Campground Review: Gulf State Park – Gulf Shores, Alabama

Posted March 17, 2021 – Narrated by Carmen

To listen to the podcast, click the play button


bambi-5    See our 5-Bambi rating legend at the end of this review.

“It takes a little talent to see clearly what lies under one’s nose, a good deal of it to know in which direction to point that organ.”

     – W. H. Auden

We should get out more.

In five years we have stayed in 325 places and only three campgrounds have percolated to the top of our 5-Bambi rating system: Chula Vista RV and Marina in San Diego County, which is closing soon; Maumee Bay State Park in Ohio; and Fort Wilderness at Disney World in Orlando, Florida …

Until now … Drum roll, please.

We are thrilled to announce that Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores , Alabama, is the 4th LIB 5-Bambi Park.

Gulf State Park

It is cause for celebration to learn of a resort-style campground with every facility and all of the elements we desire for comfort, cleanliness, convenience, service and activities – such as cycling, kayaking, swimming – and more.

Gulf State Park
Carmen Perry Beaubeaux, born in Bessemer, Alabama

We arrived on the first day of December when the coast was still nursing Hurricane Sally wounds. Even so, every moment of our 30-day stay over the Christmas Holiday felt too good to be true.

Gulf State Park
White quarts crystals from the Appalachian Mountains have blessed this delicate coastal region with the sand of the Gods … silky, sparkling, luxurious and powdery white

Gulf Shores is a sweet and quiet American beach town which travel writers tend to place on those “best kept secret” lists.

Gulf State Park

Even for me – a born Alabaman who dropped her accent somewhere along the Spaccanapoli – Gulf Shores was hiding in plain sight. Like Daddy says, “If it was a snake it would’a bit ‘ya.”

Gulf State Park
Tortoise at Gulf State Park

I mean Gulf State Park was Mom and Dad’s favorite campground. That’s quite a case of “it’s right under your nose” syndrome.

Gulf State Park

Yet, it remained veiled to me until Daddy suggested he join us in LA (Lower Alabama) for a stroll on that pretty sugar-white sand.

My Dad, Allen Perry, born in a log house in Clay County, Alabama

So, after the Thanksgiving holiday, we pulled out of my sister’s Smoky Mountain hide-away in Tennessee and drove about eighty miles to the Top of Georgia Airstream Park where we waited out the first winter storm in silvery splendor. Three days later we settled into our winter holiday home on The Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park is a shining example of a publicly funded campground run by a professional staff and a legion of dedicated volunteers. Like Maumee Bay in Ohio, this park is a model for eco-tourism and sustainability.

Gulf State Park

Retired couples from the northern regions stay here four-to-six months of the year. Many seasonal campers call this park their second home, and some have formed long-term friendships and clubs with other campers.

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park merges almost seamlessly into the Gulf Shores neighborhood. Locals and visitors form into a mutually beneficial community, sharing in the splendor of this healthy and natural environment.

Gulf State Park

Gulf Shores‘ official motto, “Small Town, Big Beach” is a charming understatement. What you don’t see here is the major attraction … no shoreline dominated by high-rise condos, no decaying roller coasters or one-way streets and sprawling parking lots beside stained boardwalks with loud amusements and over-priced junk food.

Gulf State Park

What you do see is a mostly natural shoreline, protected by grassy white sand dunes and a pristine beach – all supported by small-town hospitality.

Gulf State Park

Simple. Natural. Friendly. Clean. Gorgeous.

Gulf State Park

So, let’s take the tour. Here is our campsite on the first day of our stay at the start of December 2020.

Gulf State Park

And here are evening sunset views of Middle Lake from our site …

Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park

This campground is a wetland, but you don’t need a pair of waders to get around.

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park is fully navigable on foot, bicycle, Segway or wheelchair, but golf carts are only permitted on campground roads. In 2020, the park received the Phoenix Award for environmental and economic sustainability.

Gulf State Park

From our campsite we went for morning beach walks, took daily fitness swims, cycled for hours, went kayaking on the lake, and even dined out in the park. Aside from a couple of drives to Foley, The Beast (our Ram truck) was officially off duty.

Gulf State Park

The 6,150 acre recreational park is located right on the Gulf of Mexico with twenty-eight miles of trails and nine different ecosystems. Two-and-a-half miles of uninterrupted white sand beach frames the marshland with boggy tea-colored streams, spongy pine forests and three spring-fed, fresh-water recreational lakes.

496 campsites, 20 cabins and 11 cottages are all beautifully and privately situated near Middle Lake.

Gulf State Park Map

Thirty-three of the campsites sites back right up to the shore.

Gulf State Park

And fifteen water-front sites along the Boat Canal are pull-throughs.

Gulf State Park

The remaining sites are arranged in suburban neighborhood fashion with plenty of privacy and well-trimmed lawn space.

Gulf State Park

All campsites offer full-hookups with 30 and 50 amp service, water and sewer.

Gulf State Park

The fully paved pad is long enough for Beauty and The Beast with parking space to spare. A picnic table is provided and a paved pad for our Clam Shelter.

Gulf State Park

Eleven bathhouses are situated throughout the campground. Six bathhouses, closed due to storm damage, were being renovated. But the open bathhouses were barely used, as most campers at Gulf Shores were retirees following pandemic precautions.

Getting Around

The hikes are enchanting and the trails beautifully maintained.

Gulf State Park

Photographers with lenses the size of megaphones stroll these paths because all of this soppy, grassy, buggy goodness is birdie num-num

Gulf State Park

… a paradise for migratory birds. Many of the poor creatures appeared to be a bit stunned and confused. We deduced that Sally had rearranged their usual nesting places.

Gulf State Park

Interpretive signage, maps and trail markers are located prominently to assist visitor’s knowledge of the paths, ecology, and history of the park.

Gulf State Park

The extensive network of paved and bridged paths guide observers through a variety of delicate ecosystems.

The view is constantly changing.

Gulf State Park

The three lakes are connected by canals.

Gulf State Park

Lake Shelby is 900 acres, Middle Lake is 400 acres and Little Lake is 100 acres.

Gulf State Park

Locals say that Shelby, a stocked lake, is a fine location to make a fresh catch. Jet skis are not allowed in Gulf State Park for safety reasons.

Gulf State Park

Gators

The signage in the photo below gave us pause. The risk of gator attack is low but we take posted warnings seriously. Six years ago, while on our maiden voyage back to San Diego, a young man was devoured by a gator near our Texas campground. That’s when we began researching gator attack records. In the last 50 years, a reported 32 people have been killed, and all were either swimming or walking along the waters edge. None were kayakers. So, we enjoyed the lake, but only used the designated boat launch. Again, it is rare, but dogs have been killed by gators in this park. Yet, this does not deter us, because by taking common-sense precautions we can enjoy this beautiful, non-sanitized natural environment.

Gulf State Park

Rates vary from $55 to $72 per night, and as low as $916 per month. Reservations can be made online.

The hub of the park.

All camping activities are centrally located in the boat launch area.

The store stocks essential dry-goods, last-minute camping gear, beach toys, snacks, clothing, and souvenirs.

Beach cruisers and child bike trailers are available for rent, but …

Gulf State Park

Free Bike Rentals are in several locations throughout the park.

Gulf State Park

Kayak rentals are also available at the Middle Lake launch.

Gulf State Park

The informative Segway tour led by a local tour guide is a wonderful way to connect with the culture and learn about this diverse environment.

Gulf State Park

More education opportunities can be found at the Nature Center near the store where park naturalists foster learning with ongoing weekly activities

Gulf State Park

The spotless laundry room with super-hot water is located on the lake …

Gulf State Park
The laundry overlooks the lake, so bring a book and a chair.

Gulf State Park has the best pool of any campground, public or private, that we’ve seen. The facility has a community pool vibe. Jamie, a staff member, welcomes swimmers and provides maintenance and oversight of the swim-at-your-own-risk and adult supervision policies.

Gulf State Park

This beautifully maintained resort-style Swimming pool with splash pad has bathrooms and outdoor showers.

Gulf State Park

When we arrived, the heater was not working, so the temperature ranged between 62-69 depending on the previous nights temperature. Fortunately, the pool remained open and most days I seized the opportunity. By the time we left, the heater was fixed.

Gulf State Park
Carmen burning brown fat in her “private” pool

Tennis and pickle ball courts, horseshoes and volleyball – this park has it all.

Gulf State Park

Fishing, is a way of life for the locals.

The Beach

From the campground, it’s only about a ten minute bike ride to the beach.

Gulf State Park

The Beach Pavilion is a magnificent structure.

Gulf State Park

Designed for meetings, reunions, lectures and classes …

Gulf State Park
This is less than half of the pavilion – at night with with the fireplaces lit it must look like a medieval palace – great performance and wedding space.

and for a star-gazing event hosted by the Nature Center staff.

Gulf State Park
Bill, a Nature Center staff member, explained The Great Conjunction
but, for us, the moon was enough
moon

On a warm and sunny day (and I think we had five or six of those during that chilly December) the pavilion is the place. There are bathrooms and showers and the snack bar is open seasonally.

Gulf State Park

The Woodside

The Woodside Restaurant – just inside the entrance to the park – has healthy delicious farm-to-table Gulf specialties.

Gulf State Park

Lunch stops for hot soup and sandwiches, chowder and gumbo made our day.

Gulf State Park
Dad and a fellow Southeastern Conference Champion football fan pow-wow over hot soup.

The outdoor dining area under the trees featured fire rings crackling with fuel from an abundance of storm-felled trees …

Gulf State Park

while sweet music flowed from the stage where fabulously talented musicians (who would be playing in larger venues in non-pandemic times) performed on the stage.

Gulf State Park

This was our hangout.

Gulf State Park

The Cottages

Gulf State Park is a locally-treasured venue for big family reunions, and a wide selection of lodging is provided. Woodside and Lakeside cabins and Eagle Cottages are ideal for family housing with easy access to all park amenities.

Gulf State Park
Small wood framed cabins, or Cracker Shacks – a romantic cultural get-away

Shelby Lake has small studios for singles and couples. Larger families may prefer a two, or three-bedroom house. Guests can choose a woodsy location or bask on the sunny shoreline with fully screened decks. Each cabin is furnished with bed linens, towels, microwave, coffee maker, toaster, pots, pans, utensils, flatware, and glasses. 

Gulf State Park

The lakeside cabins also have outdoor fire pits, BBQ grills, porch swing, piers, and fish cleaning stations. The cabins were closed for repairs while we there.

The Lodge

The Lodge, on the beach overlooking the dunes and the pier is an up-town option.

Gulf State Park

Hilton manages this impressive hotel, restaurant and convention center.

FORT MORGAN ROAD TRAIL

The park’s bike trail joins with the 5.6 mile Fort Morgan Road Trail, just outside the park boundary.

Gulf State Park

Most of this eleven-mile trail is secluded from traffic behind a barrier of trees. This freshly paved bike-path features hundreds of memory benches dedicated to locals and snowbirds who have passed on. Safe cycling is encouraged.

Gulf State Park

Evidence of Hurricane Sally damage will linger for years. Every day, workers were busy with clean-up. The pier, under a $2.4 million renovation was damaged days before its reopenng.

Gulf State Park

So, yeah, the place was pretty beat up. Also, Winter of 2020-21 was unusually cold, rainy, and windy. But don’t feel sorry for us. We had a a great holiday with Dad…

took the Dolphins to view holiday-lights …

ate fudge …

hung out with Jacquie and Larry Cook, our first, best and always Airstream friends …

dined on the best Alabama cuisine …

Boullibaise at Sunset Pointe

and locally sourced seafood

“Did you say, ‘5 pounds of Shrimp for $15!!!?'”

and enjoyed some fine trailer-cooked meals by candlelight.

blackstone
Jim practices on his new griddle

And, miraculously, Santa found us in the big, big world. FedEx and UPS delivers directly to individual campsites, but the U.S. Mail does not deliver at all to Gulf State Park. So, thanks to the Cooks (who accepted our packages) Pico got a new fireplace, Jim got a new Blackstone griddle, Daddy got a new John Wayne vest …

and I got a Corn Hole game which we can play come rain or shine.

Corn hole was even more fun with a growler full of liquid refreshment from Big Beach Brewing Company up the street.

World’s Best Brewery Dog

On the rare non-rainy night we’d stop by Big Beach to enjoy their selection of IPAs, eat tacos and listen to crazy-good live music.

Twas’ also the season for egg nog lattes and chocolate coated espresso beans.

southern grind

We already miss those morning rides over the river and through the marsh to Southern Grind Coffee.

southern grind

And, on those long, cold winter nights, old holiday films brought us good cheer. WiFi is free. Towers are located throughout the campground. When we used the park’s WiFi, we average 6 Mbps with bursts up to 32 Mbps. That’s some of the best campground internet service we’ve ever experienced. Our Verizon cell service worked most of the time with our WeBoost Cell booster.

Gulf State Park

So, thank you Gulf State Park and Gulf Shores for a lovely Christmas. We hope to return someday, if you’ll have us.

Spring is a choice season to take in the splendors of this “hidden” jewel of Alabama. Redbud‘s in bloom. The Deep South is raring up to bust out in color. With all this rain, it’s sure to be a show. If I had the sense God gave a last-years bird’s nest, I’d pull this rig over, turn it around and head straight back down there.

Go ahead. Just try’n stop me.

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.


Our “BAMBI” rating system explained:

bambi-1 – One Bambi: Should’a boondocked.

bambi-2Two Bambi’s: Better than a Cracker Barrel or Walmart.

bambi-3Three Bambi’s: Adequate for a short stay.

bambi-4Four Bambi’s: Great place! Met our expectations for an extended stay. Needs minor improvements or is not ideally situated for all our preferred recreation (hiking, cycling, swimming, kayaking) without driving.

Five Bambi’s: Destination Camping at it’s best! Critical as we are, there’s nothing we’d improve, and you can bet your sweet Bambi we’re going back!

Click here to see some of our other campground reviews

122 thoughts on “Campground Review: Gulf State Park – Gulf Shores, Alabama

    1. Hey Ed! A full tank and some white lithium grease will take care of that 😉

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  1. Sorry we missed you! We usually stay there January & February; although just January this year. Really enjoyed your review.

    1. Carolyn, you must have pulled in as we were pulling out … RVs passing in the night. Hopefully, someday, we will be neighbors for a time.

      Thank you for joining us here.

      Safe and Happy Travels

      LIB

  2. Thank you. Wonderful blog with a ton of information and pictures! We have stayed there also, but only for a week. We really enjoyed the white sandy beach and the bike trails. We were also at PennWood when you were there in the spring/summer of 2019!

    1. Hey Suzette, thanks for sharing your experience at Gulf Shores. They really do roll out the green carpet for travelers. Yes! We took refuge at PennWood for 4th of July weekend of 2019. We had a blast at Ponytail Mike’s Birthday Party. Woot!!! We must get back up there again sometime.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  3. Love the review! Especially the pictures of Pico waiting for his share of the yummy food plates, and just dying to intercept corn hole bean bags!

    1. Hey Lula! Oh yeah, Pico loves his super-supper time! Actually, he’s allergic to almost everything, but we give him his special treats while we eat ours. It’s a pack thing. And he’s convinced that corn hole is HIS game. He’s our happy lil’ camping boy.

      Always wonderful to hear from you. BTW, we recently made friends with another RVing parrot family in Florida!

      Happy St. Patricks Day!

      Safe and Happy Travels,

      LIB

  4. Great review. How nice that your father could join you at such a beautiful park. Your photos (especially sunsets) are wonderful! Must admit, the food made me very very hungry. Hope your next adventure is amazing! Sending hugs from chilly (for us) San Diego. xoxo Jan

    1. Jan!!! Wonderful to hear from you. You’ve been on our minds. We’re in Charleston and eating way too much. In fact, tonight, we reheated leftovers from the last week of overload and they were even better the second time around. When we leave here Friday we will be dry-camping for the next 45-days and I told Jim to prepare himself because we will be eating a vegetarian and mostly raw diet. Lord. Food is so good in the Holy City that I’m breaking bad.

      Put your feet up by the fire and enjoy the chill … at least that’s our motto these days since it’s been one nice day for every two, or three or four … and there’s a big storm coming in tomorrow.

      Thanks for the hugs – sending back.

      xoxo,

      Carmen & Jim

    1. Oh, lucky you. Have a wonderful time. This wet winter should manifest a fantastical Spring display. Enjoy.

      Thank you for being with us, Terry.

      Safe and Happy Travels,

      LIB

  5. We can’t wait to visit Gulf Shores. Perhaps next year. Are you still loving your Dolphin bikes? We’re debating between those and Rad foldables. Would you recommend for 225lb, 5’9 person?

    1. Hey Julie! So far, we have no complaints about our Dolphins. This week, I’m loving the low step-through feature because my trick knee went out while walking on the uneven stones and ancient curbs in downtown Charleston (should have worn my hiking boots). One of our physical profiles 😉 is identical to the one you specify, so the answer is, yes.

      I do hope you will have a chance to visit Gulf Shores – and, if you do, please write my name in the sand for me.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen @ LIB

  6. Hi Beaubeaus!!
    We discovered this park about 3 years ago. We booked a month there last winter on the boat canal and had to cancel due to Covid. Alas….I couldn’t get enough barefoot strolling on the sugar sand. So beautiful. One of our sweet memories of our time on the road…
    We have moved into our new Santa Fe home and Liberation (Libby) is for sale. We still have her and I’ve already began to whine about not having an rv. Hold your breath. There may be a little Libby in our future so we can escape to all the places we love.
    Have loved reading your blog entries – and wonder where you really are.
    We send hugs and happy thoughts.
    Susan and Ed

    1. Susan and Ed!!! OMG, we think of you two so often. Congratulations on your new home! Santa Fe is one of our favorite cities, so certainly we will be passing through sometime. We would love to see you both.

      I know how difficult it must be to say goodbye to Libby. But she was a memory-maker and you still have those. Maybe a Libby2 is in the future. We are seeing so many camper vans these days. Maybe something like that will do. Doesn’t hurt to have a mobile private bathroom these days – even while going to the grocery store.

      Someday, I will have to pick your brain about all of the other campgrounds you discovered so you can tell us your secrets.

      Love you both.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen & Jim @ LIB

      1. We love you both too. Just be sure to never pass through here without a heads up. We would so love to spend more time with you two. You travel safe and keep the good times rolling. (Wish I could say it French…).
        S & E

  7. I’m really proud to say that my step father was one of a group of businessmen who purchased this property and held it for many years so that the state could purchase it and keep it from becoming Miami Beach (No disrespect to Miami Beach).

    1. Hey Robin! How wonderful to know this history. The world could use more big-picture thinkers like your step-father, yes? There are places all over the country where tussles like this are in progress. We hope. We pray. We vote. What else can we do?

      And, still … one day, I hope to see Miami Beach 😉

      Humans are complicated.

      Thank you for being with us, Robin.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  8. Without a doubt, one of the best campgrounds I have visited. If you are a long term camper, it is definitely a prime spot between November and May.

    1. Hey Paul! We agree. This is the first campground where we haven’t become bored after two-weeks. We hope, someday, to return in the early Spring. We would choose this destination even if we were not RVers. The hotels and cabins are absolutely perfect for a log stay. And, this is a great place to experience “the deep South.” In addition to this spot, we also love Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The beaches aren’t nearly as beautiful but the culture is our cup of muscadine wine 😉

      Thank you for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  9. Thanks for taking the time to share this in depth review. I’ll definitely be adding this to my list!

    1. Well, hey there Habadabeer! Happy to share and thank you for being with us.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Lou! It really is a good way to experience LA (Lower Alabama) and, here, you are in a good position to explore the entire Florabama area. So, so beautiful! We hope you enjoy it.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Debbie! Yes, it was booked solid when we tried to get in two months in advance. We suggest checking the website daily or even twice or three times a day. Many RVers reserve there by the month and things happen, plans change and they pull out leaving some great spaces. The one who checks in regularly has the advantage to snap up those openings. Calling in to ask about reservation openings is also a good idea. We noticed that nothing had changed on the website for a couple of days, so Jim called in and they explained that the website had gone down – then told us of a selection of openings that had come available since the site went down. There were a lot of choices! Things are always changing.

      Hope that helps.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Pamela!

      Thank you. We get it. It’s just a place to absorb the Gulf and let it be.

      Wonderful to have you with us.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

      1. We haven’t been able to get back out there..we have spent the past 2 years out west. And this year we are on our way to Yellowstone. Thanks for the warm welcome..hope to meet up 1 day.

  10. Lovely blog — especially the shots of the well made dinners — please share
    Let’s talk soon

    1. Hey Jim! The photos of you and Sam in Carlsbad or Escondido flower country made us long for home. We love you guys so much. Yes, talk soon. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

      C&J

  11. Hi arrived Sunday for one night. Whoa what a great place it is now Thursday AM still here. Love it. One of the greatest SP we every visited. Time to move on Friday. Will miss the place.

    1. Hey Ralph! So glad you like it there. We also love Maumee Bay in Ohio. Both parks have very similar philosophies – a habitat preserve that “facilitates” low human impact. It’s a win-win for cities and counties and states who need revenue to continue preservation efforts in eco-sensitive areas not open to other kinds of development. Modern campgrounds have a low carbon footprint and RVers have good reputation for supporting environmental efforts.

      Thank you for sharing your experience at Gulf State Park!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Jeff!

      Our site was #227. Our observation was that three sites on either side of our position were very good.

      Thank you for being with us.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

        1. Wonderful to hear this, Jeff! We wish for you the safest travel conditions, the best weather and a photo album of happy memories!

          LIB

    1. Hey See Spot! If it is not too much trouble, we would love to know how you liked it or not. Feel free to post your experience here.

      And, thank you so much for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  12. Love it there! They have miles and miles of bike paths, and the hotel has a really good Bloody Mary bar.

    1. Hey Karen!

      Until the day before we left, we had no idea bout the restaurant at the Hilton Lodge. Is the Bloody Mary bar there? Gotta make it there next time.

      Thanks so much for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  13. We were here as well end of December last year . We only live about an hour away and finally got out there. Prob our fav camping trip yet. So beautiful and peaceful. My daughters loved riding their bikes everywhere.

    1. Hey Lori! Isn’t that the way? Some of the best destinations are not far from your own backyard.

      Those bike trails are awesome. It was great to see little ones discovering them on their tiny bikes.

      Thank you for sharing your experience at Gulf State Park!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. See there! There are plenty of sites if you are persistent and check the site frequently. Also, reservations are cancelled daily.

      Have a great time, Paul!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  14. Very nice we will check it out. Another hidden beauty is Mistletoe State Park in Georgia. On a lake, in the woods, with lots of privacy between campsites. We just spent a week there with our AS 27′ FC RB

    1. Wow! Mistletoe Park looks like a wonderful place. We will definitely check this park out next time we are in Georgia. In fact, we put it on our WishList. I don’t believe we have yet experienced any of the Georgia State Parks. It appears to be a fabulous find … where we can kayak, cycle, hike, swim … We are always looking for places like this for a two-week or even a month-long stay. I love that the site lists nearby public pools. Maybe Mistletoe will be the next 5-Bambi!!!

      https://gastateparks.org/Mistletoe

      Thanks Bruce!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Jarred!

      Thanks for being with us and sharing your experience at Gulf State Park.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  15. We are looking forward to going there this summer! We were finally able to get reservations. That park stays booked.

    1. Hey John! Good thing you didn’t give up! While we were there a few people pulled out to take care of emergencies at home and to attend to health concerns – it took no time for their spaces to be occupied. Persistence is what it takes. Something will eventually come up.

      Enjoy your stay!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

      1. We looked numerous times over the past few years and they were always full at the times we could go. We happened to look at the right time this year. It will be fun!

  16. Great park, and there have been tons of improvement to it over the last decade or so. I don’t spend much time there with the Airstream since it’s 20 minutes from home, but it’s a great place to enjoy nature on the coast.

    1. Hey Chad,

      What a wonderful place to live! I must admit we perused real estate listings while there.

      Thanks for being with us.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Yes it is! We had the most fun riding it on weekdays because it can be busy on the weekends. The care that is taken to make the path enjoyable with picnic tables, benches, workout equipment, water bottle stations, even dog watering stations … just made it so pleasant.

      Thank you, Wendie Jean, for sharing your experience.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  17. Wish we could have joined you there. Maybe next time. It looks absolutely perfect.

    1. Hey Pamela!

      It would have wonderful to meet you there. Yes, maybe next time. I hope you have an opportunity someday to experience Gulf State Park.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Judy! So wonderful to hear from you. The beach should be gorgeous in May. I don’t know if it interests you, but we wish we had made it to the Florabama Bar and Bamahenge.

      Enjoy your stay at Gulf Shores.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  18. We’ve been just north of you in Fairhope all winter. Pulled in the end of October just before Hurricane Zeta so we could have a tree land on our roof! Roof and everything inside is finally repaired and we’ll leave here in about another month. We just love this area! Every time we take our e-bikes down to Gulf Shores State Park we get lost. 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful review and great pics!

    1. Hey Brenda! Fairhope is a such a lovely town. I can think of worse places to get hit by a tree. Yikes. Falling trees is a reoccurring nightmare – that and tsunamis. Glad to hear your encounter didn’t result in anything more than damage and that it was fixable. Seems like the story ends well, anyway.

      We got lost on our first day out. I think we rode for eight hours that day … finally made it home by dark.

      Thank you for sharing your tree story, Brenda .. even though I probably won’t sleep tonight.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Jan!

      Yes, it seems like more people are camping than ever before. As summer nears it will become even more frustrating. It doesn’t help that many great National Forest parks in are closed for the pandemic. That doesn’t make sense to me because parks are the safest places to find outdoor recreation. Campers in California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona are fortunate to have so many wide open dispersed camping areas where reservations are not taken or required. But here on the east coast, it is a real issue right now.

      Best to you as you attempt to book reservations.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  19. We love Gulf Shores State Park have stayed there several times in fact we’ll be there in 2 weeks.. The State Park has everything you need and what they don’t have it’s not far away, our grand=kids love it there. Another good but small campground is Alabama Coast Campground in Foley it’s only a few year’s old so still a work in progress, yes it’s about 15 miles to the beach but we stayed there a week and loved it.

    1. Hey Scott!

      Thank you for the tip about Alabama Coast Campground. We’ve never been there, but that might be an option for those who can’t secure a reservation. Looking over their website, it seems like a nice enough place, but man … I’ve never seen a more imposing list of “NO’S!” … but with your recommendation, it’s worth checking out.

      https://alabamacoastcampground.com

      As for your upcoming vacation, have a wonderful time basking in that amazing, quiet and serene place.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Patricia!

      Lucky you! The Deep South is intoxicating that time year – the fragrances and color make it the prettiest place in America.

      Enjoy!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Bob! Yes, the entire region took a real beating. Hopefully, the foliage will soon spring back and fill in the gaps. These phenomenal storms leave their mark for decades. But the wetlands have a healing effect as well as preventing storm surge. So, could have been worse if Robin’s step-father hadn’t saved it from development.

      We just love the place. We hope to return again and stay even longer – maybe from Winter till the end of Spring. So, please save us a place.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  20. You know, of all the many campgrounds we’ve been to, Gulf State Park was the only one I’ve ever written an entire post about too. It was just that good, and it remains high on our list. It’s crazy how much the prices have increased, though. When we stayed in 2018, as I recall, it was $730 for the month? Prices are going up, up, up everywhere. Ouch. I also don’t remember that Woodside Restaurant. I think it must be new (or we were too oblivious to notice it). Either way, it looks like a terrific spot!

    Anyway, this is a wonderful, in depth review. I’m happy to hear you loved your stay and you’ve definitely given me reason to think about a return visit when we’re out that way next year. The park really does have something for everyone and ticks every box.

    Great post!

    1. Hey Laura! I just read your fabulous review …

      https://www.chapter3travels.com/thanksgiving-gulf-shores/

      There’s some great info there about the music festival. We had no idea about the zoo or Kevin’s stunning camp-cooking accomplishments. Whoa! bacon bomb and bloody mary bar with deviled eggs … You guys are AMAZING camping pros! We really DO need to meet up!

      I failed to comment on your current blog entry which is an excellent primer – photo tips for travelers that every amateur photographer should read. I really appreciate it. You photos are an inspiration to me and now I know your secrets.

      As always, give Thor a big hug for me.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen @ LIB

    1. Hey Treigh! Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but leashed dogs are on all of the trails and bike paths and are also welcome in the outdoor areas of the restaurant. We didn’t see much in the way of amenities for dogs – no dog-washing station or enclosed areas for dogs to run off-leash. But, overall, it appeared to be dog-friendly – free poop bags and dog-water fountains – and it seemed like everyone had a dog or two.

      Thank you for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Claudia! We were in site #227 – it was a back-in site and very close to the boat launch, laundry, pool area.

      Thanks for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  21. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, because it is a beautiful place, but I hope you get out of there before the yellow flies come. Just ask a local.

    1. Hey David! I overheard some regulars talking about their dread of some kind of fly … maybe the one you speak of. Except for those darn biting gnats at sundown – December was mostly bug-free. My early-childhood was spent in Alabama, Georgia and Florida and I remember a thing we called a horsefly. They were vicious! Ugh! Jim is all for outrunning bugs as well as the bad weather – and I have my limits too – but I love birds and birds are always where the bugs are.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

      1. Yellow flies are actually yellow.The smaller ones look 👀 a lot like house flies. As they get bigger they begin to look more like 🐝 bees. They are mostly on the bayside and come in in the spring when the weather begins to warm up. They leave when it begins to cool off and that’s when the black flies come in. Probably what you call horseflies. You can look it up on line.Very interesting.

        1. Sounds like it’s a summer issue. Wearing protective long sleeved garments can help. I seldom get bit by anything but I wear outfitter-style sun-protective clothing because I’m allergic to sunscreen ointments. But I found these interesting bite remedies: https://30a.com/yellow-flies/

  22. Amazing review. It’s on my list now, and I never would have even thought about looking there. Grew up going close by. Thanks

  23. I’m looking forward to absorbing and enjoying this entire review. We stayed there in April 2019 and loved it. We were tucked back in the suburbs with privacy. I loved walking to the ocean every day along the walkways. My husband met High School friends to stay local so I had a girl’s trip to myself while they were at the Florabama taking in the Mullet Fest. It’s an annual thing, then we had time together too, of course. We can’t wait to go again, probably in 2022.

    1. Hey Lisa!

      Florabama is one of the big attractions to the area. We were staying clear of people and crowded events but when this pandemic is over we’re looking forward to spending some time there and attending an event or two: http://www.florabama.com/tickets

      Thanks for sharing your experience at Gulf State Park.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Steve! That’s a fact! But, we’re finding that all full hook-up campsites are much more difficult to get into these days. The pandemic has launched a camping revolution. However, we’re also noticing that partial hook-up campsites are still fairly open and dry-camping sites have wide-open availability – and most of our all-time favorite campgrounds are dry-camping sites – especially those along the Colorado River.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Debe! Yes, the weather was fickle in December, but we caught up on our reading. Nothing like a good book on a rainy day.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  24. Amazing review! Thanks for sharing 🤗 We don’t have an airstream yet, but this is definitely on my list! Also the one in Ohio.

    1. Hey Jenn! Are you looking for an Airstream or waiting for one to arrive? Thank you for being with us. We enjoy doing these reviews because it “takes us back” to places we love. We’re so pleased that others find them useful.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

      1. We haven’t ordered one yet, hopefully in the next few months 🤞🏻 (But we’re thinking a Flying Cloud or Caravel…leaning towards FC) Can’t wait to join the Airstream community!! But enjoying gathering info right now from the pros, for when we’re ready to hit the road. I followed your FB page and signed up for the email list too

    1. Hey Chickery! Yes, that has also been our experience

      Thank you for being with us and BTW, we love your site. We recommend it to people who are looking for great information about where to camp for FREE (even winter in Florida) with a rig outfitted for dry-camping. This is a great video:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IozjsDKupuc&t=79s

      … and we so appreciate how you promote responsibility.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  25. Thank you for sharing this excellent review! We have been “stalking” Gulf State Park for a long weekend for quite a while! We FINALLY succeeded in securing 4 days there in two weeks. I can already tell that we will want to stay for a longer period. We are taking our bikes to enjoy the fabulous trails and can’t wait to sink our toes into that gorgeous sand. What were your favorite dishes from the restaurants you reviewed? Since we’ll only be there for a short time, what is one thing we definitely should not miss out on?

    Thank you for any tips!

    1. Hello AK & Jim!

      Wow, you’re almost there. We hope you have a great time at the park. With only four days, you probably want to just enjoy the surroundings right in the park. There’s no reason to leave because everything is right there.

      We loved our morning routine with a bike ride to The Southern Grind Coffee House. We caught the bridge on the canal part of the campground and turned right when we exited the bike trail – as my memory serves it’s only about 50 yards from the bike trail.

      We were there during an unusually cold December and due to the pandemic we only eat outdoors, so the only restaurant we tried was Woodside, located near the park entrance. We went there because they had great local brew, comfortable chairs and private fire pits. They also had very good food. We enjoyed the soups and gumbo made from fresh local ingredients and fish. But there are many other restaurants right in the park with both indoor and outdoor dining with ocean views. We wish we could have tried them all. Next time we hope to do that.

      Restaurants at Gulf State Park: https://www.alapark.com/parks/gulf-state-park/dining-0

      If we were not so far away we’d hustle down there to enjoy that wonderful Autumn weather. My Aunt Sonia lives in Birmingham and tells me the weather is just lovely right now. I hope it holds for you.

      You are probably there during an ideal time – the water will still be warm for swimming! Post Labor Day, so hopefully it won’t be crowded. You win!

      Enjoy, and please check back and give us the Autumn visit report.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

Leave a Reply