There are endless fun things to do with kids in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The sugar-white sandy beaches, the warm breeze coming off the sea, and the calming lullaby of the waves make visiting Gulf Shores with kids the ideal family vacation.
We dipped our toes in the silky smooth sand and instantly fell in love with this darling beach town.
There are endless adventures and new things to discover around every corner that are bound to leave lasting memories. We are excited to bring you our complete guide of things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama with kids.
This post is sponsored by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. This post does contain affiliate links. As always opinions and reviews are my own.
Where To Stay in Gulf Shores With Kids
Lodging opportunities are endless. Hotels stretch down the coastline, condos and beach houses are readily available for renters, and campsites can be found scattered in between.
While each family travels differently we recommend checking out the rentals available through Vacasa Rentals. We stayed in a stunning villa located directly across the street from the beach.
Pelican Haven was a 2-bedroom villa that was the perfect fit for our little family. Upon entry, we were blown away by how spacious, updated, and tastefully decorated the unit was. I need their interior decorator to hop on a plane and come to my house immediately!
Everything is extremely thought out. The beautiful balcony was the perfect way to spend our evenings after our little gal retired. They have a variety of properties that can meet most budgets and even accommodate large families.
We especially loved their keyless entry and their app that allowed us to check-in and out with a touch of a button.
What Are The Top Attractions In Gulf Shores For Kids
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Deemed the “Little Zoo That Could” by Animal Planet, this small zoo packs a powerful punch. The zoo made history as the first US zoo to do a full-scale off-site evacuation of all its animals during hurricane Ivan.
The hurricane completely destroyed the zoo in 2004, but it fought to rebuild and keep going even in the midst of other hurricanes inflicting damage to the zoo.
This Gulf Shores Zoo has recently opened in its new location. The new location is a little further inland, providing more shelter to the zoo during hurricanes.
As you can imagine the staff is phenomenal at this little zoo, but it is the animal encounters are that truly makes this zoo stand out. Guests can get up close and personal with their resident sloths, enjoy the playful lemurs, and or hop over to pet a kangaroo.
These are a few of the many activities offered at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. The entire zoo is wheelchair and stroller accessible with snacks being sold throughout the zoo.
Check Out The Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Playgrounds
Playgrounds are a great way for little ones to burn off some extra energy during their travels. Not only are they a great free things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, but each park also offers unique and fun play areas to discover.
We particularly enjoyed The Orange Beach Kids Park which has a huge play structure, an area for toddlers, and even a pier for fishing.
Families can picnic and swim in Wolf Bay as the waters are more shallow and calm. Pack swim gear, plenty of sun screen and a lunch!
Meyer Park is a smaller park but has a great play area. Another great park to check out when visiting Gulf Shores with kids is the Kids Park, located next to Johnnie Sims Park Pavillion, for a great picnic and playground area. Discover more great Outdoor Attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
The Gulf State Interpretive Center and Gulf State Park
For another fun free things to do in Gulf Shores, AL spend one of your days exploring Gulf State Park. We recommend starting your adventure at the Gulf State Interpretive Center.
Acting as the gateway to the park the educational center shows visitors how they are preserving their coastal environment. With interactive displays, intriguing facts, and an impressive design of the building that utilizes natural elements to reduce energy demands.
The new pedestrian bridge allows visitors easy access to the park and is relatively close to the Nature Center, another great family stop. The park encompasses over 6,000 acres of trails, wetlands, beaches, and more. Rent bikes, go fishing or walk the beautiful trails and lakes that make Gulf Shores such an extraordinary destination.
Enjoy Those Beautiful Gulf Coast Beaches
This should go without saying, but be sure to spend a few hours a day on the beautiful white sandy beaches. Catch a sunrise, build a sandcastle, or take a leisurely stroll in the evening as the sun dips into the ocean. There are 32 miles of pristine sandy beaches waiting for you to explore along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
One of our favorite activities was to explore the Fort Morgan Historic Site. Built between 1819 and 1833 the fort played a vital role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. The fort was used intermittently until after World War II and then turned over to the State of Alabama.
Guests can now discover the ins and outs of this historic treasure. Admission is affordable and allows visitors access to the grounds as well as the fort. The grounds of Fort Morgan include beautiful nature areas, picnic spots, a boat launch, and a beach.
Plan on spending a few hours here to take in the history and everything that this hidden gem has to offer.
Things To Do On A Rainy Day In Gulf Shores, AL
It always dampens spirits when rain hits during a vacation. Make the most of those rainy days by checking out a few of these great indoor options.
- The Tanger Outlet Mall not only offers great shopping in Gulf Shores but has a covered playground for the kids.
- The Wharf in Orange Beach is a great spot to catch a movie, grab a bite to eat, and do a little shopping.
- The National Museum of Naval Aviation is located roughly a half-hour from Gulf Shores and is a great spot for families.
- Located in Mobile is the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and Imax. You can also find the USS Alabama in Mobile.
- Picnic Indoors at Picnic Beach BBQ. Grab one of their provided blankets and enjoy your meal on the artificial grass.
The Best Outdoor Activities In Gulf Shores
One of the best kids activities in Gulf Shores, AL is exploring the emerald waters in search of dolphins. Kids of all ages will enjoy a relaxing boat ride out at sea while trying to spy some sea friends. We particularly enjoy ones that highlight additional sea life such as the one offered by the Fun Boat.
Take a Ride On The Ferris Wheel At The Wharf While Visiting Gulf Shores
Take a scenic spin on the Wharf’s popular Ferris Wheel. It is an iconic feature of Orange Beach offering tree-top views paired with the gulf breeze. A perfect way to cap off any evening.
The Wharf offers a variety of restaurants, activities and shopping, making it one of the top things to do in Orange Beach, AL.
Rent A Bike And Take On The Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail
The Hugh Branyon Backcountry trail is the ideal way to experience the quieter side of Orange Beach. The trail winds visitors through towering pines, around freshwater lakes, and marshy swamps.
Interpretive signs can be found throughout the trail identifying local flora and fauna.
There are plenty of places to rent bikes throughout the trail, we recommend renting them here. The Rosemary Dunes trailhead is located roughly 30 yards away from the store.
Catch Sight Of Our Feathered Friends While Birding at The Audubon Bird Sanctuary
The serenity of bird watching is one enjoyed by many. Gulf Shores is known as a premier birding destination with over 400 species visiting the coast each year. Birding is especially popular during migration in the spring and fall.
A visit to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island is a must for any avid birder. It’s time to grab those binoculars for a spectacular birding adventure.
Kayak the Backwaters of Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge
Take a morning spending time kayaking the backwaters of Gulf Shores at the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge. Escape the crowds by discovering this little piece of coastal wilderness. A wide variety of wildlife can be observed including alligators so keep your eyes open.
Kayaks can be rented by an outside company and dropped off at the location of your choice. Join a Wild Native Kayaking Tour to enjoy a guided tour of the backwaters.
Enroll In Sand Castle University To Wow Fellow Beachgoers
The white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores are what draw many to this area yearly. Take your beach experience to the next level by enrolling in Sand Castle University. In no time you will be creating works of art that beachgoers will stop to admire.
This is not only entertaining but educational. You will now be able to take this newfound knowledge and apply it to any beach!
Catch The Big One While On A Deep Sea Fishing Charter
Hop aboard one of Gulf Shores’ many fishing charters to catch some of the biggest fish in the Gulf of Mexico! Many of the fishing charters offer dolphin cruises and a variety of other great adventures if deep sea fishing isn’t for you.
Looking for that perfect Gulf Shores Dolphin Cruise or Deep Sea Fishing Charter? Check out these great deals on activities in Gulf Shores.
Best Places To Eat In Gulf Shores With Kids
From restaurants with playgrounds to princess tea parties here are a few of our top places to eat in Gulf Shores, AL with kids in tow. Discover our full top ten places to eat with kids in Gulf Shores.
The Original Oyster House
Hands down the best oysters I have ever eaten were at the Original Oyster House. The seafood here was superb and the waitstaff was excellent.
Besides the oysters, I highly recommend getting the fresh catch of the day, cheesy grits, and a big slice of peanut butter pie. Trust me, you will make the room even when you feel there is none.
They are family-friendly, offer a great kids menu, and even better views of the waterfront.
GT’s On The Bay
There is nothing I love more than when great food meets a great family-friendly environment. GT’s won me over the minute I spied their awesome pirate ship play structure for the kids to explore.
As if that wasn’t enough the beautiful views of Wolf Bay from the deck made it difficult not to return every night!
The food was top-notch, from their seafood to their wood-fired pizzas. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything from this diverse and one-of-kind menu.
Be sure to check out their fish “pool” located in the middle of the restaurant, which popular with adults and kids alike.
Located on the Intercoastal waterway, LuLu’s is owned and operated by Lucy Buffett, Jimmy Buffett’s sister. Lulu’s is the perfect place to grab a great bite to eat then hit the arcade or ropes course for hours of family fun.
One of the things I admired most was how they handle allergies. If you order off the allergy menu your meal will be prepared in a separate area by a manager from start to finish.
I highly recommend the Crab Melt and then capping off your visit to Lulu’s with a slice of the key lime pie.
Be sure to check online to see if there are any special events going on. We happened to be visiting during their Annual Tropical Wedding Vow Renewal.
With encouragement from a few locals, we decided to join the hundreds of couples and renew our wedding vows. Lucy puts on a fabulous reception offering all who participate champagne and cake and of course the vow renewals.
We met couples who have been married from one year to fifty-five. Each with their own unique stories and advice to share. So many years of love in one place was a spectacular sight to witness and be a part of.
With activities happening around the clock the Hangout is the local place that you don’t want to miss out on with the kids in tow. It is easy to see how families can spend hours here.
From pirate and princess breakfasts, a DJ booth, competitions, and of course their amazing outdoor space.
Parents can have a relaxing meal while the kids can explore the sandpit and participate in the courtyard games. Get the fish tacos, order a shark attack, sit back and relax!
The Yard Milkshake Bar
This is every child’s dream come true. I can’t even describe the milkshake glory that is the Yard Milkshake Bar. It is the perfect way to cap off any trip to Gulf Shores.
Start planning your perfect family beach vacation on the beaches and discover why Alabama’s beaches are one of the best-hidden gems around.
The Team at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism are happy to assist you in putting together your ideal itinerary for visiting Gulf Shores with kids.
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Awesome Things To Do With Kids In Gulf Shores, AL