Everyone knows that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are great places to take the family for a summer vacation, but not many know that there are still memories to be made along the Gulf Coast when the holiday season rolls around. If you are looking to get one more beach trip in before the calendar rolls over to 2014, check out these great annual holiday events.

Holiday Ice Skating at the Wharf

You wouldn’t expect to find ice skating at the beach, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Wharf between
Nov. 22 and Jan. 12. This annual event has become a favorite for locals and holiday beachgoers. The rink is open Monday thru Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Skate rentals are only $8 for two hours and for an additional $2 you can add a spin on the Southeast’s tallest Ferris Wheel to your holiday fun.

Gulf State Park Coastal Christmas

Load up the family and get your Christmas season started with this Coastal Christmas event at the Gulf State Pavilion in Gulf Shores. You’ll find hot chocolate and cookies, Christmas arts and crafts for children and Christmas carols all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico. Don’t forget to bring your camera and snap a family picture with Santa by the fire. Admission and parking is free for this event, which is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday Dec. 1.

28th Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade

This event has become a local and holiday beachgoer favorite. This year’s parade will take place on Dec. 14 when the boat parade gets underway at 5:30. The parade route starts at LuLu’s, takes the lighted boats east down the Intercostal Waterway wrapping around the tip of Bear Point and ends at Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach. Viewers won’t catch any candy at this parade, but the line of boats decorated from bow to stern is certainly a sight to see. Canal Road is a great spot to park the car and enjoy the show.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip

Does kicking off 2014 with a nice swim in the Gulf of Mexico sound like fun to you? That’s exactly what participants in the Flora-Bama Annual Polar Bear Dip will be doing on New Year’s Day. This event get’s started at noon and is free for viewers and participants. As an added bonus, the Flora-Bama will provide a traditional New Year’s meal with black-eyed peas, cornbread, ham and more to anyone brave enough to take the plunge.

Enjoy your holidays on the coast, and be sure to tell us about your favorite holiday activities in the comments below.