Everyone vacations differently. Some rise at the crack of dawn to begin chipping away at their ambitious itineraries, while others like to sleep in, take it easy and go with the flow. If your idea of the perfect vacation is getting ample rest and relaxation, we’ve got good news for you. The Alabama Coastal Connection boasts plenty of ways to relax the day away in nature and kiss your worries goodbye.

Head to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island and be sure to pack your binoculars. This sanctuary features 164 acres of coastal forest, marshes, dunes, a lake, swamp and beach with plenty of walking trails made for strolling and taking in the sights. Keep your eyes peeled for Neotropical migrant birds! This spot is a favorite of avid birders.           

Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore is the perfect place to while away the hours. Located on Fowl River, this stately home built in 1935 boasts 65 beautifully landscaped acres and a thriving flower garden. Sit in the garden, grab lunch on site at the Magnolia Café or do some browsing in their gift shop.

In Gulf Shores, take in some of Alabama’s last remaining undisturbed coastal habitat at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Spend the day hiking and fishing, or take a more relaxed approach with wildlife observation and photography. 

Graham Creek Nature Preserve in Foley is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day. Located on 484 acres of pitcher plant bogs and mixed forests, there’s plenty of wildlife to take in while hiking, biking, picnicking and bird watching. Are you feeling a little adventurous? This preserve features a canoe and kayak launch, two disc golf courses, an archery park and a playground for the little ones.

Spend the day casting your line off the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Alabama’s only public pier on the Gulf. When you need some respite from the sun, grab some snacks at the indoor concession area or stock up on tackle and souvenirs at the indoor retail area.

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail in Orange Beach is made up of 15 different paved trails spanning 25 miles of 6 distinct ecosystems. If relaxing in nature is on your agenda, the backcountry trail is right up your alley. Take some time to walk the trails, watch the wildlife, identify and photograph plants and trees, or just kick up your heels and rest.

Headed to Fairhope? Don’t skip out on Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Explore 6,600 acres of protected estuarine habitats and boardwalk nature trails on your own, or take a guided tour. When you’re ready to get out of the elements, check out the indoor displays at the on-site public research and education facility.

If relaxing on your vacation is your top priority, spending time in nature along Alabama’s Coastal Connection is the way to go. There’s no better way to connect with nature than experiencing the great outdoors at your own pace.