Restricted mobility can present challenges most people don’t realize. For folks who aren’t able to walk, accessing a beach or vacation attraction may be difficult or impossible. The City of Gulf Shores recently installed a wheelchair accessible beach mat that will make accessing The Gulf from the public beach parking lot a great deal easier for those in wheelchairs, on scooters, or pushing strollers.
In addition to visiting the pristine beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast, there are several other fun activities around our Island Paradise we’d like to suggest:
1 Explore the Hugh S Branyon Backcountry Trail
The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a great place for folks with limited mobility to spend a day. The trail complex, located within Gulf State Park, consists of 25 miles of 15 paved trails. While you’re on the trail, you’ll pass through up to six distinct ecosystems and explore almost 6200 acres of wildlife. That’s a lot of exploring! The paved pathways are easy on wheels, as well as on feet, so anyone can enjoy a day outing on The Trail. Remember to bring your camera. You’re going to see our local wildlife and we’re pretty sure you’re going to want to share what you see with your friends back home.
2 Take a Dolphin Cruise aboard the Sunny Lady
The Sunny Lady , a fun family tour boat, offers tours of the back bays of Orange Beach and leaves out of The Wharf. While this cruise does not go into The Gulf of Mexico, you’re still set to enjoy an outing filled with fun, waves and wildlife viewing. Dolphin cruises last about an hour and a half. The Sunny Lady has a ramp available making it easy for folks in wheelchairs to board. Guests are permitted to bring a small six-pack cooler but if you forget yours…no worries! Light snacks like sodas and chips are available for purchase during the cruises. Bring your camera and sunscreen and prepare to see some dolphins!
3 Ride the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf
After your dolphin cruise, stay at The Wharf for a little while longer and ride the Ferris wheel! The Ferris wheel at The Wharf has a 4.0 rating from TripAdvisor and has become a local landmark. The Ferris Wheel at The Wharf is wheelchair accessible and we love the view from the top. With its great location at The Wharf, this incredibly tall ride will provide a view of our island you won’t soon forget. Give it a try and don’t forget let us know what you think.
4 Fish from Gulf State Park Pier
The Gulf State Park Pier , located on Beach Boulevard in Gulf Shores has always been a favorite stop for locals and guests, alike. Whether you’re on a date, a fishing outing or just wanting to spend a day listening to the lapping of the waves, Gulf State Park Pier is sure to please. On extra warm days, visit the indoor seating at the concession area. You’ll also be able to purchase fishing tackle and souvenirs while you’re on the pier. Comfort stations are located at the midpoint of the pier. The pier has 2,448 feet of fishing space available along the rails. The pier office and bait shop hours are 6am until 6pm only, but the pier itself is open 24 hours. There is an honor box to pay fees if you want to go out on the pier when the office is closed. Did we mention how cool the moon looks as it rises over the Gulf when you’re watching it from the pier. If you’ve never witnessed this, you should definitely put it on your “to do” list!
5 Ride the Mobile Bay Ferry
Want to visit Dauphin Island while you’re nearby? One of the most enjoyable ways to get there is to cross Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island inside your own vehicle on the Mobile Bay Ferry. If you’ve never ridden a ferry, now’s the time! You’ll probably pass large ocean going vessels, fishing boats and maybe even see someone on a kayak. Did we mention dolphins? Yep! You’re probably going to see a few dolphins along the way. The Mobile Bay Ferry runs all day, most days, weather permitting. The trip takes about 40 minutes. Once you’re on Dauphin Island, check out the Sea Lab Estuarium.
6 Peek inside aquariums at the Estuarium
Once you depart the ferry on Dauphin Island, you must visit The Estuarium. It is located at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. With 31 aquariums and hosting more than 100 species of sea life, The Estuarium, is sure to entertain and educate your whole family. It showcases plants, animals and natural resources found all around the Mobile Bay Area. The Estuarium is open most days and does have an entry fee. Enjoy your time at the Sea Lab, but keep a watch on the ferry times! You don’t want to miss your ride back!
7 Tour Fort Morgan
When you arrive back at the ferry landing, you’re at the gates of Fort Morgan. Go ahead and take some time to tour this Alabama Landmark. The original fort at Fort Morgan was constructed over 200 years ago in 1812 and was called Fort Bowyer. Now an Alabama State Historic Site, Fort Morgan is one attraction you won’t want to miss. Family events are planned throughout the year, but even on days when there is no organized event, we suggest checking out all of the fort’s grounds including the paved walkway that leads out to the fort beaches. No outing at Fort Morgan is complete without a trip through the museum. In addition to all the great historical artifacts housed there, you’ll find a gift shop unlike any other in this area. Take home a piece of history from the museum gift shop when you finish your day at Fort Morgan.
8 Visit The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Did you have fun at the Estuarium? How about seeing a larger and more diverse group of animals? Did you know there is a zoo right here in Gulf Shores? Famously deemed “The Little Zoo That Could” The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has been an island favorite since 1989 when it was called Zooland Animal Park. Home to more than 500 animals, The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has well-kept pathways that wind throughout making wheelchair access easy. Special “encounters” are available. If you’re a fan of snakes and gators, check out the Reptile Garden encounter. The Lemurs are sure to have you laughing and the Tamanduas are a treat for everyone!
The zoo sits on 17 acres located on Gulf Shores Parkway in the heart of our little beach town and welcomes visitors every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
9 Shop in the Shark Store
You’ve seen it right? “The Shark Store”, better known as Souvenir City is located in the heart of Gulf Shores right across from the public beach. You’ve wondered what could possibly be inside a store with a giant shark mouth as its entrance. Souvenir City has been a Gulf Shores favorite since 1956, but it isn’t your average souvenir store. After you literally pass right through a giant shark’s mouth to get inside this locally-owned store, you’ll find rows and rows of fun things to see, touch and buy. You’ll find everything from shells, to tees, to Hermit Crab pets. Whether you’re looking for a gift to take back to your bestie or just a little souvenir memorabilia for yourself, don’t miss a chance to spend some time in Souvenir City.
10 Visit the Public Beach in Gulf Shores
As we mentioned in the header of this blog, the City of Gulf Shores has literally rolled out a wonderful new addition to the public beach. Just west of the Hangout, the wheelchair access mat is welcoming beach goers each day. The mat eliminates the struggle of navigating wheels over and through sand, thus making accessing and enjoying The Gulf of Mexico so much easier! Reviews by users have been great and we encourage you to give it a try. Don’t forget your sunscreen and shades. We’re pretty sure once you get so close to The Gulf, you’re probably going to want to stay a while and enjoy the sound of the lapping waves as you watch the gulls splash and dive for their dinner.
We, at Sunset Properties, hope you find some of these suggestions helpful when you’re planning your beach vacation. While there are many more attractions with wheelchair and stroller accessibility in our area, these are just some of our favorites.
Do you already have a place to stay while you’re in Gulf Shores? Sunset Properties has two vacation rental properties that are wheelchair accessible. Before you finalize your vacation plans, we would love for you to see Grace and Endless Summer.
Grace, located in the Fort Morgan community has 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. Grace will comfortably accommodate 20 people and has its own elevator. With amazing views, Grace stands magnificently among her neighbors.
Endless Summer, also located in the Fort Morgan area, has 6 bedrooms and 6 baths. Endless Summer sleeps up to 18 people comfortably and also has an elevator. With a roll-in shower and extra wide doors, this vacation home is sure to please.
If you need additional information about these homes or other properties we manage, please reach out to us at email@example.com or call us at 251.543.1370.