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21+ Things to do in Orange Beach & Gulf Shores in December

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If you dream of a white Christmas but are not looking to frolic in the snow, you may want to spend the holiday on the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama! Traveling south for the winter months is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit.

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You may think it is too chilly to do anything in Gulf Shores, but the mild temperatures and lower crowds are perfect for a family vacation. Not only will you be able to enjoy the best things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, but your family will love the City or Orange Beach.

It might not be the winter wonderland your family is used to, but Coastal Alabama is a beautiful place to spend a week, weekend, or even the whole month of December!

No matter how long you decide to stay on Gulf Shores, a white sand holiday full of Christmas festivities is in your future this holiday season.

What is there to do in Gulf Shores at Christmas?

The Christmas season is the perfect time to visit Gulf Shores and the surrounding areas for a holiday getaway! With lower crowds and plenty of things to do, Gulf Shores is the best place to escape to the beach. Gulf Shores has many annual Holiday events to keep the locals and tourists occupied.

Is December a good time to visit Orange Beach, Alabama?

December, and Winter in general, is a great time to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast. With fewer crowds and comfortable temperatures, Orange Beach is a the perfect beach town Christmas destination for all ages. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to do with the kids or with the older generation.

How long is it to Gulf Shores to New Orleans?

Gulf Shores is 189 miles from New Orleans, which should take you just over 3 hours to drive. There are plenty of safe places to stop on the route to get gas or use a restroom break.

You can make the trip without filling up your gas tank but Buc-ee’s is the perfect place to stop and get gas, snacks, and other items you may have forgotten for the beach.

1. Gift local art

The City of Orange Beach and the nearby Gulf Shores area are full of beautiful local art. This time of year is the perfect time to pick up a handmade piece or wall art to add to your collection. If you do not need any additional pieces, you can start your Christmas shopping early!

southern grind christmas

2. Enjoy the Lighted Boat Parade

The Annual Christmas lighted boat parade is a must-do this time of the year! The boat parade begins by Lulu’s gulf shores to head down to the Wharf in Orange Beach. You can catch glimpses of the boat parade along the canal. But the best thing to do is grab a spot at LuLus in the afternoon and then grab a bite to eat after the parade!

christmas boat parade

3. Explore Very Merry Coastal Grinchmas

While visiting Orange Beach, head to the Very Merry Coastal Grinchmas at the Learning Campus at Gulf State Park. During this family-friendly activity, you can meet the Grinch, get a who makeover, decorate cookies, and more!

4. Visit the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach

Even though it is always sunny at the beach, there are bound to be some gray weather days. That’s when a visit to the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach is perfect! The museum has some great art and even more items to purchase in the gift shop! You can easily get your Holiday Shopping done here!

coastal art center

5. Create a Sandcastle Christmas village

A great way to celebrate a Coastal Christmas is by building a Sandcastle Village with the whole family! Sandcastle University specializes in teaching all ages simple tips and tricks on making a gorgeous Sandcastle.

During the holiday season, you can request to learn how to make beautiful sand Christmas Trees and Snowmen to add to your winter wonderland! Sand Castle University can come to your condo or hotel, but if you are not on the beach, you can meet on one of the public beaches!

castle university snowman

6. Create a present for a loved one

If purchasing presents is not your thing, you should go to the Clay Studio or Hot Shop at The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach. You can make your glass-blown trinket or pottery piece to give to your loved one. Or if you are like me, you keep it for yourself.

mom and sis hand clay

7. Enjoy fine dining around town

Enjoy some fine dining around town if you don’t plan on squeezing into a bathing suit anytime soon. You can get a delicious steak from Villaggio Grille or the Pier House Restaurant and Bar to elevate your meal. Christmas time is the perfect time to try out many of the dining options around Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

steak at pier house

8. Enjoy the lights at Bellingrath’s Christmas in the Lights

Take a short drive to Theodore, Alabama, and enjoy stunning Christmas lights at Bellingrath Gardens. You can tour the magical Christmas light displays, drink hot cocoa and snap a photo with Santa Claus!

Even though it is wintertime, the 65-acre garden always has something in bloom!

9. Stroll through Christmas Card Lane

At the Gulf State Park around Lake Shelby, There is a fun Christmas Card lane that local businesses raise money to participate. The funds from this activity will go towards building an Autism Nature trail within Gulf State Park.

christmas card lane family

Every Tuesday during December, LuLu invites patrons for a fun, free family activity! With each adult meal purchase, kids eat free. After dinner, your family can bring a beach blanket or chairs to watch a family-friendly movie on the beach! Complimentary popcorn, Christmas cookies, and hot chocolate are available during the movie!

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21 Things to do in Orange Beach Gulf Shores in Dec

11. Watch the Blue Angels practice

Every year, the blue angels return down south to Pensacola, and guests on Alabama beaches can see them practice their performances on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the week.

12. Have a meal on the beach

Have a picnic on the beach, or enjoy some outdoor dining! CoastAL is a new concept from the owners of the Flora Bama, and the outdoor dining space is beautiful. Stop here for lunch, dinner or just some cocktails. At CoastAL you can try out some delicious local food while enjoying the miles of beaches in front of you.

salad at coastal

13. Explore the Branyon Backcountry trail

Looking to exercise off some of those holiday treats? Explore the Branyon Back Country Trail that has over 15 miles of walking trails all over Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and the Gulf State Park.

14. Spend a day at the Wharf

There are so many family-friendly activities at The Wharf that your family can spend the whole day enjoying the shops, eateries, and top attractions at the Wharf. The Wharf is a great place to visit during the summer because it is open year-round.

christmas tree at wharf with fish

15. See Santa

What is more Christmasy than seeing St Nick? When spending the day or afternoon at the Wharf, you can take a photo with Santa Claus!

16. Create your own custom scent at High Cotton

Have you ever wanted to make your own custom scent for lotion, bath products, and more? Stop by High Cotton at the Wharf to create your own scent. You can start off by mixing some of the popular oils recommended by other High Cotton Clients or go crazy mixing and matching scents. You will also find fun items for around the house and gifts for your friends and family!

high cotton scents

17. Attend Holly Days on Main at the Wharf

Shop til you drop at Holly Days on Main. The Wharf holds its Holly Days on Main during the second weekend in December. This is a great weekend to try out all Christmas popular attractions and even check out some great local artists.

holly days shopping

18. Go Ice Skating

If you want it to feel like Christmas, make sure you take a spin on the Ice Skating Rink at the Wharf. Nothing like a pair of skates to get you in the holiday spirit. If ice skating freezes you out, grab a hot chocolate to warm you up after all of that ice skating.

19. Ride the Ferris Wheel

The Wharf has a stunningly tall Ferris Wheel that makes the perfect way to finish your time at the Wharf. Ride on it day or night to get stunning views at 112 feet tall! Each night the Ferris wheel has a spectacular light display from Christmas to Reed White and Blue.

IMG 0842

20. Enjoy some time in the Hot Tub or walk on the Beach at Night

One of the best things about renting from Beach Life Vacation Rentals at Turquoise Place is that the balcony comes with a hot tub! I highly recommend walking the beach at night but if that is not something you want to do, you can always make a delicious holiday cocktail, jump into the hot tub, and celebrate with some holiday cheer.

night time at turquoiseplace

21. Stay at Turquoise Place

When deciding where to stay, look up Beach Life Vacations Rentals and check their availability at Turquoise Place. This area of the beach is a nice place to stay. We stayed in condo C-1005 and had such a wonderful time! This condo can fit up to 12 people and was perfect for our family of three!

The condo has ensuite bathrooms, so getting ready to spend a day in Orange beach and the surrounding area was a breeze. At night we could curl up on the couch by the fire and talk about everything of our adventures from the day.

turquoiseplace living

What to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama in December

Whether coming to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to escape the cold weather, you will have an amazing vacation while enjoying your winter escape. December is one of the best times to come to Orange Beach to celebrate Christmas, explore amazing restaurants, walk on Alabama’s beaches, and have plenty of space during the low season.

While I was invited to explore Gulf Shores and Orange Beach by the tourism board, all opinions are my own and I had a fabulous time exploring the Winter Wonderland of Alabama’s Coastline.

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