Eleven Things To Do In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

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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 considering taking a vacation to the area but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got your back! Here’s our list of Top Things To Do In Gulf Shores And Orange Beach. (We’ve done them all!)

Bridge to the 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!

Hotels along the beach in Orange Beach, Alabama.

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?

Mermaid's purses on the sand.
Mermaid’s Purses (shark egg sacks)

2. Explore Fort Morgan

Inside view of 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.

Pictures of Fort Morgan.

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 Gulf Coast Zoo.

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 off 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.

Captain Yelverton holding a saltwater trout.

5. Go For a (Boat) Ride

Wild Hearts Catamaran.

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.

US Navy Blue Angel in flight.

6. Work on Your Game

Man golfing near a small body of water.

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

Gulf State Park Bicycle Share Station sign.

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!

Rack of bicycles available for rent.

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

Placard with information about Bama Henge.

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.”

Bama Henge monument in a field.

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.

A dinosaur statue in a field in Alabama.

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

Greek salad with fried shrimp.
Salad at Flora-Bama Yacht Club

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.

Naturally, you’re going to find some great places to get your fill of seafood, like LuLus, Voyagers, Flora-Bama, The Hangout, Pirate’s Cove – the list goes on and on.

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.

Chocolate Milkshake with chocolate candy bars and a cherry on top.
Shake Supreme at Sunliner Diner

10. Indulge In a Little Me Time at The Wharf

Dining area 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 ferris wheel at The Wharf in Orange Beach.

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

Beach side of Turquoise Place.

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?

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  1. Was there one week in January 2022 were going back for two months next december and january.rented condo in golf shores .looking forward to it. Great place for snowbirds ☺️☺️

    1. Where can you pick up the free bikes? Is there more than 1 place? I don’t see anything on google maps. Thanks!

      1. The are several places around the park. If I recall correctly (and please don’t hold me to this), I took this picture near Woodside Restaurant inside the park.

  2. We went in June of this year 2021. We had the best time ever!! The beaches are so beautiful! We had to get up early everyday to see the dolphins swimming! I highly recommend going longer than a week to check out everything at Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Alabama!!

    1. I agree. One needs plenty of time to play and relax while at the beach. Of course, I will go even if I only have a few days.

  3. I’ve never seen shark egg sack before—never expected em to look like that! I’d love to check out those beaches (and the food) someday!

  4. Thanks for the helpful guide! I would love to visit the nature parks and the historic fort. You got a great shot of the the Mermaid’s Purses, I’ve never found any, and those are so pretty!

    1. I don’t know just how common they are in Orange Beach, but being that there are sharks and skates in the Gulf of Mexico, I imagine that it should be relatively easy to find a Mermaid’s purse.

  5. A friend of mine just returned from Gulf Shores and loved it. I’ve never been to Alabama so would love to visit along with Orange Beach.

  6. This looks like a beautiful place to visit during the summer! I would love to take a walk at sunrise or sunset, and definitely would be heading to that Fort!

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