So you want to spend a day out in about enjoying the natural scenery in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. We, at Sunset Properties, know your indoor accommodations are important, but now you’re ready to just get outdoors. You’ve got your comfy walking shoes on, applied some insect repellent and sunscreen and you’re looking for ideas. Here are six easy-to-access places that you should drive to, then get out of your car and enjoy a little of our island paradise on foot. Take your family and a picnic basket filled with fresh local Alabama Seafood and make memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
- Wade Ward Nature Park
Located just off the sidewalk along Highway 59 in Gulf Shores near Scoop’s Ice Cream, Wade Ward Nature Park is one of our favorite places to explore. With free public parking nearby on East 1st Street, accessibility for the whole family is easy. You’ll enter the park area as you cross a wooden boardwalk bridge and under a pavilion. The walkway is an elevated boardwalk that sits above the wetlands below. It’s an easy walk and you’re almost guaranteed to have great views of alligators, heron, and other coastal wildlife. In the marshes, you’ll find an array of plant life indigenous to this type of ecosystem. Bring along your camera! Wade Ward Nature Park is part of our Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Migrating birds are often spotted here. Your whole family will enjoy this outing where you’re sure to see plants and animals unlike any in your own front yard north of our beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast.
- Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
Established in 2003, Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is actually seven trails in one. It is made up of over 15 miles of trail paths and passes through six distinctly different ecosystems in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and around Gulf State Park. A fun trail destination is Boulder Park. You will find giant boulders perfect for kids to climb. It is located next to the Pavilion and Butterfly Garden; about 1½ miles from the Catman Road trailhead on Highway 161. Rock climbing venues along our Alabama Gulf Coast are uncommon, but this one’s sure to please. For a complete map of all the trails to explore along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail follow this MAP link. In the meantime, don’t miss an opportunity to bring your kids to Boulder Park for some memorable outdoor fun!
- Orange Beach Waterfront Park
Located on Canal Road to the east of Doc’s Seafood, Orange Beach Waterfront Park is a great place for a family outing. With pavilions and restrooms and an unmatched view of Wolf Bay, your whole family will enjoy an afternoon here. Be sure to walk out on the 400-foot-long fishing pier to get the absolute best view possible! While alcohol is not allowed in Orange Beach Waterfront Park, pets are! Remember to visit this family-friendly, exceptionally clean outdoor park when you’re planning to get your whole family out for an afternoon of sightseeing and picnicking opportunities.
- Fort Morgan Beaches
What blog about natural walking trails and outdoor family venues would be complete without mentioning the serene beaches of Fort Morgan? Most island guests are accustomed to seeing the clean, swept, sandy white beaches in front of condos and places like The Hangout in Gulf Shores. While those beaches are always nice and welcoming, the undeveloped beaches of Fort Morgan are some of our favorites. The dunes are a little more covered with sea oats and the island wildlife is often more visible. To get here, travel all the way to the end of Fort Morgan Road and enter the fort. Park near the restrooms and walk out the brick walkway to the beaches. At the end of the walkway, go left and head towards the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Point or choose to walk to the right and explore The Mobile Bay side of this beach. If you need more reasons to visit Fort Morgan this summer, check out our blog about the Fort. And if you happen to look out across the water and see Dauphin Island bridge and wonder what’s over there, we’ll tell you: The Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Catch the Mobile Bay Ferry, which leaves from the entrance gates at Fort Morgan, to cross Mobile Bay and extend your nature outing around this area by including a trip to the The Estuarium. You’ll be glad you did!
- Romar Beach
Romar Beach, located nearly 7 miles from Highway 59 on Perdido Beach Boulevard, has been a local’s favorite Gulf access point for years. There is only a limited amount of free parking around this Alabama State Park beach access, but if you’re just looking to run out across the sand and put your toes in the water, you have to stop here at Romar Beach. Don’t forget to bring a picnic basket. This little stretch of public access is a great place to spread a blanket and have a snack. Many people have asked us about the name “Romar”. Romar is a combination of two last names: Roche and Martin. These two gentlemen were the first to build homes in this area of our island around 1924. Stop by and see for yourself what attracted them all those years ago! The years have changed, but the beauty of Romar Beach remains.
- Lake Shelby
Lake Shelby is located inside Gulf State Park just off Perdido Beach Boulevard on Highway 135. This well-kept outdoor venue welcomes pets and people, alike. Pets, however, must be leashed. Lake Shelby is known for its wild alligator population and they are protected, so be aware if you choose to bring your fur babies. Leashing them is an absolute must and any type of feeding or molesting the gators is a crime. Fishing is also allowed in Lake Shelby. There are picnic areas, designated swimming areas and restrooms available, as well. Lake Shelby is a unique body of water in our area. It is considered a freshwater lake, even though it is so close to the Gulf. You’ll notice the color of the water is not like most other lakes you’ve seen, too. But it is safe for swimming and fishing. Freshwater bass, bream and crappie all live in Lake Shelby, along with trout and mullet. Be sure to visit this unique lake and adjoining park.
We’re glad you’re choosing to spend part of your summer with us in our island paradise. At Sunset Properties, we have several beautifully decorated and fully stocked beach homes around the island available for your family’s use.Imagine, Dunes 206 and Navy Cove 2113 are located just minutes from Fort Morgan. Lighthouse 607 is not too far from Lake Shelby. If you’re looking for a penthouse, check out Caribe C Penthouse 14. If none of these fit your vacation stay needs, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or just give us a call 251.543.1370 . We will be happy to help you find the perfect beach home to make the indoor part of your beach vacation unforgettable!