Just East of Gulf Shores, Alabama, Orange Beach sits on the beach and bay of the Gulf Coast, offering the best of both worlds to vacationers! A little less crowded and congested than Gulf Shores, you’ll find amazing dining options, hotel and things to do, especially if what you want to do is on the water!
Where To Eat
Ruby Slipper If you aren’t already in love with the Ruby Slipper from their Mobile or New Orleans locations, now is the time to fall head over heels with their amazing benedicts!
GT’s on the Bay I really love the view and feel of the restaurants and things to do along Canal Rd., every bit as much as I do the beach. Still touristy, GT’s has a unique menu with more of a cajun feel, thanks to executive chef Jason Navarro from of New Orleans. Their Sunday brunch buffet is wonderful! I love their parmesan grits and the Rib Eye with garlic worcestershire butter, which I tried at home to duplicate but couldn’t! There’s fun play area for kids, fish feeding and we saw dolphins while sitting outside.
Doc’s SeafoodShack and Oyster Bar on Canal might make the list of my ALL TIME favorites, and it’s a must anytime we go to Gulf Shores. Everything is amazing, including the wait. If time is not on your side, try ordering to go, (I’d suggest taking it to Orange Beach Waterfront Park just down the road) but they have those ring games and margaritas so the wait is just part of the experience! Once seated, we ate A LOT, but it’s all so good! The gumbo and the onion rings are amazing! I ordered the crab claws, which are also a LOCAL FAVORITE in Gulf Shores! We were there on National Fried Chicken Day, so my husband had to have their Fried Chicken, which is perfectly breaded and delicious! My kids all had fried shrimp, but again, it’s really good! They have a very light batter, and the shrimp have great flavor! Here’s a tip, if the Steamed Royal Reds are in, get them! They were out during our visit.
While I love the busy, crazy and loud restaurants, my good friend Laura prefers much more quiet restaurants, and after a visit to Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, realizes she should never take recommendations from me! After her visit to Gulf Shores, I asked her for her favorite restaurants: “On our very first evening in Gulf Shores …. I met a local woman who gave me some restaurant recommendations. She recommended Fishers Dockside (Orange Beach) and The Gulf. I am so glad she did! Fishers sits on the Marina, so you enjoy your meal in an open air restaurant surrounded by gorgeous yachts. And the meal was the best we had in Gulf Shores! It was not a loud, crowded tourist trap- it was peaceful and quiet and we enjoyed a nice breeze. We also checked out The Gulf – the bar, restrooms and kitchens were made out of shipping containers. All seating was spread out over the sand overlooking the gulf. There were cornhole boards set up to play on while you wait for your food. This restaurant also was not crowded and not loud. The food was so fresh and delicious. We were told that the menu changes often based on what is fresh and locally available. My husband enjoyed a local beer while I had a yummy peach sangria.”
Where To Play
The beaches in Orange Beach are much less crowded than the big beaches in Gulf Shores, although you’ll have fewer amenities.
These 3 public beaches in Orange Beach are all overseen by and part of Gulf State Park. Just a heads up, there are no dog friendly beaches in Orange Beach or Gulf Shores. You’ll need to visit Fort Morgan Beach, Pensacola’s Dog Beach or Daulphin Island or the Fort Morgan Beach.
Alabama Point East Beach One of the best kept secrets on Orange Beach, this beach, still in Alabama, is right over the Perdido Pass, and is probably the best beach in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, and it has FREE parking and restrooms. It does get crowded, because it’s not that big a secret, so go early. It’s shallow so it’s great for younger children, and there is a little protected cove where the water is clear and just beautiful! It’s fun to watch the boats in the channel, and wave as they pass by!
Cotton Bayou Beach The name refers to the Bayou that runs across on the opposite side of Perdido Beach Blvd., and there is a boat launch there, but the nice beach access has a big, free parking area and restrooms. More crowded than the other two, it’s the easiest to access just go early.
Romar Beach The closest beach to Gulf Shores, Romar Beach current doesn’t have restrooms, but makes a nice place to play! They do have FREE parking, so it’s a great place to visit if you’re staying in a VRBO!
Orange Beach Islands You can rent a kayak, paddleboard, jetski or even a boat to take you to one of the public beaches on the islands! Pack a lunch and spend the day playing!
Adventure Island The highlight of this arcade is the 5-story volcano that erupts in a rumbling cloud of steam! There is miniature golf, go carts, paddle boats, laser tag and much more!
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail There are four entrances to the 15 mile trail in Orange Beach, where you can see deer, bobcats, coastal birds and even alligators! A great hike to the Butterfly Gardens or the Boulder Park!
The Wharf at Orange Beach A perfect place to play after the sun goes down, The Wharf offers mini golf, a ferris wheel, arcade, cinema and more!
Hummingbird Zip Lines In our family trip planning, we all get to pick one thing we want to while at a location. My 12-year-old is all about zip-lining these days, and while I miss when all he wanted to do was mini-golf, I bite the bullet and we zip line! I ALWAYS get a little nervous going up, but it’s SO worth it! We loved the lines at Hummingbird, great views and terrific people!
Dolphin Cruise Take a private cruise or go with a group to see the dolphins, an amazing experience!
Guided Fishing There is a ton of fishing and different fishing options in Orange Beach! Find the guide or service that is right for you!
Orange Beach Waterfront Park This neat little park off Canal is a great place for a picnic or to see a pod of dolphins from the pier!
We just have to make the drive in to Flora-Bama State Line, when visiting Orange Beach, which is a just a few miles past Perdigo Pass. The Redneck Riviera, it’s a fun place to play in a small sliver of Florida, while just across the bay it’s still Alabama!
Where To Stay
Hotel Indigo We most recently stayed at Hotel Indigo, and while it’s across Perdido Beach Blvd, and not on the beach, we really enjoyed it! They had a great pool, a shuttle that takes you to the Gulf State Park Pavilion Beach, restaurant, indoor and outdoor pool and of course, it’s so dog friendly! Just a heads up, though, there are NO dog friendly beaches in Orange Beach or Gulf Shores. You’ll need to visit Pensacola’s Dog Beach, Daulphin Island or the Fort Morgan Beach.
Perdido Beach Resort This full-service resort makes it so you never have to leave the property, with several restaurants, a spa and a beautiful beach!
Hampton Inn and Suites, Orange Beach A great budget hotel for the family, the beach access saves you driving your car to the beach, parking and filling your car with sand.
Caribe Resort Bringing your own boat to Orange Beach, or coming by boat? Caribe Resort offers free boat slips to guest, big condominium rooms and a GREAT location!
Island House Hotel by Hilton Another Hilton property, this hotel offers beach access and every room has a private balcony with a Gulf view!
Tides Hotel Best Western Premier One of the newest hotels on Orange Beach, Tides offers a great beach, and I really love this hotel. They had me at complementary bike rentals. and bunk beds in the family suites! Although we didn’t stay in it, we did take a tour for a future visit!
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