To say the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama are white is an understatement. They sparkle. This gem of a spot is a great option for a variety of girlfriend getaways.
Nestled between the Florida Panhandle and the Mobile Delta, these twin towns offer countless activities and attractions for girl groups of any size. I was fortunate enough to visit as part of the PBS show “Getting Away Together” and our group got to experience all that this region has to offer.
Let’s just start off from the first and say the 32 miles of sandy beaches are the region’s biggest draw. Wide, flat and gorgeous, the baby powder-soft sand literally squeaks between your toes. Orange Beach is the largest attraction here with more parking, restaurants and access points.
Being on the Gulf of Mexico, all the beaches feature warm and clear turquoise waters, suitable for girls from 2 to 102! Gentle waves (when present) and minimal currents make swimming, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in the water ideal. You can also rent kayaks and check out some of the inlet waterways such as Cotton Bayou with Paddled by You.
Want a more laid-back water experience? We enjoyed a sunset cruise through the waterways with captain Adrian from Sunset Limos. Try your luck spotting dolphins and other water birds in various nooks and crannies.
If you are looking for a kitschy souvenir to commemorate this part of the gulf, you won’t find any shortage of souvenir shops up and down Gulf Shores Parkway leading down to the water. Want a shark keychain? A dolphin bottle opener? No problem.
For a slightly more diverse and upscale experience, head on over to San Roc Cay in Orange Beach. This open-air center attached to a marina is a perfect spot to spend a few hours browsing some of the fun boutiques like “Too Hot Mamas,” “Private Gallery” and “Dunia,” which features a large assortment of hand-crafted items from global artisans. Lounge by the fountain or enjoy a relaxing spa service at “Serenity at the Beach” before heading back to your condo.
Speaking of your condo…renting a unit right on the beach is the best way to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Countless high-rise buildings and mixed condo/hotel complexes dot the entire waterway and any of the local rental companies can match you with a unit that meets your group’s needs and budget.
Our group of four was fortunate to stay in a four-bedroom, four-bath spectacular water view unit at The Colonnades. Other nearby options include The Beach Club in Orange Beach, where the stunning views from their terrace restaurant were the only thing that could compete for our attention with the yummy local cuisine featuring fresh-caught seafood such as grouper, snapper and ahi tuna.
Take a trip on the wild side:
For something a bit off the beaten path during a traditional girl’s getaway, make a detour to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo — also known as ‘The Little Zoo That Could’ after surviving hurricane Ivan. Stop and say hello to Zoo Director Patti Hall and get an up close and personal view of a wide menagerie such as Cervals, Lemurs, Kangaroos and even Tigers!
Need more ideas for activities and options in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for a fun Girl’s Getaway? Visit www.gulfshores.com or view the episode of “Getting Away Together” at http://www.gettingawaytogether.com/destination/gulf-shores.
Girl’s Getaway contributor Aimee Cebulski has been furiously catching up on lost time as a traveler after a five-year battle with fear of flying grounded her dreams of visiting far-flung destinations in her mid-20s. Now, she’s proud to have 52 stamps in her passport and considers each new one a triumph over fear. Girls’ getaways are always one of her favorite adventures!
She’s worked as a freelance writer and photographer for almost 15 years and currently calls San Diego, California home. Her work has been featured in a number of travel, business and lifestyle magazines, web sites and photo galleries. She recently combined her love of travel, new cultures and writing with release of The Finding 40 Project , a book about women turning 40 years old around the world.
Always encouraging her girlfriends to follow their adventurous spirit, she believes strongly in the eye-opening power of travel and can’t wait for her next destination, whatever it may be!