10 Unique Things To Do in Gulf Shores, Alabama

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Gulf Shores, AL, is renowned for its extensive stretch of 32-mile sugar-white sandy beaches, glistening waters, sought-after Southern hospitality, and the welcoming family-oriented ambiance in Baldwin County.

As a fantastic destination to visit or settle down, Gulf Shores has several restaurants, parks, and other enjoyable entertainment options.

Outdoor activities like boating, fishing, and hiking are plentiful in the area. Locals and tourists will also love the various annual events and festivals celebrated in the city.

In this article, we’ll review some of the unique things to do in Gulf Shores that will make your visit unforgettable!

1. Explore the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Explore the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
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Over seven thousand acres of wildlife habitats, from rich maritime forests to beautiful beaches, make up this stunning refuge on the Gulf Coast.

Unique natural features such as peaceful saltwater lagoons, gorgeous dunes, and many species await their guests!

Hikers and nature lovers may explore a system of well-maintained paths that run through this coastal wilderness, and birdwatchers will enjoy the opportunity to see migrating species in their natural habitat.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge provides visitors with a scenic experience, whether they come for the tranquility of nature’s embrace, the opportunity to observe wildlife, or to unwind by the sea.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge does not charge an admission fee. Refuge visitors are welcome to roam freely through the refuge’s habitats, including natural beaches, dunes, and woodlands.

There is no entrance fee so that people of all socioeconomic backgrounds may enjoy the refuge’s natural splendor without budget restriction.

2. Dine at a Local Seafood Shack

Dine at a Local Seafood Shack
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Gulf Shores has many excellent seafood joints because of the city’s vicinity to the water. You can get anything from exquisite shrimp to delicious crab legs, which are guaranteed to be freshly caught and prepared.

Seafood enthusiasts will find paradise in Gulf Shores, as the city’s location near the ocean ensures that the day’s catch will always be fresh and delicious.

You and your loved ones may choose to dine at one of these excellent seafood restaurants while in Orange Beach:

De Soto’s Seafood Kitchen is a must-visit for anyone traveling to the southern shore of Alabama. Located in the heart of Gulf Shores, this restaurant is widely regarded as one of the best in the area for seafood.

As the recipient of more than a decade’s worth of community honors, including the prestigious title of “Best Seafood,” this family-run business is revolutionizing the seafood industry. It should be on everyone’s itinerary when exploring Gulf Shores, AL!

Just off the beautiful beaches of the Gulf, you’ll find Sea N Suds, a classic seafood joint serving freshly cooked meals, perfectly partnered with refreshing beers and beverages in a cozy, rustic atmosphere.

If you want to have a perfect beach day, be sure to stop at Sea N Suds and have a taste of their fantastic seaside dining experience. It is an ideal location to enjoy the sea breeze and relax with a cold drink while being surrounded by panoramic views.

Tacky Jacks Gulf Shores is a popular beachfront seafood restaurant and bar serving high-quality dishes, from classic seaside shacks to luxury waterfront dining.

It is known for its vibrant and welcoming environment, where customers can participate in various special events, play interactive games, or watch live performances.

Play at Waterville USA - Escape House
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Waterville USA is a must-visit amusement park located about a quarter mile from the beach and is home to two escape rooms on 20 acres of land. Guests can try various water activities and rides, including 18 exciting water slides, the relaxing Lazy River, and the adrenaline-pumping Wave Pool and Flowrider!

When the waterpark is open, entry includes a trip on the Flowrider, where guests may do boogie boarding. When the waterpark is closed, the Flowrider becomes part of the amusement park. Miniature bowling alleys, top golf driving ranges, Nascart go-karts, and many other fun things are available onsite.

Since opening in 1986, Waterville USA has been a popular choice for families looking for a memorable vacation in Gulf Shores, AL.

Entrance costs do not cover admission to the amusement park, the Escape Room, Virtual Reality, or the arcade games. Here are the admission fees for your reference:

CategoryFeeRequirement
Waterpark Admission$35.95-
Military Park Admission$28.95Must have a valid military ID
Senior Citizen Park Admission$26.95Must have any proof of age
Park Admission (Under 42”)$26.95Will have to be measured at their ticket window
Infants (Aged 2 and below)Free-
Kayak in Little Lagoon
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Little Lagoon is a brackish lake measuring ten miles long and surrounded by a marshy ecosystem, offering a relaxing setting for boating and fishing. This beautiful area of nature is ideal for relaxation, with its calm waters and diverse environment just waiting to be discovered.

It is a treasured getaway for people who seek the tranquility of marshlands, the enjoyment of water-based sports, and serves as a tribute to the pristine beauty of Gulf Shores.

5. Hunt for Ghost Crabs at Night

Hunt for Ghost Crabs at Night
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During the summer, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach visitors may be seen combing the beaches with flashlights for small sand crabs before burrowing into the sand. The goal of the game is to capture ghost crabs.

The species is nocturnal but has been seen on Alabama’s Gulf Coast during the day. Despite their typically pale appearance, ghost crabs may alter their color to match their environment. They may also grow to a maximum size of three inches and have a square body.

These crabs are notoriously tricky to capture due to their quick reflexes and maneuverability. Because of their color-changing abilities, they are almost impossible to see on the sandy beach.

Ghost crabs may be little, but they do big things for the environment by eating dead things and aerating the sand with their tunnels.

As long as you follow the rules given out by the local authorities, you may go hunting for these tiny creatures on the beaches of Gulf Shores.

Visit the Historic Fort Morgan
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Located 22 miles west of Gulf Shores, Alabama, Fort Morgan has stood watch over Mobile Bay since 1834. It is now a National Historic Landmark due to its significance as both a military facility and a landmark.

In 1813, the United States Army built Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point as a deterrent against any British invasion.

During the War of 1812, this little but tenacious log and sand fort withstood two British assaults, the first of which it decisively won by repelling four British cruisers, Royal Marines, and the Creek Indians.

Despite being defeated in the second fight in early February 1815, the war-ending treaty restored Fort Bowyer to the United States.

With work beginning in 1819, the fort was built using more than 46 million cubic yards of bricks, a monument to the hard labor of talented masons and enslaved African Americans.

The fort’s grounds are open for exploration, and its museum features historical objects and documents relating to Mobile Bay. The museum also has hands-on displays that bring the region’s history to life by letting visitors experience the tales and events firsthand.

In addition, guided tours are offered so that visitors may learn more about the fort’s strategic role in past wars.

The fort has rental spaces available for a variety of events and has an age-based admission policy. For the fees, please refer to the pricing list below:

CategoryAdmission Fee
Adult$8
College Students, Seniors, Children aged 6-18 years old$5
Family of Four (2 adults, 2 children)$20
Military - Active, Reserve, or Retired with IDFree
School Groups Per Person$3
Boat Launch$2/day, $10/week, $25/month
EventRental Fee
Wedding - Ceremony Only$1,000
Wedding - Ceremony with Reception $1500
After-hours Events, other than Weddings$500
CategoryCamping Fees
Scouts$4/night per person
Adult$15/night
Scout Masters (up to 2 per group)Free
Take an Art Class at The Hot Shop
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The Hot Shop, which has been open since 2009, is a premier hot glassblowing studio in Alabama, giving customers the chance to create one-of-a-kind glass works of art. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and see the facility’s glassblowing masters at work.

The Hot Shop’s 10,000-square-foot fine arts gallery, the Coastal Arts Center, also features an impressive collection of glass artwork.

Glassblowing lessons called “Make Your Own Glass” are offered Monday through Friday at 9 AM, by appointment only, for $95. This charming establishment on Wolf Bay may also be rented out as a wedding location for your special day.

Walk Along the Gulf State Park Pier
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The long, broad Gulf State Park Pier offers beautiful beach and ocean views and is a favorite fishing spot in the area. The pier has an Angler Academy program that teaches novices how to fish successfully in salt water.

Sheepshead, Red Drum, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Florida Pompano, King Mackerel, Whiting, and many more can be caught year-round at Gulf State Park Pier, making it a fishing mecca for anglers.

A concession stand is also available on the pier grounds, selling tasty bites, takeout, and daily drinks from 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM. ByWater Beachside Beach Bar & Grill at the Pier also offers a delectable food adventure, complete with karaoke nights when in season and breathtaking views of the coast.

Enjoy your dinner in the shaded dining areas, or visit the interior gift store selling fishing gear and souvenirs. Educational signs on the pier provide information on the area’s fish, birds, and other animals.

Veterans are given free admission to attractions, reduced prices on fishing licenses, and access to seasonal discounts, thanks to the Veteran’s Sponsorship program, which accepts donations from anyone interested in helping veterans.

Various parking pass options are available, from a daily permit costing $10 to an annual pass amounting to $100. Parking at any of Gulf State Park’s beaches is free for those with yearly, semi-annual, monthly, or weekly fishing licenses.

In contrast, daily anglers who pay the $10.00 daily parking charge get an accessible pier fishing permit. A fishing license may range from $9 per day to $321 per year.

The daily rate for renting a rod and reel is $20.00, with a four-hour rate of $10.00 and a full-day rate of $20.00. Children under 11 can fish for free when accompanied by a paid adult.

Attend the Annual National Shrimp Festival
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The Annual Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores is a favorite event for locals and visitors. It has over 50 vendors selling everything from crab cakes and conch fritters to lobster and Cajun delicacies. The event is known for showcasing some of the freshest shrimp in the Gulf, but it has much more to offer than just that.

Over two stages, attendees may enjoy more than a hundred hours of live musical performances from various national, regional, and local bands performing everything from blues to Motown to classic rock to jazz to country.

It also features over 150 booths displaying great art and unique crafts from local artisans. The Children’s Activity Village is a fun place for families to spend time together, with activities including face painting, bubble trucks, and airbrush tattoos.

Meanwhile, the 10K and 5K races are great ways for active guests to exercise and support a good cause while working off those extra festival calories.

The best part about the Annual National Shrimp Festival is that it is entirely free for everyone, definitely one of the unique things to do in Gulf Shores!

10. Explore by Bicycle

Explore by Bicycle
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Biking along Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a fun and exciting experience waiting to be had. You can enjoy the city’s peaceful coastline scenery and extensive bike-friendly routes and trails.

As you ride your bike down the shore, take in the sights of the crystal clear ocean, powdery white sand, and swaying palm palms. Further inland, you’ll find quaint communities, protected natural areas, and verdant parks waiting to be explored.

Stop at roadside restaurants and seafood shacks to try authentic Gulf Coast cuisine. Gulf Shores has various rides for cyclists of all skill levels, from leisurely rides along the beach to challenging rides into the adjacent Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.

It is a beautiful opportunity to go outside and experience the laid-back seaside lifestyle of this lovely Alabama city.

10 Unique Things to Do in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Final Thoughts

With the wide range of unique things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama, visitors can experience everything from relaxing on the pristine beaches to exploring the vibrant local art scene.

Thanks to these exciting activities, people visiting the stunning Gulf Shores can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience to the fullest!

For more information about Gulf Shores or if you would like to explore your housing options in Alabama, please feel free to book an appointment with our team.

You can call us at 251.543.6094 or send us a message via bruce@inlandbayrealty.com. You can also reach us by messaging one of our social media channels below:

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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Frequently Asked Questions

Spring and fall in Gulf Shores are ideal for outdoor activities owing to the mild temperatures and relatively low numbers of visitors. The weather is hotter and more crowded on the beaches in the summer, while it’s calmer and less crowded in the winter, from December to February.

Yes, Gulf Shores is an excellent place for families to visit because of all the fun things to do with kids. Activities abound, from strolling and cycling in the park to learning about Gulf Shores’ past and celebrating during the Annual Shrimp Festival.

Several of Gulf Shores’ best beaches are accessible to the public. Public beaches in Gulf Shores, Alabama, such as Gulf Shores Public Beach and Gulf State Park Beach, are popular with locals and tourists.