Orange Beach Mini-Trip
In lieu of a lengthy summer road trip we opted to do a one week getaway in May (and perhaps another at the end of July/early August?). After weighing all the options of shorter trips that might be less hot than Texas, we decided to allot ourselves one week to get to the Alabama/Florida gulf coast and back. We were open to anywhere between Gulf Shores, AL and Pensacola, FL (or maybe even a little further?) but ultimately decided on Orange Beach, AL.
For our outgoing route we picked Vicksburg, MS for our first hotel stop, which made both driving days in the 4.5-5.5 hours range. We then scheduled three nights at a nice beachfront condo in Orange Beach and left ourselves ~2 days to either extend our trip or make multiple stops on our return.
The weather in Vicksburg was overcast and gloomy. We stopped at the Mississippi River overlook but were too late to visit Vicksburg National Military Park in the afternoon so we found a brewery restaurant and then hung out in the hotel with the kids, waiting to see if we’d get lucky with some sunset (nope!). In the morning we packed up and drove through the park before continuing on to Orange Beach.
Our stay in Orange Beach was also mostly overcast which was not good for sunrise or sunset photos (or really any sort of daytime photos either) so this vacation actually ended up rather vacation-like (for the first time in forever) since I wasn’t waking up at 5am and staying out until 10pm everyday for photo ops. We had a one-bedroom condo with a balcony facing the beach so we spent a lot of time watching the crashing surf and relaxing. The beach safety flags were double red (water closed to public) and the waves were definitely aggressive enough we didn’t want the kids anywhere near them, but we did a little seashell collecting and let them float around in the pool.
One of the days we drove over to Gulf Islands National Seashore at Perdido Key which was the nicest weather we had. I played around with some longer exposures of the ocean waves (the first two images in my gallery here). The other images are from around Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
The last image from the gallery above is at night in Orange Beach from our hotel room, where it’s apparently a summer activity to take the family out to hunt for crabs because they are easier to spot at night. Maybe next time we’ll have to give it a try!
After our three days relaxing in Orange Beach with lots of swim time, food and wandering the beaches, we started our trip back to Texas. On the morning we were leaving we didn’t have a clear plan as to where we would be stopping other than “lets check out Mobile then see where we end up.” We drove through Magnolia Springs to look at a scenic mossy tree road, then visited the USS Alabama and ended with a few skyline photos around Fort Comdé.
We finally decided our return trip stops would be Gulfport, MS and Shreveport, LA, which would break the return trip up nicely and leave us some time to explore around Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana if we wanted to.
I took photos around the marina in Gulfport for both sunset and sunrise. The overcast weather had finally left but instead we got extreme sun and heat (I think there’s no way to make us happy with Southern U.S. summers).
Anyway, after our quick stop through Gulfport we started our drive back to Dallas with plans to stop in Shreveport, LA. We made a midday stop around Kincaid Lake to let the kids swim, and after doing some hotel research we decided that the prices in Shreveport were steeper than we wanted to pay for a hotel that is so close to home (it was Friday night of Memorial Day weekend). In the end we decided to drive extra and get all the way home at 11pm rather than extend our trip with another hotel stay.
Overall it was a good trip! We really enjoyed the beachfront condo views and the mediocre photography weather made for great cooler summer vacation weather, so overall I can’t complain that I didn’t get a TON of photos from Orange Beach.