If you’re from the South, then you’ve heard of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach
, Alabama. It is the quintessential family beach vacation. There are shops, restaurants, art centers, war memorials, zoos, and nature hikes- just to name a few. And you can’t forget the beach! Soft white sand, seashells for the littles to collect, and plenty of water sports offered for the whole family. Activities like banana boating, parasailing, jet skiing, and dolphin boat tours etc. We travel here every year for my husbands family reunion, so I’ve amassed a pretty stellar list of to-dos for you and your family. Here it is, the Family Guide to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach
- Gulf Coast Zoo– Clean, friendly staff, and there are animal encounters. You can pet lions, lemurs, and kangaroos!
- Gulf Adventure Center– Zipline, kayak, and paddle board fun.
- USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park– If you’re a military buff this is the place for you.
- Mobile Musem of Art– The largest art museum on the Gulf Coast! Both fun and educational. Great for rainy days.
- Waterville USA- Water and Amusement park in one. There’s something for every age and they do a great job of keeping it clean.
- Putt-Putt– There are several great putt-putt options in GS.
- Beach Activities– There are also several beach activity stores. I haven’t found one to be better than the other so I recommend hitting up the closest to you. Enjoy some parasailing, jet skiing, and banana boating.
- Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge– great place to hike, fish and observe all sorts of wildlife.
- Gator Alley Farm– The boys loved this! There are over 200 alligators and you can feed them!
And what’s better than a spa day? My number one go-to in Gulf Shores is SPAtacular
. You can check their reviews on Yelp- they truly make you feel like a star when you walk in. When you drive up you’ll see a quaint bungalow. Inside is every woman’s spa dream come true. They have body wraps, ear candling, foot ionization baths (more on that later), massages of all types, manis and pedis, facials, spray tanning, waxing, and more. AND there’s mimosas. Need I say more? I got to meet the owner, Pam, and she is truly passionate about what she does! Her goal is to make every man and woman that comes into her spa leave feeling refreshed and happy. I got a swedish massage from Pam herself, and let me tell you, I was butter afterwards. Then we did a foot ionization bath! Have you heard of these? SO cool. So you stick your feet in a little tub, and ions are shot through it. Because the biggest pores in your body are in your feet, these ions pull out toxins from your entire body. Look at my before and after photos. Is that not amazing? I definitely felt better afterwards too! You can find SPAtacular at:
- The Wharf– Shopping, restaurants, and activities. This is my favorite place in all of Orange Beach. There’s a marina behind the shops where the kiddos can watch the boats come and go as well as a ferris wheel for the whole family to ride on. Then there’s the shopping (more on that later). And several great restaurants, though Ginny Lane is my favorite. Every night there’s a light show, and each day of the week has a theme. Wednesday is kid’s night. When we attended there were bounce houses, face painting, and hair wrapping. All for free. Pictured above is the light show!
- The Ampitheater at the Wharf– Concerts and fests galore right next to the Wharf. See if there’s a concert for date night while you’re there.
- Pirate Ship Cruise- Yes there’s an actual pirate ship in OB and the kids LOVE it. Go for a cruise with the family and enjoy a swashbuckling good time.
- Sailaway Charters– My favorite for sailing, fishing, and cruising. The owner, Skip, is knowledgable, personable, and so easy to work with.
- Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail– Over 15 miles of trails of gorgeous Alabama scenery. There are playgrounds, tours, and even a butterfly pavilion.
- Adventure Island Arcade– Family fun including an arcade, putt-putt, and bumper cars.
Ya’ll know I couldn’t do a travel guide without talking about shopping! First, for my ladies- you must go to Wildflower’s Boutique.
Any and everything you could want for your closet is at this lovely boutique. Most of the items in the shop are under $50, and what a steal those gorgeous pieces are! But if you’re a big spender, not to worry, there are plenty of designer lines as well. Like I said, something for everyone. What I love most about this boutique is that it’s run by a mother/daughter duo. Together they’ve made this shop welcoming, relaxing, and full of fashion favorites. If you get to meet Candice, the daughter and owner, make sure to tell her hi from me! You can find Wildflower’s at:
And then there’s Khloe and Kate Children’s Boutique
. All the heart eyes for this shop! I found this store last year when we were shopping at the wharf, and it’s been a must stop ever since. Everything from itty bitty baby onesies and crowns, to toddler fashion forward fabulousness, to mermaid tails for your little fishes. I want everything in here!! This is also a mother/daughter (Khloe and Kate) run business and more often than not one or both of them will be there. You’ll end up loving this boutique even more after meeting these lovely ladies, I promise. If you don’t make it down to OB, you can always shop their Instagram and order by phone. You can find Khloe and Kate:
I hope you found this travel guide useful! If you do travel to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, also check out the visitors bureau page HERE.