We all know Alabama’s white-sand beaches are beautiful and are probably the main reason tourists flock to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach every year. But besides the miles of beaches, did you know there are more things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama, outdoors that are just as fun? I took a recent road trip for the first time to Gulf Shores for a writer’s workshop where we were hosted at a lovely condo, several attractions, and restaurants, and I’m here to share it all with you. It was AMAZING!
Gulf Shores, Alabama Outdoors – things to do after swimming in the Gulf for three days straight!
Coastal Alabama Gulf Shores borders the Gulf of Mexico on the north, and outdoor recreation consists of family fun that includes beautiful sandy beaches, of course, and beach access to public beaches in Orange Beach, and even making sandcastles on the beach, and there are plenty of lounge chairs to go around. But when you’ve spent many days on the beach, you may want to do something else. Visiting zoo animals is fun; hiking in the state park and riding bikes are also fun for the whole family. So, when you’ve hit the beach more days than you can count and you’re tired of water sports, it may be time to look for other outdoor activities and attractions. Below is a list of things to do in Gulf Shores besides the beach.
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo boasts some of the sweetest zoo animals I’ve ever seen, and that includes the loudmouth lemurs. They were having a heyday the day we were there. I think they were a little hungry – you could hear them throughout the entire zoo! A must-see is the exotic animals, migratory birds in their natural habitat, the indoor butterfly exhibit, and best of all, the kangaroos. Oh, and if you have little ones, be sure to take them by the petting zoo.
I have already written about my wonderful time at the zoo, and my kangaroo encounter, and more adorable zoo animals, Head on over to Alabama’s Gulf Coast Zoo Animal Encounters. to find out more.
Alabama Gulf State Park
We spent a full day of the writer’s workshop at the Sweetbay Porch – a screened-in porch located inside the park. But before we got starting, we took a short tour of the grounds. You’ve got to check out the bunkhouses that sleep 64 people and the eclectic Woodside Restaurant that offers live music and a view that’s out of this world! Cast a line out on the Gulf State Park fishing pier or play a round of golf on its nice golf course if you’ve got the time. Also, there’s a picnic area worth checking out as well. It’s the perfect place for an epic outdoor adventure for the entire family. I have written more about the park here >>> Gulf State Park, Alabama Adventure.
Rent A Bike
We got our bikes from Beach Bike Rentals, and our starting point was just around the corner at Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail inside Gulf State Park. There are miles of trails here, and the scenery and weather were gorgeous. We couldn’t have picked a better day to ride bicycles. Trust me – it was so much fun – even if our mighty leader took the wrong turn, and we ended up biking over 12 miles before reaching the end. WOW!! We did tease her about that for days! So, this was the first time in a long time that I rode a bike…now I want one of my very own!!
Gulf Shores Museum
If time allows, visit the museum and the butterfly garden to see beautiful butterfly plants and, of course, butterflies and moths. There is no admission fee – so it’s free for your entire group. You’ll find benches and tables in case you need to rest your feet.
Stay At Turquoise Place In Orange Beach
With views like this at Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts, you may never want to leave. Turquoise Place offers its guests lovely & spacious condos, two amazing outdoor pools with a lazy river and a beach bar, indoor heated pools, gorgeous views like above, hot tubs in every condo, tennis courts, and many more benefits. If you’re a member of Spectrum Resorts, then your benefits rise a notch. Check it all out at the link above.
Favorite Restaurants In Gulf Shores
We were hosted at several restaurants throughout our stay, and the one above is Voyagers at Perdido Beach Resort. This was the last meal of our visit and the most spectacular. OMG – that soup was amazing, and all the desserts were too, not to mention my fish dinner was the bomb. I do not eat like this at home, so this was a treat for the Texas girl!
Other restaurants we ate at were The Hangout, Lucy Buffett’s Lulu’s, Safari Club (next door to the zoo), Woodside Restaurant (next to the state park), and a few others.
Be sure to experience several different restaurants while you’re there. You never know; you might find a favorite and reasons to go back again!
Build A Sandcastle On The Beach
This was our last activity to do, and probably the most memorable. I have never done this before, but building your own sandcastle on the beach at Orange Beach was an experience with huge memories added in. Okay, this is on the beach, but it doesn’t require you to swim in the water unless you want – but you will get your feet wet!
Janel, the owner of Sand Castle University, was busy making a one-of-a-kind sandcastle just for our writer’s workshop group. Isn’t that amazing? You and your family can make a sandcastle on the beach too. Janel was a fabulous teacher – she had so much patience and even made us laugh a time or two.
Other Best Things To Do In Gulf Shores Besides The Beach
So, when you’re done having fun on the beautiful beaches and you’ve seen thousands of sea turtles, head to one of these attractions above or pick a couple from the list below.
Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Many golf courses to choose from
Nature trails to explore
National Naval Aviation Museum
Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach
Historic Fort Morgan
The best time of year to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama, is anytime! We went in March. It’s a great place for a family vacation!