Coastal Escape: Your Weekend Itinerary to the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast of the US stretches for almost 1,900 miles with stunning beaches of white sands, seashells, and crystalline blue waters. Many people flock to this part of the country looking for a relaxing weekend filled with scenic beauty, culinary delights, outdoor activities, and unending family fun.

The thing is, there are so many amazing things to do on the Gulf Coast that it can be hard to decide what to include in your bucket list!

That’s where we come in. This blog will bring you the perfect weekend Itinerary to the Gulf Coast and will focus on the region spanning cities in Alabama and Florida, such as Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola.

Ready for some coastal exploring? Let’s jump right in!

Drink on counter.

Saturday morning: start your day with a quintessential Southern breakfast

You have a full day of beach fun ahead, so you’ll need a good kick of energy. What better way to get it than by embracing the Gulf Coast’s culinary tradition of combining fresh seafood with classic breakfast ingredients?

We’ve written an entire blog on the best places to have breakfast in the Gulf Coast. You can choose from the retro-style diner Sunliner Diner or the hipster Forum Coffee in Gulf Shores to the local favorite in Pensacola, Native Cafe. Pick one, and then indulge in dishes like grits and grillades, biscuits and gravy, seafood omelet, and southern Benedicts, just to name a few.

Breakfast Sandwich

Saturday: soak up the sun at a spectacular beach all-day

The Gulf Coast is a sun-seeker’s paradise; simply perfect for basking in the sunshine year round! You know what that means, right? Endless beach days!

Alabama’s beaches may be a tad quieter, but they’re far from dull. With their pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and the occasional playful dolphin cameo, they set the perfect stage for a beach weekend getaway.

Fort Morgan Beach, AL

Fort Morgan Beach offers a sugary expanse perfect for sunbathing, all against a stunning backdrop. For those seeking more adventure, boat rides for deep-sea fishing and dolphin and turtle-watching tours are available. There’s truly nothing like witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

If you want to bring your furry friend along, some sections of Fort Morgan Beach are dog-friendly. So make sure to check on that, and the whole family can have some fun under the sun.

Save some room for history! Nestled amidst the coastal beauty is the historic Fort Morgan, constructed between 1819 and 1833 as a protective stronghold. Beyond its architectural grandeur, the fort beckons visitors with immersive experiences and a glimpse into the past. A must-visit, it encapsulates the essence of Fort Morgan and enriches any Gulf Coast weekend adventure.

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach both also offer breathtaking beach experiences. Gulf Shores boasts miles of soft, white sands that are a picturesque backdrop for sunbathing, beach games, and great beach strolls. 

Smaller and often less crowded, Orange Beach is equally stunning, with soft sands and crystal-clear waters. This one is ideal for relaxation and for lounging in the sand for most of your day.

Perdido Key, FL

Perdido Key Beach captivates with its fine white quartz sand, audibly squeaking beneath your feet, and a boundless blue horizon framing pristine waters. Its untouched allure transports visitors to a serene escape, feeling worlds away from everyday hustle.

But Perdido Key isn’t just for beach lounging. Adventurers can explore its waters by renting pontoon boats or jet skis, adding an exhilarating twist to a weekend at this Gulf gem.

Pensacola Beach

On Santa Rosa Island and nationally known for its soft white sand and emerald-hued waters, Pensacola Beach is a favorite in the region. Although popular with both locals and visitors, it maintains its characteristic laid-back atmosphere and family-friendly vibe.

Pensacola Beach provides the ideal backdrop for water activities, sunbathing, relaxation, and enjoying some of Florida’s finest scenery. Whether you’re looking to rent a paddleboard, take a surf lesson, or simply lounge on a beach chair feeling the ocean breeze, a memorable time awaits.

And if you’re in the mood for dining or souvenir shopping, the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk is a must-visit, lined with boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Couple holding hands on beach.

Saturday evening: catch the sunset by the pier and then mingle with locals in a lively bar

Catching the sunset as you stroll along one of the Gulf Coast’s many piers is a quintessential experience that draws from the region’s beauty and charm.

Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier, for instance, is a must-go place in the region to see fishers trying their luck (you can join them if you want since local fishers are very welcoming), admire the scenery, and spot sea life including sea turtles, barracudas, and even dolphins if you’re lucky. Take the opportunity to walk along Pensacola Beach, too, and admire the structure from below.

This is a classic thing to do while in the region, especially when the sun dips below the water.

After your serene experience strolling the pier, you can head to more lively surroundings, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. The nightlife along the Gulf Coast offers a diverse and vibrant scene, ranging from upscale waterfront dining options to bars and clubs filled with friendly locals and amazing live music.

Can’t decide between a night out in Alabama or Florida? Well, you don’t have to.

One of our favorite spots for a night out is The Flora-Bama. Dubbed the “World’s Most Famous Beach Bar,” this waterfront seafood restaurant and bar is uniquely situated right on the Florida-Alabama state line, hence its name. Expect amazing seafood dishes — including oysters, tacos, and shrimp — and great live performances from local artists.

Sunset on beach.

Sunday morning: drive around and discover some quirky attractions

Ever dreamed of finding Stonehenge in Alabama? This is your chance! Just a 30-minute drive from Gulf Shores, you’ll discover a full-scale fiberglass replica of this ancient wonder. Crafted by local artist Mark Cline in collaboration with Virginia’s Enchanted Castle Studios, it offers a fascinating blend of ancient mysteries and modern engineering — and it’s definitely an interesting site for history enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

Also, a short distance away at Barber Marina awaits another intriguing spectacle: a 50-foot sculpture known as the “Lady of the Lake.” This larger-than-life depiction of a woman enjoying a bath in the waters is sure to capture your imagination and add a splash of whimsy to your social media feed.

Sunday afternoon: dive into nature’s untouched beauty in nearby parks

The Gulf Coast is indeed famous for its wonderful beaches, but there’s so much more nature to explore. What about heading to the Alabama side for a bit of greenery?

Gulf State Park in Orange Beach is famed for its natural beauty and great recreational opportunities, most of them taking place under the beautiful canopies of live oaks. 

The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, spanning hiking and biking trails, fishing, and kayaking. Didn’t get your fill of the beach on Saturday? You can also just soak in the sun on its beautiful stretch of beach.

The park has a free bike share service, allowing you to navigate 28 miles of trails that wind beneath the canopies of live oaks. You can also check out one of their educational programs and events, making it suitable for families and nature enthusiasts alike.

The diverse ecosystems within the park include coastal dunes, freshwater lakes, and maritime forests. Sand dunes, pelicans, and the lapping waves — what more could you wish for?

Sunday afternoon (indoors alternative): immerse yourself in U.S. aviation history and meet the Blue Angels

If you prefer to stay indoors on your Sunday afternoon, we have just the right excuse for you.

Being the cradle of naval aviation, Pensacola is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum, and trust us, even those not keen on planes will be amazed by the museum’s collection of over 4,000 artifacts and 150 restored aircraft.

An indisputable highlight is the high-definition flight simulators, offering a thrilling glimpse into combat and stunt flying — a perfect adrenaline boost to your Gulf Coast weekend!

Additionally, on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays from March to November, you have the privilege of witnessing the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron, practicing above the Navy base. On selected days, you can even meet the team after their practice.

Blue Angels.

Sunday Evening: bid farewell to the Gulf Coast with a waterfront feast

Have we mentioned the culinary delights of the Gulf Coast? This region boasts a tantalizing array of dishes, and what better way to savor them than dining alfresco by the beachfront? While the options seem endless, our blog has curated a list of the best restaurants on the Gulf Coast to help you choose.

From raw, charbroiled, or fried oysters to the timeless classic of Gumbo, and from fresh Gulf Shrimp to Red Snapper — being on holiday is the perfect excuse to indulge in it all. Just make sure to leave room for a tangy and refreshing Key Lime Pie to round off your meal.

An Itinerary for the Perfect Weekend in the Gulf Coast

There’s so much more to explore in the amazing Gulf Coast that one weekend might not be enough—you’ll find yourself wanting to return again and again.

Looking for an extra idea to make the most of your weekend on the Gulf Coast? Booking your stay with Luxury Coastal Vacations. We offer the finest selection of luxury rentals on the Gulf Coast, spanning Alabama and Florida.

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.

Experience the Luxury Coastal Vacation Experience

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