The 2019 Alabama Attraction of the Year and a hotel property built for comfort are a winning combination
One of the gems in the Alabama State Parks system is Gulf State Park. A diamond within the park is the soon to be one-year-old, The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel.
Gulf State Park is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the City of Gulf Shores. The park has 6,500 acres of protected land and is part of the Alabama State Parks system. The Alabama Tourism Department named Gulf State Park the 2019 Attraction of the Year. The adage “there’s something for everyone” is the best way to describe the amenities of the park.
Certainly, the beaches are a calling card. The park boasts 3.5 miles of wide, white sandy beach, which is perfect for shell collecting, leisurely walks or relaxing. The beach pavilion is a perfect gathering point for a picnic or just getting away from the sun.
Migrating and resident birds call the park home and there’s flora to discover along the nature trails. There are bikes to rent and guided Segway tours available. Before venturing out, it’s a good idea to begin your visit with a stop at the Nature Center. The center is a living presentation of the many plants and animals innate to the Gulf Coast region.
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With the Gulf of Mexico in front of you and Lake Shelby in the park’s interior, you expect the fishing to be awesome. And you would be right. The 592-acre Lake Shelby is the largest of the three lakes on property. Redfish, bream, speckled trout and catfish are the typical catch, but there are also bass lurking in those waters.
Surf fishing the Gulf of Mexico will always be popular, but it’s the pier where most of the action takes place. The typical fish caught are croaker, whiting, flounder, sheepshead, pompano, Spanish and king mackerel, blue fish, red fish and speckled trout. The pier is the second longest on the Gulf Coast and provides more than 2,400 feet of fishing space. The pier is wheelchair accessible with comfort stations at the pier’s midpoint. The Angler Academy on the pier is the place to learn the tips and tricks for pier fishing. Fishing equipment and bait are provided for these two hours of fun.
From kayaking to parasailing and every option in between there’s plenty to see, do and experience in Gulf State Park. Woodside Restaurant at Gulf State Park features a full lunch and dinner menu in a casual setting. Start planning on the park’s website alapark. com/parks/gulf-state-park.
From the guest rooms, suites and restaurants, views of the beautiful beach and park await visitors to The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel. There are 350 rooms, which include 20 suites, providing a relaxing experience and comfortable base for your stay. Rooms with two queen-sized beds include a 50-inch television, spacious shower or bathtub, a balcony and a Hilton Serenity Bed designed for support and comfort. In addition to the comforts of a guest room, accessible rooms include audio/strobe alarms, doorbells and telephones, roll-in showers, or accessible bathtubs. The Lodge is group- friendly in all ways.
The dining options at The Lodge are plentiful. From a relaxing cup of coffee to innovative dishes, every palate will be satisfied. Perch is open for dinner and presents a full menu of locally sourced and freshly prepared entrees. In addition to a casual lunch and dinner menu, Foodcraft serves a la carte and a breakfast buffet and a brunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday. The Dragonfly Food Bar & Grill offers favorite poolside fare and thirst-quenching beverages. Roasted Oak Coffee & Wine Bar is located in The Lodge’s lobby and features special coffees and teas along with breakfast pastries and a light lunch menu. In the evening, the Roasted Oak transforms into a wine bar with selected wines, craft beers and a light menu.
There’s a pool and fitness center for your convenience along with a host of amenities to ensure your comfortable stay. The staff is multi-lingual and there’s a guest activity/ recreation desk and concierge desk available. The property is both ground zero for all that Gulf State Park offers, but is ideal to hub & spoke the area. Visit the Gulf Shores community, shop Tanger Outlets, enjoy the Park at OWA and its 21-amusement rides, or have fun at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo with its 600 residents, a ZZA member. Begin planning your stay online at www3.hilton. com/en/hotels/alabama/the-lodge-atgulf-state-park-a-hilton-hotel-PNSLGHH/ index.htm
By Dave Bodle