With 32 miles of spectacular, sugar-white beaches and a raftload of outdoor activities and family attractions, the neighboring towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are premier family beach vacation destinations.
1. Get Sand Between Your Toes
Called Alabama's best beach by Coastal Living magazine, West Beach stretches six miles from Gulf Shores Parkway to the end of Dolphin Drive. The west side is less congested, with nothing but soft, white, sugary sand. Warm water and gentle waves make this beach safe for even the youngest waders.
Just after sundown, you’ll find parents and kids chasing little sand crabs along the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. It’s a fun activity the entire family can enjoy and teaching kids to release their catch is always a good lesson in ecological awareness. The Gulf State Park Pier is a popular place for crabbing. A saltwater fishing license can be purchased at the pier and one crab basket per person is allowed.
5. Get Soaked
This 20-acre Waterville USA is both a waterpark and an amusement park located just a quarter mile from the beach in Gulf Shores. It offers water slides, raft rides, a wave pool, water play areas, and dry amusements such as mini golf, go-karts, the Gulf Coast’s fastest wooden roller coaster, and a 2,500-square-foot bounce house. (906 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores; 251/948-2106)
Just blocks from the beach, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is home to more than 500 animals including lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, macaws, and more. You'll also find a petting zoo, reptile house, aviary, seasonal animal encounters, and daily animal shows in the summer. (1204 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores; 251/968-5732)
10. Tackle the High Ropes
Even little kids can experience the thrill of a fun high-ropes course at Sharky's Family Adventure Park in Orange Beach There are three high-rope courses and zip line. Little ones can challenge themselves on the ‘Sky Tykes’ course, a scaled-down course designed for children ages 2-7. (23299 Wharf La., Orange Beach; 251/454-7283)