Things to do on a wellness vacation to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala., are plentiful. Here’s a guide to help you plan a wellness vacation, girls trip, or couples getaway on Alabama’s beaches where you can truly relax and unwind.
Note: Our trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach was hosted by Visit Alabama’s Beaches and Spectrum Resorts. As always, the views and opinions expressed are our own.
Plan your vacation to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
The Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism office offers all kinds of resources to help you plan the perfect vacation! Click HERE to view, download, or order a complimentary vacation guide today!
When you get there, be sure to stop by the visitor’s center to browse brochures, have your questions answered by a local, and pick up discount coupons.
How to book place to stay at Alabama beaches
First, make sure you book with the right company! Resorts in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have a variety of owners and management companies. For instance, to book Turquoise Place where we stayed, we strongly recommend booking directly through Spectrum Resorts HERE. The on-site staff were the friendly and welcoming and able to answer all our questions about the area.
When you book through Spectrum Resorts, you’ll enjoy benefits not found booking elsewhere such as:
- Access to the Spectrum Resorts Lounge
- Complimentary breakfast
- Grocery delivery services
- Mid-stay cleans
- Discounts at the poolside eateries
- Complimentary beach towels for use while you’re there
- Complimentary kids’ activities
Next, be sure to book the right place
Booking the right place for wellness in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is crucial!
Since our hosted stay at Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts, we’ve been continuously recommending it to our friends and family. It was ideal location and resort for wellness travelers like us who were ready to relax and unwind. We were treated to a three-bedroom condo on the 10th floor of Turquoise Place (D).
From the moment we walked into this newly renovated property, the stresses of work, busy schedules, and everyday life were lifted. The jacuzzi tub, coastal decor and comfy, casual furnishings at Turquoise Place immediately eased our anxieties.
Take a full tour of our three-bedroom condo at Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts at the link below or HERE.
What to look for in a beach resort
When you visit Alabama’s beaches, we recommend looking for a place with great views of the shoreline where you can watch stunning sunrises and sunsets. For us, the ocean views are the best part about visiting Gulf Shores! Why stay 15 miles from the beach and have to drive, park, and unload everything when you could have the view below right from your accommodations?
Begin your days in tranquility as you watch the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico. The magnificent views available from your balcony or the beach will calm your mind and help connect you with nature and its rhythms. Our balcony came equipped with nice furniture, a grill, and a hot tub.
Make sure you have beach access
Also, make sure you have easy access to the beach. At Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts, we took a quick elevator ride from our 10th floor condo to the lobby and then walked a short distance from there down a ramp to the beach.
While there is a well maintained ramp, at the end of it there’s a big step to access the beach. For more details about wheelchair accessibility in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, check out the Visit Alabama Beaches website or visit our friend Cory’s website, Curb Free With Cory Lee.
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Amenities that promote wellness in Gulf Shores
To make the most of your wellness vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, book a resort with an abundance of on-site amenities. Look for places that include fitness centers, hot tubs, steam rooms or saunas, and a variety of swimming pools.
Our condo at Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts had multiple indoor and outdoor pools and a lazy river. It even offered complimentary water aerobic classes, stretching classes, and yoga.
We especially appreciated having access to a hot tub on our private balcony! In addition, Turquoise Place has tennis and pickle ball courts, a playground for kids, and sauna and steam rooms.
Things to do for wellness in Gulf Shores: Start your day off right
There are plenty of welcoming local coffee shops like The Southern Grind in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Get your favorite specialty coffee to go or stay and order breakfast from their extensive menu. Healthier menu options at The Southern Grind include avocado toast on wheat bread, the garden omelet with fresh fruit, or a fruit smoothie. This place also has great shopping, including a fantastic beach hat selection!
Other places for a nutritious breakfast include Soul BowlZ and even newer place called High Tide Daiquiris & Mimosas. Stop in at High Tide for a breakfast bagel board or peanut butter and banana topped toast and a cup of tea. Not so worried about calories? Try the award-winning biscuits and sweets at BuzzCatz Coffee and Sweets.
Connect with nature on your wellness vacation in Gulf Shores
There’s an abundance of ways to connect with nature on your wellness vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. A walk or jog on the beach is a fantastic way to spend the morning. Or, go for a hike on the miles and miles of trails in the area.
A couple of popular (and scenic) trail systems are Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. There, you’ll take in amazing views of the Gulf as well as lakes while soaking up the sights and sounds of the coastal ecosystem.
Prefer to ride a bike? No problem, there are tons of trails for that, too. And you can even rent a bike there, so no need to pack one from home.
Of course, you can also just meander along the seemingly endless stretch of beautiful, pristine white-sand beaches. Search for seashells while you bask in the sun, sights, and sounds of the shore.
Enjoy the catch of the day
Fresh seafood is abundant in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. While many seafood dishes in the South are fried, you can also find lower-fat options that are grilled, baked, or broiled. (Fish was one of the foods that helped Ann lose 130 pounds. Learn more HERE.)
One such dish is the The Gulf Coast Cioppino (above) at the newly renovated Zeke’s Landing. This seafood stew was Ann’s favorite! The fisherman’s classic included fish, mussels, clams, and shrimp in a light tomato broth with sweet onions and carrots. We also enjoyed the wedge salad there, served with tangy pickled red onions and dressing on the side.
Fresh seafood salads are also great options when you’re on a wellness vacation at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The ancient grains salad at CoastAL was exquisite.
The salad started with mixed greens and was topped with ancient grains, toasted pumpkin seeds, shoestring carrots, English cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and dried cherries. It came with a champagne vinaigrette on the side.
The house salad with grilled chicken is another great option for the non-fish eaters (read: Steve) in your life. Other healthier options include island shrimp tacos and the grilled fish sandwich.
Enjoy ethnic food at Alabama beaches
If you’re looking for a change of pace, Niki’s Seafood & Thai is sensational. We noticed lots of locals there, which is always a good sign. Order the green curry with Gulf shrimp for a nutritious and low-calorie lunch or dinner.
Voted “Best Mexican Restaurant on the Gulf Coast,” Cactus Cantina also has some healthy options. Enjoy laid back Mexican cuisine, including grilled Gulf fish tacos, shrimp fajitas, or a veggie cactus bowl.
Relax and unwind at a local spa
Wellness in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach wouldn’t be complete without a little pampering. Magnolia Float Spa is Alabama’s largest float spa and something every wellness traveler should try! You can read our comments in their guest book below.
We found our first float experience to be peaceful and very private (hence, no photos). We both experienced complete relaxation in our individual dark and silent rooms as we floated in ultra-buoyant salt water. In fact, we both fell asleep! It’s a whole new level of relaxation that we didn’t even know existed until visiting Gulf Shores.
Other spa services in the area
Of course, there are other wellness spas in town like Be Balanced Wholistic Day Spa where you can spend some time in a sauna or get a CranialSacral massage.
Spectrum Resorts also offers a more traditional spa experience at The Spa at The Beach Club. Choose from a variety of services including massage, facials, manicures, pedicures, and even hair care.
Grab a picnic lunch
For a wellness-themed lunch in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, we recommend a picnic on the beach. The Pantry at the Wharf is a specialty grocery store offering charcuterie boards, fresh grab-and-go salads and sandwiches, and nutritious drinks for the perfect picnic.
You can also get a meat and cheese board (as well as daiquiris to-go) from High Tide Daiquiris and Mimosas. This family-owned and operated small business has friendly service, and refreshing icy drinks (including non-alcoholic ones). The Key Lime daiquiri was our favorite! When the weather’s nice, it even rents paddle boats to help you add more movement to your day.
Another way to pack a healthy picnic is to pick up a few things at the local grocery store. Rouse’s Market offers fresh produce and quality deli items, as well as all of your general grocery needs.
Pamper yourself on your wellness vacation in Gulf Shores
Head over to High Cotton Bath Company and pamper yourself with personalized bath amenities. Explore hundreds of scent combinations to create (and mix on-site) the one that’s just right for you. Ann took home a vanilla and mint body oil as a souvenir from our time in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. While there, be sure to check out their luxurious line of bath and leisure wear.
And for the men? Next to High Cotton you’ll find Archipelago, a store for the above-average man (it’s what the sign on the door says). Go inside and explore high-quality clothing options. Or, just settle into one of the overstuffed chairs and watch the game on a big-screen TV. At this guy-centered store they’ll even give you a shot of Bourbon. Really.
Get out on the water
For a relaxing day on the water, Hammock Time Tiki Tours is the one to book. Captain Glenn will take you on a tour of the area waters on Bayou St. John and the Old River. Take in the views as you relax in a hammock on the bow of his festively decorated pontoon boat. Even in the cooler months, this is a delightful way to spend part of a day.
You’re welcome to bring your own food and beverages to enjoy on board. If you’d like, Captain Glenn will even stop at one of the sandy beach islands so you can enjoy some fun in the sun and time in the water. Hammock Time Tiki Tours are ideal for a family outing, girls day, or romantic date (private tours are available).
Take a wildlife tour
Experience the natural environment on a kayak tour from Wild Native Tours. These tours will take you into habitats loved by dolphins, manatees, birds, and other animals. You’ll have an expert guide to explain the ecosystem and how everything works together. And, kayaking is an excellent form of exercise. It typically burns 340 calories per hour for an average paddler.
Go for a long walk on the beach at sunset
Finally, on Alabama’s beaches, a long walk on the beach at sunset isn’t cliché, it’s magnificent. With 32 miles of gorgeous white sand there are few better places to admire the setting sun. Is there anything better for your overall wellness than witnessing sunset with a sea breeze, sand between your toes, and the sounds of waves rolling across the shore? We didn’t think so.
Ready to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala.? CLICK HERE for your complimentary AL Beaches Vacation Planner. We’d like to thank Eva Faircloth, Spectrum Resorts, and everyone at Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism for hosting us. We can’t wait to come back!
I love this guide to planning a wellness vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama! The tips on booking the right place and looking for amenities that promote wellness are so helpful. The photos of Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts are stunning, and I can’t wait to visit and relax on the beach.
We are so glad that our article helped you! And Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts is a gorgeous property, indeed. Enjoy your visit!
Glad you enjoyed the GS/OB area. Thanks for the new ideas! We will definitely check out some of these when we’re in the GS/OB area again in a month. We stay in a cottage on Fort Morgan, which is a short drive from the main area. It’s quieter, and the beaches are much less crowded.
So glad you enjoyed this blog post, Terri, and we’re glad you found a few new ideas. Definitely try Captain Glenn’s Hammock Tiki Tour! Let us know if you have other suggestions for things for us to see and do the next time we’re there.