A Wild Experience

Much has been said about the unique natural areas on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and this rarity extends into the hotel zone as well. If you’re staying at Palm Beach Resort, hit the beach in the morning, then literally walk across Perdido Beach Boulevard to immerse yourself in the nationally-designated Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, a 12 mile paved, multi-use bike-friendly path that winds among six distinct ecosystems of the Gulf. We loved the simplicity of renting bikes for the family and taking off on the trail for the afternoon, stopping at the boulder park for climbing, marveling at the butterfly garden, or just lazily cruising the wide, flat trail, taking in the scenery. (We used Beach Bike Rentals, right by the trail, at $25 per day for a 3-speed beach cruiser.) There are numerous wooden park swings and benches to take a break and watch the world go by. Take the connector trail to Gulf State Park and check out the second longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico. The trail also has recently expanded boardwalks that allow you to glide over the sensitive natural areas while silently observing the wetlands. You might see rare pitcher plants, American alligators, gopher tortoises, white-tailed deer, armadillos, raccoons, otters, coyotes, foxes and even bobcats up on Twin Bridges. It’s also a birder’s paradise, with dozens of rare species that call the trail home.

If you’re looking for even more exotic animals, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo was featured in the 2006 Animal Planet series “The Little Zoo That Could,” and houses more than 500 exotic animals including lions, tigers, bears, (Oh, my!) primates, leopards, wolves, a reptile house, petting zoo and aviary. The zoo has had its share of hardships, as it was battered by three major hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, and subsequently rebuilt. It’s highly walkable and ideal for families young and old, large and small. Stop by and satisfy your children’s curiosity with an adorable kangaroo, lemur or sloth encounter.

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. His favorite RTX destinations are on the beach: Orange Beach, Alabama, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. .

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