The Beach! White sands and clear gulf waters beckon all to enjoy the sun in Gulf Shores. The main public beach has great facilities, including trash disposal. It is a popular place for fishing and there are plenty of shells too! You will not find this beach empty, plenty of others will be enjoying the scenery as much as you. Parking is free in the winter. There are also a variety of public, secluded beaches in the area, if you like a natural, private setting.
Trails, trails and more trails A variety of FREE trails awaits your exploration. Biking and walking trails highlight the local ecosystems from natural beaches to swamp to forest. Checkout Backcountry Trails (contains 15 miles of trails paved for cyclists) and Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge as a start. There is also a state park nearby, but they do charge small fees. Check out the wildlife (including a gator) we found here.
The People A major part of what made our experience in Gulf Shores so pleasant was the people. The southern hospitality and Alabama accent meet Mid-western kindness and Minnesota accent. By moving west of Florida during our snow bird time, we caught up with all of the mid-westerners. They make Alabama their winter home. The stereotypes are so true, they are literally the nicest, most pleasant individuals. Every single person in our campground waved and chatted, and it was full of Minnesotans, Yoopers (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and others from similar areas. The only people I have met that can rival their kindness are the local Alabamans. Gulf Shores has to be one of the most pleasant places on earth, and the two accents from extreme opposite locations create a harmony here.
Birding You won’t be the only bird seeking refuge from the winter in Gulf Shores. We saw kingfishers, osprey, a bald eagle, a scarlet tanager, many eastern bluebirds, kestrels, herons, pelicans and more. The skies are full of birds here. Alabama has a coastal birding trail that you can follow. Really love birds? You can take a 30 minute ferry ride to Dauphin Island and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary – ranked in the top 4 best places to see birds in North America! While there, visit the Estuarium to learn about local aquatic life from the Mobile Delta to the Gulf. Click here for more on our visit to the sanctuary.
Fort Morgan Remember the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War? This is where it took place. Don’t remember it? You can learn about it by visiting the fort. You will also get to see natural gas rigs just offshore. Check out our visit here.
Day Trips Gulf Shores is a great location for day trips to Pensacola, Florida; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama. Check out our Mobile day trip here.
Shopping There is a massive Tanger Outlet center that will surely supply your needs. They also have a Farmers & Fisherman’s Market just outside of town twice a week. We purchased fish, raw honey and pecans.
Our Campground We stayed at Sugar Sands Resort. They offer a nice variety of activities and even a produce stand once a week. It is a new, well-kept resort away from the wind of the coast, but less than a 10 minute drive from the beach.
We really can’t say enough about Gulf Shores. It was a great place to spend an extended stay in the winter. And if you are there in February, you will also get to check out Mardi Gras! I leave you with a video with a few clips of the area to give you a better feel of the experience (with some Lynyrd Skynyrd to help you)…