Those who have not yet vacationed along Alabama’s beaches may not know that our 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches span two different cities. While both offer pristine beaches, an array of activities and attractions, and more restaurants than we can name, there are several reasons you might choose to lodge in one city over the other.
Choose Gulf Shores If…
You’re an Animal Lover
If you’ve got a soft spot for animals, look no further than Gulf Shores. One of the area’s most popular attractions is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores. Here you can stroll through the zoo’s 25 acres and see giraffes, monkeys, tigers, and other creatures. Get even closer with an animal encounter, where you can interact with sloths, kangaroos, or lemurs. To learn about local wildlife, visit the Gulf State Park Nature Center. This spot is free to visit and is a living museum of native plants and animals. You’ll find turtles, snakes, and the park’s resident hawk, Hawkeye.
Nature enthusiasts will also love the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores. The refuge houses some of Alabama’s last remaining undisturbed coastal habitats. Guests can traverse the property via three trails of varying lengths and terrains. One of the refuge’s most traveled trails is the Jeff Friend Trail, a paved one-mile loop with views of Little Lagoon and a variety of wildlife. Throughout the year, Bon Secour is a refuge for more than 300 migratory birds. It’s also the home of various endangered species, such as the Alabama beach mouse.
Choose Orange Beach if…
You’re a Fishing Fanatic
Did you know Orange Beach is home to one of the largest charter fishing fleets in the Gulf of Mexico? It’s no wonder the area has become a mecca for fishing fanatics. Another feature that makes the city unique is the vast number of waterways fishermen have at their disposal. Of course, the highlight for many is saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Many local charter fishing providers offer deep-sea excursions. You can also book a fishing trip in the back bays or cast a line from the beach. No matter the time of year, you’re bound to reel in an impressive catch in Orange Beach.
Another haven for shoppers in Orange Beach is SanRoc Cay Marina. From resort beachwear and shoes to unique gifts and high-end salon products, SanRoc Cay houses close to a dozen stores and boutiques. Shoppers will also be pleased to know that this area has several restaurants and a courtyard bar with live music nearly every night.
For shoppers who want something eclectic and locally crafted, the Coastal Arts Center is the place to go. Located on four pristine acres lining Wolf Bay, the arts center features a 10,000- square foot gallery that only displays works by Gulf Coast artists. Nearly every piece in the building can be purchased. Visitors can also check out The Hot Shop for glass-blown art and The Clay Studio for pottery.