Ole Kenneth Klamshell and the Lil Mrs always enjoy our time playing in the sugar white sand on the actual beach when visiting Buena Vista Motor Coach Resort in Orange Beach, but we enjoy exploring Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and beyond as well. I must admit, I’ve scared many the adult and several handfuls of small children with the whiteness of my legs, so there is only so much fun in the beachy sun your humble writer can enjoy. A big thanks to the good folks at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism who wrote the following blog about Three Historic Forts that should be on one everyone’s must see list.
If you’re any of these folks, exploring a fort will be the perfect way to spend the day.
- Photogs. Photographers will be in their element at one of the Gulf Coast’s military forts. The forts are filled with centuries-old ruins and artifacts, both of which make great photo ops.
- Kids. Their imaginations can run wild as they run from canon to canon or interact with guides in period clothing.
- Homeschool families. This one is really a given, but why not combine a beach vacation with a history lesson?
- Outdoor lovers. Take in the fresh air while walking the barracks at Fort Morgan or one of the other historic installations in the area.
- Nature lovers. Did you know Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines are actually great spots for birdwatching? Hundreds of species of birds stop over during their spring and fall migrations.
Now that you know WHO will enjoy exploring the Gulf Coast’s military history and WHY, learn WHERE you can while away the day. Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines and Fort Conde are all within a short drive from the heart of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Fort Morgan – Fort Morgan was completed in 1834 to better protect the country’s coastlines and protect the port of Mobile. Fort Morgan was a main player in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. If you’ve ever heard the famous quote “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” you’re already familiar with this historic fort. It is believed Union Admiral David Farragut made this declaration. The fort was designated a historic landmark in 1960.
Fort Gaines – After touring Fort Morgan, hop aboard the Mobile Bay Ferry for the short trip to Dauphin Island. Here you’ll find the Fort Gaines Historic Site. The fort is open daily for discovering three centuries of history, and a visit to the blacksmith is a must.
Colonial Fort Conde – A quick trip to Mobile will find you at Fort Conde, also known as Colonial Fort Conde. Today, Fort Conde is a bustling area of live-action re-enactments and tours, allowing personal interactions with soldiers, craftsmen and even pirates. Head to the shooting gallery, then take advantage of a museum tour. While here, you’ll learn that Fort Conde guarded Mobile for nearly 100 years and was built by the French to defend against British or Spanish attack.
Spend a few days exploring all three forts. Also consider adding a stop at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, just a few minutes by car from Fort Conde. This retired battleship is the recipient of nine WWII Battle Stars and was known as the “Mighty A” during its service during the 1940s.
For more information on museums and other attractions that give an insider’s view of the area’s military history, visit the museum directory.
I remember spending the night on the USS Alabama when ole Kenneth was a wee little lad wearing a boy scout uniform. Our troop made the trek to Mobile and it made an incredible impression on me at an early age. Passing that on from generation to generation, we took the Klamshell Kids years ago, and hope to take the Grand Klamshells one day! We love parking our RV at Buena Vista Motor Coach Resort as often as possible, and then exploring the area in our pull behind vehicle.