Socially Distant Ways to Explore Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

by Kristy Tolley
Gulf State Park Pier

These twin-city beach destinations in Alabama offer plenty of socially distant adventures for the whole family. 

Socially Distant “Surf” Recreation

  • Take a Tiki Cruise: Imagine a tiki hut crossed with a water vessel, and you’ve got Cruisin’ Tikis, one of the destination’s newest offerings. Whether it’s a family vacation, girlfriends’ getaway, or a romantic date, passengers can pack their own food and beverage and book a private charter for up to six guests to enjoy a sunset cruise, an island excursion or a custom-designed tour.
  • Go Fishing: For more of an “active” experience on the water, visitors can opt to fish with a number of the area’s charter boat businesses. Local tip: many of the inshore boats are “six-packs,” which means they can accommodate a maximum of six people.
  • Paddle the WaterwaysKayaking is a “no-experience-required” activity that provides an up-close opportunity to be on the water. Outfitters offer a variety of options including self-guided rentals and guided excursions. As for the incredible waterways, the opportunities for exploration are endless. With a total of 21 launch sites and four unique trails, the Coastal Alabama Back Bay Blueway takes visitors on a full tour through Coastal Alabama’s unique waterways and ecosystems. Some of our favorites include Little Lagoon Trail, a 10-mile loop along Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores, and the Orange Beach/Wolf Bay Trail, the largest of the four trails, that takes paddlers around Robinson Island and Bird Island, which are popular spots to rest or take a swim.
  • Strap on a Mask of a Different KindGet out there with a snorkel and see what’s underwater! Last month, the Alabama Marine Resources Division announced a habitat enhancement project to increase the number of snorkeling reefs in the region, which are located at three Gulf State Park beach access sites. Here, swimmers can catch a glimpse of the incredible marine life under Alabama’s turquoise-blue water, including sponges, seahorses, sea turtles, gray trigger fish, octopus and more.

 

Biking at Gulf State Park

Biking at Gulf State Park

 

Socially Distant “Turf” Recreation

  • Build Sand Castles with Expert Guidance: Sand Castle University specializes in teaching tips and tricks to building the best sand castles, so small groups can learn from beach architects who will come right to your beach location and bring all the needed equipment.
  • Explore Gulf State Park: In addition to offering two miles of beaches, fishing, swimming, and much more, the 6,150-acre Gulf State Park is an especially good place to get a handle on this fascinating region that’s home to nine different ecosystems and a 28-mile Backcountry Trail for biking and hiking. When the Gulf State Park Pier, which is currently closed for renovations, reopens later this month, guests will enjoy a brand-new handicap-accessible observation deck.
  • Get Your Motor Running: This spring, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism debuted five unique motorcycle runs along the Gulf Coast. With themed runs ranging from 32.6 miles (Island Ride Time) to 187 miles (High Roller Run), riders can spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day exploring the destination along the Coastal Alabama Scenic Byway.

Socially Distant Accommodations

  • Overnight in Gulf State Park: There are a number of ways in which visitors can overnight within this incredible state park. A member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, Eagle Cottages at Gulf State Park line the water’s edge of Lake Shelby. Each of the cozy cottages has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a fully furnished kitchen and plenty of indoor and outdoor living space. The park offers an extensive campground with 496 full hookup campsites, in addition to three remote outpost sites and 11 primitive camping sites.
  • Rent an RV: Gulf Shores Travel Trailer Rentals offers the opportunity for travelers to have an RV experience within the destination. After guests reserve a spot at one of the area’s many RV parks or campgrounds, the rental company takes care of the rest: they’ll deliver the RV stocked with linens, towels and cookware. And when your stay is over, they’ll remove it from the campsite!

 

Gulf Shores Alabama sunset

Gulf Shores sunset

 

More Ways to Enjoy Gulf Shores and Orange Beach While Social Distancing

  • Distance Dining: While the list of contactless delivery, curbside pick-up, dining in and taking out is ever-changing, one thing we know for certain is that this destination has incredible food. (In fact, Orange Beach was just ranked #8 in USA Today 10 Best’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Small-Town Food Scene!) With nearly 200 locally owned restaurants, there’s something delicious here for everyone!
  • “Don’t forget to call your Mom!”: That’s the tagline for a brand-new concierge service designed for visitors to the destination. The Beach Moms bring a local’s touch to planning – and executing – your vacation by offering such services as grocery shopping (and having everything ready upon your arrival), planning outings during your trip, making dining reservations and more.
  • Virtually Visit: If you’re not traveling at all, but want to experience the destination in some way, virtual visitors can tune into the Wolf Bay Osprey Cam. This livestream currently features three babies going in and out of the nest before they venture off on their own! Wish you were at the beach? Check out Spectrum Resorts’ live beach cams from Turquoise Place and The Beach Club.

Call your AAA Travel Agent at 800-374-2865 or visit AAA.com/GoTravel to book your Gulf Shores vacation today.  

(August 2020)

 

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