Gulf Shores, Alabama — and its neighbor, Orange Beach, Alabama — have always been hidden gems. But the word is getting out about the area’s stunning beaches and multitude of ways to have seaside fun. Booking a vacation rental is a great way to experience all that Gulf Shores has to offer. Here are some tips for your stay.

Lounge on the Beach at Gulf State Park

Beaches are the big draw in the Gulf Shores area — and they are spectacular here, with wide stretches of white quartz sand, soft as sugar. Whether you like a lively scene with all the amenities or a more secluded experience, you can find the beach for you among the 32 miles of sand. Gulf State Park and Gulf Shores Public Beach are both dreamy places to lay out and catch some rays.

Glide the Gulf of Mexico with Water Sports and Sunset Cruises

Experience the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico by way of a boat that can take you into back bays and bayous. Companies like Cetacean Cruises offer sunset sailing tours of the coast — and even sunset dolphin cruises. If you’re after more of an adrenaline rush, the Gulf Shores area is the prime place for some water sports, from above-surface fun like jet skiing or parasailing, to the chance to peer below the surface while diving or snorkeling. 

Exploring the Gulf’s Flora, Fauna, and Wildlife

Gulf State Park is home to some of the area’s best outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, biking, boating, and swimming. The park features two miles of beaches, a 1,540-foot-long public pier and restaurant, and access to the inland Lake Shelby. It’s also home to Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, which leads hikers through nine different ecosystems over 28 miles.

The Gulf State Nature Center is a living museum of the region’s native plants and animals that are native to the Gulf Coast region. The center offers a regular schedule of educational activities and programs. 

Birding enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, which offers the opportunity to see native species like the blue heron. The trail comes complete with signs that offer educational information on the birds and their habitat.

Go Angling and Deep Sea Fishing in the Gulf Shores

If fishing is your kind of fun, Gulf Shores is just the place for beginners and experts alike. You’ll have plenty of options for angling, from deep-sea excursions to nighttime fishing and more — even bow fishing. Fishing in Gulf Shores includes the opportunity for a unique experience: Hook & Cook. You can have your captain fillet your fish for a small fee, then take it to a restaurant that will cook it for you just the way you like. 

Experience Golf Courses Designed by the Greats

The Alabama coast’s sunny weather makes it a prime spot for golf lovers — and the area offers 14 courses to choose from, each with its own character. Find the perfect course for you, whether that means a view of the surroundings or a course designed by greats such as Arnold Palmer, Jerry Pate, or Earl Stone. The popular Jim Edgemon-designed Kiva Dunes course, for example, is set in a resort that includes a pool and beach club on a private beach.

Go Out on the Gulf Shores with Local Nightlife

Fun in Gulf Shores doesn’t end when the sun goes down. Get a taste of the Gulf with fresh local seafood at one of the area’s many restaurants — and don’t miss the chance to enjoy a sunset cocktail with a view of the water at The Flying Harpoon. Many bars — like the iconic Flora Bama — feature local live music, from Cajun to country. And every spring, the annual Hangout Music Festival brings big names like Foo Fighters and Lana Del Rey for three days of music on the beach.

Find Your Place in the Sun in the Gulf Shores Area

If you love the beach life, Gulf Shores is a getaway that’s made for you. For more details on visiting Gulf Shores, get the latest Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Vacation Guide.