From exciting wildlife tours and encounters to thrilling amusement parks and shark fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no limit to the fun you can have with the family in Gulf Shores, Alabama. You’ll find numerous options for memorable experiences for the whole family, whether you have toddlers or teens. Check out the best Gulf Shores kid activities to plan your itinerary.
Fun attractions for kids
1. Hit the Gulf Shores beaches
Because Gulf Shores is a seaside resort area, it’s no surprise that one of the best things to do here is spend time on the beach. The Gulf is known for its turquoise waters rimmed by sugar-white sand, not to mention the calm surf that’s ideal for children to swim. You’ll find a variety of beaches in the area, so you can choose a popular beach spot with seaside amenities or a secluded, wild beach with wildlife sightings and peace and quiet.
2. Get creative at Sand Castle University
Sand Castle University gives you a chance to build amazing sandcastles with the family and learn all the tips and tricks to making remarkable sand art. Ideal for all ages and skill levels, Sand Castle University offers beginner and advanced classes with tools to learn how to build sand towers and castles. When you’re finished, you’ll not only have a unique piece of artwork, but you’ll also come away with skills you can use on future beach trips with the kids.
3. Find thrills at The Track recreation center
The Track recreation center offers family-friendly thrill rides and kiddie rides for a fun-filled day out. The signature attraction is a multi-level go-kart track for racing fun, but you’ll also find roller coasters, miniature golf, bumper cars, bumper boats, and more. For young children, the recreation center has a variety of kiddie rides that are appropriate for little ones. There’s also an arcade with over 50 interactive and classic arcade games and a redemption center with incredible prizes.
4. See the views from the Ferris wheel at The Wharf
The Ferris wheel at The Wharf is an iconic Gulf Shores attraction and a must-visit on your trip. The Ferris wheel stands over 112 feet tall with 24 gondolas, giving you panoramic views of the coast and the surrounding landmarks. You can make your Ferris wheel ride a daytime experience or a way to wind down at night and enjoy the lights of the city. The gondolas are suitable for groups and are handicap accessible.
5. Find excitement at The Park at OWA
The Park at OWA is a spectacular amusement park with thrill rides, food, and games for all ages. The park offers high-speed roller coasters, vertical thrill rides, children’s roller coasters, and a unique "Air Racer" thrill ride that simulates flying in an air show. You can also explore the Mystic Mansion haunted attraction, play games at the arcade, or take the kids on the classic teacup ride. One of the best features of the park is that it offers non-rider admission, so you can enter the park and let the kids go wild without spending a fortune.
6. Have some friendly competition at Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf
Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf is a fun-filled experience for all ages. The pirate-themed miniature golf course offers seaside villages, tidal lagoons, haunting caves, and spectacular waterfalls with pirate’s booty, skeletons, and ship memorabilia that immerse you in the high-seas adventure experience. No matter your age or skill level, playing a few games at Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf will bring out the kid in everyone.
7. Cool off at Waterville USA
Waterville USA is a water park and amusement park that boasts a wide range of thrill rides and water rides for the whole family. The water park features fun summer attractions like a wave pool, a lazy river, high-speed body slides, children’s splash areas, open-air and tube slides, and a FlowRider surf simulator. The amusement park features thrilling rides and fun experiences such as go-karts, virtual-reality cubes, a mini-golf course, kiddie rides, and a huge arcade.
Gulf Shores kid activities
8. Stand-up paddleboarding
Stand-up paddleboarding is a fun workout and a great way to enjoy the water. Plenty of tour operators offer stand-up paddleboarding lessons and tours for all ages so you can see the best spots. Dauphin Island is a popular destination for paddleboarding, as it has numerous quiet bays. You may even get lucky and spot a wild dolphin on your trip.
9. Fort Morgan bird-watching
The Fort Morgan Historic Site is one of the best places in Gulf Shores for bird-watching. The site itself is home to fascinating seacoast fortifications that date back to the War of 1812, as well as a boat launch, picnic areas, and nature areas where you can spot birdlife. Some of the top sights include terns, pelicans, and sharp-shinned hawks, all of which can be seen on the Alabama Coast Birding Trail.
10. Deep-sea fishing
Deep-sea fishing is a must-try activity on a trip to Gulf Shores. You can find deep-sea fishing charters designed for all ages and experience levels so you can have some fun out on the water. Full- and half-day trips are available, and you can book a private tour for just your family to have the whole boat to yourself. For adventurous types, several charters offer sport fishing for amberjack, red snapper, and other popular fish, or thrilling shark fishing.
11. Kayak tours
Kayak tours are a great way to experience the local environment and wildlife. Ideal for families, kayak tours take you through Mobile Bay and the delta to spot dolphins, shorebirds, and gators from the safety of a kayak. You may also see naval vessels and historic landmarks from the unique vantage point of the water. Plenty of tour operators offer different kayak experiences, whether you want a sunset trip, a wildlife excursion, or a sightseeing tour with the family.
12. Night crabbing
Nighttime crabbing is a fun experience for kids and adults alike. During the summer months, families flock to the beaches with flashlights to search for crabs and learn a little about them. Crabbing for the tasty blue crab with baskets or a line and bait is a popular option, especially if you plan to cook them, but you can also try catch-and-release crabbing. You can crab from a pier, seawall, kayak, or canoe with fish bait. If you plan to crab, keep in mind that you have to purchase a saltwater fishing license.
13. Shipwreck scuba diving
The Gulf Coast has one of the largest artificial reef programs in the country, making it an excellent destination for a diving excursion. You could book scuba-diving tours that take you to some of the best dive sites with exotic marine life and mysterious shipwrecks. Plenty of dive sites are appropriate for beginners and younger kids, such as the Whiskey Wreck, a sunken rumrunner boat that’s only 25 feet deep, and Poseidon’s Playground, an underwater statue garden with sculptures of Greek gods. You’ll find a wide variety of other dive sites for different experience levels.
Animal adventures with kids
14. See wildlife at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is an exciting animal park with a variety of global wildlife species, an aviary, a reptile house, a petting zoo, and animal demonstrations. Some of the zoo's highlights include kangaroos, giraffes, leopards, tigers, wolves, monkeys, and macaws. The kids will love a chance to have an animal encounter, such as cuddling with a kangaroo or petting a sloth, and you can attend zookeeper talks and organized feedings.
15. Take a dolphin cruise
A dolphin cruise is a wonderful way to experience the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico with the kids. Several tour operators provide dolphin cruises for families with opportunities to see these playful animals frolicking in the water. You’ll also have stunning views of the turquoise Gulf and the sugar-white beaches in the Gulf Shores areas. While dolphin sightings aren’t a guarantee, experienced cruise operators know the areas that dolphins frequent and give you the best chance of seeing them.
16. Explore the Gulf State Park Nature Center
The Gulf State Park Nature Center is a living museum that’s home to native plants and animals from the Gulf Coast region. When you visit, you can learn about the conservation efforts for the region and take part in nature walks, pier walks, beach walks, and time in nature. The nature center also offers educational programs specifically for children and animal ambassador programs for turtles, owls, alligators, snakes, and other wildlife. Plenty of activities take place throughout the year to let you experience different aspects of the park and the environment.
Family-friendly educational experiences
17. Learn local history at the Gulf Shores Museum
The Gulf Shores Museum is a historic house museum that dates back to World War II. You’ll find a variety of historic artifacts and exhibits on the history of the region. Some of the museum’s highlights include an archived video of Hurricane Ivan at the Hurricane Exhibit, a boat mast for a flag display, and a historic church steeple. You can also tour the interior of the unique historic home.
18. Discover maritime history at GulfQuest National Maritime Museum
The GulfQuest National Maritime Museum is an intriguing maritime museum with interactive exhibits that are ideal for kids. You’ll see a wide variety of unique artifacts and displays at the museum, such as pirate treasures, nautical equipment, and maritime memorabilia. The interactive experiences are the best part, such as learning to maneuver a shipping container, navigate a ship, use a sextant, or take the helm. The museum also has videos in the theater to learn about ocean life and maritime history.
19. Explore Battleship Memorial Park
Battleship Memorial Park is a fascinating military history park and museum that’s home to a variety of ships and aircraft. Some of the notable exhibits include the USS Alabama battleship, the USS Drum Gato-class submarine, and a river patrol boat from the Vietnam War. You can see a variety of military artifacts, such as a Skysweeper M51 anti-aircraft gun, an M4 Sherman tank, and a Redstone ballistic missile. The museum also has memorials for the Korean and Vietnam wars and a vast collection of bombers and fighter planes.
20. See historic landmarks at Historic Blakeley State Park
Historic Blakeley State Park was once a historic settlement on the river and a prominent Civil War battle site. The park is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail and is the site of the Battle of Fort Blakeley, which was the last major battle of the Civil War. Throughout the park, you’ll find historic markers that commemorate important sites, such as a brick kiln, an old hanging tree used by local courts, and an ancient Native American village. The park is also home to the Gatra Wehle Nature Center, which has exhibits on environmental issues.
21. Find wonder at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center
The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is a science-themed attraction with interactive exhibits, hands-on learning, and incredible IMAX films. Some of the highlights include the Wharf of Wonder, the Discovery Zone, and My Bodyworks, all of which teach kids about the wonders of science with age-appropriate, approachable exhibits. You can also attend live demonstrations at the Infirmary iHealthy Lab and the Science Squad Headquarters. The Exploreum Science Center hosts special exhibits, such as a NASA-curated space exhibit with space travel artifacts, themed scavenger hunts, contests, and an interactive maze.