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Updated: 5:51 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 | Posted: 4:05 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gulf Shores Travel Guide



The original settlers of the Gulf Shores area were the Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Choctaw Native Americans. In the 1500s the Spanish controlled the area, but pirates frequented the coast, preying on Spanish galleons. The pirates hid in Perdido Bay, which means Lost because the entrance to the bay was difficult to find. Part of the Spanish defense included the construction of Fort Morgan (www.ft-morgan.com) in the 1500s. Rebuilt in the 1800s, the fort played a prominent role during the Civil War. It was during The Battle of Mobile Bay that Admiral David Farragut’s immortal words "Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead" made history.

Why you should go

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer a choice of history, championship golf, hiking, wildlife trails, deep-sea fishing -- or a laid-back beach vacation.

Main attractions

* Beaches: Gulf Shores (like Orange Beach and Dauphin Island) has a large beach fronting the Gulf of Mexico. The adjacent resort city of Orange Beach offers direct access to the Gulf of Mexico for vessels, via Perdido Pass. www.gulfshores.com/things-to-do/beaches

* Golf: Championship-caliber courses are a drive away. The area's courses include designs by some of the great names in golf course architecture: Arnold Palmer, Bruce Devlin, Jerry Pate, Robert Von Hagge and Earl Stone. www.gulfshores.com/golf/

* Fishing: Alabama's Gulf Coast offers a variety of inshore and offshore saltwater fishing. Go after blue marlin, yellow fin tuna, amberjack, cobia, red snapper and more. The area is home to one of the largest charter fishing fleets on the Gulf with more than 100 experienced captains are ready to help you. http://www.gulfshores.com/fishing/

* Dauphin Island Sea Lab: For the ecologically minded, the Estuarium is an educational facility highlighting the four key habitats of coastal Alabama: the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. It includes the 10,000 square foot Exhibit Hall and Living Marsh Boardwalk. http://www.sealabestuarium.org/

How to get there

It's about 350 miles and takes a little less than six hours to drive. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are served by Jack Edwards Airport.

Helpful websites

* www.Gulfshores.com

* http://www.alapark.com/gulfstate/

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