While you're staying at a vacation rental house or condo in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan or Perdido Key, your days will undoubtedly be filled with trips to the beach and countless bites of delicious shrimp. Whether it's February or the middle of summer, you'll likely be spending most of your time outside, soaking up the sights and sun as you escape from the routine of your world. So make a point to visit the Weeks Bay Reserve, which covers an area of more than 6,000 acres along the Gulf Coast of Alabama. You'll love the ample opportunities to encounter native wildlife in person.

The reserve in a nutshell

Take a day trip to the Weeks Bay ReserveSince it was established by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, university students, scientists and volunteers have been working hard to maintain the native wildlife in the protected land of Weeks Bay Reserve. There are two stunning boardwalks where you can take your entire family for a leisurely stroll. The first, which starts behind the Reserve Interpretive Center, weaves through the estuary and leads to Weeks Bay, while the other path winds through a pitcher plant bog before emerging at Fish River.

This particular reserve is among the 28 areas distinguished under the National Estuarine Research Reserves System. Using federal funds, these wildlife habitats are thriving thanks to the help of visitors and residents alike.

Keep your eyes open for these creatures

It's hard not to get excited when you come across the dozens of bird species in the area. Fans of these graceful winged animals will want to have cameras ready to capture them on film. Approximately 350 kinds of resident and migratory birds can be found at the Weeks Bay Reserve, as they use the area to breed, nest, feed and rest during their long journeys.

Whether this is your first visit or you've been here many times over, Weeks Bay Reserve captures your attention with new experiences every day. Be sure to include a few hours here to add a new dimension to your beach vacation.