Sandcastles on beach on Mustang Island.

These Towns in Gulf Coast Come Alive in Spring

The Gulf Coast is comprised of five states in the southern and southeastern United States. It is widely popular for its Caribbean-style beaches and laidback atmosphere. These beach towns are highly touted by locals and visitors alike and are a blast to visit with family and friends or on a solo trip. Stretching over states from Florida to Texas, though they share similar characteristics, they each have something unique to offer. Spring Break? Check. Family vacation? Check. Secluded isolation from the hustle and bustle? You get the idea. Let's explore the towns along this unique coast that come alive in the spring.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama, at sunset.
Orange Beach, Alabama, at sunset.

The fabled Orange Beach is home to sugar sand beaches and the most famous beach bar in the world, the Florabama. It is so named because it shares a tri-county line. This place has been booming in recent years, though it has been around since the 1960s and draws thousands of folks thawing out from the cold winter months.

Of course, this slice of paradise has plenty of other reasons to visit in the Spring—the Backcountry Trail winds from Gulf State Park to nearby Gulf Shores. Springtime is an excellent time for hiking along the Gulf Coast due to the temperature and lack of bugs. There are plenty of indoor attractions, such as the Coastal Arts Center. Between the weather, the salty air, and the laidback vibes, this is definitely a bucket list springtime destination.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Aerial view of a beautiful beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Aerial view of a beautiful beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Gulf Shores is a popular spring break and vacation spot just down the road from Orange Beach. Among the many outdoor sites to explore is Gulf Shores State Park, which has 25 miles of paved hiking trails and a pier. There is even a zip line stretching over the dunes for the adventurous visitor. The beach town is considered one of the prettiest in Alabama. It is larger than Orange Beach, so it has more to offer.

A main attraction is The Hangout, a famous restaurant home to the annual Hangout music festival. Gulf Shores is also known for its wide array of attractions and museums, like the Gulf Shores Museum, a pre-World War 2 home that offers rotating and permanent exhibits. This is one of the most popular beaches on the Gulf Coast, and once you relax on the white sand beach, it is not hard to see why.

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Gulf coast beach in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Gulf coast beach in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Ocean Springs is a popular beachfront on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Touted as one of the best small towns in the state, Ocean Springs comes alive in the Spring and has plenty to offer visitors. Downtown is a creative epicenter with several art galleries like The Walter Anderson Museum of Art and The Pink Rooster.

The pedestrian-friendly town is also a shopping destination with antique stores like the Coastal Magpie and the Coast Cigar Company. Of course, the beach is one of the main reasons people visit, and Front Beach is just a short walk from downtown. The Gulf Islands National Seashore has marshes, emerald-colored water, and gorgeous white sand beaches. It draws millions of visitors yearly and is a must-see for the nature lover.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Shrimp boats on the harbor. Image credit Terry Kelly via Shutterstock.
Shrimp boats on the harbor. Image credit Terry Kelly via Shutterstock.

Biloxi is a vibrant seaside town on the Gulf Coast that is popular for its abundance of casinos. Biloxi Lighthouse is on the Mississippi Sound at Biloxi Beach and is open to the public. Another notable and interesting attraction is the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, which highlights the ever-important industry of the once-known seafood capital of the world.

Several interesting historic sites are worth seeing, especially on warm Spring days. The Bouvier Estate and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library include exhibits and artifacts from the Confederate leader. Local shrimp boats are available to take guests out and to teach them the importance of the shrimping industry, another ideal way to spend a gorgeous Spring day on the Gulf Coast.

Padre Island, Texas

Aerial view of South Padre Island beach. Image credit Tom via Adobe Stock.
Aerial view of South Padre Island beach. Image credit Tom via AdobeStock.

Padre Island is divided into two geographical halves: Padre Island to the north and South Padre Island. While the South end is known for Spring Break Parties, the North end is home to Padre Island National Seashore, a protected coastline home to rare Kemp Turtles. South Padre is lively and is where most hotels, restaurants, and shops will be.

South Padre also has a nature preserve, the Laguna Madre Nature Trail. It is a scenic 1,500-foot boardwalk of marshland and dozens of birds. Padre Island, especially the South end, comes alive in the Spring with partygoers and provides serene natural beauty and modern amenities.

Mustang Island, Texas

Sandcastles on beach on Mustang Island
Sandcastles on beach on Mustang Island.

Mustang Island is an 18-mile barrier island on Texas' Gulf Coast, from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas. One unique thing about the island is that you can drive on the beach with a parking permit. Skydive South Texas is a skydiving outfit at Mustang Island Airport and offers skydiving excursions for an adventurous time.

The serene beaches are an idyllic vacation location, especially in the Spring. They offer camping, dolphin viewing, and miles of pristine coastline. Mustang Island is part of the State Park and is well-maintained. It is a great way to enjoy a quiet and relaxing Spring vacation.

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Aerial view of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Image credit pisaphotography via
Aerial view of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Image credit pisaphotography via Shutterstock.

Fort Walton Beach is a small coastal town in Florida's panhandle region. It is a reprieve from the more populous Panama City and Pensacola. It is known for its sugar-white beaches and aquatic life. The Gulfarium Marine Aquarium Park is home to dolphins, alligators, and penguins and is one of the most sought-after attractions on the beach.

Spring is a perfect time to visit as the temperatures are cooler. That's why FWB, as locals call it, hosts several outdoor festivals. Two of the most popular are the Musical Echoes Flute Festival and the Mudbug Festival, each held every April. The Musical Echoes celebrates Native American culture, while the Mudbug Festival serves delicious Cajun food.

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Blue Mountain Beach Panorama in Florida.
Blue Mountain Beach Panorama in Florida.

Santa Rosa Beach was founded in 1910 and has a unique history. Though small, it is in the largest beach area in Walton County and connects the Gulf of Mexico with Chocktawatchee Bay. Don't let the small size fool you; it is a popular vacation spot because of its beauty and modern attractions.

The historic Point Washington neighborhood is part of the town's history, home to the Wesley Mansion and other older homes. The original property is now Eden Gardens State Park, an aptly named 163-acre wonderland. Guided tours of the white-columned Wesley Mansion are available, and the fishing is great at the Tucker Bayou, which is all located in the state park. After a day enjoying the natural beauty of Santa Rosa Beach, enjoy dinner at one of the breweries in town, like Idyll Hounds or Beach Camp Brewpub.

A trip to the Gulf Coast is like a Caribbean vacation without leaving the United States. These eight towns are among the best and come alive in the Spring. Towns like South Padre Island are a Spring Break destination known for good times. Quiet towns like Santa Rosa Beach also come alive, but nature is the big draw instead of hedonistic revelry.

While all these towns have signature white sand beaches and azure-colored water, each has a singular character. Biloxi has all-night casinos, North Padre Island has an amazing nature preserve, and Fort Walton Beach has an aquatic park. No matter what vacation style you desire, you will find it in one of these coastal towns.

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