The coast is clear. That’s what Alabama tourism officials want potential visitors to know. Hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, then devastated by the BP oil spill in 2010, many would-be visitors were right to shy away from these shores. But it’s years later, and Alabama’s beaches are clean.In fact, pristine.
Maybe you didn’t even know Alabama had beaches? You’re not alone. Although Alabama’s beaches are an undiscovered gem for many Americans, that’s not the case for generations of Southerners, who’ve loaded up the family wagon to come to the towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach each summer. Ninety percent of the visitors to Alabama’s Gulf Coast drive here, mainly from the surrounding southeast states and eastern Texas. They come for a laid-back beach vacation, where miles of shoreline are their own personal sand box and calm, clear waters are just steps from their room. It’s is a budget-friendly way to find beach bliss without the hassles of flying.
You’ll find condo culture rules. Most visitors rent a condo, instead of staying at a hotel. I stayed at the magnificent new Phoenix II condo. Full kitchen with all the utensils meant that I didn’t have to go out to eat. It’s a budget-friendly way to have a family vacation.
I’m old school though. When I’m on vacation, I don’t want to cook! Luckily, there are great choices for sublime seafood in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama.
When it’s time to take a break from the beach, head over to The Wharf Entertainment District. It’s got shopping and waterfront dining along with the Southeast’s largest ferris wheel. We got to experience The Wharf’s southern hospitality firsthand at Bimini Bob’s, owned by former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Bob Baumhower. After 10 years of tackling quarterbacks, he decided to tackle the restaurant business. And it’s been a touchdown. The former University of Alabama football hero owns several restaurants in his native Alabama.
If you’re able to get away for a date night during your trip, head straight for Orange Beach’s Cayman Grill. Sublime seafood along with a view that’s just as delicious. Enjoy your Alabama getaway!