Your Perdido Key vacation rental near the Florida and Alabama border gives you access to great attractions in both states. You can fill your vacation days with beach activities, museum excursions, day-cruises, and dining, all sandwiched between amusement parks and arcades. As much as you look forward to unknotting your tangled nerves, imagine the expressions on the kids’ faces when you tell them they’re going dinosaur hunting or on a pirate voyage. Cutting loose and letting your hair down shakes out the stress, whether you’re conquering the spiral staircase in a lighthouse or keeping a lunch date with a ghost. Whatever you envision as the ideal vacation itinerary, here’s a list of the top nine things to do in Perdido Key with kids.

1. Rent a Pontoon Boat

To take your kids on a vacation adventure they can’t stop raving about, a rented pontoon boat especially one with a sliding board from Flora-Bama Marina should do the trick. You can also rent other boats and jet skis for your day on the water. When you’re ready for a change of pace, Blue Dolphin Cruises offers dolphin cruises along the inland waterways and the Alabama Gulf Coast.

2. Bike the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

If your family loves biking, you might want to check out the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail in Alabama, about 10 minutes west of the Florida state line. Seven trails meander through six habitats along the 15-mile Backcountry Trail complex that runs through Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and the Gulf State Park. Along the trail, your family can pass through the Butterfly Garden and maybe stop to let the butterflies say hello. You might see bobcats, deer, or alligators as well. While you’re in the area, the kids might enjoy seeing Native American and local fishing artifacts at the Indian and Sea Museum, which is housed in a 1910 schoolhouse structure. If you want to see the Gulf Coast from above, Orange Beach Helicopter Tours can fly you over the beaches, parks, and the Gulf for some spectacular views.

3. Fish on the Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore covers the eastern half of the island of Perdido Key and includes Johnson Beach as a designated recreational area. A well-known feature, the Discovery Nature Trail, is a half-mile raised boardwalk through dunes, pine tree stands, and salt marshes. Parking is allowed in the parking lot about a half mile inside the west entrance to the area and along the beach road unless signage states otherwise. Lifeguards are stationed at Johnson Beach, the designated swimming area. You may also fish, picnic, and ride bikes in this location.

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4. Walk the Trails in Big Lagoon State Park

Just across the bridge between Perdido Key and the mainland, there’s enough to do in Big Lagoon State Park that your family can spend an entire day and still have adventures left over. If you arrive in the morning when it’s cool, walking along any of the five miles of trails gives you opportunities to introduce the kids to natural habitats. Saltwater marshes and pine flatwoods attract a variety of birds, and the beaches, bays, and woodlands provide lots of chances to look for wildlife and plants. You can swim, fish, and canoe the waters in the park as well as go crabbing in the shallows of the Big Lagoon. When it’s time to eat, you can use the picnic tables, grills, and covered shelters. If you have some older kids who are reluctant to put down their smartphones, the park includes a number of geocaches. They can use their GPS features to locate caches.

5. Board the American Star for a Pirate Voyage

New pirates on the American Star experience a taste of adventure, trained to be true swashbucklers by Captain Rusty and his crew for their duties at sea. To evade discovery as landlubbers, face paint disguises keep new mates from being thrown overboard. The mission of the voyage is to discover lost gold and retrieve the stolen treasure map. Once the stowaway traitor is outed and the gold recovered, a merry celebration ensues with grog for all, pirate games, and lots of dancing. It’s your chance to show the kids that you can still do the limbo.

6. Hunt for Dinosaurs in the Woods

There’s a place on Bay La Launch where dinosaurs stalk the forest, medieval knights lurk in the woods, and a full-size replica of Stonehenge stands near a 50-foot woman floating in a pond. Barber Marina in Elberta, Alabama, offers these and other attractions. By land, Elberta is about 25 miles from Perdido Key. Or, you can rent a boat and cruise about 10 miles west via Perdido Bay and Bay La Launch to the marina. Once there, it’s a short walk to the woods at the edge of the marina where you can hunt for a Brontosaurus, a T-Rex, a Stegosaurus, and a triceratops. The Knights, the giant lady, and mysterious Bamahenge are all within a quarter mile.

7. Ride a Big Ferris Wheel

Whether you’re ready to chill out or crank up the action, the Wharf at Orange Beach’s family-friendly entertainment district is less than a 20-minute drive to the southwest of Perdido Key. Indoor adventures let you beat the heat with a movie at the 15-screen AMC Classic Wharf 15 Theater, or challenge the kids to some laser tag at Arena the Next Level indoor arcade. Sharky’s Family Adventure Center includes mini golf, zip lines, ropes courses, and a kiddie’s ropes course. At sunset, watch Main Street light up with with a musically choreographed light show. Kids’ nights feature live animals, face painting, and other attractions.

8. Play on a Splash Pad at Waterville USA

Picture stepping off your Perdido Key vacation rental doorstep into the sugary-white sand and racing the kids to the warm, clear waters of the Gulf. You can relax on your beach towel while the kids frolic in the surf or dig in the sand. When you’re ready to do something different, Waterville USA presents choices that include water rides and amusement park attractions. To start the day at the 20-acre park, drive less than 30 minutes southwest from your Perdido Key vacation rental to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where the action includes 17 water slides, a wave pool, and the lazy river float. After you dry off, hop onto the roller coaster or go zooming around the go-kart tracks with the kids. Other attractions include the bungee trampoline, miniature golf, and an arcade.

9. Climb the Pensacola Lighthouse

Built in 1859, the Pensacola Lighthouse stands on the Naval Air Station Pensacola. On a day when you feel peppy, you can climb the 177 steps with the kids to reach the top of the historic lighthouse. The Keeper’s Quarters features the Richard C. Callaway Museum. Along with local historical exhibits, the museum and the lighthouse tower are said to house a ghost or two. Also on the Naval Station, The National Naval Aviation Museum exhibits over 150 restored aircraft that represent American military aviation history of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. After you finish touring the lighthouse and museums, you might consider having lunch with a ghost at Apple Annie’s Courtyard, Pensacola’s rumored haunted restaurant.

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