally tried not to include restaurants in this list. There are just so many great places to eat that I would either leave some out or the list would go on for days. Lambert’s is on the list because it is more of a destination than just a restaurant.

Since it opened in 1942, the tradition of treating guests like family has never faltered. There are only three locations and Foley, AL is the only one located outside of Missouri. Lambert’s is also known as the “Home of Throwed Rolls,” and it won’t take long to see why.

As you take your seat, you’ll hear someone calling out “Fresh Rolls” almost like a street merchant. When you look up from the menu, try not to be startled to see a huge fluffy roll gliding through the air. Just put your hands up to signal for one and get ready to catch.

The comforting homestyle entrees are absolutely delicious, but that’s really only a small part of what makes them special. My favorite part of eating here is the endless stream of sides or “pass arounds” as they refer to them. The friendly staff are constantly making their rounds carrying a fresh pot of something yummy. They offer them to everyone at the table and dish out a heaping spoonful for those who say please. Everything from fried okra to black eyed peas is served up so there’s no chance of you leaving hungry!

Alligator Alley

Located just north of Foley, in Summerdale you’ll find this quirky attraction. It was first opened in 2004 and steadily grew in size. Now it houses over 450 alligators ranging from small hatchlings to monster sized adults.

Elevated platforms allow guests to step out over the ponds for a better view. The ponds teeming with the prehistoric beasts right below your feet is an odd sensation to say the least. As you try to slow your heart rate, you begin to notice just how awe inspiring they really are. Seeing the animals in a natural habitat allows you to better learn about them. I’d say it also taught me a new respect for the creatures too!

Being suspended over them not close enough for you? No worries! They will let you hold a baby gator in their air-conditioned Gator Station. Still not close enough for you? The extra adventurous few can take it a step further and take over feeding them!

It’s a quick detour, but the experience is so worth it!

Elberta – “For The Good Life”

Elberta is a small town compared to the other locations on this guide. However, there are two attractions that simply must be included in this guide.

Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove Private Beach with Boats and Guests

Pirate’s Cove Marina & Restaurant is located a good ways away from the beaten path. Getting there by car will pretty much feel like driving to the middle of nowhere. Traveling there by boat, on the other hand, is much faster and more enjoyable. Luckily, there is a parking lot for cars and a huge dock for boats, making both methods possible.

This place is perfectly located right on the water with a large beach for guests to enjoy. Their menu is pretty simple, containing typical items like burgers, sandwiches, and pizza. Simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you already know. Everything on their menu has been perfected over the years and their burgers are absolutely incredible!

The best thing about Pirate’s Cove isn’t actually the food, nor is it the beachfront setting. The absolute best thing is actually their frozen cocktail commonly known as a Bushwhacker! This alcoholic beverage is the best of two worlds. It’s a tasty cocktail with Rum and a couple different liqueurs, but it’s also a desert with the consistency of a milkshake. Nothing in the world will cool you off better when you’re laid back on the beach.

Bushwackers at Pirates Cove in South Alabama Gulf Coast

Dinosaurs & Bamahenge

A replica of Stonehenge in Elberta Alabama AKA Bamahenge

Wouldn’t you love to walk through the woods and discover dinosaurs? I know I would and apparently billionaire George Barber did too!

George Barber, owner of Barber’s Marina, decided to create another world around his marina in Elberta, AL. He hired a man named Mark Cline to bring the land to life with some outlandish fiberglass sculptures. Dinosaurs in the woods is the best way to describe it as you spot these creatures hidden in the trees.

What began with 4 lifelike dinosaurs strategically placed along the marina entrance road was only the beginning though. Soon enough, Mark Cline was enlisted again to create a full-size replica of Stonehenge. This replica is set back off the road and visitors can park and walk to the clearing to see it up close.

Dinosaur Statues hidden in the woods of Elberta, AL

I can’t forget to mention the “Lady in the Bay” sculpture that floats next to the marina. Although she was damaged by Hurricane Sally in 2020, restoration efforts quickly followed, and she was planned to be back in the water by the summer of 2022.


Charter Fishing In South Alabama For Speckled Trout

I chose to add this section on at the end rather than repeating it above. Every city on the coast down here has some form of fishing. There are fishing charters available in each of these cities as well as in the surrounding area. Inshore, Offshore, or Nearshore charters are the most popular in the area but there are also freshwater specific charters and even kayak charters.

The group size is the first thing you need to figure out. If you have a massive group, then a bay boat for inshore fishing just isn’t going to cut it. Check with the charters to find out what type of boat they operate and the capacity limits they set. Larger vessels will obviously hold more guests, but they are limited on the waters they can operate in.

Targeted fish species is the second thing you should decide on before selecting a fishing charter. Depending on the species of fish you want to target, you may head hours offshore or just idle around the back bays. Certain species are more often caught while trolling the coastline while others can be caught by dropping your bait straight down next to obstacles. All of this affects the type of vessel best suited for your goals.

The last factor that will have a major impact on your plans is cost. Duration, destination, and vessel will affect the cost of the trip. Longer trips that head further away will almost always cost more.

Offshore private charters are usually the most expensive option. While these are absolutely incredible for pulling in the big fish and riding in style, they aren’t really affordable for everyone. If you still want to go after those monster game fish then check out the charters that do shared expense pricing. These will put you together with other fisherman to fill up the vessel at a drastically reduced cost.

Nearshore charters will head out to some of the closer artificial reefs and platforms. They are perfect for catching some of the larger species of fish without having to run as far out from shore. The vessels are still large, and the crew is on hand to help you every step of the way.

Inshore charters are a lot less expensive, but the experience can be just as enjoyable if not more so. Sticking to the protected waters of the bays and rivers make these a much more comfortable ride. The vessels are usually a lot smaller, and the captain serves as both crew and guide. Novice anglers will love the hands-on learning without breaking the bank. However, pro anglers can enjoy these trips just as much with fewer guests getting in their way.

If you want to make the most of your next fishing trip and save some money, do your research and book early.


The Alabama Gulf Coast Beaches are the family-friendly vacation destination you have been missing out on. With so many things to do and see there is no chance that you or your family will leave unhappy. Whether you want to go fishing with the guys or take a romantic sunset cruise with your partner, The Alabama Gulf Coast has got you covered.

Being a popular vacation destination means that there isn’t a shortage of RV parks in the area. There are parks of every size and shape offering guests exactly what they are looking for. From luxury RV resorts by the beach to family friendly campgrounds in the woods, there is sure to be one that suits your needs.

The open waters of the Gulf of Mexico are also a huge draw for boat owners. Whether you are bringing your boat for family fun or some serious fishing, you won’t be disappointed. There are also Fishing Tournaments of every type hosted locally that draw boaters from all over. Being a coastal area with Mobile Bay and the Mobile Delta opening up to the Gulf of Mexico, there are bodies of water for every type of boat to get out and enjoy. So, on your next visit make sure to bring your boat and hit the water.

About the Author

The Alabama Gulf Coast has been my home for over 40 years. The combination of Southern hospitality and coastal charm make it the best place to live, play, and work. I have traveled all over the world and seen so many wonderful places. Yet, I always find myself looking forward to getting back home to Southern Alabama.

I own Titan Storage, a storage company that specializes in oversized boat and RV storage solutions. Because of the coastal environment and close proximity to recreational activities, many residents and visitors of Baldwin County own large boats and RVs. Unfortunately, those toys can rarely be kept at home. Looking around the area, it was easy to see that the demand for oversized storage wasn’t slowing. Outdoor parking was the only available option, and it really isn’t a good option if you want to take care of your vehicles.

Titan Storage began by designing a facility that would not only protect the vehicles stored inside, but also integrate the latest technologies. In Spanish Fort, those plans even included making the 45,000sqft facility completely climate controlled. Titan Storage – Spanish Fort completed construction in December 2020. It is the premium choice for boat & RV storage by offering tenants a completely enclosed climate-controlled storage unit large enough for the biggest RVs on the road.