Best Time to go to Gulf Shores: Gulf Shores, Alabama is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches and emerald gulf waters. Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, Gulf Shores is one of Alabama’s biggest attractions. The coastal region of Alabama’s Baldwin County, where Gulf Shores and some of the state’s other biggest beach cities are located, is one of the gulf’s best kept secrets.
With beaches as nice or nicer than Florida’s Emerald Coast, but much quieter and cheaper, Gulf Shores is an incredible vacation destination that is well worth the trip. But when should you go to Gulf Shores? Should you avoid peak season? Is the city overcrowded with spring breakers in March? Is the weather nice enough to make a winter visit worth it? Here is everything you need to know about the best time to go to Gulf Shores.
When is Gulf Shores’ Peak Season?
The peak season in Gulf Shores, along with the rest of the gulf coast in Alabama and the Florida panhandle, is in the summer–June, July, and August. During the sweltering southern summer months, there is no better way to cool off than to head down to Gulf Shores to swim in the refreshing waters and relax on the beach.
However, since the summer is Gulf Shores’ peak season, expect crowds, lines, and plenty of noise. The summer months are when Gulf Shores’ beaches fill with vacationers–the bars and restaurants fill up, boat and jet ski rental places sell out, and it can be hard to find some open real estate on the public beaches. In addition, day trippers travel in from the surrounding area, parking their cars close to the beach, making it hard to get a spot if you are not within walking distance.
If you don’t mind the crowds and the noise, June, July, and August are great months to visit Gulf Shores. The weather is beautiful, the water is warm, and there are plenty of new people to meet. However, for most travelers, peak season is not the ideal time to visit. If you prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of the crowds, there are better months to plan your trip.
When is Gulf Shores’ Low Season? Is it Worth Visiting Then?
Gulf Shores’ low season is during the winter. Unlike popular vacation destinations further south, like southern Florida, Gulf Shores does not have a tropical climate, and does not necessarily stay warm year round. In December, January, and February, the temperatures in Gulf Shores drop to the 50s to low 60s, and can sometimes even get into the 40s or lower. Certainly not as cold as visitors from northern states are used to, but not exactly pleasant beach weather either.
The good news is, the crowds in Gulf Shores during the winter are almost non-existent. If you visit the city during these months, you’ll avoid the lines at the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in the city, and you’ll be able to walk right into some of Gulf Shores other major attractions, such as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and Waterville USA, a family waterpark.
Additionally, there is a chance that you’ll get good beach weather, as temperatures in the high 60s to 70s are not unheard of. That being said, it is no secret that the main attraction in Gulf Shores is, as the name implies, the shore. If you are planning to visit Gulf Shores, you most likely want to go when the crowds are sparse, but the weather is still nice enough to enjoy the beach and ocean.
When is the Best Time to go to Gulf Shores?
Generally speaking, the best time to go to Gulf Shores for most vacationers is from April to May, and then again from September through November. These spring and autumn months are the ideal time to visit because the weather is nice, the water is warm, and the crowds are much smaller than they are during the summer.
April and May
April to May are the months when activity along the whole gulf coast is just starting to pick up. After the March rush of spring breakers flocking to Gulf Shores dies down, there is a slight lull until the start of April. April and May are great months to visit, with average temperatures in the 70s to low 80s. The gulf waters sometimes stay on the cold side through April, but are warm enough to swim comfortably by May.
April and May are also the perfect time to experience some of Gulf Shores’ other top attractions, including:
- Gulf State Park – a small beach, away from the noise and activity of Gulf Shores Public Beach. Perfect for families
- Waterville USA- 25 acre waterpark with waterslides, mini golf, arcades, go kart, and more
- Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge- 7,000 acre wildlife refuge with 6 miles of trails
- Golf- Gulf Shores has plenty of local golf courses, including Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend, which were designed by Arnold Palmer
Popular events that take place in April and May include:
- Mullet Man Triathlon – An annual triathlon held in April that is fun for athletes and spectators alike
- Zydeco and Crawfish Festival – Annual crawfish festival featuring bands, art, and great food. Takes place every April
- Orange Beach Billfish Classic – Annual fishing tournament that attracts anglers from around the world
September through November
September through November is an ideal time to visit Gulf Shores. During these months, the average temperatures start in the high 70s-low 80s, dipping to the high 60s by November. The water retains heat from the summer months, making it still warm and swimmable–even more so than in April and May. Crowds are also sparser during the autumn than in the summer, and prices are generally lower throughout the city, making it the perfect time to visit.
Popular events that take place in September, October, and November in Gulf Shores include:
- National Shrimp Festival – An annual tradition for 50 years, the shrimp festival features a weekend of food, music, art
- Annual Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Festival – An annual festival in the first week of November. Great food, beer, and live entertainment in a festive environment