A Green Getaway: 3 Eco-Friendly Ways to Adventure in Gulf Shores

When planning your next getaway, your mind is likely to wander to the fun activities, great views and relaxing atmosphere—not your carbon footprint. However, there is a destination where conservation meets vacation in a coastal paradise where it is a lot easier to “go green” than you might first expect. Gulf Shores has a lot to offer from its beautiful white sandy beaches, local wildlife, and calming nature, but it also has a wide range of eco-friendly accommodations and initiatives that make it simple to minimize your carbon footprint. Whether it’s immersing yourself in the vibrant ecosystems, staying in an environmentally conscious hotel, or lending a hand in a coastal cleanup or Sea Turtle monitoring program, Gulf Shores is the perfect playground to make a positive eco-impact while enjoying a laid back trip. So, here are a few suggestions on where to stay, what to eat, and what to do for your next guilt-free, green getaway to Gulf Shores.

1. Where to Stay

One of the most important aspects of any vacation is where to stay, and in Gulf Shores there are plenty of fantastic options (especially for eco-conscious travelers). In fact, many hotels are driving the “green” concept in their accommodations, restaurants, and overall values! The Lodge at Gulf State Park is 100% focused on providing environmentally friendly amenities in every aspect of the hotel. The Lodge was designed and built leveraging eco-friendly resources and conditions, meeting elevated construction standards and protecting over six football fields of crystal dunes and native plant communities during the building process. It is also equipped with energy saving air-conditioning units, responsible water collection and repurposing, and warmer, energy efficient lighting so as not to disrupt the local wildlife. Every touch point at The Lodge from the eco-friendly bath amenities to being built for natural ventilation from the cool Gulf breeze was carefully designed to benefit the local community all while keeping guests comfortable.

For those of you seasoned in sustainability, you may prefer the immersive experience of the Gulf State Park Campground. This campsite, complete with RV hookups and running water, sits right in the middle of Gulf State Park completely surrounded by the local ecosystems. You’ll find it easy to be a part of nature whether it’s by hanging out at the firepit or hiking the many trails littered throughout the park. There’s even a camp store and nature center so you can stock up on supplies and get to know the critters and differences you are making when staying somewhere sustainable.

2. Where to Eat

As far as food is concerned, you’ll have no trouble finding something eco-friendly and, most importantly, delicious. Being on the Gulf Coast, most restaurants are likely to be locally sourcing their seafood and ingredients, but here are a few that go a step beyond the rest. One that you may not think about is the Safari Club Gulf Shores which is part of the newly renovated Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. Being recognized as Alabama’s first “Green Restaurant”, the Safari Club is serving up some of the best and most unique cuisine options as well as vegan and vegetarian. You can even learn about their sustainable initiatives, not only for the local community, but also to help provide a better environment for the animals in the Zoo! For eco-friendly choices right on the Gulf Coast, head to either of The Lodge’s onsite restaurants, Perch and Foodcraft. They are both proud members of the Sustainable Seafood Organization and the Gulf Seafood Foundation ensuring only the best and locally sourced food and ingredients. They also practice a Bycatch Seafood Program that helps local anglers sell their unintentional catches helping to reduce waste.

3. What to Do

There’s no shortage of eco-friendly adventures when it comes to fun things to do in Gulf Shores. One of the most inviting places to go is Gulf State Park where you can take advantage of over 28 miles of hiking and biking trails in the beautiful Gulf Coast ecosystems. If you’re a nature lover, be sure to bring some binoculars to spot native wildlife like bald eagles, small varmints, and even alligators! You can even captain your own kayak or paddleboard and get an up close look at the incredible environment without disrupting its inhabitants. Just remember you are visiting their natural habitat, so be sure to give them plenty of space and allow them to feel at home. 

If you’d like to go the extra mile in doing your part, you can participate in a Gulf Shores Coastal Clean-up. This is a fantastic way to give back to the local ecosystems and meet like-minded lovers of the environment. (Because, what’s better than relaxing on a beautifully clean beach?!) If you’re interested in all the local initiatives happening you should absolutely make a stop to the Interpretive Center! The Interpretive Center is Alabama’s most environmentally friendly building and what some even consider as the gateway to Gulf State Park. The facility produces its own electricity and water as it pursues the world’s most rigorous building certifications, like LEED Platinum and the full Living Building Challenge. You can explore the park’s nine ecosystems through a variety of family-friendly interactive exhibits before you go and hit the trails across the Park’s 6,150 acres!

Sure, it’s hip to think about having a vacation that’s environmentally friendly. But when your destination is somewhere that is constantly thinking about the environment and the ecosystems, it can be a lot easier than you think! Not only will you have an unforgettable experience with breathtaking views and exciting activities, but you may come home with a better understanding and outlook on Gulf Shores and its sustainability efforts. So, raise a guilt-free piña colada knowing your vacation is making a huge difference!


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