Our visit to Alabama was one of the most eye-opening experiences we ever had during our travels. I have to be honest, I didn’t know too much about this southern state apart from it being where Forrest Gump grew up, so we were looking forward to our trip. After we spoke at Tbex in Huntsville, we headed to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to see what a beach in the South of the USA was like!
We spent 3 days in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and we were blown away by how beautiful the area is and the sheer amount of fun things to do. So if you’re planning on visiting, here is our itinerary thanks to the amazing people at the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism including things to do, where to stay and places to eat.
3 Day Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Itinerary
- Day 1: Arrive at Gulf Shores
- Day 2: Segway, SUP, Sailing
- Day 3: Yoga, Zoo, Cat Boats
Day 1: Welcome to Gulf Shores!
Since we were coming from Huntsville, we left early in the morning for our 5 hour drive. If you’re flying, the closest airport is Pensacola but Mobile is also about 1.5 hours away.
We arrived at Gulf Shores around 3 PM and had a few hours to relax at our incredible Brett Robin condo in Phoenix West II. We were shocked by the sizes of the condo towers that were right on the beach – Phoenix West II had 300 something units and I know there are some with more!
Although our condo was enormous, beautifully furnished and nicer than any condo we’ve ever been in, we were more amazed by the beach. We had heard of the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores but it was incredible to see in person – it’s SO white! And sparkly! From our condo, we could see at least a few miles of the 32 mile white sand beach.
We relaxed for a couple hours, mostly sitting on the balcony and marveling at the view and then got ready for dinner. We went to The Gulf on Orange Beach, an outdoor restaurant. We both had burgers which were delicious. We loved the vibe of the restaurant as it’s super chill, has tons of nice seating areas on the beach and the deck, has a great view of the beach and it’s also pet friendly!
We went to bed early since we had a busy day tomorrow. Though I’d imagine many people come to the Gulf Shores to be a beach bum, there is so much to do in the area as there’s a big state park with trails, obviously the ocean adventures like fishing, sailing and kayaking and then other attractions.
The two full days we were there were jam packed with fun activities so read on to see what we did!
Day 2: Segway, SUP and Sailing
We got up bright and early to begin our Gulf Shore adventures. First, we had breakfast at The Southern Grind Coffee House which was half store half restaurant with cute beach-themed home decorations. We also met with Chandra from the Alabama Sea Turtle Turtle Conservation to learn about the work they do to help the turtles that nest on the Gulf Shore beaches. It was great to hear about their love and dedication for these creatures which are either endangered, vulnerable or threatened.
Then we went off to our first tour – a segway tour of the Hugh S. Branyon Backountry with Coastal Segway Adventures. Neither of us have ever segwayed before so we were stoked to try it and it was surprisingly a lot easier than I thought!
Our guide Jim led us throughout the state park, stopped a few times to explain about the different trees, plants and ecosystems in the state park and even saw an alligator with her babies.
The segway tour was super fun. I felt really safe on them as Jim and his co-worker gave us a training session to learn how to ride them properly and it’s crazy how fast they go! Because it was my first time on a segway, I did feel like I was paying more attention to my feet and balance than the views which is a shame since the trails are incredibly nice and well maintained. Next time, I’d like to go back and bike the trails.
After our segway tour, we went to lunch at Anchor Bar & Grill where we had fish tacos but if you go, I recommend getting the tuna poke bowl with salad, the portion size was enormous and they gave a ton of tuna!
Next up was a quick SUP session with Gulf Coast Paddle Company. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do the entire tour but it’s possible to see wildlife like turtles and dolphins in the area they paddle to. But we still had a great time and SUP is always a fun activity to do out in the calm waters.
To end our day, we did a sunset catamaran cruise with Sail Wild Hearts which was lovely. They took us around the Gulf and we saw a couple of dolphins.
For dinner, we went to Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina which was our favorite restaurant in Gulf Shores we ate at. The seafood was incredible fresh like it was plucked out of the sea only a few hours earlier, the ambiance and atmosphere was very sophisticated and Johnny, the owner is a Gulf Shores local so you can see and feel his passion for the food.
I highly recommend the oysters and the creme brulee, those were the group favorites for good reason!
Day 2: Yoga, Zoo and Cat Boats
There’s no better way to start the day than a session of yoga on the beach to clear your mind and let positive thoughts flow through. We did an hour of yoga with Glow Yoga at 7 AM, feeling the sand beneath our toes, letting the waves help our breathing and listening to the sand of the gulls. Even if you’re not a big yoga person (we aren’t huge yogis), it was a wonderful way to begin our day.
Then we headed to breakfast at Kitty’s Kafe where we got a quick good ole southern breakfast with grits and coffee and then headed to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. This “little zoo that could” has an interesting story in that one of their crocodiles got loose during a hurricane but they found him just chilling. All the animals had to be evacuated and Animal Planet did an entire series based on this zoo and their story with three different hurricanes.
The fun part about the zoo is that they have encounters so you can get up close with the animals to learn more. They have a reptile, kangaroo, lemur, sloth and anteater encounters.
After the zoo, we had lunch at Hog Wild Beach & BBQ. This is what we had been waiting for – to try southern BBQ and it did not disappoint!
And then our last activity for our itinerary was the Cat Boat Ride with Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours. This was something new for me too, they are like a paddle boat with an engine (so you don’t have to do any work) and they go up to 25 mph! We zipped around Gulf Shores around the different bays and neighborhoods for 2 hours. We got to see all of the million dollar houses and cottages as well as hundreds of luxury boats!
After the cat boats, we had a couple hours to spare before dinner so we grabbed our towel and swimsuits to soak up the sun on the beach. Phoenix West II also has a lazy river which we unfortunately didn’t get to experience but it goes onto the beach so you can lazy river it up with an ocean view!
For dinner, we went to Bill’s by the Beach which was featured on the Food Channel. We tried their special dishes seafood pot pie and finally tried a bushwacker for the first time which was totally not what I expected. It’s like an adult milk shake!
Because we had an afternoon flight the next day, we took it easy the rest of the night so we could enjoy the last few hours of the beach view and condo.
Day 3: Back Home
We had one last Alabama breakfast before we flew out at Brick & Spoon which was excellent. They specialize in Bloody Mary’s, they have a whole menu dedicated to them! I had the crab cake benedict which was one of the most good looking (and tasty) benedicts I ever had.
After breakfast, we set off for Mobile Regional Airport.
Thoughts and Tips for this 3 Day Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Itinerary
- You probably want to add one more day in there so you can spend more time at the beach but since we drove from Huntsville, that took up most of our first day. If you fly into Mobile or Pensacola, you’ll have a lot more time on your first day.
- All of these activities are also great for families, especially the zoo. You can substitute the segway tour for biking if you want or go kayaking instead of SUP. So many choices! You can also go sport fishing, visit Fort Morgan and much more!
- We visited in the beginning of May which was a great time to go. It wasn’t too hot, temperatures were around mid 80’s during the day and dropped to low 70’s at night so it was really comfortable and great weather for everything we did. The water was a little cold though and we didn’t really see many people swimming in the ocean.
- Closed toed shoes are required for the segway tour but everything else you can wear typical beach wear and flip flops. We got a little wet on the cat boats when we were going fast but nothing we needed a towel or change of clothes for.
- We didn’t get a chance to go but we kept hearing about Florabama. Apparently it’s a must visit but we got sick during our trip and had to crash early. Next time we’ll definitely visit! (If you also get sick, here are our tips for handling the sniffles when flying).
- Because it’s the beach, sunscreen is a must (read what our favorite sunscreens are here). Didn’t really notice any mosquitoes or too many bugs but I do recommend bringing bug repellent if you’re visiting during summer.
We loved our time at the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, especially the variety of activities in the area. And if you hadn’t noticed, we ate pretty well too! Seafood lovers will have a ball trying the oysters, fresh caught local fish and more!
Huge thanks to the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach tourism for an amazing time who sponsored our trip. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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