Posted on 6/15/2024 by TP

Bucket list Activities in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL

Nestled along the stunning Gulf of Mexico on the Alabama coast, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are the perfect low-key getaways compared to their bustling Florida neighbors. But don't let that fool you – these two coastal gems offer just as much natural beauty and fun.

Is it your first time visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach? We've got you covered with a curated list of must-see spots and activities in these Alabama darlings.

At Vacation Home Collection, your comfort and happiness are our top priorities. With a wide variety of properties in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, we've been creating dream vacations for years, ensuring you and your family have the best time ever.

We're experts in the region, so check out our blog for tips on making the most of your trip, including a guide to the best restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Explore the culinary scene like a local!

Now, let’s dive into this can't-miss list!


Gulf Shores

  • Gulf State Park: Embrace nature and enjoy outdoor activities.

  • Gulf Shores Public Beach: Relax on white sands and swim in turquoise waters.

  • Go Fishing: A must-try in the "Red Snapper Capital of the World."

  • Waterville USA: Enjoy amazing slides and fun rides at this water park.

  • Original Oyster House: Savor coastal flavors at this local gem.

Orange Beach

  • The Wharf: Discover a plethora of entertainment venues for the whole family.

  • Orange Beach Waterfront Park: Relax, enjoy beautiful bay views, and picnic in this local favorite.

  • Orange Beach History Museum: Learn about local history with quirky and fun exhibits.

  • Alabama Point East Beach: Swim in emerald waters and stroll boardwalks through sand dunes and wildlife.

Bucket List Activities In Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventures. With 6,150 acres of natural beauty, the park boasts 2 miles of unspoiled beaches, 28 miles of scenic trails, and a nature center. Explore the beautiful Lake Shelby for kayaking, paddling, and fishing.

Nature lovers will enjoy the park’s trails, which offer great opportunities for spotting wildlife like alligators and birds. Kids will love the butterfly area, and for a more convenient and fun experience, you can rent an electric bike to explore the paved trails. The park is also dog-friendly in specific areas, making it a perfect spot for a family picnic among the towering pines and swaying palmettos.

Gulf Shores Public Beach

Gulf Shores Public Beach is a must-visit, whether it's your first time or an annual tradition. Located just a stone’s throw from Gulf State Park, this beach showcases Alabama's dream-like beach scenery with its vast shore, crisp white sand, and dazzling turquoise waters.

Relax and soak in the sun, swim in the clear waters, or enjoy activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skiing. In winter, take peaceful walks along the shore and beachcomb to your heart's content. Don't miss the spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. The beach also offers amenities like public restrooms, showers, picnic areas, pavilions, and boardwalks for easy access.

Go Fishing

As the “Red Snapper Capital of the World,” fishing is a must-try activity in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The Gulf of Mexico offers high chances of hooking a big catch, including Redfish, Speckled Trout, Amberjack, Kingfish, and of course, Red Snapper.

Beginners and pros alike can enjoy various fishing methods such as charters, pier fishing, surf fishing, and kayak fishing. For a communal experience, join a Party Boat Fishing trip. Top fishing spots include Little Lagoon, Gulf State Park Pier, Cotton Bayou Public Pier, and Dixey Bar, a sandbar offering great fishing opportunities and stunning views.

Waterville USA Waterpark

Since 1986, Waterville USA has been a top spot for family fun in Gulf Shores. The waterpark features 17 slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool. Highlights include the thrilling Dune Racer and FlowRider, which simulates surfing and bodyboarding. For younger kids, themed water playgrounds with water cannons, sprays, and geysers provide endless fun.

Waterville USA also offers go-karts, mini-golf, a state-of-the-art arcade, an escape room, and a roller coaster. For a more relaxing experience, visit Cabana Cove, where private shaded areas with lounges and umbrellas let you unwind and order food and drinks. Be sure to reserve in advance.

Original Oyster House

No visit to Gulf Shores is complete without indulging in fresh Gulf seafood. The Original Oyster House, a local institution since 1983, is one of the best spots to savor coastal flavors. Must-tries include diverse oyster options, award-winning seafood gumbo, and cheesy grits with blackened shrimp. For lighter fare, the daily salad bar is consistently fresh and well-maintained. Pair your meal with a handcrafted cocktail for the full experience. Enjoy genuine local cuisine and Southern hospitality in a pleasant coastal atmosphere.

Must-Do Adventures in Orange Beach

The Wharf

The Wharf is one of the most famous spots in Orange Beach. Known as the entertainment district, it boasts a vibrant atmosphere and endless activities for the entire family. This is the full package when it comes to entertainment in the city.

Besides a great variety of bars, restaurants, and boutiques, you can spend time watching the latest blockbuster in a movie theater or have fun playing mini-golf. For families with kids, the Arena the Next Level Arcade is a must. This expansive arcade offers several interactive games, including Laser Tag and Bazooka Ball for everyone to play together. However, the Wharf’s biggest star is the Wharf Ferris Wheel — the tallest Ferris Wheel on the Gulf Coast and an iconic landmark of Orange Beach. Needless to say, a ride offers breathtaking views of the city.

There’s always something happening in the district, so if you want to experience the energetic side of Orange Beach, this is the go-to place. Additionally, from The Wharf marina, you can catch a dolphin or sunset cruise for another unmissable activity.

Orange Beach Waterfront Park

Nestled against Wolf Bay, Orange Beach Waterfront Park is all about soaking in great views and engaging in relaxing activities.

This serene park features scenic walking paths you can explore, seven picnic shelters with grills, and a pier where you can fish, spot dolphins, and watch unforgettable sunsets over the bay. For kids, the park's playground, boasting slides, swings, and climbing areas, will keep them busy and happy.

Orange Beach Waterfront Park is also home to the Coastal Arts Center, located in a gorgeous white house. It offers many art classes, workshops, and lovely exhibitions featuring local art.

Orange Beach History Museum

It’s always a good idea to understand a bit of the local history of the place you’re vacationing — it will make you experience the destination with renewed eyes. With that said, a visit to the Orange Beach History Museum is something you should definitely include in your Orange Beach bucket list.

Housed in a century-old schoolhouse, the museum features quirky and fun exhibitions focused on the Native Americans of the region and fishing heritage. You’ll learn about the local history through stories from local families, several artifacts, memorabilia, and much more — everything is extremely well preserved, helping every visitor feel fully immersed. Some of the most interesting items you’ll find are a 500-year-old dugout canoe, textbooks and encyclopedias from the 1800s, antique typewriters, and WWII memorabilia.

The best part? Admission is free, and the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly, always happy to answer questions and give extra information to enrich your experience.

Alabama Point East Beach

Providing over 6,000 feet of wide beach for nature lovers, Alabama Point East Beach is the perfect spot in Orange Beach to swim in warm emerald water and admire the stunning coastal landscape and wildlife from boardwalks cutting through sand dunes.

Locally known as Point East, the beach sits just a few miles from Perdido Pass Bridge, offering a great view of the bridge. You might also spot some surfers catching the waves and families having picnics. Wait until dusk to witness a memorable sunset casting a golden glow over the stunning scenery.

FAQ: Top Things You Can't Miss in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL

Which spots are the most family-friendly in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach?

  • Gulf State Park, Waterville USA, Gulf Shores Public Beach, The Wharf, Orange Beach Waterfront Park, Alabama Point East Beach.

Are the beaches and parks mentioned dog-friendly?

  • Gulf State Park (Dog Pond at Lake Shelby) and Orange Beach Waterfront Park are dog-friendly. Dogs aren't allowed on the beaches.

Is it safe to vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach?

  • Yes, with local police, emergency services, and lifeguards ensuring safety.

What is the best time to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach?

  • Spring: Warm, ideal for outdoor activities.

  • Fall: Warm, less crowded.

  • Summer: Hot, peak tourist season.

  • Winter: Mild, peaceful.

Wondering Where to Stay During Your Trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL?

With years of experience in Gulf Shores, we're experts in making memorable getaways.

Our vacation rentals range from beachfront homes to high-rise condos and are perfect for a home base for your next getaway. When you stay with us, all you need to focus on is letting the coastal beauty whisk you away - rest assured, it will!

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