Beaches are the big draw for Alabama’s coastal towns./ Alabama Gulf Coast CVB photo

Strong but graceful arches at Fort Morgan Historic Site./ Alabama Gulf Coast CVB photo

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Alabama’s coast: dive in

Published: Sep/Oct 2002
By Diana Gleasner

Sparkling with sunshine, Alabama’s Gulf Coast is defined by water. To the south lies the turquoise Gulf of Mexico, to the east, Perdido Bay, and to the west, Mobile Bay.

Gone fishing

Mild winters mean year-round angling. The deep-sea fishing fleet at Orange Beach offers electronic fish-finding devices and experienced captains, and is ready to chase the big ones. The billfishing season is best from May through October, but cruising the reefs for red snapper and grouper goes on all year, although snapper must be released during its closed season.

On the wing

During spring and fall, birds use the area as a way station along a major migratory route. The Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores are prime spots for both birds and bird watchers.

At Biophilla Nature Center and Native Nursery, located three miles east of Elberta, butterflies are catered to with a butterfly garden, a screened butterfly room and caterpillar nursery. This is an ideal place to witness the annual fall migration of the Monarch butterflies.

The Hummer Bird Study Group at Fort Morgan Historic Site will band birds Oct. 10–27. In April, more than 5,000 visitors came to the banding site.

A blooming wonder

Legendary Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore near Mobile is famous for its spectacular spring show–the exuberant blooming of more than a quarter million azaleas. However, some visitors are not aware that the gardens are in full bloom year-round. The gardens’ 2,000 rose bushes are ablaze now into December. Fall mums come out in November.

The Bellingrath house, lavishly furnished with antiques, fine china and rare porcelain, is open to the public. The setting, 65 landscaped acres on the Fowl River in the midst of a semitropical rain forest, is lush with native and exotic plants. Visitors may want to join a riverboat cruise on the Fowl for a waterside view of this 905-acre estate. AAA members receive a discount on admission.

Land of the free

Spain, France, England and the United States held Fort Morgan Historic Site on the western tip of Mobile Point at various times between 1519 and 1813. Confederate and Union naval forces fought for control of this strategically important harbor during the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864. Here Union Admiral Farragut uttered his famous command, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

All Americans should tour the USS Alabama at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile. AAA members receive an admission discount. This 35,000-ton ship serves as a memorial and a tribute to Alabama’s men and women in the armed forces. In addition, the USS Drum submarine, a B-52 bomber, A-12 Blackbird spy plane and more than 20 combat aircraft are on display. This park is a gripping reminder of American pride and the high cost of defending freedom.

For more information, contact the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-745-SAND (800-745-7263) or visit online at

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