Are you thinking about an Alabama beach vacation? Here’s 8 reasons to spend summer at the best Alabama beaches for families. This post is sponsored by Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism Board. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Beach destinations are our absolute favorite. If you’re looking for a memorable place to create endless family memories than the Gulf Coast beaches are exactly where you’ll want to be. Alabama, also known as the Yellowhammer state, has some of the best beaches that you’ll ever experience. Alabama beaches are located along the Gulf coast. The Gulf coast is what I like to call a little slice of paradise in the south. The water is warm, the sand is soft and the weather is perfect. Spanning 60 miles along the Gulf, the white sandy beaches will captivate your family and really make you never want to leave.
If you ask me, the best place to spend a simple summer is in Alabama Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. We’ve been a few times and have never been disappointed. It always gives us a better experience than we were expecting.
8 Reasons to Visit The Best Alabama Beaches for Families
1. The weather is unbeatable
You can’t name a place with better weather than the Gulf Coast. The Alabama beaches can get hot during the summer months but the cooler breeze brought in by the Gulf makes up for it.
2. Tons of family friendly activities
We never had to worry about what we were going to do when we were vacationing in Gulf Shores. Between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach there are so many family friendly activities. One of our favorite places to spend time, other than the many beaches of course, is The Wharf. There you’ll find restaurants, a movie theater, a ferris wheel, a selfie museum and other attractions that are perfect for families. If you stop at the Gulf Shores or Orange Beach Visitors Center on your way into town you can grab some coupons for the many attractions.
If you need a full list of things to do with kids in Gulf Shores, check out my list here.
3. There’s endless options for good food
I’m a sucker for good food. I love trying new restaurants whenever we travel and dragging my family along with me. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have no shortage of good restaurants. They have endless options from fast food to fine dining and everything in between. You’ll definitely want to add some of the homemade ice cream spots to your list of places to visit while you’re there as well.
4. You can learn while you’re there
Not everyone is a homeschooling family or homeschools while traveling but if you like to incorporate a little learning into your vacation then Gulf Shores is the perfect place for that. Gulf Shores Museum, Fort Morgan and the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum are a few historical places to add to your itinerary. Outside of Gulf Shores, you can travel to one of the surrounding cities including Mobile for more historical sites.
5. The small town charm will win you over
I love traveling to big cities but there’s something about the souther small town charm that gets me every time. The people are friendly and pleasant to be around. Everywhere we go people are striking up a conversation and giving recommendations to us.
6. There’s more than just the beaches
Although Gulf Shores is known for its pristine white beaches, the town has much more to offer. Everything from hiking trails, boat excursions, fishing and so much more. The popular Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail covers more than 28 miles and nine different ecosystems. It’s perfect for hiking, biking and bird watching. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is another attraction that families love. They have hands on experiences for an additional fee.
7. It’s a budget friendly vacation option
Alabama beaches are a budget friendly option when compared to other domestic beaches across the country. The Alabama beaches are well known to those in the South but it’s definitely a hidden gem.
8. Plenty of small town shops to choose from
Shopping is one of my favorite activities. One of the things I love about the shopping in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is that there are a lot of small businesses to support. Shops at The Wharf and Gulf Place are great for finding beach attire and souvenirs.
When is the best time to visit Alabama beaches?
The best time to visit really is a personal opinion. We’ve visited during the spring and summer, and were happy with both seasons. The summer months are a peak season for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach which tends to mean larger crowds at the beaches.
If I had to choose an ideal time to visit it would definitely be the spring and fall months. I suggest to plan for March through May and September through November. If you choose to visit during the fall months you’ll find cooler weather with warm water in the gulf. Typically during the months of August to October you’ll find temps in the mid 70s to 80s and smaller crowds. The coldest month in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is January so you’ll want to avoid that for sure.
What do I need to know about road tripping to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores?
Road trips are our favorite way to travel as a family. Even though road tripping with kids can be a little hectic it’s definitely the recommended way to go especially if you’re traveling from Orlando. The drive is about 7 hours long. We usually make about 3-4 stops during the drive for bathroom and food breaks. Pre-planning our route helps us to know where we want to stop in advance. It helps us to avoid having to scramble at the last minute looking for the nearest restaurant or gas station.
What are the best airports to for flying to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach?
If road trips aren’t your thing or you’re just too far away to hit the road then flying might be your best option. The only international airport located in Gulf Shores is designated for corporate jets and private charters. Flying into Pensacola International Airport or Mobile Regional Airport. You can arrange for an airport shuttle to take you from Pensacola International Airport to Orange Beach. However if you’re traveling with kids the better option would be to rent a car for your vacation. It’ll be easier and more affordable to get around.
Tips for Visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for the First Time
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are about 6 miles apart from each other and are separated by Gulf State Park. If you’re visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for the first time you’ll definitely want to plan in advance. I’m a huge planner and it helps alleviate any stress especially when I’m traveling with my family. Take a look at some maps and decide which part of town you’ll want to stay in. Are you wanting a quiet, simple vacation with no frills or are you wanting to be right in the middle of everything the towns have to offer?
Visiting during the summer season will absolutely require advance planning. It’s one of the busiest seasons for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Tons of families vacation here, there are sports tournaments, music festivals and lots of holidays that fall during the summer which means more travelers than normal.
We’re forever fans of Spectrum Resorts. If you ask us where to stay, my family would no doubt say Turquoise Place on Orange Beach or The Beach Club Resort & Spa over in Fort Morgan. Both are full resorts with amazing amenities for families.
8 of The Best Alabama Beaches for Families
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama has multiple beaches for families. What I love most is that you can’t go wrong with choosing any one of these beaches to spend the day at. Some of the beaches listed require a fee for parking so you’ll want to make sure to do a little research when planning your trip.
1. Gulf Place
Gulf Place is the main beach of Gulf Shores. The white sand and clear blue water will make you believe that you’re on a tropical vacation right in the south. You’ll find amenities like restrooms, showers, open-air pavilions and a picnic area. If you’re looking for a place to play volleyball or just lounge around this is it. Up-close parking is available for a fee which makes it perfect for families toting around their beach supplies.
2. Gulf State Park Pavilion
Gulf State Park Pavilion is usually one of the less crowded beaches in Gulf Shores. I love the sand dunes and sea oats here. It’s a perfect place for things like surf fishing, family photos or even just walks on the beach. The air-conditioned pavilion has restrooms, private showers, a snack bar, fireplace and seating for families looking to eat. The Lodge at Gulf State Park is located nearby if you’re looking for a hotel near Gulf State Park Pavilion.
With 28 miles of hiking trails, 2 miles of beaches and a 900-acre freshwater lake to explore you can’t go wrong. There are plenty of places eat around Gulf State Park and if you’re traveling with kids you’ll want these tips for eating with kids while traveling.
3. Alabama Point East
Located in Orange Beach just 0.3 miles east of Perdido Pass Bridge, Alabama Point East is a quiet and laid back. This is a smaller beach with about 6,000 feet of beach and sand dunes. If you’re planning on spending the day here you might want to think about dining at The Gulf or Cobalt nearby. Both have delicious menu options and are family friendly.
You can get to Alabama Point Beach by going through a gate behind some of the condos located in Orange Beach. Follow the path and you’ll get straight to the beach.
4. Fort Morgan Beach
Fort Morgan Beach is located on the Fort Morgan Historical site. It’s a smaller beach and not one for swimming. However if you’re visiting the Fort Morgan Historical site it’s a great place to sit and enjoy the view.
5. Cotton Bayou
Cotton Bayou is a small beach area in Orange Beach. It’s convenient for folks staying at the condos in the nearest vicinity. Some consider Cotton Bayou to be one of the best Alabama beaches for families. They have lifeguards on duty, offer free parking, family friendly activities, and a spot for budget conscious families who are traveling on a budget and want to save some extra money.
Cotton Bayou is also home to The Lulu, a popular diving spot. There you can scuba dive, snorkel, and explore the shipwreck.
6. Romar Beach
If you want to go for a sunset stroll on the beach or have a fun family picnic then Romar Beach is perfect. It doesn’t have any extra amenities like showers or restrooms so you won’t want to spend an entire day here. However if you’re staying in one of the nearby condos you it may be a good option. It’s located in Orange Beach and very easy to get to.
7. Shell Beach
Shell Beach is located just at Perdido Pass Bridge and is the perfect place for families wanting to collect shells. It’s easy to access but only for a small fee. The white sand and sand dunes make it the perfect place to capture those precious family memories.
8. Lagoon Pass Beach
Lagoon Pass Beach is a shallow waterway that connects Little Lagoon to the Gulf. This beach is perfect for fishing and enjoying the views. It has a shallow, sandy floor that’s ideal for walking on and swimming.
Would you recommend Alabama beaches for families?
I highly recommend Alabama beaches for families. Although we’ve only visited a few times my husband actually grew up going to Alabama beaches. Orange Beach is a little more family friendly and has more to offer but both destinations are perfect for families.
Alabama is my husband’s home state and he has many memories of visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach as a kid. Being able to share his memories and recreate our own memories as a family is super special. Whenever we’re in town we always have such an amazing time. By the end of our trip our hearts are full and we are beat but every second spent together on the beach is definitely worth it.