Gulf Shores, Alabama
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Gulf Shores Vacation Information

Life generally moves at a lazy pace in Gulf Shores, a beachside community on the Alabama coast. White sand, waving palm trees, and the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico make lazing oceanside the preferred pastime for locals and visitors alike.

But for those who prefer more action, there's plenty to do. Fishing, swimming, sailing, and other water sports are all popular options. So is shopping in a multitude of stores and outlet malls offering everything from swimsuits to cookware to original artwork.

Nature preserves, such as the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, offer a walk on the wild side. For another up-close encounter with nature, try a boat tour of the area's bays, bayous, and marshes, all of which teem with native flora and fauna. At the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, interactive exhibits showcasing the aquatic animal and plant life of Mobile Bay and the Gulf Coast region entrance visitors of all ages.

History buffs are sure to enjoy visits to Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan. The latter, which guards the main channel into Mobile Bay, was part of a major naval battle during the Civil War.

Just a short drive inland are the picturesque towns of Fairhope and Magnolia Springs. Founded more than 100 years ago, Fairhope is best known for its lovely parks, moss-draped live oaks, and spectacular views of Mobile Bay. It also offers a sophisticated mix of shops, boutiques, cafes and art galleries. Tree-shaded streets, gracious homes, and well-tended gardens give Magnolia Springs its special charm. Originally developed from a Spanish land grant in 1800, the town boasts natural springs once dubbed “the purest in the world.”.

With mild temperatures and sunny skies the norm year-round, Gulf Shores is an ideal spot for an off-season getaway. It also offers a variety of special events throughout the year, including the National Shrimp Festival, which celebrates its 37th year this October, and the annual Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, a 10-day musical celebration held each November.

With a year-round population of just over 7,000, Gulf Shores may be a tiny town, but don't be deceived. When it comes to fun, it delivers big time.

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Plan Your Trip to Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores Alabama Restaurants


With the water at their doorstep, it’s no surprise that fresh local seafood is the star of the show at so many Gulf Shores restaurants. That's not to say there aren't plenty of other palate-pleasing choices - everything from baby-back ribs and pizza to hand-cut steaks and prime rib. Atmosphere and dress are mostly casual, but many establishments also boast sophisticated wine lists, impeccable service, and changing menus based on what’s in season. Discover delicious dining in Gulf Shores by choosing from our list of restaurants below.

Also see our listings for nearby Orange Beach Restaurants and Perdido Key Restaurants.
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Gulf Shores Alabama Golf


Nine picturesque courses, some skimming the coast and others carved from the thick Alabama forests, make the Gulf Shores area a golfer's paradise. And warm, sunny weather virtually year-round means it's possible to get in a game just about any time.

Courses designed by such golfing legends as Arnold Palmer, Bruce Devlin, Jerry Pate, Earl Stone, and Robert Von Hagge offer challenges for players at all skill levels. Both stay-and-play and golf-only packages are available and may include everything from green fees and cart rental to rooms and meals.

Our list of golf courses and resorts will help you plan your Gulf Shores golfing vacation.
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Gulf Shores Alabama Fishing


The fish are biting year-round in Gulf Shores, so it’s not surprising that trying to catch them is one of the most popular pastimes for visitors. Large artificial reefs – constructed to add fish-friendly habitat (1,200 miles of it) to the naturally flat sand bottom of the Northwestern Gulf - harbor scores of fish, making the area even more attractive to anglers. And Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan and neighboring Orange Beach are home to one of the largest charter fishing fleets on the Gulf, so there are plenty of skilled captains ready to take anglers to spots where the fish are biting.

Any time of year, a typical fishing excursion may yield catches of grouper, amberjack, redfish, sheepshead, and vermilion snapper. Spring is the time to go after cobia, the trophy fish popular with so many anglers. Spring through fall, catches could also include flounder, jack crevalle, shark, bluefish, and blackfin and yellowfin tuna. Winter is the ideal time to catch bull redfish. To learn more about Gulf Shores fishing charters, scroll through the list below. For more area fishing charters, check out our Orange Beach fishing link. Because Perdido Pass, in Orange Beach, offers the area’s easiest access to the Gulf, many Gulf Shores fishing charters depart from Orange Beach marinas.
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Gulf Shores Alabama Shopping


Shopping in Gulf Shores is almost as popular a pastime as lounging on the beach. Whether you're looking for souvenirs to take home or trendy new duds for an evening out, chances are you'll find them in one of the area's shops, malls, or outlet stores. The shops in Gulf Shores and nearby communities carry everything from discount clothing and housewares to one-of-a-kind artwork, quirky antiques, and hand-crafted jewelry.

Our list of stores, malls, and outlet centers will help you plan your Gulf Shores shopping excursion.
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Gulf Shores Alabama Events


Sunny skies and comfortable temperatures most of the year mean that any time's a good time for a celebration in Gulf Shores. Two of the best-known festivals celebrate the local shrimping industry and the talent of area musicians.

More than 300 vendors offering arts, crafts, clothing, jewelry, and other retail goods make the National Shrimp Festival one of the nation's most exciting outdoor events. The four-day festival celebrates its 37th year this October.

The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, held each November at various spots in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and other nearby communities, offers 10 days of live musical entertainment. It's named for the late Frank Brown, a music fan who worked as night watchman at the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge for 28 years. The festival was founded as a venue for aspiring writers and musicians to showcase their work.

The city also celebrates the Fourth of July with a fireworks display, and ushers in the holiday season with a Christmas tree lighting and open house.

And there are plenty of other special events scheduled year-round - concerts, theater and dance performances, wine tastings, food festivals, arts and crafts shows - even a rodeo. Check out our calendar of events for an up-to-date list of what's going on while you're in town.
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Things to do in Gulf Shores Alabama

Other Things To Do

The great thing about a beach vacation is that you can do as little or as much as you like. If you crave more action than watching the tide ebb and flow, you'll find plenty of it in Gulf Shores. Just about every kind of activity that involves water is available, from diving and snorkeling to sailing and parasailing.

Less effort but lots of fun is stepping aboard a glass-bottom boat for a dolphin-watching cruise. Some captains also offer drinks and snacks, plus a fascinating commentary on the abundant wildlife that populates Alabama's coastal waterways and bayous.

And the whole family's sure to enjoy a wet and wild adventure in one of the area's water parks. Food is available at park concession stands, so you can go early and spend the day.

For a break from water sports, you can go bird watching on Dauphin Island, admire the manicured beauty of Bellingrath Gardens, or tour the World War II battleship USS Alabama, anchored in nearby Mobile Bay.

Or, for a one-of-a-kind of adventure ¬- and a view of the area from a whole new vantage point - sign up for a hot-air balloon ride over the Gulf and coastal wetlands.

For more options, and for diving/snorkeling and boat charter information, check out our list of area businesses.
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