Stretching from Fort Morgan, Ala., in the west to Perdido Key, Fla., in the east, Meyer Vacation Rentals’ 1,150+ vacation rental properties serve as the ideal headquarters for fun in the sun.
Specifically of the Alabama portion of the Gulf Coast, here’s what Southern Living recently had to say:
“Today, Alabama beaches are among the state’s most popular tourist destinations, even attracting visitors from other beaches with surf of their own. While Alabama doesn’t have as much coastline as its neighbors, the 32 miles of white sand and saltwater just south of are top-notch, offering gorgeous seascapes, abundant wildlife, a laid-back pace, and a family-friendly environment with plenty to see and do. And while all of these beaches are in close proximity, each one has something unique to offer.”
We couldn’t agree more with Southern Living, of course, and are proud to show off our little slice of paradise. Here is a list of 10 of our favorite activities, in no particular order.
1. Play At The BeachSeveral unique beach communities comprise the Alabama/Northwest Florida Gulf Coast, including Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key.
Fort Morgan is a quieter area, where you explore the natural beauty of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, launch a boat into Mobile Bay and enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the busier beach scene.
There are several delicious, family-friendly restaurants along Fort Morgan Road and places to hike, play golf and enjoy the relaxing solitude of the beach.
2. Dine OutThis area of the Gulf Coast is taking hold as a foodie paradise, especially with the World Food Championships having been held in Orange Beach for three years in a row. On the Gulf Coast, you’ll find everything from seafood shacks to white-linen waterfront dining experiences.
The best news is that nearly every restaurant welcomes families with children of all ages.
For example, Doc’s Seafood in Orange Beach is a classic favorite that’s been around for decades. Order fried shrimp and oysters, a mess of fries or some of those giant, tender fried onion rings.
On the other end of the spectrum, Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina houses two restaurants under one roof, and both are recommended favorites of Southern Living editors. Upstairs is upscale and beautiful yet inviting and comfortable. A constantly evolving menu is complemented by a selection of fine wines. Dockside, you’ll find a more casual atmosphere alongside 160 boat slips filled with yachts. Here, families in flip flops are invited to enjoy a complement of freshly prepared burgers, Gulf Coast seafood, salads, sandwiches and more.
You’ll also find barbecue at more than one spot, a lively atmosphere at The Hangout Restaurant, a Gulf-front view at the iconic Pink Pony Pub at the Gulf Shores Public Beach area, creative burgers and milkshakes at the 50s-style Sunliner Diner, and a festive and beachy ambience at LuLu’s. These are just a few of the wonderful places to dine both indoors and outdoors.
3. Amuse Yourself At An Amusement ParkThe Gulf Coast is blessed with numerous amusements, ranging from themed miniature golf courses and high-energy arcades to waterparks with giant slides and even a new world-class amusement park a few miles north of Gulf Shores beaches.
One of the most popular arcades is the Track Family Recreation Center in Gulf Shores, which features go-karts, thrill rides, kiddie rides, bumper boats, miniature golf and an arcade.
The Gulf Coast’s newest amusement is The Park at OWA, with 21 amusement park rides, a selection of traditional midway games, an interactive splash pad, and a downtown area with retail shops and restaurants. There are also fun events and entertainment held throughout the year.
4. Discover HistoryA must-see for history buffs is the Fort Morgan Historic Site, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for exploration, visiting the beach and fishing. An on-site museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The fort is situated on Mobile Point at the end of scenic Fort Morgan Road (Ala. Hwy. 180). The fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864 and was used intermittently through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II.
The site showcases the evolution of seacoast fortifications and adaptations made by the U.S. Army for the defense of the country. In 1946, the site was turned over to the state of Alabama as a historic site.
Take a picnic, launch a boat, or play on the beach. And, when standing atop the fort, you will see a stunning view of the spot where Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico meet.
5. Enjoy A CruiseTo truly experience the beauty of this area from the water, be sure to book a dolphin watching/nature excursion; there are many operators to choose from, several of which leave from Bear Point Marina in Orange Beach.
One of our favorite cruising operators is Cetacean Cruises, which docks at The Wharf in Orange Beach.
Choose from a two-hour sailing and sunbathing cruise aboard a 52-foot Hawaiian catamaran. See wildlife in their natural habitat as schools of fish surround the boat, playful dolphins swim nearby and marine birds dive into the water. It is not uncommon to see bald eagles, egrets, herons, osprey and seagulls flying by.
The Dolphin Eco Tour is perhaps Cetacean’s most popular cruise. Cruises are either 1.5 or two hours in duration and the entire time spent on the water is for locating and observing the local dolphin pod and other wildlife. The cruise also takes visitors to hidden estuaries, with knowledgeable tour guides pointing out the local flora and fauna.
Why not enjoy a perfect ending to a perfect day with Back Bay Sailing with Capt. Britt and his wife, Melanie. Called the “Sunset Escape,” the sailing adventure invites you to let the sound of the wind and water relax you as you take in some of the most amazing sunsets anywhere in the world.
Back Bay Sailing also offers two- and four-hour sailing adventures and excursions to see the Blue Angels or visit Fort McRee in Pensacola at Gulf Islands National Seashore.
6. Go To Gulf State ParkOne of the most visited attractions in the state of Alabama is Gulf State Park, and it’s easy to understand why. The park encompasses 6,500 acres in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and even includes a wide two-mile-long stretch of beach accessible from the Gulf State Park Pavilion.
More than just beach, the park features the largest pier on the Gulf of Mexico for fishing and sightseeing. Yu can even rent everything you need for a fishing outing from the on-site bait and tackle shop.
The park provides access to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, which is 25 miles of paved trails for walking or biking. There are spots along the way to sit and rest and enjoy viewing wildlife. Bikes are available for rent at the camp store.
There’s even a nature center where you can learn more about the local wildlife or attend one of the weekly nature programs.
If you’ve brought your dog along on the trip and staying in one of Meyer’s dog-friendly accommodations, there is also a large dog park situated alongside Lake Shelby. It’s a great gathering spot not only for dogs but also dog lovers.
7. Shop Tanger OutletsNo top 10 list from this stretch of Gulf Coast would be complete without mentioning Tanger Outlets in Foley just north of Gulf Shores beaches.
With nearly 120 stores, Tanger Outlets Foley is known for savings on merchandise from famous designer and name brands direct from the manufacturer.
Stores on site include Adidas, Coach, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Talbots, White House Black Market, Nike, Chico’s, Kenneth Cole, Coach, Kate Spade and more.
The shopping center provides plenty of parking and easy in and out from both the front and the back of the complex.
8. Partake In Retail Therapy At The WharfThe Wharf Orange Beach is a popular place to hang out, both for local residents and vacationers. There are 40+ shops as well as a 10,000-seat amphitheater at this outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
The coastal lifestyle takes center stage in the boutiques at The Wharf. Restaurants offer everything from delicious seafood dishes to barbecue, burgers, daiquiris and fine dining.
The Amphitheater is the site of numerous concerts in the spring and summer, including Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and many others.
9. Attend A World-Class FestivalFor those who enjoy planning a vacation around built-in fun, there is a festival or special event for every season.
Two festivals in particular have risen to the top the popularity charts: Hangout Music Festival and Annual National Shrimp Festival.
Hangout Music Festival is an annual three-day music festival held on site at The Hangout Restaurant and the Gulf Shores public beach area. The festival features many genres of music: rock, indie, hip-hop, electronic dance music.
Among the 2019 performers are Travis Scott, The Lumineers, Khalid, Vampire Weekend, Cardi B and Kygo.
The award-winning Annual National Shrimp Festival combines live music on multiple stages with great food, art, kids’ activities.
Situated at the Gulf Shores public beach, the festival is composed of 100+ hours of live music (country, classic rock, jazz and more) on two stages, shrimp and other seafood prepared just about any way you can imagine, hundreds of arts and crafts booths featuring paintings, sculpture and more.
10. Book A Fishing ExcursionFishing in Gulf Coast waters is an adventure regardless of time of year. With fishing available in the Gulf, the bay or lagoon, there are fishing excursions that take you out for a few hours, a half day, a full day or even longer, depending on how far out from shore you’d like to go.
There are numerous options for choosing a private fishing charter, or you might choose to hop aboard a head boat, which allows you to join a group of other anglers who pay individually to fish.