Many resorts tout an ecologically minded ethos, but few can deliver the level of built-in sustainability as the Lodge at Gulf State Park. Fourteen years after being destroyed by Hurricane Ivan, the Hilton Hotel reopened in 2018. Owned by the state and managed through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the property has rigorous sustainability in mind—from the modern, LEED-certified architecture to the building’s location, set back from the waterfront and dunes, which allows for natural development and protection of native species, to the recycled and reduced water systems throughout.
Bonus: Proceeds from your stay go towards the state park system. With numerous restaurants, an infinity pool, an interpretive nature center (Alabama’s most eco-friendly building), and two miles of uninterrupted beachfront—not to mention the entire state park at your doorstep—the Lodge has the perks of an exclusive getaway, while also serving multiple greater goods.
Get to Know the Lodge at Gulf State Park
Surrounded on all sides by the park, the Lodge at Gulf State Park is a launchpad for enjoying the naturally preserved outdoors. Borrow one of the resort’s shared bikes and explore twenty-eight miles of paths, a broad lake, marshes, and the protected, sugar-sand coastline. Or, hop in the car and you’ll find the more bustling beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach nearby.
The hotel’s multiple restaurants and bars will keep you eating locally. Start with an espresso or latte, plus pastries and yogurt parfaits at Roasted Oak in the lobby (at night, this space turns into a wine bar). Lunch on a blackened Gulf fish po’ boy by the pool at Dragonfly Grill and Bar, or hit Billy’s on your way out to the beach for stiff frozen drinks. FoodCraft has an industrial beachy vibe and offers up loaded Gulf oysters (the bourbon bacon jam is a must), as well as crisp snapper bites and entrees, like seared scallops over a celery root cake drizzled with tomato balsamic butter.
Book a table outdoors at Perch timed around the sunset for spectacular sky colors and tapas-style small plates, like smoky pork belly that’s layered over creamy Delta Grind grits. For a trip off campus, bike or take a shuttle over to Woodside, a fast-casual spot with a spacious backyard, for a Lowcountry boil loaded with sausage and shrimp, a deviled crab cake sandwich, and s’mores by the fire pit.
The 350 guest rooms project the resort’s eco-friendly mindset with a modernist aesthetic, bulk soaps and shampoos in the bathroom, and zero plastic water bottles. Some rooms include bunkbeds and patios with views of the ocean while others overlook the park and lake—there are also several cabins and cottages housed within the park for a more rustic stay. As night settles in, lights are dimmed to protect nesting sea turtles.