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Living on the Gulf Coast allows a year round outdoor lifestyle. The mild winters allow the out of doors to remain a part of daily life all year, while the summers are perfect to head to the nearby beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island, a barrier island south of Mobile, AL, is home to Audubon Bird Sanctuary, Fort Gaines, and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, which houses the Estuarium and a public aquarium. Dauphin Island is 50-minute drive (40 miles) from Mobile, AL.

Although the island has several bird sanctuaries, the main one is the 164-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Dauphin Island is the first landfall encountered by many birds as they migrate north from South America, and as a consequence many species can be found resting there before continuing their journey.

Fort Gaines
 on the eastern tip of the island was built between 1821 and 1848. It was occupied by Confederate forces in 1861, and captured by Federal troops during the Battle of Mobile Bay. The phrase, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead," was spoken by U. S. Admiral David Farragut just a few hundred yards from Dauphin Island's shore.

Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores was voted the best beach by Coastal Living magazine due to its "soft underfoot and ultra-bright white" sand and summer water temperatures that "hover at bathtub levels, and gentle waves make the beach safe for even the youngest waders." Ten golf courses, deep sea fishing, and interactive activities with dolphins may have helped. The beach is the backdrop for the annual Hang Out Music Fest in mid May, and the town is home to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. Stretching six miles from Gulf Shores Parkway to the end of Dolphin Drive, Gulf Shores is a one-hour drive (48 miles) from Mobile, AL.

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Gulf State Park

It can be stated no better than the Gulf State Park describes itself: "Located in the city of Gulf Shores on the coast of Alabama, white sun-kissed beaches, a surging surf, seagulls and seashells greet you at Gulf State Park. Consisting of 6,150 acres with two miles of sugar white sand beaches, Gulf State Park has a modern campground with cabins, cottages, back country trails, and the largest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico!

"We also have an interactive Nature Center, new tennis courts, a beautiful Beach Pavilion, the 18-hole Refuge Golf Course, and a 900 Acre Lake for fishing in our picnic area on Lake Shelby."

Gulf State Park is a 1-hour drive (51 miles) from Mobile, AL.

Orange Beach

Orange Beach is a resort island community on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It borders Perdido Key, Florida to the east and Gulf Shores, Alabama to the west. It is a 1 hour drive (52 miles) from Mobile, AL. The white sandy dunes and beaches provide the venue for the annual Arts Festival in early March. 

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(Photo Credits: Header, Orange Beach, Holly Thornton, RT, USA Medical Center; Middle, Orange Beach, Melanie Bedsole-Beck, RT, USA Medical Center)

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