The Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama are famous for their miles-upon-miles of white sand beaches. Parents Magazine named Gulf Shores one of the ‘Top 10 Best Beach Towns for Families’ in America and Family Fun magazine listed it as one of the ‘Top 10 Tourist Towns in the U.S.’ The famous Gulf Coast white sand beaches in the Gulf Island National Seashore and Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama are very close to our RV Resort.
There’s lots to do for families at our resort including fishing from the pier (no license required) and spending the day playing in our outdoor pool, playground or horseshoe pit. Bring your bicycles because there is a paved bike and walking trail on River Road that runs from our resort to the public beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
When it comes to good times the beach is just the beginning. There is endless opportunity for family fun times including clear warm ocean water, nature activities, and a boatload of inland attractions.
Here are some great ideas for family fun times!
Perdido Key is surrounded by water, and the opportunities for swimming are endless. When the green or yellow flags are flying on the Gulf Coast beaches, take the family for a fun day of body surfing or skim boarding. The kids will jump for glee as they splash through the waves. Skim boards are available for cheap in local souvenir shops.
If your family craves flat water, check out the activity on the Intracoastal Waterway. A local charter company is a great way to get out and explore some of the best places to take a dip. We recommend you try Blue Reef Watersports.
Lifeguards keep a careful watch at public beaches in the Gulf State Park. Public beaches also have accessible restrooms, changing rooms and picnic tables.
With miles of white sand beach in all directions, there are endless opportunities to build your dream sand home. Check out Souvenir City in Gulf Shores, Alabama to buy buckets, shovels and other sand toys. Be sure to get a picture in the shark’s mouth while you’re there.
Hunt for Ghost Crabs
Kids love it when they are allowed to stay up late with mom and dad. So gear them up with a flashlight and a small net and head to the beach after dark to search for ghost crabs. These wee creatures are often seen scurrying along the shoreline between sunset and dawn and are super fun to catch. Don’t be fooled by their small size, they can make tracks at speeds up to 10 mph.
Explore Fort Morgan
Fort Morgan has guarded Mobile Bay since 1834 and it’s one of the finest examples of military architecture in North America. It was here that Union Admiral David Farragut made history when he yelled “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”.
Today, the fort hosts an annual event commemorating this famous moment as well an active living history program interpreting key aspects of daily life in the fort with fun stuff like canon firings. During the summer they host weekly Civil War twilight tours and daily guided tours.
Stand-up paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. The flat water on the Intracoastal Waterway and local bayous is the perfect place to start. Small kids can ride comfortably on the board while mom or dad paddle. We recommend you check out the sea life that gathers around dock pilings, stop for lunch at a waterfront restaurant or take a guided tour on a local river.
Here are some links to great local tour companies that offer equipment rentals, lessons, board delivery and guided excursions — Alabama Paddle Boards, Gulf Shores Paddle Board Rental, Perdido Paddle Boards.
Fishing is a very popular Gulf Coast pastime for a good reason. There are more kinds of fish in our local waters then anywhere else in the world and the variety of options for casting a line are endless! You can fish from the the pier at our RV Resort, the beach or from the Gulf State Park Pier. The Gulf Coast is also home to the nation’s largest artificial reef.
The Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is an inexpensive and family friendly way to cast a line or see some local wildlife. It extends into the Gulf of Mexico beyond two sand bars. Whether you are a seasoned fisherman or a beginner, you will feel right at home. They have everything you need to fish on sight including bait, tackle, rental rods, coolers and carts, a snack shop, and a tackle and gift shop. Best of all – there is no need to get a fishing license.
The number of companies offering fishing adventures is staggering. The Gulf Coast is home to one of the biggest charter fishing fleets in the United States with over a hundred experienced Captains offering individually catered fishing adventures.
To help you whittle down options, we’re happy to share a few of our top picks including Adrenaline Fishing Charters, Getaway Charters and Distraction Charters which was the first offshore guide service in the Orange Beach to specialize in family oriented trips.
If you want to go deep sea fishing, book a day with Captain Randy at Reel Surprise Charters. They specialize in walk-on trips charged per person and are a great option for budget-conscious travelers.
Witnessing dolphins jump, glide and frolic in their natural habitat is a magical and unforgettable experience. There are several top notch tour providers offering cruises throughout the day so you can choose the time and location that suits your family.
Seek Some Thrills
Want to hear happy screams of joy? Take your family parasailing, snorkelling or on a jet ski dolphin tour. Chute for the Skye or Pleasure Island Parasail will take your family to unimagined heights. The Down Under Dive Shop offers snorkeling tours that include equipment rental.
This is a great place to make the best of a rainy day – rare on the Gulf Coast, but it does happen occasionally. For starters you’ll find a 15-screen cinema, ferris wheel and an 18-hole mini golf course.
If that isn’t enough, check out Sharkey’s Family Adventure Park for three high-rope courses joined by a ‘Sky Rail’ and zip line. Little wants can play on the ‘Sky Tykes’ course which is a scaled down version of the big course designed for children ages 2-7.
Looking for more? Check out the 4,000-square foot laster tag room and bazooka ball paintball gun game at Arena, the Next Level. Vests and full face masks make it safe and fun.
Restaurants, concerts, shopping and a spa are great additions for mom and dad.
Explore Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens is located on the far western end of Santa Rosa Island and is the largest of four forts built to defend Pensacola Bay. Construction started in 1829 and was completed in 1834. It was named in honor of Major General Andrew Pickens of the South Carolina militia and is the only southern fort that was never occupied by Confederate forces during the Civil War. Another claim to fame is that it imprisoned Geronimo and other members of the Chiricahua-Apache tribe in the 1880s.
The rangers offer free guided tours or you can take the self-guided tour of the barracks and cannons. Climb on the roof for a birds eye view of the Gulf.
Bring your beach gear because the fort is surrounded by the beautiful wild beaches of the Gulf Island National Seashore. There are also some nice nature trails and great fishing spots. Entry to the park costs $8 for a carload which is valid for a week for all Gulf Island National Seashore entries.
Enjoy a Free Concert & Picnic Dinner
Take your whole family down to Casino Beach on Pensacola Beach, Florida on Tuesday nights between April and October to enjoy the free Bands on the Beach concert. If you sit on the sand, kids can run wild while Mom and Dad enjoy the show. Or sit up close and join in on the dancing. Picnic dinners, beach chairs, and coolers are encouraged.
Fill Your Bellies in Pensacola Beach, Florida
Kids can run and play on the beach at Red Fish Blue Fish while mom and dad relax in style enjoying fresh fish and hand-cut fries. It’s a unique, fresh and sustainable approach to a fish ’n’ chip eatery, serving fresh Gulf Coast fish, homemade burgers, tacos, yummy cocktails & more.
If you are looking to feed a big family on a budget – check out Dog House Deli. This local favorite has been around for three decades and are best known for their franks. Dog House offers over a dozen kinds of juicy signature creations served up on soft, steamed buns.
Or, if you’re craving some seafood, be sure you check out Peg Leg Petes, one of the most popular restaurants on Pensacola Beach. There’s a comfortable bar called the Underwear Bar under the main restaurant where you can enjoy a cocktail as the kids get carried away on the playground. They’re known for their oysters which are amazing, but the chicken parmesan and the artichoke dip won’t fail you either. We recommend you start with a dozen Oyster Rockefeller and some peel and eat shrimp.
Amuse Yourselves in Pensacola Beach
Pensacola Beach has a few fun family amusement attractions. Tiki Island Golf located in the front the Hampton Inn has 8 holes of fantasy mini golf and a kid friendly arcade. Feel the need for speed? Speedy John’s go-cart track offers a selection of single-seat, double-seat or even triple seat go-carts, so you can ride together. It is a figure eight track with no straight parts and highly banked curves. They’re open evenings all summer, weather permitting.
Hit the High Seas in Pensacola Beach, Florida
If you are looking to get the family out on the water there are lots of great local options for dolphin tours and fishing charters. One of our favorite companies is Fish Happens Charters. The offer all kinds of different trips including inshore, near shore, shark fishing, cobia/ling fishing, tournament experiences, and family sight seeing charters.
There is no better way than a dolphin cruise to take in marine life, birds and some of the area’s historic sites. Cruise along Santa Rosa Sound and Gulf Islands National Seashore with Chase-N-Fins, Premier Dolphin Cruises or Pensacola Beach Marina Charters. Seeing dolphins swim and play in their natural environment will create life long family memories. Most area cruises are least two hours long and are available year round.
Got a sunburn and need to spend a day inland? There are countless attractions that will wear your kids right out. Here are some of the best.
Has adventure mini golf, an arcade, go karts, bumper boats and laser tag. They offer kiddie options to speed around the track, skipper their own ship or take to the skies in the amazing Frog Hopper.
Has both a water park and an amusement park with water slides, water play areas, the Gulf Coast’s fastest wooden roller coaster, mini golf, huge game room, and 2,500-square foot ‘House of Bounce’.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
The perfect place to get cuddly wild creatures. They offer close up-close encounters with tiger cubs, baby kangaroos and baby lemurs. The zoo is also home to more than 500 other animals, including monkeys, bears, lions and reptiles.
Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf
Two 18 hole courses among waterfalls, caves, tropical plants, pirate ship and sea fog.
Alligator Alley, Gator Farm
Over 150 Alligators in their natural habitat with an opportunity to feed them. Also a bird watching and giant snake safari.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
For the ecologically minded, the Estuarium is an educational facility highlighting the four key habitats of coastal Alabama: the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. It includes the 10,000 square foot Exhibit Hall and a Living Marsh Boardwalk.
Magnolia Corn Maze
Worth the drive especially in the fall or early winter. Magnolia Springs, Alabama a quintessential southern town, is a beautiful place to explore. This farm hosts great activities for children such as pony rides, petting zoo, pig races, cow train, hayrides, rubber duck race, corn cannons and bean bag toss. The best time to visit is during the Christmas season when they have a live nativity and light displays and a train to see Santa and Mrs. Clause at the north pole.
Marine show aquarium in Fort Walton Beach. They have dolphin and sea lion shows, otter and penguin feedings summer camps and other marine education activities.
Sam’s Fun City
Pensacola’s only amusement and water park with over 20 rides and attractions for kids of every age. The complex offers bumper boats, go-karts, a miniature gold course, laser tag, an arcade and a wide variety of amusement rides. The employees are very friendly and the atmosphere is perfect for any one at any age.
Your family can go canoeing, kayaking, tubing or try the zip line and ropes course in the Blackwater River State Forest near Milton, Florida. You can spend the day floating down a spring-fed sandy bottom river dotted with white sand beaches.
Emerald Coast Science Center
Voted one of the best ‘almost free activities’ on the Emerald Coast. This child focused museum of science that stimulates the imagination with exhibits such as a reflecting Castle of Mirrors, ‘adult-sized’ bubble makers, a hair-raising Vandergraph generator and an electrifying Illuma Storm.