With its location on the southernmost edge of Alabama, Gulf Shores offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, great fishing opportunities, and fun attractions for all ages. After you settle into your vacation rental in Gulf Shores, you can immerse yourself in brand new adventures that range from parasailing to water park rides. Check out exciting activities to do in and around Gulf Shores.
1. Parasail the Gulf
Offering one of the most exhilarating experiences on the Alabama coast, Pleasure Island Parasail takes you up and over the Gulf Coast for a breathtaking ride. As you glide along through the air, you can take in the beaches, resorts, and parks that line the area. Watch dolphins play in the surf from up above, and if you’re really lucky, you might see the Blue Angels take off on a training run from nearby Pensacola, Florida. Pleasure Island Parasail is located behind Bahama Bob’s on West Coast Boulevard, making it easy to get to from your Gulf Shores vacation rental.
2. Kayak With Dolphins
Grab a paddle and kayak off into the waning afternoon to spend some time with the dolphins that visit the Gulf Shores area. Wild Native Tours offers multiple options with trips taking off from the dock behind Happy Harbor Pizza and Subs on County Road 6. Choose a sunset kayak tour with a guide, and enjoy spectacular views along with the playful mammals. Wild Native Tours also features eco-tours and kayaking trips through Bon Secours National Wildlife Refuge.
3. Talk With the Animals at the Gulf Coast Zoo
Since 1989 the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has been delighting visitors with up-close views of over 500 exotic animals in natural habitats along easy-to-travel paths. The zoo offers several opportunities to meet and learn about animals, including sloth, lemur, and kangaroo encounters. Guest favorites often include the lions, tigers, leopards, and primates. Plan to spend the day at the zoo, which is conveniently located off the Gulf Shores Parkway, and bring a picnic lunch or enjoy seasonal concessions. The park is open year-round and comprises 17 acres for a relaxing stroll.
4. Slide, Race, and Ride at Waterville USA
Play away a day at Waterville USA, a popular water and amusement park located just a quarter-mile from the beach in Gulf Shores. The 20-acre park boasts thrilling water rides, roller coasters, and a go-kart track. You can also test your puzzle-solving skills in Escape House Waterville–a unique experience for groups, couples, and families. Rent a cabana to keep out the sun and enjoy some people-watching, and then grab a tube and float down the Crystal River, a lazy river that winds its way through the park and by a waterfall. Several dining options are available within the park, and gift shop offers t-shirts, hats, and other mementos.
5. Putt With Pirates
Join Blackbeard and Captain Kidd for an exciting round of mini golf at Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf on the Gulf Shores Parkway. A giant pirate ship replica beckons you with promises of booty, and a lush tropical setting adds a bit of relaxation. Offering 18 holes of amusement and challenges for golfers of all ages, the mini-golf course offers an ideal way to while away an hour or two before dinner. Group rates are available, and the course is open year round.
6. Stroll the Grounds of Fort Morgan
Standing at the entrance to Mobile Bay since 1813, Fort Morgan offers a true trip back into the past with structures little changed from Civil War times. The original archways of the fort and the batteries inspire the imagination, while an on-site museum provides the history of the grounds up through its use in WWII. A seasonal gift shop and concession stand are also available. Walk around the grounds, enjoy the view, and perhaps catch a glimpse of people past. Legend has it that some soldiers never left.
7. Charter a Fishing Tour
Step aboard the good ship Miss Brianna and head off on a charter fishing adventure with Gulf Shores Fishing Charters, located off Perdido Beach Boulevard in neighboring Orange Beach. The charter company offers an inclusive fishing package that starts at 4-hour trips and runs all the way up to 36-hour over-nighters. Geared toward small groups and families, the charter includes licenses and bait, and you can have your haul cleaned and bagged for an additional charge. For a slightly different experience, take a flounder gigging trip at sunset. This 4-hour trip aboard a tunnel hull boat and search for flounder, crab, and stingrays.
8. Shop for Souvenirs at the Wharf at Orange Beach
It’s not a vacation without souvenirs, and the Wharf at Orange Beach combines shopping with entertainment in a beautiful boardwalk setting. Affectionately called the Wharf, the area is brimming with local boutiques, gourmet restaurants serving up a range of menus, and entertainment options from music at the amphitheater to rides and marina excursions. The Wharf is home to several festivals and markets throughout the year, and the Spectra Sound and Light display a lane of palm trees featuring lights that dance in time to the music. Displays change throughout the year to reflect the season. Grab a romantic dinner with your love, and then head on over to the Ferris wheel for breathtaking views of it all from above.
9. Go Natural at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Commune with nature and learn about the wildlife and plant matter native to Alabama’s shores with a day spent at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. French for safe harbor, this 7,157-acre protected land located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula is home to a variety of wildlife, including the loggerhead sea turtles. Get a comprehensive look into the lifespan and migratory habits of the Monarch butterfly, and go spotting for snowy plowers, a native bird that nests in the area and lives there year round. Pick up a Discovery Pack – which includes a magnifying glass, field guides, binoculars, and a journal – at the refuge office to use for the day, and head out for a day spent exploring with your crew.
10. Explore Local Artists
Before heading home from your Gulf Shores vacation rental, spend a couple of hours at the Gulf Coast Arts Alliance gallery. The quaint building located on 24th Avenue in town features the work of local artists and craftsmen. The Alliance hosts Art Markets throughout the year in Waterway Village, providing an opportunity to see a larger body of work. Pick up a painting of a favorite zoo animal, or select jewelry or home decor that exude a Gulf Coast flair. The gallery offers unique souvenirs to truly make your trip memorable.
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