The Gulf Coast is an underrated stretch of beach that can provide a multitude of fun destinations for families or young couples, depending on what you are looking for. Along this beautiful stretch of white, sandy beaches are the two largest coastal cities in Alabama, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Only 15 minutes from each other, there is a lot of destinations to be found for anyone looking. But what do the locals do, and what is guaranteed to be a good time? Take a look at these local options to decide what is worth your time and what might be wasting your time.

Restaurants and Lounges Destinations

Okay, first things first, how do you start your day if you are in the Orange Beach or Gulf Shores area? Well, thankfully, there are two wonderful destinations for breakfast. Open at 7 AM, you could check out the highly-rated Southern Grind Coffee House. Not only does this little local spot make their own coffee (that you can buy in bags), but they offer all the classic Southern breakfasts favorites, like biscuits and gravy.

Also well-reviewed is Buzzcatz Coffee and Sweets, a cute little coffee shop with a lively, fun decor that some have called the best breakfast in Alabama. Super affordable with lots of weekly specials, the cinnamon rolls at Buzzcatz come highly recommended.

Now, when it comes to lunch and dinner destinations, let’s be real. You’re on the coast, and you’re going to want good seafood. Lartigue’s Seafood Market is a great option for some delicious, really fresh seafood, and the tuna dip and the gumbo are absolute must-tries. If you are looking for a bit more of a cajun flavor, Louisiana Lagniappe will also give you some wonderful, fresh seafood with a little bit of that bayou heat. People rave about the blackened grouper, so maybe give that a look.

If you are looking for a destination that is a bit more non-traditional, Blue Water Charters offers a 6-hour lunch cruise where the captain of the vessel will grill you up burgers, sausages, and hot dogs while you revel in the dunes of Robinson Island. It’s a little pricey at $875 for a group of 6, but a cookout on an island in the gulf is going to provide hours of memories.

Finally, if you are looking for a party destination, check out The Hangout. The food is good, with simpler fare from burgers to po’boys to seafood, and there are a bunch of fun frozen drinks for the adults, but what makes this place really fun is all of the events. Live music, outdoor games, foam parties, and more, The Hangout is dining with attitude.

If drinks are what you are looking for, The Flora-Bama Lounge has been a local favorite since 1964. With five stages for local music, craft drinks, and delicious food, The Flora-Bama Lounge is a great spot for mommies and daddies after the children have gone to sleep.

Nature, Beaches, and Attractions

So, now you have an idea of what to eat, but what other destinations have things to do? Well, there are lots. A close walk to a lot of the restaurants is the expansive Gulf Shores Public Beach. Recently renovated, the miles of sandy white beach is perfect for a day of fun in the sun, and there is even a recently built playground for the kiddies. If you are looking for something less crowded, though, Lagoon Pass can be a great spot, especially if you love hermit crabs.

The Wharf is a wonderful spot for shopping and eating, so if you are looking for some time out of the sun, the shops, restaurants, and bars of The Wharf provide a nice relief from the heat.

If you are looking for hiking and biking, the Hugh S. Branson Backcountry Trails are a great place to get in touch with nature. With miles of trails for walking and biking and a plethora of wildlife, from alligators to tortoises to an assortment of birds, the Hugh S. Branson Backcountry is most beloved for how well maintained the trails and facilities are.

Charter boats are also a big attraction in the Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, and the one that is so popular it sells out fastest is the Orange Beach Dolphin Eco Boat. This hour and a half boat trip will take you to the local dolphin pod, where as many as 50 to 70 dolphins will get up close and personal with you.

These are just a few examples of some of the great destinations that wait for you on your trip to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, but take some of these examples and really live like an Alabama local.