Grab your gal squad and start planning a girl’s trip to Orange Beach, Alabama. You heard me — ALABAMA! Because if you haven’t been yet, you don’t know what you are missing. Soft stretches of white sand beaches, that calm blue-green water of the Gulf, a plentitude of things to do that will keep everyone happy, and oh the food…let me tell you about the food!
The freshest catch of local fish, oysters, and shrimp, prepared with farm-fresh ingredients in southern style with influences from New Orleans. Festive cocktails, like the famous bushwhacker, that just scream vacation — especially when served up at some of the coolest beach bars around. And indulgent treats from gourmet doughnuts to freakshakes to Key Lime pie.
And if you are worried about the belt-busting consequences of overindulging, don’t fret. There are plenty of ways to work it off. Kayaking, biking, running, swimming…long walks on the beach…you name it. When you get tired, hit the spa, relax at the beach, or engage in a little retail therapy.
If I’ve sold you on why you need to plan a girls’ getaway to Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, read on. After three girls’ trips down there, I’ve got your guide to planning an Orange Beach girl’s weekend.
Planning an Orange Beach Girl’s Weekend
Note: My trip was hosted by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism for editorial purposes, and I thank them for the opportunity. This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.
Getting to Orange Beach
The reason Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are such hidden gems, at least from those of us up here in the Northeast, is that the Alabama Gulf Coast typically appeals to a drive in market. Sorry southerners, but the word is out!
Located midway between Panama City Beach, FL and New Orleans, LA on a 32-mile stretch of white sand beach on the Gulf Coast, Orange Beach is an upscale sister to neighboring Gulf Shores. If you are flying in (it is worth it, trust me), you will want to fly into either Pensacola, FL or Mobile, AL. Pensacola is a little closer at 45 minutes away versus 1.5 hours from Mobile.
Where to Stay in Orange Beach
I’ve been lucky enough to visit this area three times so I’ve gotten a chance to explore some of the different accommodation options. While they are slowly developing the hotel options, this area is primarily a vacation rental market. But that is ok, because the multi-bedroom condo resorts really work best for a girls’ weekend anyway.
During my first visit, I stayed at the Caribe Resort in Orange Beach. These luxury condo rentals are spacious and gorgeous. There are also many amenities on site, including indoor and outdoor pools with water slides and a splash pad, a lazy river, a complimentary marina, an on-site restaurant, hot tubs, putting greens, Bocce ball, basketball and tennis courts, and other entertainment. The only downside is that it is not beachfront.
The next time around I stayed at Crystal Tower in Gulf Shores, which was fine if you are on a budget, but not nearly as luxurious. We did enjoy the beachfront access and walkability to local restaurants though.
I recently made my third trip to Orange Beach with my friend Brianna, the Casual Travelist, as I really get a kick out of introducing this destination to new people and getting to watch their surprise when it breaks down our east coast bias.
This trip was really the icing on the cake, with a stay at the gorgeous luxury condo resort at Turquoise Place in Orange Beach. These two towers are right on the beach and the waterfront condos offer stunning views with angles on both sunrise and sunset.
I’ve heard a lot about Turquoise Place over the years and the praise was not exaggerated. We stayed in a 2,500 square foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath condo on the 16th floor overlooking the Gulf. It was absolutely perfect for a girls’ getaway. There was tons of space to hang out and be communal, but then the peace and quiet of separate bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Let’s face it, girl’s weekends are about self-care. Some of that comes from the time we spend together, but sometimes we need a little me-time too.
The unit also offered a laundry room, gourmet kitchen, and wet bar with a wine fridge and ice maker. The living room was very spacious and back in my younger days we would have thrown a few sleeping bags on the floor and called it a party, but now we just had plenty of space to spread out.
My favorite part was the huge balcony overlooking the beach. We never got to use the hot tub or the built-in grill, but I loved lounging out on the comfy patio furniture and soaking up the view and the sun.
If you are staying for longer than a weekend, you will also get time to use the resort’s indoor or outdoor pools, or partake in some of the daily activities. All I know is that if you have a chance to stay at Turquoise Place — jump on it! Just be aware that if you plan on eating out, you will probably need to get in the car.
For a smaller girls’ trip, you may want to just stay at a hotel. Luckily there are a number of great properties that would be a good fit for a girls weekend. Hotel Indigo is always a fun brand. While owned by IHG, they do a great job of customizing the experience to reflect the local culture giving a boutique hotel feel.
I was also really impressed by the new Lodge at Gulf State Park. This beachfront property is immersed in the pristine Gulf State Park and is explicitly focused on sustainability measures. Many rooms offer bunkbeds or murphy beds — plus it is a Hilton property for those with Hilton Honors status or wanting to use points.
Where to Eat in Orange Beach
On my other travel site, I have written a whole post about places to eat in Orange Beach, combining the best from all of my trips. But if you are going for a girl’s weekend, a few you can’t miss would be:
- Ruby Slipper or Brick and Spoon when you want to fill up for breakfast or brunch
- The Gulf or The Hangout when you want to stick your feet in the sand, enjoy the view and a drink or meal
- LuLu’s in Gulf Shores when you want the best cheeseburger in paradise
- Fisher’s Orange Beach Marina or Perch for dinner
- Southern Grind Coffeehouse for an afternoon pick-me-up
- Flora-bama for honkey-tonk people watching and live music
What to do on an Orange Beach Girlfriend Getaway
Of course Orange Beach is a BEACH destination but that doesn’t mean that all there is to do is hang out on the beach, eat, and drink. That may be fun, but you may want some other options. Here are some of my favorites for a girlfriend getaway.
Relax at the Spa
Who doesn’t love a little spa time on a girls’ trip? I know I enjoyed some on my girls trip to St. Augustine. If you head to the tip of the island near Fort Morgan, you can enjoy the Spa at The Beach Club (which is also a great spot to stay for a quieter girls trip!)
The Salon and Spa at this resort offers a variety of treatments, which include access to the small relaxation room and co-ed hot tub. And hey, there are free mimosas! After your treatments, you can enjoy the facilities of the Clubhouse or walk over to The Village Hideaway for a fun lunch.
Bike the Trails
Jump on the bike and explore the 15 miles of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails that wind through Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Gulf State Park. You can bike along boardwalks past freshwater marshes, take to the trails along coastal hardwood swamps, and spot some wildlife from bobcats to alligators.
You can rent bikes from Beach Bike Rentals near the Rosemary Trail entrance, or use the free bike share program offered in Gulf State Park.
Kayak the Lagoons
The first time I visited Orange Beach I had a fabulous time kayaking around the islands with with Coastal Kayak Excursions. This past trip it was chillier, so we opted to stick to the creeks and lagoon by picking up rental kayaks at the Down Under Dive Shop in Gulf Shores.
Take a Sunset Sail
The perfect way to end the day in Orange Beach is with a sunset sail (operates seasonally) with Sail Wild Hearts. Bring your own libations and sit back to enjoy a sail. If you get lucky, you may even spy a few dolphins frolicking in the distance.
Shop until you Drop
When you are ready for some retail therapy, head over to The Wharf. This dining, shopping, and entertainment district offers up locally-owned boutiques like Seaside Shoes and SWIM, LUCCA, and Bungalows. Get your friends together and stop into High Cotton Bath Company to design your own bath products.
Sip a mimosa while formulating your signature scent from hundreds of combinations and infuse it into bath salts, body lotion, and other bath products. When you are done, you can hop on the Ferris Wheel, test out zip lining with Hummingbird Zip Lines, or try your hand at axe throwing at Civil Axe Throwing.
Hang Out at the Beach
By the way, if you do want to relax at the beach, you have 32-miles of sugar-white sand to explore. Many of the condos resorts and hotels are right on the beach, but if you need to drive there are numerous pay parking lots, including some larger ones at Gulf State Park. You probably need to get there early during high season to get a spot though.
If you don’t bring your own beach towels or chairs, you have some options. Either pick some up at one of the many surf shops that line Perdido Beach Boulevard, or work with a local rental company, which will set up your chairs, cabana, etc. for your trip.
Are you ready to plan your trip? I’m already to go back! I would recommend visiting in April or May to catch the warm weather without the crowds, and avoid the family spring break scene, or try early fall just beware of potential hurricanes.
Need more girl’s weekend getaway ideas? How about one of these:
- A girls’ trip cruise
- St. Augustine, Florida girlfriend getaway
- Key West, Florida girls trip
- A wine country girls trip
Tell me about your favorite girls’ trip destination in the comments!