I love winter and cannot wait for ski season. However, growing up near the ocean, I'm also a true beach bum. I always hold onto summer as long as I can especially my recent vacation to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama.
I'm not willing to let go of the good times my family and I had and recognize that I am back to reality.
We want to go back!
I may be a ski bum in the winter but, when those summer months roll around, it's nothing but bare feet, board shorts and tank tops for me. I mean 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 Alabama.
Trust me, there are plenty of them!
This makes choosing the best bars for your Gulf Shores, Alabama nightlife tough.
Don't worry. I did the research for you.
Take my advice, you'll want to visit Alabama's Gulf Coast. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are FANTASTIC destinations.
When you do, I want to insure that your Gulf Shores, Alabama nightlife is as good as it gets. That being said, here is my first timer's guide to he best bars in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama (okay and maybe one in Perdido Key).
The 5 Best Beach Bars in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
1. Pleasure Island Tiki Bar at Sportsman Marina
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.
It is one of the best bars in Orange Beach, Alabama and we definitely would have been back more than once.
Pulling up in the parking lot feels a bit Weekend at Bernie's. Many locals roll up to this bar on the bay in their custom golf carts. Others, boat right up to the sand, hop out and join the fun that way. Whatever your mode of transportation is merely a means to an end, and that end is a good time.
The Pleasure Island Tiki Bar is exactly what the name says it is. It's an all open tiki bar and there is nothing not to love about that. There are excellent mixed drink options to choose from, including their version of the famous Painkiller (a personal favorite picture below). They also have a solid tap list to complement their yummy chicken wings. And, of course, they have live music starting in the afternoon.
You simply cannot go wrong at The Pleasure Island Tiki Bar.
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. Did I mention that they are damn good!?
2. Big Beach Brewing Company
Okay, this is not technically a beach bar.
It's a brewery and it's not on the water.
There is, however water across the street and it has beach in the name so that counts in my book.
Located a bit inland in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Big Beach Brewing Company is a must visit. It is the first place that we went to when arrived. We liked it so much that we went back and it needs to be on my list of Gulf Shores, Alabama's best bars.
The atmosphere at Big Beach Brewing is family friendly and fun. My daughters loved the popcorn machine and the oversize Jenga is always a favorite among families.
The brewery 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.
Duh, that's the norm down there. Big Beach Brewing packs them in for some of the good bands that we saw.
The atmosphere and bands may be good, but I have a feeling that is really the beer that keeps the conversation flowing and everyone there.
It's quite good.
Visiting twice, I am pretty sure that I had at least a small pour of everything on the beer menu and they were all tasty. The go to is definitely the Hundred Daze IPA. It's their flagship. However, if you are feeling 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 warm weather beers that will have your taste buds screaming for more.
3. The Hangout Gulf Shores
The Hangout, famous for their annual Hangout Fest is great during the day when you want to take a break from chilling on Gulf Shores' big beach.
No seriously...it's legitimately that big.
Sitting on it during the day will have you craving some apps and a cocktail and one of the best bars in Gulf Shores, Alabama just happens to be right there.
Day time may be fun at The Hangout, however, where they really excel is in the late afternoon and into the night. Whereas, you'll need to clear out of the Flora-Bama if you brought your kids, The Hangout gets bonus points for family friendly. The DJ broadcasting right from the indoor lifeguard stand turned dj booth lays down the beats while the MC amps up the crowd and has the place hopping.
There is even a kids foam party.
Yes, you read that right, a kids foam party.
Starting right around the late afternoon and running every hour on the hour into the night, it is so much fun. In between they can play in the sand, crawl through tunnels, bounce on bungee cords all while the adults enjoy cocktails. The cocktails at The Hangout are just the liquid courage you need to get you dancing to the band that is playing live music on any of the two stages they have in their courtyard.
I'm not sure who wanted to leave less, the kids or the adults. The Hangout but is like a vortex. It sucks you in and can keep you there for quite some time.
No list of the best bars in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama is complete without the world famous Flora-Bama.
Not completely in Alabama, the Flora-Bama sits right on the border of Perdido and Orange Beach.
Thus the name.
If you haven't heard of this famous beach bar, go ahead listen to the Kenny Chesney song with the same name. He has played there a time or two and knows this bar inside and out.
You also may have heard of the Mullet Toss. The Gulf Coast's Greatest Beach Party is quite a crowd pleaser.
The Flora-Bama is a three floor dive bar right on the beach, with two other buildings across the street on the bay.
It is famous for a reason.
When you walk in, the guy greeting you at the door hands you a sharpie and instructs you to sign your name among the many that are on the wall throughout the establishment.
Somewhere, there is "Stoner Girls Were Here" is scribbled on the wall.
Once done signing, you'll want to grab a drink. The Island Girl or the Bushwhacker are pretty popular but you could just as easily go with a craft beer.
I won't judge.
Drink in hand, find a seat by the stage and listen to the live music. It starts at 1 PM and runs throughout the night.
During the day, the Flora-Bama is totally family friendly. My girls loved the daily Bingo. It is quite a sight to see. They also have, arguably, some of the best chicken strips out there. However, as family friendly it is during the day, the fun for the kids does run out. At 6 those kiddos understandably have to go. At night, the Flora-Bama is a wall to wall party.
That's fine! Go get a sitter or head across the street to listen to more live music and tasty food at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club.
5. The Gulf - Orange Beach
Even though it wasn't very nice out the two times I visited The Gulf, it most certainly belongs on a list of the best bars in Orange Beach, Alabama. The weather ultimately limited the true potential of The Gulf. Otherwise I do believe this spot would be much higher.
The aesthetics at The Gulf is very unique. The structures are constructed with a series of shipping containers. When put together like Legos, it forms a one of the most uniquely cool beach bars you will ever see.
As 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.
Grab drinks at the bar and some of their super good food. It's is as fresh as you'll find on the Gulf Coast. In fact, you can bet that what they caught that day will be the basis of their fish dishes. So be sure to go for something that swims, especially the fish tacos. They were one of the best things that I ate all week.
Tacos and beer in hand, take a seat at any of the picnic tables scattered throughout the palm trees and relax. You can sit back and enjoy each other's company, play cornhole or peruse their cute little gift shop.
It's all worth it when you have views like they do at The Gulf.
Cobalt- a beautiful restaurant with stunning views to match enjoy their delicious food and cocktails from their own tiki bar with live music all night long.
Avenue Pub - a favorite among the locals and for good reason. Their menu is limited for a reason. The Anchor Bar does a few things and do them really well.
Luna's - Luna's has craft beer and a lot of it. With 30 taps to choose from and yummy southern comfort food your belly will be 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.
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