Alabama and beaches might not be things you put together in the same train of thought, but the American state is home to beautiful beaches perfect for a family vacation. Much of its Gulf Coast consists of long white sand beaches, while other places boast long and low shorelines. Alabama beaches offer a little something for everyone, and here are a few of our favourites.
1. Gulf Shores
Gulf Shores is home to 32 miles of white sand beaches, and the most popular among them is the Gulf Shores Main Public Beach. You’ll find lots of amenities like open-air pavilions, walking paths, green spaces, picnic areas, volleyball nets and restrooms. For those new to the area, Gulf Shores Main Public Beach is often the first stop. But for adventurous families looking for a more natural beach experience, head over to Gulf State Park. There are 2 miles of beach here, a nature center, a dog park and about 25 miles of hiking and cycling trails.
Away from the sand, there are plenty of activities for the whole family, such as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, the USS Alabama and Waterville USA. There are also lots of accommodation options, which provides convenient access to the beaches and local restaurants, making Gulf Shores one of the best Alabama beaches for a family vacation.
2. Orange Beach
For less crowded beaches than Gulf Shores, consider Orange Beach with its nearly eight miles of shorelines. Noteworthy spots include Alabama Point Beach with more than 6,000 feet of beach and picnic areas, a boardwalk, restrooms, and showers. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy here! If your kids can’t sit still, explore the sand dunes at the beach and boardwalks, or swim in the mild waters. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins that sometimes swim through the area!
Another fun thing to do here is to be in two states at once! Head down Beach Boulevard to Flora-Bama, the legendary beach bar straddling Orange Beach in Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida. While you’re there, make sure to grab a bite and enjoy some live music.
3. Dauphin Island
Touted as the ‘Sunset Capital of Alabama’, the 14-mile-long Dauphin Island is beloved by generations of Southerners. For some of the best views of the Gulf, head to East End Beach, or spend the day shelling at West End Beach. Apart from its pristine beaches, Dauphin Island is home to many fun activities for the whole family – bird watching, camping grounds, and parks. And if you want to throw in some education with your swim, check out the island’s main attractions such as the ruins of Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. The bird sanctuary is an important site for wildlife, as it marks the first stop for birds migrating north from Central and South America.
4. Fort Morgan
From Dauphin Island, you can hop on the Mobile Bay Ferry for a 40-minute ride to Fort Morgan. Another spot to inject a history lesson into your family vacation, Fort Morgan is a historical landmark, built in 1834 as a fortress to protect Mobile Bay. It is one of the most unique Alabama beaches. After all, where else can you sunbathe, swim in the sea, and visit a museum all in one spot? The beach here is a nice alternative to some of the more populated Alabama beaches. Much of the area is also part of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, so you may spot many species of birds and other wildlife!
If you’re looking for more to do than just picnicking and lying on the beach, Fairhope is a great spot to experience a heavy dose of Southern charm. It is also referred to as an artist’s colony because many known artists and novelists, including Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg, have once called it home. Take your time to enjoy Fairhope’s shops, cafes, art galleries, and seafood restaurants. Then, take a walk down Fairhope Pier and admire the view of Mobile Bay.