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The Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores in 2023

The Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores in 2023
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Alabama has a lot to offer, from the rugged countryside to beautiful mountain views. One thing that the state is most proud of is Gulf Shores. When you visit, you will be amazed at how much Alabama can do with the amount of beach space it has.

If you are headed south and want to visit the beach while you’re there, you’ll find that there is no better place to be than Gulf Shores.

For a memorable trip, find out when the best time to visit to avoid crowded beaches, high hotel prices, and bad weather. Learning when special events are happening could also help you have a trip you won’t forget.

But don’t worry — our travel experts have done the hard work for you. We’ll show you the best, least busy, worst, and cheapest times to visit, along with a few things to consider before booking your tickets. Let us be your guide!

Why You Should Visit Gulf Shores

Most people don’t think of Alabama when planning their beach vacation. However, the coastal portion of the state has some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches you will ever see.

While many beach areas in neighboring states are great for partying spring-breakers, Gulf Shores prides itself on being a family-friendly vacation destination. From sugar-white sand to melt-in-your-mouth seafood, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Gulf Shores.

Take a look at some of the reasons many people keep coming back every year. The Gulf of Mexico spans from Florida to Texas and offers you some great opportunities for fun on the water.

Deep sea fishing is always fun, or you can relax with a pontoon boat or check out a dolphin cruise. Gulf Shores is a short drive away from some interesting pieces of history.

The USS Alabama sits in Mobile Bay and will give your family a taste of what it was like to be a naval officer in WWII. You can also visit Fort Morgan, a famous fort that was the site of battles in the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

When you go to the beach, you crave seafood. You will find plenty of places in Gulf Shores that serve some of the best anywhere. Many restaurants serve fish, shrimp, and oysters that were in the ocean in the morning and on your plate at night.

However, if you have a picky eater, you’ll find plenty of other things like pizza, burgers, sushi, and barbecue. Who wants to go on vacation if they can’t go shopping?

Gulf Shores has some great places to shop for trendy fashions, as well as fun stores where you can pick up souvenirs and things for the beach.

You can even head to The Wharf, where you’ll find enough shopping and dining options to last you all day. Fireworks, Blue Angels, and hot air balloons are just a few special things to find in Gulf Shores.

You can find all of the events happening all year and decide what time of year you want to visit based on that. It could be a special treat that makes an already great trip for your family into one they will never forget.

Overall Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores

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

Pugalenthi Iniabarathi/Shutterstock

If you want to avoid the crowds in Gulf Shores, you’ll want to visit between March and May, or September to October. Going at these times of year will help you avoid the hottest part of the summer.

It is still warm enough to enjoy plenty of swimming and fishing while being cool enough to spend more time on the beach without getting overheated. There are also a lot of festivals and special events happening during these months.

Car shows and concerts will line the streets as the event organizers avoid the blazing sun and try to help bring in money during the months the beaches aren’t as busy. That makes it an opportunity for you to come as well.

Cheapest Time to Visit Gulf Shores

Most people take their vacations in the summer, so heading down in the winter or away from the peak months, is a great way to spend less on your hotel accommodations, food, and the fun attractions you visit.

If you go just before the beginning of summer or at the very end, you will be able to enjoy the warm, sunny beaches while the water is still just right for swimming.

Many people enjoy taking their vacations just before Memorial Day or right after Labor Day. That is an ideal time to find a hotel, condo, or temporary rental home since their rates will be much lower due to the smaller crowds.

Snowbirds are older people, usually of retirement age, who like to travel south in the winter. They want to escape the bitter, cold weather in the northern states where they live.

If that is you, then Gulf Shores is a perfect place to visit during the winter months because you will find:

  • Ample availability and low prices at hotels and rental properties
  • Fewer families on the beach because school has started
  • Fewer wait times at attractions and restaurants

Winter months are not the prime season for fishing, so some of the most popular seafood restaurants may be closed. However, there are still plenty of dining places to choose from. Many of them will have specials that could save you a lot of money.

Least Busy Time to Visit Gulf Shores

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

Darryl Vest/Shutterstock

There are several times during the year when you can visit Gulf Shores and avoid crowds. If you are a couple that wants to enjoy your vacation without a beach packed full of families, you may want to visit during one of the off-peak seasons.

Many people find the beach and ocean much more pleasant during the spring and fall. When the rest of the world is still cold and rainy, Gulf Shores is enjoying warm, sunny days.

The water may still be a little too cold to do much swimming, but the beach will be warm and inviting. You will also enjoy less waiting in line at the shops and restaurants. After the children return to school every year, Gulf Shores becomes a quieter place.

The sound of families playing on the beach is gone, and you can sit and listen to the waves crashing on the sand. The water is still warm through September and October (the least busy times to go), so you can enjoy swimming, fishing, and eating fresh seafood.

Worst Time to Visit Gulf Shores

There is no bad time to visit a beautiful place like Gulf Shores. The beaches are always beautiful, and events are taking place all year. Any time you decide to take your vacation on the Alabama gulf coast, you will make a trip full of memories.

However, if you plan to go in the summer months, you should plan to experience a few obstacles during your stay.

  • Large crowds on the beach
  • Higher prices for hotels and rental properties
  • Long waits at restaurants and shops

Gulf Shores is a popular destination in the summer for good reason. If you do not like being around many people, you may want to find another time to visit. The weather in Gulf Shores in the summer is unpredictable.

Alabama summers are hot, with temperatures soaring over 90 degrees nearly every day in July and August. Rain can also be expected to appear without much notice, often leading to short, strong thunderstorms.

Things to Consider

When planning a visit to Gulf Shores, you may want to take some of these things into consideration:

  • Look for discounts and coupons. There are many places to find deals online for attractions and lodging in Gulf Shores.
  • Book directly with the hotel. When you use a booking service you will have to pay an extra fee. The hotel may also have room deals that aren’t listed on those sites, so always check with them first.
  • Plan your trip. There are many things to do, including dolphin tours, parasailing, and fishing. However, all these things are on a first-come-first-served basis, so book your spot before you go.
  • Decide what to do if it rains. There are indoor things you can do in Gulf Shores, like trampoline parks, laser tag, and museums. Don’t wait until the rain starts to decide where to go.
  • Pay attention to the flags. The flag system at Gulf Shores lets you know if it is safe to go in the water. You can call the front desk of your hotel or check the local news to find out what the flags are before heading to the beach so that you can plan your day.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Here are some of the questions that are asked the most when discussing the best time to visit Gulf Shores:

Is Destin or Gulf Shores better?

Destin, Florida is a larger area than Gulf Shores, which means that there are many more options for places to stay, places to eat, and things to do.

However, Destin is also a destination for a lot more people, including college kids who want to party. If you are looking for a quiet vacation, Gulf Shores is the better choice.

Why is Gulf Shores water brown?

You will notice that Gulf Shores does not have the crystal clear water that you see in some other beach communities. Freshwater from Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia flows into the gulf. It brings soil and sediment with it that makes the water brown.

Are Gulf Shores beaches clean?

Even though you see a brown color in the water, the beaches in Gulf Shores are considered to be among the cleanest in the US according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Find the Best Deal
Browse Hotels in Gulf Shores

Don't waste your hard-earned money. Get the best deal on your trip by comparing deals on and Expedia!

  • Options for all travel styles & budgets
  • Price match guarantees
  • Exclusive last-minute deals
See Deals See Deals
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

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

Gulf Shores is a popular place for beach lovers and families who want to spend some time in the sun on their vacation. While the summers can be hot and crowded, there are plenty of places to go and things to do that will make your trip worth it.

You can also go during one of the times of year that is less crowded and cooler to enjoy it in peace. Any time you decide to visit Gulf Shores is a good time. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!