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Where to take family on gulf coast?

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Where to take family on gulf coast?

Looking to take the family to the gulf coast for the first time this summer in July. I'm considering anywhere between Gulf Shores & Destin. Most of our time will be spent at the beach, but don't want to be too far removed from other activities. Kids are 9, 7, 5. I know there are condos/hotels along that whole stretch, but I'm curious as to what one area offers over another. Thanks!

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1. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

From Gulf Shores to Destin its pretty much all the same, small beach side community's with condo's and hotels all along the beach, panama city beach has all the attractions and activity's, but it comes with the crowds and crime as well.

Louisiana
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301 posts
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2. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

We like Orange Beach and always stay at the Phoenix V. They have an indoor, outdoor pool, kiddie pool, tennis courts, etc. All rooms are gulf front with large balconys. Our room (510 ) was clean, updated, had a large TV and very comfortable beds. There is also plenty of things for kids in the Foley area - amusement parks, putt putt, a really nice small zoo, dolphin cruises and an outlet mall. Destin is nice too but too crowded for us and I find it more expensive. Both have beautiful white sand beaches so you really can't go wrong either way.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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3. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

The quality of the beach is the same from Gulf Shores to Destin with water clarity getting better the farther East you go. It gets more expensive the farther east you go too. Traffic gets worse the farther east you go. The Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area is perfect for your family's age range as there really is a lot to do for everyone either on the island or just off the island. As stated above we have all the standards you would expect to find, Putt-Putt, a water park, go-cart parks, laser tag parks, bike trails, outlet malls and great seafood restaurants. Anything watersports can be done here and many condos have onsite rentals. They have recently built a new zipline course at the state park that will be up and running during season as well. Should be fun for the kids. The other area I would suggest to you is Navarre Beach between Gulf Breeze and Mary Ester. It is not as built up as the Alabama coast but would put you right between Pensacola and the Destin//Ft. Walton area and that would give you a lot of options that you could drive to in either direction. You would have to drive though as there isn't much in Navarre itself but the beach is beautiful.

Birmingham, Alabama
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4. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

We like Destin & Orange Beach/Gulf Shores both very much. Destin is a bit more glamorous and has a more upscale outlet mall, but it is very very crowded during the summer (major traffic jams and 3 or 4 rows of umbrellas on the beach is not uncommon).

Orange Beach & Gulf Shores are more laid back and spread out and we have never found the beaches to be uncomfotably crowded. Getting around by car in the summer is usually not a problem. Restaurants in Orange Beach now match the quality in Destin and I believe there are actually more activities for families with children in Gulf Shores if you like to explore the outdoors (zoo, 3 amusement parks, Gulf State Park pier and hiking & biking trails, civil war forts and a sea lab to tour, and the Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve). How many beach towns have both a State Park and a Federal Wildlife Preserve within their limits?

Both places are great vacation destinations and you really cannot go wrong with either one.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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5. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

For kids your age, Gulf Shores/Orange Beach is a no brainer. Avoid Destin in

July like the plague unless your idea of a fun time is sitting in traffic

Edited: 15 January 2013, 07:53
Barnhart
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605 posts
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6. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

Having been to both multiple times with my family, we prefer Gulf Shores too. Much less traffic, a little cheaper, and much more room on the beach.

Water is a little clearer in Destin but that's about the only negative I can say about Gulf Shores.

Missouri
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7. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

I was wondering the same thing coopermack. Especially when you get into looking at the Phoenix I, II, III, and on and on. I am leaning towards Gulf Shores vs Destin due to the drive. And now taking above comments into consideration.

8. Re: Where to take family on gulf coast?

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