There’s just something special about that first visit to the beautiful beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of slipping off your shoes, walking barefoot across the sand and dipping your toes in the Gulf of Mexico. Browse our Gulf Shores vacation guide for tips to make the most of your visit to paradise.
After settling into your Gulf Shores condo, make your next stop the Gulf Shores Welcome Center, 3459 Gulf Shores Parkway, just north of the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge. Get a coupon book for goodies like free desserts or appetizers at restaurants, as well as discounts on attractions. Plus, hear about special events taking place during your visit from the friendly and knowledgeable welcome center staff.
The Gulf Shores Welcome Center also provides an official vacation guide, free Wi-Fi access and public computer terminals. It’s open seven days a week, but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
If you ask, the Welcome Center staff might just give you the local favorites for places to enjoy delicious seafood, like King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant, The Flying Harpoon and Beach House Kitchen & Cocktails. Or, try one of our newer Gulf Shores restaurants like Sunliner Diner, Picnic Beach or CoastAL for a truly unique dining experience.
There’s a ton of activities great for fall, or anytime really. Swing by one of the mini-golf courses, catch a movie or take a Segway tour. Check our list of top 10 activities to enjoy during your Gulf Shores vacation.
If you’re more into the thrill of high-speed adventure, check out The Park at OWA or take a drive around the Wild Woody at The Track for heart-racing fun. Learn more in our list of adrenaline-pumping Gulf Shores attractions.
The weather in Gulf Shores and Orange Breach is great all year ‘round. Fall is a beautiful season with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the high 40s. Winter doesn’t get much colder, though there may be some heavy jacket days in January and February. By spring, everyone’s ready to hit the beach again as temperatures warm up. Summertime brings highs near 100 degrees, but the cool breeze from the Gulf keeps it nice for beach-goers.
If it’s your first Gulf Shores vacation, here is our list of five must-do activities…
5 Must-Do Activities for a First Gulf Shores Vacation
- Take your picture in the shark’s mouth at Souvenir City. It’s a longstanding tradition for families. After you walk through the shark’s mouth, browse the store, packed full of great T-shirts, glassware and other gifts to take home. Everyone enjoys the fudge!
- Ride the Ferris wheel at The Wharf. This landmark gives you tree-top views of the coast and costs just $5 per person, kids under 3 ride free.
- Hear local music at LuLu’s, a family-friendly destination restaurant just over the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge. LuLu’s takes the coastal theme to the extreme with great outdoor seating decks, children’s activities and entertainment on stage every night of the week.
- Take a walk on the wild side at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. The zoo, 1204 Gulf Shores Parkway, opened in 1989, and is now home to about 600 animals. See alligators, monkeys, lemurs, tigers and more. Spend an extra $10 for an up-close-and-personal animal encounter. Play with lemurs, baby kangaroos and sloths.
- Stroll the beach at sunset. It may be last on the list, but it’s the one thing you absolutely have to do while visiting our beautiful beaches on a first-time Gulf Shores vacation. Who are we kidding? It’s something you’ll want to do each and every visit.