Man biking near Alabama's beaches

Why I Keep Coming Back to Alabama’s Beaches

As a travel blogger, it’s probably no surprise to you that I like going to new places! There’s always something to discover - about the world or about myself. Sometimes, though, a place grabs hold of my heart and draws me back again and again. Alabama’s beautiful beaches, and the charming communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, certainly fall into that category.

Friends even tease me about my infatuation with Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

But, there’s a good reason I keep coming back to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, five to be exact!

Countdown: 5 reasons I keep going back to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Life guard stand on Alabama's white sand beaches

5. Wide, sandy beaches

For relaxing on the beach, it’s hard to beat Alabama’s 32 miles of sandy coastline. Wide, soft, white sand stretches across the whole coast offering space for beach games, playing in the surf, fishing, building sand castles, and long, lazy afternoons in a beach chair.

So, maybe that was an obvious choice… how about some less obvious reasons?

4. Budget friendly

I’m a frugal vacationer! The better the value, the more I can do. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are a budget-beach-traveler’s dream! For the super-frugal, camping at Gulf State Park is a great value. Budget-friendly hotels, especially if you have travel rewards, are also a great option. But, don’t assume you can’t afford a beach house! There are adorable cottages, huge beach houses, and even luxury condos. When you share a larger home with friends or extended family, these can be a really great option for money savings.

Besides affordable lodging, there are many free and low-cost activities in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Explore the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (it’s free)! Go Geocaching. Fish from the pier at Gulf State Park. Go birding at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island. Take a trip back in time to Fort Morgan, which played a key role in the Civil War and protected Alabama through subsequent wars, including World Wars I and II.

Insider tip: If you really want to save on your beach vacation, go in the fall. I think it’s the prettiest season at the beach, with great weather as an added bonus, but less expensive than prime summer vacation season.

You can also save using these special offers on attractions, lodging and more throughout the year.

Kayaking along Alabama's Gulf Coast

3. Active adventures

For years, I equated beach vacations with long days on the beach, slathered in sunscreen as I relaxed on a beach chair under an umbrella. And while that’s a perfectly suitable option, I come back to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach because there’s so much more to do!

Adventurers will love Gulf Shores and Orange Beach because there’s so much to do. Two of my favorites are to explore the area on bike or by kayak. But, there are so many more adventures to be had, a great reason to keep going back. My Gulf Shores and Orange Beach adventure bucket list still has lots to check off, including:

2. Local cuisine

Every time I go to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, deciding where to eat gets harder and harder! The area is home to amazing, locally-owned restaurants. No matter what you’re craving, you’ll find it here. And it will be delicious!

Every time I visit, my list of places to eat again gets longer! But, I also have a growing list of new places to try! That’s a great dilemma, and a big reason I keep returning. It’s fun to try new restaurants, especially when they’re dedicated to consistent flavor and quality.

Besides amazing restaurants, talented chefs from around the world descend on Alabama’s Gulf coast for food festivals every year. The Shrimp Festival takes place on the beach in October, and The Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Festival is in November. Check out the annual festivals and events calendar to learn more.

1. Family friendly

Really, this is the main reason I keep returning to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Of all the places I’ve traveled, it tops the list for family friendliness, and that’s not an accident. These communities have dedicated themselves to being intentionally family friendly. It starts with making tough choices like alcohol-free beaches on spring break, attracting fewer college spring breakers so families have clean, safe beaches to enjoy.

But, it’s more than that. Even driving here is pretty easy, with roads that are easy to navigate, bike lanes for active travelers, and family-friendly restaurant policies even at the nicest places.

I’ll keep exploring the world, because I love adventure. But, when I really want to unwind, I’ll head back to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

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