Gulf States Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama

We occasionally stray out of Texas, and after 2 great vacation stays at Gulf States Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I think I can offer a few tips for having a great time in the Alabama Sun!

Gulf States Park is HUGE!  Over 6,000 acres, with 3 miles of beach in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach!  There is plenty to do for a weekend or a week!


Know Before You Go

The “Snow White” beaches of Gulf Shores cause rays to bounce back right in your face, making wearing a hat almost pointless to avoid sun exposure.  Bring and use plenty of sunscreen!


Image courtesy of Gulf State Park, Alabama


We really enjoy the beach at Gulf States Park!

Take beach chairs and an umbrella, plenty of sunscreen as well as a light cooler for drinks.

You can purchase food at the pavilion.  Grills are not allowed on the beach.

The beach offers restrooms/shower facilities.

ALWAYS remember life jackets for young/inexperienced swimmers.

During good weather the waves are mild, but always pay attention to the flag warning system.

Stingrays are always present in the Gulf waters, but seem to prefer the milder waves, so teach children to drag their feet along the bottom of the sand.

In the evening, there are plenty of weddings on the beach!  A permit is required for all weddings.

Ike’s Beach Services will help you make a great beach vacation!  They will have chairs and umbrellas set up for you in advance, as well as rent beach kayaks, paddleboards and fat tire beach bikes!  Click HERE to visit their website.

Nature Center

Check the calendar of events at the Nature Center when visiting the park or beach, for daily guided walks!  It’s FREE for park guest, and a great way to learn about the flora and fauna of the Alabama Gulf Coast!

Hugh S. Branton Backcountry Trail

At over 15 miles, the Backcountry Trail takes you through hardwood swamps, and is a perfect hike or bike ride!  Bring your own bike or rent one at the park!

It was on a guided eco-tour hike on the trail that we (finally) saw an alligator!

Take PLENTY of water, sunscreen and bug spray!

Click HERE for more information on the trail!

Fish and Education Pier

A huge pier for fishing, with a gift shop and information station, as well as dining options!  There is a fee for entering the pier, whether you are fishing or not, but it’s fun to just watch them bring in the fish!  Remember that adults and children require a fishing permit at either the Pier or Lake Shelby (children 11 and under fish for free with a paid adult), and there is NO surf fishing at the park.

Gulf Adventure Center at Gulf States Park offers lots of fun activities, including paddleboard and kayak rentals on the lake, and a zip line that soars over Lake Shelby! Click HERE for more information!

Kidcam Camp is a daycamp for kids at Gulf States Park!  The camp offers various daily activities, and you can choose by the day or week!  Click HERE to read more!


We often travel with our dogs, and I love places that accomodate them!  Gulf States allows leashed dogs in the campgrounds and on the beach, and in some cabins!

The park also has The Dog Pond, an off-leash dog park on Lake Shelby, giving off-leash water access to your furr-babies.  The downside?  Children under 16 are NOT allowed in the Dog Pond.

Coastal Pet Resort in Gulf Shores offers doggy day camp while you play!  Click HERE to visit their website.

Cabins and Cottages

The park offers over 30 cottages and cabins, not on the beach but along the lake and under the shade of pine trees.  30 is not many, so book early or have really good karma!

Want something really special, contact Fancy Camps to set up your tent before you arrive, or special “glamping tents”, complete with bed, couch and all snuggly!  Click HERE for more information.

I LOVE that Gulf States offers some “pet-friendly” cabins!


With over 400 RV spaces, it’s easy to see why I say it’s a BIG park.  While I thought the RV spaces were all really close together, I loved the 11 primitive camping sites, which allowed much more privacy and separated by lots of trees and vegetation!  Each site offered a fire ring and table.  All tent camping at Gulf States is primitive.

The Outpost offers 3 primitive camping tents, already set up, with 4 cots inside.  Click HERE for more information.

There is no tent camping on the beach.

Things To Do in Gulf Shores


Waterville USA is a fun waterpark in Gulf Shores!  Click HERE to visit their website.


The Original Oyster House has Gulf Oysters and a huge assortment of seafood entrees, all in a fun setting!  Click HERE for more information.


Can’t get a reservation at the State Park?  Gulf Shores Plantation has Vacation Beach House rentals, with all the ammenties of a condo, such as 6 pools (one indoors), game room, tennis court and more!  Click HERE to visit their website.

Gulf States Park   

20115 State Highway 135 Gulf Shores, AL

Click HERE to visit their website.    

Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun! 


Having Fun in the TEXAS Sun is on PINTEREST!  Use it as a quick resource to find activities in different Texas towns!  Click HERE!

© Having Fun in the Texas Sun , 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Having Fun in the Texas Sun with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Please click HERE to read our disclaimer.