Alabama Gulf Coast
In many ways, the expansion of American civilization happened from the Gulf Coast northward, and groups that spend time in coastal Alabama get a good helping of history along with their beach experiences.
“We have Fort Morgan, which was a Civil War fort here in our area,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They do self-guided tours all year round and do candlelight tours on summer evenings. There’s another fort, Fort Conde, on the other side of Mobile Bay. And then, when groups are in Mobile, they can tour the USS Alabama.”
The area has plenty of ways for visitors to encounter marine life as well. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab estuarium educates people on the variety of habitats along Alabama’s coasts, with introductions to the plant life and opportunities to interact with some of the animals that live in the area.
For more up-close animal encounters, Gendler recommends that groups try out one of the nature cruises available in the area.
“We have dolphin cruises, bird-watching excursions and sailing,” she said. “People can learn about the different trees and plants that grow in our area. They’ll learn the names that the boat captains have given the dolphins. Others will dig for sand, bring it up and sort through it, and talk about the different shells and animals that they find. We also have some glass-bottom boats so you can see what’s going on underwater.”
If you bring a group to the Gulf Coast, make sure to give them some free time to enjoy the area’s 32 miles of sugar-white sands.
Louisiana’s gulf Coast
The 10 Louisiana parishes with Gulf Coast real estate offer visitors a variety of aquatic adventures, great cuisine and one-of-a-kind culture.
“What we have in south Louisiana is very different than anywhere, even the everglades of Florida,” said Rebecca Buras, executive director of the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition. “We have bayous, waterways and estuaries. But it’s not just about the geography — it’s about the culture and the heritage that are bred into the people of south Louisiana.”
Although other Gulf Coast states are famous for their beautiful beaches, the marshes and bayous of coastal Louisiana present opportunities for different kinds of adventure. Numerous boat operators throughout the region offer swamp and bayou tours, giving visitors an up-close look at the alligators, turtles and other animals and birds that make their homes in the wetlands.
Buras also recommends charter fishing as a way to discover the riches of the Louisiana coast.
“The charters can take you out by eight o’clock in the morning and have you back by 11:30 with clean fish, and you catch your full limit in that amount of time,” she said. “Because of the estuaries we have from the Mississippi Delta region, the drainage has made this beautiful area where fish go to spawn and multiply.”
For more natural experiences, take a day’s driving trip along the Creole Nature Trail in the southwestern part of the state. The route covers 180 miles of marshes, beaches and wetlands and takes visitors to both nature preserves and quaint communities where they can sample some famous Creole food and Louisiana hospitality.