Best Beach Vacations in the Gulf

The Gulf States have many beautiful and pristine beaches. You probably know about the typical tourist hot spots, but there are some lesser known beaches that will just as much fun to visit. Here are just a few ideas for your next Gulf beach vacation.

Santa Rosa Beach – Florida


Santa Rosa Beach is not that far from well-known Destin, but has a more small town feel. Santa Rosa beach has sand like white sugar and waters a deep turquoise color. The sunsets just light up the beach and people gather just to take in the glow from the setting sun.

There is a mix of old and new in Santa Rosa Beach, too. There are historic gardens and parks nearby, but also modern restaurants and shopping.

You and your family can actually get lessons on the beach on building sandcastles, or sand sculpting! Other activities include a family fishing excursion, bicycle rentals and golf. Water activities are offered, such as lessons for wakeboarding, water skiing, and even paddle boarding.

West Beach- Alabama


While West Beach is part of Gulf Shores, you have the option of being in the center of everything or the farther west you go on the beach you will find it less crowded. One of the biggest draws to the Gulf Shores beaches is the ultra-white sand that is so soft and great to walk in barefoot.

In the summer these waters are as warm as bath water and the waves are gentle. This makes West Beach the perfect spot for kids of all ages, and safe for wading and fun water play. May and October are the least crowded months to visit.

It is a short drive into Gulf Shores if you want amusement parks, museums or night life. If you want a more nature driven experience Gulf State Park is nearby with beaches, nature trails, cabins and camping.

Malaquite Beach (N. Padre Island) – Texas

Photo Credit: Terry Ross
Photo Credit: Terry Ross

The Padre Island National Seashore is a large part of a barrier island along the gulf coast of Texas. Malaquite Beach is one of only a handful of beaches on N. Padre Island that doesn’t allow vehicles, and it is very pristine.

There is a visitor’s center that has a small museum, gift shop, educational programs, and snack shop. You will want to bring your own chairs, or rentals are available during the summer season. You can park your car here and walk down to the beach.

Malaquite Beach offers 4-5 miles of unspoiled white sand beach. Malaquite Pavilion also has rangers that explain various aspects of the wildlife and the ecosystem on North Padre Island.

Corpus Christi is not too far away and offers plenty of hotels and lodging. Just a ½ mile north of the visitor center is Malaquite Campgrounds, which offers 48 semi-primitive designated sites. You can pitch tent at the campsite or on the beach.

What is your favorite Gulf Coast Beach and why?


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Winona is the author of Southern Family Lifestyle, a national blog focusing on food, family and travel. Her site was nominated this year as the Top 10 Parenting blogs in Atlanta according to In her spare time, she loves to travel with her family and cook. Winona and her husband have four children and five grandchildren living in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

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