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  • Writer's pictureBritny

Plan Your Dream Beach Vacation: Beachfront Condo Views, Hidden Gems, and Activities in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL

The white sand beaches of Alabama

Are you curious about visiting the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama? This area offers something for every traveler, from exciting adventures on the water to an elevated food scene. In this blog post, I will share a charming beachfront condo, hidden gems, and unforgettable activities to do in the area. So, sit back, relax, and let's plan your next beach vacation!

Thank you Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism for sponsoring this trip.

The vibrant beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL are situated next to each other, along the Gulf of Mexico. They both offer pristine beaches, turquoise water, and many recreational activities. I find both of these areas to be laid back with lots of Southern hospitality.

My husband drove here from Cincinnati, OH, and found it to be an easy 11-hour drive. If you're thinking about flying, Frontier has direct flights from CVG to PNS (the nearby Pensacola, FL airport) for great prices.

Where to Stay

Phoenix West 402-1 with Brett/Robinson Vacations

23972 Perdido Beach Blvd Orange Beach, AL 36561

For more rental options visit
The Condo

There's always something magical about staying in a beachfront vacation rental. Waking up to the sound of waves and seeing soft light coming over the water always leaves me in awe and fills me with so much gratitude.

Phoenix West offers a variety of condo options, including 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom units. The largest unit can sleep up to 14 guests. Our unit was a one-bedroom with two full baths located on the 4th floor. I loved the beach-themed decor and soft colors throughout the condo. It made for such a relaxing stay!

The open-concept condo felt so roomy, and when you open the French doors to the bedroom, you can also see outside to the beach. There's a fully equipped kitchen that has all the appliances, glassware, and cookware you will need. The balcony is large and includes a table with chairs.

Phoenix West Amenities

There's so much to do at Phoenix West! The lazy river surrounds swaying palm trees, and coasting around is relaxing. There's also a zero-entry pool and a corkscrew slide. Next to the pool is a common area with barbecue grills and tables. You'll also have access to an indoor pool, sauna, hot tubs, tennis court, and fitness center!

Things to Do

Bike the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Where can you find bike share racks? Racks are located at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, the Woodside Restaurant, and the Interpretive Center near the Gulf State Park Pavilion.

The Backcountry Trail

This trail system is part of Gulf State Park and comprises a 28-mile stretch of paved pathways with nine distinct ecosystems. It was our second time on the Backcountry Trail, and it's no surprise that USA Today named it the best recreational trail in the country in 2023!

We utilized the free bike share program while we were there. You can find a sign with step-by-step directions next to the bike racks. The directions include downloading the Bloom app for Android or iOS devices, creating an account, scanning the QR code on the bike you want to use, and the app unlocks it. It's important to note that you do need to enter credit card information and must be at least 16 years old to register.

Once we picked out our bikes, we were ready to explore! One of the closest trails to the Woodside Restaurant (where we started) is the Lakeview Trail. We spotted so many unique birds and gorgeous views of Shelby Lake. My favorite part was biking across the bridge and seeing the glistening water views on either side of me! Before we knew it, we had biked almost 6 miles!

Cruise aboard the Rosé with Anonyme Cruises

Explore the bay waters of Perdido Pass in style with Anonyme Cruises! We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise with Captain DD aboard the Rosé, a pink Boston Whaler with a cabana-striped Bimini top. All trips are conducted by a USCG-licensed Captain.

The Rosé comfortably accommodates up to 6 guests plus the captain and offers private 2 or 3-hour tours. We did a 2-hour afternoon tour which departed from Orange Beach Marina. First, we navigated around Perdido Pass, which separates the back bays from the Gulf of Mexico. This area boasts breathtaking turquoise waters and has a couple of small islands where boats often anchor. We found a great spot to anchor and relax for a bit. Captain DD even provided beach chairs for us to use.

The Rosé also offers the option to stop at boat-in restaurants, so our next destination was Avenue Pub for a blonde Bushwacker, the area's signature cocktail (it reminds me of a fusion between a piña colada and a mudslide)! Nestled by the water, Avenue Pub provided a cozy outdoor seating area where we enjoyed our drinks before we continued to explore more of the bay and eventually made our way back to the marina.

Kayak Lake Shelby at Gulf State Park

20115 State Park Rd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Kayaking on Lake Shelby was such a fun and peaceful morning activity. We used Coastal Segway for our kayak rentals. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. They provided recommendations on areas to visit nearby and tips for dealing with any weather changes that were expected for the day (for us there were potential high winds). They also offer tandem kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards (first come first serve). Lake Shelby is a 900-acre freshwater lake! There's also a picnic area and a beach for swimming.

Beach Picnic with The Beach Moms

I'm a lover of picnics, and experiencing one on the beach has always been a dream of mine. The Beach Moms made that dream a reality by crafting the most unforgettable picnic for my husband and me! In addition to their concierge services and grocery pick-up, The Beach Moms specializes in creating beautiful custom beach picnics.

We couldn't believe all the details they put into the setup. Guests can bring their food or The Beach Moms can arrange it. They curated a delicious charcuterie picnic for us, and every bite was simply delicious. The fruit was fresh, and they even provided a bucket of ice to keep our waters cold. Moreover, they offer numerous add-on options to further customize your dream picnic. Be sure to visit their website for more information!

Explore The Wharf and Ride The Ferris Wheel

23101 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL 36561

The Wharf is Orange Beach's dining and entertainment complex, featuring the tallest Ferris wheel in the Southeast. We thoroughly enjoyed strolling around and immersing ourselves in the vibrant atmosphere of The Wharf. As the sun began to set, we hopped on the Ferris wheel to enjoy a bird's-eye view of Orange Beach! If you stay after sunset you can experience the choreographed light show.

Drinks at 8 Reale OBAL (Speakeasy)

4851 Wharf Pkwy D-112, Orange Beach, AL (At The Wharf)

8 Reale OBAL is unlike any cocktail bar or speakeasy I've been to. It's located at the Wharf and disguised as a jewelry store. Once you enter, you will see a vault with a keypad on the side. After you put in the correct number (it changes daily and they will post a clue on their FB page), it opens the vault and you're in!

I loved the atmosphere and vintage decor of the bar. The drinks are so unique and expertly crafted. I had the Velvet Underground and my husband had the Rosemary Old Fashioned. Don't pass this spot up!

Visit Historic Fort Morgan

110 Hwy. 180 W., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Nestled at the tip of the scenic Fort Morgan Peninsula, Fort Morgan stands as a historic gem along the Alabama coastline. Steeped in rich history dating back to the early 19th century, this fort played a role in defending Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

The fort is full of brick arches and hidden pathways to explore. There's also a museum at the entrance where you can find historic artifacts. Along with this historic site you can enjoy nature areas, a boat launch, a picnic area, and beaches. There is an admission fee of up to $8 per adult - I recommend checking out the Alabama Historical Commission's website for more information and discounts. Make sure to get there early as it closes around 4:30 pm.

Where to Eat

Woodside Restaurant in Gulf State Park

20249 State Park Rd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Woodside Restaurant brings a fun camping feel while serving Southern cuisine! This cozy spot has a great outdoor dining area shaded by trees. We had breakfast here but it's also a great place to dine for dinner. They have fun outdoor games and even live music on select nights.

BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets

25689 Canal Rd Suite A, Orange Beach, AL 36561

This cozy cafe and bakery is a must when visiting Orange Beach! All the pastries are made from scratch and their coffee is locally roasted. I highly recommend trying their Poptart.

Sunliner Diner

100 E. 2nd Ave., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Step back in time to the 1950s at the Sunliner Diner. This charming diner, located in downtown Gulf Shores, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I loved the vintage ambiance and decor.

Picnic Beach

128 E 1st Ave, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Picnic Beach is a fun and casual dining experience with a focus on fresh and clean ingredients. I loved the picnic-themed decor and our food was delicious.

Zeke's Restaurant

26619 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561

This casual restaurant focuses on fresh Gulf seafood. We sat outside at sunset and enjoyed the gulf views while dining. Every bite we had was delicious and the staff was so friendly!

Perch Restaurant at The Lodge

21196 E Beach Blvd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

The Perch Restaurant has cozy outdoor terrace seating with Gulf views. They feature premium steaks and fresh seafood along with handcrafted cocktails. I highly recommend trying the coconut margarita.

Dinner at Jesse's On The Bay

1631 Crosswinds Court, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Dinner at Jesse's on the Bay was so dreamy! The Cold Hole bar with cocktails and food is located on the first level and the upstairs area is casual fine dining. We enjoyed watching the sunset over the bay while here. Every single bite of food was so flavorful.

Click here for more information and things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach!

As always, thanks for reading along! Feel free to leave me questions in the comment box below and safe travels!



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