Add a Little Extra Adventure to Your Dream Vacation
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, are popular vacation destinations known for beautiful sugar-white shores, warm weather and a variety of outdoor activities. While the beach is certainly the main attraction in this area, there are a vast variety of other things to see and do while you’re here. Whether you’re interested in nature, history or culture, there are plenty of options to explore in this scenic part of Alabama. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the best things to do in Gulf Shores beyond just visiting the beach.
Gulf State Park
One of the top destinations to explore in Gulf Shores is Gulf State Park, a 6,150-acre nature preserve that is home to a variety of outdoor activities and scenic vistas. The park features more than 28 miles of hiking and biking trails. Rent a free bike and explore the trails to your heart’s content. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking in the park’s freshwater lake or taking a guided tour to learn more about the park’s diverse plant and animal life. The park is also home to the Gulf Coast’s largest fishing pier, which stretches more than 1,500 feet into the Gulf of Mexico and offers stunning views of the coastline.
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Another must-see destination for nature lovers in Gulf Shores is the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. This 7,000-acre refuge is home to a range of rare and endangered species, including sea turtles, red foxes and the Alabama beach mouse. Visitors can explore the refuge on foot or by kayak, taking in the scenic vistas and wildlife along the way. The refuge also offers guided tours and educational programs throughout the year, making it a great destination for families and nature enthusiasts alike.
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity to do with your family in Gulf Shores, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is an excellent choice. Known worldwide as “The Little Zoo That Could,” this 25-acre zoo features over 300 animals from around the world, including tigers, lemurs and kangaroos. Visitors can enjoy a variety of interactive experiences, including feeding the animals and participating in behind-the-scenes tours. The zoo also hosts a range of educational programs and special events throughout the year. There is even a highly acclaimed restaurant on site called Safari Club.
The Wharf at Orange Beach
If you’re looking for some shopping and entertainment in Gulf Shores, be sure to visit The Wharf at Orange Beach. This outdoor shopping and dining complex features a range of shops, restaurants and attractions, including a movie theater, a Ferris wheel, and a miniature golf course. Visitors can also enjoy live music and festivals throughout the year, making it a great destination for families and groups. The 10,000-seat amphitheater is home to a well-known concert series that attracts top artists in a variety of musical genres, including Chris Stapleton, the Dave Matthews Band, Hank Williams Jr., and more.
History buffs will want to visit Fort Morgan, a historic fortification at the entrance to Mobile Bay. This well-preserved fort played a key role in the Civil War and is now open to visitors as a historic site and museum. Visitors can explore the fort’s many exhibits and artifacts, as well as take guided tours to learn more about the fort’s history and significance. There are even some great fishing spots on the property. While you’re there, take a day trip to Dauphin Island via the ferry, which operates daily, depending on weather conditions.
Another fun destination for families in Gulf Shores is Waterville USA, a water and amusement park that offers a range of thrilling rides and attractions. Visitors can enjoy water slides, wave pools and lazy rivers, as well as a variety of carnival-style games and other attractions.
Gulf Shores Museum
For those interested in learning more about the history and culture of Gulf Shores, the Gulf Shores Museum is a must-see destination. This small museum features a variety of exhibits and artifacts that highlight the rich history of the region, from its Native American roots to the present day. The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including the area’s natural history, the Gulf Shores fishing industry, and the role of the region in the Civil War. Visitors can also enjoy various interactive exhibits and take part in educational programs throughout the year.
Dolphin Watching Tours
For a unique and exciting way to experience the wildlife of the Gulf Coast, be sure to take a dolphin watching tour. Several companies in Gulf Shores offer guided boat tours that take visitors out into the Gulf of Mexico to spot dolphins in their natural habitat. Visitors can enjoy watching these playful creatures jump and play in the water, while learning about their behavior and biology from expert guides.
Another popular activity for visitors to Gulf Shores is deep-sea fishing. Several fishing charters in the area offer guided trips out into the Gulf of Mexico, where visitors can try their luck at catching a variety of fish, including red snapper, grouper and amberjack. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, a fishing charter is a wonderful way to experience the excitement and adventure of fishing in the Gulf.
OWA Amusement Park
Owa is a popular amusement park located just a few miles north of Gulf Shores beaches in Foley. This family-friendly destination offers a wide variety of attractions, including roller coasters, water rides and carnival games. Visitors can also enjoy live entertainment, shopping and dining options throughout the park and particularly in Downtown Owa. Whether you’re looking for thrills or just a fun day out with the family, Owa is a great destination to add to your Gulf Shores vacation itinerary.
While the beach is certainly the main attraction in Gulf Shores, there are plenty of other things to see and do in this beautiful region of Alabama. From nature preserves and historic landmarks to amusement parks and shopping centers, there’s something for everyone in Gulf Shores beyond just visiting the beach. So, the next time you’re planning a trip to the Gulf Coast, be sure to set aside some time to explore all that this scenic and exciting region has to offer.