The Art of Smart Timing
Winter months bring highs in the 60's and lows in the 40's. During this time, "snowbirds" from northern regions flock to the area to golf, fish, enjoy fresh seafood, and bask on coastal beaches. Spring and summer are high season, with mercury rising along with occupancy in area accommodations. Summers are hot and humid, but refreshing Gulf waters provide welcome relief along with endless possibilities for outdoor recreation. Rates and occupancy peak on holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Make reservations well in advance if you're planning a summer getaway. If you're looking to dodge the crowds, September, when rates are lower and you can still enjoy a swim without the need for a wet-suit, is an especially pleasant time to visit.
Pensacola International Airport (PNS) and Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), both around an hour from area beaches, are the closest sites for air arrival and departure. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are primarily driving destinations, and most visitors originate from surrounding states and arrive by car.
It's possible to enjoy a beach vacation without wheels, but if you intend to explore the greater Gulf area with kids, it's best to rent or bring your own vehicle.
In the summer months, traffic on Route 59, the major thoroughfare, tends to back up. To avoid congestion, take the Foley Beach Express, a toll road which runs parallel to Route 59.
If you prefer to toss the car keys, the Gulf Beach Express offers fixed route service from area hotels to popular shopping and dining destinations, as well as to Zeke's Landing Marina. For those who wish to explore the area by bike, Beach Bike Rentals and Gulf Shores Beach Rentals offer local delivery service. At Fort Morgan, you can board the Mobile Bay Ferry, which offers round-trip pedestrian- and auto-service to Dauphin Island.
Rental Management Companies
In addition to independent and chain hotels, a profusion of area condominiums dot the coastline. Major area rental management companies include Bender Realty, Spectrum Beach Club Management, Meyer Real Estate, Brett/Robinson, Kaiser Realty, Inc., and Young's Suncoast Vacation Rentals.
Groceries and Children's Equipment
Home Away Groceries provides door-to-door delivery of essentials and supplies, including diapers, sandwich makings, and sunscreen. Baby Beach Rentals, Beach Bum Services, and Gulf Shores Beach Rentals offer a range of equipment suitable for families planning a beach getaway, from kid cabanas to sand-ready strollers.
Kid-Friendly Seasonal Events
Kid-friendly seasonal events include Mardi Gras -- held in January or February; Hangout Music Festival -- a beach music fest featuring a special kids' area held in May; the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival -- held in June; The National Shrimp Festival -- featuring a seafood celebration with children's activities held in October; and Nautical Night of Lights -- a holiday boat parade held in December.
Zeke's Landing Marina, San Roc Cay Marina, and Hudson Marina offer water-sports rentals as well as family-friendly cruises and local charters.
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