Alabama Coasting 2019 - Page 22

ATTRACTIONS The DAUPHIN ISLAND SEA LAB’S ESTUARIUM focuses on the wide array of marine life that make up the waters of Al- abama. While providing a rich educational background, the exhibits showcase the beauty of marine life that make up the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands, and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The facility’s 31 aquariums totaling over 30,000 gallons with more than 100 species high- light the four key habitats of coastal Alabama. Open daily year- round except holidays. www.disl.org/estuarium Looking for a little different excursion on the water? Why not grab a ride on the MOBILE BAY FERRY? Billed as the “Gulf Coast’s Most Scenic Drive”, it’s a 30 minute boat ride across the bay to Gulf Shores landing at Ft. Morgan. Drive, bike or walk on board and once underway you’ll enjoy a great view and cool breezes as you’re joined by pelicans and the occasional dol- phin. Departures from the east end of the island are every 45 minutes during daylight hours. Check with mobileferry.com or 251-361-3000 for daily weather conditions which may affect the schedule. HISTORY, ARTS AND CULTURE “Damn the torpedoes-full speed ahead!” FORT GAINES has been called one of the best preserved examples of 19th century brick seacoast fortifications in the east. It was a key element in the Battle of Mobile Bay, famous for Admiral Farragut’s battle cry. See the actual cannons used in battle, the huge anchor of Farragut’s flag ship, tunnels, original blacksmith shop, bakery, latrine, and Quartermaster building. Be sure to visit the Of- ficer’s Quarters building, museum and gift shop. Self-guided history brochure available at the entrance. Renowned living history events including the colonial period are held through- out the year. www.dauphinisland.org/fort-gaines The Little Red School House. Mobile Bay Ferry. Nearby BELLINGRATH GARDENS hosts an array of special events and programs to highlight the various seasons and the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. Bellingrath. The 65 acre Garden Es- tate is in full bloom throughout the year with camellias in the winter, azaleas in the spring, roses in the summer, chrysanthe- mums in autumn and Magic Christmas in Lights during the holiday season. Visit www.bellingrath.org for current events and programs. SPORTING LIFE Yes, while most of your sporting options revolve around water, there are a few traditional sporting opportunities on the island. Isle Dauphine Golf Course has a full service driving range and features the only links golf on the Alabama gulf coast with 18 holes and spectacular views. Also at Isle Dauphine, the Dau- phin Island Property Owners Association maintains four ten- nis courts open to the public for a small fee. Surfers can catch some good waves near the Dauphin Island Pier or off of West End Beach. Finally, shooting enthusiasts can take a short ride off the island to Coden and the shooting range at Gunport. 22 ALABAMA COASTING’S DAUPHIN ISLAND LIFE 2019 The LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE is one of the most en- dearing symbols of life on Dauphin Island. Built in 1930, the building served generations of Island kids for more than 80 years. In 2017 it was moved and found new life as the Town’s Welcome Center. Now on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Little Red School House houses a free lending li- brary and Island gift shop in addition to an interesting and growing collection of island history and artifacts. The Wel- come Center and Museum are open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Dauphin Island, in addition to its natural and historical of- ferings, boasts a vibrant arts community. The DAUPHIN IS- LAND HERITAGE AND ARTS COUNCIL is a strong source for the arts, local culture and heritage for the Island and South Mobile County. The non-profit fine art gallery houses a nice collection of juried works by local and regional artists and reg- ularly hosts art and heritage events during the year. The year-old arts organization, ART DOES IT, seeks to pro- mote public understanding of the ecological challenges facing the Gulf of Mexico and its coast, through the dialogs of art, science, and heritage. They host a number of local artists as well as monthly events in their gallery and in collaboration with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab produce ARTSEALAB and Forks and Corks Culinary Competition in the fall.