*Blog Updated on April 29, 2022
I love winter. Once the fall hits, I anxiously await my return to the mountains and my passion, skiing. However, when that warm weather hits, I am a beach bum through and through. It's how and where I grew up.
Each year, I am hold on to summer as long as I can. I also still hold on to my recent vacation to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Alabama as well. Not willing to let go, I keep thinking about the good times my family and I had when we visited there. We seriously think about going back all the time.
I may be a ski bum in the winter but, when those summer months roll around, I'm all about being on the beach no matter where it is.
For me, it's nothing but bare feet, board shorts and tank tops. How else would I roll up to some of the best bars in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama?
From the Jersey Shore to Alabama's Gulf Coast
It is no surprise that when you transplant me from one beach town on the Jersey Shore to another on the Gulf of Mexico, I am going to be in my element. Especially when that element is an après surf paradise like Alabama's Gulf Coast. Visitors and locals alike love to spend the day doing some sort of water activity prior to cozying up to the best bars in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Trust me, there are plenty of them.
With so many beach bars in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to choose from, picking the right one can be tough. However, if you do happen to read this blog and decide to visit Alabama's Gulf Coast, I want to ensure that your Gulf Shores nightlife is as good as it gets. That being said, here is my first timer's list of the best bars in Alabama's Orange Beach and Gulf Shores (okay and maybe one in Perdido Key).
The 5 Best Bars in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
Photo Credit: Please Island Tiki Bar Instagram Account
When a local tells you to go someplace, you should listen.
When two locals tell you to go someplace without prior knowledge of the other, you NEED to listen. So we did. My only regret is that we didn't go to the Pleasure Island Tiki Bar earlier in the week because we would have been back more than once.
Pulling up into the parking is like driving into the movie Weekend at Bernie's. Many locals roll up to this Orange Beach bar on the bay in their custom golf carts.
If they aren't cruising in on their EZ-Go then they are probably coming by boat, floating right up to the sand and only step away from this true beach bar.
Pleasure Island Tiki Bar is exactly what the name says it is. It is in fact an all open tiki bar and there is nothing not to love about that. With some excellent mixed drink options including their version of the famous Painkiller (a personal favorite), a solid tap list and, of course, live music starting in the afternoon you simply cannot go wrong here.
Order drinks and chill out with some sweet water views and what originally began as a few drinks will, more than likely, turn into dinner. Trust me, it's that kind of place. Just be sure to try the wings when you end up staying. They are damn good!
Okay, this is not technically a beach bar in Gulf Shores.
It's a brewery and it's not on the water.
However, there is water across the street and it has "beach" in the name so that counts in my book.
Located a bit inland in Gulf Shores, Big Beach Brewing is a must-visit. In fact, it is the first place that we went to when arrived in town.
We liked it so much we went back.
The atmosphere at Big Beach Brewing is family-friendly and very fun. My girls loved the popcorn machine, filling up their bags a few times on their visit. The oversize Jenga is always a favorite among families, keeping everyone involved engaged for quite some time.
The space itself has a really cool beach vibe that flows nicely from the inner space filled with chic wood furniture through the open garage doors into it's rustic outdoor space.
Live music? Duh, that's the norm down there.
Big Beach Brewing packs them in for some of the good bands, but I have a feeling that is really the beer that keeps the conversation flowing and everyone there. It's quite good.
Visiting twice in one week, I am pretty sure that I had at least a small pour of everything on the menu and they were all tasty. The go-to is definitely their flagship Hundred Daze IPA. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, venture out of your comfort zone and give their Lemon Gose or the highly unique Lemongrass and Ginger Wheat Ale a try. Both are refreshing beers that will help quench your thirst in the Alabama heat.
3. The Hangout
The Hangout is one of the best bars in Gulf Shores. Located right on their "Big Beach," it's an excellent choice when you want to break from the heat and grab some apps and a cocktail. However, where they really excel is in the late afternoon and evening.
Whereas you'll need to clear out of the famous FloraBama with your kids prior to the evening's festivities, The Hangout gets bonus points for being a family-friendly Gulf Shores bar all night long.
Starting in the late afternoon, a DJ broadcasting right from the indoor lifeguard stand turned dj booth has the place hopping. There is even an additional MC to amp up the crowd even more.
The kids foam party, yes, you read that right, also kicks off around this time and runs every hour on the hour. In between, they can play in the sand, crawl through tunnels and bounce on bungee cords.
While the kiddos are occupied, the adults can have some fun of their own. Enjoy cocktails and dance to the band that is playing live on any of the two stages they have in their courtyard.
I'm not sure who wanted to leave less here, the kids or the adults. The Hangout is like a vortex that sucks you in and can keep you there for quite some time.
4. Flora Bama
How could I not include the Flora Bama on this list? Even though the address is technically in Florida, it's really right on the border of Perdido and Orange Beach. Thus the name, FloraBama.
If you haven't heard of this famous Orange Beach bar, listen to some Kenny Chesney music. It is guaranteed to come up at some point.
Three floors of dive bar fun right on the beach, with two other buildings across the street on the bay, the Flora Bama is a famous bar in Orange Beach for a reason.
Walking in, you'll be greeted with Southern Charm and handed a Sharpee. Sign your name and leave a message among the many that are on the wall throughout the entire building. Then grab a drink (I liked the Island Girl but you should try a Bushwhacker, it's equally as famous) and take it all in.
The live music starts at one and runs throughout the night. From local artists to national acts you will never be disappointed.
During the day, The Flora Bama is totally family-friendly. My girls loved the daily Bingo. The guy calling the numbers is priceless and it's worth playing just to listen to him. They also have arguably some of the best chicken strips out there, fried and served up on a Flora Bama frisbee.
Once 6 pm rolls around, it's time to send the youngins elsewhere and understandably. The bar becomes a wall to wall and a party for sure.
If partying isn't your speed, that's fine. Head across the street to listen to more live music and tasty food at the Flora Bama Yacht Club.
5. The Gulf
I have The Gulf at five on this list of best bars in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores only because the two times we visited there, the weather wasn't super nice. Ultimately, the true potential of The Gulf was unfortunately missed. However, I have it on good authority that this spot is, most certainly a place to be.
The Gulf is constructed with a series of shipping containers that, when put together, forms one of the most uniquely cool beach bars you will ever see. When you walk in, you instantly know that you are in paradise. Turn the corner and you are afforded incredible views of the Gulf of Mexico with the beautiful Alabama Point beach in the foreground.
The bar serves up a wide variety of creative cocktails, local craft beer and some of the freshest seafood you will find. In fact, you can bet that what they caught that day will be the basis of their fish dishes on the menu. That's what I'd go for, especially the fish tacos, they were the best thing that I ate all week.
Order up and take a seat at any of the picnic tables scattered throughout the palm trees and sand that make up The Gulf's laid-back beachy atmosphere. Sit back and enjoy each other's company, play cornhole, peruse their cute little gift shop...it's all worth it when you have views like this.
Honorable Mentions for the Best Bars in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores
Cobalt- a beautiful restaurant with equally beautiful views and delicious food that you can enjoy with cocktails from their own tiki bar and live music all night long.
The Anchor Bar - a favorite among the locals and for good reason. Their menu is limited for a reason. Do a few things and do them really well...and, trust me, they do.
Luna's - They have craft beer and a lot of it. 30 taps to choose from and southern comfort food that will have your belly good and full when you leave.
Do you have a favorite beach bar in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach Alabama? If so, we'd love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments section below.
Après-Surf...It's a Thing
Après isn't just for ski season. There is a whole untapped world of après-surf out there just waiting for you to dive into. When you do, just be sure to have your après apparel on lock. Rock our Après-Surf T-shirt. It's our tribute to those who enjoy paddling out, riding in and bonfires and beers after.
Do you enjoy reading our Après Surf Blog? if so, don't miss another post. Sign up today, and if you have anything après-surf-related that you'd like to read about, let us know in the comments section below.