Nicknamed the Heart of Dixie and the Yellowhammer State, Alabama is a somewhat underrated destination which is a shame I have to say. Thanks to its rich culture, pleasant climate, plenty of outdoor activity options and a wonderful coastline dotted with top-notch beaches, this state has something to offer for all types of travelers. If you got excited (and I’m sure you did) here I tell you why you should start planning an Alabama beach vacation!
Alabama quick info guide
Capital city: Montgomery
Safety: Alabama’s crime rates are slightly higher than the national average but show a decreasing trend. Violent crimes are rare, but robbery and theft do occur. Overall, we can say that you don’t need to worry when visiting Alabama’s coastal areas but as always, be precautious, keep your valuables safe, lock your hotel room or rental home and be aware of your surrounding when outside.
Why is Alabama perfect for a beach vacation?
No matter you come for a weekend getaway or want to stay for months, there are many reasons to spend your next coastal vacation in Alabama.
Those who love to immerse themselves in culture will find historical areas and military attractions in Mobile Bay and at Fort Morgen, while beach lovers can have a lot of fun when visiting Alabama white sandy shores. The pristine beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach provide a Caribbean-like feeling with their white quartz crystal sand and turquoise waters.
A variety of activities ensure that no one will get bored while spending time at Alabama’s beaches: from fishing to watersports and various cruises, time spent well is guaranteed.
This state is a top destination for nature-lovers too; you can enjoy watching dolphins and whales or gators and birds at one of the many waterfront parks. If you are after mouth-watering adventures, restaurants serve the freshest, off-the-boat seafood. Grant yourself and your family fun memories; make Alabama’s coast your next beach destination!
5 Best Alabama Beaches
Although Alabama doesn’t have such a long coastline like Florida, it still has many wonderful beaches for those who seek a getaway to relax in the sun. Whether you want a comfortable beach experience with facilities and services on hand or looking for a hidden paradise, there is the right Alabama beach for you!
Offering beautiful views and laid-back vibes, Gulf Shore Beach is a white sandy beach in Alabama and perfect for anyone who wants to spend the entire day relaxing in the sun. It is a very spacious beach so never gets too crowded, has an ample area to play volleyball and play areas for kids.
On-site restrooms and showers make this beach a very convenient choice, moreover, it is handicap accessible and has lifeguard service too. The public access is located at the end of Highway 59; you have to pay for parking, but it is a relatively small fee and you can stay all day.
The small community of Orange Beach is the perfect choice for those who like to spend their days actively. With various attractions, music venues, restaurants and bars available, this charming beach town offers a lively vibe.
As one of the most pristine Alabama beaches with clear water, this long white sandy shore is excellent for swimming and sunbathing all day, but you are in the right place if you prefer watersports too.
Kayaking or paddleboarding is the way to explore the area’s countless waterways, or rent a jet ski and venture around the Gulf. Those who arrive with kids will find here tons of activities from wildlife spotting to visiting a butterfly garden. Orange Beach is a location perfect for all ages!
Fort Morgan Beach
If you are looking for a beautiful, but secluded beach in Alabama you should head to Fort Morgan Beach. The 14-mile stretch of Peninsula -where the Fort Morgan Third System masonry fort is located- is often considered a private area (which explains why it is less crowded) and however much of it is indeed privately owned, there are public water access points too so everyone can enjoy its clean waters and fine sand.
Fort Morgan has a lot to offer for nature lovers! The surrounding waters are home to many dolphins, sea turtles, and there are always beautiful birds flying by, so you don’t need to go somewhere specifically to see wildlife. And the best is, that Fort Morgan is one of those few beaches in Alabama that allow dogs so you can bring along your four-legged friends too!
Dauphin Island is a great family vacation area and one of the best beaches in Alabama for outdoor activities. There are places to hike, camp, and ride your bike on the island, but the soft sandy beaches are also perfect for those who want just to sunbathe and relax.
This barrier island is located in the Gulf -with the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Mobile Bay to the north- and can be reached by bridge or passenger ferry. You can enjoy many activities here such as taking a tour of a fort, visiting the Dauphin Island Sea Lab marine research center or the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. There are plenty of lovely rental homes available with unbeatable Gulf views that make this place a great choice for families to spend their vacation.
Fairhope is one of the best destinations in Alabama to visit if you want a quiet and relaxing time. You can walk the pier to see gulls and herons, and there are ducks and geese that wander around and call the park area home.
There is also a beautiful, wooded area nearby containing over 100 species of trees, including the rare Tupelo tree. The clean beach area and large playground for children to enjoy makes it one of the most family-friendly Alabama beaches too!
Things to do at the beach in Alabama
If you get easily bored sunbathing and want to be active even while on vacation, don’t worry! There are many activities that you can enjoy at Alabama beaches, let’s see the most common ones:
Thanks to the year-round ideal climate, beach volleyball is one of the most popular beach activities in Alabama. Most of the Gulf Shores and Orange beaches have areas already set up for volleyball or you can bring your own net to enjoy this timeless pastime with your family or friends.
Kayaking and Canoeing
To explore the coastline’s natural wonders, kayaking or canoeing is the best activity. The water in the Gulf is usually very calm, making using these crafts very easy.
All beaches allow kayaks and canoes, and these can be very handy for reaching the barrier islands, however, make sure to check the rules of the place you are visiting if you want to use motorized watercraft like jet skis.
Since the water in the Gulf is less aggressive than the oceans, seashells and small marine life have a better chance of making it to the shore in one piece. You will find many different shells on Alabama’s beaches and may even encounter creatures like starfish, sand dollars, and horseshoe crabs.
What can be a more fun beach activity than breathing the crisp salt air while and enjoying a delicious meal while enjoying being outdoors. Bring an umbrella, a blanket, pack some snacks and spend a nice day with your family or friends!
With extensive rivers systems and the inshore and offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the state has a rich history and diversity of freshwater and saltwater fishing. No matter you are new to fishing or a rod and reel expert, you will love to fish in Alabama! The most known place for beach fishing is Fort Morgan Fishing Beach.
Best time to visit Alabama beaches
With more than 220 sunny days per year, Alabama offers perfect beach weather almost year-round. December through February may be too cold to enjoy the water, but you can still soak up in the sun if you decide to come for a winter vacation.
However, the rest of the year is very good beach weather with warm days and mild nights during spring and fall, and tempered summers thanks to the Gulf Breeze. The air and water temperatures are the highest from May through September, these are the best months to visit Alabama beaches. The spring and late autumn months offer slightly lower temperatures but still excellent conditions (and better prices for accommodation) for a getaway!
Just remember when you take your Gulf Shores beach vacation is that this area is part of the hurricane strike zone. Hurricane season lasts for six months each year between June and the end of November, with peak activity occurring during August and September when the water is at its warmest. Should you plan your beach vacation during this period, you must watch the weather!
Alabama beach vacation costs
Alabama beach vacations are affordable compared to popular US destinations. Even when you throw in the cost of different beach activities you may decide to do, the cost of your trip will be much lower than for example in neighboring Florida.
The beaches are free to visit, with some having a small fee for all-day parking. Many of the activities are free, and some of the attractions that are in the town areas are very low cost or free to enjoy, and all types of accommodations are available from affordable condos to luxury beach resorts. If you are looking for a relatively budget-friendly place to take your family for vacation, you will love going to the Alabama Gulf area.
These numbers give you an idea of the daily budget per person including accommodation plus meals but excluding flight and transportation costs:
Places to stay in Alabama near the beach
There is a large variety of places to stay when you visit the beach areas in Alabama. Alabama beach vacation rentals can include a beach house, condos that are located near the beach as well as hotels and resorts, your options are virtually endless.
You can also find many deals from the resorts for your Alabama beach getaway. Many will offer a vacation package that includes lodging, activities, and even food packages. For a cheap beach vacation, Alabama also has many campgrounds near all popular beach areas.
Average accommodation prices per night per person in Alabama:
Simple motel/hotel (1-2 star): 40-70 USD
Average hotel (3 star): 120-170 USD
4-5-star resort/luxury vacation rental: 180-350USD
Use well-known websites such as Booking.com to book your accommodation so you can get help through the 24/7 support service if needed!
Beach etiquette in Alabama
To enjoy your coastal vacation the most, you need to make sure that you understand beach etiquette in Alabama. Most places observe the following beach rules:
- Use boardwalks and walkways when possible to protects the plantlife and dunes
- No glass containers on any beach
- Alcohol is prohibited
- Some beaches prohibit firepits or BBQ grills
- Most beaches do not allow dogs
- You cannot smoke at many of the beaches, including e-cigarettes
- Fishing is prohibited at some beaches
- Tent or shade coverings are limited to 7 feet in size
- All beaches require the use of bathing suits
If you leave the beach and enter into any of the restaurants, stores, or other tourist establishments it is expected that you wear pants/shorts/skirt over your swimming bottoms. However, this is not a law but expected by the business owners.
Iconic Alabama Foods and Drinks
Part of every vacation experience is being able to sample the local cuisine. When in Alabama, make sure you try these state favorites!
Pulled Pork With White Sauce: Barbecue as it exists in the US is very unique, especially in the South. In Alabama, it is focused on pork shoulder and pork butt and served with white sauce that consists of fresh lemon juice, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and seasoning.
Should you want to try this delicious Alabama dish at home, follow the instructions of this recipe!
Banana Pudding: Alabama takes its banana pudding very seriously. It is always cooked from scratch – never box – and uses only real vanilla wafer cookies, and fresh bananas. Once you taste this local confection, you sure will think that it’s the best-tasting banana pudding in the world!
Fried Green Tomatoes: A local staple and that might even be considered a state dish, green tomatoes fried to perfection are very popular in Alabama restaurants. Green tomatoes hold up well to being sliced and easy to fry because they are firmer and less juicy, moreover their slight sour flavor complements the crunchy coating! Yum!
Fried Pickles: Made with just a few ingredients, fried pickles are a crowd favorite. Gently breaded and deep-fried like french fries, this delicious treat is ready in minutes. And what is better than friend pickles? Fried pickles dipped in ranch dressing! This yummy snack is something everyone must try.
Alabama Slammer: a classic, must-try cocktail when you are enjoying a beach vacation in Alabama! Made with Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort, Amaretto, and orange juice, this pretty strong cocktail has a good balance of sweetness and it’s never boring!
Funny Alabama Slang Words and Expressions
Alabama is a fine example of southern culture in the United States is Alabama. This down-to-earth state has its own unique phrases and slang words and phrases that you may never have heard anyone else before – let’s see now some of them!
Buggy – Alabamian word for shopping cart
Ugly as sin – Unattractive
Born in a barn – No manners
Hold the horns – Calm down
Throwing a hissy fit – Getting upset
Tuckered out – Tired
Mad as all get out – Incredibly angry
Tide – Crimson Tide football team
Buck – Male deer
L.A. – Lower Alabama not Los Angeles
Coke – Any type of soda drink
Fixin ta – Getting ready to do something
Kin Folk – Relatives
Houndstooth – Pattern on a material worn by University of Alabama fans
Reckon – I think so
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