Adventure, fun, relaxation… you’ll find it all on Alabama’s Gulf Shores & Orange Beach white-sand beaches. For years, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach remained a little-known vacation treasure, but more and more families are discovering the 32 miles of soft sand and clear waters that lace the edges of Alabama’s southern border to the Gulf of Mexico. With attractions like championship golf, nature trails and water sports, travelers are escaping to the beach for their annual vacations and weekend getaways.
Winter Day Trips
Day 1: Explore History in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
- “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” Begin your day by travelling down to Fort Morgan. This historic site, paired with Dauphin Island’s Fort Gaines, served as the first line of defense for the city of Mobile during the Civil War. The fort was also the location of one of the largest navel battles in the Civil War: the Battle of Mobile Bay. The grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
- If you’re looking to visit the other local fort, hop on the Mobile Bay Ferry and visit our friends in South Mobile. Fort Gaines is another beautiful historic fort on Alabama’s coast.
- Next, travel back down to Gulf Shores and visit the Gulf Shores Museum. You can fly through the eye of a hurricane with “Hurricane Hunters” and the museum’s other interactive displays. The museum offers both seasonal and permanent displays and films. Adult and youth programs are also offered throughout the year. Hours vary by day.
- Lastly, the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum is another wonderful place to explore the history of the Alabama Gulf Coast. This museum was established to celebrate the area’s Native American and fishing heritage. It houses local artifacts and memorabilia, many donated by families of early fisherman. Originally built in 1910 as a schoolhouse, the building celebrated its 100th anniversary in November 2010. The museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Day 2: Art is Alive on Alabama’s beaches
- With displays showcasing over 30 local and regional artists, the Gulf Coast Art Alliance is the perfect place to kick off a day of art exploration. Located in Waterway Village, the GCAA houses an art gallery that hosts several events and classes throughout the year. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The alliance also hosts an Art Market once a month where dozens of artists gather together to demonstrate, display and sell their art. Live music and children’s activities make the markets great events for the whole family.
- To test your creative abilities, visit the Clay Studio and Hot Shop at the Coastal Arts Center. The Clay Studio features artist Maya Blue-Cantrell making artwork from clay. Cantrell invites the public to learn from her and create their own beautiful works of art or paint already formed items as take-home souvenirs. The Hot Shop is the only public access glass studio in Alabama. By appointment, the studio offers glass blowing lessons, group demonstrations and much more. Both studios are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- End your day by viewing one of South Baldwin Community Theatre’s engaging performances. Located in Gulf Shores, SBCT is a non-profit organization that aims to keep the dramatic arts alive in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Productions range from classics and comedies to dramas. Showings vary by season and production. And lively junior theater productions are featured seasonally as well.
Day 3: Honor Your New Year’s Resolutions
- If you’re ready to start your New Year off right, Alabama’s beaches have some great locations for you to visit. First, begin your day with a quiet jog on our white-sand beaches. Studies have shown that you burn 30% more calories running on the beach than you do running on a paved road or trail.
- Then, take a short drive to visit our friends in Foley at the Coastal Alabama Farmers and Fishermen’s Market. Every Tuesday and Saturday, you can load up on produce, meats and seafood grown and caught here on the Alabama Gulf Coast. You can also go online and check out our Eat Your Way Around the Beach recipe collection to create tasty meals with your market purchases. gulfshores.com/eatyourway
- Yoga has proven to be a wonderful stress reliever and the perfect way to shed a few pounds. Stop by one of our several yoga studios in the area. From hot power vinyasa to slow restorative classes, there is class for however you’re feeling at the moment.
- To end your day, come by any of our relaxing spa locations. The start of a new year can bring a lot of stress and hesitation, but nothing can make those feelings melt away like a deep tissue massage. Some facilities offer beachside services. Imagine the sound of waves crashing in the background….amazing!