Looking for the best places to travel in 2019? If you aren’t planning beach vacation – or at least a visit – to the shores of the Alabama Gulf Coast, you’ve been reading the wrong travel advice!
Often referred to as one of the South’s best-kept secrets, the white, sandy beaches and natural beauty of Alabama’s Gulf Coast make it an obscure, but thrilling destination for a family beach vacation, a weekend getaway, or a scenic Alabama road trip.
Amongst many of the best hotels in Alabama, The Lodge at Gulf State Park sets itself apart in more ways than one. A Hilton Hotel set inside the preserved ecosystem of the Gulf State Park, this eco-friendly destination is a must-see on the list of things to do in Alabama. Read on to learn what makes this destination so much different from the rest.
Located in Gulf Shores
Visitors can enjoy two and a half miles of pristine, white, sandy beaches. The emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico shimmer and beckon visitors from the shore. Public access is available via multiple board walks across the dunes. Check out the results of the amazing dune restoration project as you go.
Stay at an Eco-friendly Hotel
The Lodge, a 350 room Hilton/Valor Hospitality hotel, a model of environmental and resilient coastal development designed to meet LEED© Gold and SITES © Platinum Certifications as well as high wind resistant FORTIFIED Commercial™ construction, which, when the last step of approval is granted, will make it the only hotel in the world with all three of those certifications! The building incorporates many cutting-edge features of sustainability such as harvesting HVAC condensation that saves 14,000 gallons of water a month in top-up water for the swimming pool. Other features include a permeable sand and recycled plastic paver parking lot that drains to a detention pond, or swale, planted with reed and other native dune swale vegetation. Also, all exterior lighting is turtle-friendly; low intensity amber light that does not disturb nesting turtles or their hatchlings. The full list of sustainability initiatives can be found here.
Access the Ecosystem at Gulf State Park
In the Park itself, there are nearly 28 miles of trails through 6,150 acres and no fewer than nine distinct ecosystems that showcase the unique biodiversity of Gulf Shores and southern Alabama in general. The Park also contains unique archaeological features of Native American heritage such as shell middens.
Get Your Own Green Travel Guide
The Interpretive Center (IC), the gateway to the Park, welcomes visitors to learn about the Park’s ecosystems and environmentally friendly initiatives. It was the first building ever certified under the FORTIFIED Commercial™ program and is set to be LEED Platinum and “Living Building” Challenge certified. The “Living Building” certification requires 12 consecutive months of operation showing the building generates more (solar) energy than it consumes and that it’s collecting and treating more (rain) water than it uses.
An Environmentally Friendly Vacation
The Eagle Cottages, a group of 11 luxurious and environmentally sustainably operated accommodations located on the shores of Lake Shelby in the heart of Gulf State Park. Their design, raised on stilts, is inspired by the fish camps of early local communities. They offer the visitor a unique sustainable tourism experience, perfect for outdoor recreation, and for enjoying all the amenities of the Park right on their doorstep while fully immersed in the pristine beauty and wilderness of their surroundings. The Eagle Cottages are currently applying to be certified as part of National Geographic ‘Unique Lodges of the World’, an exclusive group of around 55 properties located in areas of outstanding natural beauty around the world.
Build a Greener Future
Learning Campus, the latest new enhancement to the Park, recently opened, an educational hub for environmental and other educational programming, equipped with a conference room, classrooms, laboratory, and camp style bunkhouse sleeping accommodation for groups of up to 64 students. It is partnered with the city of Gulf Shores to bring Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society to the area to host weeklong camp programs as an introduction to this unique coastal area.
A Nature Center on the Beach
The Nature center, with its highly knowledgeable staff of naturalists, offers a comprehensive and inviting list of activities, including guided birdwatching, nature walks, presentations, videos and live animals ‘show and tell’.
Get Active On Outdoor Adventures
Bikes, Segways, Kayaks and Paddle Boards. Choose your means of transport to make the most of the 28 miles of trails or enjoy the quiet waters of Lake Shelby and its adjoining waterways. Coastal Segway® Adventures offer a 2 hour eco-tour along the one of the most scenic loops of the Park’s Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. They also rent bikes, kayaks and paddleboards and provide full instruction to beginners.
Walk the Largest Pier on the Gulf
The Pier. One of the most memorable experiences the Park has to offer is Gulf fishing off a pier that stretches a quarter mile into the Gulf (the largest pier on the Gulf of Mexico); it is also a great place to observe birds and marine wildlife; check out a guided pier walk with a Park naturalist or if you want to learn the art of “pier fishing” inquire about a lesson.
Eat and Relax Like a Local
Restaurants. Finally, when you’ve done all that, you’ll have worked up a hearty appetite for the last but by no means the least Best Things to Do in the Park. Food! There’s our innovative farm-to-table restaurant, Woodside Restaurant, situated among tall longleaf pine and shady oak trees at the west end of the Park. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, it offers creative Southern cuisine from the finest locally-sourced ingredients, ice cold craft beers on tap and refreshing beverages for all ages in a relaxed environment. There’s also Foodcraft, Perch and Roasted Oak, located at the Lodge at the beach. Foodcraft is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perch is open for dinner nightly and offers more of an enhanced dining experience. Roasted Oak is a coffee and wine bar located in the lobby.
Tell Us: Are you ready to schedule your visit to The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel?