Arriving at the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary, you’ll find parking and picnic areas as well as interpretive signage describing the habitats and birds you can find here and at the other stops along the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Explore the 1,000-foot handicap-accessible boardwalk from the parking lot to Gaillard Lake or the raised walkway through the Tupelo swamp. The sanctuary encompasses more than a mile of trails through a variety of intact habitats, including preserved maritime forest. » More Details

Directions from previous place: Upon leaving the sanctuary, turn right onto Bienville Boulevard and travel approximately one-half mile to the Estuarium.
Distance from Previous Site: 0.5 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 5 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 2 hours
The estuarium is an exciting educational facility highlighting the four key habitats of coastal Alabama: the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. It includes the 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall and Living Marsh Boardwalk. This facility is a showcase of the plants, animals, and other natural resources found in the estuary and its surrounding marine habitats.

Through beautiful visuals and engaging interactive exhibits, the estuarium will leave you with a comprehensive understanding of the crucial link between the land and the sea—how watersheds, rivers and estuaries interact with Mobile Bay, the fourth largest estuary system in the United States.

This would be a good time to have lunch before continuing your trip. » More Details

Directions from previous place: Depart from the estuarium and turn right onto Bienville Boulevard. Then enter the boarding area for the Mobile Bay Ferry.
Distance from Previous Site: 0.5 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 5 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 45 minutes
The Mobile Bay Ferry connects the Mobile and Baldwin County segments of the byway and also offers travelers a unique connection with the waters of Mobile Bay. The 30-minute trip across the bay gives an up-close look at the waters and a chance to view the recreational and commercial maritime endeavors ever-active in these waters. » More Details

Directions from previous place: Upon disembarking the ferry, turn to the left, exiting Fort Morgan Historic Site and continuing approximately 12 miles to the Pine Beach Trail entrance to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on the right.
Distance from Previous Site: 12 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 20 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 2 hours
Habitats of the refuge include beaches and sand dunes, scrub forest, fresh and salt water marshes, fresh water swamps, and uplands. Explore all of these along the three-mile Pine Beach Trail, which will lead you to the sugar-white sands of the area’s spectacular beaches. » More Details

Directions from previous place: Continue on AL-180 to the east (right) from the refuge and follow the route into Gulf State Park and onto AL-135, which intersects AL-182.
Distance from Previous Site: 10 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 15 minutes
After a full day of hiking the trails and exploring the waters, take time out to relax and let nature come to you. A refreshing night’s stay at any of a variety of gulf-front accommodations in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach allows you to sit back and enjoy the sounds of the surf, the smell of the salt air and the view of the sunset overlooking the gulf waters. For the more rustic types, camping and cabin accommodations are available with lake or lagoon views.

Total Distance Traveled in Day 1: 23 miles
Directions from previous place: From your beachfront accommodations, travel east on AL-182 (Perdido Beach Blvd.), or north on AL-161 and then east on AL-180, to the marina from which your charter departs.
Distance from Previous Site: 6 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 10 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 2 hours
From one of the many marinas in Orange Beach visitors can enjoy a scenic back bay excursion aboard a charter cruise boat. Most have regularly scheduled morning and evening sightseeing trips and will schedule private trips upon reservations. This trip will offer an intimate view of the hundreds of acres of back bays along the byway and an interpretive overview of the birds and marine life you’ll see there. Resident wild bottlenose dolphin are a favorite sight on these tours.

Directions from previous place: After the cruise, depart Orange Beach traveling west on AL-180 (Canal Road) to the Foley Beach Expressway. Travel across the toll bridge and continue to County Road 20, where you’ll take a right. Continue on County Road 20 until it takes a 90-degree left turn and becomes County Road 83. When you reach US-98 in Elberta, turn left and continue through the towns of Foley and Magnolia Springs. Just beyond the Fish River, the entrance to the Weeks Bay Estuarine Research Reserve’s interpretive center is on the left.
Distance from Previous Site: 26 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 30 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 1 hour
Weeks Bay is one of only 27 National Estuarine Research Reserves in the country and offers an exceptional opportunity for travelers to enjoy the educational materials of the interpretive center or take to the boardwalks and enjoy the environment firsthand.

Estuaries represent some of the most sensitive and ecologically important habitats on Earth. They provide sanctuary for many species of waterfowl, store nutrients for larval and juvenile marine life, and serve as breeding grounds for many desirable species of ocean fish. As one of the largest estuaries in the country, the Mobile Bay system is the foundation for the environmental beauty and diversity found along Alabama’s Coastal Connection. » More Details

Directions from previous place: Turn left (west) from the interpretive center and travel on US-98, which turns into Scenic Route 98 and runs north along the coast. Follow that route into downtown Fairhope.
Distance from Previous Site: 11 miles
Travel Time from Previous Site: 20 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 1 hour
Enjoy lunch overlooking Mobile Bay at one of Fairhope’s local restaurants. Seafood is a specialty here, so savor the flavor of the bounty of the waters that are such an integral part of life here and all along the byway. Walks on Fairhope’s famous municipal pier provide spectacular views.

Since Fairhope is known as an artists’ colony, the art lover could take a leisurely visit to the Eastern Shore Art Gallery or the many local stores.

Directions from previous place: The trail can be accessed all along the byway on Scenic Route 98, which runs north along the coast, through the Eastern Shore area.
Travel Time from Previous Site: 1 minute
Work off your lunch by taking in the beautiful Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Take your choice of hiking or biking on the multi-use Eastern Shore Trail, where you can enjoy beautiful bay views and oak-canopied roadways. » More Details

There are plenty of accommodations options, on and off the bay, along the Eastern Shore.

Total Distance Traveled in Day 2: 43 miles