The sand, the sun, the water--at Good Grit we’re all about that beach life. We think the South has some of the best beach towns in the world, and we wanted to share a few of them with our readers. Keep reading and get to know three of our favorites!
Gulf Shores + Orange Beach, Alabama
Escape to Alabama’s coastal oasis where the scent of salt air and the sounds of waves lapping fill the air. With 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches, pristine turquoise Gulf waters, and deliciously warm tropical temperatures, you’ll find the little slice of paradise you’ve always imagined.
Off the beach, the destination offers a plethora of activities and attractions. Whether you’re interested in biking the scenic 28-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, kayaking along the Coastal Alabama Back Bay Blueway, or catching a fish in the Gulf, there is plenty to see and do when you’re vacationing on Alabama’s beaches.
The culinary scene is also thriving in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Throughout the destination, visitors will find a variety of locally-owned establishments that pride themselves on serving seafood straight from the Gulf and produce from area farmers. Mom and Pop diners serving fried Gulf shrimp—they’ve got it. James Beard award-winning restaurants—they’ve got that, too! Every palette can easily be satisfied along Alabama’s beaches.
To complete your coastal Alabama experience, you’ll have to find the perfect place to stay! Lucky for you, they have everything from colorful beach houses to hi-rise condos and everything in between. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with a big group, they have plenty of room here for you. Visit GulfShores.com to learn more.
• Gulf State Park recently underwent a gigantic revitalization project that has put the area on the map when it comes to conservation and sustainability. Within the park, you’ll find several centers and buildings built to LEED Platinum and Gold standards.
• Alabama boasts the largest artificial reef program in the U.S. with more than 17,000 artificial reefs off its coast, making the area a hot spot for both fishermen and divers.
• Orange Beach is known for having one of the largest charter fishing fleets on the Gulf of Mexico.
Folly Beach, South Carolina
Folly Beach, South Carolina, is one of America’s last true beach towns. Just minutes from historic downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is a 12 square mile barrier island that is packed with things to do, see, and eat. This is a funky, laid-back, come-as-you-are kind of beach. The pace is invitingly slow, the people are captivatingly unique, and the shops and restaurants will receive you with good old-fashioned Southern charm and hospitality. It won’t take long for you to feel right at home.
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River, visitors enjoy six miles of wide beaches, surfing, fishing, biking, kayaking, boating, eco-tours, and sea-wildlife including several endangered species. The sunsets on Folly are legendary, so make sure you have plenty of space on your camera or smart phone… seriously, free up lots of space!
A few steps from the beach, downtown Folly features an eclectic array of locally-owned stores and restaurants. Fun bohemian clothing, beach knick-knacks, and surf shops are mixed with fantastic seafood restaurants, casual cafes and one-of-a-kind bars. With live music coming from all directions and fruity cocktails calling your name, your cares will melt away as you become lost in the Folly lifestyle. And when the sun goes down, Center Street becomes a lively mix of beach-casual nightlife and rooftop dance clubs.
Whether you need a beachfront home for 20 or a romantic room for the two of you, Folly Beach is the perfect spot for vacations, reunions, beach weddings, or just a quick weekend get-away. Come visit us at ‘The Edge of America’… you’ll love life on the edge.
• The Washout on the Eastern side of Folly Beach attracts surfers from all over the world. It gained its infamous name in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo “washed out” the area homes and land allowing the wind to create some of the best surfing conditions on the East Coast.
• Folly Beach is home to a myriad of unique wildlife including several threatened or endangered species. Our shores are graced by Bottlenose Dolphins, Loggerhead and Leatherback Sea Turtles, birds such as the Wilson’s Plover, a variety of crabs, and more. Our Sea Turtles are particularly special to Folly Beach as we host thousands of hatchlings every year.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Known for its sunshine and waterfront views, St. Pete, Florida, is an innovative and vibrant community for those looking to live, work, and play. St. Pete is nestled on the coast of Florida’s Tampa Bay and boasts the third-largest downtown waterfront park system in the U.S. and more than 225 parks throughout the city. Walkers, runners, boaters, and paddleboarders line St. Pete’s waterfront from sunrise to sunset. Residents and visitors who love to kayak or SUP have 69 miles of BlueWays paddling trails to enjoy, while anglers enjoy access to the water on seawalls and piers. Public and private marinas, yacht clubs, charters, and ferries make it easy to take advantage of the sparkling, calm waterways.
• COMING SOON: Soon to be the Southeast's largest waterfront playground, the St. Pete Pier is comprised of 26 acres of activated waterfront park located in St. Pete, Florida’s vibrant downtown. Six restaurants, a local market, a playground, and more—you don’t want to miss out on this state-of-the-art entertainment district, surrounded by the best waterfront views in Florida. More at stpetepier.org.
• Don’t just enjoy the views from land. St. Pete boasts one of the most active sailing communities in the Southeast. Book a sailing lesson and get out on the water! You won’t regret it. More at Sailstpete.org.