With 32 miles of white-sand beaches, clear turquoise water and a family-friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong. Whether this is your first trip or you’re a repeat visitor, there’s plenty to keep the entire family entertained on Alabama beaches! If you’re ready to try something fun and adventurous, you won’t be disappointed in the selection of new attractions in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. Take a look at our top four favorite Orange Beach and Gulf Shores attractions!
Technically, the Hummingbird Zipline has been around for several years. However, during 2017 the zipline was deconstructed from the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores and relocated to The Wharf in Orange Beach. The new Orange Beach zipline is bigger and better than ever! Experience an adrenaline-pumping excursion with breathtaking views over both land and water. The new zipline features more towers than the previous one, with nine towers and seven ziplines extending the length of one mile. You’ll soar as high as 90 feet above the ground and enjoy spectacular views of the Intracoastal Waterway and other coastal scenery. If you’re vacationing with a large group of family and friends, tour guides can take as many as 10 zipliners at one time.
Stay and Play Near The Wharf and Hummingbird Zipline
The Wharf and its surrounding Orange Beach attractions offer a plethora of world-class restaurants, family-friendly attractions, 10,000-seat amphitheater, boutique shopping and more. For those who want to stay nearby, consider bayfront vacationing. Beach houses offer an ideal opportunity to spread out and enjoy privacy. Dock of the Bay, a four-bedroom, 2 ½ half bath beach house located on Wolf Bay, is just a short drive from this entertainment district and beaches. In fact, you’ll have your own, private bayfront beach and dock. Dock of the Bay is ideal for those who love fishing, kayaking and getting back to nature with the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail nearby. Other budget friendly options are the homes at Orange Beach Villas.
You won’t find any other Orange Beach attraction quite like this one! Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours opened in 2017 and has been thrilling vacationers with adrenaline-pumping adventures ever since. Located at Caribe Marina, you’ll have the opportunity to coast through the scenic back bays and Ole River areas of Orange Beach on your own, personal watercraft. You can choose between a guided tour or can actually rent a cat boat for as little as $50 per hour and explore on your own after a brief lesson. A cat boat is a unique watercraft and is considered a compact catamaran. The boat sits low to the water and accommodates a driver and passenger in comfortable seats.
If you need a first-hand account before you work up the nerve to pilot your own boat for the first time, Fadra Nally of All Things Fadra has the details for you. “In just a few short hours, I went from very hesitant, first-time boat “captain” trying to figure out how to steer without a steering wheel to a Cat Boat-loving, stick-steering master! Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours gave me the knowledge and confidence to zip around the waterways (and get my pulse pounding) or take it slow to check out the scenery in the back bays – from wildlife to amazing homes right on the water.”
If you’ve never experienced the tranquility Ole River in Orange Beach offers, Blue River at Wind Drift is the perfect Orange Beach vacation rental. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is located directly on Ole River with beach access just steps away. If you already own a boat, Wind Drift is boat-friendly and boat slips are available for a small fee paid onsite.
OWA is another one of the newest beach attractions that takes top billing. While not actually in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, the amusement park is located just a few minutes away in nearby Foley. Plan to spend a full day at OWA during your Gulf Shores AL vacation. The park offers a come-and-go atmosphere, unlike attractions similar to Six Flags. There are plenty of restaurants including Wahlburgers and The Groovy Goat, with more being added. You can even satisfy your sweet tooth at Hershey’s Ice Cream Parlor. There are 21 roller coasters and rides ready to provide thrills and chills for all ages. Rollin’ Thunder is a park favorite and features stomach-dropping loops, twists and hairpin turns. Year-round special events keep the entertainment going. Check the park’s event calendar prior to your Gulf Shores vacation to make sure you have the latest OWA news.
Amusement parks are always more fun in groups! If you’re traveling with a large group and need a Gulf Shores AL vacation rental that’ll sleep, oh say, 26 people, check out Brainstopper. It’s appropriately named because the moment you walk in the door, your worries and stress will melt away. Besides offering eight bedrooms and eight and a half baths, you also have use of two community pools and direct beach access. Expansive balconies are perfect for your morning cup of coffee before heading out to experience the thrills at OWA.
We’re taking the adventure down a notch for those ready for some good, old-fashioned beach fun. If your sandcastle-building skills fall a little flat, treat the family to a lesson with Sand Castle University. SCU offers group sessions for building perfect sand sculptures. Owner Janel will bring the class to you, complete with all the necessary beach tools needed! Trust us when we say, you won’t even mind any homework from this “class.” If you’re celebrating a special occasion like a graduation, anniversary or marriage proposal, Sand Castle University can even construct a personalized sand sculpture for the occasion!
One of the things that makes this new Gulf Shores attraction so attractive is that it can come to you! So, essentially, everywhere is near SCU. However, we suggest taking a peek at the Lemon Drop beach house located in Morgantown in the Fort Morgan community. It’s a great spot with plenty of quiet white-sand beach available. The four-bedroom, two and a half beach house offers access to two community pools and tennis courts. When you aren’t building sandcastles, the secluded neighborhood is great for bike riding. You can even bring your golf cart along! If you have a large group, Lemon Drop is located near several other beach houses, including Brainstopper, Pelican Paradise, Sea La Vie and Sawgrass.
Now that you know where to stay and play on your next Gulf Shores and Orange Beach AL vacation, it’s time to start planning your next trip! For information on booking direct and keeping money in your pocket for all these great beach attractions, check out this blog with money-saving tips for booking Gulf Shores vacation rentals.
These days, The Hangout has become the heart and soul of downtown Gulf Shores. What many folks don’t know is The Hangout was a meeting place for surfers during the beach-blanket-bingo-era of the’50s and early ’60s, when it was a little joint that served as a gathering point for young folks enjoying the local beaches.
The Hangout occupied a prime piece of beach at the foot of Ala. 59 more or less continuously until Hurricane Ivan came along in 2004. But in 2008, The Hangout returned bigger and better than ever.
Just feet away from the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Shores Public Beach, The Hangout is ground zero for family fun. There’s so many things to do at this iconic business.
The menu holds dozens of the Gulf Coast culinary favorites found all over Pleasure Island, but there are a few signature dishes unique to The Hangout like the Cajun Campfire Steak, Hangout Jambalaya, Hang 10 Cheeseburger, Big Beach Burger, Shaka Wrap, and more. But there’s more than the fun food. Have your picture taken with the giant shakra hand, pick up official Hangout merchandise at the One-Stop Fun Shop, or spend some time participating in the courtyard games. Kids can also climb in the sand pit, get foamy in the daily foam party, or pay a visit to the wish wall.
But The Hangout isn’t just for the little ones. For those over 21, The Hangout is just as much fun. Enjoy a high-octane frozen brain-freezer at the daiquiri bar, custom cocktail at the indoor bar, or sip on a boutique draft beer or chill out at the Mermaid Bar.
The Hangout dining room itself is huge with a buzz of excitement that lasts all summer long. Just walking around The Hangout is like traveling back in time. One of the coolest things is the wall collections. Among other things, the walls hold old-school lunch-boxes. Now, if you want to travel back in time to the old Hangout, then check out the old black and white and color photographs that tell the story of Gulf Shores in a by-gone era.
And of course, The Hangout Music Fest, held the weekend before Memorial Day, has become one of the country’s largest, multi-day out door festivals, and this year is expected to be even bigger, being held from May 18 to 21.
The Hangout may not be what is was in its heyday, but it’s even bigger and better now and promises a memorable experience for the whole family.
Photo By Srt252 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15269937