Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Gulf Shores, AL

  • Published 2023/03/09

Gulf Shores is a well-rounded vacation destination in Alabama.

This small city along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent to Orange Beach boasts some of the best beaches in the nation.

Bring your tanning lotion, sunblock, and flip-flops as you step on Gulf Shores’ beaches.

However, Gulf Shores has more to offer than its pristine beaches.

This city is also home to top-notch outdoor activities from hiking, birdwatching, biking, boat cruises, etc.

Gulf Shores is more than just a top-notch beach destination, so why not include this on your travel bucket list?

Here are the best things to do in Gulf Shores, AL:

Bask in the Sun at Gulf Shores Beach

People at the Gulf Shores Beach with birds flying around

MarynaG /

There’s no better way to enjoy Gulf Shores than its beaches.

So, bring your best swimming outfit and enjoy the pristine waters and white sand of the Gulf Shores Public Beach.

Gulf Shores’ beaches are famous for their sugar white-sand consistency and emerald waters.

Beach chairs near the waters of Gulf Shores Beach

HildeAnna /

It’s one of the most beloved beaches in Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Shores shares a 32-mile strip of white sand beach with its neighbor, the city of Orange Beach.

Don’t forget to swim in its emerald waters, or perhaps comb the beach for clams and seashells.

Visiting this city’s most iconic tourist spot is the best way to start your travel adventure in Gulf Shores.

Sunset reflecting on Gulf Shores Beach waters

Michael Hare /

Hop on a Segway with Coastal Segway Adventures

The streets of Gulf Shores are full of hidden gems, so why not hop on a segway to find them quicker?

Whether you’re a seasoned segway rider or a complete beginner, renting a segway is a surefire exciting way to discover the city’s attractions.

Head to Coastal Segway Adventures to rent one.

They’re one of the recommended segway and bike rentals in Gulf Shores.

Besides segway rentals, they also offer segway tours through Gulf Shores.

During your tour, you’ll stop by various natural areas teeming with local wildlife, featuring the diverse flora and fauna of the Gulf of Mexico.

The segway tour usually lasts an hour or two, depending on where the tour guide takes you.

Join Various Activities at Gulf State Park

Volleyball on the sands of Gulf State Park

Roberto Michel /

If you want to do exciting and fun outdoor activities in Gulf Shores, head to Gulf State Park.

Gulf State Park features exciting outdoor activities for the entire family every week.

They are known for beach hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, and segway tours.

A lake at Gulf State Park

kjungmann /

In addition, they also have a free bike-share program where you can borrow a bike to explore Gulf Shores for free.

They have tandem bikes, pull-behind kiddie trailers, and kids’ bikes.

In addition, you can also sign up for the fishing academy during summer to sharpen your fishing skills.

Visit the Shellbanks Selects Oyster Farm

One of the fascinating activities you’ll enjoy in Gulf Shores is touring oyster farms.

Head to Whiteboots Charters and Shellbanks Selects Oyster Farm in Fort Morgan.

They take tourists to the oyster farms aboard their flat-bottom boats.

Besides tasting freshly harvested oysters, you’ll also receive educational lessons about raising oysters from the tour guides.

After touring oyster farms, head to various seafood restaurants in the area to taste different oyster dishes.

Feel the Sea Breeze at Gulf State Park Pier

A turtle under the Gulf State Park pier sign

Jacob Boomsma /

Strolling along the Gulf State Park Pier is the perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Gulf Shores.

You’ll appreciate the fresh sea breeze, peaceful ambiance, and the vast horizon in front of you, an excellent way to pass the time.

Daytime view of Gulf State Park Pier

Jacob Boomsma /

If you want a more enjoyable experience visiting this public pier, bring your fishing gear or perhaps watch surfers from a distance.

Sharks also stop by the area from time to time, so keep your eyes peeled.

Then, proceed to the pier restaurant, where you can munch on fresh seafood.

Aerial view of Gulf State Park Pier

George Dodd III /

Rent a Bike at Gulf Shores Bike Rentals

A bike parked on Gulf state park's boardwalk

kjungmann /

Besides riding a segway or joining tours, biking is also a trendy way to explore Gulf Shores.

Since many Gulf Shores’ attractions are outdoors, renting a bike gives you a convenient way to explore the city.

You’ll also find numerous bike trails throughout Gulf Shores.

One of Gulf Shores’ most recommended bike trails is the one in Gulf State Park, featuring a paved trail for cyclists.

Silhouette of people riding their bike at Gulf Shores

William A. Morgan /

At the same time, you can spend your day there picnicking or doing other outdoor activities.

In addition, you can head to Lake Shelby and bike through its looped trail for a different kind of biking experience.

Other bike trails you’ll find in Gulf Shores are Eastern Shore Trail and Orange Beach.

Check out Gulf Shores Bike Rentals, Infinity Bicycles, and Dauphin Island Kayak & Bicycle Rentals.

Discover the Historic Fort Morgan

Scenic aerial view of Fort Morgan

Nicholas Courtney /

If you want to visit Gulf Shores’ historical attractions, then head to Fort Morgan.

This historic site is a fascinating attraction that features 1800s military buildings.

Join guided tours or go on self-guided tours around the facility.

Battery schenck at Fort Morgan

Felix Mizioznikov /

The tour takes you through the fort grounds, where most historic buildings and structures stand.

Besides historical tours, you can also go birdwatching and hiking through Fort Morgan’s unspoiled marshes teeming with Alabama’s flora and fauna.

Entrance of a building at Fort Morgan

Felix Mizioznikov /

Spot Rare Birds at Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

If you want more birdwatching activity in Gulf Shores after visiting Fort Morgan, then head to the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.

This natural attraction in Gulf Shores offers visitors the best birdwatching spots in the area.

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail features more than 200 miles of looped birding trails between Mobile and Baldwin counties.

The birdwatching experience highlights local bird species and migrating birds that seasonally flock to certain trail areas.

Most of the common bird species you’ll find are snowy plovers, egrets, common loons, and northern gannets.

So, before heading to Gulf Shores, pack your binoculars because you never know when you’ll go birdwatching.

Find Nesting Turtles at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

A bridge over the waters of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

William A. Morgan /

For a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience during your Gulf Shores travel adventure, head to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.

This natural area features some of the most vibrant wildlife habitats along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Nature or wildlife enthusiasts will love this place.

Still, regular tourists will also enjoy exploring this area.

Forest trail of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

William A. Morgan /

This natural area was established to protect Alabama’s threatened wildlife species.

This place is excellent for watching turtles nesting in their natural habitat.

You’ll learn the importance of protecting turtles and their nesting areas.

In addition, you’ll encounter the rare tiny Alabama beach mouse, one of the area’s protected animals.

Many birdwatchers flock to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to spot migratory birds stopping there during spring.

Marsh at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Danny E Hooks /

Hike the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Gulf Shores isn’t just famous for its emerald waters and white-sand beaches.

It’s also an excellent hiking destination not people know about.

So, pack your hiking shoes and outdoor gear before heading to Gulf Shores.

You’ll find yourself hiking one of its scenic trails.

One of the recommended trails to hike in Gulf Shores is the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail in Gulf State Park.

It features around 30-miles of hiking trails, showing you the vibrant flora and fauna of Alabama.

Other hiking trails include Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, Eastern Shore Trail, Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, and Wade Ward Nature Park.

Meet the Wild Animals at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

A giraffe and an ostrich at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Vicky Borjas /

Gulf Shores is also home to an exciting wildlife attraction that you shouldn’t miss.

Head to Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo for an unforgettable experience with different animals.

An alligator at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

George Dodd III /

This wildlife attraction in Gulf Shores is currently expanding with numerous exhibits featuring lions, primates, giraffes, tigers, leopards, bears, and a vast aviary.

Like most top-notch zoos, this one offers guided and educational tours for everyone.

After an entire day watching animals, grab lunch at one of its on-site cafes or perhaps have a picnic at one of its tables and benches.

Goats at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Acdixon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try Scuba Diving with Down Under Dive Shop

You should also try scuba diving at Gulf Shores.

Visit Down Under Dive Shop in Gulf Shores to join its scuba diving sessions.

If you don’t know anything about scuba, you can join its scuba diving lessons to learn and earn a certificate afterward.

Gulf Shores boasts vibrant marine flora and fauna.

You don’t need to fly to the Bahamas or the Caribbean for diving excursions.

Don’t forget to include scuba diving lessons on your Gulf Shores travel adventure itinerary.

Chill Out at The Hangout Gulf Shores

Sculpture in front of The Hangout

George Dodd III /

It’s always nice to chill out at a literally chill spot right on the beach and The Hangout Gulf Shores doesn’t disappoint!

From mouthwatering food to delicious specialty drinks, and complete fun for all, this charming place is great for friends, families, or co-workers.

There’s live music seven days a week, a play and game area for the little ones, an outdoor bar for adults to enjoy specialty drinks, and a whole lot of fun activities, especially in the summer.

And most of all, the seafood here is fresh as it comes straight from the waters on the coast.

The Hangout Gulf Shores is a perfect spot for food, drinks, and entertainment!

Spend a Day at Waterville USA

Families traveling to Gulf Shores can spend an entire day at Waterville USA.

The 20-acre amusement and water park features a lazy river, which is a visitor favorite, as well as a wave pool, go-karts, arcade games, a wooden rollercoaster, and more.

There’s also an escape room, where your group needs to solve the mystery puzzles within 60 minutes to escape.

Concessions are also on-site to grab a quick meal or snacks.

Make sure to bring your sunscreen for a whole day of fun with your loved ones at Waterville USA!

Snug a Beer at Big Beach Brewing

Brewing local craft beer on-site, Big Beach Brewing has been raising the bar in the beer industry in this beautiful beach town.

And on a fine day, you can have your beer right in its family-friendly taproom, where you can smell the ocean breeze flowing through.

The brewery has a 10-barrel brewing system to produce craft beer stored in its gallon vessels to ensure freshness and quality.

There’s also live music and a beautiful patio to settle down during warmer days.

Big Beach Brewing was the brainchild of Jim and Julie Shamburger in 2015 after their daughter gifted them a Mr. Beer Brewing Kit.

Drop by the Gulf Shores Welcome Center

A recommended first stop in the city is the Gulf Shores Welcome Center on Gulf Shores Parkway.

Here, you’ll find lots of information about the city and how to get around while taking advantage of its natural beauty.

You can ask for travel itineraries, local maps, brochures, schedules of events in the city, and lots of coupons for discounts.

The travel staff here will help you pick outstanding hotels, restaurants, shops, and many more.

So, make sure to take a quick trip to the Gulf Shores Welcome Center for a more guided trip to Gulf Shores!

Watch a Movie at CMX Cinemas Pinnacle 14

If there’s a movie that you need to catch while traveling to Gulf Shores, CMX Cinemas Pinnacle 14 got your back!

The theater offers 3D and IMAX with the latest digital projection and sound.

It features comfortable high-back rocker stadium seating and a concession, where you can grab your snacks to enjoy while watching a movie.

The theater also hosts special events like birthdays, movie screenings, and more.

CMX Cinemas Pinnacle 14 was established in 2017 with almost 30 locations nationwide.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Spot the Dolphins with Dolphins Down Under

A dolphin jumping midair on Orange Beach waters

laceybeth /

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach’s open sea along the Gulf of Mexico attract thousands of tourists every year for dolphin watching.

Dolphin watching is highly-popular in Gulf Shores; numerous companies offer dolphin watching tours.

To experience dolphin-watching tours in Gulf Shores, head to Dolphins Down Under.

This company is in Orange Beach, Alabama, 17 minutes away from Gulf Shores.

A dolphin at Orange Beach

Darryl Vest /

It offers top-notch dolphin-watching tours, including wildlife kayak tours and other recreational water activities.

During the tour, you’ll explore the best spots on the Gulf of Mexico, where dolphins usually pass.

By nature, dolphins are playful, coming out to meet passing boats.

Chances are, you’ll see one or two of them during the tour.

A dolphin swimming

Darryl Vest /

Enjoy the Sunset with Sail Wild Hearts’ Sunset Cruises

For a satisfying or perhaps a relaxing experience during your visit to Gulf Shores, try cruising along the water during sunset.

A sunset cruise on the open seas is one of the most therapeutic experiences in Gulf Shores.

You can join one of Sail Wild Hearts’ Sunset Cruises, based in neighboring Orange Beach.

They offer excellent open sea cruises for everyone on an open-ocean catamaran.

Of course, there are snacks and drinks onboard and other amenities during the cruise.

Don’t forget to include this leisure activity during your Gulf Shores travel adventure.

Wander Long’s Bayou and Wolf Bay

The Sailaway Charters Eco-Tours takes you on a unique open sea tour in Wolf Bay and Long’s Bayou.

This company, based in Orange Beach, navigates the backwaters of Wolf Bay and Longs Bayou, giving tourists a unique open-water cruise experience.

Longs Bayou and Wolf Bay feature one of the most vibrant ecosystems in Alabama, filled with wildlife, making the tour more exciting.

During the tour, you will visit various blue crab and oyster breeding areas and learn about their life cycles.

Overall, it is a one-of-a-kind experience worth checking out before returning home from your Gulf Shores travel adventure.

Final Thoughts

Again, Gulf Shores is more than its beautiful beaches.

It also has many unique attractions worthy of discovering.

For sure, Gulf Shores has many hidden gems waiting for visitors to explore.

So, pack your bags and head to this charming city on the Alabama Gulf Coast!

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