Family boating in Orange Beach

From Toddler to Teen: How We Keep Them All Entertained

Taking our kids on vacation at the beach is one of my favorite things to do.

But with kids ranging in ages from toddler to teen, we have to get creative and structure our vacations to keep everyone entertained, no matter the age.

Here a few tips that you can use to keep kids of all ages happy and having fun on your next Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation!

Teens on the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf in Orange Beach

Choose Activities Wisely.

It’s obvious how you will spend much of your time visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach: on the beach!  But Alabama’s beaches are so much more than just sand and water – there are so many attractions in the area!  We try to do things that appeal to kids of all ages so everyone stays entertained.

One of our entire family’s favorite attractions is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, located in Gulf Shores just minutes from the beach.  From the animal encounters to the playgrounds to the incredible Safari Club Restaurant, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo has something for kids (and adults) of all ages!

And we never miss a visit to The Wharf in Orange Beach. The Wharf is an expansive, family-friendly entertainment district that houses a 15-screen movie theater, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the Southeast, The Wharf Express Train, an 18-hole miniature golf course and much more. It is also home to more than 30 shops and restaurants and an amphitheater for live concerts. 

My teen loves to shop and take a ride on the Ferris Wheel. My little ones love riding the train and grabbing ice cream from the local shops.  My favorite part? It is that The Wharf truly has something to keep everyone in the family happy and entertained!

Never. Neglect. Naptime.

If you have children that still nap at home, I highly recommend breaking for a nap on vacation, whenever possible.  Nothing can make a relaxing vacation go left better than an exhaustion-induced toddler tantrum! This is why I suggest building time in your itinerary to head back to the hotel or condo to break for a nap.

While one of us stays back with the little ones for naptime, the other adult will often take our teen out for solo time on the beach or shop for souvenirs. Divide and conquer if you must, but never neglect naptime! Well-rested kids are generally happier, and that makes for an enjoyable vacation for all!

Family eating at LuLu's in Gulf Shores

Mealtimes Matter.

One of our cardinal rules of vacation is that mama does not cook. Since we end up dining out often when we visit the beach, we try to choose kid-friendly restaurants that serve up tasty meals with a side of entertainment!

Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s is always one of our first stops.  There are places all around the restaurant for kids (and adults) to play, and you can’t beat the waterfront views. LuLu’s also boasts a fun beach arcade and a huge menu that’s sure to please both adventurous and picky eaters.

And a trip to the beach isn’t complete without a trip to GT’s on the Bay.  The back-patio dining area has the cutest pirate ship playground and sandbox for the kids to enjoy while the adults enjoy drinks and apps. If you are traveling with kids, GTs on the Bay doubles as both entertainment and restaurant. Because of that, we never miss it on our beach trips!

Choosing family-friendly restaurants has been a game-changer for keeping all of our kids fed and entertained at mealtimes!

Whether you like to spend all day on the beach, explore local attractions, or indulge in amazing dining experiences, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are the perfect places for your entire family (from toddler to teen to adults) to enjoy a family trip to the beach. With a few adjustments to your schedule, the beach makes it easy to keep kids from toddler to teen entertained on your next vacation!


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