Nestled on the eastern shores of Mobile Bay, is the charming city of Daphne, Alabama. Dating back to around 9000 BC, this area has been home to Native Americans, English, French, Spanish and American settlers.
Daphne is known by locals as ‘Jubilee City’. Jubilees are regular natural phenomenon’s where abundant shellfish appear on the shores of Mobile Bay, promising locals easy-to-catch crab, flounder and shrimp.
Visitors can drive along the coastline to Gulf State Park and Pensacola, hop across the bay to lively Mobile, or visit one of the top-named beaches in the world – Orange Beach.
I’m an Alabama local and have visited Daphne and the surrounding area lots of times. With incredible history, verdant lands, and great dining, there’s much to love about Daphne. I’m sure you’re gonna enjoy my list of the best things to do in and around Daphne, Alabama:
1. Daphne Bayfront Park
Located on Mobile Bay, beautiful Daphne Bayfront Park has much to offer. With a long wooden boardwalk, great fishing and glorious sunsets, I could easily spend a day here.
You can wander along nature trails viewing birdlife, alligators, and even an historic cemetery.
There are picnic tables where you can sit, relax and take photographs, and a pavilion for hire if you are planning a celebration while visiting Alabama.
2. Gator Alley Boardwalk
Gator Alley Boardwalk is on the Eastern Shore Trail 3.5 miles north of Daphne, Alabama. Here, you can get up close and personal to these majestic creatures, many of which reside close to apartment blocks and overpasses in the center of town.
Some of the alligators are between 10-12 feet long and can be viewed from the boardwalk bridge.
I recommend to bring your camera or binoculars, but it’s wise to leave your furry friends at home.
3. Fairhope Municipal Pier & Park
Built on the site of the city’s original pier which dated back to 1894, the area surrounding Fairhope Municipal Pier is kind of like the city’s square, decorated with fountains, flags and boardwalks. The pier was almost fully destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but the quarter-mile-long pier was rebuilt again the following year.
It’s the perfect place for walking and fishing, with a marina, restaurant and park benches from which to view incredible sunsets.
It’s also popular spot for the bird-watching community too, while I was here I saw pelicans, loafing gulls and a variety of wading birds.
4. Fairhope Avenue
With sweeping vistas of Mobile Bay, Fairhope Avenue is known for its parks, shops, cafes and delicious seafood restaurants. This charming coastal resort boasts a variety of independent bookstores, boutiques and art and craft shops, where you can pick up a unique gift or souvenir for a loved one.
It’s a laid-back place, with a lively café and dining culture, where you can sit, sip coffee, or enjoy a plate of authentic Cajun cooking.
Not so long ago I visited Pearl Restaurant, where I ordered the grilled octopus, which was delicious!
5. Take an Airboat Tour
You’ve seen the gators from the boardwalk and shoreline, now how about viewing wildlife from the water. When you take an Airboat Tour, it allows you to experience the Delta from a different perspective, on a fun ride the entire family will enjoy.
The Mobile-Tensaw Delta has a diverse eco-system, and a knowledgeable guide can point out alligators, birds, trees and natural resources so you don’t miss a thing.
Bring your sense of adventure and your camera and sit back as you speed along the water seeking hidden treasures.
6. Orange Beach
Less than an hours’ drive south of Daphne, you can reach one of the world’s most beautiful beaches – Orange Beach, Alabama.
Hugging the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Orange Beach has a humid sub-tropical climate, powdery soft white sands, boardwalks and water sports. You can see the entire town and out to sea from the 112 feet-tall Ferris Wheel located by The Wharf.
There’s also an abundance of bars, restaurants, shops and museums to explore within the city itself when you need to escape the midday sun.
Also see: 12 Best Beaches in Alabama
7. 5 Rivers – Alabama Delta Resource Centre
Named for the 5 Rivers which meet and flow into Mobile Bay, this fun resource center is a great day out for all ages.
Learn all about the local area in the educational center and theater, take a boat tour, rent a kayak or hike verdant nature trails.
It’s possible to spot an abundance of wildlife here from sea or shore, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars and your sense of adventure.
8. Battleship Memorial Park
Drive 10 miles across the bridge towards Mobile and you immediately reach Battleship Memorial Park. The coastal memorial park is home to the 45,000-ton Battleship USS Alabama which was deployed during World War II and became home to 2,500 servicemen. USS Drum is also retired here, the oldest American submarine on display for the public to see.
There’s also much more, from tanks and artillery, to memorials and even an aircraft pavilion.
I really enjoyed visiting and would definitely go back again if I’m in the area. So, if you fancy a day out, and want to discover more about America’s military history, this fascinating park is less than 15 minutes’ drive from Daphne.
9. American Sport Art Museum and Archives
The American Sport Art Museum and Archives was founded in 1984 and displays the largest collection of sport art in the world.
The museum contains more than 1800 paintings, photographs and sculptures relating to sports.
Explore the Medallion series, dedicated to those who capture the spirit of sport through their work, and view a vast collection of artwork, sculptures and awe-inspiring photographs.
10. Rock Creek Golf Club
One of the best Southern Alabama golf courses, Rock Creek Golf Club on the eastern shoreline, lies just 3 miles south of Daphne. Designed by Earl Stone, a renowned golf course architect, this lush 18-hole course stretches for almost 7000 yards.
It’s a great place for beginners, seasoned golfers and long hitters, with perfectly-manicured fairways and pristine greens. The course is stimulating, surrounded by pinewood forests and freshwater wetlands, offering an incredible backdrop to your game.
When you have exhausted the course, relax with friends and swap stories in the clubhouse over lunch or dinner and drinks.
11. Daphne History Museum
Hidden inside an old white-washed Methodist Church, Daphne History Museum showcases a range of exhibits pertaining to the region’s history.
It’s the perfect place to research a family tree if you’re into genealogy, or you can ask knowledgeable guides about life on eastern Alabama shores in days gone by.
There’s lots for history buffs to delve into, with a small on-site cemetery, exhibits, photographs and archives.
Also see: 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama
12. Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill
You can’t visit Alabama without sampling delicious dishes of Cajun cuisine at Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill in Daphne. The restaurant chefs lovingly prepare fresh seafood and comfort food for visitors and locals to enjoy.
Try Swamp Cakes topped with crab and spinach cream sauce, tuck into a Bayou Burrito, filled with popcorn chicken, andouille sausage, rice and red beans, or select popular house favourites – Crawfish Etouffee or Shrimp Creole.
While we were dining, we sat on the deck overlooking Mobile Bay, admiring the spectacular sunset and enjoyed great live music. So, if you enjoy your food with a spicy kick, and have been searching for a true taste of Alabama, this is the place to be.
13. Visit Mobile, Alabama
Across the bay, lies the city of Mobile, one of the Gulf Coast’s most exciting cultural centres. With an incredibly rich history, the city skyline offers a glimpse into days gone by with eclectic architecture, several art and science museums, forts, battleship memorial parks and picturesque city squares.
There’s plenty of places to enjoy dining and drinking, plus independent shops if you wish to indulge in some retail therapy.
City highlights include a visit to the Battleship USS Alabama, the Fort of Colonial Mobile, GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico and Bienville Square.
If you are interested in visiting Mobile’s best attractions while saving money, I highly recommend the Mobile Area Multi-Attraction Pass.
14. Meaher State Park
Less than six miles from Daphne is Meaher State Park, a 1,327-acre park overlooking Mobile Bay wetlands district. The state park was formed where several rivers meet, as the delta is a complex network of numerous bays, bayous, lakes and creeks.
A popular spot for fishing, the park appeals to anglers eager to hook their saltwater or freshwater ‘catch of the day’. It’s also a great place for hiking, nature walks and photography, with scenic spots to capture memories of your Alabama trip.
You may spot an alligator or two in Meaher State Park, and if you stay late, or decide to camp in the park, you can sit on the edge of the pier and watch the glorious sunset.
15. Day Trip to Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola, the westernmost city of Florida, is a bustling seaport. Situated in a strategic position on the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola has been ruled by five governments from five different nations over the past few centuries and offers a rich history to explore.
City highlights not to be missed include Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, Pensacola Bay cruise, visiting the Gulf Islands, exploring the National Naval Aviation Museum, and taking a stroll around well-preserved Fort Barrancas.
The trip to Pensacola takes around 50 minutes from Daphne, Alabama, so if you are touring the area and want to see two very different cities in two different states, it’s easy to do so.
Related reading: 15 Best Day Trips from Pensacola