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10 Fun Things to Do in Gulf Shores with Kids

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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

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West Beach

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.

2. Go Catch-and-Release Crabbing

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Gulf State Park Pier

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. 

3. Go Paddling or Zip Lining

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Gulf Adventure Center

The Gulf Adventure Center in Gulf State Park offers a lot of fun for active families, from zip lining to kayaking and paddleboarding. (21101 State Hwy 135, Gulf Shores; 888/987-1229)

4. Learn About Local Critters on a Nature Walk

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Gulf State Park

Along with a beautiful two-mile beach, Gulf State Park features a nature center with weekly programs that include free guided nature walks, beach walks, pier walks, and nature presentations. The park also offers a swimming pool, fishing, geocaching, and more.

5. Get Soaked

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Waterville USA

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)

6. Pet a Kangaroo or a Snake

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Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

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)

7. Take the Ferry to Dauphin Island

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Mobile Bay Ferry

Ride the tiny Mobile Bay Ferry across the mouth of the bay to Dauphin Island ($30 roundtriop for cars; $5 each way for pedestrians, free for kids 12 and under), and watch dolphins frolic in the ferry’s wake. (1606-B Bienville Blvd.; 251/861–3000)

8. Explore Fort Morgan

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Fort Morgan State Historic Site

Learn about Civil War history at Fort Morgan, a masonry star fort which guards Mobile Bay and is regarded as one of the finest examples of military architecture in the New World. (51 Alabama 180, Gulf Shores; 251/540-7127)

9. Play Mini Golf or Laser Tag

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Adventure Island

Looking for a fun day out for younger kids? In Orange Beach, Adventure Island offers go-karts, mini golf, laser tag, bumper boats, paddleboats, a rock wall, rides, plus a five-story volcano that "erupts" regularly. (24559 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach; 251/974-1500)

10. Tackle the High Ropes

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Sharky's Family Adventure Park

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)

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