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With so many vacation rentals and accommodations available, planning an Alabama Gulf Coast trip can be overwhelming. Why stay at a chain hotel in Gulf Shores when you have an entire beach house to yourself? Harris Vacation Rentals offers the best places to stay in Gulf Shores 

Aside from choosing your new home away from home, you’ll also need to decide the best activities to put on your beach vacation itinerary. Take a look at our Activities Guide and start planning your fun-filled trip!  

All About the Best Places To Stay in Gulf Shores 

Harris Vacation Rentals in Gulf Shores 

Gulf Shores is known for its pristine white beaches, fantastic hiking trails, and family-friendly attractionsHarris Vacation Rentals is proud to offer a collection of Gulf Shores beach homes of all different shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a pet-friendly rental, a home with a private outdoor pool, or a beautiful beachfront house with views of the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve got you covered.  

Things To Do in Gulf Shores

The excitement never stops when you stay in Gulf Shores! Some of the best things to do in the area include:  

dolphin cruises

Harris Vacation Rentals in Orange Beach 

In addition to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach is a top-notch vacation spot along the Gulf Coast. We offer a collection of condos and luxurious rentals here that are perfect for any group. You can search our Orange Beach vacation rentals according to bedroom sizeso you can be sure that you can find the most accommodation home for you.  

Things To Do in Orange Beach

How will you spend your Orange Beach getaway? If you’re looking for some recommendations, some of our favorite local spots include 

parasailing

Harris Vacation Rentals in Fort Morgan 

If you prefer a laidback vacation where you can immerse yourself in nature and history, Fort Morgan is the spot for you. Here, you can enjoy all the perks of being near Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, but you can benefit from the seclusion and calmness of Fort Morgan. We offer an impressive list of Fort Morgan vacation rentals, all with varying amenities, so you’re able to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Things To Do in Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan might be more relaxed and laidback than other Gulf Coast areas, but that doesn’t mean it falls short with amazing things to do. Some of the best places to visit in Fort Morgan include: 

fort morgan

Choose Your Gulf Coast Getaway 

best places to stay in gulf shores (1)

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on all the areas where we offer vacation rentals along the Gulf Coast, what will you choose? You can’t go wrong no matter what! Check our availability and pick the perfect vacation rental for you or call us here at Harris Vacation Rentals, and we will help you along in the decision-making process. We can’t wait to host you!

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!

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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!

With 32 miles of white-sand beaches, clear turquoise water and a family-friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong. Whether this is your first trip or you’re a repeat visitor, there’s plenty to keep the entire family entertained on Alabama beaches!  If you’re ready to try something fun and adventurous, you won’t be disappointed in the selection of new attractions in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. Take a look at our top four favorite Orange Beach and Gulf Shores attractions!

Hummingbird Zipline

Orange Beach Zipline
Technically, the Hummingbird Zipline has been around for several years. However, during 2017 the zipline was deconstructed from the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores and relocated to The Wharf in Orange Beach. The new Orange Beach zipline is bigger and better than ever! Experience an adrenaline-pumping excursion with breathtaking views over both land and water. The new zipline features more towers than the previous one, with nine towers and seven ziplines extending the length of one mile. You’ll soar as high as 90 feet above the ground and enjoy spectacular views of the Intracoastal Waterway and other coastal scenery. If you’re vacationing with a large group of family and friends, tour guides can take as many as 10 zipliners at one time.

What to Know About the Orange Beach Zipline

Stay and Play Near The Wharf and Hummingbird Zipline

The Wharf and its surrounding Orange Beach attractions offer a plethora of world-class restaurants, family-friendly attractions, 10,000-seat amphitheater, boutique shopping and more. For those who want to stay nearby, consider bayfront vacationing. Beach houses offer an ideal opportunity to spread out and enjoy privacy. Dock of the Bay, a four-bedroom, 2 ½ half bath beach house located on Wolf Bay, is just a short drive from this entertainment district and beaches. In fact, you’ll have your own, private bayfront beach and dock. Dock of the Bay is ideal for those who love fishing, kayaking and getting back to nature with the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail nearby.  Other budget friendly options are the homes at Orange Beach Villas.

Orange Beach Catboat Tours

Orange Beach Cat Boat ToursYou won’t find any other Orange Beach attraction quite like this one! Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours opened in 2017 and has been thrilling vacationers with adrenaline-pumping adventures ever since. Located at Caribe Marina, you’ll have the opportunity to coast through the scenic back bays and Ole River areas of Orange Beach on your own, personal watercraft. You can choose between a guided tour or can actually rent a cat boat for as little as $50 per hour and explore on your own after a brief lesson. A cat boat is a unique watercraft and is considered a compact catamaran. The boat sits low to the water and accommodates a driver and passenger in comfortable seats.

If you need a first-hand account before you work up the nerve to pilot your own boat for the first time, Fadra Nally of All Things Fadra has the details for you. “In just a few short hours, I went from very hesitant, first-time boat “captain” trying to figure out how to steer without a steering wheel to a Cat Boat-loving, stick-steering master! Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours gave me the knowledge and confidence to zip around the waterways (and get my pulse pounding) or take it slow to check out the scenery in the back bays – from wildlife to amazing homes right on the water.”

What to Know About Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours

Stay and Play Near Caribe Marina and Orange Beach Cat Boat Tours

If you’ve never experienced the tranquility Ole River in Orange Beach offers, Blue River at Wind Drift is the perfect Orange Beach vacation rental. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is located directly on Ole River with beach access just steps away. If you already own a boat, Wind Drift is boat-friendly and boat slips are available for a small fee paid onsite.

Foley, AL OWA Amusement Park

OWA flying carouselOWA is another one of the newest beach attractions that takes top billing. While not actually in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, the amusement park is located just a few minutes away in nearby Foley. Plan to spend a full day at OWA during your Gulf Shores AL vacation. The park offers a come-and-go atmosphere, unlike attractions similar to Six Flags. There are plenty of restaurants including Wahlburgers and The Groovy Goat, with more being added. You can even satisfy your sweet tooth at Hershey’s Ice Cream Parlor. There are 21 roller coasters and rides ready to provide thrills and chills for all ages. Rollin’ Thunder is a park favorite and features stomach-dropping loops, twists and hairpin turns. Year-round special events keep the entertainment going. Check the park’s event calendar prior to your Gulf Shores vacation to make sure you have the latest OWA news.

What to Know About OWA

Stay and Play Near OWA

Amusement parks are always more fun in groups! If you’re traveling with a large group and need a Gulf Shores AL vacation rental that’ll sleep, oh say, 26 people, check out Brainstopper. It’s appropriately named because the moment you walk in the door, your worries and stress will melt away. Besides offering eight bedrooms and eight and a half baths, you also have use of two community pools and direct beach access. Expansive balconies are perfect for your morning cup of coffee before heading out to experience the thrills at OWA.

Sand Castle University

Sand Castle UniversityWe’re taking the adventure down a notch for those ready for some good, old-fashioned beach fun. If your sandcastle-building skills fall a little flat, treat the family to a lesson with Sand Castle University. SCU offers group sessions for building perfect sand sculptures. Owner Janel will bring the class to you, complete with all the necessary beach tools needed! Trust us when we say, you won’t even mind any homework from this “class.” If you’re celebrating a special occasion like a graduation, anniversary or marriage proposal, Sand Castle University can even construct a personalized sand sculpture for the occasion!

What to Know About Sand Castle University

Stay and Play Near Sand Castle University

One of the things that makes this new Gulf Shores attraction so attractive is that it can come to you! So, essentially, everywhere is near SCU. However, we suggest taking a peek at the Lemon Drop beach house located in Morgantown in the Fort Morgan community. It’s a great spot with plenty of quiet white-sand beach available. The four-bedroom, two and a half beach house offers access to two community pools and tennis courts. When you aren’t building sandcastles, the secluded neighborhood is great for bike riding. You can even bring your golf cart along! If you have a large group, Lemon Drop is located near several other beach houses, including Brainstopper, Pelican Paradise, Sea La Vie and Sawgrass.

Now that you know where to stay and play on your next Gulf Shores and Orange Beach AL vacation, it’s time to start planning your next trip! For information on booking direct and keeping money in your pocket for all these great beach attractions, check out this blog with money-saving tips for booking Gulf Shores vacation rentals.

A place for strolling and taking in the gorgeous sights of the beach and the ocean alongside a number of fun-filled things to see and do, Orange Beach deserves to be on every vacationer’s Gulf Shores itinerary. Read on below to learn more about things to do in Orange Beach, AL!

Explore The Best Things To Do In Gulf Shores!

To begin, no trip to Orange Beach is complete without stopping at The Wharf. Here, you’ll find a variety of attractions housed in one single locale, including one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the Southeast U.S., as well as Carmike Cinemas, the enormous outdoor concert venue known as The Amphitheater, and a bevy of stores and restaurants.

Orange Beach Waterfront Park is the perfect place for sightseeing and walking around in the scenic loveliness of Orange Beach. Nestled against Wolf Bay, this park has picnic areas with grills, paved walking paths, a fishing pier, and a lit park for children.

Other family-friendly attractions in Orange Beach include Adventure Island, Fat Daddy’s Arcade, The Wharf Mini Golf, Arena the Next Level, and educational attractions like the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum and the Wind & Water Learning Center.

If you and your family appreciate handmade artisan crafts and artwork, you might also want to check out the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, where you can choose to create your own masterpiece or pick out a pre-made beauty from the gallery, gift shop, clay studio, or the hot glass shop.

For those of you travelling with four-legged companions, Orange Beach Dog Park is a wonderful place to let them run free with dogs of their own size (as there are separate sections for small and large dogs) under the shade of towering trees. Water and benches are also provided.

Finally, you can check out the magnificent natural setting of Orange Beach on the Alabama Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, where you can drive to serene beaches, quaint downtown areas, historic sites, wildlife preserves, and mouthwatering seafood restaurants along the way.

Harris Vacation Rentals – Your Trusted Experts on Everything Gulf Shores

Contact our office today to find out additional information on attractions and activities in Orange Beach and the rest of Gulf Shores when you reserve your trip lodgings in one of the pristine vacation rental properties that you can search by bedroom!

Photo By Kevin Stephenson from Florence, AL, USA – Sunrise – Front, CC BY 2.0