The Best Family Activities in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Lifeguard Hut On Beach Against Sky
Lydia Elliott / EyeEm / Getty Images

Planning a family beach vacation on Alabama's Gulf Coast? Located between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida this area is known for being a premier beach vacation destination. With plenty of outdoor activities, attractions, and 32 miles of spectacular, sugar-white beaches, the neighboring towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have something the whole family can enjoy.

01 of 07

Get Sand Between Your Toes

West Beach
Courtesy of West Beach

Called Alabama's best beach by Coastal Living magazine, West Beach stretches six miles from Gulf Shores Parkway to the end of Dolphin Drive.

Be sure to visit the west side of the beach, that is less congested, and has amazingly soft, powdery sand. Year-round warm water temperatures and gentle waves make this beach a great choice for families with young waders.

02 of 07

Explore What Gulf State Park Has to Offer

Stand up paddleboard
Courtesy of Gulf Adventure Center

The Gulf Adventure Center in Gulf State Park offers a lot of fun for active families, like fishing, kayaking, geocaching, and paddleboarding. For thrill seekers, adults, and children 10 years of age and older can face their fear of heights and try zip lining.  You can also take advantage of the park's popular swimming pool, dog park, golf club, and amphitheater.

The park also has a dedicated nature center that conducts several weekly programs open to the public including free guided nature walks, beach/pier walks, and presentations about the local flora and fauna. 

If you're looking to catch your dinner, you can try your hand at crabbing on the second-longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico that is located in the park. Although you will need a saltwater fishing license in order to crab, they can be purchased on the pier daily.

03 of 07

Pet a Kangaroo or a Snake

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
 florador/Flickr

Dubbed "The Little Zoo that Could" by Animal Planet, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is just a few blocks away from the beach and home to more than 500 exotic animals including lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, macaws, and more.

You'll also find a petting zoo, reptile house, aviary, seasonal animal encounters, daily animal shows, and the zoo's newest attraction, the mining sluice that allows visitors to pan for gemstones and fossils.

04 of 07

Get Soaked

Waterville USA
Courtesy of Waterville USA

Waterville USA is both a waterpark and an amusement park located just a quarter mile from the beach in Gulf Shores. It offers water slides, raft rides, a wave pool, water play areas, and dry amusements such as the Gulf Coast’s fastest wooden roller coaster, and a 2,500-square-foot bounce house, mini golf, go-karts, and more.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Take the Ferry to Dauphin Island

Mobile Bay Ferry
Courtesy of Mobile Bay Ferry

Ride the tiny Mobile Bay Ferry to Dauphin Island and watch dolphins frolic in the ferry’s wake.

Known as “the Gulf-Coast’s Most Scenic Drive”, the ferry saves travelers hours of driving time by providing a link across the mouth of Mobile Bay during the 40-minute journey.

06 of 07

Play Mini Golf or Laser Tag

Condos along the beach in Orange Beach Alabama
Chris Watson/Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a fun day out for younger kids? In Orange Beach, Adventure Island offers go-karts, mini golf, laser tag, bumper boats, paddleboats, an arcade, a rock wall, kiddie rides (for children between 5 and 9 years of age), plus a five-story volcano that "erupts" regularly.

07 of 07

Explore Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan
Edibobb/Wikimedia Commons

Located near the Mobile Bay Ferry at Mobile Point is Fort Morgan, a masonry star fort about 23 miles west of Gulf Shores that guards Mobile Bay and is regarded as one of the finest examples of military architecture in the New World. 

It was here during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864 that Admiral David Farragut declared, "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!"