Main public beach in Gulf Shores

3-Day Tween and Teen-Approved Family-Fun Itinerary in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

As the mom of four kids of different ages and diverse interests, vacations can be tough.

Thankfully, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have enough fun activities that the entire crew enjoys – so I don’t have to listen to the familiar whine… “Mooooom – I’m bored.”

If you’re planning a trip to the beach with your family, here’s my own three-day itinerary jam-packed with tween and teen-approved activities! There are so many fun things to do in Gulf Shores that it’s hard to pick just these. 

Day 1

Tacky Jacks in Orange Beach

If you can rouse your sleepy heads from bed, get up early to enjoy the sunrise with a walk on the beach. If you can’t rouse them – let them sleep and enjoy a peaceful walk anyway!

Breakfast: Foodcraft at The Lodge 

Breakfast is served on the scenic patio at Foodcraft at The Lodge at Gulf State Park. I highly recommend the avocado toast, but the kids preferred the loaded buffet!

Morning Activity: Pier Fishing  and Beach Time

After breakfast, head over to the pier at Gulf State Park and try your luck at pier fishing. If people in your group aren’t excited about fishing, they can hang out on the beach just beside the pier and do all the beachy things. 

Lunch: Tacky Jacks 

Work up an appetite fishing and then head to Tacky Jacks. Make sure to try the Mexican Garbage Nachos and Flaky Fish Tacos! 

Family taking a selfie at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores

Afternoon Activity: Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

If your family is like mine, everyone will enjoy an afternoon at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo (six miles from the beach) watching lemurs, lions, kangaroos, giraffes, and more! Don’t forget to sign up for an Animal Encounter for an up-close and personal experience with your choice of lemurs, sloths, or baby kangaroos!

Dinner: Pizza at Sauced

All teens approve of pizza, right? Mine do! After the zoo, stop at Sauced for a dine-in, or get pizza-to-go and head back to the beach for an evening of sunset watching. Sauced has some excellent to-go bundles, so make sure you take a look if you’re getting take-out!

Evening Activity: Explore The Wharf in Orange Beach

If you’re up for more excitement, head to The Wharf. My crew enjoyed the freedom of exploring this entertainment mecca. There are lots of fun things to do here, including a giant Ferris wheel, shopping, ice cream, axe throwing, and a free laser light experience called SPECTRA, nightly at 8, 8:30, and 9 p.m. 

Day 2

City Donut

Breakfast: City Donut

For breakfast, grab donuts from City Donut on Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach. Keep it a little light today for a huge lunch! You’ve never laid your eyes on this many variations of donut perfection! Donuts topped with Oreos or maple glaze with crispy bacon? If that doesn’t scream “teenager,” I’m not sure what does!

Morning Activity: Beach Time

Go back to the beach until it’s time to head to nearby Foley! You did choose Gulf Shores for the beautiful white-sand beaches, right? There are 32 miles of gorgeous beaches to explore!

Lunch: Lamberts Café III

Serving up family-style home cooking with servers who quite literally throw huge rolls across the restaurant, Lamberts Café is a restaurant legend you really shouldn’t miss. It’s so busy though, that we recommend dining there for lunch. It’s a 15-minute drive to Foley from the beach, so leave in time to arrive right at 11 a.m. and power up for your day at The Park at OWA.

Rollercoaster at OWA

Afternoon Activity: The Park & Shopping at OWA 

Featuring 23 rides on 520 acres, The Park at OWA has a little something for all types of adventurers, including roller coasters, kids’ rides, and more. We found it to be the perfect spot for our family of four tweens and teens to get their adrenaline rush for the day. 

If your kids enjoy shopping, they’ll also like to explore the independently owned and operated stores at OWA. Parents: The over-21 crew in my family definitely recommends a stop at Murder Creek Distillery, where you can sample every flavor of moonshine they sell for only $1 each!

Dinner: Choose your own at OWA

There are so many delicious options for dinner at OWA. We recommend the Groovy Goat, Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill, or Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

Evening Activity: Legends in Concert

After dinner, take in a Legends in Concert tribute show. Our kids thought listening to musical icons Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Cher, Lady Gaga, and more was pretty funny! Legends puts on a great show, and our family agrees, you won’t be disappointed. 

Day 3

Teens at the arcade at The Track in Gulf Shores

Breakfast: BuzzCatz Coffee and Sweets

Grab some locally brewed coffee, a monster cinnamon roll or one of the weekly breakfast specials at BuzzCatz Coffee and Sweets. It’s great for a quick but well-prepared breakfast with the whole crew. Take your appetite!

Morning Activity: The Track Family Fun Park

The Track opens for fun at 10 a.m. on the weekends, so head out for a morning full of arcades, go-karts, bumper boats, and more. Our family loved the Wild Woody the most. It’s a three-level wooden go-kart track.

Lunch: The Pantry at The Wharf

Grab a delicious charcuterie to-go from The Pantry at The Wharf on your way to the Flora-Bama Marina. They also have beautiful desserts and all sorts of goodies the whole family will enjoy! You’ll need to order your charcuterie in advance. Or opt for their grab-and-go lunch options. They are perfect for a day on the boat. 

Young girl on a pontoon boat

Afternoon Activity: Boating

Spend the afternoon on a pontoon boat rental from Flora-Bama Marina & Watersports! If a pontoon isn’t for you, the marina also rents jet skis for an afternoon of excitement. (But it’s harder to take charcuterie on a jet ski – and you definitely don’t want to miss that charcuterie!)

Dinner: Flora-Bama Ole River Grill

Since you’re already down at the Alabama/Florida state line, you may as well stop in at the Flora-Bama Ole River Grill and enjoy a delicious dinner on its open-air waterfront deck. 

Evening Activity: Sunset stroll on the beach

If this is your last night in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, make sure to take in one last sunset with an evening stroll on the beach!

With so many amazing things to do in Gulf Shores, you might have to come back to get all done! I hope you’re inspired to have the best family vacation possible with your tweens and teens. My tip for you is to invite them to help you plan. Everyone likes to have a little input, and it can create a much happier experience. 

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