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The “Upscaling” of Alabama's Gulf Coast
Many new properties have opened for 2007, adding a whole new dimension to our accommodations landscape. From one end of the island to the other, older properties and bargain hotels are giving way to sophisticated luxury facilities. Style and comfort are the order of the day at these hotel and condominium resorts. In addition to posh designer interiors, most offer fitness centers, beach service, several pools and fun water features for the kids. Some are like their own little towns, offering shopping, restaurants and entertainment on premises, so you don’t have to get in your car the whole time you’re on vacation.

And while it used to be that the “on the beach” was the only place to find a room, these days there are terrific options nestled quietly on the back bays and along the Intracoastal Canal. Formerly referred to by locals as “the ditch”, The Waterway is fast becoming a ribbon of luxury residential and rental developments, marinas, and waterside dining to rival the beachfront.

History Buffs Now Have Another Reason to Visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast
“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” was the historic command issued by U.S. naval commander Admiral David Farragut as his fleet charged into Mobile Bay in August of 1864. His objectives were to capture the forts at the entrance to the bay, destroy Mobile’s Confederate naval squadron and close Mobile to blockade runners.

With the opening of the Battle of Mobile Bay Civil War Trail, visitors to Baldwin and Mobile counties can trace the path of this significant campaign. The trail stretches from the Gulf of Mexico over 90 miles to north Mobile County, and documents the military movements and way of life on and around Mobile Bay during the Battle of the Bay (August 1864) and the Overland Campaign (March - May, 1865). A series of interpretive signs at more than a dozen sites offers detailed exploration of the historic events which restored Mobile and the bay country to the Union. The stories of ship captains, fort commanders and common fighting men are told through first-hand accounts, historical references and detailed illustrations displayed on the signs. For more information on the trail, visit www.batttleofmobilebay.org.

Birding Enthusiasts Flock to Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
Feathered friends of all species flock to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Rich with a large diversity of native and migratory species, the coastal area is a haven for resting wings and the peering binoculars of birding enthusiasts. This area is the last stop for migratory birds heading across the Gulf of Mexico and consequently, also the first stop on their return trip home.

Featuring all of the birds residing or passing through, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is a series of five loops that meander over Baldwin and Mobile counties. Each loop could take as long (or short) as one prefers. Although directions are provided in a sequential fashion, it is not necessary to follow the complete loop. For more information on the trail, please visit www.alabamacoastalbirdingtrail.com.

Each April and October the Hummer/Bird Study Group conducts a bird banding at Fort Morgan. This group of dedicated volunteers delicately captures, documents, and releases migrating neo-tropical birds as they make a layover on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. You might even get the chance to hold, adopt and release a bird before it begins its long journey across the Gulf of Mexico. This event is so valuable to birding research and so popular with the public, it has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine. For more information, visit www.hummingbirdsplus.org.

Sports in the Sunshine
In addition to the area’s longstanding history as a prime fishing and golfing destination, the Alabama Gulf Coast CVB has expanded its sports marketing efforts to attract a larger diversity of athletic events and thus created the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission to the foster the growth and development of this emerging niche market. Both cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach feature state-of-the-art sport complexes that have hosted various tournaments and championships, such as the Southeastern Conference’s Division I Women’s Soccer Championships and the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Track and Field Championships for Classes 4A-6A. Also, the Alabama Coastal Triathlon, which has been designated as the USA Triathlon Intermediate Distance Alabama State Championship, draws numerous qualified and novice competitors for this weekend in May.

Fishing on the Alabama Gulf Coast continues to attract several cable broadcast companies in addition to the numerous fishermen. ESPN2 broadcasts the Redfish Nation All-Star Event while the Fox Sport Network televises the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish and Redfish Championships.

Due to the extreme demand of this growing niche market, a member of the CVB’s sales department focuses full-time on sporting and special events. For more information, please visit the AL Gulf Coast Sports Commission's website at www.alabamabeachsports.com.

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