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Visit Gulf Shores with our Guide of the Best Things to Do

Summer and fall are both great times of the year to visit Gulf Shores! Summer is hot, steamy, and pretty lively. In the fall, things begin to cool down a bit, and the crowds begin to thin out. Whether you like the bustle and boisterous summer crowds or prefer a little less hyper beach experience, Gulf Shores is the place to be.

Head to the Beach

The beach is the best place to be all year round, but in the summer, the water is warm and so is the breeze. Grab a brightly colored beach towel, stake out a spot on the warm toasty sand, lay back, and just take a much-needed break. Soak in the sun for a while, then splash in the surf to cool off. Do a little body surfing, a little surf fishing, or practice your master builder skills in the damp sand. Join a friendly beach volleyball game, or just wander the beach looking for that perfect souvenir shell. Do things right and rent one of our beachfront cottages so you’ll have access to all of this (and more) within just a few steps from your rental.

Get Out on the Water

There’s so much you can do on the water! Rent jet skis for the entire family and zip up and down the coast, or learn to parasail or paraglide. Bring your own boat or kayak or rent what you need from one of the many local marinas while you’re here. Why not rent something fun for the day? Spend the day out on a magnificent sailboat, or fun catamaran, or party pontoon boat.

Take the entire family out to sea on a dolphin-watching tour, or book a romantic sunset dinner cruise for just you and your partner. Get a new perspective on the gulf when you rent a kayak or canoe and glide through the cool, brackish backwaters. A guided eco-tour can take you deep into the cypress swamps where you’ll get up close and personal with mossy cypress trees, alligators, turtles, wading birds, and more as you glide past ancient mangroves, marshes, and bayous.

Do some serious fishing and charter a deep-sea fishing adventure that everyone will remember. Head offshore to deep water and put your skills to the test against amberjack, tuna, mahi-mahi, and maybe an occasional shark. The world’s largest artificial reef system is right here in Gulf Shores. You can fish for king mackerel almost year-round here, and it is home to some of the best grouper and snapper fishing you can find. The reef and nearby wrecks not only offer amazing fishing opportunities but they’re great scuba diving spots too. A few of the wrecks are close to shore too, making them easy to access.

Head to Gulf State Park

Spend the day – or several days – at Gulf State Park, where you can enjoy miles of bright, white beaches, freshwater lakes, a wonderful fishing pier, and more. Rent kayaks, canoes, or jet skis for fun on Lake Shelby, Middle Lake, or Little Lake. Play volleyball, hit the links or tennis courts, or do some geocaching. Be sure to leave time for the Butterfly Pavilion!

Fish from the banks of Lake Shelby or from your kayak for redfish, bass, speckled trout, and catfish. Fish from the fully accessible Fishing and Education Pier for flounder, sheepshead, pompano, speckled trout, and more. Not really into fishing? This half-mile-long pier also has a concession area, indoor seating, and restrooms. It’s the perfect spot to watch the action, whether you fish or not. And the action isn’t just on the pier, where fishermen are pulling in their catches and seagulls are angling for a little fishy snack; some amazing things swim by in the water beneath the pier, such as turtles, stingrays, dolphins, sharks, and more! Plus, the view over the water is amazing!

Hike or bike over the 30 miles of paved trails and boardwalks including those in The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Originally Native American hunting trails, these multi-use trails wind through a series of six different ecosystems. All paths are fully accessible and you can jog, walk, skate, and bike your way along the paths past freshwater lakes, wetlands and marshes, and over sand ridges. Since the trail is part of the Alabama Coastal Bird Trail, it’s a great stop for birdwatchers. Watch for osprey, bald eagles, whitetail deer, coyote, otters, turtles, alligators, and bobcats. While you’re keeping an eye out for the gators, be on the lookout for the elusive “Catman,” a part-man/part wildcat creature and a local legend!

So Many Other Things to Do

Fall in Gulf Shores is also the perfect time for golf! The temperatures are mild, and the crowds are down! Kiva Dunes Resort & Golf and the Gulf State Park Golf Course are just two of the many great courses in the area. Why not take a short, but exciting, helicopter ride up and down the coast looking for dolphins while you get an aerial overview of the coastline.

When was the last time you went to the Zoo? Fun all year round, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is home to over 600 animals including 22 endangered species and has exhibits, animal encounters, a petting zoo, and more. One of the more distinctive (and fun) exhibits, Lemur Island, is home to a small colony of lemurs from the Madagascar rainforests. Fruit-loving red-ruffed lemurs and black-and-white ruffed lemur are just two of the endangered species that have found a haven here at the zoo. In addition to the regular exhibits, the zoo offers animal encounters to give you and your children a unique opportunity to learn about certain species like baby red kangaroos and lemurs in an up-close and personal format. The zoo is fortunate to have three endangered but magnificent Bengals tigers here. And friend and animal lover Jack Hanna gifted the zoo with a beautiful, sleek black leopard (a near-threatened species) named Katrina. Other zoo inhabitants include camels Mack and Maggie, Australian kookaburras, free-roaming peacocks, and over 50 primates (including baboons and endangered back-headed spider monkeys). And no zoo would be complete without a Reptile House! The Gulf Coast Zoo is filled with huge anacondas, lizards, iguanas, and tons of creepy weird bugs that the kids will love.

During your next visit to Gulf Shores, gather everyone together and head to Waterville Gulf Shores – it’s a water park and more. There’s something for everyone here. Have a fun family tournament on the thirty-six holes of mini-golf, play out your inner NASCAR dreams on the thrilling go-kart tracks, and the exhilarating Cannonball Run rollercoaster will get your heart racing in no time. The Starcade is a retro gaming experience for all video arcade game lovers. And try their Escape Rooms where there’s only an hour to figure out the hints, codes, and clues to escape! Of course, there are tons of water rides to choose from too, with slow and easy or fast and wild, and everything in between. And there’s the Fun Depot with a merry-go-round and House of Bounce for all the smaller kids to enjoy.

Want to focus more on go-karts than water fun? Then the Track Family Recreation Center is the place to go. There’s a kid zone too with a carousel, kiddie karts and a train, and a mini Ferris Wheel. Enjoy mini-golf, bumper cars, and blaster boats where you can enjoy blasting each other with water cannons as you battle. It’s a fun way to cool off! Six go-kart tracks will keep the entire family occupied, including the park’s famous elevated wooden track – the Wild Woody (over three stories high) and the Slick Track where the slick surface lets drivers slip and slide as they race around. And speaking of elevated, the Skycoaster takes you over 110-feet up in the air, before you let go and fly. Fat Daddy’s Arcade has over 5,000 square feet of arcade fun for arcade game enthusiasts.

Where to Eat and Play

After plenty of fun in the surf and sand, head to LuLu’s, The Hangout, or any one of our local beachfront spots for live music and delicious fresh seafood. Cool off inside with the AC, or grab a cool beverage and head outside to enjoy the balmy sea breeze and do some serious people-watching. LuLu’s is owned and managed by LuLu Buffet and is just the fun place you’d think it would be. Kids will love LuLu’s arcade and climbing the ‘Mountain of Youth’ – a three-story climbing extravaganza. The Hangout is family-friendly too, but geared more towards young adults, and their beachfront bar is always hopping. Both LuLu’s and The Hangout always have something special going on.

Another beachfront spot, the Gulf Island Grill is family-friendly with a colorful, Caribbean flair and twist to their seafood offerings. And GT’s on the Bay has a pirate-themed playground for the kids, a large deck overlooking the bay, and fresh, local seafood dishes that everyone will enjoy.

Are the kids demanding pizza? Try a local spot like Crico’s Pizza & Subs (pizza, wings, and subs) or Marco’s Pizza (pizzas, pizza bowls – think pizza in a bowl w/o the crust – and more). Feeling the need for mouthwatering southern BBQ? Locally owned and operated Hog Wild has hand-rubbed BBQ that is smoked long and slow, with made from scratch sauces like their famous White BBQ Sauce. Want Chinese? The China Dragon has everyone’s favorites – BBQ ribs, chicken, pork or duck, egg rolls, Mongolian Beef, Sesame Chicken, and General Tso’s Chicken. If your gang can’t agree on what to eat, take everybody to The Ugly Diner. With fried shrimp or fish, grilled shrimp or fish, burgers, omelets, and French toast, and more, there’s sure to be something for everyone here.

Tucked in among the dunes, Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill’s outdoor deck is a quirky beachfront hang out with a fun atmosphere and great ocean views, and the Anchor Bar and Grill has a huge covered deck overhanging the water with great views and fresh seafood. The popular Fin and Fork offers a casual upscale experience with fresh local seafood. Head to Cosmos the Restaurant for cool adult beverages, sushi, and more as you dine on their outdoor patio. Want oysters? Head for The Royal Oyster for fresh, right-off-the-boat oysters and cool refreshing adult beverages. Sit on the deck overlooking the beach and relax the Gulf Shores way.

No stay in Gulf Shores is truly complete without at least one trip to the world-famous honky-tonk, the Flora-Bama. This southern landmark has several stages that are always filled with live music, a couple of restaurants and beach-side bars, an amazing oyster bar, and their famous bushwhackers!

Book One of Our Vacation Rentals

Our vacation rentals are located throughout the Gulf Shores area. We have beachfront cottages and vacation homes with private boardwalks that take you from the back deck of your rental over the dunes, right to the bright sandy beach. The kids will love waking up and running right out to the beach, where you can watch them from your comfy lounger on the deck as you sip that first cup of coffee. Rent one of our beach-adjacent private homes with a private pool or hot tub for even more fun while you’re here. We also have waterfront homes with private piers and docks that boating and fishing enthusiasts will appreciate.

Give us a call today and let us help you find the perfect beachfront cottage for that romantic getaway or second honeymoon, or a larger private home for your big family reunion. We offer pet-friendly and no-smoking rentals too. Our rentals come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and they all have open, inviting floor plans and amazing views of the beautiful Gulf.

Planning out your next vacation can be one of the most exciting yet stressful situations. Are you considering traveling south for your next getaway? Some of the most popular destinations are Gulf Shores, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Destin, situated on Florida’s Emerald Coast. We’ll compare Gulf Shores vs. Destin and help you pick the perfect place for your trip.   

If you decide to travel to the Gulf Shores area, you’ll be surrounded by endless activities and attractions. Find the best rates on things to do with TripShock. 

TripShock Activities in Gulf Shores 

The Scoop on Gulf Shores vs. Destin 

All About Gulf Shores 

Gulf Shores, AL, is known for its picture-perfect white-sand beaches, quirky beach bars, and beautiful natural areas. This town is a popular destination for snowbirds and spring breakers. You’ll find exciting activities on and off the water and annual festivals, such as the Hangout Music Festival and the National Shrimp Festival.  

beach bar

Popular Things To Do in Gulf Shores 

All About Destin 

Destin, FL, is known for its sparkling emerald-hued waters and romantic beaches. It originated as a quaint fishing village and has evolved into a popular tourist generation. Destin is home to a plentiful underwater population and is often referred to as the “world’s luckiest fishing village.” This charming beach town also features many mouthwatering restaurants.  

Popular Things To Do in Destin 

Staying With Harris Vacation Rentals Is Always the Best Choice 

As Gulf Shores locals, we can’t help but think you should stay here. Whether you’re young or old, there’s something fun to do here for everyone. We have fantastic weather throughout the year and would love to host you during your much-anticipated vacation.  

Here at Harris Vacation Rentals, we’re happy to offer luxurious vacation rentals throughout Gulf ShoresOrange Beach, and Fort Morgan. All of our vacation homes range in size and have all the amenities you need to feel at home. Our top-notch amenities include in-home elevators, fully equipped kitchens, hot tubs, private pools, game rooms, balconies, covered decks, beach access, and more. Whether you choose to stay with us, you’ll always be close to the famous beaches and the best activities and attractions.  

easy day

If you’re searching for a breathtaking, beachfront vacation home, stay in our five-star property—Easy Day. This spacious home features six bedrooms, five bathrooms, and can comfortably sleep 22 guests. This home overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and is the perfect place to reside during a friends’ getaway, family reunion, or multi-family trip.  

Book Your Stay With Us 

Do you ever feel like you could use a vacation after the holiday craziness is over? We can relate. Start your year off on a high note with a trip to Gulf Shores in January! The offseason offers ample opportunity for rest and relaxation, and when you stay with Harris Vacation Rentals, you‘ll experience the best of the Alabama Coast during this special time of year. 

Keep reading to learn more about our top January activities and travel tips. Then, browse our vacation rentals to find your ideal home away from home! 

Things to Do in Gulf Shores in January 

Please note that some of the experiences listed below may have COVID-19 restrictions. Be sure to check each website prior to your visit.

Outdoor Activities

If you’re traveling from the frigid northeast, you’ll be happy with the weather in Gulf Shores, AL. Our area experiences mild winters with an average high of 60 degrees and low of 39 degrees. Snow is also a rare occurrence, which means you can spend plenty of time outdoors throughout the month of January. Some of our favorite recreational activities include: 

Indoor Fun

Of course, there’s always a chance that the weather might be less than perfect during your Gulf Shores getaway. That’s why it’s important to be prepared with a list of indoor attractions to entertain your group. Enjoy quality time with the ones you love while discovering the unique history of our area. A few places you won’t want to miss: 

Local Events & Happenings

There’s always something going on in Gulf Shores, even during the offseason. Visit a nearby restaurant/bar to chat with the locals and listen to live music. Or, head to the wharf for some festive winter fun. Either way, you’ll get a taste of what life is like here in January. 

Start Planning Your Stay 

Easy Day Vacation Rental

With mild weather, fewer crowds, and lots to do and see, January is one of the best times to visit Gulf Shores. Get the ball rolling on your next vacation by booking one of our luxury rental properties today! We have beautiful selection of homes in Fort MorganGulf Shores, and Orange Beach. Plus, our long-term rentals are perfect for an extended winter stay. Simply select your preferred travel dates and amenities, and we’ll take care of the rest! 

There’s nothing better than a memorable vacation to start the year off with a bang. Check our availability and begin planning your trip to Gulf Shores in January. We look forward to hosting you soon!

When you vacation in Gulf Shores, AL, you will be surrounded by a plethora of fun-filled activities. If you’re looking for the perfect way to shake things up from going to the beach every day, try your hand at Gulf Shores mini-golf. Miniature golf is a beloved pastime by people of all ages and is the perfect way to have family fun or a romantic date night.

If you’re searching for additional exciting things to do during your Alabama Gulf Coast vacation, look no further than our TripShock program. The benefits of using TripShock include a user-friendly booking engine, secure payment, and instant confirmation. You can explore dozens of activity options and make all of your bookings in one transaction. It’s that easy!

find activities with once there

The Best Places to Enjoy Gulf Shores Mini-Golf

To learn more about the best places to try for a hole in one throughout Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, keep reading! 

Tiki’s Mini-Golf and Bike Shack

Location: 1204 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Head to Tiki’s Mini Golf and Bike Shack to get the most bang for your buck. This family-friendly adventure center offers all-you-can-play miniature golf for $5. This 18-hole golf course is ideal for people of all skill levels and features majestic oak and cypress trees. You’ll fall in love with their iconic orange-colored “greens” and zany holes adorned with spooky ramshackle cabins, menacing polar bear sculpture, and faux-junkyard accessories. 

Tiki’s is also your headquarters for bike rentals in Gulf Shores. Enjoy an eco-friendly activity, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery of the coast. They offer free delivery, and you can rent bikes by the hour, the 1/2 day, or the full day. The bike shop is perfectly situated close to the beach and the best biking trails in the area.

Shrimpy’s Mini Golf & Ice Cream

Location: 204 E 2nd Ave, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

miniature golf

A day on the Alabama Gulf Coast doesn’t get much better than mini-golf, arcade games, fresh seafood, and ice cream. That’s exactly what you’ll find when you visit Shrimpy’s Mini Golf and Ice Cream! The crisp, emerald greens of this fishing village-themed course will draw you in, and the punny, seafood-inspired names of the holes will keep you entertained. After a round of putt-putt, head over to the ice cream parlor and cool down with a scoop of their mouthwatering ice cream, such as their Cookie Brownie Sundae. Or, feed your appetite next door at Mikee’s Seafood

Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf

Location: 3201 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

You’re in for a fantastic adventure at Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf. This thrilling course includes pirate ships, waterfalls, and mesmerizing tropical props and flora and fauna. You’ll follow in the footsteps of notorious pirates like Blackbeard and Captain Kidd and continue through the caves where pirates buried their booty. If you have a large group or are celebrating a birthday, Pirate’s Island will be more than happy to accommodate you. If you have children with you under the age of three years, they’ll play for free!

Stay in a Harris Vacation Rentals Vacation Rental

beach front rental

After a rousing game of Gulf Shores mini-golf, retreat to your home away from home—a Harris Vacation Rentals Vacation Rental. We’re proud to offer vacation homes of all sizes throughout Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Choose from pet-friendly properties, and homes with private pools, hot tubs, and convenient beach access. There’s no time like the present to start planning your next getaway. Check our availability and start getting exciting for your Gulf Coast vacation! 

If you’re looking for the perfect place to celebrate the summertime with your family, Alabama’s Gulf Shores has everything you need! The Gulf Shores’ outdoor recreation is extraordinary! You can take in the spectacular wildlife or search for dolphins in the Gulf. The magic of Gulf Shores will leave you and your crew with lasting memories! For more vacation inspo and other Gulf Shores adventures, check out TripShock. When you book a Harris Vacation Rentals family vacation rental, you’ll even receive up to $100 off local tours and activities through TripShock. Planning the ultimate vacation has never been easier!

We Highly Recommend Taking Advantage of Gulf Shores Endless Outdoor Recreation Opportunities!

Spend an Afternoon at Alabama Gulf State Park

The Alabama Gulf State Park provides a Gulf Shores outdoor recreation experience like no other. This park boasts tons of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. You can start by strolling along the country’s largest paved trail network, then splash around on Lake Shelby and finally, snap a few family photos on the Gulf State Pier. A relaxing afternoon at Alabama Gulf State Park will leave you wanting more Gulf Shores adventures.  

Discover Wildlife at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

You have to see the stunning landscape of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge! This nature reserve extends along the Gulf Shores for nearly 7,000 acres, and it’s home to many species of flora and fauna. The Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round, and it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and bird watching. With so many unique creatures to see and beautiful vistas to capture, the whole family will be entertained for hours. 

Explore the Bay on a Guided Dolphin Tour 

Hop aboard a dolphin watching cruise for a remarkable outdoor adventure. Several local businesses offer guided tours of varying lengths. One of our family-friendly favorites is the Dolphin eco-tour. On this two-hour nature cruise, you’ll get to see the Gulf Shores from a different vantage point, explore hidden estuaries and, of course, spot the local dolphin pod! Trust us; the kids will thank you! 

Take Your Family to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is widely known as the “Little Zoo” for its starring role in The Little Zoo That Could on Animal Planet. However, despite its nickname, this “little zoo” houses 600 animals, 199 sub-species, and 22 endangered species. When you visit this tropical urban oasis, you’ll find yourself surrounded by curious sounds and a diverse array of animals. The zoo is adjacent to a nature preserve, spreads over 25 acres, and provides up-close sights of the animal exhibits to visitors of all ages.

In March of 2020, the zoo opened in a new park and welcomed record crowds. The new park features more innovative spaces, encourages public education programs, and emphasizes animal conservation. You’ve never seen a zoo quite like this one, so next time you’re in town, be sure to check it out.

Admire Art at Museums Near Gulf Shores, Alabama

The city of Gulf Shores has a rich history, filled with colorful characters, delicate architecture, and region-specific experiences. Throughout many of the museums found in the area, you’ll find exhibits and explanations for events of the past, and when you leave, it will be with a deeper appreciation for life on the Gulf. 

These fascinating museums will take you through time, art, and history by way of their captivating charm and historical significance:

Go for a Helicopter Ride With a Skilled Pilot

For a special experience over the cool blue water, take a helicopter tour in Gulf Shores. Picture yourself buzzing through the clouds, taking in all the views of the picturesque coast. Lost Bay Helicopter Tours offers a vast array of tours. Pick anything from an Island View Tour to a Sunset Tour and you’ll get to see the Gulf Coast like never before. If you think that’s  fun, take on another challenge and book a flying lesson! You’ll be guided by an experienced pilot with incredible knowledge of the skies!

Feel the Sand Between Your Toes

We know you’ve been dreaming of the Gulf Coast’s sugar-white sand and sparkling blue waters! What better way to spend your vacation than relaxing on these pristine and undiscovered beaches? Lucky for you, the Gulf Coast is home to gorgeous beaches in several locations, so you can relax on a different beach every day.

Take some time to explore the beaches in these three areas:  Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Each area has its own special charm and offers endless fun for the entire family. While you are in Gulf Shores, hit the water on a jet ski, kayak, or  stand-up paddleboard. Then, head to Orange Beach or Fort Morgan for a serene beach day away from the crowds. Here, you’ll have plenty of beach fun building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or reading a book in the sand. However you choose to spend your day, make sure it’s on the Gulf Coast.

There’s No Place Like a Harris Home

Once you’ve discovered what Gulf Shores has to offer, retreat to a perfect island-style vacation rental. Unwinding in a Harris Vacation Rentals home is ideal for you, your kids, and even our furry friend! Our private properties span from Orange Beach to Gulf Shores and offer plenty of space for everyone in your party. Make your home away from home on that’s just minutes away from the beach and give your family the getaway they deserve. Spend your spring break, summer, or any other vacation with us. We can’t wait to meet you! Browse our properties and contact us to book an unforgettable beach getaway today! 

BOOK NOW

As people around the world begin to tally up their list of New Year’s resolutions, you may find yourself searching for a resolution that will provide you with the change of pace that you need to make life more exciting and enjoyable. This year, instead of focusing on just losing weight and living healthier physically, why not resolve to treat yourself to something fun and good for the soul as well?

Weight-loss, exercise, and living healthier are fine and all, but nothing beats the experience of sharing fun-filled vacation memories with your loved ones in a beautiful tropical locale like Gulf Shores, Alabama. Now more than ever, Gulf Shores is the perfect place to plan the vacation of a lifetime. Continue on to learn more about why 2020 will be the best year to visit Gulf Shores!

5 Reasons Why 2020 Will Be the Best Time to Plan Your Gulf Shores Vacation

Below, we’ve put together a list of just a handful of the many reasons why this year will be an exciting time to visit Gulf Shores. If you’ve been waiting for the right time, consider these reasons as a motivation to plan your vacation here now instead of later and experience some of these fun things to do near Gulf Shores!

Festivals, Events, and Things To Do Near Gulf Shores Year-Round

No matter what time of year you decide to come visit, 2020 has plenty to offer in terms of Gulf Shores entertainment. Watch college football at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl, live it up at the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade, or angle your biggest catch yet at the Blue Marlin Grand Championship. The options are endless!

Great Weather in Every Season

All year long, Gulf Shores experiences fantastic weather, complete with sunshine-filled days and clear, breezy nights. Never too hot or too cold, it’s the ideal place to make your tropical getaway. Book your stay in September or October and see why the locals call this the best time to be at the beaches. The fall season features weather in the mid 80’s, low humidity, and lower prices!

Outdoor Activities Galore

In such a warm and sunny place, you’ll find that there are all sorts of things to do near Gulf Shores outdoors. Boating, fishing, kayaking, and lounging in the sand are some of the best ways to take advantage of the wonderful weather.

Incredible Music Heading Your Way

You don’t have to drive all the way to Coachella to encounter good times and great tunes! With world-renowned musicians coming into town, Gulf Shores is a concert hotspot. The annual Hangout Music Festival held each May is always a hit. This year’s lineup will feature artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone, Lana del Ray, Cage the Elephant, Kane Brown, Billie Eilish, T-Pain, Marsh Mello, and more.

Awesome Vacation Rentals for You to Enjoy

Gulf Shores is home to a multitude of incredible vacation rentals, such as those offered by Harris Vacation Rentals. In a vacation rental, you can have more space and privacy than a single hotel room could possibly offer, all situated in the tropical beauty of Gulf Shores.

Harris Vacation Rentals – Your Guide to Gulf Shores

Contact our reservations team to find out more information about what you can expect during your time in Gulf Shores when you book your stay in one of the fabulous vacation rentals available through Harris Vacation Rentals today!

If you’re planning a trip to Gulf Shores, you’ve probably already know about popular attractions like Waterville, USA , The Hangout, and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. But what about the area’s best-kept-secrets? If you’re looking to explore Gulf Shores off the beaten path, we’ve got you covered! Pack your bags, book your vacation rental, leave the itinerary to us. Here are three of our favorite lesser-known activities and attractions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. 

Here are the best things to do in Gulf Shores off the beaten path.

Experience Gulf Shores Off the Beaten Path

1. Alabama Fishing Charters

Have you ever wanted to explore the hidden backwaters and beaches along the Alabama Coast? Now is your chance! There are several fishing charters to choose from in Gulf Shores. However, if you’re looking for a more unique experience, we recommend taking a tour with Nelson Fishing Charters. Tours are captained by Gator Nelson and Matt White, who will navigate you to all of the best fishing holes and hidden gems along the Alabama Coast. From pontoon reef trips and dolphin cruises to nature tours and fishing trips, they offer a little bit of everything. Their local knowledge and experience makes for a fun and interesting tour every time!

2. Orange Beach Waterfront Park

Trade the Gulf waters for a day on scenic Wolf Bay. Orange Beach Waterfront Park is an ideal spot where families with small children can relax and enjoy some quality time together. The water is shallow and calm, and there is a small beach area. Watch the kids build sandcastles, or bring a kayak or stand up paddleboard and paddle away in smooth bay waters. A 400-foot fishing pier offers covered pavilions with seating. Bring your fishing pole and cast a line right from the pier. 

The park is open year-round and is rarely crowded, even on a typical summer day. Picnic tables and grills make it easy to spend the entire day at the park. Restroom facilities are nearby, and an outdoor shower is available to rinse the saltwater away before heading back to your Orange Beach vacation rental

Are you traveling with dogs? It’s also important to note that Orange Beach Waterfront Park is dog-friendly, which is just another reason that we love it so much. Bring your pooch and enjoy a day splashing in the water! 

3. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

You may have hiked or biked the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, but did you know that there are more scenic trails to explore? Just a short drive from Gulf Shores, the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge offers 7,000 acres of protected trails and beaches just waiting to be explored. A great destination for birdwatchers, the refuge is a stopover for more than 300 species of migratory birds. 

If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, you will definitely want to plan a visit to the refuge. Away from all the crowds, there’s a large secluded beach area that feels like a private oasis. Numerous trails offer miles of opportunities to see native wildlife. Relax by the beach and then get out and explore miles of scenic trails. Or, take a short hike along the one-mile-long Jeff Friend Trail and launch your canoe or kayak into Little Lagoon. The possibilities are endless! 

Book Your Stay With Harris Vacation Rentals

Experience Gulf Shores off the beaten path when you book your stay with Harris Vacation Rentals. We offer a wide range of vacation rentals in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Orange Beach. Whether you prefer an intimate condo, a luxury home, or a beachfront property, we are sure to have the ideal vacation rental for your getaway. We also offer pet-friendly properties for guests who are traveling with their four-legged friends. 

If the quiet and tranquility of Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge appeals to you, consider spending your vacation on the Fort Morgan Peninsula. We offer a variety of Fort Morgan rentals near the refuge, including beautiful beach houses and condos. If you prefer to stay near Orange Beach or Gulf Shores, consider booking your stay in Adagio. This great 3-bedroom cottage is ideal for a memorable Orange Beach vacation (and it’s pet-friendly!). Enjoy being just minutes from the waterfront park. 

Are you ready to start planning your family beach vacation? Browse our properties and contact us to book your stay. We can’t wait to welcome you!

CONTACT NOW

It can be difficult to choose the perfect location for your family beach trip, especially when there are so many amazing options along the Alabama Coast. Where are the best beaches? Are there plenty of activities, dining options, and shops near your vacation rental? What is the nightlife like? Many of our guests ask these types of questions when trying to decide between Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach for their family vacation. To help make planning easier, we have highlighted a few differences between these two great locations. Read on to learn more and choose the destination that’s right for your family!

Book your Gulf Shores getaway today!

Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach: What’s the Difference?

The Gulf Coast is home to the best beaches in the country – it’s no secret. Whether you choose to stay in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, you’ll experience equally beautiful beaches in both locations. Sugar-white sand, sparkling aquamarine waters, and plenty of sunshine await at either destination. Both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach also offer extremely fresh seafood, access to scenic hiking and biking trails, watersport rentals, great shopping and dining. So, what is the major difference? While either of these amazing destinations would be a great choice for your beach getaway, it depends on your family’s personal preference.

Enjoy Exciting Activities in Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores offers more activities and attractions such as Zooland Mini-Golf, Waterville USA, the Gulf Coast Zoo, The Track Family Fun Park, South Baldwin Community Theatre, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and much, much more. From amusement parks and family-friendly fun to exciting nightlife and entertainment, the list of things to do in Gulf Shores is endless. If you’re searching for a vacation rental located in the heart of it all, this would be a great option for your stay. Whether you seek adventure or total relaxation, the possibilities are endless in Gulf Shores! 

Relax and Unwind in Orange Beach

On the other hand, Orange Beach offers a quieter and more laid-back beach vibe. If you’re more interested in lounging by the shoreline during your getaway, this may be more your speed. Cast a line into the Gulf, play a round of golf at Orange Beach golf course, or enjoy spending time with family in your Harris Property. Orange Beach also has its fair share of attractions and activities as well. The Wharf at Orange Beach is your ultimate destination for family fun. Here, you’ll discover fabulous shops and restaurants, Alabama’s longest zipline course, breakout games, arcades, charter boat cruises, mini-golf, a Ferris wheel and more. 

Have the Best Family Beach Vacation With Harris Vacation Rentals!

When it comes to choosing between Gulf Shores vs. Orange Beach, you really can’t go wrong. Either destination would be an excellent option for your family beach getaway, especially when you’re staying in a Harris Property! Unlike Orange Beach hotels or Gulf Shores hotels, our spacious vacation rentals offer a unique lodging experience that you won’t find elsewhere. Choose the exact home you want, whether it’s a pet-friendly accommodation, a rental with a private pool, a beachfront property, or a luxury home. The whole family will have plenty of room to unwind and socialize after a fabulous day of adventure!

Harris Vacation Rentals offers vacation rentals in three amazing locations: Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Choose the location that’s right for your family and get ready for your next unforgettable trip to paradise. Browse our properties and contact us to book your stay. We can’t wait to welcome you!

The Gulf of Mexico is home to the most beautiful beaches in the world — it’s no secret. Spanning more than 150 miles, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is known for its dazzling aquamarine waters and sugar-white sand. From swimming and paddling to hiking and waterfront dining, the list of things to do at the Gulf Shores National Seashore is endless! Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy a day in paradise.

For more ideas about things to see and do by the Gulf Shores National Seashore, check out our Activities page. It’s full of tips about the best local activities, excursions, tours, and more. And, when you book a Harris Vacation Rentals family vacation rental, you’ll even receive up to $100 0ff local tours and activities through TripShock. Vacation planning has never been easier! 

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Gulf Shores National Seashore: Top 5 Things to Do

1. Dive into the Gulf

With pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water, it’s no wonder so many are drawn to the natural paradise that is Gulf Shores, Alabama. There are endless water activities to enjoy here, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, boating, diving, snorkeling, and more.  Fly high amongst the clouds on a parasailing adventure, dive to colorful underwater reefs, or cast a line into the sparkling Gulf waters. Do you prefer to stay on land? Lounge by the shoreline and soak up the sun, beach comb for shells and other treasures, or simply sink your toes into the sand and relax. The possibilities are endless! 

2. Indulge in Waterfront Dining and Shopping

When you’re ready to take a break from the sun and surf, head indoors for a delicious meal overlooking the Gulf. Some of our favorite waterfront dining spots on the Gulf Shores include Lulu’s, The Hangout Gulf Shores, and the iconic Flora-Bama. The Wharf at Orange Beach also features a wide array of fabulous dining and shopping options. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual meal or a gourmet four-course dinner, there is something for everyone here!

3. Enjoy Exciting Tours and Attractions

Are you searching for the best dolphin excursions? Perhaps you’re interested in taking everyone on a sunset cruise. No matter what your family decides to do, you’ll have a blast exploring the many attractions in Gulf Shores. Play a round of mini-golf, race go-karts at the Track, or take the kids to the Gulf Coast Zoo, or make a splash at Waterville USA. After a fun-filled day of adventure, come rest your head in your comfortable Gulf Shores vacation rental and relax.

4. Take a Step Back in Time

Discover Gulf Shores’ rich and fascinating past! History-buffs will love exploring the local museums, historic forts, and other sites along the Gulf Shores National Seashore. Discover what life was like for this region’s earliest inhabitants at the Gulf Shores Museum or catch a live reenactment at Fort Morgan historic site. And if you’ve never taken a tour of the Swift-Coles Historic Home, you’re in for a very special treat. With incredible architecture and a unique story, it’s easy to envision what life was like during the Gilded Age in the South.

5. Explore the Great Outdoors

Calling all nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts! Beautiful beaches are not all that the Gulf Shores National Seashore has to offer. In fact, this region is home to miles of scenic hiking trails, state parks, and wildlife refuges. Gulf State Park is one of the most beloved landmarks in Alabama filled with great spots for hiking, fishing, or lounging by the shoreline. Are you interested in wildlife-viewing or birding? Make sure to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to see Alabama wildlife in their natural habitat! Keep an eye out for common and rare animals including bobcats, red foxes, armadillos, alligators, and six-lined race runners. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Book Your Stay in a Harris Property

After an amazing day by the Gulf Shores National Seashore, come kick back and relax in a Harris Property. We offer a wide range of vacation rentals in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan. Whether you prefer a home with a private pool, a beachfront condo, a pet-friendly accommodation, or a luxury property, we are sure to have the ideal accommodation for your family beach getaway. Plus, you’ll enjoy being just minutes from all of these amazing activities and attractions. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us to start planning your beach vacation today! We can’t wait to welcome you.

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Imagine yourself soaring above the glittering Gulf of Mexico, the wind in your hair, as you take in the jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes below. Your heart is racing in your chest, but you laugh out loud, because this is the most fun you’ve had in years. This is just the beginning of what it’s like to embark on a Gulf Shores, Alabama, parasailing adventure. Words simply don’t do it justice; you’ll just have to experience it for yourself!

Don’t forget to book your Gulf Shores vacation home with Harris Vacation Rentals. We’ve got the best properties around!

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Your Guide to the Best Gulf Shores, Alabama, Parasailing

1. Ike’s Beach Service

Have the best sky-high adventure with Ike’s Parasail in Gulf Shores, AL! This company boasts the highest and longest parasail flights on the entire Gulf Coast. Guests are flown from a whopping 800 feet of line, which is the maximum allowed by the FAA. Excursions last 8 – 10 minutes and offer unparalleled vistas of the beaches and sparkling Gulf. Enjoy the views while you soar through the clouds! In addition to parasailing, Ike’s offers an array of other water sports in Gulf Shores. From kayak and paddleboard rentals to banana boat rides, they do it all! 

2. Pleasure Island Parasail

Calling all thrill-seekers! Would you like to experience a simulated parachute drop? Sign up for an excursion with Pleasure Island Parasail. With several different locations throughout the area, this company will take you as high up as you’d like to go! Whether you’re a beginner or a parasailing pro, they will accommodate all ages and levels of experience. Enjoy a gentle and relaxing glide over the Gulf of Mexico. Or, get your heart racing with a simulated free-fall landing. The possibilities are endless! Pleasure Island Parasail also offers tandem parasails, jet ski rentals, pontoon rentals, and more. No matter what you decide to do, you’re sure to have a blast!

3. Blue Sky Parasail

Another one of our top recommendations is Blue Sky Parasail. This experienced team of certified US Coast Guard captains ensures a safe and fun experience every time! Blue Sky Parasail only uses state-of-the-art equipment and they can accommodate a wide range of group sizes. Custom packages are also available if you’d like to enjoy multiple activities with your adventure, such as jet ski rentals or banana boat rides. 

Book Your Gulf Shores Getaway With Harris Vacation Rentals

Now that you know about the best Gulf Shores, Alabama, parasailing, it’s time to plan your getaway! When it comes to accommodations in the area, no place can compare to Harris Vacation Rentals. Our vacation rentals are conveniently located near all of the best things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama, including dolphin tours, kayaking, diving, fishing, boating, and more.

Whether you’re searching for a pet-friendly rental, a home with a private pool, or a beachfront rental, we are sure to have the ideal property for your stay. We can accommodate groups of any size, for any occasion. Browse our properties and contact us to book your Gulf Shores getaway today! We can’t wait to welcome you!