Add a new dimension to your Fort Morgan or Gulf Shores vacation with a day trip across Mobile Bay (either by ferry or the traditional route) to visit Bellingrath Gardens.

Created by Walter Bellingrath and his wife, these remarkable grounds will make you feel as though you've been transported to the gardens of a European castle. When the Bellingraths decided to open their home to the public in 1932, the response was so overwhelming that they chose to keep the doors to their 65-acre garden open throughout the year.

Thanks to ideal temperatures along Alabama's Gulf Coast, you can expect to see flowers in bloom throughout the year. Plan to spend the better part of the day with your whole family, wandering the grounds and treating your senses to the sights, smells and sounds of a perpetual spring.

What's in bloom

Take a day trip to the Bellingrath GardensIn the spring, from about March 1 to April 30, you can expect to see droves of azaleas, Easter lilies, marigolds, geraniums, and countless other varieties of flowers as the gardens wake up to warmer weather. Brilliant pink flowers provide you with the perfect opportunity for nature shots and create a fabulous backdrop for family photos.

Beginning on May 1, the air of Bellingrath Gardens is filled with the scent of roses of all shapes, colors and sizes. You're sure to happen upon gorgeous flowers that you never even knew existed!

When the weather gets a bit cooler in the fall, firework-like chrysanthemums flourish. If you're planning on staying at a Gulf Shores rental during this season, you will want to attend the gardens' Fall Floral Showcase, Balloon Glow in the Gardens, or the Cascading Mum Display Bloom Out.

The holiday season at Bellingrath brings the return of dazzling poinsettias in numerous hues, from pink and white to green and red. Keep your eyes open for Christmas mums and snapdragons before bundling up for the evening's Magic Christmas in Lights, which runs for the duration of the holidays.