Looking for a relaxing spot to spend spring break this year? Alabama’s culture-rich cities and beaches on the Gulf Coast are your ticket to a laid-back vacation with plenty of entertainment perfect for spring breakers of all ages. From the amusement parks and pristine beaches of Gulf Shores to the charming, flower-studded streets of Fairhope, Alabama offers something incredible for everyone. Book a stay at one of numerous Alabama vacation rentals to easily access the South’s most popular attractions and activities. Check out the top cities and towns in Alabama ideal for a spring getaway.

1. Gulf Shores

Families flock to the beaches of this laid-back vacation destination, which offers plenty of options for renting beach chairs, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards right near the water. Kids are sure to enjoy visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which hosts more than 300 animals. Although the water park area of Waterville USA is closed during the spring, you can still enjoy loads of amusement park rides at this site. When you’re ready to hit the beach, find a spot at the secluded Gulf State Park. For a chance to reconnect with nature, check out the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Finish your days with a plate of shrimp and other fresh seafood at a waterfront restaurant such as King Neptune’s.

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2. Orange Beach

Source: Flickr/Jody Claborn

Thanks to its emphasis on condos and vacation rentals in place of hotels, this beautiful beach destination hosts relatively few crowds during spring break. For a taste of Orange Beach’s maritime roots, set off on a tour with Cetacean Cruises, or take the kids for a ride on the Orange Beach Pirate Ship. For a truly unique cruise, book a glass-bottom boat tour with Dolphins Down Under. Next, head to The Wharf to see the views from the tallest Ferris Wheel in the southeastern USA. Before the end of spring break, enjoy some family-friendly rides at Adventure Island.

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3. Mobile

If you want to fill your spring vacation with big city fun, head to Mobile. This vacation destination perched on Mobile Bay is teeming with museums, including the Mobile Museum of Art and The Fort of Colonial Mobile. The city is also known as the birthplace of Mardis Gras, so be sure to stop by the Carnival Museum for a taste of history. You can also walk through the beautiful Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception or tour the Battleship USS ALABAMA, and if you’re traveling with kids, check out the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center. Before spring break ends, take a relaxing duck tour of the bay. If you have some extra time, take the 30-minute drive to Bellingrath Garden to see the spring flowers in bloom.

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4. Dauphin Island

Ride the Mobile Bay Ferry or drive the coastal connection to this secluded island south of Mobile with just 1,200 residents. The community is relatively quiet during spring break season, and the entertainment local businesses do provide is geared toward families. Take a walk from your beachfront vacation rental to stroll through the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, spanning more than 150 acres, before kicking back on the sands of Dauphin Island Public Beach. Other fun attractions include historic Fort Gaines and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, where you can get up close to sting rays and sharks.

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5. Huntsville

Huntsville, located on the Tennessee River surrounded by mountain views, is the perfect place to visit major Alabama museums. Spring breakers can also enjoy a hike through Monte Sano State Park, a natural refuge with breathtaking lookouts. Be sure to check out the rockets and other artifacts of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and spend a quiet afternoon walking through the spring blooms at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Before heading back to your vacation home, stop by the North Alabama Railroad Museum, or embark on a Harmony Park Safari to drive through a reserve of exotic animals.

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6. Birmingham

Source: Flickr/Trish Hartmann

This vibrant Alabama city away from the beaches offers plenty of metropolitan fun at places like the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum and the McWane Science Center, a two family favorites. You can also check out the Birmingham Museum of Art or take in the views from Vulcan Park. Stroll through Birmingham Botanical Gardens on a lazy afternoon, or take your kids to the Birmingham Zoo. Adults looking to Birmingham for a spring break getaway can visit the treasure trove of local breweries, including Avondale Brewing Company. Or, enjoy a day of hiking at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.

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7. Fort Morgan

Source: Flickr/Melissa Johnson

A quiet community on the peninsula separating Mobile Bay and the Gulf, Fort Morgan is your spring break getaway for enjoying secluded white-sand beaches. Visit the old fortress built in the 1800s at the Fort Morgan Historic Site, or head over to the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, featuring six miles of trails. You can also set off on a fishing charter with Chill Time Charters or simply ride the Mobile Bay Ferry. Looking for more entertainment? Fort Morgan is within easy driving distance of all the attractions of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

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8. Fairhope

Situated on Mobile Bay, this quiet town is the perfect place to escape the noise of spring break, featuring a charming municipal fishing pier, a spring arts and crafts festival, and planters of flowers that decorate the entire downtown area. Head to Windmill Market to get an ahi tuna wrap and browse farm-fresh foods to prepare at your vacation rental, or for a few dollars, relax at Fairhope’s private beach, featuring stretches of sand, grills, picnic tables, and a duck pond.

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