Alabama Gulf Coast
Camping & RV-Parks:
The municipal campground, with 105 campsites, on Dauphin Island, Alabama <http://www.dauphinisland.org/> is a favorite of those in the know. It is near the beach (about 100 yards) is located within a bird sanctuary, beach, pier and a civil war fort.
Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
is another wonderful Campground. <http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/parks/state_parks_index_1a.html>
In addition to these municipal/state parks there are myriad privately owned campgrounds, RV-Parks and RV-Resorts including Rainbow Plantation an Escapees Park in Summerdale.
Bird Banding at Ft Morgan:
While we live in Pensacola we love to journey over to Ft. Morgan and watch the activity around "The Fort Morgan Bird Banding Station" each spring and fall. The Hummer bird study group http://www.hummingbirdsplus.org/ captures and bands hummingbirds and other Neo-tropical migrants at this location, which is the first landfall and the last departure point for thousands of migrating birds each spring and fall. They monitor population levels and the general condition of migrant birds, as well as gaining important insights into the effects of weather on bird migration. Banding sessions at the Fort Morgan Bird Banding Station are open to general public. Immediately upon showing up you are welcomed into the "family". The "birders" have mist-nets scattered around the area that myriad little birds get caught in. The birders remove the little bird placing it in a small mesh bag where it is weighed. A band is then placed on the bird's leg (yes it is a VERY small band). The bird is identified by species and sex by the experts and all information is entered into the laptop computer. Visitors are given a chance to examine the bird up close and to even hold them before they are released. It is an experience you will not soon forget.
Schedules vary a minute amount from year to year but this should give you a good idea:
" April 3-17, 2004---Spring Banding at Fort Morgan, Alabama.
A flood of Neotropical Migrants in their finest breeding plumage!
Don't miss it.
Tourist Attractions and Sight Seeing opportunities:
Miles and miles of sugar white sandy beaches are what attracts many to the coast. Others are captivated by the large fishing fleet operating out of marinas in Orange Beach. No fewer than 18 golf courses beckon those inclined to chase little white balls. Tanger Outlet Center, just north of Gulf Shores on US-59 in Foley, is a major outlet mall with more than 120 stores. Ft Morgan can be reached by driving west out of Gulf Shores on SR-180. Historic Ft Morgan dates from just after the War of 1812 but was obsolete by the Civil War. It was upgraded then abandoned. Today Ft Morgan serves as the eastern dockage for the ferry connecting Dauphin Island with the eastern shore (Ft Morgan, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach). Riding the ferry from Ft Morgan to Dauphin Island is an exciting adventure. We sometimes just leave the automobile at Ft Morgan and ride the ferry over and back. You get a wonderful view of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as you cross the ship channel connecting Mobile Bay to the Gulf. You pass near operating natural gas wells (you will probably think they are oil-rigs) situated on huge steel pilings in the middle of the bay.
There is a Lambert's in Foley. That would be Lambert's as in Lambert's of "home of the throwed-rolls" distinction. In my opinion it is just another franchised chain restaurant and not really worth its claim to fame! It is a popular eatery with standing lines every evening. It is mentioned just because it is popular with the vacationing crowd.
Why go to Lambert's when there are all those local fresh seafood places available? Drive about 25 miles east on the Beach Road to the Alabama-Florida line on Perdido Key and have freshly shucked oysters ala "Cajun style" at the Flora-Bama http://www.florabama.com The Flora-Bama is an acquired taste as are the oysters. Visiting the Flora-bama is something you should not miss when visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Wintzell's http://www.wintzellsoysterhouse.com/ on Fairhope Avenue
in downtown Fairhope is another good local place. This restaurant
has a most excellent "West Indies Salad" (a crab salad to
die for!!!!), along with its sister restaurant, the "original"
Wintzell's Oyster House, in downtown Mobile on Dauphin Street, which
is a famous landmark. The atmosphere at both is unique and well worth
The Original Oyster House on the Causeway http://www.originaloysterhouse.com/buffetmenu.pdf (just east of the USS Alabama) right on Mobile Bay between Mobile & Spanish Fort is good too! Excellent fried crab claws and other seafood dishes. It actually comprises two restaurants with different (albeit similar) menus -- a formal one upstairs and one less former on the lower level (more bar like). The Original Oyster house also has a sister restaurant located in Gulf Shores on the bayou (not all the way to the Beach Road on the west side of Hwy 59). It's fun to watch pelicans dive into the bayou while dining here.
Then there's the "shack" that's behind the "shark" souvenir shop in Gulf Shores (east of Hwy 59) -- I can never remember this restaurant's name. They serve really good boiled shrimp (reds), but some may be squeamish -- these shrimp include heads and all! This eatery is very informal and small.
The Nautilus Restaurant in Spanish Fort (just south of I-10 on the right (west) side of Hwy 98) is OK. It's not my favorite, but it does good business, but that's mostly due to location, I'm sure. I prefer the restaurants I mentioned already, but Nautilus is still good.
Jimmy Buffet's sister Lulu owns Lulu's Sunset Grill in Orange Beach
http://lulubuffett.com/history.htm Check out the web site it tells
a little of Lulu's history. They are a colorful family. The restaurant
is located on the north side of the Intracoastal waterway a few blocks
east of the big high-rise bridge. If you have never experienced New
Orleans style BBQ shrimp this is what I recommend. BBQ shrimp are
not BBQ like you might expect. They are actually sautéed in
a spicy butter sauce------------to die for. While there enjoy the
parade of boats passing by as they make their way along the Intracoastal
Then there's a restaurant at Mullet Point out of Point Clear (again, I can't remember its name) which is located all the way to the south end on the Old Bay Road (Scenic Hwy 98 -- don't curve left to head east to Foley -- keep going south). One has to know about this restaurant because it's definitely out of the typical route (it's located on a long dead end route).
When near Ft. Morgan, especially near sunset, Joyce and I always stop at the marina, boat ramp & restaurant all located very near the entrance gate to Ft. Morgan. It is always fun to watch the fishermen returning with their load of fish. There is a lot of action around the cleaning tables then when the time gets "right" we walk to the restaurant located upstairs. The view across Mobile Bay is awesome. It is particularly delightful to be situated in the restaurant in the spring/summer as the sun sets across Mobile Bay. The food isn't anything to write home about -------- the view is!