Spring break — a time to recharge before the final push towards finals, or a chance to unwind after a long, dreary winter. Either way, this sacred week in March or April is an ideal time to head for Alabama’s coast, where locals and visitors know how to do spring break right. Consider these five beach destinations in Alabama for your next spring break getaway.

Spend Your Spring Break At One Of These 5 Great Alabama Beaches

1. Cotton Bayou Beach

Cotton Bayou Beach is located in the city of Orange Beach, close to the intersection of Highway 161 and Highway 182. It’s a popular beach with easy access from the main road, lifeguards and public facilities including restrooms and showers. Cotton Bayou’s white sandy beach is expansive, a great canvas for children to build castle creations and romp around. For the evening crowd, live music and sunsets might have greater appeal.

The beach is located near Voyagers restaurant at Perdido Beach Resort, where Emmy nominated singer-song writer John Lee Sanders performs up until mid-March. Guests can get special local discounts on Sunday nights. What better way to spend an evening wining and dining by the beach?

Cotton Bayou Beach

2. Cotton Bayou Beach

If your spring break falls on the third week of March, head for Orange Beach, where the 43rd annual festival of art is set to take place March 11 and 12 in 2017. This free event held on the waterfront is perfect for families, with a kid’s art alley, a culinary arts court featuring local fare and a music and songwriter’s stage. Kids can enjoy hands-on art stations and produce fantastic crafts including tempera jellyfish and bug jars. Adults might enjoy sampling various cuisines such as gourmet alcohol infused cakes burgers fresh off the grill.

The Orange Beach waterfront area is particularly attractive for families, being so close to the Arts Center, public library and restaurants. More an all-access space than just a beach, the waterfront park has a fishing pier with covered pavilions and picnic tables, a kid’s park and beautifully landscaped grounds. If you enjoy the coast, but need a little more entertainment than the water and sand, Orange Beach Waterfront Park is the perfect destination.

Cotton Bayou Beach

3. Cotton Bayou Beach

Gulf Shore Public Beach is a top choice spring break destination for its picturesque white sand and turquoise clear water. Located near the end of Highway 59, Gulf Shores beach is alive with beach volleyball games, beachside bars and beach attendants on duty. There are three open-air pavilions and a picnic area, restrooms and showers for public access. One of the best features of the beach is the surrounding area. With over a dozen eateries and shopping venues within walking distance, Gulf Shores is the “it” town to make the most of a spring break vacation.

Cotton Bayou BeachCotton Bayou Beach

4. Cotton Bayou Beach

Fort Morgan Beach attracts families or groups of friends, in part due to the luxurious vacation rentals around the area. Outstanding accommodations can elevate a trip to the next level, and the rental properties around Fort Morgan Beach take the cake. The other part that makes Fort Morgan Beach the ideal spring break destination is the all-encompassing range of activities available. The coastline off Fort Morgan is known for its abundance of fish, so various forms of fishing are available. Going on a dolphin-watching tour is another option. There are several quality golf courses nearby, as well as a variety of dining options. Fort Morgan Historic Site and Museum will satisfy any history enthusiast, and the nightlife is guaranteed to please the wild child.

Cotton Bayou BeachCotton Bayou Beach

5. Cotton Bayou Beach

Located just off the coast of Alabama, Dauphin Island is a 14-mile island accessible by bridge or ferry. This island is home to the only pet-friendly beach in the region, so for those who can’t imagine spending spring break away from their pooch — this is where to getaway. From an incredible beach landscape to flawless sunsets, Dauphin Island will stun visitors with its natural resources and features. Sights include historic Fort Gaines, Audubon Bird Sanctuary and Cadillac Square. The island hosts a world of recreational opportunities for visitors as well, including camping, kayaking, fishing and hiking.

Cotton Bayou Beach

This article was written by Hanna Choi.