If you are looking for a fun, relaxing, and unforgettable family beach trip, head down to Alabama! Yes you read that right. Alabama!! A small section of the state is on the Gulf of Mexico and it is well worth a visit and once you come, you will most likely want to come back time and time again!
We stayed for one week and had a jammed packed fun time from the amazing restaurants to the water activities to the attractions and just hanging out at the beach. Here are our recommendations on the top things to do in Gulf Shores.
Table of Contents
If you are looking for fantastic Gulf Shores beach, then Gulf State Park is the place for you! There is small entrance fee but it is worth it for the white sand beach and crashing waves. We spend the afternoon hanging out on the beach, playing in the sand, and crashing into the waves.
It is a large beach area so there is plenty of room for everyone. They have a nice bathroom area with outside showers for when you are ready to clean up and head home. You just can’t beat a day at the beach!
Check out our video on our week in Gulf Shores, Alabama:
We had heard amazing things about Alligator Alley so we were super excited to check it out! When you first get there you wonder if you are in the right place because it seems like there couldn’t be a swamp there. Then as you walk in the experience just gets better and better.
Your first stop is the baby alligators. Those things are so darn cute! From there you go up age by age as you walk through the property. They have a LOT of alligators in each age group in the enclosure and it is crazy to see them all climbing all over each other. Make sure to bring quarters so that you can buy the alligator food to feed them.
As you continue to walk through you go from the 1 year olds to 2 year olds and up. Until you get to the swamp area. This place was crazy cool! You walk out on an elevated boardwalk over the swamp and at first you don’t thing there are any alligators there but as you look you start to notice that they are EVERYWHERE!
These aren’t any 1 year old alligators they are huge 10 or more feet long gators that are just hanging out in the fluorescent green swamp water. I am not going to lie it was a little scary and nervous out on this small walk way with these huge animals right below us.
The things is, it was also beautiful. As you walk deeper and deeper into the swamp you really take in the peace and quite and the beauty of the area. Then all of a sudden you hear a loud chomp! One of the gators just caught lunch! That is not a noise you hear every day nor will you soon forget.
After hanging out here for a while we headed over to watch the alligator feeding that they do multiple times a day. One the way we ran into one of the workers who had a 2 year old alligator that we could all hold.
All 6 of us got a chance to hold the alligator and it was amazing how soft their skin really was. It was so cool to watch the kids hold the alligator and to be able to get such a closeup look at them.
After that we headed over to watch the show. During the show one of the crazy workers gets right out there with about 20 large alligators with only a stick to ward them off . . . he then feeds them large steaks . . . Yup all a little bit crazy but very fun to watch!
We really enjoyed our time at Alligator Alley and would highly recommend it to anyone in the area. Especially if you have never really been up close by Alligators before. Remember to bring quarters, make the walk all the way to the back so you can go in the swamp area, and time it so you can see a show!
When by the ocean you must jet ski! We have taken a couple of jet skiing trips now with the kids and we always have a blast. Though I have to say my need for speed is not as great as the kids and driving a jet ski 40 MPH with one kid in front of you and one behind can get a little stressful.
All that aside the kids have so much fun it is well worth it for us to take them. Plus I love being on the water. On this trip they specifically took us out to look for dolphins. We have seen dolphins from a boat, but seeing them from a jet ski – when you are that close to the water – was a really cool experience!
We were on the jet skis for a little over 2 hours and throughout that time we had stretches where we could go 50+ mph, stretches where we went slow and took in the scenery around us, and stretches where we hung out to look for the dolphins. It was a great combination of the 3 and kept all of us entertained and every single one of us enjoyed it!
All of us but Knox have been parasailing and it is so much fun. Any time we get a chance to go we go. This time Knox was old enough so it would be his first time up. He was excited! We took the boat out of the harbor and got a fun speed boat trip with water spraying at us before it was the first group’s turn.
We were able to go in groups of 3, so I went first with Melia and Knox. We got all harnessed in and up we went! At first Knox was scared and cried for a minute, but then once we got up there and he asked a few questions. Like: “will I fall if I let go?” and “will the harness hold me?” he was able to settle down and started to enjoy it.
When we were done I asked if you had fun and he said yes! The true test will be if he wants to do it again next time we go.
After we were done Craig, Carson and Cannon went up and they wanted the whole experience. Which means the guy will dip you in the water on the way down and will also flick the rope so you get jostled while you are up there.
They loved it and had a blast. After the other people on the boat had their turn we headed back and got another fun speed boat ride with the air and water splashing in our faces. We were really glad we had our dry bags so none of our stuff got wet!
If you decide to go and anyone gets car sick or sea sick you may want to bring some Dramamine or ginger candies. The ride out there can be a little rough and it is wavy when you are sitting in the boat as each person takes their turn. The calmest part is when you are up in the air parasailing.
I know I mentioned beach vacation, but have to also recommend taking the drive out to Oak Hollow Farm to take in the peace and beauty and to go on a horse back ride. This beautiful farm is family owned and has one of the most beautiful barns – perfect for a barn wedding – that I have ever seen!
They have over 50 horses that are great for people of all ages and skill levels and they will take you on a nice horseback ride around the property. Our horses were great with us and the kids and the guide was awesome with the kids.
If you are in Gulf Shores it is worth it to head out to the farm, bring a picnic lunch, and ride horses. When you get there they come and pick you up and give you a hayride out to the stable. Then you get a few instructions and hop on to head out on the trails. When you get back the guide will bring some carrots out so the kids can feed and pet their horses.
It was a lot of fun and a great relaxing way to spend the afternoon away from the fun and craziness of Gulf Shores and the beach.
Want to do a dolphin cruise Gulf Shores style? The Wharf is the place to go. Their offer a dolphin cruise multiple times throughout the day. We recommend sunset. You’ll head out on the water and literally drive in circles when they spot a dolphin so no matter where you are sitting you can see them.
We saw quite a few dolphins on the trip and were even able to see some playing in the waves right next to the boat. If you do head out at dinner time and the kids are hungry you can buy dinner at one of the restaurants by the Wharf and bring it on board. They also have a concession stand on the boat if you wanted to purchase some snacks.
After the dolphin cruise we headed over to the Wharf area to play some mini golf. The course was fun with a beach/ocean vibe and perfect for the kids. We all grabbed a club and a ball and completed the 18 hole course. I think about half way in we stopped keeping score and just had fun!
Next we headed over to the Ferris Wheel. Any time we see a ferris wheel the kids want to go on it and this was no exception. By this time it was dark so we jumped on and were able to catch the Wharf’s nightly light show from the ferris wheel. It was a the perfect (totally unplanned) time to go!
You can also spend hours eating dinner at the wharf, getting dessert and shopping at all of the great shops. It is a really cool setup and I love that they offer so much in one spot.
If you have a chance you should also head north up to Fairhope, Alabama. This unique and funky town is worth a visit and we had a lot of fun walking around downtown (we have friends who live here so we got a local tour :))! We visited the park, ate ice cream, walked over to see the castle – that is an actual house people live in!), visited the local museum, and took a walk around town.
At night we went to a local blueberry picking festival. Where they had food trucks and live music. There is nothing like eating fresh blueberries! Fairhope has a total different vibe then Gulf Shores so if you are looking to mix it up be sure to head up here for a visit.
Where to eat in Gulf Shores
We had been to LuLu’s in Destin and knew that LuLu’s Gulf Shores was the original started by Jimmy Buffett’s sister, so we were super excited to check it out! LuLu’s is the ultimate family-friendly restaurant and I wish they had locations everywhere!
Our table looked out over the canal with the windows open so we could wave at the boats as they went by. Then they have a large sand area where the kids can play while the parents sit at the bar plus an arcade and ropes course.
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.
The food is also yummy with a wide variety of appetizers, dinner choices, kids menu, handmade popsicles and drink menu, including some of their very own beers. Our server was amazing, the food was delicious, and we felt so comfortable being there with our kids.
We recommend getting one of their speciality drinks or the local beer along with a recommended appetizer. And if you are vegetarian or gluten free be sure to ask about those options.
We really didn’t think anywhere could compete with LuLu’s but the Hangout Gulf Shores gives it a run for it’s money! We just love how restaurants are catering more and more to families and understand that little one’s don’t like to sit still!
The inside of the restaurant is huge and one side of it looks out over the beach and ocean and the other looks out over the outside area where the kids can play in the sand and climb through tunnels. The inside walls are lined with toys that the kids had fun looking at and pointing out their favorites.
They also offer a foam party for kids every hour! How cool is that. Back in our college days Craig and I attend a few foam parties in Cancun, Mexico and it was quite the experience and I am sure kids would love it!
It looks like at night it turns into an upbeat place with live music and lots of dancing so if you aren’t in to that you may want to go during the day or early in the evening before all of that really gets going.
Camping at Gulf State Park Campground
If you are looking for a campground to stay at Gulf State Park is a great spot! The location is perfect for exploring all of Gulf Shores plus the campground has a large pool and great bike trails.
Want to learn more about us come visit our Start Here page. We are a family of 6 plus a dog who have been traveling full time around North America since May 2014 in our RV!
Looking for more information on Gulf Shores Alabama? Check out this post: https://365atlantafamily.com/gulf-shores/
Pin For Later: