If you’re looking for fun things to do in Gulf Shores Alabama, then you’ve come to the right place! Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are popular tourist areas on the coast of Alabama. They have some of the prettiest beaches in Alabama, and there are tons of things to see and in this beautiful southern state. With over 32 miles of pristine white sand beach, it’s easily one of the cutest beach towns in the South.
Gulf Shores is in southeastern Alabama, right by the western border of Florida. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores both sit on the Gulf Coast. So you can expect to enjoy beautiful warm blue water when you’re visiting these coastal towns. Like most coastal towns, they have an awesome seafood industry, gorgeous beach villas, and stunning landscapes. There are a few nature preserves and state and national parks near both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach as well.
Whether you’re interested in spending your days on beautiful beaches, learning about the local wildlife, or having some fun family adventures, there are plenty of things to do near Gulf Shores. You can typically expect beautiful warm weather and sunny skies. If you’re looking for a beautiful beach destination in the south, you can’t go wrong visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. So let’s take a look at some of the 14 best things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach AL!
14 Best Things To Do in Gulf Shores And Orange Beach Alabama
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
One of the best things to do near Gulf Shores is the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The National Wildlife Refuge is over 7,000 acres. It is also split between five different units. They are in Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama, which is just to the west of Gulf Shores. It’s actually pretty close to the Florida-Alabama border. Most of the refuge is located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula.
There are a few fun activities that you can find at the refuge. Depending on what time of year you go, there is a wide variety of different flora and fauna that will be out. The park has everything from alligators, armadillos, red foxes, and songbirds. It’s a popular spot for birdwatching in Alabama. There are hiking trails you can explore, or you can go kayaking in the nearby lagoon. It’s one of the most interesting free things to do in Gulf Shores.
If you’re looking for family-friendly activities in Gulf Shores, then you’ve got to check out Waterville USA. Waterville USA is a fun water park in Gulf Shores. The park originally opened in 1986. Ever since its opening, it’s been a popular Gulf Shores attraction, especially for families and kids. The park is over 20 acres and over the years it has added more rides and attractions.
There are now 12 water rides for you to enjoy! Waterville is a seasonal Gulf Shores attraction, so it’s only in the summer months. If you’d like to enjoy a day at the water park, make sure that you double-check it’s open for its season! The park also has non-water rides. And in recent years they’ve also added a few escape rooms! If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores with kids, check out Waterville USA.
Gulf Shores Public Beach
There are tons of beaches around Gulf Shores. But probably the most popular, and the main one, is the Gulf Shores Public Beach. It’s a beautiful piece of beach that also has a ton of amenities. It’s also super easy to find. If you head south on Highway 59, towards the Gulf, you’ll eventually hit the beach. The highway literally dead-ends at Gulf Shores Public Beach.
On the beach, there are a few different amenities. There are bathrooms, with showers, pavilions, and volleyball courts. If you’re looking to stay on the beach, there are a number of homes you can rent or beach resorts. You’ll have to pay a small fee to park at the beach, but it’s worth it. It’s a beautiful beach that is close to some of the best attractions in Gulf Shores.
Gulf State Park
Behind the beach community of Gulf Shores, you can find a large expanse of land before you hit the highways. That stretch of land is Gulf State Park. The Gulf State Park is over 6,500 acres, almost all of which is directly behind the beach community. A lot of the park is on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, but there are also some more inland areas. If one of the coolest free things to do in Gulf Shores. You will have to pay a small parking fee for the beach access though.
At the park, you’ll find tons of activities. You can go hiking, either on the beach or in more marshy areas. They also have a few different camping grounds. Because there are areas of the park that have a beach, you can of course go swimming. The park also has a small lake, Lake Shelby. In Lake Shelby, you can go swimming, kayaking, or paddling. Gulf State Park is a really cool place to explore.
The Park At OWA
There are actually quite a few amusement parks in the area. One of the most popular ones is The Park at OWA. It is a gated amusement park, so you’ll need a ticket to get inside. However, it’s also right by a major shopping center and some amazing restaurants. So it’s an area that is definitely worth a visit, and it’s a great way to spend the day. It’s just a little outside of the city of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. So, keep that in mind if you plan on visiting.
The park is technically seasonal. It is open daily and for longer periods during the summer months. Throughout the rest of the year, the park is open under a limited schedule. That means it’s usually only open on weekends and evenings. There are 22 rides within the park as well as food vendors. The park is over 520 acres, so you could easily spend the whole day there. It’s one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores with kids!
Gulf Shores Little Lagoon
The Little Lagoon is easily one of the prettiest areas in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama. Outdoor adventurers will especially love this little piece of the Alabama beach town. It’s not your typical white sand coastline, but it’s just as pretty. If you’re wanting to see some stunning sunsets, then the Little Lagoon is one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores at night.
It is about 10 miles of marshland with brackish water. That means it’s a mixture of freshwater and saltwater. The brackish water attracts unique fish, which you can often see in the Little Lagoon. It’s also a great place to go kayaking or canoeing. The Little Lagoon is typically not very busy, since it’s not what most tourists come to the area to see. There are even beach rentals around the Little Lagoon.
Make sure to check out our list of the best cities and small towns in Alabama for inspiration on where to visit next!
Fort Morgan Beach
Fort Morgan Beach is one of the lesser-known beaches in the Gulf Shores area. You can actually find some beautiful beachfront rentals at Fort Morgan Beach, for a reasonable price. The area is full of more gulf coast white sand beaches that are absolutely beautiful. But Fort Morgan Beach is often less crowded than some of the other more well-known beaches in the area.
One of the attractions of Fort Morgan Beach is the abundance of sea life you can see off of the shore. Pretty often while you’re relaxing on the sand you’ll be able to see a pod of dolphins swim by. The beach also has a pier that you can walk down. The pier is where many deep-sea fishermen spend their day. But even if you’re not interested in fishing, you can enjoy the views of the beach and the ocean from the pier. You’ll also usually be able to see even more sea life.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
Lovers of military and maritime history will enjoy spending some time at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The Memorial Park is an interesting thing to do near Gulf Shores, even if military and maritime history isn’t really your thing. The USS Alabama was built in the 1930s for the United States Navy. It was part of the South Dakota class of battleships. There were four South Dakota class battleships made, and the USS Alabama was the last one.
The battleship was used frequently in the Pacific Theater during WWII. It was then retired in the 1960s and moved to the area that would become the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The park has been open to visitors since 1965. It is one of the most notable attractions in Alabama and has become a must-see for anyone visiting the state. You can tour the battleship, and there is also a green space to relax in. There is also a visitor’s center where you’ll learn all about the battleships history.
Orange Beach Waterfront Park
One of the best Orange Beach attractions, is, of course, Orange Beach Waterfront Park. If you’re visiting the area, you definitely want to spend some time at this beautiful waterfront park. You can find the park on Wolf Bay in Orange Beach, AL. There is plenty of things to do in Orange Beach, just at this waterfront park alone.
There are seven picnic shelters, which also have grills and picnic tables. You can walk or bike around the park on the paved pathways. If you’re visiting the park with kids, there is a large kid’s park area. It has swings, slides, climbing structures, and more. There is also a pier that you can walk down to enjoy the view of the Orange Beach area. If you’re looking for things to do in Gulf Shores with kids, this is a great option!
There are some pretty unique things to do near Gulf Shores AL. The hidden gem of Bamahenge is something you can only find in Alabama. This kitschy roadside attraction draws visitors from all over who are passing through Elberta Alabama on their way to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. This roadside attraction is fairly new as it was built in 2012.
You can find it in a piney forest, about 200 yards away from a private marina owned by Alabama billionaire George Barber. The artist Mark Cline was the one who got the idea for the structure, and Barber eventually chose to have it built near his new marina. The stones are actually built of fiberglass but look very real. With no signs around the structure and none leading you to it, Bamahenge has a sense of mystery. It’s a fun and unique attraction near Gulf Shores AL.
Dinosaurs In The Woods Trail
While you’re in Elberta, we suggest stopping by this other thing to do near Gulf Shores. The Dinosaurs in the Woods Trail is another creative art installation created by Mark Cline. Cline built the dinosaurs in 1991, but the trail was commissioned by another Alabama billionaire, George Barber. Barber saw Cline’s dinosaurs in Virginia and had seven made for himself.
The dinosaurs were originally on private property. However, they are now located on the same property as Bamahenge on near the Barber Marina. So while you’re admiring Bamahenge, you can take the kids on a short trail and see four dinosaur statues. It’s a really popular thing to do in Gulf Shores with kids as it’s a very magical little place. It’s seclusion and how it seems to just be randomly placed make it really fun for kids to explore.
Adventure Island is one of the best things to do in Orange Beach Alabama. It’s especially fun if you’re traveling with kids. It is in the heart of Orange Beach and is just across the street from the Gulf. So you’ll be super close to the beach while you enjoy some fun. Adventure Island is a small theme park in Alabama that has become a popular way for visitors to spend the afternoon or day.
Within Adventure Island, there are rides, activities, and more. Your family can enjoy go-kart rides, have some fun in bumper boats, or have some friendly competition in a laser tag battle. There are also smaller kiddie rides if you’re coming to the park with younger kids. Adventure Island also an adventure golf course, a large arcade, and paddle boats you can ride. The main piece of the park is a five-story volcano that actually erupts periodically throughout the day!
Opened in 1964, Flora-Bama has become the most iconic bar in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama. It is technically in Florida. But that’s because it’s right on the border for Alabama and Florida in Orange Beach. Since it is right on the border, the bar considers itself to be part Florida, part Alabama. Hence the name, Flora-Bama. It is right on the beach, so you’ll get some amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico.
The bar is an oyster bar and is world-famous. During the warmer months, thousands of people come to Orange Beach Alabama to experience Flora-Bama. It is easily one of the top beach bars in the world! The bar is also massive. Inside there are five different stages where you can see live performances daily. There are also a few beachfront bars if you want a little quieter environment with stunning views. The restaurant is known for its oysters, but it has a large seafood menu. If you’re looking for the best Orange Beach attractions, you’ve got to go to Flora-Bama.
Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway
There are plenty of free things to do in Gulf Shores. One of those is Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway. The scenic byway travels throughout a large chunk of Alabama’s coastal towns. That includes Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. If you want to see more coastal towns like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, then you may want to consider taking the full road trip of the scenic byway. Along the way, you’ll see some cute old towns, great shopping, and beautiful beaches.
In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, there are tons of scenic stopping points to enjoy. The towns are also considered perfect stopping points for overnight stays if you’re doing the full road trip. In Orange Beach, there is also a visitor’s center, the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum, and the Orange Beach Marinas. Stopping in Gulf Shores, you can see scenic stopping points, the Gulf Shores Museum, and another visitor’s center. It’s one of the best free things to do in Gulf Shores.
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama are beautiful coastal towns. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, fun family activities, or outdoor adventures, there are plenty of things to do in Gulf Shores Alabama. No matter what time of year you’re planning to visit, we guarantee you’ll enjoy a vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.