Credit

Courtesy of Courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

Why Go To Gulf Shores

Sparkling quartz-grain sand is just one of the many reasons travelers favor Gulf Shores, Alabama. Not only does this city on the Gulf of Mexico boast emerald waters, it also offers easy access to 32 miles of Alabama coastline. Though its beaches are the main draw, Gulf Shores has so much more to offer.

Tourists can cast a line at Gulf State Park or hop on a boat cruise to spot dolphins. Meanwhile, families with children will appreciate the city's kid-friendly attractions, such as Waterville USA and the local zoo. With an activity to suit any interest, this vacation hot spot isn't one to be missed.

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Best of Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Gulf Shores are March through May and September through November. Travelers can take advantage of these sweet spots outside the busy (and more expensive) summertime and enjoy swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, which still offers pleasant temperatures in the late spring and early fall. Plus, there are a variety of events and festivals during these months. Though the city is popular with snowbirds in the winter, you can get a hotel for a steal. If you're interested in a summer visit, know that June, July and August are three of the area's wettest months and also the most popular. You'll also want to book your hotel or vacation rental well in advance if you're visiting in the summer to secure the best price.

Weather in Gulf Shores

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Average Temperature (°F)
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49
67
55
74
63
82
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89
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75
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66
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56
62
48
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Average Precipitation (in)
5.3
5.5
5.3
4.3
4.4
5.1
6.2
7.2
5.4
3.9
4.1
4.9
Jan
Feb
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See details for When to Visit Gulf Shores

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • It's making big improvements Since 2014, the city has increased its focus on improving its sustainability, preserving its ecosystems and making its beaches more accessible to all.  
  • It's a nesting ground for turtles Three different species of sea turtles nest in Gulf Shores from May to October. Exercise caution while on the beach so that you don't disturb nests or hatchlings. 
  • It's centrally located Gulf Shores sits in between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. Each city is about an hourlong drive from Gulf Shores, making them great daytrip options.  

How to Save Money in Gulf Shores

  • Visit in the offseason Water temperatures in the spring and early fall are pleasant, so avoid the expensive summer rates and boisterous crowds by planning your trip during one of these shoulder seasons.
  • Think outside hotels Gulf Shores has multiple accommodation options, including vacation rentals, bed-and-breakfasts and condos, which can be cheaper than staying in a hotel.
  • Stay off the beach It's tempting to wake up to ocean views each morning, but you'll save a bit of cash if you stay a few blocks away from the shore.

What to Eat

Seafood is abundant and fresh in this coastal city. There are plenty of places in the area to get your fill of fish, oysters and royal reds (a shrimp species that's an Alabama specialty). A few favorites include the Original Oyster House, Sea-n-Suds, Bahama Bob's Beach Side Café, and Gulf Shores Seafood. Though Gulf Shores Seafood is grab-and-go (there's no place to sit and eat), travelers agree it offers some of the best seafood in town and highly recommend the spot's low country boil and one of its many dips.

The Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism Board has also curated series of food trails that serve as self-guided food tours for visitors with themes like oysters, crab and shrimp. If you don't care for seafood, there's no need to worry. Gulf Shores is home to eateries that dish out plenty of other cuisine types, including Mexican, American and Italian, plus specialty shops for treats like coffee and ice cream.

Visitors looking for a livelier dining experience should check out Lulu's or Flora-Bama. While the venues can get busy and are slightly touristy, many say travelers should experience each at least once. Lulu's not only features an extensive food and drink menu, but also offers a ropes course, hair wraps, henna tattoos and an arcade to keep the kids entertained. Flora-Bama, so called because it straddles the Florida and Alabama border, offers live music, tons of food options and a range of events including triathlons, contests and open mic nights. Looking for a night on the town? Check out the Pink Pony Pub or The Hangout.

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Getting Around Gulf Shores

The best way to get around Gulf Shores is by car. Gulf Shores does not have a public transportation system nor does it have a beachside boardwalk like other coastal towns. Using a smartphone to order an Uber or Lyft is also an option, though cars may not run frequently.

You can opt to fly into one of two airports to get to Gulf Shores. Florida's Pensacola International Airport (PNS) is the closest; it's located about 40 miles northeast of Gulf Shores. Alternatively, you can fly into Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), which is about 70 miles northwest of Gulf Shores. There are also several shuttle services that can get you from the airport to your hotel at the beach. If you choose to drive to Gulf Shores, be aware that you'll likely need to take the Baldwin Beach Express, a toll road just off Interstate 10 that takes you straight to the beach. Visit the Beach Express website for information about rates and how to pay.

Photos

Gulf Shores1 of 28
Gulf Shores2 of 28

Not into swimming or water sports? Gulf Shores' miles of coastline are perfect for long walks as you enjoy sweeping Gulf views. 

Courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

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