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. Ahh…the seasons of life, all enjoyed during winter, spring, summer, and fall on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
It’s Christmas, y’all! Can you believe it’s here already? Kenney Chesney’s song, “Don’t Blink,” tells us to cherish the moments, which I do more and more these days. The Alabama Gulf Coast holds a special place in my heart and is the source of many of my memories from a young age.
A Christmas Parade of boats on the Alabama Gulf Coast
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. It is Friday, December 13, beginning a LuLu’s Homeport Marina and ending at the Flora-Bama.
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. 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.
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.
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.
A 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 that its cousin, Florida. Hurricane Ivan, a Category three storm, hitting the Gulf Shores area on Sept. 2004, made a historical impact, making way for small motels and cottages to transition to condominiums along the beach. Ivan caused widespread destruction, and the complexion of the beach towns changed forever. Although most of the small motels and tiny cottages no longer exist, the atmosphere is still much like a small town.
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.
Summertime is the right time
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.
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.”
Take A Fall Trip to the beach
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.
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.
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.
Winter weather is just right
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. Others dress in costumes to ring in the new year.
Spring Break at the beach
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 play happily until their lips turn blue.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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. I’ll think of bonfires on the beach at night and dancing to the music on our transistor radio.
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.
Where To Stay
Rental agencies and individuals offer a wide range of lodging, from hotels to beach houses. 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.