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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 

There’s just something special about that first visit to the beautiful beaches in Gulf Shores, 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. If it’s your first time visiting Gulf Shores, welcome! Read on to learn about some of the best things to see and do along our sugar-white shores.

Visiting Gulf Shores for the first time? Enjoy your beach getaway to the fullest when you book a Harris Vacation Rentals vacation rentalWe’ve got the best properties around!

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Book Your Gulf Shores Activities Now!

6 Must-Do Activities for Your First Gulf Shores Vacation

1. Visit the Welcome Center

 After settling into your Gulf Shores condo, the first thing you should do is visit the Gulf Shores Welcome Center. Get a coupon book for goodies like free desserts or appetizers at restaurants, as well as discounts on local 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.

2. Take Your Photo at The Shark’s Mouth

Next, head to Souvenir City and get your picture taken in the shark’s mouth! It’s a longstanding tradition for families. After you walk through the attraction, browse the store, packed full of great T-shirts, glassware and other gifts to take home. Everyone enjoys the fudge!

3. Have a Blast at The Wharf

You could easily spend the entire day browsing the many shops, restaurants, and family-friendly attractions at The Wharf at Orange Beach. You’ll definitely want to check out the mini-golf courses, arcades, movie theatres, and Alabama’s longest zipline course. And if there’s one thing you absolutely must do, it’s ride the Ferris Wheel! This iconic landmark gives you tree-top views of the coast and costs just $5 per person (kids aged 3 and under ride free).  When night falls, make sure to stay for one of the SPECTRA shows. The popular sound and light spectacular happens nightly and is an experience like no other! Admission is free.

4. Listen to Live Music at Lulu’s

LuLu’s is a family-friendly destination restaurant located just over the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge. A favorite hangout for locals and visitors alike, LuLu’s takes the coastal theme to the extreme with great outdoor seating, children’s activities, and entertainment on stage every night of the week. It’s a must-see if you’re visiting Gulf Shores for the first time! 

 5. Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Take a walk on the wild side at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. The zoo, which opened in 1989, is now home to about 500 animals. See alligators, monkeys, lemurs, tigers and more. Get an up-close look at animals in their natural habitat! Play with lemurs, baby kangaroos and sloths. Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, you’ll love every second of your visit to this world-class zoo.

6. Take a Sunset Stroll Along the Beach

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. There’s just something magical about watching the sun sink low into the horizon before disappearing into the aquamarine Gulf waters. Who are we kidding? It’s something you’ll want to do each and every visit.

What Is the Weather Like in Gulf Shores?

Many of our first-time guests ask us when is the best time to visit Gulf Shores. Long story short, the weather 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.

Where to Stay in Gulf Shores

When it comes to the best accommodations in Gulf Shores, AL, look no further than Harris Vacation Rentals! Our gorgeous vacation homes and condos have everything you need for a memorable first time visiting Gulf Shores. Whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront home, a rental with a private pool, or a large family home, we are sure to have the ideal accommodation for your getaway. Are you ready to make memories to last a lifetime? Browse our properties and contact us to book your stay today. We can’t wait to welcome you to paradise!



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!


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! 

Book Your Gulf Shores Activities Now!

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.


Book Your Family Vacation With Harris Vacation Rentals Today!

Music. Food. Fun. These are the three ingredients for an unforgettable Gulf Shores vacation. Where can you go to find all of these elements in one place? The Hangout Gulf Shores! This colorful, open-air attraction features various restaurants, live music, bars, and shops. It’s a great spot to spend the day with family or friends.

The only other thing you need for an unforgettable vacation is the perfect rental home. At Harris Vacation Rentals, we ensure the best experience for our guests. From beachfront bungalows to luxurious condos, there’s something to fit everyone’s vacation style. Book your rental home today!

About The Hangout Gulf Shores

Today, The Hangout has become the heart and soul of Gulf Shores. Its vibrant, lively atmosphere has been a staple of Gulf Shores culture since the 1950s and 60s. Nearly 70 years ago, The Hangout was a meeting place for surfers enjoying the local beaches.

The Hangout remained a local gathering place until Hurricane Ivan destroyed the property in 2004. However, The Hangout returned bigger and better than ever in 2008!  After a significant rebuild, the entertainment venue continues to grow to this day.

Things to Do at The Hangout

The Hangout is one of our favorite places for family fun in Gulf Shores. The venue is just feet away from the Gulf of Mexico, making it a beautiful place to spend time after a day at the beach.

Eat & Drink

What kind of food are you in the mood for today?

The Hangout dining room is constantly buzzing with excitement and delicious food. The venue’s signature dishes include the Cajun Campfire Steak, Hangout Jambalaya, Hang 10 Cheeseburger, Big Beach Burger, and Shaka Wrap. Are you feeling hungry yet?

Peruse all of the menus at The Hangout, then select some of the tastiest beachfront cuisine you’ll ever have!

You can also find Gulf Shores’s most famous drinks here. Chill out with a cocktail at the mermaid bar, sip on a draft beer, enjoy a frozen drink at the daiquiri bar, or try one of the featured brews. You can’t go wrong!

Have Fun

There’s something fun for those of all ages at The Hangout! Unique photo ops include the giant shaka hand, hangout chairs, and, of course, the beach.

Kids (and adults, too!) love playing in the sandpit and participating in the hourly foam party. There’s also an area for backyard games, a souvenir T-shirt shop, and a colorful wish wall. Enjoy live music at the mermaid stage and huddle around the fire pit on cool nights.

Our favorite aspect of The Hangout is all of the vintage decor, especially the wall collections. From old-school lunch boxes to black and white photographs, these memorabilia will transport you back in time!

Hangout Music Fest

The Hangout Gulf Shores is best known for its fantastic annual music festival. The Hangout Music Fest is the most famous Gulf Shores concert, and thousands flock to attend every year. Held the weekend before Memorial Day, this multi-day outdoor festival features some of the industry’s top artists. Relax beachside, jam out to amazing music, and take part in all the fun activities at the event. What’s not to love?

For more information about the music festival, check out the official website.

Hang Out at Harris Vacation Rentals

la mahana community pool

After you’ve explored The Hangout Gulf Shores, return to your stunning Harris Vacation Rentals vacation rental. Our homes are an attraction in and of themselves, and La Mahana is no exception. This gorgeous ground-level unit features a private patio, tropical decor, and a fully equipped kitchen, You’ll also have access to unbeatable amenities, from a crystal blue swimming pool to an outdoor shower and grilling area. The rental includes beachfront access so that you can start your mornings with a sunrise walk along the shore.

There’s nothing better than a family vacation by the ocean! Browse our properties and book your trip today! Browse our deals now!

It’s no secret that Gulf Shores is home to beautiful weather year-round. The next time you take a trip to the Gulf Coast, take advantage of the sunshine and blue skies with a visit to one of the top Gulf Shores AL golf courses! Whether you’re a lifelong golfer or have never set foot on the green before, Gulf Shores, AL is the perfect place to tee off. Enjoy expertly designed courses against the backdrop of a tropical paradise. Check out some of our favorite places to play, then get ready to book your Gulf Shores family vacation with Harris Vacation Rentals!

Book Your Family Vacation at Harris Vacation Rentals Today!

These are the 7 Greatest Gulf Shores AL Golf Courses

Get ready to test out your swing! We’ve compiled a lost of the eight leading Gulf Shores AL golf courses for you and your family to visit.

Note: After the closure of the Gulf State Park Golf Course, many other courses in the area are offering discounted rates. Check individual websites for deal details.

Gulf Shores Golf Courses

Kiva Dunes Golf Course

Kiva Dunes is one of our favorite golf courses in Gulf Shores, and we’re not the only ones who think so! Golf Digest ranked this exquisite course as one of the Top 100 Public Courses in the country. With over 7,000 yards of play area and plenty of secluded, natural scenery, this links-style course is perfect for any avid golfer. If you’d like to improve your skills before playing a game of your own, Kiva Dunes offers private and group lessons.

Tip: Book your tee time online in advance. The earlier you book, the more money you can save!

Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club

The Peninsula is a beautiful, private, and unforgettable golf resort nestled between Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This 27-hole, 7,026-yard course is located next to the Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve and features lovely scenery and wildlife along the green. Enjoy views of Mobile Bay and access to the club restaurant and private beach.

Peninsula Golf is also a member of Honours Golf, a golf management company dedicated to providing exceptional golf experiences. As a member, you’ll receive preferred rates, onsite accommodations, and advance booking privileges at their courses.

Cotton Creek & Cyprus Bend at Craft Farms

Two Honours Golf courses, Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend, are both located at Craft Farms. Golf legend Arnold Palmer designed them to provide a challenging, yet inviting golf experience. As the only two courses designed by Palmer in the state, they are a must-visit for any avid golfer planning a trip to Alabama.

The greens are well-manicured, the staff is friendly, and the views (especially if you’re lucky enough to see a sunset) are stunning. Golf Digest rated the courses at 4.5/5 stars. But don’t take their word for it; come and test it out for yourself!

Orange Beach Golf Course

Head over to the small, adjoining city of Orange Beach for your next round of golf! The Orange Beach Golf Center is a 9-hole, par-3 course open every day of the week. The facility features a Pro Shop, golf clinic, and lighted driving range for you to practice your skills before stepping out on the green. The best part? You can revel in a spectacular Orange Beach sunset and keep playing golf! The driving range and Pro Shop are open until 9 p.m. daily.

Fairhope Golf Courses

Are you planning on taking a quick and fun day trip from Gulf Shores? Fairhope, AL is the perfect destination! Fairhope is just an hour from downtown Gulf Shores and is located along the Mobile Bay shoreline. Check out the pier, visit a history museum, and play a round of golf or two!

Rock Creek Golf Club

Another Honours Golf certified course, Rock Creek is an 18-hole, player-friendly golf green. Enjoy 6,900 yards of golf, perfect for long hitters eager to practice their swing. The green of the championship golf course exhibits a variety of shapes and putting surfaces with lovely views of the surrounding wetlands. You can even rent out the club to host your own on-site golf tournament!

Fun fact: Rock Creek may have been the first place on the continent where golf was played in 1170 by Prince Madoc. Come and rub the famous rock for luck before you start your game!

Quail Creek Golf Course

Quail Creek is an affordable, accessible course just minutes away from downtown Fairhope. This well-landscaped, challenging fairway has 18 holes, three lakes, and more than 40 sand traps ‒ be sure to bring your best swing! The fairway is open to walkers, so spectators and family members are welcome to explore the greenway as well. After a game, head to the Pro Shop for a golf-themed souvenir. You can ever grab a quick bite to eat at the Quail Creek snack shop and grill.

Have a Tee-Rific Vacation With Harris Vacation Rentals


Are you ready to make your vacation a hole in one? There are so many reasons to tee off in Golf Shores, especially our world-class accommodations. After spending a day at one of the best Gulf Shores AL golf courses, come back and relax at a Harris Vacation Rentals vacation rental.

Across the street from the Orange Beach Golf Center, our Pelican Condo is part of the Orange Beach villas. This quaint community features an onsite clubhouse, outdoor swimming pool, and a serene gazebo on the lake. The Pelican unit comfortably sleeps eight, and it is equipped with chic furnishings, a full-sized kitchen, and a covered patio. And, when you stay in the Orange Beach villas, you’ll be just a mile away from The Wharf at Orange Beach, one of our favorite entertainment and concert venues in Gulf Shores.

Don’t wait to start planning your ultimate family vacation! Browse our vacation rentals and book your Gulf Shores getaway today! Check out our condo rentals, as well as our special deals!
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Since opening, Waterville USA in the heart of Gulf Shores has become one of the premier entertainment destinations for families vacationing along the Alabama Gulf Coast. From the start of the season in late May to the end of the season in mid-August, Waterville is a favorite for those looking to break from the pristine beaches for a change. So, what’s there to do at Waterville? Well, there’s the water—bucket loads of it! This may be the best place to spend a day when you cannot get into the Gulf water.

Attractions & Things to Do at Waterville USA

One of the coolest attractions is the Flowrider, especially if you like hanging ten. The Flowrider creates a continuous wave over a base of soft foam. You will be able to practice all your tricks on a perfect wave with no fear of falling or injury.

If you’re a thrill seeker, then you’ll want to get in line for Great White, a world-class one, two, and three passenger tubing adventure through the jaws of the Great White Shark, a tunnel, a waterfall, and then a quick drop to the lagoon below. This ride is the Gulf Coast’s most awesome tube ride.

And if that isn’t fun enough, then really get your heart going on the Screamin’ Demon. Yeah, it’s that scary—and thrilling! What is it? It’s a water slide not for the faint of heart! Drop almost 60 feet in a flash on Waterville’s white-knuckle scream machine. This high-speed body slide is a must for thrill seekers.

But not all the attractions at Waterville USA might make you skip lunch; there’s plenty of relaxing water-centric attractions like Shrimp Boat Village—a waterworks attraction and the ultimate water playground. This water wonderland has something around every corner. Three stories of sprays, geysers, net crawls, slides, water cannons, and dumping buckets abound on this amazing attraction. Turn the handles and soak a friend or family member on Waterville’s interactive water playground. Shrimp Boat Village is fun for the whole family and must be experienced firsthand, but beware of the giant shrimp bucket dump!

There’s also Rainbow Falls, Crystal Waters River, North Shore Wave Pool, Gold Rush, and much more, with plenty of things to do for the really little ones. And when it comes time for some grub, Waterville’s got a great snack and lunch bar. Want to just get some rays? Then relax on a lounge chair and let your troubles float away!

Last but not least, Waterville USA is home to the Cannonball Run, a wooden rollercoaster that hits 50 MPH. Feel the thrill of zero-gravity and pure speed with family and friends on the Gulf Coast’s fastest wooden coaster, day or night. This is definitely one of the Gulf Coast’s coolest attractions and a must ride for sure.

Plan Your Waterville USA Getaway with Harris Vacation Rentals

Looking for the most family-friendly attraction in Gulf Shores? It’s Waterville USA, and it’s nearby your very own Gulf Shores vacation rental from Harris Vacation Rentals. Book today and take your family on a wet and wild vacation! Browse through our condo rentals as well as our deals.