Get Out on the Water in This Coastal Alabama Destination


Long before European settlers arrived, Native Americans fished Gulf Coast waters, and by the 1800s, the area had become a mecca for commercial fishing vessels. A storied past of reliance on the sea is woven into nearly every aspect of life in Alabama’s coastal communities and a big part of what makes it such a rewarding place to visit. As a traveler, you reap the benefits of “blue space,” coastal places that research shows are associated with better physical and mental health, while savoring fresh seafood with a focus on sustainability and enjoying the rich maritime culture.

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Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism is a go-to resource for visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast. Discover 32 miles of pristine, white-sand beaches, local restaurants, fun-filled activities, and incredible accommodations.

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Cook Your Catch Dining

There are endless places for pier fishing, surf fishing, and charter fishing trips in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. To truly enjoy the angling experience, local chefs at any of several eateries will turn your catch into a restaurant-caliber meal.

DAY 1Orange Beach

Check into your accommodations at Perdido Beach Resort, a beachfront hotel overlooking the white sand in Orange Beach. For VIP amenities, including complimentary breakfast and afternoon cocktails and appetizers in an exclusive lounge, choose a Club Level room.

With several well-equipped marinas, more than 100 charter boats, and ample water sports outfitters, you’re in the perfect spot for deep-sea fishing excursions and sunset sails, as well as paddleboarding, parasailing, and kayaking.

Here, all paths seem to lead straight to the water. Rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard to explore the Coastal Alabama Back Bay Blueway, which is a series of four distinct water trails with 21 launch sites. Paddlers can follow the Orange Beach Trail, Gulf State Park Trail, Little Lagoon Trail, and Fort Morgan Trail.

With your first day coming to an end, head to the Orange Beach Marina, where million-dollar yachts dock for a night of fine dining. At Fisher’s, choose between Upstairs for an upscale meal or Dockside, its more casual sister venue. Or dine back at the resort at Voyagers specializing in sustainable seafood and organic meat.

DAY 2The Wharf and Beyond

Start your day with breakfast at The Southern Grind Coffee House at The Wharf, one of the many locally-owned businesses in this vibrant shopping and entertainment district. From nitro brews to honeybee lattes and peanut butter mochas, the menu has delicious coffees and teas, as well as hard-to-resist croissant-sandwiches, waffles, and biscuits, among other sweet and savory morning plates.

If you’re in town during an in-water boat shows or saltwater fishing tournament The Wharf hosts, check out these impressive seafaring vessels or get caught up in the excitement of big game fish.

After exploring The Wharf, have lunch under the Perdido Bay Bridge at Cobalt, a picturesque restaurant serving contemporary coastal cuisine or relax at their daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with cool drinks and spicy appetizers like firecracker shrimp.

Afterwards, head out of Orange Beach for a scenic drive on Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway to Fort Morgan State Historic Site for a self-guided walking tour to calm your mind and disconnect. To end a big day out, head back to Orange Beach and stop for dinner at Big Fish Restaurant to enjoy elegant seafood dining.

DAY 3Gulf Shores

After two days in Orange Beach, today you’ll be heading to Gulf Shores on the other side of Gulf State Park. (You could also opt to stay here at The Beach Club Resort & Spa, which has a secluded, private-island feel for enjoying the restorative side of being by the water.)

To better appreciate your surroundings, join an expert guide from the Nature Center at Gulf State Park for a pier walk. On the walk, you’ll learn about the vast biodiversity surrounding you.

In the late afternoon, head to Bon Secour, a charming fishing village dating to the 19th century which still provides seafood to local establishments around the region. Afterward, head back to Gulf Shores for a casual seafood feast at The Hangout, a 2.5-acre, family-friendly eatery.

DAY 4Gulf State Park

Locals take pride in locally caught seafood which is on full display year-round and ramps up during the annual Shrimp Festival in fall. Since you’re in the ideal place to learn about casting a line, today is a good day to try something new like saltwater fishing. The 1,500-foot pier, which is the second-longest in the Gulf, is a popular place for beginners. You’ll find anglers of all ages practicing tying knots and brushing up on commonly used hooks and different types of bait.

In a place where fishing is a way of life, restaurants will cook your catch for you. You hook it, and they’ll cook it at The Hideaway at the Beach Club and Tacky Jacks. (Pro tip: call ahead to confirm availability.)

DAY 5Coastal Arts Center

On your final day in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area, you may just want to revisit your favorite stretch of sand among the 32 miles of beaches, follow a peaceful kayaking trail, or head out for a fishing trip.

If, on the other hand, being around water has ignited your creative energy, spend today exploring the artistic side of these communities by heading to Orange Beach to check out the Coastal Arts Center overlooking Wolf Bay. Along with shopping for fine art to bring a beachy vibe back home, you can create your own blown-glass creations in the Hot Shop or pottery in the Clay Studio.
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