Three hours east of New Orleans, four from Baton Rouge and Jackson, and about fifty miles from the Mobile airport, is Gulf Shores, a little coastal town hugging the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama. It’s not very big, at only about 28 square miles, but the white sand beaches seem positively limitless, and the large expanse of nature and wildlife come accompanied by their own fun attractions to draw in tourists. Many of the most fun ways to pass the time in Gulf Shores are also the most family friendly, from dolphin-watching, golfing (both mini and links), and adventure parks. Those visiting Gulf Shores absolutely can’t miss the seafood – to dine next to the body of water where the fish on the plate was caught earlier that day is a majestic experience.
Photo by Adam via Flickr.
Dolphin lovers should take advantage of Gulf Shores location and go out dolphin watching to see the friendly animals kicking, soaring, splashing and gliding through the waters of Gulf Shores. Choose one of over 50 boating tours offered in the area to catch a glimpse of these friendly creatures doing what they do best – playing around and putting on a show.
Photo by Golf Gulf Shores via Flickr.
This award-winning golf resort was designed and created by two serious golfers, including one 1976 U.S Open-winner Jerry Pate, and, as a result, it attracts some serious golfers itself. Regardless of skill level, just hanging around the greens makes for a pleasant afternoon – this huge links golf course is bordered by forest and cypress trees, cut by streams of water. Those who are less than confident in their swing can also fit in a few lessons with their seasoned pros. Consistently hailed as Alabama’s premier golf resort, Kiva Dunes is a must visit for golfers of all levels of expertise.
Photo by florador via Flickr.
Hurricanes racked the Gulf Coast during the mid-2000s, most notably with Hurricane Katrina, but the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo battled on. The Animal Planet television series The Little Zoo That Could followed the zoo’s efforts to keep the animals safe and cared for, and thankfully everything worked out. Today the zoo is home to more than 500 animals, and takes up over 17 acres of beach-side real estate. The zoo comprises a petting zoo, reptile house, aviary and more. Kids and adults can get into the pens and get some serious cuddle time with tigers, lemurs, kangaroos and reptiles – all under the watchful eye of the zookeepers, of course.
Photo by Terry Pridemore via Flickr.
LuLu’s at Homeport serves up to 4,000 people a day, and it’s a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, which means that come mealtime on hoppin’ days, the waiting time is going to be substantial. Luckily, waiting for their succulent red snapper, shrimp loaf, and mahi-mahi baskets is not a problem with their larger than life kid attractions. The Mountain of Youth, for example, is a three-story climbing wall for kids and adults; the sandbox is always a hit with tykes, beach volleyball is a few steps from the front of the restaurant, and there’s always live music daily. The best part is, after the family has finished working up their appetite on the white sand beach grounds and their table has been called, the freshly caught fish will taste even better.
Photo by TRCP Alliance via Flickr.
Fort Morgan has helped protect Mobile Bay and the surrounding areas from attacks from the sea for over 100 years, outlasting the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and both World Wars. The 479-acre site is a piece of history in itself, which is why it makes such a fascinating portal to history. Visitors get to explore the historic turn-of-the-century military buildings and check out the many exhibits featuring military weapons, uniforms, letters, photographs and personal items belonging to the soldiers stationed at the fort. The fort frequently orchestrates historical reenactments, too.
Photo by bb.iphone via Flickr.
Only a 15-minute drive from Gulf Shores in Orange Beach, Alabama, the Perdido Beach Resort has everything a family could want from a hotel in the area. It’s located right on the beach, it has a a huge outdoor pool and an indoor pool, four tennis courts, a pool bar and a health club. The rooms are pretty nice too!