Beach vacations are a chance for simple things like fun in the sun and play in the shade, but why stop there? With our 15 perfect date ideas in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you’ll find a way to rekindle romance, even if it’s already burning like a bonfire.
This piece isn’t going to be just a listicle where we’ll go through some things and say you could do them on a date. Your relationship deserves better than that. We’ll give you complete date ideas with an ebb and flow that you could follow like a paint by number recipe for romance or adapt like a musical melody. Either way, we’ll prove that romantic things to do at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama go beyond beach blanket bingo and honeymoon hootenanny, while having a little bit of fun along the way.
Play with a Porpoise
Yeah, it’s going to be one of those articles😜 and our first entry is taking a dolphin cruise from The Wharf.
At any given time, there are 50-70 dolphins in Wolf Bay swimming, playing, eating, and generally being too cute. Everybody knows that excessive cuteness releases a chemical stew into the female brain that science still can’t fully quantify. Don’t believe us? Imagine that awkward first coffee date with 50-70 golden retriever puppies. Yeah, Casanova, that’s what we’re talking about 😉😉; only get your mind out of the gutter and stop thinking about those puppy piles, lol! This isn’t that kind of dating article!
That’s not all. Guys get to have an evening on a boat (which releases a similar chemical in the male brain), and you both get to enjoy a sunset from the water. You even have choices of providers like the romantic Cetacean Cruises or the playful Sunny Lady Dolphin Cruises, but it doesn’t stop there. We promised you ebb and flow, not just the motion of the ocean and cute commotion.
Dolphin cruises on Wolf Bay leave from The Wharf, perhaps the best entertainment district on the Gulf Coast. So your night is only beginning when your cruise ends. You can go fancy with waterfront front dining at Mile Marker 158 Dockside or casual with street tacos at YoHo Rum & Tacos (pro tip – be sure to check on the “purple cup” rules if you want to take a rum to go 😉 – yo ho ho).
No matter where you eat, you can’t avoid the nighttime festivities at The Wharf, and you wouldn’t want to. You can enjoy your purple cup beverage of choice as you ride the 112′ ferris wheel lit up like a Christmas tree or wander through the SPECTRA Laser Light Experience that incorporates choreographed lighting effects with state-of-the-art lasers and surround sound music. If that’s not enough, there’s axe throwing, escape rooms, VR experiences, and more.
Beach Blanket Bingo
This entry has about as much bingo in it as the 1965 Frankie Avalon movie. That is to say, the words roll off your tongue, but we’re really talking about beach parties. Only, instead of a love story built on a convoluted plot involving publicity stunts, skydiving, and kidnapping, all your story needs is to ask The Beach Moms Concierge Service to arrange the perfect beach picnic for you.
They’re a full-service concierge who will work with you to get precisely the food you want and an ideal location. All you need to do is show up and they do the rest. Your perfect two-hour beach picnic will include comfortable plush pillows, Bluetooth speakers, shade, and even environmentally friendly plates and utensils. If you want to make things ‘next level’, make it a sunset picnic. You can even arrange to have beach sling chairs, fresh flowers, cornhole, and even a photographer. I mean, if you want to hire a photographer to take pictures of your cornhole (game) on a date, who are we to judge? You do you boo😉
Bag a Birding Barbie
This fun fling takes a little walkabout and turns it into a banger, but first, let us set the scene. You might find Paul Hogan’s rugged masculinity and Australian accent sexy AF if you’re of a certain age, and they’re nothing he loved more than walking through the bush. On the subject of bush, there’s also a chance you’re still into shoulder pads, aerobic gear, and leg warmers too, so there’s that. However, stick with us, and we’ll bedazzle this date idea into something hella bodaciously gnarly.
Start with the Pine Beach Trail in Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. In less than two miles of walking, you travel through all the coastal ecosystems, from live oak hammocks to intercoastal dunes before reaching one of Alabama’s most romantic and remote beaches. However, you’ll find something special along the way – a birding tower on the shores of Little Lagoon and Gator Lake, which is the perfect place for a picnic (aka barbie).
If you really want to dazzle your Sheila, don’t go all soggy white bread on her. Instead, pack provisions from The Pantry at The Wharf, Orange Beach’s gourmet specialty grocery store, where you’ll always find Good Food To-Go™. You’ll find a dazzling array of deliciousness. Still, we recommend their chef-curated Cheese + Charcuterie Boxes generously prepared with choice meats and cheese and a variety of fresh berries, chocolates, and accouterments.
Partake in a Pedaling Picnic
Finally, a date idea that doesn’t require linguistic tap dancing to justify the wordplay in the title. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to provide a little explanation to you and pimp this ride into the next gear.
Gulf State Park is a bicycling paradise, with about 30-dedicated trails covering about 30-miles of the best riding on the Gulf Coast. They also have a free bike-share program so everybody can get out and ride. We wrote a complete guide to biking in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach that shows maps to every bike trail in the park and explains the bike share program.
Follow our maps and plan your route around lakeside vistas, across elevated boardwalks, and to unique features like Lefty the Alligator, parkour parks, and bald eagle nests. However, it’s hard to consider a date complete without consuming calories, so be sure to stop by Woodside Restaurant on your ride. Woodside serves creative Southern cuisine and cocktails using the finest locally-sourced ingredients and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s the perfect pairing with a pedal through the park.
The Dynamic Duo of Kayaks and Cosmos
We’re always a little hesitant to recommend kayaking for dates. I mean, there’s a reason they’re called divorce boats. However, after experiencing guided paddling with Wild Native Tours, we realized there’s more than one way to explore the back bays of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. One couple on our tour chose kayaking for their first anniversary, and they had zero experience. Instead of being an unmitigated disaster, our guide gave them personalized instructions. Pretty soon, they were paddling in a straight line and working together as a couple. I don’t know if the traditional first-anniversary gift will switch from paper to paddling anytime soon, but at least you have choices.
On the subject of choices, let us suggest brunch at Cosmos as the perfect way to round out your kayaking date. Cosmos takes a cutting-edge approach to regional favorites like shrimp toast with chopped Gulf Shrimp and a blend of herbs and spices on slices of BuzzCatz white bread. Also delish are their blue crab and corn calas served on traditional New Orleans-style rice fritters. On the subject of BuzzCatz, if a dynamic duo paddling date isn’t adventurous enough for you, you can make it a threesome and hit up BuzzCats for breakfast before getting on the water.
The Ultimate Beach Day Date
While the debate rages on about where’s the best beach in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, we have our ideas about the Ultimate Beach Day Date.
First off, you have to pick the right beach. We’re offering Alabama Point for your consideration. For starters, it’s over a mile wide beach with some of the best shore diving, snorkeling, and surfing around. There are even showers at the restrooms and snacks readily available at the uber-cute Frost Bites Airstream. When you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, you can pop into Cobalt, the Restaurant for happy hour food and drink specials.
While a beach date isn’t as complicated as some of our offerings, the simple pleasures are sometimes the best.
On the subject of simple pleasures, Big Beach Brewing is date night made easy. They’re Alabama’s southernmost brewery with an attached open-air taproom complete with fireplace and comfortable seating. It’s perfect for a casual hangout inside or outside, with four garage doors that allow the coastal breeze to flow right through the taproom.
Unless you’re still a student, it takes more than beer to make it a date. That’s why Big Beach Brewing tries to bring in food trucks and live music every weekend. We love their general Hangout Music Festival vibe, but you should check out their online schedule to see what tickles your fancy.
The Sunset Serenade date is a variation on Toe-Tapping Taproom. You have all the same elements of adult beverages, outdoor seating, and live music. Only, it’s different.
Instead of a brewpub, this date takes place at Perch in The Lodge at Gulf State Park. We love it because it’s simple and sophisticated. Kind of like a color by numbers for cocktails.
- Step 1: Check the music schedule at the Perch
- Step 2: Make a reservation
- Step 3: Park in the The Lodge’s self-parking lot because Perch validates parking
- Step 4: Order and enjoy
- Step 5: If you didn’t get a table on the patio, move outside for dessert, drinks, and live music.
We have a couple of pro-tips for you to make this simple date extraordinary. First off, plan to eat around sunset. The views of the sun setting over the pier are a-mazing. Secondly, check the drink menus at Food Craft and Perch to see if there’s something you gotta have. They’re generally the same, but we had our eye on The Hound Dog made with Don Q Rum, bananas, banana brulee, and peanut butter whiskey, which was only available downstairs at Food Craft.
White Sand Beaches with White-Glove Service
This next entry is the fanciest of our dinner and live music dates in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. We’ve picked arguably Orange Beach’s finest dining – Voyagers – where you’ll find authentic Gulf Coast cuisine in an intimate setting with panoramic Gulf views. If you’re looking for cuisine that embraces the coast’s true spirit, you’ll love the award-winning wine list, local gulf caught seafood, and dry-aged steaks.
Your evening doesn’t have to end with dinner either. Voyagers is in the Perdido Beach Resort, and so is Ms. Nancy’s Lobby Lounge, where you can sip signature cocktails or enjoy wine by the glass. They’re open until 10:00 every night, with local legends John Brust and Lisa Zanghi at the piano bar tickling the ivory.
Sunset Sailing and Shipping (containers)
Here’s a date idea that can be a little more casual than Voyagers, or bundled together with Voyagers into an evening of super-duper fun – taking a sunset cruise with Sail Wild Hearts. This 1.5-hour sail might change the way you see sunsets. It’s one of the most relaxing ways to end the day, with light hors d’oeuvres provided and the ability to bring a small cooler with beverages of your choice.
Wild Hearts’ home port is across from Voyagers and The Gulf, one of the most unusual restaurants in Orange Beach. The Gulf is built from repurposed shipping containers and is located on the west side of Perdido Pass Bridge. It’s a casual chic way to end the day, but they close at 9:00, so you’ll want to check on the hours of your sunset cruise and consider eating before you hit the water. This isn’t a bad way to go so that you can get a nightcap or dessert at Voyagers and the Lobby Bar.
Small-Town Saturday Night
You might have heard Gulf Shores’ slogan – Small Town, Big Beach™. Don’t worry; there’s so much more nightlife than to howl at the moon and shoot out the light on this small town Saturday night. Start your evening strolling on the boardwalk at Gulf Shores Public Beach, Gulf Place. You can watch the sunset over the sand without getting grit in your girl shoes.
Then, walk on over to the Pink Pony Pub or The Hangout for a nightcap or evening meal. They each have their own flair and appeal, but both capture the spirit and history of Gulf Shores. The Hangout is famous for nightly live music, and the Pink Pony Pub mixes live music with karaoke. Go to one. Do both. But don’t miss a chance to experience authentic Gulf Shores nightlife.
The Classic Dinner and Movie
This date combo of dinner and movie is a classic for a reason. Maybe you’ve had your fill of sunlight and crowds and need to escape to your date cave. Or perhaps you’re craving the best burger by the beach, which, coincidentally, is ranking as our favorite vegan food at Gulf Shores / Orange Beach. Either way, this date’s for you.
Start your evening at Bleus Burgers, where you’ll, not surprisingly, find a large selection of craft burgers and flights of fries. What might surprise you is their ability to cater to special dietary needs like gluten sensitivity or vegetarianism. They also understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian and know how to modify many of their favorites to satisfy everybody.
After dinner, you can walk 200′ to the CMX Cinemas featuring 14 screens of fun. Burgers and movies are the classic double feature date, but you can make it a triple play by picking up a gourmet milkshake at The Yard Milkshake Bar (which also has vegan options). Their custom shakes can be a lot. Some quart-sized options have over 3,000 calories, but date calories don’t count, and sharing is caring. Just don’t count on waking away the guilt on this date because the Yard and Blues Burgers are in the same building, which is adjacent to the theater.
Meet Me at Lulu’s
Lulu’s is perhaps Gulf Shores’ most famous restaurant offering food, music, and fun. First, let’s talk about the e̶l̶e̶p̶h̶a̶n̶t̶ parrot head in the corner. Lulu’s is owned by Lucy Buffet, Jimmy Buffet’s younger sister. While some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, here, you can drop all pretense and go straight for that frozen concoction that helps you hang on.
Dinner at Lulu’s is more than celebrity fandom. It’s a full night of food and entertainment, all under one roof. Here are some pro tips that will help you keep from wasting away your evening searchin’ for that lost shaker of salt:
- Check out the live music schedule and plan accordingly.
- Call online ahead of time and get yourself on the waitlist. Lulu’s is extremely popular, and you’ll be glad you did.
- Take a little time to enjoy the ambiance and play some beach games.
Some of the fun at Lulu’s might be aimed at a younger crowd, like the Mountain of Youth climbing apparatus. However, don’t underestimate the romance-ment enhancement that you’ll get from a silly caricature or a henna tattoo. After some nights, nothing is sure but that brand new tattoo and who won corn hole.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Gulf Shores has a wild side; it’s the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. We’re going to dodge that whole ‘are zoo’s ethical thing’ and take the easy answer of recommending dining at the Safari Club, Alabama’s first Green Certified restaurant. The jungle-themed interior and patio dining within earshot of the animals reciting their nocturnes will transport you deep into the heart of darkness. Plus, their food is legit good, and, usually, dinner time is a couple of hours after the zoo closes, so you’ll be deconflicted entirely from families with kids.
But as we’ve said before, dinner by itself doesn’t make a date. So after your short safari, you’ll have your choice of date options as soon as you get back on Gulf Shores Parkway. Some of our favorites include the XIT Escape Room and Pirate Island Adventure Golf.
Take a Walk on the Weird Side
On the subject of pirates… Yar might be wanting to get your booty over to the weird side of the Gulf. I might be mixing metaphors here, but it’s hard to pick with replica druid temples, Styrofoam dinosaurs, giant spiders (and not the Ziggy Stardust kind), and pirate bars to work with. Luckily, with our walk on the weird side date, you don’t have to. All you need to do is keep an open mind and drive on over to Josephine.
Everything starts with a visit to Bamahenge and the Dinosaurs in the Woods because sometimes weird is good. Then come down to the private beach at Pirates Cove for a deep south cultural appreciation tour and a Bushwacker or two. Maybe you’re a son of a biscuit eater and don’t like pirates, in which case, you scurvy dog, you might want to try out the tossed rolls at Lambert’s Café in Foley.
Wrapping up Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Date Ideas
Nearly 3,000 words later, you’ve reached the end of our Gulf Shores and Orange Beach date ideas. We hope that you’ve had fun with our semantic silliness, but more than that, we hope that you’ll get a chance to go out and try a few of these dates for yourself. That’s why we’re closing this piece with an interactive map of every one of our suggestions.
We took care in crafting complete and flowing dates, which you’ll see on the map. We divided all 15 date ideas into four color-coded categories as follows:
- Restaurants and Live Music (Purple)
- Toe Tapping Taproom
- Sunset Serenades
- White Sand Beaches with White-Glove Service
- Small Town Saturday Night
- Meet Me at Lulu’s
- Boat Dates (Blue)
- Play with a Porpoise
- Sunset Sailing and Shipping (containers)
- Outdoor Dates (Green)
- Keeping Up A-‘pier’-ances
- Bag a Birding Barbie
- Partake in a Pedaling Picnic
- The Dynamic Duo of Kayaks and Cosmos
- The Ultimate Beach Day Date
- Various and Sundry Dates (Orange)
- The Classic Dinner and Movie
- Take a Walk on the Wild Side
- Take a Walk on the Weird Side
Hopefully, you’ll be able to follow the flow from the map. If not, maybe you’ll create your own Bob Ross-esque ‘Happy Accident.’ Either way, if the map doesn’t load right away, hit the refresh button 😉.
With that, we bid you ado and wish you all fun-filled delicious dates, abounding romance, and a happy ending to cap it off.
Disclosure: A big thank you to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more Gulf Shores and Orange Beach travel inspiration, check out their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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