Things to Do in Gulf Shores, AL

Things to Do in Gulf Shores, AL
This coastal city is home to just over 5,000 permanent residents; it's one of Alabama's most popular seaside resorts. Nearby Orange Beach--which is sometimes grouped with Gulf Shores as part of the so-named Golden Shores--also offers much to do in both sea and land. While the area is vulnerable to hurricanes during the months of August and September, it otherwise offers temperatures that rarely fall under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even in winter.

Hot Air Ballooning

The great open spaces and the magnificent ocean winds make this an ideal area for hot air ballooning. Several companies compete for customers; many offer special-value trips to entice visitors, such as free champagne drinks, photo souvenirs or 2-for-1 specials. Ballooning is better in the fall and winter, when temperatures are lower. The flights can then be extended for up to two hours. Flights don't take off from the city but from nearby countryside areas, although most companies offer hotel pickup if reservations are made in advance. Sunset flights usually offer the best views of the plains and farms.

Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company
708 West Laurel Avenue
Foley, AL 36535
(251) 970-3598


The Wharf Resort

The Wharf Resort is located on the island of the same name, and it's a premier destination for everything outdoors. Also known as Pleasure Island, it provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to the best beaches, bayous and grown-up "playgrounds" in the area. Visitors can enjoy the the world's largest water slide (175 feet long and 36 feet high), an 800-foot-long zipline and rope courses. There is also a golf course. Chartered boats and cruises depart from the Wharf. The island has 15 restaurants, a 10,000-seat Amphitheater and a number of shops and entertainment options. The island's Oasis pools offer everything from world-class swimming to a tiki bar and a lazy river.

The Wharf
4673 Wharf Parkway
Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 224-1910

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a 7,000 acres area open to both master explorers as well as those in search of a fun day trip. There are beaches, marshes, forests and swamps here. There are over 370 species of birds and over 100 species of other animals call the refuge home. There are a number of trails inside the preserve, including the popular Pine Beach Trail, which ends at the Little Lagoon beach area. Trail lengths vary from under a mile to over four. They cross through hardwoods, beach dunes and wetlands. A map of the trails is available at the park's office, near the entrance. A number of sea turtles make their home at the preserve, and bird watching is excellent year round.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
12295 State Hwy. 180
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
(251) 540-7720


Article Written By Sarah Dray

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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