Family Travel


The 21 Best Things To Do In Gulf Shores For Kids

The 21 Best Things To Do In Gulf Shores For Kids

The city of Gulf Shores, Alabama, is one of the go-to travel and beach destinations for families that love to visit the beach and swim in the ocean while enjoying the fresh air and hospitality only found in the South. Parents may wonder if there are fun things to do in Gulf Shores for kids, and the answer is a resounding yes! Let’s dive into some of the amazing things to do in Gulf Shores.

Beaches and Other Outdoor Things To Do in Gulf Shores

boy on the beach
There are over 32 miles of beach to enjoy along the Gulf Shores, so make sure to visit at least one.

©iStock.com/Xianghong Garrison

Undoubtedly, the highlight of visiting Gulf Shores is the many outdoor activities that families can enjoy, which include beaches, bike trails, and boardwalk experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. Make sure to plan some time along the coast so you can try these activities.

Go to the Beach

As the name may imply, the city of Gulf Shores is set along many gorgeous beaches and you should bring your kids there for at least one day of your trip. All in all, there are 32 miles of beach, and they feature some of the whitest sand in all the world. Your kids can swim, lay around, build sand castles, walk along the shore, go fishing, read a book and more. Add any one of the Gulf Shores beaches to your bucket list.

Sand Castle University 

If your kids take their sand play seriously and want to take their skills to the next level, they should check out Gulf Shores’ Sand Castle University. While here, you’ll get expert tips on crafting the perfect castle, and then there will be opportunities to take photos that you can post on social media. The university is open all year long.

Rent Bikes on the Beach

When you’re done building your sand castles, head to your nearest bike rental shop and take a family bike ride along the many trails and sidewalks. There are many popular trails, including the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system. During your ride, there’ll be many places to stop where you can get a drink or a snack or take a few great pictures along the coast.

Take a Hike

There is a lot of beauty to behold and tons of things to do in Gulf Shores that you can do on foot. If your family loves hiking, then take a walk along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. The Branyon trail is especially exciting because it goes on for 30 miles, making it Alabama’s longest linear park. Some trails can take as long as a full day to traverse, and there’s a ton to see along the way, including the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Gaines Lighthouse, Fort Gaines Historic Site, and more.

Go Fishing

If you or the kids are interested in fishing, then you're in luck because that’s one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores. You have the option to fish from any of the public jetties or docks you find. For the best luck, visit Gulf State Park Fishing Pier. There’s a lot of fish, and you can also take classes at Angler Academy, where you can learn how to fish in saltwater. If you’re really obsessed with fishing, then bring the kids and charter a deep-sea fishing boat. Just keep in mind that kids over 16 will need a fishing state license. 

Rent a Kayak

You and your family can get really up close and personal with the Gulf of Mexico by experiencing it while kayaking along the beach. You never know what you’ll see when you’re out there, including a potential dolphin sighting.

Go Parasailing

For even more adventure, stop by one of the many parasailing companies along the coast and try your hand at this fun air sport. While you’re up there, you’ll get the best possible view of the Gulf Shores. Take your camera, and you’ll capture some amazing shots. Note that there may be an age restriction for children.

Check Out the Playgrounds

Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most exciting, and there are plenty of simple and fun things to do in Gulf Shores. Among these activities is a visit to the many playgrounds throughout the area. There are several of these playgrounds found along the public beaches, including those at Gulf Shores City Park. This is also a beautiful place to sit down and have a picnic. Walk off your food as you take a gander at the beautiful murals lining the beach. They depict some of the history of the Gulf Shores area.

Visit the Wharf at Orange Beach

Right next to Gulf Shores is Orange Beach, and there is a ton of fun stuff to do there as well. One of the activities is The Wharf, which is an entertainment complex that is loaded with speciality stores, restaurants, attractions, live entertainment, and unique shops. Visit on sunny days to see all the outdoor entertainment. Come on rainy days, and your kids can spend time in the fun video game arcade. There’s also an awesome escape room and a laser light show at night. Don’t even think about leaving without also riding the massive Ferris wheel that is one of the largest in the entire Southeast. 

The Track Recreation Center

For more rainy day fun, check out the Track Recreation Center, where there are a handful of activities, including bumper boats, go-karts, mini-golf, kiddie rides, and more. The recreation center also has one of the biggest video game arcades in the Gulf Shores. There are also amazing fast-paced rides, like the Skycoaster. Come here to create fun memories you won’t soon forget.

Play Mini-Golf

The Track Recreation Center isn’t the only place where you can play a rousing game of mini-golf. In fact, there are multiple places to try, including Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf. Don’t forget to keep score with your mini pencils and scorecards!

Enjoy a Dolphin Cruise

Of course, no visit to the seashore would be complete without at least trying to spot some dolphins along the way. While you may get lucky standing on the shore, you can also take a cruise and see the dolphins up close and personal. There are morning, afternoon, and sunset cruises that will give your family a thrill. There’s nothing like seeing amazing sea life as the sun sets. 

Watch the Sunset

Even if dolphins aren’t your thing, you should still take the opportunity to get out there on the water. There’s nothing quite like seeing the sunset on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico, so consider buying a ticket for a sunset catamaran cruise and watch it in style. If you get seasick, then don’t worry because you can also see the amazing spectacle from the comfort of the beach.

Find a Festival

Depending on when you visit Gulf Shores, you may be able to catch one of the stellar festivals that make their way to this area every year. If possible, try to visit during the Annual Seafood Festival, which is held during Labor Day each year. The festival has delicious food, live music, fun activities for kids, entertainment, and more. 

OWA Amusement Park

Every year, millions of people visit the OWA festival and amusement park because there’s something for everyone, and it's a ton of fun. The park includes a theme park, a water park, an arcade, and more. There’s a ton of rides for every age range, and you also get dining, entertainment, shopping, and more. If you take your RV down to Gulf Shores, you can head to the OWA Tropic Hideaway RV resort. You can hook up your vehicle and then enjoy a pool, clubhouse, pickleball courts, and more. 

Animals and Aquariums

Don't leave town without checking out the gorgeous animals at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

©Deborah Ferrin/Shutterstock.com

There are a couple of places you need to visit if you love animals and fish. Don’t leave town without checking out at least one of these destinations.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Just about every famous tourist destination has a zoo, and Gulf Shores is no exception. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is a major attraction that boasts over 500 animals, including monkeys, kangaroos, lions, tigers, and more. There are over 115 unique species at this zoo, and 22 of them are considered threatened, endangered, or vulnerable, so see them while you can. There are also cool animal encounters where kids can see their favorite animals up close and personal.

The Alabama Aquarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Although not an aquarium like SeaWorld, the Alabama Aquarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is a great experience for families that want to learn more about the habitats of coastal Alabama. This is the fourth-largest estuary system in America. While here, your kids can see over 100 local species of plants and animals, and there are several hands-on exhibits for them to enjoy. 

Museums and Tours

There’s also a lot to learn when you visit this exciting section of Alabama, especially when you visit the various museums and educational experiences. If you love history and art, check out these other fun things to do in Gulf Shores.

Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach

Families interested in art should check out the Coastal Arts Center, where amazing masterpieces are on full display. There’s actually a lot of different pieces to admire from different art styles. In addition to the amazing paintings, there's also glass-blown art, clay pieces, and more. If you really want to get into the action, you can actually take an art class while you’re here. 

Tour Navy Cove Oysters

Many kids are interested in sea life, and they may get a kick out of this tour through this boutique oyster farm that is considered a favorite in the area. It’s amazing to see how the delicious food is made behind the scenes. Once you’re done, eat lunch across the street at Sassy Bass Amazing Grill & Market, where you can taste the oysters that you just saw them prepare. 

Fort Morgan State Park & Historical Site

Fort Morgan is a military site and National Historical Landmark that is located 22 miles outside the Gulf Shores, and you can visit it with your kids. While walking around the park, you can learn some history while also capturing some amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a walk around the Fort Morgan Peninsula, where you can travel over seven miles of nature trails to see even more views of the gorgeous ocean. 

Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center

For a little science and a bit of wonder, bring your kids to the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, where they can learn about the world around them via over 150 interactive exhibits that they won’t soon forget. Plus, there’s the awesome IMAX dome theater, where you can catch any of the newest films on the very big screen. You haven’t seen a movie until you’ve seen it like this.


That’s our list of the most exciting things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama. While it’s not the wildest tourist destination, it is full of local charm and good people, and you and your family are sure to enjoy your visit. 

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