Looking for a relaxing beach vacation complete with warm waves that crash gently on the sugar-white sands? What about fishing, hiking, shopping and
dining opportunities? If you've sought out these activities as part of Gulf Shores vacations, you're not alone. Yahoo Travel ranked Gulf Shores No. 7 in its annual vacation destination list, "America's Most Popular Attractions in 2012."

Other beachside locations also made the list, such
as Catalina Island off Southern California and Atlantis
in the Bahamas, but Gulf Shores boasts special charms and attractions. The news outlet notes the gulf fishing (and gulf fish-eating at Gulf Shores restaurants) is some of the best in the nation, as is its golf. The destination boasts nine championship golf courses and a state-owned 18-hole golf course at Gulf State Park.

Of course, its beaches could compete with any on the "best of" lists. The city's miles of pristine sand and sea make it a top vacation choice for families and friends alike. Guests enjoy sitting in the sand with their toes in the tropical waters while the kids splash in the waves or build sandcastles. And they love to pull up a chair at the many beachside establishments for a sunset meal after a relaxing day at the beach. It's not hard to see why Gulf Shores is considered one of the best vacation destinations in the country, and it's only set to get better, according to Grant Brown, director of recreation and cultural affairs for Gulf Shores.

"It's once again recognition that collectively we've all done a good job of getting our destination out to the world," Brown told AL.com of the recognition.

To experience this popular vacation area yourself, plan today to stay at a Gulf Shores condo or beach house vacation rental