Things to do in Gulf Shores Alabama

Situated on the Gulf Coast of Alabama just miles from the Florida line, is a place that feels just like home to my family. That place is Gulf Shores, Alabama.

While, a good portion of our time is spend on the white sandy beaches, there is always room for a different kind of adventure. Our family likes to save these extra activities for the times when our skin just can’t take anymore sun, or when rain tries to put a stop to the fun.

Below are some of the things that we like to do while we are in Gulf Shores, beyond spending time on the beautiful beaches:

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo:

On the last trip to Gulf Shores, we decided to make a stop at The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. We had never been before, and actually, I didn’t even remember passing it during our other trips.

Tucked in an unassuming area with a gravel parking lot is a wonderful treasure of the zoo. In fact, it is nicknamed “the little zoo that could” because of the efforts to keep the animals safe during Hurricane Ivan. There was even a documentary made about the lengths the zoo went through to protect the animals. You can read more about that here.

I enjoy going to the zoo, but I don’t like staying all day. To each her own, right? I absolutely enjoyed this zoo, because it is small, shady and is something that won’t take all day. Of course if you want to spend all day there, you could absolutely make that happen too.

Animal Encounters at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

A special add on activity that you and your kiddos can take part in, is the animal encounters offered by the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

There are a wide variety to choose from at very reasonable price points. The animal encounters range from $5 to $10 and you can choose from time with a kangaroo, lemur, sloth, reptiles and anteater.

My kiddos choose to do the lemur encounter. Here’s what you can expect. The animal encounters happen continuously during their operating hours, so once you and your group are ready to do the animal encounter that you’ve chosen, head over to the designated area. When we got to the lemur encounter, a group ahead of us was finishing up, so we waited and watched the end of the group before us. Next, we signed a wavier for each of us that were going to be participating. Then after hearing the ground rules we got to have our time with the lemurs.

Right before we went in, the sweet worker who was in charge of the exhibit gave everyone the option of going in or waiting because we had reached the part of the day where the lemur’s get sleepy. We chose to go ahead and visit the lemurs, which I am glad that we did. I think that I would have felt a touch uneasy if they had been super lively while we were in there.

The Wharf

The Wharf is an entertainment complex of sorts located in Orange Beach. There is tons of shopping and family fun to be had. Make sure you stop in the Orange Beach Shop, they have some of the cutest Orange Beach themed clothes and accessories. I love bringing home unique souvenirs from our travels.

The Wharf is home to the giant ferris wheel, miniature golf and a train for the little ones.

The cost to play mini golf at the Wharf is $5 per person, kiddos 3 and under are free.

A ride on the ferris wheel is also $5 per person with kiddos 3 and under at no charge.

At nighttime there is a laser light show set to music, and is really something else.

You could arrive mid afternoon, play a round of mini golf, have a great lunch (we ate at Blue Water BBQ), go for a ride on the ferris wheel, shop for a bit and then close out the evening with the laser light show.

Hummingbird Ziplines at the Wharf

While you are at The Wharf, you can also take part in the zipline adventure. In the effort of full disclosure I have to admit that we didn’t get to give this a try. My oldest is a skinny mini and doesn’t meet the 70 lb weight minimum.

It looks like so much fun, with 8 different zipline courses to travel and the potential to reach up to 30 mph, this is not an adventure for the faint of heart!

Prices are $89 per person with a group of 1 – 10 people, discounts may be available for larger groups.

If you want more information, you can check out their website.

Dolphin Cruise

There are so many different options for dolphin cruises in the Gulf Shores area, it can be overwhelming. The prices vary wildly, some of the dolphin cruises advertise $5 per person tickets. While this is true, there is a catch. Isn’t there always?

Often, the lowest priced tickets are for the cruises that are notorious for not being very busy anyway. Usually, those tickets are offered during the hottest part of the day. If you don’t mind that, then go for it, I am all about taking advantage of a good deal.

Coastal Kayak Excursions

While, this adventure isn’t billed as being a dolphin cruise, it is definitely what I consider to be a hybrid model.

The time that my family was fortunate enough to spend with Captain Glenn was absolutely fantastic. We were the only ones aboard the pontoon boat for this particular excursion, which made it so very nice. Our youngest, especially when he is tired, can be hard to please and to put it nicely can make it hard for everyone around us. My point in telling you this is that Captain Glenn was totally flexible and willing to do what he could to make sure we had the best possible experience.


Our trip was so much fun because first, we cruised around some, to look for dolphins. That portion of our trip did not disappoint at all, we even saw a momma and baby!

Then, after some discussion, Captain Glenn took us to a part of the bay that was calm and would work for some easy kayaking. Please note: my arms were on FIRE even after an easy excursion. He anchored the pontoon in a centralized location and we explored some small islands in the bay via our kayaks.

If you would like more information on Coastal Kayak Excursions, you can check out their website here.

Tour Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan is situated on Mobile Point, at the end of the Fort Morgan Peninsula. The fort played a large role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. It was used off and on through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II.

It is really a cool place to explore with 2 active kiddos who want to be as hands on as possible. Fort Morgan is very much a hands on stop.

Admission for adults is $7, Students over 12 years old $5, kids 6 – 12 $4 and kids under 6 are free.

Have you and your family visited Gulf Shores before? If so, what are some of your favorite things to do while you are in town?

Headed to Gulf Shores Alabama and not sure what extras you should budget for? We have a list of all of the best things to do in Gulf Shores...beyond the beach.