Alabama may only have 53 miles of coastline, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to vacationing on our beaches.
In fact, tourism has been booming so much lately that Yahoo! recently named Gulf Shores one of “America’s Most Popular Attractions in 2012.”
With plenty of festivals and events throughout the year, Coastal Alabama is a premier destination for the summer months. But what many folks may not know is that there’s plenty to do along Alabama’s coast even when it’s cold outside.
“The Alabama Gulf Coast is the perfect escape for anyone during the winter months,” said Joanie Flynn, vice-president of marketing for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. “With mild temperatures, value-packed rates and a host of activities and events, this community offers guests a glimpse of the relaxing coastal life accentuated by our area’s warm Southern hospitality. Our winter guests have discovered one of our best kept secrets: it’s a time to enjoy all of the amenities of the destination without the crowds of peak season.”
So if you make a trip to Coastal Alabama this winter, here are some of our favorite things to do during the cold weather.
Fishing on the Gulf State Park Pier
Alabama’s only public pier on the Gulf happens to be the second-longest pier in the Gulf of Mexico. No matter the weather, this pier is always buzzing with activity. The Gulf State Park Pier features an on-site bait and tackle shop for amateur anglers, and if you reel in a few fish worth eating, check out any of the local restaurants that offer a “hook-n-cook” dinner.
Biking, Hiking or Walking
It may be snowing and sleeting throughout the northerly states, but along Alabama’s coastline, mild winter temperatures are a normal occurrence. Take a trek through any of the area’s magnificent nature trail systems, including the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve or the Hugh Braynon Backcountry Trail in the Gulf State Park.
And if you’re an avid birdwatcher, there are six birding loops that span more than 200 miles through Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Birdwatching trail guides are available at the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Welcome Centers.
Alabama Coastal Connection Scenic Byway
This nationally renowned 130-mile route meanders throughout the waters and wildlife of Southern Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Explore the fishing community of Bayou La Batre, educate yourself at the Dauphin Island Estuarium, and whet your appetite at any of our authentic seafood restaurants. There’s always something new to see and discover on the Byway.
Most folks think of New Orleans when it’s time to “laissez le bon temps rouler,” but the American Mardi Gras Association actually originated in Mobile. With numerous parades and activities throughout the weekend, Coastal Alabama remains the premier destination for a family-friendly Mardi Gras experience. Pick up a parade handout at either the Gulf Shores or Orange Beach Welcome Center to see a complete schedule of events.
Alabama Gulf Seafood has a rich history, but Alabama’s roots run deep in many different walks of life. Much like Alabama’s coastline, Baldwin County’s charming local museums are modest in size but big in heart and cultural wealth. Pick up a brochure at either the Gulf Shores or Orange Beach Welcome Center.