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There’s nothing better than finding fun vacation activities that don’t break the bank. These free things to do in Gulf Shores will entertain everyone in the family. From spending days at the beach to exploring local museums, there’s something everyone will love that won’t hurt your wallet. Read on to discover the best budget-friendly activities along the Gulf Coast. Then, browse our extensive vacation rental homes and start planning your trip today!

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Our 5 Favorite Free Things to Do in Gulf Shores

1. Visit Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Are you ready to take a walk on the wild side? The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a can’t-miss attraction for nature lovers. The area, whose name means “safe haven” in French, is an oasis for flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy bird watching, fishing, and boating inside. There are four different trails on the premises that span six miles total. Each offers the opportunity to catch a glimpse of wildlife such as bobcats, red foxes, and armadillos.

2. Blow Off Steam at the Gulf Shores Kids Park

Who doesn’t love a day at the playground? Take a break from sizzling under the sun and sit back in the shade while the kids play. Over 1,500 volunteers built Kids Park in less than six days, and it has quickly become a popular community attraction. Spend a few hours at this wooden playground and let the kids entertain themselves!

3. Hike the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Explore the heart of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach alongside the Backcountry Trail. This trail system traverses 15 miles and six distinct ecosystems with ample opportunity for wildlife viewing. The Backcountry Trail also features kid-friendly Boulder Park, geocaching adventures, and a Butterfly Garden. Run, bike, or hike these trails during your next trip.

4. Plan a Trip to the National Naval Aviation Museum

Just over the border in Pensacola, FL, the National Naval Aviation Museum features over 150 restored aircraft that history buffs will love. Stroll through the indoor exhibits, experience a flight simulation in the giant screen theater, or watch a world-famous Blue Angels practice. The choice is yours!

The museum is open every day from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

5. Have a Beach Day

Miles of pristine, sugar-white sand await at Gulf State Park! Grab your boogie board and ride some waves, build castles in the sand, or lay out your towel and sunbathe. Gulf State Park is also a fantastic spot for a waterfront picnic or fishing off the landmark pier.

Find Your Spot in the Sand

After you’ve spent a day discovering the best free things to do in Gulf Shores, return to your Harris Properties vacation rental for a cozy evening with family or friends. Foxie Moxie’s Salty Sea Shanty, a cheerful beach cottage, is perfect for families or a girls getaway. This funky home sleeps eight, is dog-friendly, and is less than a five-minute walk to the beach. Enjoy your morning cup of coffee on the spacious front porch and snuggle in at night for a movie on the living room’s flat-screen TV.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your beach retreat today!

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Book Your Family Vacation With Harris Properties Today!

When you imagine Gulf Shores, what do you see? Is it the white sand beaches, the delectable seafood, or the breathtaking sunsets?

The Gulf State Park Pier is one of the Gulf Coast’s most iconic landmarks. It’s a great spot for fishing and enjoying the area’s lovely scenery. Read on to discover everything you need to know about the Pier, then get ready to plan your trip to the Alabama Coast! There’s no better place to stay in Gulf Shores than a Harris Properties vacation rental. Browse our full selection of homes today!

 

The Gulf State Park Pier Is the Perfect Place to Cast Your Line

Are you ready for some family fun in Gulf Shores? Bring your kids to the Gulf Shores State Park Pier for an unforgettable fishing lesson!

About the Pier

The Gulf State Park Pier is the second longest pier on the Gulf Coast. It’s 1,540 feet long and offers 2,500 feet of fishing space to the public. From the dock, you’ll experience marvelous views of the Gulf of Mexico, so don’t forget to pack your camera! There are comfort stations, a concession area, and a retail shop along the pier as well.

What You’ll Need

Fishing Tips

Now that you have all your gear, you’re ready to fish! The pier is an excellent spot for avid anglers to set up for the day against the awe-inspiring backdrop of Gulf Shores. Seasoned fishermen recommend going in the early morning or late afternoon for the best results. Some fish you may catch include flounder, sheepshead, pompano, Spanish mackerel, and speckled trout. There are also shark fishing events held on Sundays and Tuesdays throughout the season.

Check out our complete Gulf Shores fishing guide for more tips, tricks, and places to fish!

More Fun in Gulf State Park

There’s more to Gulf State Park than the iconic pier! Stake out your spot on the two miles of white sand beaches, swim in the Gulf of Mexico, and enjoy a snack from the concessions stand. Or, check out the Backcountry Trail, a 25-mile paved trail system perfect for hiking and biking. There’s also a Nature Center in the park for observing local wildlife. Where will your Gulf State Park adventure begin?

Make a Splash at a Harris Properties Rental

coastal zen pool and back deck

The Gulf State Park Pier is one of many fantastic attractions in Gulf Shores. During your family vacation, spend a day at The Track racing go-karts or get a meal at one of the many waterfront restaurants. There’s something that everyone will love!

Make your Gulf Shores vacation the best it can be by staying at our gorgeous Coastal Zen home. This peaceful retreat is located in the luxury gated community of Laguna Key and sleeps 12 in four bedrooms. Enjoy a view of Little Lagoon from the back balcony and relax by the stunning private pool. You’ll also have access to the community’s fishing dock, tennis court, and kayaks. Is it feeling like a beach day? Coastal Zen is only a three-minute walk from the beach.

Are you ready for the ultimate family vacation? Browse our rentals and book today!

Gulf Shores is a superb place for a family vacation. Beautiful white sand beaches, fun outdoor activities, and lively waterfront restaurants abound on the Gulf Coast. From mini golf to indoor arcades to ferry rides, the whole family is guaranteed to be entertained! Read on to discover our favorite attractions for family fun in Gulf Shores! Then, browse our wide array of vacation rentals and start planning your trip with Harris Properties today!

Book Your Family Vacation at Harris Properties Today!

These Are the Best Places for Family Fun in Gulf Shores

It’s no secret that there are limitless options for family-friendly Gulf Shores attractions! Here are some of our favorites.

Explore Gulf State Park

Look no further than Gulf State Park for a day’s worth of fun family activities! Soak up the sun on three miles of pristine beaches, and enjoy a seaside picnic at the beach pavilion. The on-site Nature Center, a living museum of native Gulf Shores plants and animals, is a great place to learn about the area’s natural habitat. They offer a weekly program that includes a guided nature and beach walk.

A trip to Gulf State Park would be incomplete without a stop at the Gulf State Park Pier. This is the largest pier on the Gulf of Mexico, and the sunsets can’t be beaten. Take your kids for a scenic fishing trip atop the pier. Don’t have equipment of your own? You can rent some from the bait and tackle shop! This is one of our favorite things to do for the best family fun in Gulf Shores.

Monkey Around at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is famous for its starring role in the Animal Planet series “The Little Zoo That Could.” After being battered by three major hurricanes in the mid-2000s, the show was focused on the zoo’s reopening. Now, the zoo is back in business and will become “The Little Zoo That Grew” after its major expansion project in the fall of 2019.

For now, you can visit the zoo’s 290 animals from 9-4 every day. There is a petting zoo, reptile house, and daily animal shows in the summer. Our favorite part of the zoo is the animal encounters. Get up close to a kangaroo, stroke an alligator’s spine, and let a lemur climb on your shoulder. This is a unique experience that your kids are sure to remember. The Gulf Coast Zoo is one of the best family-friendly activities in town!

Play at The Track Gulf Shores

Amusement park, anyone? The Track is one of Gulf Shore’s most exciting attractions. This fun park has it all ‒ go-kart rides, mini golf, arcade games, and bumper boats! Our favorite activity at The Track is their famous Wild Woody go-kart course. This elevated, three-story course offers thrill seekers a drop at the bottom. You can’t miss The Track’s signature attraction! The Track is open year-round, making it one of the best off-season activities in Gulf Shores for families.

Take the Ferry to Dauphin Island

All aboard! Hop on the Mobile Bay Ferry for an action-packed day on Dauphin Island. The 40-minute ferry ride from Fort Morgan to Fort Gaines provides lovely views of the bay and saves hours in driving time.

When you arrive on Dauphin Island, take a tour of the historic Fort Gaines. This Civil War fort has original cannons, a blacksmith shop, and a museum for you to explore. We also suggest a visit to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Explore the marine education and research center, then take a closer look. The sea lab’s Estuarium offers a hands-on experience, which includes a boardwalk tour and stingray touch pool.

Make the Most of a Rainy Day

Even in a beautiful beach town like Gulf Shores, the sun won’t always be shining. Don’t worry; we know the best things to do in Gulf Shores on a rainy day. What better way to bond with your family than taking on a life-sized adventure game with them? Breakout Games in Orange Beach offers guests the chance to solve real-time puzzles and decipher clues as a team. You have 60 minutes to “escape” these themed rooms!

If you’re feeling inspired, we recommend spending the day at The Hot Shop in Orange Beach. This hot glass blowing facility gives visitors the chance to watch local artisans at work. Like what you see? You can try it out yourself! The Hot Spot offers hands-on classes by reservation. Bring home your own piece of blown glass as the ultimate vacation souvenir.

No one wants the fun to stop because it’s raining. When you plan your Gulf Shores vacation, be sure to book the ideal accommodations for rain or shine. Our Sunset Paradise condo has an indoor pool and game room to keep the kids entertained no matter the weather!

Hit the Beach

What’s the one thing you absolutely must do in Gulf Shores? Spend a day at the beach! Get in touch with your zen side, grab a book and a beach chair, and pick your spot on the sand. There’s nothing better than relaxing oceanside. There’s plenty for kids to love, too. Building sandcastles, swimming, and riding on boogie boards are just a few of our recommendations. Don’t forget to snap a picture of the stunning scenery before you pack up!

Book Your Gulf Shores Family Vacation With Harris Properties

Faxo's retreat living room

The most important part of planning a vacation is ensuring you have the perfect place to stay. At Harris Properties, we’re a family-owned and -operated business. When you book a vacation rental direct with us, we want you to have wonderful memories to look back on. Want the perfect vacation souvenir? Just ask! We’re happy to frame and mail your favorite family photo from your trip!

After a day of family fun in Gulf Shores, you’ll want a place to relax. Faxo’s Retreat is a three bedroom, two bath home with a fully equipped kitchen and spacious entertaining areas. This lagoon-front house has a private pier for boating, fishing, and kayaking adventures. The private pool is ideal for relaxing, and the attached kiddie pool is excellent for younger swimmers. Each morning, enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck overlooking the lagoon. Bring the whole family (including your furry friends) to this pet-friendly retreat!