When it’s time to get away for a week with your family, consider a beach vacation where you can soak up the sun, feel the sand in your toes, and play in the surf. If this is your ideal vacation, take a look at the Gulf Shores area. Situated in southeast Alabama, the Gulf Shores region enjoys warm weather and breezes from the Gulf of Mexico. Vacation rentals in Gulf Shores include beachfront condos and single-family homes, and a few blocks from the beach, you can accommodate a more modest budget in a comfortable rental home. Here are a few areas in and around Gulf Shores to start your search for the perfect vacation.

1. Gulf Shores

Enjoy warm sunshine and calm waters while vacationing in Gulf Shores. This bustling seaside community offers white sandy beaches, great shopping, a hopping nightlife, and a variety of cuisines to indulge your palate. You can spend your holiday biking, fishing, and swim close to your vacation rental. Several local tour companies offer trips out on the water for dolphin watching using kayaks, jet skis, and boats. The local pier is a great place to drop your line in the water so you can enjoy grilled fish for dinner.

2. Orange Beach

Close to Gulf Shores is the welcoming town of Orange Beach, where your family can settle into a condo on the beach or a family home in town. Spend your days soaking up the sun, playing volleyball, or taking a ride on the ocean on any number of tours. If you’re feeling brave, ABC Parasail will take you out on the ocean and let you sail through the air so you can see for miles. In the evenings, take a stroll around the Orange Beach Wharf to watch the boats coming in with fresh seafood.

3. Gulf State Park Area

If you want to split your vacation between lying on the beach and hiking through a state park, then choose a vacation rental close to Gulf State Park. Inside this state park, enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. Bring bikes from home, or rent them at the park’s camp store to tackle the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail that winds 15 miles through the park.

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4. Ono Island

While on vacation this year, try your hand at island life. Just east of Gulf Shores sits Ono Island, where you can enjoy a slower pace of life away from the crowds. At Big Lagoon State Park, explore the salt marshes’ unique ecosystem and wildlife. Don’t worry about getting your feet wet, since the park offers a raised wooden walking path that minimizes your impact on the environment. Pack binoculars to get a better look at the interesting flora and fauna.

5. Gasque

Bon Secour Bay and the Little Lagoon sit on either side of the coastal town of Gasque. In this sleepy little Southern town, vacationing is all about the water activities. Spend your days fishing off a boat in the bay or taking a kayak out to explore. Depending on where you choose a vacation rental, a local company can set up chairs and an umbrella for you on the beach each day.

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6. Caswell

Come to Caswell to find a vacation rental inland but still close enough to the water to enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and canoeing. Caswell enjoys easy access to the Bayou Saint John, which offers calmer waters than the Gulf of Mexico. Find condos and single-family homes throughout the city to serve as your home base. Just a short drive away is The Wharf Amphitheater, which hosts live music concerts during the peak summer season.

7. Oyster Bay

Spend your vacation in the quaint area known as Oyster Bay. Water surrounds this charming coastal town on all sides. Once you fall into the area’s slower pace, you and your family can get to know each other again. When you want to get out on the water, the Fun Boat Dolphin Cruise takes you out into the Gulf of Mexico for an afternoon of dolphin watching.

8. Cedar Grove

Nestled along the Bon Secour Bay is the sweet coastal town of Cedar Grove, where your family can retreat from the grueling schedule of school and work. Spend your days biking around the town, paddle boarding on the bay, and taking long walks together. Local tour companies are happy to take you out on the water with boats, jet skis, or canoes.

9. Perdido Key

Imagine how much fun it’ll be to tell your friends back home that you spent your vacation on one of Florida’s keys. In Perdido Key, choose a vacation rental on the beach or away from the water in a more central area. While away your days on the beach, ride a bike around the area or play volleyball on the beach. In the evenings, take your sweetheart out for drinks at The Jellyfish or to dinner at The Crab Trap to enjoy fresh crab legs.

10. Pensacola

Make your home base a beachfront condo to spend your days exploring all that Pensacola has to offer. Go uptown to sample the local shopping, and walk along the crowded sidewalks before selecting an ice cream shop. You can learn a little more about Southern history at the Fort Pickens Civil War Fort.

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