hidden gems in gulf shores and orange beach
Family Travel,  Travel,  US Destinations

5 Hidden Gems In Gulf Shores To Explore Over Spring Break

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School’s out of session for a week, and spring break is an excellent time for the family to exchange books for beaches. Recoup and recharge on a refreshing trip to the family-friendly shores of Alabama beaches.

While the sugary sands of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach may demand the majority of your attention, we have highlighted a few hidden gems worth exploring during your visit.

Catch a sunset in Orange Beach
Catch a sunset in Orange Beach

We want to thank Visit Alabama Beaches for sponsoring this post to help inspire your next beach vacation.

Orange Beach Waterfront Park

If you are traveling with younger children, head to the Orange Beach Waterfront Park for one of the best playgrounds in the area. Located on scenic Wolf Bay, this beautiful park offers a fenced-in, mulch-free playground with multiple play structures.

Orange Beach Waterfront Playground
Orange Beach Waterfront Playground

The newly built Waterfront Pier is now open after being severely damaged by Hurricane Sally. Catch the breeze on one of the swings overlooking the bay, stroll along the walking path, or pack a picnic to catch the sunset over the bay.

Fort Morgan

Roughly a half-hour drive from Gulf Shores, guests can visit historic Fort Morgan.

The  Fort Morgan Historical Site is a hidden gem that has stood guard over Mobile Bay for over a century. The fort played a vital room in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August of 1864 and was used by the armed forces up until the end of World War II. German U-boats were operating in the Gulf during World War II, with constant sighting and debris washing ashore.

Step into Fort Morgan for a self-guided tour.
Step into Fort Morgan for a self-guided tour.

The garrison was active in patrols and debris removal. In 1944, the garrison was removed, and the fort was turned over to the state of Alabama and deemed a historical site. A self-guided tour takes guests through the fort’s history and the grounds. Text panels are located throughout the park and are packed with interesting tidbits.

Visitors can now spend hours exploring the fort, beaches, a wooded natural area, and marshes around it. Birding is a popular activity, as many species migrate through the area. Stop by the museum to see relics and artifacts that bring the fort’s stories to life and get a glimpse into what life there was like.

Pedal A Bird Boat

If exploring Gulf Shores in a bird boat has been on your bucket list, then good news: High Tide Daiquiris and Mimosas now has giant bird boats to rent!! That’s right, explore the back bay by pedaling your duck, swan, or flamingo boat! After your grand adventure, head inside for a mimosa or Aperol Spritz inside. They even have mocktails!

Tip: Each boat holds two people, and an adult must accompany the children.

Do An Animal Adventure At The Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores. However, many guests do not know that it offers incredible animal adventures. Guests have the opportunity to go behind the scenes with sloths, hang out with a family of lemurs, or feed a giraffe an afternoon snack.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Don’t miss the Animal Adventures at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

Booking An Animal Adventure

Each animal adventure ticket (Lemur and Sloth) is $24.95 per person (as of 2024), plus regular paid zoo admission. Tickets can be purchased in the park on the day of your visit. No reservations are made, and adventures are on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Giraffe Feeding at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
Giraffe Feeding at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

Giraffe Feeding is appropriate for all ages. Each encounter ticket is $5 per person, plus a regular paid zoo admission. Tickets can be purchased in the park during feeding times. Parents may go into the feeding station with children to assist and take pictures for free. Regardless of age, a ticket must be purchased to participate in the feeding. No reservations are needed.

Tip: The Lemur Adventure has a minimum age of 3 years old, with children under age 10 being accompanied by a paying adult.


Enroll in Sand Castle University

One of the best hidden gems in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is the unique sandcastle-building class, which offers families a hands-on, fun, educational course that will take your sandcastle-building skills to the next level.

Discover  hidden gems in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Discover hidden gems in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Sand Castle University offers a variety of classes for all skill levels. Beginners can start with Sand Castle 101 and then move to the more advanced class, Sand Castle 202. They also offer a sea creature creation course where you can make an Octopus, Crab, or Turtle.

One of the highlights of this experience is that Sand Castle University comes to you! When scheduling your class, you can pick the beach location. Whether at your beach condo, beach house, or public beach access within Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, or Fort Morgan. 

Enroll in Sand Castle University
Enroll in Sand Castle University

TIP: Classes are offered year-round and quickly booked up during peak tourist season. I recommend booking your class before arriving. All weather decisions are made on the day of your booking. There is no fee if your instructor cancels your class due to the weather.

Need a few more hidden gems in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach? We have found a few more unique things to do that you don’t want to miss.

  •  Check Out Bamahenge
  • Float on a Tiki Boat with Cruisin’ Tikis
  • Cool Shots Selfie Museum
  • Participate in the annual Vow Renewal at LuLu’s
Participate in the annual Vow Renewal at LuLu's
Participate in the annual Vow Renewal at LuLu’s

For even more great things to do in Gulf Shores, Visit Alabama Beaches for a complete guide.

Don’t miss out on these related Orange Beach and Gulf Shores articles:

27 Fun Family Attractions To Do In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach With Kids

15 Things That Need To Be On Your Gulf Shores Bucket List

Free Things And Budget-Friendly Tips For Visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

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Hidden Gems in Gulf Shores Alabama

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