The crown jewel of Alabama is the Gulf Coast. These Alabama beaches are some of the finest in the USA, with their quartzite white sand and pristine turquoise waters bursting with sea life.
Yet the coast of Alabama has more to offer than beautiful beaches. All around Mobile Bay and along the shores toward Florida you’ll find abundant nature, luxurious mansions, historical relics, and tourist attractions in abundance. People come for the Alabama beaches, but they stay for clean and vivacious coastal living.
In this short article we’ll focus on the 10 best things to do on the Alabama coast. Here’s a MAP of the territory we’ll cover, from the SW corner of Mobile Bay to the Flora-Bama on Perdido Key. If you’re going to venture this part of the country, you will absolutely want to stop at some of these places. We hope you enjoy Alabama beaches and coastal things to do as much as we do!
Orange Beach, Alabama is one of the South’s premier beach destinations. Here you will find all the ingredients for an ocean vacation are present: white sand, blue water, and activities galore. In addition to the basic beach aesthetics, O.B.’s sights are clean, criminally undercrowded, historically significant, and host a family vibe throughout.
Walter Duncan Bellingrath purchased a Coca-Cola bottling franchise in the early years of Coke distribution and became incredibly wealthy as a result. He bought some land with fishing cabins, and Besse began to garden there. Then the obsession began. In 1934 Bellingrath Gardens were opened to the public with a $1 admission. Today the gardens are just as beautiful as they were back then. We would recommend touring the house while you are there. It is absolutely wonderful.
Other than sitting in a short-chair on the perfect sands of Alabama, our favorite of the things to do in Orange Beach was our visit to Fort Morgan. Since 1834 Fort Morgan has stood as the guardian of Mobile Bay, seeing significant action in the Civil War. It also sits on a beach and has some majestic resident herons. Spend a few hours exploring the tunnels and manning the turrets, damn the torpedoes.
Gulf State Park is on the short list of best state parks in the USA and definitely one of the best things to do in Orange Beach, Alabama. The park includes 6,000 acres of Alabama Gulf Coast and is home to nine unique ecosystems. There are three lakes for fishing, and miles of hiking and biking trails. And best of all, there are beaches. Bonus points for a first-rate RV park.
If you run a stretch of shore 35 miles in a straight line you shouldn’t expect to find many differences from one beach to the next. Therefore, judging beaches is kind of stupid. Yet nonetheless, here we are, judging beaches. Perdido Key is as nice as most any point along the coast of Alabama. The vibe is a bit better, and the scenery is a bit better, so we give it an edge over Joe’s Generic Beach.
If you’re coming to the Alabama Coast, you might want to consider visiting the Florida Panhandle as well. We’ve written up a compare/contrast to figure out which is better. Be sure to check out our Redneck Riviera Review before you go!
The USS Alabama is the centerpiece of a Veteran Memorial Park in Mobile Alabama. Known as the “Heroine of the Pacific”, the USS Alabama earned nine Battle Stars for meritorious service culminated with leading the American Fleet into Tokyo Bay on September 5, 1945. Tour the USS Alabama, as well as ghe USS Drum submarine, a pavilion of aircrafts, tanks, and artillery, in this incredible military veteran park.
Flora-Bama is a quintessential music venue in The South, made even more famous by musicians like Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett. If you’re a music lover they have multiple stages showcasing local musicians all throughout the day. They say it’s child friendly, but Big Earl’s lyrics (photo above) suggest otherwise. Seven days a week you’ll find the Flora-Bama crawling with good-timers eating fried shrimp and hanging on the sweet sounds. Be sure to visit this notorious haunt — it’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Orange Beach.
If the beaches of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores aren’t enough for you, take a ferry ride across Mobile Bay and explore even more beaches on Dauphin Island. While you’re there you can also check out the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Fort Gaines, and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. This is considered one of the best things to do on the Alabama Coast.
Johnson Beach National Seashore is an incredible beach that runs for miles down the length of Perdido Key. If you want to avoid the crowds, this is where you go, as long as you can stomach the $15 per car entrance fee. At the very end of Perdido Key are the remnants of military relic Fort McRee (not necessarily recommended — it’s a couple miles down the beach).
Fairhope is a fancy little town on the eastern side of Mobile Bay and there’s no shortage of things to do. The center of town boasts an assortment of high-end boutiques — they say there’s something for everyone, but it’s mostly for the rich. On the water you’ll find the famous Fairhope Pier. Fairhope is also home to world renowned artists. Several art galleries are located throughout town.
Coastal Alabama and Alabama beaches made believers out of us. We weren’t sure what to expect, and we feared it would pale in comparison to the Emerald Coast of Florida (link). The people were pleasant and there weren’t too many of them. The tourist pockets of town were clean and updated, and the highways had a shocking paucity of cars. All in all, it was an ideal beach setting for a perfect vacation.
Like I said, we typically holiday in Destin, Florida (link). This time we decided to give the Alabama coast a chance and it did not disappoint. If you would like to read our compare/contrast between the Alabama Coast and the Florida Panhandle, check out our Redneck Riviera Review. We think you’ll like it.
Thank you for stopping by our website! We are the Hoffmann family, a full-time RV family that has split residence in Seattle, Washington and San Antonio, Texas. We have special needs children that we homeschool, and work travel assignments for the Veteran Affairs Hospital. If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Start Here and Biography pages. In the meantime, God bless and travel happy!
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