Hello to all of my beach-loving friends in the Birmingham, Alabama area! Are you craving a beach getaway but don’t want to travel too far from Birmingham? Luckily, there are plenty of stunning beaches just a short drive away, offering white-sand shores, clear waters, and a wealth of recreational activities. In this guide, we’ll explore the best beaches near Birmingham AL from popular spots like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to hidden gems like Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan Peninsula. So grab your beach towel and get ready for a memorable coastal adventure!
Some of the best places to soak up some sun are within a reasonable driving distance from the Birmingham area. Hopefully, this guide will help you find the perfect place for your next beach getaway!
This site may contain links to affiliate websites, and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you on the affiliate website at no extra cost to you.
Are there beaches in Birmingham?
Birmingham, Alabama is not located directly on the coast, so it doesn’t have any beaches of its own. However, there is an option for enjoying a beach experience within a reasonable drive from Birmingham.
Located just south of Birmingham, Oak Mountain State Park features a man-made beach on Double Oak Lake. Visitors can relax on the sandy shore, swim in the designated swimming area, rent paddleboards or pedal boats, and enjoy a picnic at the adjacent picnic pavilions.
The beach at Oak Mountain State Park is a popular spot for locals and visitors to enjoy during the summer months. It features a sandy shore and designated swimming areas, making it a great place to cool off and relax on hot days. In addition to swimming, visitors can rent paddleboards, pedal boats, and canoes to explore the lake further.
While it’s not a natural beach along the coast, the man-made beach at Oak Mountain State Park provides a convenient and enjoyable beach experience for those in the Birmingham area.
What beaches are near Birmingham, Alabama?
Birmingham itself may not have direct access to beaches, but these options allow residents and visitors to enjoy a beach getaway within a reasonable distance from the city. So, if you’re up for a family road trip, here are some great options for you to choose from:
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
Distance from Birmingham: 276 miles (approximately 4.5 hours)
There’s no secret why Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are at the top of this list. My family has been vacationing here for years and it’s the first place I recommend when any of my friends tell me they are planning a beach vacation.
Located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are renowned for their pristine beaches and warm Gulf of Mexico waters. With miles of sugar-white sand and shallow waters, these beaches are perfect for families, couples, and friends. Explore Gulf State Park Beach, which offers beach activities, picnic areas, and nature trails. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Gulf Shores Public Beach, a popular spot with its lively atmosphere and nearby local restaurants.
Top Things to Do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
Visit The Wharf
Located in Orange Beach, The Wharf is a vibrant entertainment district offering an array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Catch a live concert at The Amphitheater, browse through boutique stores, enjoy waterfront dining, or take a ride on the Ferris wheel for panoramic views of the area.
Discover Adventure at Waterville USA
If you’re seeking family-friendly fun, head to Waterville USA, a water park and amusement park in Gulf Shores. Experience thrilling water slides, go-kart racing, mini-golf, and enjoy the wave pool. It’s a perfect place for a day filled with excitement and laughter.
Explore Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a leisurely stroll along the nature trails, rent a bike and explore the park’s scenic beauty, or enjoy a picnic in one of the designated picnic areas. You can also try fishing from the pier or book a guided eco-tour to learn more about the local flora and fauna.
Explore Nature at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. This pristine coastal sanctuary is home to various ecosystems, including dunes, beaches, wetlands, and maritime forests. Take a hike along the trails, spot wildlife, and enjoy the serenity of this protected area.
Take a Dolphin Cruise
Embark on a memorable dolphin cruise and witness these playful creatures in their natural habitat. Several tour operators offer guided cruises where you can learn about dolphins, enjoy the scenic views of the coastline, and even have the opportunity to interact with these magnificent marine animals.
Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
If you’re traveling with family, a visit to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is a must. This popular attraction offers encounters with various animal species, educational programs, and interactive exhibits. Get up close with lemurs, kangaroos, and reptiles for an unforgettable experience.
Distance from Birmingham: 290 miles (approximately 4 hours 15 minutes)
If you’re looking for a more peaceful beach retreat, head to Dauphin Island. Just a short drive from Birmingham, this barrier island offers beautiful beaches, historic sites, and rich natural landscapes. Enjoy the secluded Cotton Bayou Beach, known for its calm waters and picnic pavilions. Dauphin Island’s charm lies in its quaint town and the opportunity to spot bald eagles, sea turtles, and other wildlife.
Top Things to Do on Dauphin Island
Visit the Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Explore the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, a renowned marine research facility that offers educational exhibits and interactive displays. Learn about coastal ecosystems, marine life, and conservation efforts. Don’t miss the Estuarium, which showcases a variety of aquatic species.
Discover Historic Fort Gaines
Step back in time at Fort Gaines, a historic fortification dating back to the 19th century. Take a guided tour to learn about its role in various conflicts, explore the grounds, and enjoy panoramic views of Mobile Bay. The fort often hosts reenactments and special events.
Explore Audubon Bird Sanctuary
Nature enthusiasts will delight in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, a 164-acre nature reserve known for its diverse bird species and scenic trails. Take a leisurely walk, observe birds in their natural habitat, and appreciate the island’s serene beauty.
Experience Dauphin Island Estuarium
The Dauphin Island Estuarium is an educational facility dedicated to the unique ecosystems found along the Alabama coast. Discover marine habitats, interact with live animals, and participate in hands-on exhibits that showcase the beauty and importance of coastal environments.
Dauphin Island is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. Cast your line from the pier, join a charter fishing trip, or try your luck in the surf. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the island offers plenty of opportunities to reel in a catch.
Visit Indian Shell Mound Park
Indian Shell Mound Park is an archaeological site where you can learn about the island’s Native American history. Explore the ancient shell mounds, which are remnants of prehistoric settlements, and gain insight into the island’s cultural heritage.
Fort Morgan Peninsula
Distance from Birmingham: 295 miles (approximately 4 hours 45 minutes)
If you’re up for a day trip, consider exploring the Fort Morgan Peninsula. Located at the entrance of Mobile Bay, this area boasts picturesque beaches and a national historic landmark, Fort Morgan. Discover the beauty of the beach at the Fort Morgan Public Beach, offering stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and cool waters for a refreshing swim.
Top Things to Do in Fort Morgan Peninsula
Explore Historic Fort Morgan
Immerse yourself in history by visiting Fort Morgan, a well-preserved military fort that played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. Take a guided tour to learn about its strategic importance, explore the tunnels and ramparts, and enjoy the stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay.
Take a Ferry to Dauphin Island
Catch the Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island, offering a scenic and enjoyable ride across the bay. Once on Dauphin Island, you can explore its various attractions, including the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Bird Sanctuary, as well as its beautiful beaches.
Birdwatching at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Located nearby on the Fort Morgan Peninsula, the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. Discover a diverse range of bird species in their natural habitats, including migratory birds and rare species. The refuge also offers hiking trails and opportunities for wildlife observation.
Explore the Fort Morgan State Historic Site
In addition to Fort Morgan itself, the Fort Morgan State Historic Site features a museum where you can delve deeper into the fort’s history and the surrounding area. Learn about the region’s maritime heritage, military artifacts, and the daily life of soldiers stationed at the fort.
Pensacola Beach and Santa Rosa Beach
Distance from Birmingham: 252 miles (approximately 3 hours 45 minutes)
For a taste of the Florida Panhandle, both Pensacola Beach and Santa Rosa Beach are within reach. Just a short drive from Birmingham, these coastal towns offer turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and a range of beach activities. Pensacola Beach is known for its lively atmosphere, while Santa Rosa Beach offers a quieter, more secluded beach experience.
Top Things to Do in Pensacola Beach
Explore Gulf Islands National Seashore
Located nearby, Gulf Islands National Seashore is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. Discover untouched beaches, go hiking or biking along scenic trails, and immerse yourself in the coastal wilderness. The park also offers opportunities for birdwatching, picnicking, and camping.
Discover Historic Fort Pickens
Explore the historic Fort Pickens, a well-preserved 19th-century military fort. Take a self-guided tour through the fort’s tunnels, explore the barracks, and learn about its rich history. The fort is situated within Gulf Islands National Seashore and offers stunning views of the Gulf.
Visit the Pensacola Beach Pier
Take a stroll or go fishing on the iconic Pensacola Beach Pier. Enjoy panoramic views of the Gulf while casting your line or simply admire the coastal beauty. The pier is also a great spot for watching the sunset or spotting marine life.
Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum
Located just a short drive from Pensacola Beach, the National Naval Aviation Museum is a must-see attraction. Discover the fascinating world of naval aviation through exhibits showcasing historic aircraft, interactive displays, and educational presentations. Admission is free, making it a great family-friendly activity.
Explore Pensacola Beach Boardwalk
Stroll along the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, located in the heart of the beach area. Browse through shops, dine at waterfront restaurants, and enjoy live music and entertainment. The boardwalk is a vibrant hub of activity, especially during the summer months.
Attend Events and Festivals
Check the local event calendar for festivals, concerts, and events taking place in Pensacola Beach throughout the year. From seafood festivals to live music performances, there’s always something happening to enhance your visit and provide a memorable experience.
Destin and Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Destin and Fort Walton Beach, located along the stunning Emerald Coast of Florida, offer a perfect blend of sun, sand, and relaxation. Destin is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and sugar-white sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for beach lovers and water enthusiasts. Fort Walton Beach, situated nearby, boasts its own charm with a laid-back atmosphere and a range of family-friendly attractions. Both places are known for their beautiful public beaches and are great options for those living in the Greater Birmingham area.
Top Things to Do in Destin and Fort Walton Beach
Visit Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Explore the vibrant Destin Harbor Boardwalk, lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Enjoy fresh seafood, shop for souvenirs, or hop on a fishing charter to experience the thrill of deep-sea fishing.
Explore Henderson Beach State Park
Discover the natural beauty of Henderson Beach State Park, featuring scenic walking trails, dunes, and a pristine beach. Pack a picnic, go hiking, or simply unwind amidst the tranquil surroundings.
Visit Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Head to Fort Walton Beach and visit Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where you can see dolphins, sea lions, seals, and other marine animals up close. Enjoy interactive shows and learn about marine conservation efforts.
Explore Okaloosa Island
Cross over the Brooks Bridge to Okaloosa Island, a barrier island between Fort Walton Beach and Destin. Visit the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, go on a beachcombing adventure, or indulge in waterfront dining.
Discover Destin History and Fishing Museum
Learn about the rich history and fishing heritage of Destin at the Destin History and Fishing Museum. Explore exhibits, artifacts, and photographs that depict the area’s cultural and maritime heritage.
While Birmingham may not be situated directly on the coast, its proximity to a variety of stunning beaches makes it an ideal starting point for your beach adventures. From the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan Peninsula, the beaches near Birmingham offer something for everyone. So pack your sunscreen, grab your beach essentials, and embark on a memorable beach getaway just a short drive away from the city!
Safe travels and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea!
(Note: It’s important to check the latest travel advisories and guidelines before planning any trips, as conditions may change.)