When planning a beach vacation, sunseekers typically flock to either the East or West Coast, leaving the U.S.’s stretch of Gulf Coast a bit of an unsung hero. With frequent music events and festivals, a fantastic mix of fresh seafood and southern cuisine, ample water sports, and renowned emerald waves, Alabama’s beaches are the place to go for a refreshing coastal getaway.
Here, you’ll find a range of coastal backdrops for your vacation, including family-friendly waterparks, scenic bird sanctuaries, and a busy nightlife scene. Because of its shallow waters and gentle waves, the southern shoreline doesn’t kick up as much debris, so you can enjoy crystal clear waters for swimming, snorkeling, or simply an amazing view. Wondering where to stay? We’ve broken down the best beach vacation destinations in Alabama for your next getaway.
Alabama’s Gulf Shores is one of the most popular choices for the state’s sunny escapes. The town’s central location to all things family-friendly, including water parks, the zoo, and the pier, make it a go-to for summer beach vacations. Rev up your afternoon sightseeing city attractions or take to Gulf State Park to savor the panoramic views or a zipline over the dunes. Book a classic beach house or luxury condo rental to stay in the heart of it all, with relaxing evenings and slow, sunny mornings on the coast.
If you’re looking for peak relaxation and remote, pristine beaches, look no further than Dauphin Island. This secluded treasure rests at the entrance of Mobile Bay, with 7 miles of uncrowded, powdery white sand beaches leading into the gulf. Traveling with kids? Fill your days with coastal fun by touring through the Alabama Aquarium at Dauphin Island and reeling in a fresh catch at Sandy Point. There’s no shortage of spacious family homes and beach bungalows to keep you within a few steps of the ocean.
The gulf-front side of Orange Beach offers seemingly endless stretches of bright ivory sand and calm water. As another favorite vacation destination, Orange Beach is known for its laid-back atmosphere and abundance of aquatic activities, so dive into your favorite water sports here. Jet ski, parasail, or kayak the day away while enjoying the ocean breeze and sparkling water, or grab a fresh seafood dinner with views of Cotton Bayou Beach. For more fun, The Wharf features a shopping district, a Ferris wheel, and an amphitheater for concerts and events.
Orange Beach is also perfect for boaters and anglers, featuring a variety of vacation rentals with private docks. The Orange Beach Waterfront Park is a popular destination for picnics—fire up the grills and try your hand at some authentic Southern-style barbecue.
On the western end of the peninsula, you’ll find scenic and historic Fort Morgan. Due to its more natural coastline, as well as its proximity to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, the area makes for an ideal hideaway for history buffs and nature enthusiasts. The 19th-century military fort offers tours with a look inside the history of Battery Thomas, Battery Duportail, and Battery Bowyer. Each promises stunning views of Mobile Bay and the emerald Gulf Coast, so you never miss a second of that soothing coastal feel. Bike, kayak, or stroll your way through the wildlife refuge, sightsee the fort, and relax into a slower-paced Alabama beach vacation.
Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches make for some of the most relaxing vacations. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are known for their sparkling ivory sands and emerald waters, as well as their ample water sports, city attractions, and family-friendly activities.
That depends on your wants and needs. We're partial to all of the destinations we covered here. Therefore, we recommend exploring our vacation rentals in the Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island, Orange Beach, and others to discover the best beach beaches to stay on in Alabama.
Both locations offer similarities, but they also offer their own individualized experiences that make them both worth visiting. If you need help deciding, consider Orange Beach if you're after small-town vibes. In contrast, Gulf Shores offers a more vibrant, family-friendly atmosphere.