If you're planning a trip to the South but not sure where to go, we have an excellent option for you: Dauphin Island. This Alabama destination is filled with an interesting history and stunning natural beauty, making it a top contender for travelers.
There are a selection of outdoor activities to enjoy here throughout the year thanks to hot summers and mild winters. You'll find seven miles of warm, sandy beaches where you can soak up the sun or take an exhilarating hike or bike ride along the numerous trails. Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially the birds! For an aquatic adventure, head out on a canoe or kayak trip under a backdrop of gorgeous natural scenery as you search for the perfect spot to fish. When you work up an appetite, head to any number of local eateries for fresh seafood dishes and other tasty flavors.
Things to Do in Dauphin Island
- Fort Gaines: History buffs definitely need to fit Fort Gaines into their schedule. This is one of the area's most famous landmarks and an architectural masterpiece. The Battle of Mobile was fought at this spot during the Civil War. The fort itself has been built and modified many times since the 1800s and is now maintained by the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board. You can learn more about U.S. history as well as the fort's past and impressive design. You'll see an anchor from the USS Hartford, original battle cannons, an operational blacksmith shop and tunnel stations, then take a tour of the museum.
- Dauphin Island Sea Lab: If you enjoy all things aquatic, head to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, which is a marine laboratory centered around education, research and teaching the public through the estuarium. You'll see four key habitats of coastal Alabama: Northern Gulf of Mexico, Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, Barrier Islands and Mobile Bay. Throughout the lab's 10,000 square feet are the Exhibit Hall and the Living Marsh Boardwalk you'll learn about plants, animals and natural resources. There are variety of interactive displays for hands-on fun, making this an excellent attraction for families.
- Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries: Dauphin Island is one of the best spots for bird watching in the South, and more than 340 different species call the island home. Depending on when you're visiting, you can see different creatures of flight during spring or fall migration. The whole of Dauphin Island is a bird sanctuary where you can observe from parks, dunes, beaches, wetlands and even the streets, so don't forget the binoculars. Since bird watching is so popular, you're bound to find locals who love the hobby and will be happy to share their favorite spots and avian knowledge.
- Indian Mound Park: One great place to go bird watching is Indian Mound Park, also known as Shell Mound Park, which is a bird refuge on the island's north shore. Settle in to see what animals are flying around or explore the different plant species that make for a lovely setting. The site has a rich history too because of the presence of prehistoic Indian shell middens - mounds of discarded oyster shells. The park has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.
Dining in Dauphin Island
- Barnacle Bills Marina Grill: If you're looking for seriously good seafood, head to Barnacle Bills Marina Grill, which serves some of the best on the island. The reasonable prices and welcoming atmosphere create an excellent place to take in the stunning views while you eat with your friends or family.
- Southern Lights Restaurant & Bar: Another terrific option for a tasty meal in Dauphin Island is Southern Lights Restaurant & Bar, especially if you're looking to have a romantic night out. You'll be treated to amazing views as you dine on salmon dip, fish tacos, shrimp or other mouthwatering menu options.
- Dauphin Island BBQ: Barbecue is a dining staple in the South, and you can find some delicious food offerings drenched in the tasty sauce at Dauphin Island BBQ. The atmosphere is casual and laid back here, so you can have a relaxing, fun night while enjoying a delicious meal in the company of friends of family. Whether you're stopping in for lunch or dinner, Dauphin Island BBQ is great for groups, and when the weather is nice, take your barbecue outside while breathing in the fresh air. Some favorite menu items here are the nachos, ribs, shrimp, pulled pork and brisket.