The beach call out to you like it does to us? The sand, the salt and the sun all equal fun and great times. I put together a list of Family Friendly Gulf Shores Alabama Vacation Ideas for you!
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Anybody who knows us, knows we enjoy the beach. We are in central Illinois so to find sand and water, it isn’t usually an ocean, it is typically Lake Michigan. It is beautiful up there, but not the salt water of the Gulf. To be real, the white powder sand beaches are the best in Gulf Shores as well. (Well, in our humble opinion!) Visiting Gulf Shores is a great place to take a family, for couples or for an extended family trip.
My husband and I went to Gulf Shores on our honeymoon, then two other times after that without children. We went with my husband’s parents, my side of the family and then my husband, myself and our children a couple of times. Yes, seven times we have made the long trip from Illinois and it is worth every mile. Oh, to feel the sand and hear the waves again…
I put together a small list of family friendly Gulf Shores Alabama vacation ideas for you to consider the next time you plan your vacation.
Battleship USS Alabama
This battleship has been a highlight of our Gulf Vacation for years. It is located in Mobile and it is a fairly reasonable trip from Gulf Shores if you take the ferry to get to it. (More on that below!) The price is reasonable for the lessons learned and exposure to the past with hands on learning. You can explore the decks of the battleship while picturing what it was like for the brave sailors on board.
My children always loved laying on the bunks. I was always impressed and a little in awe with how little room and personal space everyone had. If you like privacy, this isn’t the place to be!
The cafeteria is a wonder as well. To make that much food for everyone on board and stay orderly is a task for sure!
The price for adults 12 and up is $15. Kids 5 and under are free and ages 6-11 are $6.00. You can read more about the USS Alabama here.
Mobile Bay Ferry
We did this one a couple of years ago and loved it! I believe the price has gone up since we did it, but it is fun and a great way to get to Dauphin Island. It is also a great way to get to Mobile (and the USS Alabama).
The kids enjoyed being on a real ferry (think Clifford and Birdwell Island). My husband and Ryan appreciated looking at the workings of the ferry and figure out the capabilities of weight and cargo. I just enjoyed the view. The cost is for passengers and for cars/trucks.
Um, hello. White powdery sand and green/blue water: what is not to enjoy. The beach is free and fun. One day we went had waves much too large to let Cade and Caleb out too far but another day had gentle rolling waves when using a float like this one, it is perfect. I went to bed that night feeling like I was floating on the water. A great way to fall asleep.
There are many beach options in Gulf Shores and I will talk about the Plantation we stayed at for another post, but Fort Morgan is a little more private and less busy then Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
The options are beach house, condo or hotel and all have perks and downsides.
Go out and collect shells, hunt for crabs and build sand castles. Of course, swim, swim, swim. Soak up sun. Soak up the salty air. Sit, close your eyes and just listen to the waves. Stunning.
Naval Aviation Museum
A free, top 25 museum full of planes and history. Completely free for admission but you have to pay for IMAX films. We saw the IMAX movie this year and I must say, it was good, but I didn’t feel it was worth the money. It didn’t have the special IMAX effects that we were used to. It was interesting and as a family we learned something. To do it again, I would probably pay to see it.
The shark store! My kids love this store and to be honest we do too. You can walk through the mouth of a shark to enter the store from one end and enter through a pirate ship through the other.
You can look for hours at all the gadgets, souvenirs and t-shirts. We went a few times to the shark store. Cade, 8, decided to get, are you ready for this, a raccoon hat. He has been wanting one and found one. That kid…
By the way, they have great fudge.
My husband and I went to Waterville back in the day before kids. We had the most fun. It feels great on hot days and with several water slides and lazy river, we had a great time. On our last trip down, we took our children. They park has a toddler area with age appropriate slides and an older kid (and adult!) area to climb, spray water and slide down slides.
We enjoyed our time there, however we didn’t go to it this year. Just so you have all the facts, the reviews have seemed to go down over the two years since we had been there. It is quite costly for a family of six to go so therefore it is an investment. We were hesitant to spend money on something people weren’t as thrilled with.
I don’t know how the experience would be but our experience was wonderful when we went. There are reports of a new water park opening up in Foley (north of Gulf Shores) in July. It looks to be bigger and better and when we return to Gulf Shores we will give it a try.
Oh, miniature golf. As with most miniature golf places in a tourist area, it is costly. However, it has a ship to play through, fun signs to read along the way, a cave and waterfalls. The kids love it. We have played there many times over the years and will continue to.
With six of us, we would have payed about $66 to play. However, they have a coupon on their site (you can see it here) where you get a child free for each paying adult. We had three adults and three kids. Yes, that worked out perfectly.
We went to a nature reserve and saw an alligator. We only saw one and we were safely above it on a boardwalk. The kids loved seeing it and I enjoyed seeing it from above and not on an equal plane. It is free to walk the boardwalk and there is a delicious ice cream place Scoops nearby. (Which had the most yummy raspberry sorbet a girl who can’t have dairy could ask for. I am still thinking about the flavor of that sorbet and wonder if I could make it at home. Yum, yum.)
Gulf Shores holds a place in our hearts and we plan to return some year. We haven’t seen the mountains of Colorado so, Lord willing, we will head there next year. The beach usually calls our name if we are gone from it too long so I’m sure we will head back soon enough.
What about you? Where is your favorite place to vacation?