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Enjoying a beachside holiday: Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach
First, as everything is spread out along miles of beach, being willing to get in the car is somewhat of a must.
In Gulf Shores, there is a fair concentration of stores and restaurants within walking distance of the intersection of Highway 59 and the beach road. However, to avoid the 4 lanes of traffic check out West Beach Blvd. There are some nice second and third tier houses and some good condo properties down that way. Places like Sun Chase and Sandpiper are Gulf Front, but less expensive than Grand Caribbean or Grand Beach would be. Grand Beach and Grand Caribbean are similar. They are across the street from the beach, each have a small pool, etc. Grand Beach is also right across the street from the state park, a great mile and half of undeveloped beach, and is within walking distance of Hooters as well.
Enjoy the most convenience by staying at a beach/gulf front location. There is nothing like going out the back of the condo, directly to the pool, and just footsteps from there to the hot sand and gulf. Most of the condo's and houses across the street do not have a direct access to the beach. In most cases you are directed to certain out of the way public access areas. 99% of the condo's that line the Orange Beach area do not allow anyone that is not a paid guest on their property. In some cases, you may be only across the road, but will not have beach access there and have to drive elsewhere for access.
Orange Beach is mainly a faster pace area with major condo's along the gulf. Gulf Shores has many condo's, but is more of a private home atmosphere. Many families prefer a private, individual place to stay with a community pool.
As for the differences between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, there isn't much. Either way is beautiful. They sort of run together. Overall the water is a bit nicer the further east you go, so the ocean is a bit clearer and more blue/green towards Orange Beach. Not quite Destin nice, but almost. The beach is very nice, equal to Destin. Orange Beach is a bit more upscale than Gulf Shores - think the difference between Destin and Panama City and you have it.** Note: The original information for this thread came from the following forum thread: