The sun will soon set on peak summer season in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, and though the destination is known for its pristine beaches and fun in the summertime, we’re excited to share the many reasons why it’s also a great place to visit in all the OTHER seasons. If we listed out all those reasons, we estimate that you’d be reading a short novel … because there’s an incredible array of experiences available outside the summer season. So instead, we’re sharing two big reasons to visit each season. We hope you’ll want to learn more, and we encourage you to connect with us if the idea of hitting the beach outside of June, July and August appeals to you.
Fall: Mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and fantastic festivals give Gulf Shores and Orange Beach autumn appeal.
- Easy Access to Sand & Sustenance: With its colorful sunsets, fall is an amazing time to enjoy 32 miles of sugar-white sandy beaches and the clear – still warm – waters of the Gulf of Mexico without the summer crowds. There’s also less competition for reservations and shorter wait times at the destination’s long list of incredible restaurants. Sure, you could say this about any destination’s “off” season, but it’s especially important here because there are so many fabulous and beloved culinary offerings. One such standout is Jesse’s Restaurant, which opened its second location on Fort Morgan this year. Offering casual fine dining, Jesse’s on the Bay is known for its steaks, fresh local seafood and signature entrees.
- Festivals & Events: While Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are home to great events throughout the year, there are a few standout festivals worthy traveling to each fall.
- The 50th Annual Shrimp Festival, which features 50 local and regional vendors, will be held October 12-15 in Gulf Shores. Festival attendees will find shrimp just about any way you can think of it.
- After a successful launch last year, The Hangout Seafood Festival presented by Murder Point Oysters will be serving up the half shells for a second year on November 3 and 4. This culinary weekend features chef and farm demos, live music, oyster shucking, and samplings of oysters, shrimp, gumbo, jambalaya and more.
- The 39th annual Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival takes place November 9-19 this year, and it will draw nearly 200 songwriters from around the country and the world.
Winter: With monthly averages between 50 and 60 degrees, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers mild winter temperatures so you can still enjoy the great outdoors.
- Birding: Thanks to its prime location along the Mississippi Flyway migration route, Gulf Shores is a popular destination for birders. During the winter migration, birders might spot bald eagles in Gulf State Park and other sites. As part of a larger statewide birding initiative, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail features six birding loops totaling 200 miles along the Gulf Coast. With snowbird clubs, events and deals, the destination welcomes flocks of human snowbirds, too!
- Golf on the Gulf: With mild winters and great shoulder-season rates, golfing on the area’s 15 courses is a year-round sport. Course terrain ranges from lush foliage of nature preserves to courses that overlook the Gulf. Among the course designers are such legendary names as Arnold Palmer, Bruce Devlin, Jerry Pate and Earl Stone.
Spring:The temperatures in this season often make it feel like summer, but visitors can beat the summer crowds and prices by going to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach between March and May.
- Spring Break: Planning ahead for spring break, the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach community caters to families in a variety of ways:
- Rules: The destination truly caters to families … so much so that alcohol has been banned on the beach during the spring break schedules of most major colleges and universities for the past seven years.
- Accommodations: The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton property, is one of the world’s leading eco-friendly hotels. It’s also family-friendly, with one-third of its guestrooms featuring built-in bunk beds.
- Activities: A can’t-miss family activity is Sand Castle University, where families can build a sand castle under expert supervision.
- Explore Gulf State Park: This is one that can (and should!) be explored any time of year, but spring is an especially good time. Each April, in celebration of Earth Day, the park hosts special programs and celebrations to showcase its incredible sustainability efforts. This park is an especially good place to get a handle on this fascinating coastal region that’s home to nine different ecosystems. In the past few years alone, the 6,150-acre park has restored its sand dunes; expanded its Backcountry Trail to 28 miles; and constructed an Interpretive Center.