Don’t let Florida have all the fun when it comes to seaside stays. While Alabama might not see quite as many sunny days as the Sunshine State, its temperate climate and tiny border along the Gulf of Mexico make it an ideal spot for your next beach vacation. The beaches here tend to be quieter, but the beauty is certainly not muted. White sand beaches, crystal clear blue-green waters and friendly dolphins frolicking in the surf are part of the landscape. Wild dunes, an abundance of seashells, and a healthy population of gulls and pelicans are also part of the natural splendor that awaits you year-round.
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach destination (with ice cream parlors and go-kart tracks galore!) or a quiet getaway that has miles of uninterrupted coastline all to yourself, Alabama has an answer to your craving salt water . Here are the best beaches in Alabama.
When most people think of Alabama’s beaches, Gulf Shores (and its sister city, Orange Beach) first spring to mind. Together, the communities claim 32 miles of sandy beaches, much of which is dotted with condos, homes, restaurants, and attractions. With the motto “small town, big beach,” there’s plenty of room to roam once you hit the sand, and always more to explore for restaurants, bars, shops, and activities, but you’ll never feel far from slowing down. slow pace of a tiny beach town. If you’re a first-time visitor, be sure to spend time traversing Gulf State Park’s 25 miles of paved trails and have lunch or dinner at The Hangout, the famous restaurant and music venue hosted for the annual Hangout music festival is known. If you can’t bear the thought of leaving once the vacation is over, you might consider browsing local listings for a beach house. After all, the city was ranked number one in the US for a beach home purchase by Vacasa in 2022.
Often referred to as Gulf Shores’ little brother, Orange Beach tends to be quieter and a little more relaxed. The beaches are equally beautiful, and there are the same opportunities for boating, parasailing, and other water sports, but there might be a few fewer go-kart tracks, arcades, and ice cream parlors to choose from if you’re looking for some offshore fun. Despite its slower pace, there’s still plenty to see and do here. The Wharf offers a fun mix of dining, shopping and entertainment year-round, including weekly live music and special events. For a date-night friendly evening, make reservations at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina, where your gorgeous water views are matched only by the edible art on your plate. Or head to the laid-back beachfront hangout and restaurant, The Gulf, for fresh seafood in a convivial, barefoot-friendly atmosphere.
This barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico is known for its unique blend of historical and natural attractions. Located just three miles south of Mobile Bay, the island is connected to the rest of the state by a bridge, but ferry rides are the more popular mode of transportation to and from the destination. With 14 miles of sugar-soft sand and just 2,000 residents who call the island home, Dauphin Island is as serene a retreat as any introvert could wish for. Wildlife is Dauphin Island’s main population, and you can learn all about the species that call the island home at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium. For a glimpse of the long history of this remote place, visit Shell Mound Park, a well-preserved archeological site of shell mounds dating back to 1100 AD, or historic Fort Gaines, dating back to 1821.
The charm of this coastal Alabama city cannot be found anywhere else on earth. While the entire city offers ample waterfront views thanks to the surrounding saltwater estuary and sparkling Mobile Bay, the beach isn’t necessarily the main attraction here. However, the shallow water and gentle waves make it a great place to introduce toddlers and toddlers to the open water. Beginners must experience Southern elegance and tradition at Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa; Their famous breakfast buffet is definitely worth the calorie boost. Spend an afternoon visiting and exiting antique shops, bookstores and boutiques in quaint downtown Fairhope, and end a perfect day by enjoying the sunset at the aptly named Sunset Pointe waterfront restaurant.
Located 20 miles from Gulf Shores on Mobile Bay, this National Historic Landmark peninsula is another wonderful Mecca for history buffs and nature lovers. The fort at Fort Morgan was originally built in 1834 to protect Mobile Bay and was active during four wars. Today, you can learn all about the region’s influential history at the official historic site. Fort Morgan is also a glittering gem for nature lovers hoping to spot coastal creatures in their natural habitat. Known as an important stopover for migratory birds, it is also home to three species of sea turtles. At Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, you can enjoy both, plus vast swaths of unspoilt, unspoilt beaches and coastal sanctuaries.