Gulf Shores is self-proclaimed as a small town, big beach, which accurately describes the destination. The extensive shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico is a major draw for tourists looking for a nearby beach destination. It’s one of the top travel cities in Alabama.
Gulf Shores has plenty of things to do at the beach and around town. You’ll get all of the beach town vibes during your trip even when you’re exploring more of the town – it has excellent shopping, fun activities for the family, and incredible seafood restaurants.
Fill up your itinerary with these fun things to do in Gulf Shores and get ready for an exciting trip!
Things to Do:
- Relax on the beach
Gulf Shores is a popular beach destination in Alabama where you’ll have an extensive shoreline to explore. The calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are perfect for going for a cool swim or find the perfect spot on the beach to relax.
You have a couple of main local beach options:
- Gulf Shores Public Beach
- Orange Beach
Gulf Shores Public Beach is the most popular beach in Gulf Shores. It attracts the most tourists and has plenty of things to do on the beach. Some of the favorite activities include swimming, volleyball, and sunbathing.
Orange Beach is a short drive north from Gulf Shores, but it’s another top beach worth exploring. It’s less crowded than the Gulf Shores Public Beach, so you’ll have more room to spread out and enjoy the beach scenery.
- See dolphins
Gulf Shore is a natural habitat for dolphins who live abundantly in the area. Dolphins are social creatures, so where there’s one, there’s a good chance that you’ll see others. You can have a few dolphin encounters during your trip to Gulf Shores that you shouldn’t miss out on.
One of the best ways to see the dolphins is to go on a dolphin cruise. Dolphin cruises take passengers on a boat on an excursion in the gulf to find dolphins. You’ll have an expert captain that takes you directly to the majestic mammals to see them playing and swimming alongside the boat.
You can find other experiences like kayaking with dolphins or riding on jet skis. You can also get a glimpse of dolphins in the distance while standing on the Gulf State Park Pier.
- Souvenir Shopping
One thing you’ll notice about Gulf Shores is that it’s a town designed for tourists. Since so many people arrive to hang out at the beach or other activities, it has also developed into a popular place to shop.
Gulf Shores has many boutique beach shops near the coast where you can find all kinds of cool souvenirs, clothing, beach gear, and more. Each place is unique and showcases the personality of the town with laid back shops.
Grab some souvenirs of your trip or window shop some of the cool products. You never know what you’re going to find.
- Family Activities
Gulf Shores isn’t just about relaxing at the beach all day – you’ll find several activities nearby that are fun for the entire family to get active. During your trip, be sure to add these fun family activities to your itinerary:
- Go-kart racing
- Putt-Putt golfing
These activities can add a lot of fun to your day, whether you’re a kid or an adult. The best go-karting in Gulf Shores is The Track, a multi-complex with karts, coasters, and an arcade inside. There are a few putt-putt golfing courses, but the Pirate’s Island Adventure gives you a fitting beach theme while you practice getting a hole-in-one. Just outside of town is the Hummingbird Zipline Course, where you can zip from treetop to treetop.
- Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park is a destination for recreation – the park was established in 1939 to preserve 6500 acres near the coastal area. The park has a diverse landscape, including the coast, forest, lakes, and more.
The beach at Gulf State Park is one of the highlight attractions. The sandy beach stretches for two miles along the Gulf of Mexico, where you can enjoy all the usual beach activities. But the fun doesn’t stop there.
Gulf State Park is also popular for hiking, fishing, swimming in the lakes, boating, and zip-lining. It has features like the Gulf State Park Pier and Pavilion. It even includes campgrounds for tents and RVs for staying overnight.
Where to Stay in Gulf Shores
Most tourists visiting Gulf Shores hope to spend plenty of time at the beach. Many accommodations in Gulf Shores are close to the beach and other places of interest. You’ll find all of the top hotel brands and several local accommodations that boast exceptional Alabama hospitality.
Check out accommodations in these areas when you visit Gulf Shores:
- Beachfront hotels
Gulf Shores Public Beach has several excellent hotels along the beachfront. Best Western on the Beach and the Beachside Resort Hotel are a couple of options where your room is within walking distance to the beach.
Rentals in Gulf Shores range from condos to beach cottages. You’ll have an entire place to yourself while still being located near all of the action.
If you enjoy the outdoors, you’ll have camping experiences available in the Gulf State Park. Bring your RV to the campgrounds or pitch a tent the old-fashioned way.
Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores
You have a large window of opportunity to plan your trip to Gulf Shores. While the weather is relatively nice all year long, it’s best to arrive when the water conditions are ideal for being at the beach.
The peak travel time in Gulf Shores is in the summer. The summer is when most tourists arrive to take advantage of the warmest water temperatures and lots of sunshine. If you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll have larger crowds at the beach and hotels will be more expensive.
Gulf Shores is also fantastic during the late spring and the early fall. The water will be warm enough during these periods to enjoy swimming, but the advantage is avoiding major crowds. Gulf Shores is a popular spring break destination, so you’ll have a lot of activity happening around the beach.