Fort Morgan Historic Site located in the community of Fort Morgan, Alabama offers a day of fun filled opportunities for any family. Visiting an historic fort may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you plan a vacation to Gulf Shores or Orange Beach or anywhere along the Alabama Gulf Coast, however, we think you should really consider visiting Fort Morgan Historic Site while you’re visiting the area. Here are ten fun things to do at Fort Morgan, Alabama:
- Learn About Alabama and US History
Located 23 miles from the heart of Gulf Shores on Fort Morgan Road, Alabama Highway 182,Fort Morgan sits on the historical site of Fort Bowyer which was active during the War of 1812. That sounds like a long way, but it’s really only a few songs into your Spotify playlist and the drive, which winds through old and new homes, along the lagoon, past Mobile Bay, and under the live oaks, is a super nice drive. If you’re lucky enough to own a convertible, open your top! This is definitely an outing for you! Fort Morgan is perfectly placed at the far west end of Baldwin County, in an area called Mobile Point, directly across Mobile Bay from Fort Gaines in Mobile County. Fort Morgan is a pentagonal shaped third masonry fort built between 1819 and 1833. Fort Morgan was an important venue during the US Civil War, specifically the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864. It was also operational during the Spanish American War and World War I and II. In 1946, after World War II ended, Fort Morgan was given to the State of Alabama, and it was designated as an historical site. Now the fort is open to the public seven days a week from 8 AM until 5 PM except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
2. Tour the Fort
Once you arrive at the expansive venue and well-kept grounds that make up Fort Morgan Historical Site, touring the fort seems a logical thing to do. But how? There are two ways. The good folks who manage the area will provide you with a detailed map and description of several interesting areas around the grounds. A self-guided tour is a great way to spend a day. With Covid-19 still in the back of everyone’s mind, this may be a preferable way for you to explore the area. Gather with your friends and family and follow the map around the area. The maps are really easy to navigate, and, as you tour the fort yourself, you may just see something the map doesn’t discuss. Another way to tour the fort is to meet one of the skilled and knowledgeable staff members for a scheduled walk through. Check out the fort’s website for dates and times of scheduled tours.
3. Catch the Ferry
If visiting Fort Gaines, located directly across Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan, is something that appeals to you, be sure to catch the Mobile Bay Ferry right from the entrance of the grounds, and travel across the bay to Dauphin Island. While you’re on Dauphin Island, a tour of the Mobile Bay Estuarium should also be on your list. This public aquarium is a part of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and is an excellent way to spend an afternoon. The Estuarium highlights the four key habitats of Coastal Alabama including the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands (which includes Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach) and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The Sea Lab is home to over 31 aquariums and has more than one hundred local species of plants and animals on display. The Estuarium is a great educational outing all wrapped up in fun things to see and do.
4. See Local Wildlife
Although Fort Morgan is inhabited almost daily by people, our local wildlife neighbors still call it home, as well. What will you see? Sea gulls live all around the area. Look up and you may see a flock overhead, or you may catch a glimpse of an osprey. Ospreys, also called sea eagles or river hawks, nest nearby. Look down and you may be lucky enough to see an Alabama Beach Mouse. This little mammal is named for our state because this particular species of mouse only lives here on our island. Walk out on the fort beaches and you’re likely to see dolphins swimming just offshores. They are avid fishers and spend a great deal of time in the warm waters of Mobile Bay where fishing is easy. Look on the sand, just above the tide line, and you’re likely to see jellyfish, starfish, sand dollars and other saltwater dwellers who found their way onshore. I’ve even seen a seahorse there. Alligators, snakes, coyotes, and deer also live in this area. The opportunities are limited only by the amount of time you spend looking. Local wildlife is all around. Just remember to look and not touch. When you’re out and about in the undeveloped areas of our island, you’re in the animals’ homes. Many of these animals are endangered. Some are poisonous. And some can be aggressive. Look, but don’t touch.
5. Walk the Beach
Fort Morgan is located along the beaches that touch both the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay in South Baldwin County. Because these two bodies of water meet just outside the fort walls, beachcombers are given a unique opportunity to collect shells. Shelling is a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike. The waters of Mobile Bay are gentler and the waves less rough than those of the Gulf. This allows for unbroken shells to reach the shallow waters along the beaches and to be deposited up on the beach, itself. In addition to shelling, walking the beach is a great way to get exercise without feeling like you are exercising. Walking toward a sunset or sunrise along the fort beaches is a great experience. Cell tower signals are sometimes spotty along the beaches, but that’s not a problem for beach goers. As you walk along the beaches of Fort Morgan, turn off your ear buds and listen to the lapping sounds of the waves or the songs of the seagulls. You won’t regret it.
6. Exercise Your Dog
So many guests who visit the Alabama Gulf ask us Can I bring my dog? Where can I walk my dog? or Can I take my dog to the beach? Sunset Properties offers a number of beach homes that allow fur babies to bring their parents, so there is no reason to leave Fido at home. But where to walk him? I always suggest walking your dog at Fort Morgan. There is plenty of beach space for puppers and their parents to run and play. Dogs must be on a leash and parents are responsible for cleaning up after any potty breaks, but dogs are welcome on the beaches of Fort Morgan.
7. Take Great Selfies
If taking great selfies is on your vacation “must do” list, you must visit Fort Morgan. From the brick walkway that leads inside this historic venue, to the top of the granite stairs, to the deepest parts of the brick rooms that make up the interior of the fort, the spots for great selfies are almost endless. You’ll want to get a picture of the flags that greet you as you enter the fort. Each flag represents a time in the fort’s history when people, other than modern-day Americans, occupied the area. A cannon and large anchor greet you, as well. Both make great pictures. When you’re inside the fort, look up and around. I bet you’ll find a perfect spot to gather your family and make a memory. There is a nominal fee to enter the fort, but memories are literally priceless.
8. Visit the Museum and Gift Shop
What historic site would be complete without a museum? While you’re on the fort grounds, be sure to visit the Fort Museum and Gift Shop. Filled with relics and artifacts left by those who lived and worked in the area, the museum is a must-see for all who venture to Mobile Point. In addition to letters and old uniforms and even the top of a lighthouse, you’ll find tons of information about the fort’s many years of service. Many of the relics you’ll see were discovered by “treasure hunters” and scientists over the years. Today, metal detectors are prohibited on fort grounds. So is taking something from the structure itself, like a brick. However, there are plenty of items inside the Museum gift shop to purchase and take home. Souvenirs, unlike any found anywhere else on our island, are available at the Fort Morgan Museum Gift Shop. Be sure to grab a memento marking your day trip. Driving away without something from this special family day will surely leave you regretting that decision later.
9. Fish, Swim or Boat Mobile Bay
Fort Morgan offers water lovers a great place to launch a boat or personal watercraft. So not to mention fishing, swimming, or boating from the fort would be a disservice to anyone looking for something to do. Fishing and swimming are also permitted on the beaches that surround the historic site. Bring your fur baby and some sunscreen and you guys can swim together! No lifeguard is on duty, so you’ll enter the waters of the bay or Gulf at your own risk, but there is nothing better than to cool off in the water after a tour of the site on a hot summer day.
10. Enjoy the Tranquility
Ahhhh…. the tranquility. While you’re visiting Fort Morgan, be sure to take a minute and just stop. Listen to the sounds of the wind through the sea oats. Take in the melody of the gulls. Absorb the peacefulness of the lapping waves. On cool fall days, sit down on the grass and feel the warmth that blankets the fort grounds. And on summer days, breathe in the breeze that blows off the Gulf. It may sound ironic: looking for tranquility at a military fort. But without the sounds of gunfire and no one yelling, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” (General David Farragut) you’re sure to find a few minutes of relaxing, soothing “me time”. Everyone needs a little “me time”. You’re sure to find that here!
Fort Morgan is so much more than just a spot on a map. Even though it has not been actively serving as a military fort for 75 years, it continues to serve visitors each day. And Sunset Properties is proud to be a neighbor to this structure that has stood so proudly for almost a century and to have rental homes located nearby. We offer you the convenience of being close to a family friendly venue, uniquely placed along the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay, while providing you with all the luxuries you need to enjoy your vacation home. We hope you’ll take some time and explore this timeless masterpiece, named for Revolutionary War Hero General David Morgan, that sits grandly at the end of the road that shares its name. And we hope you’ll go home each evening to a beach vacation home managed by your friends at Sunset Properties.