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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Gulf Shores Alabama in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Gulf Shores Alabama in 2024

What's the best time to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama?

Spring and fall are the best times to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama, for warm weather without the summer crowds. May offers the least rain and warm temperatures extending into October. These seasons avoid the busiest times, provide optimal conditions for beach activities, and coincide with popular events like the Zydeco & Crawfish Festival and Hangout Music Festival, making them ideal for visitors.

Gulf Shores, Alabama, is a great beach destination in the U.S. South, perfect for families. It’s located on the Gulf Coast, like many of Florida’s most famous beach towns, but it is more family-friendly and less expensive than its more famous neighbors.

Its natural beauty, in the form of pristine white beaches and beautiful water, is also home to rich populations of fish and sea turtles. Once on shore, visitors can take advantage of a vibrant boardwalk and great shopping and dining opportunities.

If you’re planning a family beach vacation or just want to take a trip to a beautiful place, keep reading to learn the best time to visit this unique destination!

Overall Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores Alabama

Aerial view of the expansive stretch of beach in Gulf Shores, pictured during the best time to visit

Pugalenthi Iniabarathi/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Gulf Shores Alabama is in spring or fall, when you can get all the benefits of visiting during the summer without the worst of the crowds.

Since the whole point of visiting Gulf Shores is to spend lots of time on the beach, obviously you want to visit when the weather will be warm. This far south, warm weather lasts a lot longer than summer does on the calendar.

Average high temperatures reach the low 80s in May and stay warm until October, which has an average high temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring has some of the best weather along Alabama’s coast.

The temperature is nice and warm already by April, and this is still the drier part of the year. In fact, May receives the least precipitation of the entire year.

Fall is rainier than the spring, with September receiving some of the heaviest rain of the year, and the Gulf Coast is sometimes affected by the end of hurricane season in the Caribbean. However, water temperatures are much warmer during the fall, making swimming a more pleasant experience.

Fall is also less crowded than the summer or even the spring. Early spring means a lot of spring breakers from regional universities hit up Gulf Springs. If you’re a college student, March and early April are the best times to visit.

If you’d rather avoid the crowds, then the sweet spot for a spring visit is between mid-April and late May (before Memorial Day Weekend).

Visiting during late spring and early fall also allows you to make the most of Gulf Shores’ seasonal attractions. Some popular places, such as the local water park Waterville, USA, are only open from mid-May to early September.

Make sure you check ahead to see what attractions are open during the shoulder season, especially if you are flying with kids, so they don’t end up disappointed.

Spring and fall are the most exciting times to be in Gulf Shores because that is when there are the most festivals and special events in town. Perhaps because it’s warm, but not so hot that you can’t spend time outside in anything other than a bathing suit.

Most events center around live music or food, such as:

Least Expensive Time to Visit Gulf Shores Alabama

People walking along a beach at dusk during the overall cheapest time to visit Gulf Shores Alabama

Gulf Shores, AL – March 6, 2021: People gathering on the beach to watch the sun set. Gulf Shores is an increasingly popular tourist location due to its white sand beaches, attractions, climate/James Pintar/Shutterstock

While it’s generally an affordable beach destination, the overall cheapest time to visit Gulf Shores is during the off-season, from November to February. Although winter in Gulf Shores is still pleasant, it’s hardly warm enough for swimming.

The lower demand means lower prices. Average hotel prices drop by about 20% during the winter off-season. Condos, which are usually more affordable, have even bigger discounts.

Most visitors to Gulf Shores drive, since it’s more of a regional destination than a national one, and the price of driving is pretty much the same throughout the year. If you have to fly, then the least expensive time to fly to Gulf Shores is January.

The closest airport is Pensacola Airport in Florida, where flights cost the least during the winter. If you want to save money but still go swimming, then the best time to visit is between late April and May.

After spring break, many hotels offer discounts of 30-40% to take advantage of the shoulder season. More options will be open as well since it’s no longer the low season.

Least Busy Time to Visit Gulf Shores Alabama

Wooden walkway to the beach in Gulf Shores Alabama pictured during the least busy time to visit with nobody in sight

Darryl Vest/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Gulf Shores is during the winter, but you can also beat the crowds by visiting in the fall. Most of winter is fairly quiet in Gulf Shore, and the exception is December, which sees a slight influx of holiday visitors.

Events such as the Christmas Lighted Boat Parade attract local families and those from elsewhere in the region that want to see a unique take on Christmas, where there is more sand than snow.

The rest of winter is fairly quiet. Many seasonal attractions such as the amusement park close completely in January and February, so this may not be the most fun time to visit with kids.

However, adult visitors will enjoy the opportunity to stroll along the beach and head into the restaurants without any reservations. February brings a few fun local events, such as the Chili Cook-Off in the famous Flora-Bama dive bar.

If you want to beat the crowds but still go swimming, then the best time to visit is in the fall.

The rainy seasonal weather chases away potential guests, but few people know that by October, the rains have mostly died down and temperatures are still in the high 70s. Even in September, you can get lucky and have sunny days during your vacation and the beach all to yourself.

Worst Time to Visit Gulf Shores Alabama

Two people walking alone on the beach in Gulf Shores during the best time to visit while the sun sets over the horizon

Darryl Vest/Shutterstock

Although summer is the most popular time to visit Gulf Shores, we also consider it to be the worst time to visit. Summer is probably the most frustrating time to visit, as it’s absolutely packed with families and travelers.

This makes something as simple as getting groceries for your vacation apartment a minefield of navigating long lines and packed parking lots. Since most people drive to Gulf Shores, summer traffic is usually unbearable, especially during the weekends when visitors are leaving and arriving.

You can get around it by taking some back roads to get to the town, but more and more visitors are wising up to this “hack.” The town is fairly small and just doesn’t have the capacity for this much traffic.

The weather is also not the greatest. Sure, it’s warm enough to go swimming, but it may be too warm. According to the official tourism board for Gulf Shores, average daily temperatures are about 90 degrees in July and August.

The humidity is very high, and rain is frequent, making it difficult to do anything other than lounge on the beach. However, summer is the best time to visit when you have kids.

The water temperature is a balmy 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so you know they’ll have a good time swimming and splashing around. Popular seasonal attractions such as the waterpark and amusement park are both open, avoiding disappointment.

Things to Consider

Welcome sign pictured next to a pond in Gulf Shores, seen during the best time to visit

Jim Vallee/Shutterstock

Here are some additional tips that can help you plan your trip to Gulf Shores:

  • Get travel insurance for summer and fall. Hurricane season can hit the Gulf Coast fairly hard, and it peaks in August and September. If you’re traveling during this time, insurance will protect you in case you need to cancel.
  • Check the events calendar for spring and fall. While you may want to attend some fun local events, accommodation prices can rise during big events such as music festivals.
  • Gulf Shores is still an affordable destination. Outside of the summer peak, you don’t even have to reserve your accommodation well in advance. The atmosphere is more laid-back and family-friendly than many other U.S. resort towns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bike on a wooden walkway at Shelby Lakes in Gulf State Park pictured during the best time to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama


Here are some questions about the best time to visit Gulf Shores:

What are the best months to go to Gulf Shores, Alabama?

The best months to go to Gulf Shores are May and September, which have warm weather but fewer crowds than the summer.

What is the least expensive month to go to Gulf Shores?

The least expensive month to go to Gulf Shores, Alabama, is January, followed by February, and then May, which has shoulder season discounts.

What months are the hurricane season in Gulf Shores?

Hurricane season in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is the same as throughout the Gulf of Mexico, from June to the end of November.

Is it warm enough to swim in Gulf Shores in April?

It’s technically warm enough to swim in Gulf Shores in April because the water temperature is just below 70 degrees, but small children (and sensitive people) may still find it too cold.

What months can you swim at Gulf Shores?

You can swim from May to October in Gulf Shores, and if you have a stronger tolerance for colder water, you can also swim in April and November.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores?

Families may flock to Gulf Shores in the summer, but travelers in the know come in late spring or fall, when there are fewer crowds, but the weather is still great for swimming.

So, with so much to see and do and no real bad time to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Gulf Shores today to experience all that this wonderful city has to offer. Happy travels!