One of the best kept secrets on the Alabama Gulf Coast is historic Fort Morgan. Locals know about the fort and folks who have ventured out beyond the lights and attractions of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach know about the fort. Some folks even found it when they looking for Tacky Jacks located at the Fort Morgan Marina right across from The Dunes Condominiums. But have you ever been? Do you even know where this wonderful family venue is? Maybe it’s time you visited the fort for yourself. Load up the kiddos and the dog and head west on highway 180 – Fort Morgan Road – and in about 22 minutes travel back in time to a place where cell phones and iPads weren’t ever even thought of. Venture out and discover a place where history lives among the masonry of the 1800s and enjoy making wonderful family memories right now, in 2018.
Here are five reasons you and your family need to make sure you plan a day trip to Alabama’s historic Fort Morgan:
1 HISTORY NEVER GETS OLD
It’s kind of a play on words, but it really is true. History, for most of us, was a subject we took in school where we memorized seemingly useless facts about people we will never meet who did things we will never do. What if I told you there is living history at Fort Morgan? There is! And as you read this blog, I hope you begin to see it. As you enter the fort’s pentagonal perimeter, you will drive over the fort wall designed in 1817 during a time when most people traveled by horses and wagon. The fort was built at the mouth of Mobile Bay across from Fort Gaines on the spot where Fort Bowyer, a short lived stockade once stood. Fort Bowyer was attacked twice during the War of 1812 by the British, but eventually was re-constructed and named Fort Morgan. Fort Morgan was named after Daniel Morgan, a Revolutionary War Hero. Today the fort is home to the Mobile Bay Ferry dock and a wonderful museum/gift shop. You might want to consider catching the ferry and cruising across beautiful Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island. Whether you choose the ferry ride or not, you will definitely want to visit the Fort Morgan Museum and Gift Shop. Each member of your family will find something great in there!
2 PETS ARE WELCOME TO BRING THEIR PEOPLE
Because much of the fort experience is an outside one, pets are welcome to bring their people. I meant to say: people are welcome to bring their pets. Dogs must be on a leash. I suggest getting your dog some doggie booties, too, because there are sand spurs around the fort grounds and they can stick and hurt doggie feet just like they hurt ours. The fort is build out of concrete and bricks and there are brick walkways all around. The grassy areas are quite inviting, however, so you will want to make sure everyone in your party has some sort of footwear if possible. In addition to bringing your pets, you will probably want to bring a picnic lunch and cooler with cold drinks or water. It gets pretty warm on summer days when you’re exploring out in the sun. You and your furry buddy can venture inside many of the rooms of the fort, however, and you’ll find it much cooler inside there. The fort has nice public restrooms for people, but the fort staff asks guests to please clean up after your doggie potties outside.
Be sure to bring your camera and your treasure bag. You will want both once you begin exploring the beach. And whatever you do, don’t forget to bring sunblock. You will probably get so involved in your treasure hunt, swimming, or wildlife watching that you won’t realize how fast you can sunburn on this quaint little beach. Trust me on this, it can happen super fast!
3 THE BEACH IS FULL OF TREASURES
When you look over the fort walls, you will see Mobile Bay on one side and The Gulf of Mexico on another. And you will see a beautiful beach and Mobile Point. At Mobile Point, the place where the Bay meets The Gulf, the water is usually extremely rough and rip tides can be hidden in the surf. Please don’t try to swim here. Swimming is great, however, on the Mobile Bay side. To enter the beach, you’ll just walk right off the parking lot and onto a brick sidewalk, then to the beach. As soon as you get to the beach, you will want to start looking for treasures. The rolling waves of the bay are so much gentler than those from The Gulf and shells and sand dollars usually are abundant. You may see an occasional starfish, but please don’t pluck them from the water. If you look just a few feet off shore, toward the horizon line, you will probably see dolphins playing in the tide. Some days they put on quite a show! Gulls, herons and pelicans are also regulars on the fort beach. You may see a snake or other reptile. Please do not bother them! They normally will not even notice you if you don’t approach them. Keep in mind that even though you’re on a public beach, you and your family are still in the wildlife’s home.
4 HISTORY AND PRESENT DAY MEET RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES
As you look across Mobile Bay, you will most likely see the Dauphin Island Bridge. If you look toward The Gulf of Mexico, you should be able to see the Sand Island Lighthouse. You’ll also see a few drilling platforms. Fishermen love these man-made reefs! The Ferry will probably be crossing on one of its trips. That’s also pretty cool to watch. And you’re almost guaranteed a glimpse of an extremely large cargo or container ship. Once the location of a fierce Civil War Battle, this Mobile Bay shipping channel now leads from the Port of Mobile out into The Gulf and ultimately to other countries. Today it is a busy thoroughfare for ocean-going trade and cargo ships. If you listen, though, very closely, you just might hear the echoes of Civil War Admiral David Farragut yelling his famous words: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
5 FAMILY FUN ACTIVITIES ARE PLANNED FOR BOTH DAY AND EVENING HOURS
The fort is a great place to visit both day and evening. On most days, the fort hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The fort and the beach close at 5:00 PM. However, on Tuesday nights in June and July, the staff is holding a living history tour from 6:00 PM-7:00 PM. There is a cost of $10 per person to attend this wonderful family entertainment and learning experience. This will be well worth your time! Actors dressed as if they lived almost 200 years ago will be telling stories and visiting with fort guests. You can also expect to hear the gunshots and artillery shells that you might have heard when the fort was active, long ago. Another fun family event is scheduled for July 2 from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. The 151st Army Detachment Band will perform. This is sure to be a treat for your whole family! For a list of more special events planned for guests of Fort Morgan, follow this Fort Calendar link.
As you travel to Fort Morgan, you will pass some of the prettiest neighborhoods in Gulf Shores. Many of those neighborhoods are home to elegant vacation rental homes and condos. Sunset Properties, your premier rental management company in the Fort Morgan area, invites you to take a look at some of the wonderful homes we have available along Fort Morgan Road. About halfway between the highway 59 intersection and the fort itself, you will pass the Peninsula Golf Course where Peninsula 401 is located. Keep driving toward the fort, and you will come to Navy Cove. Check out Navy Cove 2113. You will also pass The Indies and The Dunes. If a beach house appeals to you, stop and look around in The Dunes Subdivision near mile post 2. Dolphy Dunes, Dunesberry and Just Write are just a sampling of the wonderful beach homes available for vacation rentals in that neighborhood. If you’d rather stay in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, we’ve got you covered on that, too! Browse Sunset Properties to see all of fine rentals.
Make a plan to visit Fort Morgan on your next trip down to the Alabama Gulf Coast and make a plan to stay with Sunset Properties while you’re here. We are looking forward to meeting you!