22 Best Things to Do in Gulf Shores | 2023 (with Photos)
Welcome to Gulf Shores, the ultimate Alabama destination for a fun-filled beach vacation on the Gulf of Mexico.
On the pristine Gulf Shores beaches, you'll have endless opportunities to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the coastal beauty.
But there's more to this stunning spot than just the Alabama Gulf Coast beaches of Gulf Shores and the neighboring Orange Beach.
You can also explore hiking trails, the Gulf State Park, and galleries located in the Gulf Shores area. With so many fun things to do in Gulf Shores, there is something for every kind of traveler.
From world-class shopping and dining to thrilling water sports and entertainment, Gulf Shores provides fun for all the family.
Most Recommended Thing to Do
Visit Gulf State Park
Top Choice Hotel
The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel.
Our Top Choice Restaurant
Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife
Best Time to Visit
Sunny beach days, mild winters, year-round fun.
Warm and sunny with occasional coastal breezes.
Car rentals, taxis, shuttles, bikes, public transportation, walking
Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)
My Top Recommendation
When it comes to Gulf Shores, United States of America, there's no shortage of amazing experiences waiting for you. From picturesque beaches to exciting outdoor adventures, this city has it all. One of my top recommendations is to spend some time exploring the stunning Gulf State Park. As you walk along the pristine white sandy beaches, you'll feel the warm breeze against your skin and hear the soothing sound of waves crashing. Take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. If you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding in the crystal-clear waters. With over 6,000 acres of preserved land, this park is a nature lover's paradise.
Another must-visit spot is the famous Hangout Gulf Shores, a vibrant and lively entertainment venue. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and beachy vibes, this place is perfect for enjoying live music, delicious food, and a fun-filled atmosphere. Grab a table outside, sip on a refreshing cocktail, and savor the mouth-watering seafood specialties. The Hangout is not just a restaurant, but also a hub for entertainment and events, so be sure to check out their calendar for any upcoming festivals or concerts. With its welcoming ambiance, fantastic food, and unbeatable beachside location, the Hangout Gulf Shores is simply a must-visit destination to truly experience the local culture and have an unforgettable time in this charming city.
What You'll Need to Bring
- Beach essentials: sunscreen, beach towel, swimsuit, flip flops
- Outdoor gear: hat, sunglasses, hiking shoes, insect repellent
- Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
- Light and comfortable clothing for the warm climate
- Snacks and water for outdoor activities
- Money or credit cards for dining and shopping
- Travel documents: ID, travel insurance, hotel reservation
- Entertainment for the beach, such as books or beach games
- Travel adapter for charging electronic devices
- A sense of adventure and exploration
Table of Contents
1. Dolphin Cruises
Dolphin cruises offer an unforgettable experience of watching these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
With dolphin cruises, you can enjoy a relaxing ride while spotting dolphins swimming, playing, and jumping alongside your boat.
These cruises are perfect for families, couples, and nature lovers who want to witness the beauty of these friendly creatures up close.
2. Gulf State Park Pier
The Gulf State Park Pier is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Located within the beautiful Gulf State Park, this pier extends 1,540 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding beach and ocean.
Whether you're looking to fish, take a stroll, or just soak up the sun, the Gulf State Park Pier is the perfect place to do it.
With a convenient location just steps from the Gulf State Park beach, this pier is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
3. Deep Sea Fishing
Deep sea fishing is an exhilarating adventure that immerses you in the vast expanse of the ocean, where marine life thrives and epic battles with big game fish await.
Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice, this thrilling activity offers a chance to test your skills and reel in prized catches like tuna, marlin, and other marine life.
With the assistance of knowledgeable guides and top-notch equipment, you'll embark on a journey into deeper waters, leaving the shores behind for an unforgettable inshore fishing experience.
Feel the rush of adrenaline as you engage in a battle of strength and wits with these magnificent creatures of the sea.
4. Mobile Bay and Wolf Bay
Mobile Bay and Wolf Bay are both stunning bodies of water located in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Mobile Bay is a large estuary that opens up into the Gulf of Mexico, while Wolf Bay is a smaller, more protected bay located to the north of Gulf Shores.
Both bays offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and kayaking, and are known for their scenic beauty and abundant wildlife.
5. Pirate's Island Adventure Golf
Pirate's Island Adventure Golf is a popular miniature golf course and amusement park located in Gulf Shores.
This pirate-themed course offers 18 challenging holes that are perfect for all ages and mini-golf skill levels.
Whether you're a seasoned mini-golf pro or a first-time player, Pirate's Island Adventure Golf is a fun and exciting way to spend an afternoon.
As one of the top golf resorts in Gulf Shores, Pirate's Island offers a unique and entertaining experience that's perfect for families, groups of friends, and anyone looking to enjoy a fun-filled day in the sun.
6. Alligator Alley
Alligator Alley Adventure is a unique wildlife park located in Summerdale, Alabama. This one-of-a-kind attraction beckons visitors to explore its nature trails and discover the wonders of the local ecosystem.
As you wander along the well-maintained trails, you'll have the thrilling opportunity to observe over 450 alligators in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable memories.
But the adventure doesn't stop there. Alligator Alley also showcases a diverse array of other local wildlife, including turtles, snakes, and birds, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts of all ages.
Embark on a journey of discovery as you connect with the beauty and biodiversity of Alabama's natural wonders at Alligator Alley.
7. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, also known as "The Little Zoo That Could," is a popular destination for animal lovers visiting Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The zoo offers visitors the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals up close, including tigers, lions, monkeys, and more.
With interactive exhibits, educational programs, and exciting animal encounters, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is a fun and informative destination for visitors of all ages.
8. Gulf Shores Museum
The Gulf Shores Museum is a small but informative museum located in the heart of Gulf Shores, Alabama.
This captivating museum showcases the rich history and heritage of the region, including exhibits on Native American cultures, early settlers, maritime history, and local ecosystems.
It offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, educating and inspiring visitors. This is one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores on a hot summer's day.
9. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful natural area located in Gulf Shores.
As a national wildlife refuge, it is dedicated to preserving and protecting the diverse habitats and wildlife of the area.
Visitors to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, bird watching, and wildlife photography.
The refuge is home to a wide range of animal and plant species, including sea turtles, migratory birds, and the endangered Alabama beach mouse.
With its pristine beaches, nature trails, and scenic views, the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and the great outdoors.
10. Sand Castle University
Sand Castle University is a unique and fun activity in Gulf Shores, that offers visitors the opportunity to learn how to build amazing sandcastles.
With the guidance of expert instructors, you can learn the tips and tricks for building the perfect sandcastle and creating a masterpiece on the beach.
Sand Castle University is a great activity for families, groups of friends, or anyone looking to have a creative and fun experience on the beach.
11. Downtown Gulf Shores
Downtown Gulf Shores is a vibrant hub of activity that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and tourist attractions.
As you explore this coastal gem, you'll be captivated by the stunning freshwater marshes and their teeming wildlife.
The gulf waters beckon with their sparkling beauty, inviting you to take a dip or engage in exciting water sports. Sink your toes into the soft white sand shoreline and feel the warm sun on your skin.
Don't miss the chance to venture into the coastal swamps, where you can witness the unique ecosystem and its fascinating inhabitants.
In addition to the natural wonders, downtown also boasts a range of tourist attractions, including charming shops, delicious restaurants, and lively entertainment venues.
Whether you're looking for outdoor adventures or a dose of local culture, downtown Gulf Shores has it all.
12. Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a network of trails located in Gulf Shores, Alabama that offers visitors the opportunity to explore the area's natural beauty up close.
The Branyon Backcountry trail system covers over 15 miles and passes through a variety of unique ecosystems, including pine forests, marshes, and dunes.
The Branyon Backcountry Trail system is also part of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers.
13. Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is a network of bird-watching sites along the Gulf Coast that attracts bird enthusiasts from all over the world.
The trail features over 50 designated bird-watching sites, including parks, nature preserves, and wildlife refuges, and offers visitors the opportunity to see a wide variety of bird species in their natural habitats.
Taking a hike along this trail is one of the most peaceful things to do in Gulf Shores.
14. Orange Beach
Orange Beach is a popular destination located in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area of Alabama.
With its beautiful beaches, clear blue waters, and warm weather, Gulf Shores Orange Beach tourism attracts visitors from all over the world.
Orange Beach is known for its water activities, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, as well as its many beachfront resorts and restaurants. Moreover, Orange Beach is the home of Adventure Island, a popular theme park.
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are prime spots for beach adventures, watersports, and relaxation.
Together, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach constitute a vibrant and exciting destination perfect for anyone looking for a fun and memorable vacation on the Gulf Coast.
15. Coastal Arts Center
The Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach, Alabama is a beautiful facility or art gallery that showcases the work of local artists and offers a range of art-related programs and classes.
In addition to its art gallery space, the center also houses Gulf Island Charters, a company that provides fishing charters and eco-tours in the local area.
With its stunning coastal location, the Coastal Arts Center is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local arts scene and experience the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.
16. Big Beach Brewing Company
The popular Big Beach Brewing Company in Gulf Shores is a brewery and taproom that offers a variety of craft beers and a lively atmosphere.
With its laid-back vibe and friendly staff, it's a great place to grab a beer and relax with live music after a day of exploring the Gulf Coast.
In addition to its signature brews, the brewery also hosts live music events and food trucks, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
17. Navy Cove Oysters
Navy Cove Oysters is a unique seafood company located in Bon Secour, Alabama, that specializes in oyster farming and harvesting.
The company is known for its commitment to sustainability and for producing high-quality, fresh oysters that are popular with locals and visitors alike.
Trying an oyster is one of the most iconic things to do in Gulf Shores.
Navy Cove Oysters offers a variety of oyster-related products, including fresh oysters, shucked oysters, and oyster knives, and also provides guided tours of their oyster farming operations.
18. Gulf Shores Seafood Market
The Gulf Shores Seafood Market is a popular destination for anyone looking for good food in Gulf Shores.
Known for its fresh and delicious seafood, the market offers a variety of seafood options, including shrimp, crab, and fish, as well as prepared dishes like gumbo and jambalaya.
In addition to markets, there are also food trucks that serve up their tasty seafood dishes in Gulf Shores, AL. Sampling the local cuisine is one of the most authentic things to do in Gulf Shores.
19. Gulf Shores Public Beach
Gulf Shores Public Beach is a beautiful and popular beach destination located in Gulf Shores.
The beach features miles of pristine white sands, crystal-clear water, and plenty of amenities for visitors, including showers, restrooms, and lifeguards on duty during peak season.
In addition to swimming and sunbathing, the beach also offers a variety of water activities, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and parasailing.
20. Fort Morgan Road Trail
The Fort Morgan Road Trail is a scenic and historic trail located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula in Alabama. The Fort Morgan trail runs along the coast and offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay.
The trail also passes by Fort Morgan, which played a key role in the Civil War and is now open to the public for tours.
Visiting Fort Morgan is a great way to explore the natural beauty and history of the area. The Fort Morgan trail also offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and sightseeing.
Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a fun outdoor adventure, the Fort Morgan trail is worth a visit.
21. The National Shrimp Festival
The National Shrimp Festival is an annual event held in Gulf Shores, Alabama, that celebrates the area's rich fresh seafood heritage.
The festival features a wide variety of shrimp dishes from local restaurants, as well as arts and crafts vendors, live music, and family-friendly activities.
The festival attracts visitors from all over the country and is a great opportunity to sample some of the freshest and most delicious seafood around.
22. Lake Shelby and Perdido Beach Resort
Lake Shelby is a beautiful freshwater lake located in Gulf State Park, Alabama, and is a popular destination for swimming, kayaking, and fishing along its white sand beaches.
Nearby, the Perdido Beach Resort offers luxurious accommodations and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. The beach club resort is the perfect place to stay near Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Go jet skiing on the lake or enjoy a more laid-back dolphin cruise.
Whether you're looking for outdoor adventure or a relaxing beach getaway, Lake Shelby and the Perdido Beach Resort offer the perfect combination of natural beauty and modern comfort.
FAQs Regarding Things to Do in Gulf Shores
Let's look at the most frequently asked questions relating to things to do in Gulf Shores.
What is Gulf Shores best known for?
Gulf Shores is best known for its pristine white sand beaches, which stretch along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You can relax on the sun-soaked shores, swim in crystal-clear waters, and indulge in a variety of water sports.
Gulf Island charters also draw attention, offering exciting opportunities for fishing, boating, and exploring the stunning islands along the many hiking trails.
What is the best month to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama?
The best month to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama, depends on personal preferences. The Gulf Coast experiences mild winters and hot summers, making spring and fall popular seasons.
Spring offers pleasant temperatures, blooming flora, and lower humidity. Fall brings warm weather, fewer crowds, and the possibility of catching glimpses of stunning sunsets along the Gulf Coast.
Is Gulf Shores, Alabama worth visiting?
Gulf Shores, Alabama, is worth visiting for its stunning natural beauty and array of attractions. From the pristine white sand beaches of Gulf State Park to the historic Fort Morgan, there's something for everyone.
The Alabama Gulf Coast offers opportunities for outdoor adventures, water sports, delicious seafood, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere in both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Is Destin or Gulf Shores better?
Both Destin and Gulf Shores offer great options for inshore fishing, water sports, and outdoor recreation. However, Gulf Shores has Adventure Island, an amusement park with mini-golf and other attractions, while Destin has an outdoor pool complex with water slides and a lazy river.
Summing Up: Best Things to Do in Gulf Shores
Experience the ultimate beach vacation in Gulf Shores by adding these 22 exciting things to your itinerary. From the captivating Gulf State Park to the scenic Fort Morgan Peninsula, Gulf Shores offers endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Alabama Gulf Coast, bask in the sun-kissed shores of Orange Beach, and indulge in thrilling water activities.
Explore the diverse marine life, hike along nature trails, or simply unwind in the idyllic coastal surroundings. Don't miss out on the vibrant atmosphere and unforgettable experiences that await you in Gulf Shores.
Plan your fun-filled beach getaway today and create lasting memories in this captivating coastal paradise.