The Gulf Coast is filled with unforgettable experiences, and the beaches of Alabama are no exception. You can find beautiful white sand beaches, stunning sunrises and sunsets, and plenty of things to do in this part of the world. If you’re thinking about taking a vacation to the area but aren’t sure where to start, then we’ve got your back! Here’s our list of Top Things To Do In Gulf Shores And Orange Beach.
1. Take a Walk
Explore the area’s natural beauty by taking a walk on a nature trail at Gulf State Park or visiting nearby Gulf Shores Wetlands Nature Park. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, try your hand at kayaking, wildlife watching, and fishing!
Walk along the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to admire their stunning views from afar. You can also hunt for seashells or take a selfie against an azure sky. What could be better than that?
2. Explore Fort Morgan
Fort Morgan is a historic site that has been around for over 200 years. The fort was built in 1819 and played an important role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War.
Used intermittently through the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II, the site showcases the evolution of seacoast fortifications and adaptations made by military engineers over time.
You can walk in the steps that our soldiers took and explore the grounds. Be careful, though. Some of the walkways are uneven and the stairs to the top level are really steep.
Fort Morgan is located at 110 Highway 180 in Gulf Shores and is open seven days a week from 8 AM until 5 PM. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children/students/seniors, or $20 for families (2 adults/2 children).
3. Hang Out With Animals
Alabama’s Gulf Coast Zoo is the perfect place for animal lovers. There is a wide variety of animals that are sure to make your day!
You can pet an anteater, cuddle with a kangaroo, and even hang out with sloths. The Animal Encounters are educational opportunities that will teach you about some gentle and fascinating animals in a safe environment. The encounters are appropriate for all ages and provide fun photo opportunities too!
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is located at 20499 Oak Road East in Gulf Shores. (Note: If you are using GPS, it might lead you to the OLD zoo location. If it does, get back on Gulf Shores Parkway and head north. Turn right on Oak Road East.)
The zoo is open daily from 9 AM until 4 PM. (The zoo is closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.) Admission is $19.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors, and $14.95 for children ages 3-12.
4. Go Fishing at the Beach
Fishing at the beach or off a pier is another activity that is fun for the whole family.
You can catch all kinds of fish, including red drum, speckled trout, flounder, and more! Bring some bait and you’ll be sure to reel in something delicious for dinner. Be sure to do your research before you go so you’ll know what’s in season.
Make sure you have the right Alabama Saltwater Fishing License before you head out fishing on the Gulf Coast beaches! It’s easy to purchase one online at OutdoorAlabama.com or from any local sporting goods store. Just make sure that it has not expired by the date of your trip so that you don’t get fined for fishing without a license.
Another fishing option is to book a fishing charter trip. There are a lot of options available in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, as well as in neighboring Pensacola Beach.
5. Go For a (Boat) Ride
Experience the Gulf of Mexico from the deck of a double catamaran via Wild Hearts. Wild Hearts is the perfect boat to take you on an unforgettable journey. You can choose from a variety of excursions just off the shore that will give you views of white-sand beaches or the wide expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. Stretch out on the spacious deck as you sail through calm back bays with plenty to explore!
The day begins early as you hop on board and enjoy a light breakfast, followed by a trip along the coast as you sail to Pensacola to watch the famed Blue Angels practice. Lunch is included, as well as soda and water. (Click here to read more about a trip on the Wild Hearts.) On your return trip, be sure to be on the lookout for dolphins.
6. Work on Your Game
You don’t have to neglect your golf game when you go to the beach. There are nearly a dozen golf courses around the area with half of those in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Fans of Arnold Palmer will want to check out Craft Farms Golf Resort, home of an Arnold Palmer signature golf course. Cotton Creek runs through the property and it’s a beautiful course.
For a non-golfing companion, you can sit back and sip on a frozen margarita at the Cotton Creek Bar & Grill.
Rates at Craft Farms begin at $59 for Twilight tee times and go up to $99. Tee times can be booked online for Craft Farms.
7. Ride a Bike
Sometimes the best things in life are free, and so are the bike rentals at Gulf State Park. That’s not a typo – you can actually rent a bike and explore the trails at Alabama’s southernmost state park.
In addition to being a great way to see the park, riding a bike is a great way to burn off some of those calories extra you enjoyed while at the beach.
Did I mention that it’s free? Of course, I did. Engaging in free activities like this helps stretch your travel dollars which means you can indulge in more great seafood!
To rent a bike at the Gulf State Park, all you need is to download the app at Bloomsharing.com and go from there.
With 28 miles of paved trails or boardwalks (including seven trails of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex), you just might spot some native wildlife like alligators and tortoises.
8. Explore the Wild and Wacky
Even the beachy part of Alabama has roadside attractions that you will want to investigate.
A nod to Stonehenge, Bamahenge is a full-scale replica of the mysterious rock formation found across the pod. It, too, is aligned with the summer solstice and will make you go, “Hmmm.”
On the way to Bamahenge, you can test your ability to spot the unusual. There are fiberglass dinosaurs on the road and some may even be hiding among the trees.
Do be careful, though, when you visit these attractions. They are in the wild and you may encounter snakes or other critters.
Both attractions are located in the nearby city of Elberta. To get there, I recommend that you use GPS on your phone or automobile. Enter “Bamahenge” as your destination.
9. Eat Something Good
A trip to the beach would not be the same if you dine at some of the local restaurants. There are so many great places to take your pick.
In addition to seafood, you can still find delicious country cooking like at Lambert’s Cafe (in Foley), as well as tasty treats at Sunliner Diner a new, retro diner with a 1950s theme.
Hungry for more? Check out this post for Things To Eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
10. Indulge In a Little Me Time at The Wharf
The Wharf is a great place to shop, eat, and have fun! It’s a shopping destination for the entire family.
With over 30 shops and nearly 20 places to grab a bite or drink, there is something for everyone. You’ll find everything from clothes to home decor – all in one spot.
If you’re looking for some time away from the kids, there is Rejuvenation Med Spa where you can book a massage for the ultimate “me time” getaway.
The Wharf is located at 23101 Canal Road in Orange Beach. Hours vary according to the season. From May 22nd until September 7th, The Wharf is open Monday – Saturday from 10 AM until 9 PM and on Sundays from noon until 6 PM.
11. Stay Somewhere Nice
If you’re looking for a luxury condo on the beach, then pack your bathing suit and head to Turquoise Place in Orange Beach.
Turquoise Place has everything you need to enjoy a relaxing vacation with family or friends. You’ll be able to cook meals in a fully-equipped kitchen, relax by the pool or take a dip in the ocean. The condos are spacious and comfortable with all the amenities you could ask for, including your own hot tub on your private balcony!
There is so much to do at the beach that you may not have time to do it all in one trip. That’s okay. It gives you an excuse to go back.
This post is a compilation of three different trips that my family has taken within the past few years and there is still so much more for us to do. Or not do. Sometimes you just have to do nothing but listen to the waves as they crash on the beach.
What are some of your favorite activities to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach?