Explore Gulf State Park: Guide to Family Fun in Alabama Beaches
Gulf State Park, located in Gulf Shores, AL, ranks as one of the top attractions in this southern beach destination. Its white sandy beaches provide a place to relax, however there are plenty more things to do and see at the park. Gulf State Park also welcomes visitors to play golf and tennis, fish, hike and make lifelong memories. Start exploring all the family fun you can have at Gulf State Park:
6 Fun Things to Do at Gulf State Park
Plan a Beach Day
The park features nearly 4 miles of beaches, perfect for a day playing in the water or taking a scenic stroll. Guests have three access points from which to choose, including the Beach Pavilion and two in Orange Beach, AL. While at the beach, families can surf fish, swim, rent jet skis, parasail and surf. Those looking to just read a good book will also find plenty of space to spread out and soak up the sun.
In addition to surf fishing, visitors can also cast a line into Lake Shelby, which is located in the park. The more than 800-acre freshwater lake is home to redfish, bass, speckled trout and catfish, to name a few. The on-site pier also welcomes guests to cast a line, and possible catches include flounder, pompano and king mackerel. Experts advise anglers to use a variety of live bait, and a park permit and freshwater license are required. Anglers may purchase both at the pier, park headquarters and campground.
Book a Tee Time
Play a full round of 18 holes while enjoying natural scenery at Gulf State Park. The Refuge Golf Club and Grill has hosted thousands of visitors since opening in 1974. The course measures more than 6,500 yards set against large trees and water features. Families can also practice at the driving range and putting green, browse the prop shop, and recharge at the Refuge Grill. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and serves breakfast, sandwiches, snacks and even Alabama craft beer.
Gulf State Park prides itself on its family-friendly attractions, so it’s no surprise dogs have their own place to play. The Dog Pond at Lake Shelby is located near the Gulf Adventure Center, and pups are free to roam off-leash once entering the park. Read more dog park guidelines.
Those camping and staying overnight at Gulf State Park enjoy exclusive access to the large outdoor pool and splash pad. Lake Shelby also has several picnic tables, grills, public restrooms, and two covered pavilions that regularly host family reunions and other events.
Gulf State Park also hosts many outdoor adventures the whole family will love. For example, guests may rent bikes, segways, kayaks, paddleboards and beach wheelchairs, ensuring everyone has a good time. Gulf Adventure Center, a top attraction in Gulf Shores, offers opportunities to zipline and enjoy water recreation on Lake Shelby. The Hummingbird Zipline course takes guests 90 feet in the air for unforgettable views of the beach and coastal waters.
Hikers and bikers will find more than 15 miles of ecosystems to explore while hiking Gulf State Park. The park has seven trails that wind through six distinct areas, such as the butterfly garden, freshwater marshes and hardwood swamps. While strolling through these areas, keep an eye out for alligators, bobcats and white-tailed deer. These trails also serve as a great spot for nature and adventure photography.
If all this isn’t enough to keep the family busy and entertained, head to the Nature Center. The Gulf State Park Nature Center serves as a living museum that showcases animals and plants native to the Gulf Coast region. The center works to educate, inspire and interact with guests, so they have a better connection to the natural world. Additionally, visitors can participate in weekly programs, including guided nature, beach and pier walks.
Need more vacation ideas? Check out these 10 unique attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
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