National Aviation Museum

Off-the-Beach Travel Guide of Alabama's Beaches

What do you do when you vacation at the beach?

That may sound like a silly question, because the answer is typically “Hang out at the beach, of course!” But if you’re taking a big family on a beach vacation, not everyone may want to keep their toes in the sand all day long!

For those needing a little break from soaking in those beautiful rays from the sun, there are other activities to add to the vacation agenda.

Non-beachy Things To Do

1.) Nature Trails
Gulf Shores has a variety of nature trails for outdoor fun away from the waves and sand. The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail – with more than 27 miles of paved trails – are just two options. The Backcountry Trail system is perfect for biking, too!

2.) Swift-Coles Historic Home in nearby Bon Secour, AL
Step back in time. Take a guided tour through this historic home located under a 120-year-old Southern live oak tree. Built circa 1882 as home to Charles and Susan Swift and their 11 children, the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3.) OWA Amusement Park
This newly built amusement park is located in Foley, about 15 minutes north of Gulf Shores. With 22 rides plus shopping and dining, this spot is a perfect location for everyone during a non-beach vacation day! Get ready for thrill rides and great food when you spend the day at OWA, centered around a gorgeous 14-acre lake.

4.) Alligator Alley
Did you know that alligators can go as long as 18 months without food? Learn this fact and more when you make a quick stop by this very cool alligator farm in nearby Summerdale, AL. Call ahead to find out when feeding time is. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss!

5.) The Hot Shop
If art makes you happy, you have to swing into The Hot Shop at the Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach to watch the talented artists hard at work! And if you have some extra time, be sure to make a reservation for a “Make Your Own Glass” class!

6.) Clara’s Loom and Textile Center
If you love handmade scarves, shawls or cord necklaces, you will definitely want to add Clara’s Loom to your itinerary. You can even schedule your own weaving class! This quaint little shop has a lively owner who is sure to entertain the textile lover in your family.

7.) Lemur Experience at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
A must-do on your next beach trip, the lemur experience at the zoo is fantastic for families. The 25-acre zoo not only offers a modern haven for beloved animals, but also has room for great animal encounters like the lemurs, kangaroos and sloths. There are also Signature Experiences exclusive to Gulf Shores including an Animal Enrichment Program where you can make an enrichment item for some of the zoo’s residents, including tigers, parrots or monkeys.

8.) Tanger Outlets in Foley, AL
Spend a day of shopping at your favorite stores all neatly arranged in Tanger Outlets. There are more than 120 brand-name and designer outlet stores like Michael Kors, J. Crew, Vera Bradley, Kate Spade, Nike Factory Store and more!

9.) Say “Ahhh” at the Spa
Head over to The Spa at the Beach Club or Fusion Spa at The Wharf for a pampering good time including massages, skin care, body treatments and salon services. Leave relaxed and refreshed.

10.) National Naval Aviation Museum
Just a short drive from Orange Beach is the National Naval Aviation Museum, the world’s largest of its kind as well as one of the most-visited museums in the state. Admission is free and the history is rich. Check out one-of-a-kind aircraft and other memorabilia in the 350,000-square-feet of exhibit space and the 37-acre grounds. Have lunch there and, if you plan ahead, you might be able to visit the same day the legendary Blue Angels are doing practice flights—an unforgettable experience.

Some other popular non-beachy things to do during your Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation include touring Historic Fort Morgan and gliding along the Hummingbird Zipline at The Wharf.

As you can see, there is a wide array of activities for you in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach besides hanging by the water, proving that a beach vacation REALLY IS perfect for everyone.

Be sure and check out specials for lodging, restaurant and attractions deals.

Off-the-Beach Guide

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