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A surprising seaside getaway in Alabama's southeast, Gulf Shores brings a slice of the Emerald Coast to the Heart of Dixie. Draped along a gorgeous sand beach on the north end of the Gulf of Mexico, calling Gulf Shores a pleasant place to be would be a bit of an understatement (hurricane season notwithstanding). But there's moren than just a gorgeous beach—and subsequent beach vibe—to Gulf Shores. While you should almost certainly spend a good amount of time soaking in some rays on a lounger or towel (skin tones permitting, of course), you'll do well to check out some of the other facets of the area, too.

The great outdoors certainly take on a relaxingly gorgeous way of their own here. The beach, of course, is the main draw, but if lounging around all day doesn't sound like quite your thing, there are plenty of parks and outdoor spaces (including a Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge) that make for a great excuse to get outside and explore. You'll also find a slew of kayak and SUP rentals, as well as a fleet of fishing charters and boat tours to get you out on the water. Families—or anyone, really—also love stopping by the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which boasts a surprising diversity of animals.

When you find your day coming to an end, you'll be able to experience another part of Gulf Shores' charm: its dining and nightlife. While American eateries dominate the dining scene, you'll find they come in every shade from modern to mom-and-pop, and you'll find a few international outliers sprinkled in for good measure. Bars, too, mostly come in the beach-y variety (but c'mon! you're here, after all!), but there are quite a few places for a quality cocktail, craft beer, or a glass of fine wine. However you finish you evening off, you'll have the verdant relaxation of Gulf Shores to wake up to in the morning—and that's quite a way to start your day.


Gulf Shores Public Beach

Small Town, Big Beach

Gulf State Park

Cabin by the Lake

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Little Zoo That Could

The Royal Oyster

Fit for Poseidon