Alabama Gulf Coast Paddleboard

12 Must-Do Activities for Your Summer Vacation

Are you counting the days until your summer vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach?

Did you take time off from work? Did you book a beach condo? Did you invite friends and family to tag along? If you did all that, you are on a roll. Now, what should you do when you get here?

Sit at the beach.

Yes, absolutely. But what else?

Is there anything else to do besides that, you ask?

Yes, a ton.

GulfQuest Maritime Museum

Besides the beach, consider these 12 must-do activities for your summer vacation in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Let me give you a few ideas in case your toes ever decide to leave the warm, white-sand shore this summer.

1. GulfQuest Maritime Museum – This is a must-see if you’re in the area this summer! One of the best hands-on museums in the south, this maritime museum combines learning and play in a unique way. Drive a cargo ship in a storm. Sit in the emergency center during a hurricane. Learn how sailors used to read the stars for navigation. Located an hour outside of Gulf Shores, in Mobile, you may want to plan your visit for your drive in or out.

2. Dolphin Cruise – Time to leave the shore to sail on the water! This is a wonderful way to explore marine life. Nothing beats the excitement of spotting a pod of dolphins. A sunset cruise is a perfect - and peaceful - way to end the day. 

3. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park – Not only will you get to climb the many levels of the battleship, but you’ll get to see war planes and explore the inside of a submarine as well! Experience what military life was like on the seas and in the air. Also located in nearby Mobile, the battleship may be best visited on the way in to or out from your vacation.

4. Fort Morgan – Climb the walls – literally. Walk the grounds of this historic fort and imagine the battles that were fought from this very spot. Fort Morgan is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. While you're there, stop by the onsite museum for a look at military relics. Check the Fort's website for special events, including candlelight tours!

5. Adventure Island – Cool off on a hot summer day in the arcade! Or challenge your family to a round of mini-golf and laser tag. 

6. The Wharf – Shop. Eat. Meet for coffee. See a movie. Ride on the Ferris wheel. You can do it all here. There is even a light show in the evenings. The Wharf in Orange Beach is a can't-miss stop for those looking for an all-in-one entertainment spot.

7. Experience the local cuisine – The beach is only half the fun. The other half is the food! Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer a variety of restaurants and hangouts. It can get busy in the summer, so check out these insider tips to some of the beach’s best restaurants. They’ll save you time and money!

Gulf State Park Nature Center

8. Gulf State Park activities – Love nature? Offering a daily schedule of events, this is a terrific family adventure to add to your summer vacation. Add the Nature Center to your itinerary and get up close and personal with some of Alabama's native wildlife. Check the calendar of events for the latest happenings.

9. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo – In addition to its many exhibits, there are also animal encounters. Imagine how much fun it would be to hold a baby kangaroo or a play with a lemur. You can at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo! Afterward, stop in at the onsite restaurant, Safari Club. Safari Club is Alabama's first Green Certified restaurant.

10. Water Sports – Tired of laying out in the sun, but don’t want to leave the water? Try out a water sport! Rent a paddleboard, kayak or a jet ski, among many other things. You can even try cat boating

11. ShoppingTanger Outlets is about 15 minutes from the beach and boasts 120 brand-name and designer outlets. You can also visit the neighboring town of Fairhope for a quaint, artsy shopping trip. Either way, shopping can be a nice escape when you need to take a break from the summer sun.

12. Biking – Rent a bike or use the Gulf State Park's bike share program to cruise the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails

What other things would you add to this list? Let us know below!

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