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During Spring Break, families from all over the country will travel to the beautiful beach communities of Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Orange Beach, Alabama, and Perdido Key, Florida, for a weeklong R&R session.
To make the most of your Gulf Coast Spring Break, here are 7 fun ways to have a blast on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast.
1. Hit The Beach
With the high temperatures in March averaging in the upper 60s and lows in the 50s, spring is a great time to hit the beach.
There are more than 30 miles of white-sand beaches to explore from your beach condo or house rental or by visiting a public beach access, such as one of the below:
Johnson Beach – Gulf Island National Seashore is located on Perdido Key and is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Entrance fees are required, but Johnson Beach is one the few places you can pitch your tent directly on the sugar-white sands along the Gulf of Mexico.
Perdido Key State Park offers visitors a picturesque place to fish, swim or explore the environment. With many activities to choose from and a breathtaking setting serving as the backdrop, this park, located on the barrier island, is a great spot for families to visit. (Find your perfect Perdido Key beach house rental)
Florida Point is located 0.3 miles east of Perdido Pass Bridge and offers 6,000 feet of wide beach, sand dunes, boardwalks, picnic areas, restrooms, and outdoor showers. Parking is free.
Cotton Bayou is located at the intersection of Highway 182 and Highway 161 and features restrooms and showers on site. Parking is free.
Romar Beach is located 6.8 miles east of Highway 59 and has plenty of free parking (no facilities).
The Gulf State Park Pavilion Area is located six miles east of Highway 59 and offers air-conditioned restrooms, private showers, a snack bar, shady spots to sit and eat, plus a huge fireplace for chilly days. There is a $6 fee to park all day ($12 for large vans).
Gulf Shores Public Beach is located where Highway 59 dead-ends. There are beach attendants, three open-air pavilions, a picnic area, plus restrooms and showers on site. A small fee for all-day parking applies.
Gulf Shores 2nd Street Public Beach is just two blocks west of Highway 59. Facilities include a handicapped-accessible restroom, an outdoor shower and a covered pavilion with picnic tables. Parking is free.
Gulf Shores 5th, 6th and 13th Street Public Beaches are all located west of Highway 59. You can walk the boardwalk to the beaches and each offers an outdoor shower. The 6th Street access offers a handicapped-accessible restroom.
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach is located at 12295 State Highway 180 (Fort Morgan Road) in Gulf Shores. Park along Mobile Street for easy beach access. Because this is a wildlife refuge, there are no facilities, but the Refuge Office is nearby.
2. Explore Beyond The Shore
The natural beauty of the Gulf Coast extends beyond the beach into a wildlife refuge, walking and biking trails, a state park and more.
The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is located near Fort Morgan on State Hwy. 180. The refuge consists of approximately 7,000 acres of coastal lands, ranging from constantly changing beach dunes to rolling pine-oak woodlands. (Go here for Fort Morgan beach house rentals)
The refuge was established for the protection of Neotropical migratory songbird habitat and threatened and endangered species. Bon Secour represents an important stopover and staging habitat for Neotropical migratory songbirds during the fall and spring migration along the Alabama coastline. Migratory birds utilize this area for resting and building fat reserves critical to successful migration.
The refuge also provides crucial habitat for the endangered Alabama beach mouse that inhabits the beach dune and scrub/shrub habitats found along the Fort Morgan Peninsula.
Loggerhead, green, and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles nest on Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge beaches. Conservation strategies to protect these turtles under the Endangered Species Act include on-site nest monitoring and protection, as well as fostering a public ethic through educational programs.
Entrance to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is free. All public programs conducted by the refuge, such as the Fall/Winter bird walks, are also free of charge.
Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores abounds with recreational opportunities, including two miles of beaches. But there is more than sand and surf in this unique park: golf, fishing – both saltwater and fresh water – trails and more await visitors.
The park’s golf course offers 18 holes of championship play as well as a snack bar and pro shop with a PGA professional on staff. (Looking for a beach rental near a golf course? We have that.)
Fishing enthusiasts will find both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Lake Shelby provides 900 acres of freshwater fishing, or anglers can cast a line directly from the beach or from the Gulf State Park pier.
Ten miles of walking and biking trails are located within the park (part of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail), where a variety of wildlife may be spotted at any time, including raccoons, bobcats, deer, rabbits, alligators and even black bears.
The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is composed of six distinct ecosystems making up more than 15 miles of trails. The trail system is a collaborative effort between the city of Orange Beach, Gulf State Park and property owners along the trail’s alignment.
Historically, the area’s indigenous peoples, as well as explorers and settlers of the region, utilized the trail. The Backcountry Trail is steeped in lore and local legend. For decades, a creature believed to be part man, part wildcat, “The Catman,” has allegedly lurked along the paths and swamps of the backcountry woodlands.
Although guided eco-tours are available by reservation (call 251-981-1063 to schedule), you can also explore on your own.
3. Fish Or Cruise
Mild temperatures and a subtropical environment make fishing ideal year-round.
Shore fishing is popular and simple for many. With this method, you could catch pompano, whiting, redfish, bluefish jacks, ladyfish and flounder.
Inshore/near shore fishing is an option, with plenty of places to drop anchor in the area such as Little Lagoon, Mobile Bay, Wolf Bay, Perdido Bay, Terry Cove and more. You could catch flounder, speckled trout, redfish, sheepshead, black drum, pompano, bluefish, and Spanish and king mackerel.
Offshore and deep-sea fishing is very popular, with the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast home to one of the largest charter fleets of fishing boats on the Gulf. More than 100 experienced captains are ready to help you reel in a catch of a lifetime. Deep sea fishing is an all-day experience where you might expect to catch bottom fish, red and black snapper, vermillion snapper, triggerfish, amberjack, king mackerel, grouper, tuna, marlin, swordfish and wahoo.
When you return to shore, many local restaurants will cook up your catch!
Get a crew together for a private charter, or opt to walk on to a head boat if your group is smaller.
Or, if you’d like to rent your own watercraft, there are numerous options ranging from Jet Skis and pontoon boats to standup paddleboards and kayaks.
A unique way to explore the water is to take a dolphin cruise. Touring scenic inland waters, several boats provide up-close access for boaters wanting to see dolphins jump and surf. Sunset cruises are also available.
4. Amp Up For Adventure
When beach and boating activities are done for the day — or if you just need a daytime break from the beach and sun — why not visit one of the local amusement parks?For example, the Park at OWA is just a few miles north of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach beaches and is only a short car ride from Tanger Outlets of Foley.
At OWA, you’ll find 21 fun amusement park rides, including the giant Rollin’ Thunder rollercoaster. Many more high-adrenaline rides are steps away, but there are plenty of low-key, kid-friendly rides. Not to mention a midway-style collection of fun games, concession areas and shops.
There are also some fun restaurants on site, including the new Wahlburgers restaurant, which is known for family favorites like Mom’s Sloppy Joes and Mac ‘n Cheese with Smoked Bacon.
Also new is the Groovy Goat, where the menu tempts with soups and salads, seafood and steaks, and other local specialties. Numerous beers are on tap.
The new Hershey’s Ice Cream Parlor will delight with its 1950s vintage vibe and full selection of yummy flavors.
Waterville USA is located just minutes from the Gulf Shores Public Beach area. While the waterpark area here does not open until May 21, the amusement park area opens on Saturday, March 5, just in time for Spring Break!
Amusement park attractions include Nascart Go-Carts, Cannonball Run roller coaster, 36 holes of miniature golf, Trampoline Thing, Fun Depot kiddie rides, House of Bounce, and Flowrider (when the waterpark is not open). The amusement park also features a large arcade.
Just a few minutes north of the Gulf Shores Public Beach over the Intracoastal Canal Waterway Bridge, The Track Family Recreation Center offers multiple go-kart tracks, including those appropriate for the youngest members of the family (kiddie and rookie karts). One of the most popular is the Wild Woody, a three-story, spiraling wooden track.
Other Track attractions include mini golf, bumper boats, kids’ country and big thrill rides such as skycoaster, which offers the experience of skydiving via a 110-foot free fall at speeds of up to 70 mph.
An arcade is also on site.
Across Ala. Hwy. 59 from The Track is Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf. Board the treasure ship “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” the flagship of Blackbeard the pirate, and explore two caves where you’ll discover the buccaneer’s treasure of gold and jewels.
Play a round of miniature golf while putting over streams and past waterfalls on your way to the top of corsair’s mountain, where you’ll look down on the pirate’s village
A few miles away in Orange Beach, Adventure Island is a hotspot for Spring Breakers looking for a little adventure. Rides and attractions include a giant volcano that comes alive, periodically blasting steam from the top; go-karts; laser tag; mini-golf; bumper boats; paddle boats; and the Coconut Climb apparatus.
An arcade and concessions are available as well.
A stone’s throw from Adventure Island is Fat Daddy’s Arcade, a spot for family fun featuring tons of games, prizes and concessions.
5. Drop Anchor At The Shops
Regardless of whether you enjoy power shopping or browsing at a slower pace, there are plenty of shopping options on the Gulf Coast.
Whether relaxing in a luxury condominium alongside the magnificent marina, enjoying the 9,600-capacity amphitheater or watching a movie at one of the 15 screens at Carmike Cinemas, visitors can enjoy browsing unique boutiques, attending concerts with some of the biggest names in music, riding the tallest Ferris wheel this side of the Mississippi River, and dining in restaurants that range from casual to fine dining.
Several nighttime hot spots offer live music.
Tanger Outlets complex in Foley is a shopper’s paradise. Located just north of the beach in Foley, Tanger’s shops appeal to a diverse audience.
With more than 120 outlet stores to choose from, you can accomplish all of your Christmas, birthday and anniversary shopping for the rest of the year. Plus, if you happen to leave something at home, it’s just a quick drive north to get to Tanger.
Villagio in Perdido Key offers a well-rounded experience for those who enjoy shopping, dining out, spa treatments, art galleries or even just attending fun events.
Outlets include T.C.’s Seafood Market, Perdido Massage, Barefoot Gypsy Boutique, Artworks Studio & Gallery, The Jellyfish Restaurant, The Market & mainly Shoes, and New Attitudes Salon & Day Spa.
Also on site at Villagio is Meyer Vacation Rentals’ Perdido Key office.
Uniquely local shops and boutiques also dot the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast, with goods ranging from handmade items crafted by local artisans depicting the beauty of the area to upscale fashion and accessories and resort wear.
6. Dine On Succulent Seafood
After a day on the beach or enjoying big adventure at a local attraction, you are bound to have worked up an appetite.
Restaurants showcasing seafood abound on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast.
Indulge in freshly caught oysters at Acme Oyster House Gulf Shores, or dine on fried shrimp at Doc’s Seafood Shack, with establishments in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, for example.
If you’re bringing a group, a four-bedroom house in Gulf Shores could be the perfect headquarter spot to enjoy these and other restaurants.
NOTE: Numerous condos are located near The Hangout and the Pink Pony Pub, including Regatta, Castaways and San Carlos to the east and Island Winds East and West, Southern Sands and Tropic Isles to the west.
Perdido Key has a wide selection of great restaurants as well.
7. Chill In Your Spring Break Beach Home
Meyer Vacation Rentals offers a diverse selection of condos and houses to choose from to accommodate families both large and small.
Properties range from beachfront to golf course oriented, and everything in between.
Make your selection now to reserve your preferred Spring Break vacation property.
Making a trip after Spring Break? Check out special savings for spring.