4. For the Nature and Adventure Lover in All of Us
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer adventure on both land and water. With countless waterways to explore, each beach town has amazing places to paddle either by kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP). Look up and you'll see birds like osprey, eagles and great blue herons soaring overhead. And for some high-speed action, rent a Jet Ski and venture around the Gulf. Take a hike on the trails of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge through maritime wetlands and forests, over sand dunes and to the nesting ground of loggerhead sea turtles on one of the most secluded beaches along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Enjoy hiking and biking trails at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail and the Fort Morgan Road Trail—perfect all ages. The Backcountry Trail is a good place to spot wildlife, visit a butterfly garden, and let the kids try their hand at some bouldering. For a real adrenalin rush try soaring over the blue water via parasail, then wrap up your day with a fiery orange sunset aboard an evening cruise.
5. Getting Around
If you're staying in Gulf Shores proper, then bring along a bike or rent one at one of the many rental shops. If you’re peddling through the Gulf State Park, you can use the free bike share program. A unique concept, the free bike share program allows visitors age 16 and older to borrow a bike for up to three hours. You’ll find everything you need close by and traveling via two wheels is a fun way to get around.
Another tip while cycling Gulf State Park is to plan a stop at Woodside Restaurant. Enjoy a great meal in the main dining room, on the screened porch, or the outside deck under a shade tree. Aside from fabulous Southern cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients, you can also enjoy a wide array of backyard games! Woodside is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus take-out is available.
6. Beating the Traffic
There's no doubt that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is growing rapidly in popularity. There are two main roads into the towns— Alabama Highway 59 and the Baldwin/Foley Beach Expressway. The expressway has a toll bridge as you cross the Intracoastal Waterway, and it is usually a bit faster. Plus, it extends all the way to I-10. Access it at Exit 49.