From beaches to burgers, here’s a list of some of our favorite places to play, eat and stay in Gulf Shores, Alabama!
Small Town Big Beach completely describes Gulf Shores Alabama. With a population at just over 11,000, the town welcomes over 5 million visitors each Summer to their 32 miles of sugar sand beach!
Where to Eat
Gulf Shores has some amazing restaurants, from big, touristy and loud to quiet little places for locals! Here’s a few of our favorites!
Lulu’s has it all, good food, a great location with waterfront dining on the Canal, plus tons of activities! It’s popular and during summer there is always a wait, but there is so much to do while you wait, from shopping, playing in the sand, their huge ropes course, live music or watching for alligators in the canal! Tuna dip is a really big thing in Gulf Shores, and there’s is pretty good! We had the grilled Red Snapper, because of Fishtrax, which actually tells you when, where and who caught your fish! It’s pretty amazing! My daughter, the pickiest eater in the world, devoured her cheeseburger and my son had the Tunamelt, which was also yummy!
The Ropes Course at Lulu’s. Lulu’s is owned by Lucy Buffett, author and little sister of muscian Jimmy Buffett, so if you’ve ever stepped on a pop top or blown out your flip flop, that’s kind of a big deal.
Picnic Beach was my choice for BBQ at Gulf Shores, which is a completely different animal than Texas BBQ, literally. Alabama BBQ is all about the pig, where in Texas BBQ only means beef! My husband and I split a Pork Picnic Manwich BBQ sandwich and the Picnic Cobb! My son, of course, had to have the Bison Burger! They have a really good Kids Menu and we all had smoothies! I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to stay an extra day just to come back and try the BBQ Trio Meat Platter! Well, really I just wanted to stay an extra day but that Trio is one of the reasons….
Doc’s Seafood Shack on Canal might make the list of my ALL TIME favorites, and it’s a must anytime we go to Gulf Shores. Everything is amazing, including the wait. If time is not on your side, try ordering to go, but they have those ring games and margaritas so the wait is just part of the experience! Once seated, we ate A LOT, but it’s all so good! The gumbo and the onion rings are amazing! I ordered the crab claws, which are also a LOCAL FAVORITE in Gulf Shores! We were there on National Fried Chicken Day, so my husband had to have their Fried Chicken, which is perfectly breaded and delicious! My kids all had fried shrimp, but again, it’s really good! They have a very light batter, and the shrimp have great flavor! Here’s a tip, if the Steamed Royal Reds are in, get them! They were out during our visit.
Sunliner Diner was my husband’s pic, because he’s always going to choose a restaurant with a classic car out front! Who knew they also had a classic car inside that you could dine in! It’s really a fun restaurant, and serves breakfast all day. We all had breakfast, and while The Ruby Slipper in Orange Beach has a better benedict, their’s was still really good and the atmosphere gave them a few extra points!
Cherry on Top was the fave of our nightly ice cream shops! They sell Mayfield Ice Cream, which I wasn’t familiar with but it reminded me a lot of Blue Bell. It’s made in Athens, TN, and the company is family owned. I loved that the girl working at Funky Fresh knew all of this, too. Check out their website, and if you’re ever in Athens, take a tour of the ice cream plant! Check with their website, tours are currently closed due to Covid-19.
Chocolate Corner & Ice Cream has Blue Bell Ice Cream in case you’re missing it, and housemade chocolates in a cute location.
Things To Do: Beaches
I suggest a beach wagon for the walk from the car through the sand. Our agenda is usually to get up early, set up on the beach and spend the morning and early afternoon on the beach, then go back to the hotel room to change for a late lunch and a fun outing. life jacket for weak swimmers
Gulf Shores Main Public Beach 101 Gulf Shores Parkway is a beautiful beach with very easy access no matter where you are in Gulf Shores! You can walk from almost any of the centrally-located hotels! If you arrive early enough you will find some free parking but there is also plenty of paid parking.
Gulf Shores State Park Pavilion 22250 East Beach Blvd. Further East from the Main Hotel Zone, the State Park has 3 miles of beachfront. There are restrooms, a shower, chair and paddleboard rentals, banana boat rides, parasailing and more from Ike’s Beach Service.
Click HERE for a list of other beaches in Gulf Shores
More Fun Things To Do in Gulf Shores
The Hangout Just steps from the Public Beach, the Hangout is the go-to place for fun! Live music, kids activities, great photo ops and even breakfast with a pirate or a princess make this a must visit during your trip! We would go just for the soapy bubbles!
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo This little zoo is making a big move later this year to a larger facility, and will close at it’s current location on September 30th, 2019. They plan to reopen at their new location in November, 2019. Check their website for updates on their move!
Gulf State Park Fishing Pier The pier took on significant damage during Hurricane Sally on 9/16/20, but is mostly repaired and reopened, with only one section remaining closed. Claiming to be the largest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf State Park Pier is a really neat place to visit whether you fish or not. For just a couple of dollars each, you can enjoy a walk down the pier to see not only what other people are catching, but so many amazing things in the clear water! We saw sea turtles, so many jellyfish, dolphins and huge schools of fish! Manatees are sometimes seen from the pier as well, eating the algae that grows on the pilings! You can also spend the day around the pier on the beach, but be careful not to get too close to the pier, which can cause rip currents. The pier also has a shop, grill and live music. They also rent fishing gear.
Fort Morgan Historic Site If you’re looking for a little history while in Gulf Shores, be sure and head over to Fort Morgan on the West End! You can tour the fort, take part in a living history demonstration, walk the beach and grounds and they even have an escape room!
Fort Morgan Ferry is a fun, 40 minute ferry ride across Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island! Check their website for ticket prices and schedule.
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail Take a fun 2-hour segway tour on this eco-tour. You can also rent bikes at the State Park for a ride on the trail or in town.
Parasailing There are several different outfitters that can take you parasailing, and they are all about the same, pricewise. Book early because they do fill up, especially during the summer holidays and weekends.
Dolphin Tours There are a ton of fun dolphin tours, from your typical boat tour, to jet ski tours, kayak and even a glass bottom boat tour! It’s all about finding the one right for your family! They all leave out of Orange Beach.
Offshore Guided Fishing Fishing is huge in Gulf Shores, and there is definitely a charter that is perfect for you, no matter what you are fishing for!
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge This 7,000 acre refuge on Gulf Shores West side offers day hiking on a 2-mile Pine Beach trail, which ends at a secluded beach. This is a great hike to watch the sunset. Take plenty of water and bug spray. There is also a kayak launch, or consider a kayak rental or guided trip with BeachnRiver Kayaks.
Waterville USA is a waterpark, go carts and also has an escape room. The waterpark is only open during the summer, but the amusement park is open year-round.
Craft Farms Golf Resort An Arnold Palmer designed course, Craft Farms offers 36 holes of Golf in a beautiful landscape!
Where to Stay in Gulf Shores
Best Western on the Beach My favorite of the economy chain hotels that we have stayed at in Gulf Shores, Best Western is right on the beach.
The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel We didn’t stay at the Lodge, but I did request a tour and our next visit to Gulf Shores will be spent at the Lodge. I love it’s location on the beach, and access to the trails and state park.
Gulf State Park The huge state park offers cottages and cabins on Shelby Lake, 400 RV sites, as well as tent camping. The park has so many things to do, and access to the beach, as well, via the boardwalk.
VRBO There are 300 + VRBOs in Gulf Shores! Check them out because there is nothing as nice as having a washer and dryer when staying on the beach!
Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!
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