The beaches of the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast draw thousands of visitors each year who come to stay, play and create lifelong memories with family and friends in paradise.

Perfect for a quick weekend getaway, a weeklong vacation or even a month-long (or longer) stay in the wintertime, the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is composed of nearly 40 miles of white sand beaches and turquoise waters.

The area is teeming with boutiques, live entertainment, and mouthwatering seafood, but you may just find yourself longing to spend most of your time at the beach.

To get in the right frame of mind, watch the video below and listen to the emerald waves crash. Then read on to explore the region’s distinct beach communities.

Gulf Shores (Click To Search Gulf Shores Properties)

The beaches in Gulf Shores are perfect for everyone from the sun-soaking beach lover to the adventurous water sports enthusiast.

Gulf Shores, AlabamaWith its earliest beginnings as a quiet coastal town, today, Gulf Shores is a friendly, bustling beach community known for its welcoming locals, variety of on- and off-beach boutiques for shopping, hiking and biking trails, Gulf State Park and other opportunities for exploration. Gulf Shores is the epicenter of the four beach communities in the area and has traded in its bungalows for luxurious yet comfortable resorts and beach houses.

Gulf Shores is home to mouth-watering restaurants to suit every palate and budget, challenging golf coursesfamily-oriented amusements, nightly live entertainment and, of course, large public beach areas, Gulf Shores has everything you could want in a vacation destination.

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Fort Morgan (Click To Search Fort Morgan Properties)

Just west of Gulf Shores, the quiet side of paradise can be found on the Fort Morgan peninsula. The area may have been a well-kept secret, but this pristine section of Gulf of Mexico shoreline is a pocket of paradise that vacationers continue to discover.

Fort Morgan, AlabamaIf you're feeling adventurous, set your sights on the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge beach, an all-natural stretch of coastline brimming with an impressive array of native wildlife. The area is also home to a number of beachside hiking trails that can make an outing on the Gulf into a full day of adventure.

Hit the links at two award-winning golf courses set along the waterfront of the Gulf and the bay. Step back in time as you explore historic Fort Morgan, and each spring and fall observe the fascinating migratory birds that pass through the area.

If the family is ready for a fishing adventure, you can easily charter a boat or simply surf fish along the shore.

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Orange Beach (Click To Search Orange Beach Properties)

It should come as no surprise that Orange Beach is one of the most popular destinations for summertime fun on the Gulf Coast.

Orange Beach, AlabamaWith its roots in fishing, Orange Beach is a fisherman’s paradise. The city is home to one of the region’s largest fleets of charter fishing boats, so it’s a breeze to book a fishing trip either on the Gulf of Mexico or in the area’s beautiful back bays. Visitors enjoy getting up close to wildlife during dolphin and nature cruises on the serene backwaters of the bays, rivers and Intracoastal Waterway.

At Gulf State Park, treat yourself and the entire family to two miles of sugar-white sand beaches and 6,000 acres of preserved land as you let your skin get kissed by the warm rays of the sun.

Restaurants in Orange Beach range from camp-styled seafood shacks to fine dining experiences.

Orange Beach features numerous amusements and beach shops, including The Wharf entertainment complex. Other ideas for fun include dolphin and nature cruises, concerts at The Wharf's 10,000-seat amphitheater and more.

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Perdido Key (Click To Search Perdido Key Properties)

Just east of Orange Beach and across the Florida state line is an area known for abundant federal and state parklands. The barrier island of Perdido Key is peaceful and consistently ranks among the nation’s top 20 beaches as named by “Dr. Beach.”

Perdido Key, FloridaA 247-acre barrier island off the coast of Florida, Perdido Key is ideal for beachgoers who want to see native wildlife. The small landmass is a popular habitat for shorebirds, and its stunning white-sand beaches have made it a hit with travelers. On this wonderful little island, you can hit the links at a picturesque golf course before heading back to one of the many luxurious beach condo rentals nearby.

A little busier part of the Key is the spot where you’ll find the famous Flora-Bama Lounge, Package & Oyster Bar, home to the annual Interstate Mullet Toss, an event unlike any other.

Other unique must-do events in Perdido Key include the Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival, the New Year’s Polar Bear Dip and the Perdido Key Wine Festival. Places to explore the bountiful natural beauty of Perdido Key include Lost Key Golf Club, a designated Audubon Signature Cooperative Sanctuary golf course, and Gulf Islands National Seashore, where you’ll find Fort Pickens and Fort McRee, which defended Pensacola Bay during the Civil War.

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With nearly 40 miles of beaches to choose from, you can take your time exploring the fabulous Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast as you take a step back, relax and ease your way into a truly unforgettable vacation.