Coastal ShoppingFill Santa’s sack with all kinds of goodies from shops along the coastal byway. Unique gifts are easy to find when you shop at home and support your neighbors on Alabama’s Coastal Connection.

“We think the shopping opportunities in coastal Alabama are about the best there are,” said Ed Rodriguez, president of the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber. “A lot of people come here and shop here.”

Don’t overlook the power of seafood as a gift! Come on down to Bayou La Batre for fresh seafood. Most places are able to ship orders to your lucky gift recipients.

Put something different in the stocking this year with tickets to an experience such as Bellingrath Gardens and Home, the USS Alabama or the Mobile Bay Ferry. That’s a gift that will be remembered long after the ribbons and paper are put away.

Across Mobile Bay is a plethora of shopping opportunities, each nestled in its own community. In Fairhope, park your car and walk along the flower- and tree-lined streets to browse the many shops along this part of Alabama’s Coastal Connection.

Drop by Foley’s downtown and peruse the offerings from its merchants before heading on to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Shops in both cities dot the main highways. Clothing, souvenir, jewelry and home goods stores have what you need to make the people on your list happy.

Want something a little fun and funky? Go to one of the souvenir shops for seashell trinkets or personalized T-shirts or license plates.

Find a large variety of arts and crafts at Merry Market sponsored by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber of Commerce Dec. 9 and 10 at the Orange Beach Events Center. With approximately 100 vendors, it’s easy to cross off all the names on your gift-shopping list (including your own) – and admission is free.

Thinking homemade? Make your own items or choose those already crafted at The Hot Shop and The Clay Studio at the Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach. The Hot Shop is the only public-access glass studio in Alabama. For more information, please call 251-981-2787.

Are you an “I want to do all my shopping in one place” kind of shopper? Think big. Hit The Wharf in Orange Beach for gifts ranging from coffee to linens to fine clothes, or head to Tanger Outlets in Foley for deals on clothing, kitchenware, knives and jerky. There’s also the Eastern Shore Centre in Malbis if you’re on that side of Alabama’s Coastal Connection and want a variety of shops ranging from regional retailers like Shoe Station to national department stores such as Dillard’s.

No matter where you are along the Gulf Coast, you’ll have no trouble finding fabulous goodies for your friends and family on Alabama’s Coastal Connection.