Explore The Beach & Other Natural Wonders Of Gulf State Park

gulf state park gulf shores

Beaches, a lake, a fishing pier, a golf course interwoven into the natural landscape are a few of the things you’ll find at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

While vacationing in your gulf-front condo in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Perdido Key, make time to explore the beautiful beaches and the other wonders of Gulf State Park.

And, while the park is known for its two miles of white-sand beaches fronting the Gulf of Mexico, it also boasts a new dog pond, a championship golf course, a covered beach pavilion, tennis courts, hiking trails, and a fishing pier that is 20-feet wide and extends 1,512 feet into the Gulf.

Beach & Fish

The beaches of Gulf State Park are some of the most beautiful ones in the world, boasting sugar-white sand and emerald-green waters. Park at the pavilion for only $5 and enjoy the convenience of restrooms, showers and a covered picnic area.

Nearby, the Gulf State Park Pier is a fishing hotspot for vacationers and local residents. Bring the family and fish from the 20-foot-wide, 1,512-foot long pier. The only thing you need to remember is to make sure that you have your fishing license, which can be purchased at the pier or online before you arrive.

Cotton Bayou Beach is another public beach nearby Gulf State Park. It is 5.1 miles east of Alabama Hwy. 59 and offers a limited amount of free parking. The restrooms, outdoor showers and parking area are conveniently close to the beach, so no need to lug all that heavy beach equipment too far!

Another state park beach option is Alabama/Florida Point, where parking is free, and there are miles of beaches to enjoy the sun and surf. A picnic area, outside showers, and restrooms are located on site.

Golf

Combining the natural scenery of Gulf State Park and the design of Earl Stone, Gulf State Park’s 18-hole championship golf course offers an exceptional experience and the natural beauty found only on the Alabama Gulf Coast.Opened in 1974, the Refuge Golf Course, part of the Refuge Golf Club & Grill, boasts 6,593 yards of landscaped courses, a driving range, a putting green, a pro shop, and the convenient Refuge Grill.

Opened in 1974, the Refuge Golf Course, part of the Refuge Golf Club & Grill, boasts 6,593 yards of landscaped courses, a driving range, a putting green, a pro shop, and the convenient Refuge Grill.

Bring The Pup

While most Gulf Coast beaches do not permit dogs, the new Dog Pond at Lake Shelby is a great place for your puppy to stretch his legs.

Enjoy the Dog Pond from 8 a.m. to sunset. If you want to bring your dog along as you explore the nature trails, the park welcomes you to do so as long as he’s on a leash.

Find dog-friendly vacation rentals.

Nature Center & Trails

Snakes, opossum and turtles are just a few of the animals you might see at the Gulf State Park’s Nature Center and also on a hike through the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system.

The Nature Center is a living museum with animals and plants that call the Gulf Coast home and was built to inspire visitors to care about the Gulf Coast environment and its animal residents. The Nature Center also offers fun and interactive programs like guided nature walks.

Kristal from Indiana commented after her stay at Royal Palms that her family enjoyed the location near the state park, condo had everything they were looking for and it wasn’t crowded.

Parker J. of Ashland, Mo., said they visited for a month last February not only to escape the cold but also to “bike the trails at the Gulf State Park.”

Gulf State Park I Do’s

The Gulf Coast is an amazing place to stage weddings, receptions and honeymoons. Gulf State Parkoffers a number of locations suitable for wedding ceremonies and receptions, including the Gulf State Park Pavilion. Suitable for 50 or 200 guests, the pavilion is located directly on the beach and provides a covered venue with tables and plenty of room for celebration.

Meyer Vacation Rentals is a terrific resource for those planning a Gulf Coast wedding. Find a list of wedding-friendly houses, photographers, event planning services, caterers, rental companies and more service providers whose goal is to make your day even more special.

Visit Gulf State Park from your a four-bedroom beach house or a three-bedroom vacation rental condo.

 

Fabulous Fall Festivals & Fun This October On The Gulf Coast

Visit the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast in the fall and you may find so many fun adventures you could end up staying for the whole month.

The month of October, especially, is full of opportunities to explore festivals like the Alabama Coastal Birdfest, the Festival of Flavor, the Annual National Shrimp Festival and fun fall activities like corn mazes, hayrides and pumpkin patches.

Alabama Coastal BirdFest

Alabama Coastal BirdFestBird lovers rejoice in the annual John L. Borom Alabama Coastal Birdfest, which is held every October.

In 2016, the festival will be held Wednesday, October 5, through Saturday, October 8.

On Wednesday will be a Hummingbirds Workshop, where Fred Bassett, certified master bird bander, will present an overview of hummingbirds’ habitat, food and migration and discuss how to attract hummers to your yard.

A second workshop will provide an overview of the basics of birding for those who want to enhance their experience during BirdFest and beyond.

Festival events the following days take bird lovers on a variety of excursions and visits:

Wednesday, October 5
o  Hummingbirds Workshop
o  Basics of Birding Workshop
o  Orientation, Presentation & Welcome Reception

Thursday, October 6
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
o  Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Point aux Pins
o  Mobile Bay, DISL Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise
o  Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park
Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
o  Lagan Park & Environmental Study Center
o  Eagle’s Nest Kayak Tour
o  Weeks Bay Paddle
Bon Secour River EcoCruise
o  Alligator Alley Adventure
o  Weeks Bay Sunset Cruise

Friday, October 7
Dauphin Island/Trans Gulf Migration Flyaway
o  Mobile Bay, DISL Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise
o  Splinter Hill Bog
o  Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
Gulf State Park & Perdido Pass
o  Middle Bay Lighthouse Boat Tour
o  Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Kayak Tour
o  Delta Discovery Cruise
o  Bird & Nature Photography Workshop
o  BirdFest Social with Speaker & Silent Auction

Saturday, October 8
o  Dauphin Island Shorebirds
o  Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park
o  Fort Morgan Peninsula/Trans Gulf Migration Flyway
o  Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Point aux Pins
o  Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
o  Delta Discovery Tour
o  Alligator Alley Adventure
o  Wolf Bay Dolphin Cruise
o  Bon Secour River Paddle
o  Fairhope Fly Creek Exploration Paddle
o  Delta Sunset Wine Tasting Cruise

Annual Festival Of Flavor

Festival of FlavorThe Festival of Flavor, scheduled for Oct. 8 in downtown Foley, celebrates local and regional foods and this year is a qualifying event for a Golden ticket to the World Food Championships – The Ultimate Food Fight Experience.

The World Food Championship will be held Nov. 9-13 and highlight some of the most iconic cuisines around the world in categories like barbecue, chili, sandwich, burger, dessert, bacon, seafood, steak and recipe. The recipe category is based on a theme of food, which, this year, is “breakfast.”

A highlight of the Festival of Flavor is the farm-to-table dinner, which is held by the Chicago Street Supper Club. This ticketed event is the first of the festival, happening about two weeks before the actual weekend, and it features a special arrangement of expertly prepared foods for guests who purchase tickets to the meal.

In addition to the food displays and dinners, there are also a number of street vendors on hand to show off crafts and other works of art. Jazz performers and similar live entertainment provide the perfect background music for a relaxing day at the festival. Face painting and other kid-friendly displays are planned as part of the festival.

The Festival of Flavor will be held on October 8 and is open to the public. The festival will have sample tastes not only from competing chefs but also from local breweries, wineries, restaurants, mom-and-pop shops and much more.

45th Annual National Shrimp Festival

National Shrimp FestivalSlated for the second full weekend in October, the Annual National Shrimp Festival is always held Thursday through Sunday.

Free to attend, the festival was started in 1971 and today draws more than 250,000 people to the main Gulf Shores Public Beach area to browse exhibits, arts and crafts vendors, enjoy live music, enjoy kids’ interactive games and, best of all, indulge in the astounding variety of shrimp dishes. Those who don’t like shrimp will be able to enjoy foods like chicken, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, pasta, salads, nachos and even the now famous Cajun Pistol!

Kids are given the royal treatment at the Children’s Activity Village. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., this area features a sand sculpture contest on Saturday, interactive games, make-and-take arts and crafts, face painting, kids’ musical and dance performances, and more.

Locals weigh in on how to make the most of the Shrimp Festival experience.

Bring your best friends down to the beach for the weekend and reserve a three-bedroom condo in Orange Beach.

There are shuttle stops along the way making it easy to catch a ride to the festival site at your convenience.

Or, if the whole family would like to enjoy the festival, which is consistently rated among the top festivals in the country, consider a five-bedroom house in Gulf Shores.

There are plenty of conveniently located beach vacation rental options to suit every taste and size of group in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key.

See our Shrimp Festival deals and specials here.

The Original German Sausage Festival

Elberta German Sausage FestivalAnnually attracting an estimated 30,000 visitors, the Original German Sausage Festival is always held the last Saturday in October and March in nearby Elberta.

The festival is a town fundraiser spearheaded by the Elberta Volunteer Fire Department. Proceeds are used for improving the operations of the fire department as well as the quaint German heritage town located a few miles north of the beach.

Festival organizers sell about 7,000 pounds of German Sausage (with or without sauerkraut – your choice!) at each festival as well as German-inspired and American foods such as cabbage, potato salad, goulash, red beans and rice, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, ice cream, popcorn and peanuts.

Vendors at the festival feature everything from homemade crafts and jewelry to art and even clothing. Music is a big part of the festival, with polka, country, contemporary and German music entertaining festivalgoers. Don’t be surprised if you are invited to join in the dancing fun during for a Waltz or the Schuhplattler!

More October Delights

Magnolia Springs Corn Maze and Pumpkin PatchIn the weeks leading up to Halloween, the Gulf Coast area comes alive with opportunities to celebrate fall.

For example, the Magnolia Corn Maze this year will celebrate its eighth year as a fun local attraction.

Open from Oct. 1 through Nov. 5, the Magnolia Corn Maze is located at Magnolia Farms, a few miles north of the Gulf Shores beaches.

Families can enjoy

o  2 challenging corn mazes
o  Pumpkins
o  A hayride and cow train
o  A petting zoo, pig race and pony rides
o  Knocker ball
o  Jump pad
o  Bazooka ball
o  Corn cannons and duck races
o  Parties and campfires
o  Playground areas for all ages
o  Zombie paintball and the Field of Terror

All Aboard The Pumpkin Patch Express

Pumpkin Patch ExpressOpen from Sept. 30 through Oct. 31, the Wales West Light Railway invites visitors to board the authentic steam train to the kid-friendly pumpkin patch or the haunted barn maze.

Kids will enjoy Wales West’s mini train ride, hayride, refreshments, bounce house, pumpkin cannon, petting zoo and pony rides, café and gift shop.

Kids can also select their own pumpkin at other local pumpkin patches, including Hillcrest Farm, Magnolia Farms and Sanders Pumpkin Patch, for example.

If you’re going to be at the beach over Halloween, there are numerous neighborhoods that love opening their doors to trick-or-treating kids.

Stay On Top Of Gulf Coast News With Meyer Vacation Rentals

 

Sea Star

Stay on top of the latest headlines and issues affecting Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan, Fairhope, Perdido Key and the surrounding areas on Meyer Vacation Rentals’ News Page.

Here are a few recent headlines and news snippets from around the area:

 

Orange Beach Tops List For 2016 Vacations

TripAdvisor reviewers have named Orange Beach No. 2 on its top 10 list for travelers’ choice destinations on the rise. (MORE)

 

Poseidon’s Playground Gets A Little More Fun

A pyramid, a rocket and a steel structure were deployed at Poseidon’s Playground, an artificial reef located in Orange Beach, giving divers more unique statues to explore. (MORE)

 

2016 Hangout Fest Tickets On Sale

Want to attend Hangout Fest 2016? Buy your tickets and reserve your preferred accommodations before both run out. (MORE)

 

Shorts & Flip Flops For The Christmas Tree Lighting At The Wharf

It was a festive—and warm—scene at The Wharf in December as people enjoyed the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. Bands played, children sang and wrote letters to Santa, and more. (MORE)

 

Dune Restoration Underway At State Park

The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project team has begun work to restore the equivalent of more than 50 football fields of dunes flattened in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan. (MORE)

 

Stay tuned to our News Page for regular updates on local news.

Biking Gulf Shores

Biking, or cycling if you may, is an amusement for some and a lifestyle for others. Along the beach area, you’ll see a variety of bikes and biking enthusiasts. The beautifully streamlined carbon fiber road bike, the iconic beach cruiser, the handy, traditional trike perfect for holding all of your beach supplies… You may even see a unicycle. An interesting option to consider while you’re at the beach is a ‘fat bike’. A fat bike is somewhat like a mountain bike, but it has much thicker, fat tires that allow for effortless maneuvering of loose, sandy conditions. It also works for snow, which we had for the first time in 20 years this past winter.

biking hugh branyon backcountry trail

A biker rides a recumbent bike on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.

Alabama and Florida laws biking laws vary slightly, but it’s important to note that they’re in place for your safety as well as the safety of others on the road. For the sake of simplicity and your well-being, we’re going to recommend the same setup for both states. Any person under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet, but adults might consider the use of one as well, especially when it comes to high speeds, heavy traffic or hilly terrain. Be prepared for evening rides with a bright, white head light and a rear red reflector as well as a rear red tail light. Riding around at night without lighting is simply not safe, and it’s also illegal. Sometimes it helps to double up on your headlights with a head lamp, in particular for dark trails that are secluded from city and street lights. For example the trail on Fort Morgan Road, at night can be pitch black and very intimidating. Riders should not wear headphones; all senses should be engaged in the ride.  You may see plenty of bikers riding the sidewalks down 59 to the public beach, but technically, bikers are not allowed to ride on the sidewalks in Alabama. In Florida, however, they are, as long as you yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks, and give an audible signal before passing pedestrians.

flora spotted along the backcountry trail

Flora spotted along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

If you’d like to rent a bicycle, there are several shops that can help, including Infinity Bicycles out of Orange Beach, Beach Bike Rentals in Gulf Shores, in Perdido Key and Pro Cycle and Tri out of Fairhope. We spoke with Bill Gable, owner of Infinity Bicycles, about which local trails are the most popular. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail out of Gulf State Park was top of the list. The trail system is 10 miles long and composed of 6 trails, each with their own distinct ecosystem. He also mentioned the latest extension, Coyote Crossing, which connects the Backcountry Trail with the 6 miles of trail along Fort Morgan Road. If you’re interested in biking further down the peninsula, you should know that it’s very dangerous, since there is no bike trail, and traffic is often going very fast around the curves of the road. Bill did say that once you get to Martinique or Kiva, the road becomes substantially safer as traffic is much less this far down the peninsula. A great option for those who are up for it is to bike from these areas down to the ferry. It’s only $5 one-way to ferry with your bike over to Dauphin Island, and exploring will be much easier on two wheels. Infinity Bicycles also hosts two weekly ride-a-longs on Saturday morning. Riders can choose from a 30-35 mile road ride, averaging around 17 mph in speed, or a leisure, no-drop ride, where the ride is only as fast as the slowest rider. The road ride is at 7:30 a.m. and the leisure ride is at 10:30 a.m. If you would like to participate, they ask that you call ahead to let them know you’ll be joining. They also recommend a bike in good working order (although you can rent bicycles from them as well), a helmet, water, and ID, a spare tube, nutrition and emergency money. They can be reached at 251-974-1727.

Another biking event you can catch this month is the 29th annual Tour de Beach, with over 400 cyclists expected to participate September 20-21. The two-day ride has 25, 45 and 75 mile options, with rest stops set up in key areas like historic Fort Morgan and Mullet Point Park in Fairhope. Riders are asked to raise at least $200 to benefit the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. To register or learn more, visit bikeMS.org or call 1-800-FIGHT-MS.

Looking for a place to stay? We have vacation rentals in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Fairhope, Alabama as well as Perdido Key, Florida. Be sure to check out our rental specials; they’re updated weekly!

Bald Eagle Bash 2012

Have you purchased your tickets yet for the Bald Eagle Bash? It will be held this Saturday, June 2, and there is still time to plan to attend. You can even get your tickets at the gate, so last-minute guests are definitely welcome.

Bald Eagle Bash, fundraiser, Weeks Bay Foundation, National Estuarine Research Reserve

Great benefit for a small price! Delight your taste buds and your dancing feet while sharing financial assistance with the non-profit Weeks Bay Foundation.

What makes this so special? Let’s start with what you get from being there. Your taste buds will be tickled by delectable goodies from a dozen area restaurants, with fresh gulf shrimp as the theme. Your ears and your dancing genes will be delighted with the music of Locust Fork Band, who will infuse the evening with energy via their originals and covers of your favorite rock and country songs. And appearances by two area celebrities—Shelby Mitchell of 95KSJ and Darwin Singleton of NBC15—will keep the enthusiasm and laughter going strong.

Even more special is how you will be helping raise funds for the non-profit Weeks Bay Foundation. Their mission is to protect the natural resources of coastal Alabama while supporting the goals and programs of the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. By attending, you’ll have a great time and feel great about playing a role in the conservation efforts of our coastal wetlands.

Tickets are $30 in advance (online or any BBVA Compass location in Baldwin or Mobile county) or $35 at the gate. You’ll find all the fun from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Tonsmeire Weeks Bay Resource Center, waterfront at the Fish River Bridge on U.S. Highway 98 west of Magnolia Springs.

If you love our coastal areas, you may also love a house or condo along our backwaters for your next getaway. With properties available from one bedroom to seven, you can come alone or as part of a large group. Either way, relax with us and explore the coastal area from a different perspective!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Bands, Barks and Brews

It’s a public play date for Spot, Rover, Fido, and their owners!

Bands, Barks and Brews 2012 baldwin county humane society gulf shores alabama orange beach the wharf

Bring your dog to Bands, Barks and Brews this Sunday, April 29, 4–8 p.m. at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama.

This Sunday, April 29, bring your friendly, leashed dog to the marina lawn at The Wharf for a little social engagement with his or her neighbors during Bands, Barks and Brews presented by Ginny Lane Bar and Grill. A leash-free area will be available for the furry friends to romp and run together.

Between 4 and 8 p.m., you’ll enjoy activities such as the weiner dog races and pet exhibits. An energetic show by the very popular dance band The Tip Tops will keep things lively throughout the event. Admission is free, but bring along a little cash for the art show, food and—of course—a brew or two.

Fans of Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa will have opportunities to purchase $5 raffle tickets at The Wharf merchants. The drawing will be held at 8:00, when the winner will be awarded four VIP tickets to the May 4 concert at The Amphitheater at The Wharf. (Need not be present to win.) All proceeds benefit The Humane Society of Baldwin County.

Stay with us for the concert May 4—or any time before May 16—and get an extra night FREE when you reserve at least three nights in a condo or four nights in a house. The Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is waiting for you!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Real Estate on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

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