Four Seasons on the Alabama Gulf Coast for Every Season of Life

The seasons on the Alabama Gulf Coast each hold their unique appeal. Spring weather is perfect for uplifting your mood from a winter mindset and too much time indoors. Summer is synonymous with family vacations and girlfriend trips. Fall is the time to cool off, take long walks, and go to a seafood festival. Winter is the time to gear down and enjoy the holidays at a leisurely pace.

Sunset is beautiful at Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores, Alabama
A peaceful sunset in Alabama’s Gulf Shores along Little Lagoon

Begin planning your Alabama Gulf Coast vacation by visiting the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism website. You’ll find everything you need to know right here!

A Dolphin Cruise in Orange Beach, Alabama is a family favorite
A Dolphin Cruise in Orange Beach, Alabama is a Family Favorite

The Alabama Gulf Coast Any Time of Year

The Alabama Gulf Coast with the beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers visitors the best small-town life at the beach. The natural beauty of the Gulf of Mexico, plenty of activities for the family, and the best seafood restaurants around make for the best in a beach vacation.

Sea oats next to the Gulf State Park pier in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Sea oats next to the Alabama Gulf State Park pier

While planning my annual girlfriends’ trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast, I came across a kid’s YouTube video. The kids in the video, from Fairhope, are growing up along the Alabama Gulf Coast, fully understanding the enchantment of summers spent on the water.  With the help of their mother’s video editing, these kids capture the feeling many local kids have, playing in the warm water all summer long.

View these creative kids’ video about boating in the bay close to Pirate’s Cove.
Pirate’s Cove serves the best “cheeseburger in paradise” along Alabama's Gulf Coast
Pirate’s Cove serves the best “cheeseburger in paradise” along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

A Gulf Beach Vacation with a Small Town Feel

Just a few miles west of Florida’s Panhandle, the Alabama Gulf Coast was developed for tourism later than its cousin, Florida. Many of the small motels and tiny cottages of yesteryear have given way to condominiums and multi-family units. However, the atmosphere is still much like a small town. 

Piers on Ono Island and Condominiums along Orange Beach, Alabama's Gulf Coast
Piers on Ono Island and Condominiums along Orange Beach, Alabama make a beautiful view

How to get to the Alabama Gulf Coast

The drive into the Alabama Gulf Coast from Atlanta is less than six hours and, from Tallahassee, approximately four hours. With 32 miles of beaches, visitors can choose affordable vacation rentals ranging from beachfront high-rise condominiums, beach houses for a crowd or a few, and lodging in the quieter bay areas. 

Little Lagoon on the west beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama is a quiet place to stay
Little Lagoon on the west beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama is a peaceful place to stay

Summertime is the right time on Alabama’s beaches

Fishing in the shallow waters of Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Fishing in the shallow waters of Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores, Alabama is a family affair

Summertime is family time at the beach. Some like the active atmosphere in the middle of it all and some seek out quieter spots. There are plenty of vacation rentals that span the spectrum of options and amenities.

The Caribe Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama has a rooftop lazy river
Enjoy a rooftop lazy river at The Caribe Resort in Orange Beach

Whether you’re planning a high school senior trip or a Senior’s Trip for couples or girlfriends, you’ll find the white sand beaches along the Alabama Gulf Coast perfect for your adventure. For a look at the top activities for you and your family, see our article, “Top 10 Family Activities in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama.”

Kids make sand castles in the white sands of Gulf Shores, Alabama
Kids play in the white sands of the Alabama Gulf Coast

Take A Fall Trip to Alabama’s Gulf beaches

Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are perfect for a Seniors’ Trip anytime. But my favorite time is Fall, with cooler temperatures and a slower pace. For beach lovers, days are meant to relax and feel the soft white sand between your toes or walk for miles along uninterrupted beachfront. Sit under the umbrella happily reading, dozing, talking, until time to go to dinner. 

Sea oats and sugar-white sands in Gulf Shores provide relaxation on a fall day
The sugar-white sands along the Alabama Gulf Coast are perfect for reading under an umbrella

Girlfriend trips will want to include shopping time in the Tanger Outlet shops in Foley, The Wharf in Orange Beach, and Downtown OWA

The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama offers shopping, restaurants, and entertainment
The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama offers shopping, restaurants, and entertainment

Fishers will want to plan on a deep-sea fishing excursion leaving daily from Orange Beach, check out the day’s catch as the boats come into Zeke’s Marina, or spend a day on the Gulf State Park Fishing pier. The pier has 2400 feet of fishing space, covered seating in a concession area, and a tackle shop. 

The Gulf State Park pier is ideal for fishing in Gulf Shores, Alabama
The Alabama Gulf State Park pier in Gulf Shores is ideal for fishing

Fall has a unique appeal along the Alabama Gulf Coast. It seems to be the favorite time of year for the older crowd.

During the annual National Shrimp Festival, in October, visitors spend days and evenings outdoors. You will eat shrimp cooked every way imaginable (along with other options) while listening to live music on two stages and shopping for art and crafts from local artisans.

While you’re in Gulf Shores, you will want to stop in at a couple of the oldest hot spots around, the Pink Pony Pub, which was built in 1956 and the Flora-Bama, which was built in 1964. Both are known for their live music and adult beverages.

The Pink Pony Pub has been in the same Gulf Shores, Alabama location since 1956
The Pink Pony Pub has been in the same Gulf Shores, Alabama location since 1956

Winter weather is just right at Alabama’s Gulf beaches

Wintertime can be the best time with balmy breezes and only light jackets required. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores host a special Christmas Parade each year, and you won’t want to miss the 34th Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. The parade is held on Friday, December 13, beginning a LuLu’s Homeport Marina and ending at the Flora-Bama.

A Christmas Parade of boats on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Christmas Lighted Boat Parade along the Alabama Gulf Coast (photo credit to coast360.com)
Christmas Lighted Boat Parade along the Alabama Gulf Coast (photo credit to coast360.com)

More than 45 boats will be decorated with Christmas lights and travel in a parade along the Intracoastal Waterway. Spectators can view the boats passing by from Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores, along Canal Road and other places along the waterway, all the way to the Flora-Bama. For instance, one of the best places for viewing is at The Wharf in Orange Beach. For more information on the parade route and places to view, visit My Gulf Coast Chamber website.

New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip in Orange Beach

For the most adventuresome, the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip is exhilarating for participants and pure entertainment for spectators. Grownups take to the sometimes icy waters as a New Year’s resolution, while others dress in costumes to ring in the new year.

The  New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge in Alabama's Orange Beach at the Flora-Bama
Big kids have fun at the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip at the Flora-Bama in Orange Beach

Spring Break along Alabama’s Gulf beaches

The Alabama Gulf Coast has been a family-oriented destination for spring break for many years. The weather ranges from “thank goodness winter is over” to “Oh my gosh, is it summer already?” The littlest kids don’t seem to care if the Gulf water is cold. They will play happily until their lips turn blue.

Spring break along the Alabama Gulf Coast is great for families
Spring break along the Alabama Gulf Coast is great for families

As soon as the weather turns the slightest hint of warm, local teenagers start planning their spring break trip to the beach. Skipping a day of school here and there just whets the appetite for spending more time at the beach.

Springtime brings warm weather and wonderful memories of my daytime beach trips to Gulf Shores from Fairhope.

Teenage Memories of the Alabama Gulf

It seems like yesterday that I took my high school senior trip to Gulf Shores. Now we plan “Senior” trips of another nature to the Alabama Gulf Coast, any time of year… because we can.

Fairhope HS Seniors–Spring Break 1972

Sometime in the 1970s, at the end of an early spring day trip to Gulf Shores, we were heading home through the flat back roads of Baldwin County. The roads are easy to drive, laid out in a grid, with crops in view for miles. This day my sister, driving our family’s land yacht (a long blue Mercury sedan), felt the huge willful beast of a car pull sharply to the right.  Suddenly we were off the road, windshield deep in a cornfield. Barely able to open the doors, we emerged unhurt into the bright sunlight.

However, with a stroke of luck, the first person to stop to check on us was a coach from Fairhope High School, who helped us get the car, with a flat tire, fixed — and we were on our way. That’s small-town life in Baldwin County.

You might enjoy my article about my hometown in Baldwin County, “Fairhope, Alabama, my small-town dream.”

 Baldwin County cornfields line the backroads around the beach
Baldwin County cornfields line the backroads around the beach

Memories of summertime on the Gulf Coast

This year while I’m sitting on the beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast, I’ll remember a Styrofoam cooler in the trunk, wrapped in a quilt to keep the cooler from squeaking. The quilt was also doubling as a blanket to sunbathe on.  I’ll think of the baby oil and iodine we used instead of sunscreen, and of the bottle of lemon juice used to lighten my hair. Also, I’ll think of bonfires on the beach at night and dancing to the music on our transistor radio.

The white sands along the Alabama Gulf Coast
The white sands along the Alabama Gulf Coast

Alabama’s beaches are a magical place for kids of all ages

While we Seniors enjoy our beach vacation, we know the local kids are riding the backroads of Baldwin County towards the Alabama Gulf Coast for the day. Keep making memories and have fun kids…of all ages! The seasons pass quickly.

A view of Sunset over Perdido Bay in  the Alabama beach town  of Orange Beach
A view of sunset over Perdido Bay from Cobalt Restaurant in Orange Beach, Alabama

Where To Stay on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Rental agencies and individuals offer a wide range of lodging, from hotels to beach houses. Therefore, for a quick trip for a few nights, we suggest checking out booking.com for The Perdido Beach Resort and the Island House-A Doubletree Hotel by Hilton.

For longer stays visit the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism website for lodging options, where to eat, and things to do.

Beach houses are good lodging options for families in Alabama's Gulf Shores
Beach houses are a good lodging option along West Beach Rd. in Gulf Shores

Above all, remember, no matter what time of year you go, you’re sure to make memories for all seasons.

Beach Fishing in Alabama's Gulf of Mexico
Beach Fishing at sunset on the Alabama Gulf Coast

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