Gulf Shores West Beach

My Budget-Friendly Itinerary for a Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Vacation

Who doesn’t love an affordable weekend away?

I love maximizing my vacation dollars, so I’ve created this budget-friendly itinerary for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Here are three perfect days on Alabama’s white-sand beaches.

Day 1 – Beach Day

The main public beach in Gulf Shores, AL

These are some of the best beaches in the United States, so I know you’ll love them! You can plan to spend the entire day on the beach.

Start your morning in Orange Beach. There is public parking at 28273 Perdido Beach Blvd. but get there by 10 a.m. during the summer to find a spot. Be sure to pack your sunscreen, shades, and a good book to sit and enjoy the sights on the beach and listen to the waves crashing on the sand. Find more public-access beaches and parking information on the beach directory.

I always hit a grocery store on a budget-friendly trip and pick up grab-and-go sandwiches, wraps, or salads. Bringing a cooler and having a picnic on the beach is perfect for this kind of trip!

Kids building sandcastles on Alabama's beaches

The afternoon is a great time for the ultimate sand experience – building a sandcastle on the beach! Sand Castle University will walk you through the steps of building amazing creations from sand. A class is $100, but it’s open to 10 people so it’s perfect for large groups or families. This is by far one of the best things to do in Gulf Shores with kids.

For dinner, grab carry-out from Moe’s Original BBQ in Orange Beach. It’s ideal for large families or groups, especially if you’re looking to maximize your vacation budget as much as I do! Order one of their family packs, which feeds up to six people with meats, sides, bread, and sauces for under $30.What a steal!

Day 2 – Adventure!

Family at the Gulf Shores Welcome Center

Before you start to venture around the area, you absolutely must visit the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Welcome Center. I was impressed by the beautiful fountain out front at the Gulf Shores location and the knowledgeable staff. You’ll find a whole lot of coupons inside, too! From free appetizers or desserts to discounts on popular attractions, this is one stop you won’t want to miss!

Back on the road, the morning activity on the second day of this budget-friendly itinerary is the Historic Fort Morgan. There’s so much to learn, see and do on the Fort Morgan Peninsula that you can spend a whole day here. It’s an affordable adventure, too. Family passes for two adults and two children is just $20. Otherwise, it’s $8 for adults and $5 for children or seniors.

Bike-share rentals at Gulf State Park

Next is lunch. A fun way I save money on a budget-friendly vacation is to eat out for lunch instead of dinner, as prices tend to be less. Browse the restaurant directory to find the perfect spot for you and your crew. 

The afternoon adventure on day two is biking through the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails. It’s the perfect adventure for this budget-friendly getaway using the free bike share program at Gulf State Park. The bikes are available for up to three hours at a time, and with 28 miles of trails, you simply won’t get bored!

After all that activity is a great dinner. Use a coupon or rack card you picked up at the welcome center, as some restaurants offer a free appetizer or dessert. To save even more, order waters for dining in or get it to go.

Day 3 – Sightseeing and Beach Time

Family at The Yard Milkshake Bar in Gulf Shores, AL

For the last day in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, visit the pier at Gulf State Park. You can fish from the pier for an affordable price. Rod and reel rentals are $10 for four hours; you’ll just need a license that can run from $6-$12.

I’d highly recommend having a heavy snack and early dinner this day, so you have room for a unique and sweet treat from The Yard Milkshake Bar. The Yard offers oversized ice cream in souvenir mason jars. The prices aren’t super affordable, but my family of four shared a jar, and it was perfect for splitting. The shakes are huge and shareable!

Next, hit the beach in Gulf Shores! With this beautiful sand, you’ll be glad you spent some time on your last day here.

Teens on the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf in Orange Beach

Lastly, end your night at The Wharf in Orange Beach. Be sure to ride the Ferris Wheel for one of the best views on the island. It’s also the tallest Ferris Wheel in the Southeast! Afterward, grab dinner at YoHo Rum & Tacos. Then catch the free light show! The SPECTRA laser light show on the main strip is entertaining for kids and adults alike. It starts every 30 minutes after dark.

Ready to enjoy your time in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach? Save this itinerary for your upcoming trip!

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