Sunset on Alabama Gulf Coast

10 Cheap and Free Things To Do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

When you head to the beach, odds are you’re going to use the bulk of your budget on your vacation rental. So, finding cheap and free things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is a bonus.

The best thing on anyone’s list—and it’s totally free—should be catching the sunrise and sunset on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It’s possible to see both on the shores of Alabama, so don’t miss this opportunity to try to see both at least one day. The colors remind me of cotton candy some nights and they’re sure to thrill any beachgoer.

National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola

Free Things to Do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

1. On your way to the beach (or on your way home) stop off at the Naval Aviation Museum. You’ll find free admission, free parking and free tours! The National Naval Aviation Museum is located in nearby Pensacola, where the Blue Angels train. If you time your trip just right, you can watch the Blue Angels practice. (Side note—you may get lucky enough to see them fly by your balcony while in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores if you’re staying Gulf front. That was the case on my last trip to the coast, and it was a total thrill!)
 
2. If your passion is on the ground instead of the air, stop at the Foley Railroad Museum. The historic depot has photos, tools and memorabilia that document the city’s history and the important part the railroad played in developing the area. There’s also a model train exhibit covering 1,200 square feet of table top. The museum is located in nearby Foley.

3. Don’t miss the Gulf State Park Nature Center for free, fun options, too. Gulf State Park is It’s a living museum of plants and animals meant to inspire visitors to care for the environment. Here, you’ll find activities including guided nature walks, beach walks and pier walks.

4. Challenge the family to a 9-hole par 27 disc golf course and put your sporting skills to the test. Orange Beach Disc Golf  is free and available for every skill level and is especially fun for groups.
 
5. Swing by the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum. Part of the fun here is the actual building where the museum is located. It was originally built in 1910 as a schoolhouse. It is home to many local artifacts and memorabilia relating to the area’s Native American and fishing heritage.

6. Gulf Shores Museum offers another option. There are new and permanent exhibits to explore, along with seasonal programs and events that detail the history of your favorite beach.

The Ferris Wheel at The Wharf in Orange Beach

Cheap Things to Do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

7. Who doesn’t love a Ferris wheel? The Ferris wheel at The Wharf is one of the tallest in the southeast. It offers great aerial views and refreshing Gulf breezes. It’s a favorite way to start or finish the day at just $5 per person per ride (3 and under free).

8. Historic Fort Morgan is located at the mouth of Mobile Bay and is named for Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan. Fort Morgan The Fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay and was used intermittently through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. Admission for Fort Morgan is $8 for adults and $5 for students and children. Family packages are available for $20 and include admission for two adults and two children.

9. Rent bikes and ride the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Explore the Gulf and get up close and personal with some of Alabama’s natural inhabitants, from alligators to white tailed deer. There are marshes and swamps and even a butterfly garden along more than 27 miles of paved trails. If you bring your own bikes, then file this activity away with the free things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

10. Interested in fishing? Drop a line at the Gulf State Park Pier. Rent a fishing pole from the tackle and bait shop on the pier for just $10 for four hours. You’ll need an Alabama saltwater fishing license, available onsite for $9. If you’d rather watch everyone else reel in dinner, you can sightsee on the pier for just $3 per day.

More Ways to Save

And, if you want an extra way to save on some of the fun and food available at the beach, be sure to stop in at the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Welcome Centers to browse rack cards with coupons to restaurants and attractions!

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