Sunset on Alabama's beaches

Celebrate the Start of 2021 on Alabama’s Beaches

Outdoor Adventures and Other Things to Do in January

As the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2021, we’re likely to hear a collective sigh of relief from people all over the world. This past year has been challenging for a number of reasons, but it’s also made us grateful for many things we once took for granted. One of those things is the ability to travel. Fortunately, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach provide plenty of opportunities to have safe, socially-distanced fun this January.

Top Three Things to Do This January on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Winter biking on the Backcountry Trail in Gulf Shores, AL

Get Outside

It’s been said that fresh air and a change of scenery can do wonders for your mind and body. Along Alabama’s coast, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities and inspiring views. 

  • The Beach: Of course, the first place most visitors want to go when they vacation here is the beach. Our destination is located at the southernmost point of Alabama and boasts a relatively warm climate year-round. Because of this, visitors can enjoy our beaches well into the winter season. Though the water may be too chilly to swim, you can still relax in a beach chair with your favorite book, build sandcastles, play beach volleyball and enjoy a sunrise or sunset stroll.
  • Gulf State Park: With more than 6,150 acres to explore, it’s no wonder Gulf State Park has become a haven for nature lovers vacationing along our shores. From pier fishing and kayaking to hiking, biking or taking a Segway tour along the 28+ mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, there are so many activities and other things to do within the park. There are also a variety of edutainment experiences available. At the Interpretive Center, you can learn about how and why the park plans to become one of the leaders in environmental sustainability. And at the Nature Center you will learn all about the native plants and animals that inhabit the Gulf Coast. Lastly, the park also has lodging options including a campground with RV hook-ups, cottages and The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel.
  • Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge: Established in 1980, the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge includes some of Alabama’s last remaining untouched coastal habitats. Visitors can choose from four trails of varying terrains for a day of hiking. The Jeff Friend Trail is one of the most popular due to its short, one-mile length and recently renovated and accessible boardwalk. At the refuge, you’re likely to spot migratory birds, endangered animals and other native wildlife.'
  • Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo: For decades, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has become one of the most popular attractions for families vacationing on Alabama’s beaches. In Spring 2020, the zoo moved to its new 25-acre facility just a few miles north of its original location. This zoo is the first ZAA-accredited U.S. zoo built from the ground up in more than 20 years. Here, the 300+ animals have more room to roam, and park guests now have a wider variety of activities and amenities to experience. The new zoo offers theme-park rides, unique animal encounters, interactive shows, a giraffe feeding station, on-site dining, event spaces and more. The zoo has also implemented various safety protocols to ensure the well-being of all guests.
  • Golf Courses: Our warm winter climate continues to attract more and more golfers to the destination each year. You’ll find 15 area courses within an hours drive of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Several courses have lodging, restaurants and other amenities on-site as well. 
Donuts on a condo balcony in Orange Beach, AL

Run the Beach

During 2020 many of us picked up new hobbies. And, for some, that hobby was running. Put those new (or old) skills to the test at the Big Beach Marathon, Half-Marathon or 7K. The Boston Qualifier course boasts delightful scenery as runners wind through the Gulf State Park and along the main beach road. Crossing over the finish line, you’ll be looking out into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The 7K takes place on January 30, while the marathon and half marathon happen on the following day. To make sure all racers and spectators stay safe, the event holders will be limiting group sizes, will have staggered start times, and will enforce social distancing.

Stay In

Are you ready to get out of your house but not necessarily ready to explore a new destination? Well, we’ve got the solution for you. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are unique because the accommodations inventory in these two cities is primarily vacation rentals aka condos or beach houses. Many offer fully-equipped kitchens, large living and dining areas, spacious balconies and direct beach access. These amenities will enable you and your family to take a vacation this January that’s both relaxing and safe. Of course, no vacation is complete without trying the local cuisine. As many are choosing not to dine out right now, most of our local restaurants are now offering delivery or curbside service. This way you can get your taste of the Alabama Gulf Coast without leaving the comfort of your car or condo. There are also several local chefs who can come to your condo or house for a private chef dinner. When you aren’t indulging in our local fare, you can have your groceries and other items delivered by several area concierge businesses.  Before booking, be sure to check with your accommodations provider to learn about their pandemic protocols and cancellation policies. 

Learn about other things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach by ordering a copy of our 2021 vacation guide.

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