Dreaming of a beach vacation with all the bells and whistles? Gulf Shores, Alabama, has it all: sugar-white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and plenty of activities to keep you entertained. But when is the best time to visit this Gulf Coast paradise? Here’s our take.
The Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores
The best overall time to visit Gulf Shores is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March-May) and fall (September-November).
During these months, the weather is mild and pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit. The water is also warm enough for swimming, but not too hot or humid.
Plus, the shoulder seasons are less crowded than the summer months, so you can enjoy all that Gulf Shores has to offer without the hassle of large crowds.
Here are some of the benefits of visiting Gulf Shores during the shoulder seasons:
- Mild weather: The weather in Gulf Shores during the shoulder seasons is ideal for spending time outdoors. The temperatures are mild and comfortable, with average highs in the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit and average lows in the mid-50s to the mid-60s Fahrenheit. This means you can enjoy all of the outdoor activities that Gulf Shores has to offer, such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, and hiking, without having to worry about the extreme heat and humidity of the summer months.
- Warm water: The water temperature in Gulf Shores is still warm enough for swimming during the shoulder seasons, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit. This means you can enjoy all of your favorite water sports, such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, without having to bundle up in a wetsuit.
- Fewer crowds: Gulf Shores is less crowded during the shoulder seasons than during the summer months. This means you can enjoy all of the attractions and activities that Gulf Shores has to offer without having to wait in long lines or deal with large crowds.
- Lower prices: Hotel rates and other expenses are typically lower during the shoulder seasons than during the summer months.
In addition to the benefits listed above, there are also a number of festivals and events that take place in Gulf Shores during the shoulder seasons.
For example, the Hangout Music Festival is held in Gulf Shores every May, and the National Shrimp Festival is held every October. If you’re planning a trip to Gulf Shores during the shoulder seasons, be sure to check the local calendar to see what events are happening.
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
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
So, When Should You 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!