3 Days On The Gulf Coast: The Best Things To Do in Gulf Shores

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Alabama Gulf Coast is one of the best-kept secrets of the south. If you are looking for a fun, relaxing, and unforgettable family trip, romantic getaway with the hubby or a weekend with your best girlfriends head down to Alabama!

There are so many things to do in Gulf Shores from its culinary scene to the extensive options for both water and land-based activities, Gulf Shores, Alabama appeals to couples, families, and solo travelers alike.

Grab your flip-flops and make your way to the beach to enjoy the pristine white sand beaches that Gulf Shores is known for. Take advantage of the diversity of marine life by taking a dolphin-watching tour, fishing charter, or catch an adrenaline rush from a zip line ride over the water. 

Top Things To Do in Gulf Shores

1. 32 miles of Soft Sand Beaches!

To say the Alabama Gulf Coast surprised me is an understatement!   The beach is about as perfect as you can get, from the soft sand and clear waters; to adventure and fun all within a few hours of my doorstep.

Although Gulf Shores is a beach community, you will find the beaches uncrowded, even during peak times of the day.  Wake up a little early to enjoy the sunrise and listen to the waves crash against the shoreline.

Even though the beaches are not private there is enough space to build sandcastles, lounge, or just listen to music without bothering your neighbor. 

Relaxing is one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores!

If you plan to spend a day at the beach,  pack a lunch and snacks because you will not find many eating options on the beachside of the condos which is where most people stay.

Pro Tip: Most Condos rent cabanas and lounge chairs but they don’t advertise the rentals.

2. Gulf State Park

The Gulf State Park Campground is located just 1.5 miles from the white sand beaches of Alabama’s coast. 

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The park maintains a weekly activities calendar, which you can review before your visit to find out about what activities will be available during your stay.

The park offers hiking trails, a pier, beaches, and a championship golf course. If your family is looking for adventure you can rent a bike, go kayaking, or paddle boarding right in the park. 

Don’t be too alarmed if you run into an alligator or two while exploring the park.

The Gulf State Park Nature Center also includes live animal demonstrations, guided beach walks, telescope viewing, and educational programs for kids. There is something for every member of your family.

3. Gulf State Park Pier

Your family can easily spend hours at the Gulf State Park Pier, which is known for its exceptional fishing and people-watching.

Whether you desire a saltwater experience from fishing on the pier or freshwater fishing from breathtaking Lake Shelby, there is something here for both the professional fishermen and the novice who is wanting to have a good time and indulge in a little fishing.

The pier restaurant makes it easy to stay for several hours. You can grab a bite to eat with views facing the water.

Fishing equipment is available for rent if you do not want to bring your own.


The fee to fish from Gulf State Park Fishing and Education Pier 

This fee does not include an Alabama saltwater and/or pier fishing license which can be purchased online.

  • Daily: $9.00
  • Weekly: $41.00
  • Monthly: $81.00
  • Semiannual: $161.00
  • Annual: $321.00

Rod & Reel Rentals

  • 4 Hours: $10.00
  • All Day: $20.00


  • All day: $4.00
  • One trip: $3.00

Children under the age of 11 and under fish for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

4. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is small but provides a more authentic feel vs the large zoos that you are probably more accustomed to visiting. The zoo is known for its close observation decks, which get you front row access to more than 500 animals.

The kiddos will love seeing the primates, lions, bears, leopards, and an aviary.  Educational talks and animal shows are also on the schedule, and a shaded picnic area offers a comfortable retreat from the hot Alabama sun.

5. Baby turtles

One of the most epic things to do in Gulf Shores is seeing the baby turtles migrate at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The kiddos will be in awe watching thousands of sea turtles hatch and make their way into the water.

6. Enjoy a relaxing massage

It doesn’t really matter if you’re staying at Turquoise Place, an Airbnb, or at the RV park — hotels like the Marriott and Beach Club will be more than happy to help you relax as long as your credit card works.  Splurge on a deep tissue massage and then sip on a cocktail by a pool.

7. The World Food Championship

The Wharf is also where the World Food Championships are held each year. The World Food Championships is the largest competition in Food Sport, where Chefs and home cooks of previous events convene for a chance at winning the ultimate food crown and a share of hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.  

If you have not been to Gulf Shores this is a great time to go so loosen your belt and grab a fork because lawd, the food is AMAAZZZING!

I had the opportunity to work with Gulf Shores and the World Food Championship by attending the World Food Championship Blogger Summit which takes place every October in the beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama.

8. Get religious while you drink

Flora-Bama bar sits on the Florida-Alabama state line.  Jimmy Buffett has sung about Flora- Bama, and Flora- Bama is probably the bar/church where you can grab a drink and listen to honky-tonk music.

9. Sunset Cruise

One of the best attractions in Gulf Shores is a Sunset Cruise with Sail Wild Hearts.  The Sunset Cruise is a way to wind down with your family after exploring Gulf Shores.  

You will explore the Gulf waters on an open-ocean catamaran and you will be provided complimentary refreshments and snacks which will include water, soft drinks, and hors-d’oeuvres.

Sunset cruises average one-and-a-half to two hours and offer wonderful views of the white-sand shoreline.

10 Hiking

The Alabama Gulf Coast is famous for its pristine white beaches, but the Gulf Coast also has amazing hiking trails.  The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail in Gulf State Park is more than 15 miles that will take you through six different ecosystems.

You will explore freshwater marshes,  butterfly gardens, and see plenty of wildlife as you hike.  Because the trails are so large I recommend plotting out where you want to hike before you arrive.

Make sure you have your camera ready as you will be impressed by the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, where you can observe regional species like the blue heron. 

There are plenty of signs along the trail making it easy to navigate and provides educational information about the area and birds that you might see on your hike.

11. Hummingbird Zipline Course

The Hummingbird Zipline Course at The Wharf in Orange Beach features eight ziplines, which will have you flying over treetops, sparkling waterways, and the wetlands.

The course spans more than 6,000 feet, with the highest of the eight towers at 115 feet, and you can zip along at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour.

You will have a chance to practice your zip skills before you take to the skies. The entire course takes about 2.5 hours and your guides will share information about the Gulf Shores and the coastal environment.

12. The Wharf

The Wharf should be on your list if shopping and eating are what you have in mind.  The Wharf offers everything from shopping, live music, dining, and a marina.

The Wharf in Gulf Shores is literally a town of its own. Don’t forget to take the kiddos on the Ferris Wheel!

Where To Eat in Gulf Shores

I am the biggest seafood lover ever and you will not run of seafood places to eat in Gulf Shores.  If I could eat seafood every day I would, and Gulf Shores offers a variety of restaurants for every palate.  

Two of my favorites are Acme and LuLu’s.  Both offer more than just great seafood, which is important because even though I love seafood my husband does not; so I have to make sure wherever we decide to dine the menu offers a variety of dishes.


If you are on a family vacation to Gulf Shores I suggest LuLu’s as it is the ultimate family-friendly restaurant.  

Lulu’s is located on the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores, families can enjoy scenic views, sandy beach and a little birdy told me they have the best Cheeseburger in Gulf Shores!  

For the kiddos there is an arcade, 3-story climbing ropes course the Mountain of Youth, and a smaller Munchkin Mountain for the little ones.

The setting is perfect for letting kids burn their energy while you wait for your food and a great place to hang out once dinner is done so Mom and Dad can hang out and get a drink while the kids play in the sand, do hula hoops, and just have fun running around.

Acme Oyster House

I have frequented the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, but this was my first visit to the restaurant in Orange Beach, AL., and I was not disappointed.

The southern-style building is full of Louisiana charm and has ample seating inside and out.  

Acme is definitely a seafood lover’s paradise with the most emphasis on fresh oysters, seafood, and Cajun spices, however, they do have non-seafood items offered on the menu.

Where to Stay In Gulf Shores

Turquoise Place, a gorgeous luxury resort right on the beach.  Y’all know I love luxury, right? You’ll be able to spot Turquoise place from miles away with its turquoise glass towers rising up more than 20 stories in the air.  

The condos are within walking distance of restaurants, shopping, and attractions.

Turquoise Place offers spacious three-, four- and five-bedroom units with fully-appointed kitchens and modern décor. Each individual unit has a balcony with a gulf view, a gourmet grilling station, and a hot tub.

After a long day of sightseeing, all you need is a bottle of wine, a hot tub, and listen to the waves crash against the shoreline.

Turquoise Place is perfect for families because the kids can enjoy the lazy river, indoor and outdoor pools while mom and dad chill.

Each Condo comes with assigned parking so you are not fighting over parking spaces and everyone receives a wristband similar to those you might have seen at Disneyland or Six Flags that gives you full access to all of the amenities the resort has to offer.  

The wristband also substitutes for your room key so you don’t have to worry about losing your key or digging in the bottom of your bag under all of your junk!

The Master bedroom is huge and opened up to an outside patio with a grill, hot tub, and outdoor dining table.  Each unit is also equipped with stainless steel appliances and utensils so all you need to bring are groceries if you don’t want to spend a ton of money eating out each night.  

The living room was just as spacious and the bathrooms are massive!!  I plan on going back this summer so stay tuned for my next visit to Gulf Shores.


  • Three-, four- and five-bedroom suites
  • Five indoor and outdoor pools
  • Weekly indoor and outdoor activities

Family Interests

  • Beach
  • Golf

Family Amenities

  • Family Room 5+
  • Kids’ Pool
  • Kitchenettes
  • Pool

Related Post: Another must-see in Alabama is Harmony Safari Park and the Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Ready to plan your trip, grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

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Have you visited the Alabama Gulf Coast? What did you think about my list of things to do in Gulf Shores? I would love to hear your feedback so drop a comment below or head on over to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

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  1. Hello! You had me at Acme Oysters! I go there every time I visit New Orleans. I’ve never experienced Alabama’s coast but you have certainly put it on my radar. My family loves the beach! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post. Most folks DEFINITELY don’t think of Alabama and “beach” together ! Those oysters look amazing. I now have Gulf Shores on my radar

  3. I enjoyed this post. I never thought of going to Alabama for any type of vacation. The one thing that made me giggle was the getting the drinks at the church. Thanks for sharing these awesome places and things to do.

  4. Aww I would have loved to see the baby turtles. That’s always been a dream of mine. When we were in NO last month, we tried going to ACME but I couldn’t do the line. I hate lines. The oysters did look good though

  5. I got an invite for World Food Championship but couldnt make it this year or last. I am going to check out your recap I would like to try to go next year.

  6. I am game for all of these activities. Zipline is one of my favorite activities. The turtle migration sounds so cute and fun. I’ve never experienced anything like that.

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