Gulf Shores Outdoor Attractions: Find Fun and Sun

Scenic and spacious, Gulf Shores, Alabama, provides an ideal beach destination for travelers who want relaxation and fun. Travel+Leisure magazine even considers it an underrated southern beach spot, noting its outdoor spaces. To start exploring and find things to do, read about these Gulf Shores outdoor attractions.

Fun Gulf Shores Outdoor Attractions for the Family

gulf shores outdoor attractions pier

Gulf State Park

With 2 miles of beaches and space to explore, Gulf State Park welcomes outdoor lovers. Visitors are welcome to lounge on the beach with their favorite book and cool off in the water.

Those who prefer more action will find a swimming pool, options for canoeing and kayaking, a fishing pier and miles of biking trails. As an added bonus, local vendors help guests with parasailing and kayaking adventures.

Gulf Shores Beaches

Gulf Shores also has spacious clean beaches perfect for parasailing, paddle-boarding, body-boarding, swimming and volleyball. The area offers public beach access to Gulf Shores Main Public Beach along the coast. When on the beach, guests will also find restaurants, bars and shops.

In addition to the main beach, guests have access to beaches at Gulf State Park and Cotton Bayou in Orange Beach. Book a beachfront vacation rental in Gulf Shores.

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Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Enjoy watching exotic animals? Don’t miss Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. This zoo ranks among the top Gulf Shores outdoor attractions for animal encounters and learning about the environment.

During the trip, visitors will see more than 300 animals. Exhibits include a reptile house, large cats, a petting zoo and educational shows. A few species that live at the zoo include alligators, primates, camels, bears, birds, kangaroo, and dozens more. Guests can also get up-close with lemurs, sloths and kangaroos.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge offers an even wilder adventure. The refuge houses undisturbed coastal habitats that provide a home to wildlife. Four trails meander 6 miles through the refuge where hikers may see wildlife. In fact, hikers should keep an eye out for alligators, bobcats, armadillos and birds.

Those who want to try something different enjoy birdwatching, touring displays at the visitor center and taking photos. Water recreation activities include canoeing, kayaking and fishing. For the best fishing, head to Little Lagoon or Gator Lake.

gulf shores outdoor attractions family

Alligator Alley

Another favorite among the top Gulf Shores outdoor attractions is Alligator Alley. Home to more than 450 alligators, this family favorite lets guests feed and hold gators as well as see turtles, owls and bull frogs. Plus, all alligators are rescued from places that may have endangered them.

Start with a guided tour guests see gators relaxing, sunbathing, feeding, courting and nesting. For a memorable experience, ask the staff about holding baby gators or grab some gator food for an opportunity to feed them under supervision.

USS Alabama

USS Alabama Battleship first began her career in World War II. After service, the battleship made a home in Mobile, Alabama, where it serves as a historical landmark.

The battleship measures 45,000 tons and once housed a crew of 2,500 American soldiers. Visitors are welcome to view the drum submarine, the oldest American submarine on public display. Then guests can stroll the aircraft collection, which features aircraft from Vietnam War, Korean War and others. In addition to aircraft, the site  has tanks, boats, planes and memorials.

fort morgan alabama

Fort Morgan

Located about 30 minutes west of Gulf Shores sits Fort Morgan Historic Site. The fort was built between 1819 and 1833, and was used in Battle of Mobile Bay, Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.

Today, the site serves as a place to learn about history and enjoy outdoor recreation. For some fun, take a guided tour, stroll the beach and share a picnic. After exploring the fort, stop by the museum store for souvenirs.

The Park at OWA

Those vacationing in Gulf Shores have easy access to Waterville water park. However, in nearby Foley sits The Park at OWA, a gated amusement park with rides for all ages. Those with younger children may enjoy teacups, mini hot rods and frog rides. For thrills, try the air racer, coasters, flying swings, and spinner ride. There are also drops, a mystic mansion and seasonal water-play area.

Want to hang out on the beach? Read about the best Alabama beaches.