Travel Journal #1: Our Pandemic Spring Break on Dauphin Island

Ten years ago I started my very first blog — a food blog meant to show the world (and my mom) that I could cook. It was a weird a different game then. I knew nothing about SEO. People were still weird about being paid for their work on the internet. Instagram didn’t even exist.

Fast-forward to now, and here I am with a new blog and a completely different outlook. This isn’t just an online journal — this is a business. But when you are all business about your blog, it also means you’re missing some of the personal connection that comes with stories and sharing. And this is a part of blogging that I don’t want to see completely lost.

So I’m starting a new series here: travel journals. We’ll have them after we go on trips, and I plan to share my favorite memories from a trip, things that were maybe disappointing, general recaps, stories, and…basically whatever else I feel like. Because hey! It’s my blog!

Spring Break Plans A, B, and C

Spring Break 2021. Oh man. We had so many iterations of plans because we just HAD to get out of town. At the end of 2019 we had actually booked a Disney Cruise for Spring Break 2021. So that was plan A. Which obviously didn’t happen.

From there we went to plan B — a Florida road trip. Basically we wanted to go somewhere warmer. But in the winter of 2021, when COVID cases were so high and the spring seemed uncertain, we felt less and less comfortable with the Florida road trip idea (which included a possible Disney stop). So we scratched that.

About that time we got plan C — Dauphin Island. An Alabama island we had never been to and a place I had always been curious about. This seemed like a pretty good plan because we knew we could do safe outdoor activities and stay socially distant. Plus, pandemic travel seemed like a good reason to explore a place that might not otherwise be so high on our priority list.

My Thoughts on Dauphin Island

We are a big Florida beach family. In fact, Dauphin Island may be the first Alabama beach I’ve ever been to despite being from Alabama?

A few things surprised me about Dauphin Island. First of all, it was much bigger than I expected. It seems so small looking at a map, but there is a lot more to it.

There’s also quite a year-round population on the island! I’m used to beaches that consist almost entirely of vacation homes and snowbirds. But Dauphin Island has so much more — in fact they have an elementary school on the island!

I was also surprised by how green the center of the island is — I mean full fledged forest. Again, not something I’m used to in my beach communities, but I love it!

One thing I did not like though was the presence of oil rigs off the coast and in the bay. They are everywhere. A lot of them are so distant you might not even notice them, but there are some that feel like eyesores to me and kind of bum me out to see. For me, it takes away from the pristine feel of a beach a bit.

Overall though, we really like the island and the beaches (although we didn’t spend a ton of time on the actual beach), and I appreciated that it was a place with more to do than just relax on the beach while also having a chill feel.

What We Loved on Dauphin Island

By far our favorite thing was riding the Mobile Bay Ferry. I mean, what’s not to love about having your car on a boat? And what made it the best was that our kiddo was absolutely DELIGHTED. She’s six and every wave came with the best giggles.

We also really enjoyed the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium. This is a place I have heard about for years, and I was so glad to finally visit. It’s a small aquarium, but it’s part of a larger organization that works to educate the community and visitors about protecting the local marine ecosystem. It was perfect for just spending a couple hours exploring one afternoon.

I was also pleasantly surprised by Fort Gaines. I mean, when I first knew we were going to visit a Civil War fort I was not exactly enthusiastic. In fact, the only ounce of excitement I had came from the fact that we have visited NO WHERE in so long so a Civil War fort was better than nothing.

But we loved it! It has been kept up so well, had all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore, and was super interesting. Definitely a must-see in Dauphin Island!

PS — you can read a lot more about what to do on Dauphin Island here!

Other Fun Alabama Stops

On our way to Dauphin Island we decided to stop by a few other Alabama stops we’ve never seen before.

The first was the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. This bridge, which is on Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail, was the site of Bloody Sunday in 1965, when John Lewis and other marchers were met with extreme violence on their march from Selma to Montgomery.

The bridge really was worth the stop, and there is a great little patio area next to it where you can take some good pictures. I’m so glad we went a little out of our way to see this important Alabama place.

The second stop we made was the USS Alabama in Mobile, AL. I wrote a whole post about it here, but let’s just say I found it so much more interesting than I expected!

Really we had a great trip and enjoyed seeing this part of Alabama.

Although, I won’t lie. I’m ready for some bigger adventures and am really hoping some of our travel plans for this fall will actually get to happen!