Fun Beach Vacation Traditions

Every year, many families look forward to their annual trek to the beach along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

They can’t wait to sink their toes into the sand, splash in the surf and soak up the sun. But these activities are just the beginning when it comes to turning that yearly vacation into a treasured family tradition. Think of those things that you or the kids say they can’t wait to see or do when discussing your next trip; otherwise, your vacation just won’t be the same.

We’ve compiled what we think are “must” items for your next beach vacation. Maybe you include several of these or perhaps just one or two during your visit. Maybe you do something we haven’t considered before; if so, let us know what it is in the comments below. You just may inspire someone else to start their own family tradition!

Ideas for the Family

Orange Beach starfish

On the Beach

Obviously, family beach vacations mean a lot of time on the beach. But many families make time for those activities they just can’t miss. For instance, some visitors rise with the sun and set out to find a treasure trove of seashells left behind by the tide. Perhaps they even look for that one special item: sand dollars, pink shells only or lightning whelks. Whatever the shell, the goal remains the same: enjoying the thrill of the hunt as a family.

Many visitors to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach love to seek out the sand crabs as they scurry across the beach. Watching these little creatures as they dart about, hiding behind rocks before racing to the next hiding spot, provides great entertainment for kids. Even more fun is watching their reaction when mom or dad catches a sand crab for closer observation. Even as they grow older, kids – and their parents – still love to take part in this family activity each year.

Of course, many families look forward to documenting their annual vacation with a family photo on the beach. Every family member knows the drill: Mom picks out matching outfits – usually blue jeans and white shirts – for the entire family. Everyone files down to the beach, and strikes a pose according to the photographer’s instructions, leaving you with a fabulous memento of your beach trip.

Backcountry Trial bike rideAround Town

Although the beach is the primary draw for family vacations, the Alabama Gulf Coast provides lots of opportunities for family fun, and most families take part in their favorites each year. In fact, a hot spot remains Historic Fort Morgan, the masonry fort that played a key role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. Kids love to roam the Fort’s inner sanctums while parents love delving into the site’s history. And, after exploring the Fort, some families complete their outing with a picnic at one of the two onsite picnic areas.

Every year, active families can’t wait to visit the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. They grab their bikes to explore more than 15 miles that make up the seven trails that comprise the trail system. Along the way, they stop to enjoy the views, search for alligators and spend quality time with the family away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s a great way to reconnect in the great outdoors.

For some, no annual Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation is complete without a kitschy photo, which is why families flock to Souvenir City. Here they crowd inside the giant shark’s mouth and strike their favorite poses. It’s a fun way to commemorate a family vacation, and certainly sparks memories when reminiscing about vacations long ago.

Rope Course

Dining Out

Food plays an important role in our day-to-day lives, so it’s no surprise that many family beach vacations revolve around restaurants. Just as families love staying at the same condo or beach house year after year, so, too, do they love to eat at the same restaurants. Along the Alabama Gulf Coast, many eateries welcome back the same guests each year and even get to know many on a first-name basis. Families return to these dining spots for the food, fun and memories.

Sitting right on the beach, The Hangout is a natural destination for families, especially those with young children. While the menu has quite a selection sure to please all palates, the restaurant also is well-known for its entertainment. From live bands and dance contests to interactive games and a big sand box that kids just have to play in, The Hangout is a fun place to create vacation memories.

Also a traditional family favorite, Lulu’s at Homeport Marina welcomes families to dine and play. With a menu that caters to family members of all ages, Lulu’s satisfies appetites both large and small. Kids, especially, will love the sand box playground as well as the ropes course where adventurers can climb to new heights. It all adds up to a memorable day or night out with the family.

Over at the Original Oyster House, families can dine on their favorite fresh seafood as they take in the restaurant’s eclectic décor. During their visit, families also can feed the fish behind the restaurant or play on the small playground at the end of the boardwalk. For one of those fun, vacation photos, family members can take turns having their picture taken in the alligator’s cook pot on the sign in front of the restaurant. After all, you can’t have too many of these!

Vacationing in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach continues to be an annual family tradition for families across the country.


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