Spring along the Alabama Gulf Coast is one of the nicer times of the year to visit. The flowers are blooming and the sand is starting to warm up. The weather is wonderful!
It’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy all that our coastal Alabama home has to offer. When folks visit us in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan in the spring, they often ask what to do to pass their time as days lengthen. Everyone loves the beach in the middle of the day, but what about the longer afternoons and early evenings? We, at Sunset Properties, love to suggest visiting our local museums! Filled with our unique history and enticing ideas about the future of Coastal Alabama, the museums in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and surrounding areas should definitely be part of your spring trip to the beach. Local museums are open and taking precautions to keep down the spread of COVID-19, so this will be a great way to social distance with your family! While you’re visiting us this Spring Season, we hope you will let you imagination blossom as you tour our local museums.
Gulf Shores Museum
Located in the heart of Gulf Shores at 244 West 19th Avenue, in a house that predates World War II, the Gulf Shores Museum, itself, is of historic value. The home once stood proudly on West Beach and belonged to the Cole family of Mobile. After Hurricane Fredric ravaged our Gulf Coast in 1979, the Coles graciously donated the house to the City of Gulf Shores. For years, the former beach home served as the public library for our little town, but in 1999, it was converted into the museum we love to visit now. Additionally, when the museum was created, the Oyster Bay Baptist Church donated their steeple and it adorns the garden surrounding the museum. Since 1999, the museum has been filled with artifacts and information about the history of Gulf Shores from its small beginnings to the thriving little beach town it is today. Local families and families who love for our local area have made invaluable contributions of time and resources to this museum. Museum guests will find information about industries in our area. Insightful details about storms that have impacted us is readily available. And there are always a few hidden treasures that we do not want to spoil here. Take our word for it, a trip to the Gulf Shores Museum will be a great way to spend a warm spring afternoon!
Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum
Located at 25805 John M. Snook Drive, not far from Orange Beach City Hall, is The Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum. Right off, you may be asking who is John M. Snook and what is an “Indian and Sea” museum? Well, John McClure Snook was an entrepreneur, businessman, and forward-thinking resident of South Baldwin County who led and grew our very first telephone company. Snook’s father, Ward Snook, founded Gulf Telephone in 1929. For more information on the Snook family, check out The Snook Foundation’s website. The contributions this family made and continue to make to our area are irreplaceable. And why Indian and sea? Those two entities are the foundations on which Orange Beach was built. Our first settlers inhabited an area near what we know as Caswell, near modern-day Bear Point. These Native Americans preceded any European settlers and were the first to live in and love our beach home. As for the “sea” part of the museum, that is a little more obvious. Orange Beach is known for professional and recreational fishing, as well as being a great place to enjoy other water sports. The Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum is located in what was formerly a one-room schoolhouse built in 1910. Today the museum houses many Native American artifacts, information about the farming industry that once thrived on our island, and plenty of information about the Gulf. Make sure you stop by and visit the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum. The building may be small, but the information inside is way bigger than you can imagine!
Baldwin County Heritage Museum
The Baldwin County Heritage Museum is a great place to spend an afternoon discovering the history of our whole county. Located at 25521 US Highway 98
Elberta, Alabama (home to the world famous Elberta German Sausage Festival), which is about an hour drive from Gulf Shores, The Baldwin County Heritage Museum is filled with local history. In addition to our fishing and water-based businesses, Baldwin County, Alabama, historically and even today, boasts a strong agricultural economy. As is evident by all the beautiful flowers all around our island home, we just love to grow stuff! We grow satsumas, lemons, cotton, beans, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and even grass (sod) for homes and golf courses. This tradition and love for the land started with the earliest families who lived here. Our love of the outdoors extends from the Gulf to the far northern tip of our county. The Baldwin County Heritage Museum allows visitors to step back in time and see displays of some of the most common household items and farm equipment that many folks used years ago. Set up like little rooms, complete with everything you’d commonly find in each, the museum is such fun to explore. If you like antiques, you will absolutely love this place! The folks at the museum are friendly and knowledgeable about all that they showcase and they love educating locals and visitors alike about life in the 1900s in what was largely rural South Alabama. If you’re a homeschool parent, this outing would make a great field trip. If you’re working from home due to COVID-19, this outing will offer a bit of stress relief. And we’re pretty sure you’ll not only learn something from this visit, but leave with a happy feeling, as well. Make sure to put the Baldwin County Heritage Museum on your ‘must-see’ list as visit our Coastal Alabama Museums this spring!
Foley Railroad Museum
Everyone seems to know about the Tanger Outlets located just north of Gulf Shores in Foley. But did you know that just to the north of the Tanger Outlets, Foley has one of the nicest railroad museums around? That’s right! At the intersection of Alabama Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway) and Highway 98 (Laurel Avenue) is The Foley Railroad Museum and Model Train Exhibit. This unique collection is housed inside the historic depot which was built in 1909, because the first depot built in 1905 was destroyed by fire. The Foley Railroad Museum should definitely be on your list of stops as you discover Baldwin County’s history. At the turn of the 20th Century, railway travel and transport in Alabama was booming. Train tracks were being constructed to connect our coastal towns to the ones far north of the beach. Mr. John B. Foley, a businessman who was originally from Chicago and the person for whom Foley is named, made a personal investment to help build the railroad from Bay Minette to Foley. This later became known as the Louisville and Nashville or L & N Railroad. The Foley Railroad Museum also houses one of the most in-depth model train displays anywhere. Some modifications have had to be made to this exhibit’s schedule due to the pandemic, so you should reach out to them directly for dates and times this part of the museum is open to the public. And, hey….while you’re in Foley, why not go ahead and visit the Tanger Outlets, as well?
Fort Morgan Museum and Gift Shop
So, we have given you a simple way to tour the history of Baldwin County, Alabama by visiting the museums in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Elberta, and Foley. But what about Fort Morgan? No museum tour would be complete without a stop at the beautiful Fort Morgan Historic Site. And no fort visit would be complete without a visit to the Fort Morgan Museum and Gift Shop. Located at the far west end of Fort Morgan Road just outside Gulf Shores, just past The Dunes Subdivision, is the pristinely kept fort, itself, surrounded by a picturesque nature-filled part of our island. We mention the fort frequently in our blogs, because there really is a lot to see and do year-round here. Any day is a good day to visit Fort Morgan. You can fish from the beaches, walk your dog inside the historic walls of this former battleground or just take some time and stroll around and learn about Coastal Alabama History. Fort Morgan’s Museum and Gift Shop is filled with memorabilia from the wars that affected Alabamians. Personal letters, uniforms and even household utensils are on display. We love this museum and gift shop because there are not only eye-catching things to look at and learn from, but also unique little souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else in our area. We believe that if you visit Fort Morgan, you will come to love it, just as we do!
We know most folks come to south Alabama to visit our sugar white sandy beaches, enjoy the Gulf breeze and float in The Gulf of Mexico and visiting a museum isn’t always the first thing folks think of. But beautiful coastal Alabama is so much more than a great place to enjoy the beach. It is an all-around great place to visit! And no matter what time of year you’re planning on coming, there is always something great to do.
At Sunset Properties, we offer our guests vacation homes that become more than just ordinary places to stay. From one bedroom poolside condos, to multi-room Gulf front luxury houses, we offer our guests an Alabama Beach Home. We hope you will take some time this Spring to explore the museums that are all around your beach home. We hope you will let your imagination blossom as you discover the bright history that led us all to today. And when you’re making your vacation home decision, we hope you will keep Sunset Properties in mind. You’re already on ours!