Know Before You Go: Fun Facts About Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key & Pensacola

Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast of the United States boasts breathtaking natural beauty characterized by pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear emerald waters, and stunning coastal landscapes.

From Gulf Shores in Alabama to Pensacola in Florida, there’s so much to discover in terms of natural beauty, culture, and city nightlife. The area is also filled with quirky facts, stories, and anecdotes that only locals know, and it certainly makes a difference to learn about them before your trip — you will look at everything with different eyes.

Get ready for a fun one! This blog will bring you fun facts about the Gulf Coast as a whole and each of the cities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola.

After this, you’ll ace trivia nights like a pro!

Interesting & Fun Facts About the Gulf Coast

Underwater wonderland

The Gulf of Mexico is the largest gulf in the world and the tenth biggest body of water overall, home to an abundance of wildlife, including over 520 species of fish, as well as sea urchins, starfish, dolphins, whales, and the West Indian manatee. Not surprisingly, the area is a popular destination for recreational fishing.

Alabama’s Ecological Gemstone

The Gulf Coast of Alabama specifically has four distinct ecosystems within a small area – a stream swamp forest, freshwater marsh, wet longleaf pine savanna, and ancient maritime live oak forest.

Sand-national shores

The sand along many of the famous beaches on the  Gulf Coast is made of quartz that originated in the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago and was refined by the ocean. This gives the sand an incredibly soft, smooth texture that everyone loves and makes it  some of the whitest sand beaches in the world,

Cultural kaleidoscope

The Gulf Coast region is home to a diverse population that traces its origins to various parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This diversity is reflected in the region’s history, beliefs, religions, languages, cuisines, arts, and traditions. The area was previously inhabited by various Native American tribes and kingdoms that had extensive trade networks and cultural influences. 

A flavorful fusion fiesta

This diversity is reflected in the region’s cuisine, which blends influences from Creole, Cajun, Mediterranean, and other culinary traditions. Staple ingredients include seafood, rice, vegetables, and various spices and seasonings. Popular Gulf Coast dishes include gumbo, jambalaya, crab cakes, po’boys, seafood platters, and a variety of sauces and condiments like remoulade and chow-chow.

A treasure trove of fun

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, also known as GIWW, stretches over 1,300 miles along the Gulf Coast like a giant aquatic highway, connecting ports and destinations from Texas all the way to Florida, passing by popular spots like Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola. You can also think of it as a treasure trove of fun!

Interesting & Fun Facts About Gulf Shores, AL

Full steam ahead!

The famous phrase “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” was coined by Admiral David Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay, which took place just off the shores of Fort Morgan near Gulf Shores.

Ancient roots

Gulf Shores was first inhabited by Native American groups like the Seminoles, Alibamas, and Creeks. However, the unique history of Baldwin County dates back much further than you might expect. Some of the Indian mounds found here are believed to be older than the Pyramids in Egypt!

Quiet beginnings

In 1956, the population of Gulf Shores revolved around a mere 120 people. In these early days, Gulf Shores was quite isolated; the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway didn’t open until 1937, and right after it, the 1940s saw the emergence of the first beach hotel and post office, and in 1958, the City of Gulf Shores was finally incorporated, bringing lots of new people looking for new opportunities and the bliss of seaside life in Alabama.

A wildlife sanctuary

On land, you can find tons of unique and rare wildlife and plant species that have made their homes in Gulf Shores. If you go for a hike through a local nature preserve, you might find incredible species like the Alabama beach mouse, the gopher tortoise, the white-topped pitcher plant, and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake!

The queen of butterflies

One land creature that you’ll definitely want to keep a lookout for is the monarch butterfly. With their vibrant orange and black wings adorned with delicate patterns, these butterflies make their migration through the Gulf Shores area in both the spring and the fall when it’s estimated that we see about 3,000 of them or more.

Interesting & Fun Facts About Orange Beach, AL

What are the oranges?

Orange Beach was named after the locals’ unsuccessful attempts to grow oranges, satsumas, and grapefruit trees along the shores. However, the citrus industry in Orange Beach was short-lived. Despite the brief nature of citrus farming efforts, the name “Orange Beach” stuck and has remained the name of the town to this day.

Waving from great heights

The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama is home to a 112-foot tall Ferris wheel, the second tallest in the Southeast. Riding the Ferris wheel is a popular activity for both visitors and locals, providing a unique perspective of The Wharf entertainment complex and the Gulf of Mexico.

Side by side

Lake Shelby, located in Gulf State Park near Orange Beach, is believed to be one of the closest bodies of freshwater next to a saltwater body in the world.

Interesting & Fun Facts About Perdido Key, FL

Lost and found

Perdido Key translates from Spanish to “Lost Key.” In the late 17th century, Spanish and French explorers embarked on a quest to locate a large body of water to the west of Pensacola, Florida. However, their efforts were in vain as they struggled to find the entrance. Legend has it that in 1693, a Spanish cartographer named Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora was dispatched to discover the entrance to this mysterious “lost” body of water — and the name stuck.

Mouse on the beach? 

The endangered Perdido Key beach mouse is endemic to the island. This is a small, white, and gray mouse that weighs only 13-16 grams and blends in well with the white quartz sand of the coastal dunes where it lives. Chances you’ll spot one are rare — Perdido Key beach mice are nocturnal creatures.

Home to the world’s most famous bar

Bearing this unique fame, the Flora-Bama is uniquely located right on the Florida-Alabama state line. Serving as a waterfront seafood restaurant and bar, it has been an iconic coastal destination, entertaining visitors and locals alike since 1964. Some refer to it as the world’s most famous bar.

Interesting & Fun Facts About Pensacola, FL


Pensacola is the site of the first Spanish settlement within the continental United States, established in 1559 – predating St. Augustine by 6 years. However, this initial settlement was abandoned due to a hurricane and was not re-established until 1698.

Underwater history

The USS Oriskany, an aircraft carrier, earned two battle stars for service in the Korean War and five battle stars for service in the Vietnam War during its 25 years of active duty. After being decommissioned, this ship was sunk to become an artificial reef in a joint effort between the U.S. Navy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Escambia County. The Oriskany Reef, as it is now known, sits upright on the seafloor at a depth of 212 feet, approximately 22.5 nautical miles southeast of Pensacola Pass. This is a world-famous spot for scuba diving and fishing.

Cradle of naval aviation

Pensacola has long been known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” due to its rich history and central role in the development of naval aviation in the United States. Today, the city is also home to the U.S. Navy’s renowned flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. The iconic blue and gold jets of the Blue Angels have become a symbol of naval aviation, thrilling audiences around the world with their breathtaking aerial maneuvers.

Fun Facts About Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key & Pensacola

There you have it. Everything you need to spice up your Gulf Coast trivia night!

But wait, there’s more fun to uncover during your Gulf Coast adventure! To dive deeper into more amazing and fun facts about the region, the best way to go about it is by striking up conversations with locals. They’re brimming with juicy gossip and fascinating tidbits about their beloved stomping grounds.

Want more tips on the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida? Then head to our destination blog! We’ve written about a variety of topics, including the top kid-friendly spots, the best places to grab breakfast, and even tips for a perfect beach day. It’s all there, and more content is coming, so stay tuned.

Where to stay during your visit to the Gulf Coast?

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When you choose to stay in one of our homes or condos, you can anticipate a 5-star experience that you’ll cherish forever. Browse through our options and discover what awaits you on the beautiful Gulf Coast.

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