Last-Minute Vacation: 5 Reasons to Visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

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Do you ever find yourself wishing you could just have one more vacation before the end of the year to relax before the holiday festivities start? Or perhaps you enjoyed a late summer vacation around the Labor Day weekend and can’t stand the thought of having to wait until the New Year to plan another trip. Regardless of your reason, it sounds like you have the infamous “travel fever” and need some inspiration to book a last-minute vacation. Don’t worry, we have the perfect place to visit – Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama! Visit for more information on experiencing the Gulf Coast.

gulf coast alabama

Whether you are looking for the perfect late season beach destination, or perhaps you want to sample some delicious local cuisine before having to deal with families coming over and a whole lot of home-cooking, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the perfect late-season getaway for a plethora of reasons.

gulf shores and orange beach cuisine

We have been fortunate to visit this stretch of Alabama coastline throughout all times of the year, and we can 100% attest that the “shoulder” season in late fall, or even during the winter months, is an ideal time to getaway and enjoy the best of this part of Alabama.

gulf shores and orange beach

Let’s take a look at five reasons (with the caveat that this barely scratches the surface as there are a myriad of other reasons to explore this beautiful coastline!) why Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will be your perfect last-minute vacation location.

gulf shores and orange beach

Visit the Beach in Winter

Ok, so the thought of heading to the beach with your swimsuit and sunglasses in the middle of winter may sound a little crazy but actually it’s not as crazy as it sounds when it comes to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

gulf shores beaches

If you are visiting in the late Fall or even winter months, you can frequently enjoy days that are warm enough to head to the beach and enjoy a late season relaxation on the 32 miles of pure white sandy beaches. The warm, humid climate tempered by sea breezes offers an ideal environment to enjoy the beach experience, even if it means taking a blanket to ensure those cool breezes don’t spoil your late season adventure.

gulf shores and orange beach

While you may not be visiting the beach all day, primarily because there are so many other cool things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach at this time of the year, you can certainly find time to take a stroll along the beach, perhaps sample the Gulf of Mexico (depending on where you are from, you may find the water still warm enough to take a quick dip!), and just relax among the gorgeous surroundings.

gulf shores and orange beach alabama

One thing is for sure, regardless of what time you visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, those incredible sunrise and sunset pictures are waiting for you to take the time to visit the beach and capture that memorable moment. We still believe that this area is one of the best spots anywhere in the world to enjoy a perfect sunset experience.

gulf shores sunset

Indulge in Local Seafood and Other Cuisine

Not yet convinced that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the perfect getaway spot? Ok, so the beach in the late season may not be for everyone but one thing is for sure, the cuisine options along this stretch of coastline will satisfy everyone’s appetite. Perhaps the best thing about a late season getaway to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is that everywhere is quiet and for the most part, you are only mingling with locals who also find this the best time to head out and experience their favorite local restaurants.

local seafood gulf shores

Don’t worry about 2 or 3 hour wait times which unfortunately can be common during the peak season, instead you can frequently take your pick of restaurants and simply walk in and be seated. The choices are endless and it would be remiss of us to highlight only a few options, but of course, we want to wet your appetite on the best places you cannot afford to miss.

For breakfast, Brick and Spoon located along Canal Road, Orange Beach is a definite favorite of ours for a variety of reasons. The infamous “Bananas in Pajamas” is a perfect sweet treat to start the day, but if you prefer a more savory option, the Eggs Benedict are to die for and definitely highly recommended.

brick and spoon bananas in pajamas

Other options to start your day include Sunliner Diner, The Ruby Slipper, or a variety of coffee shops that also offer great breakfast menu items (more on these later!).

ruby slipper eggs benedict

For lunch, head to The Gulf, a uniquely designed restaurant that was constructed from shipping containers to enjoy a decadent Lobster and Shrimp Roll, Shrimp and Grits, or Tuna Poke Bowl. Any of the local seafood options are great choices and you can enjoy a relaxing dining experience while enjoying the sea breeze from the nearby Gulf of Mexico.

gulf shores and orange beach seafood

If you still have room for a late evening dinner, the options are endless. Our favorites include GTs on the Bay, Cobalt, or perhaps if you are looking for something other than seafood, Cactus Cantina offers a great Mexican experience.

Enjoy Natural Beauty

The Gulf Coast has an incredible selection of beaches to relax and enjoy those epic sunsets. However, you may be surprised to hear that there is so much more on offer in this area of Alabama, especially if you love the great outdoors and want to embrace nature. One of our favorite spots is the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry which offer 15 miles of unique trails for visitors and locals alike to enjoy six distinctive eco-systems.

backcountry trails gulf shores

Whether you prefer to hop on a bike courtesy of the free bike-share program that has several stations throughout this area, or perhaps you enjoy walking on foot to soak in the surroundings, there is something for everyone to enjoy here. Fishing is available in several areas of the park, and this is also one of the most pet-friendly areas if you are looking for somewhere to walk your dog.

hugh s branyon backcountry trails

Another great way to explore nature in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is to enjoy a kayaking excursion around the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. This is a great opportunity not only to admire the natural beauty throughout the Gulf Coast, but also to see a variety of wildlife species that also call Gulf Shores and Orange Beach their natural habitat. Throughout the beach dunes and rolling pine-oak woodlands, visitors may see species such as migratory birds, nesting sea turtles, among others.

Sip on Your Favorite Espresso

A trip to the Gulf Coast in the fall or winter will undoubtedly offer cooler temperatures than during the summer. Dependent on your definition of “cool” will likely determine how you find the climate at this time of the year, but even during the winter months, the average of mid-50s and into the 60s can still be considered as “mild” by many. Regardless of your definition, this is the perfect time to enjoy the collection of coffee shops to either warm up or perhaps sample an iced concoction.

gulf shores and orange beach coffee

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is home to a collection of amazing local coffee shops, so regardless of where you choose to go, you can be sure you will walk away having experienced your favorite espresso beverage.

southern grind coffee house wharf

The Southern Grind Coffee House has two locations, at the Wharf and along Perdido Beach Boulevard at INDIGO. Recognized as “offering guests more than a cup of coffee”, this is definitely a great place to relax, mingle with locals to get other recommendations on places to visit while on the Gulf Coast, and indulge in a variety of delicious drinks or dishes depending on the time of day you choose to visit.

buzzcatz coffee and sweets

BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets is another great choice, especially if you one to sample the delicious, and infamous, cinnamon rolls. One of the lesser known options is Happy Pappys Coffee House, but offers equally mouthwatering options whether you are visiting for a drink, or need something with a little more substance.

happy pappys coffee shop

Enjoy History and Culture

For those that love to learn all about the local history, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is home to historic Fort Morgan which was the site of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War in 1864. Today, visitors can head along the Gulf Coast peninsula to Fort Morgan to take a self-guided tour of this historic site.

In 1864, Union Admiral David Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the heavily mined bay, yet Fort Morgan remained strong and today, displays fortifications from a variety of significant historic encounters. Whether you are interested in seeing the casemates or the various batteries that are still standing, a tour of this site is something that everyone will appreciate, regardless of your interest in Civil War history.

historic fort morgan

Visitors to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will also have the opportunity to experience a variety of other attractions and activities. From attending Sand Castle University to creating your own crafts at the Clay Studio, there are ample experiences that all the family will be able to enjoy.

gulf shores clay studio


Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the perfect place to organize a last-minute vacation, especially if it’s late in the season and you are just looking to enjoy a relaxing getaway. From the gorgeous beaches to the variety of awesome restaurants offering authentic, local seafood and other cuisine options, there is plenty to enjoy during a short or long term getaway.

Whether you are inspired to book a trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach this year, or perhaps looking for something in the New Year, you can be sure that you won’t be leaving disappointed! The friendly welcome that will greet you regardless of where you stay and what you experience makes the Gulf Coast of Alabama a place we cannot wait to return time and time again…we think you will feel the same also!

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Chris Boothman
Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]


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