Flipper was one of the most popular television shows of the 1960s, and much of the footage was shot right in the southern Gulf of Mexico. When you stay in a Gulf Shores beach house or vacation condo rental, you'll have the chance to live out your childhood fantasy and get up close and personal with dolphins in their natural habitat.

There are numerous dolphin-watching cruise providers throughout Alabama's Gulf Coast region, but here are a few that are popular among locals and visitors alike:

Blue Dolphin Cruises

Catch up with Flipper on a Gulf Shores vacationFrom the shores of Orange Beach, the Blue Dolphin and its crew will take you and your family through inland waterways of Alabama's Gulf Coast region, as well as Florida's Perdido Bay. The Blue Dolphin stretches to about 50 feet long and can hold as many as 47 passengers, so feel free to bring the entire family along. Between dolphin sightings, munch on some snacks and purchase gifts for loved ones back home.

Alabama Dolphin Cruise

If you're in the mood for romance on the water, the Alabama Dolphin Cruise company may be just what you need. They offer sunset sails for private parties, so you can watch as the skies and waves turn from a brilliant blue to a dazzling orange. Plus, when you encounter a pod of dolphins, you may be lucky enough to capture a photo in stunning silhouette as they jump and play in the water.

Adventures Aquatic

Want to watch a dolphin as it swims underwater? You can put aside your curiosity after sailing with Adventures Aquatic, where you can view the fascinating underwater world during a glass-bottom boat tour. To get even closer to the animals, be sure to book a snorkeling tour - who knows, a pod of friendly dolphins may just swim your way!