For those of you living up in the chilly north, let me entice you with a little warmth and welcome you to the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of Gulf Shores, Alabama, where the population has nearly doubled in the last ten years, bringing the total to around 9,741.
The average winter temperatures are in the 60s, with the evenings getting quite cool, maybe into the low to mid-40s, but to me, nothing beats the salty air you breath in as the sun-heated white sands tickle your toes. Summertime brings thick, humid conditions, often coating you in sweat, but with the cool-ish ocean breezes and water the same temperature as the air, you’re sure to cool off in no time.
The Gulf Shores of Alabama are vulnerable to hurricanes. In 1979, Hurricane Frederick nearly leveled the whole town. In 2004, Ivan caused considerable damage along with flooding, and in 2005, while the city was still cleaning up from Ivan, Hurricane Katrina delivered her walloping punch.
I remember visiting this area when I was a child and you could walk on the beach and see clear to the horizon from all sides. It wasn’t uncommon to head down to the docks, drop in a line, and almost instantaneously pull out a striped mullet. They were practically jumping out of the water and into the bucket. It was also the first time I experienced shrimp and I was eating them faster than they could be peeled.
Now, with tourism being the main industry, hotels have popped up all over and traffic can bring you to a standstill. In a way, it breaks my heart, but I understand that the people need to make a living and tourism just seemed like a likely place to start and end up.
Fishing can be done anywhere. You can try your hand at one of the charters located in and around the area, fish from the shore, or from the longest pier on the Gulf Coast.
The pier measures 1,540 feet long and reaches out 1/4 mile into the Gulf of Mexico. It is wheelchair accessible and tackle shops are nearby where gear can be purchased or rented for the day.
What you might catch: Jack Crevalle, Speckled Trout, Redfish, Whiting, Bluefish, Black Drum, White Trout, Mullet, and Croakers.
Fort Morgan State Historical Park
Fort Morgan was complete in 1834 and has seen four wars: the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and contains more than forty-million bricks, all paying homage to its masons, mostly enslaved African Americans.
History buffs will enjoy exploring the fort, where the Battle of Mobile Bay is brought back to life. The 479-acre site contains concrete artillery batteries, historic military buildings, and a museum featuring weapons, uniforms, letters, and photographs of soldiers who served at the fort.
Original Oyster House
Travel Channel’s host Adam Richman from Man vs. Food visited this popular establishment and along with the owners, created a platter using the hosts namesake, the Man vs. Food Platter, which offers these fine fresh delicacies: fried oysters, bourbon glazed Ahi tuna, shrimp scampi, fried crawfish tails, and two-stuffed crabs. Just to add to your gluttony, take on two extra sides. If that’s too big for you, they offer many of the greats that come from the gulf, but they are most known for their pies–Key Lime and Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.
A trip to the Gulf is a must at some point in your life and there no better place outside of Florida than Alabama. The people are friendly, the food is fresh, and the time spent with your family is irreplaceable. Just don’t forget your camera!
Where are some of your favorite places?