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My Alabama Gulf Coast Bucket List

My Alabama Gulf Coast Bucket List

These days, I’ve been doing a fair bit of travel daydreaming, and recently, I’ve set my sights on a beach getaway. This time, I’m dreaming about the Alabama Gulf Coast and all the bucket list-worthy activities around Alabama Gulf Shores and Orange Beach… if time and money were no barrier.

I added a few Mobile area items to the list because, well, they’re close enough.

Have you been to Alabama Gulf Shores or Orange Beach…or anywhere nearby? What would you recommend I do there?

The Alabama Gulf Coast Bucket List

1. Skydive and land on a beach

I suppose if I were ever to skydive, I should at least do it somewhere scenic. Go big, or go home, right? There’s an option to land ON THE BEACH with Skydive The Gulf.

2. Kayak the gulf

There are a lot of places to choose from when it comes to kayaking around the Gulf coast. There’s Lake Shelby inside Gulf State Park, for instance.

There’s also the option of a full moon paddle (not for beginners or kids, that’s for sure!).

3. Try glass blowing

I could learn how to blow glass at The Hot Shop at The Coastal Center in Orange Beach. Talk about having a memorable souvenir to bring home!

4. Ice skate by a beach

The Wharf in Orange Beach has an ice skating rink each winter. How often do you go on a beach vacation and get an option like that?

The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama decorated for Christmas
Photo courtesy Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

Really, I think I’d love to just see the entire holiday display at the Wharf.

5. See one of America’s best public light displays

They deck out The Bellingrath Gardens & Home for the holidays. The light display is so impressive each year, USA Today named it one of America’s best public light displays.

6. Find an Alabama hiking trail

Perhaps one doesn’t immediately think of hiking when you think of the Gulf Coast, but there are some lovely trails to get you up close to coastal habitats.

Dauphin Island bird watching
Photo courtesy Alabama Tourism. Photo by Chris Granger

At Bon Secour on the Fort Morgan Peninsula, trails traverse sand dunes, marshes, swamps, and scrub forest. We may even spy some nesting sea turtles while there.

I’ve read easy trails to take include Pine Beach Trail, Jeff Friend Loop Trail, and Gator Lake Trail.

7. Meet a sloth

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo may be small compared to my local zoo, but it’s the state’s best zoo for a reason. One thing that distinguishes it from many others is the unique animal encounters.

The up-close encounter that caught my eye? Meeting a sloth.

8. Go “bouldering”

OK, we won’t really free climb any mountains, but Boulder Park has some kid-sized climbing rocks to tackle. My parkour-loving kids will love this place.

9. Escape Fort Morgan

Fort Morgan State Historic Site is home to Fort Morgan, which was once the site of a Civil War battle and a long-time coastal defense post. Now, we can visit it to learn about history…and try an escape room.

I don’t know too many escape rooms that have the setting of 1864 and participants are captive Federal spies who need to figure out how to escape from Confederate soldiers. But it sounds too unique not to do it.

10. Take in the views… from a beach chair

The sugar-white sand beaches are plentiful, so I shouldn’t have any problem finding a nice beachy view. One place I might check out is Gulf Islands National Seashore, which happens to be America’s largest national seashore.

A holiday display on the beach in Alabama
Photo courtesy Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

For more suggestions, check out US News’ list of the best beaches in Alabama.

11. Learn some military history

Being located on a coast, it’s no surprise that the Alabama Gulf Coast has a substantial naval history.

Located in Mobile, the USS Alabama Battleship is open for visitors.
Photo courtesy Alabama Tourism. Photo by Tad Denson

One must-visit place I hear about often is USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

While there, we’ll need to take a tour of USS Drum Submarine. My daughter’s class recently talked with Grandpa Reiner (via Zoom) about his time on a submarine, so she’ll particularly interested in it.

12. Take a course with Sand Castle University

I’ve built some pretty lackluster sandcastles in my day, and I’m zero help with my kids’ attempts. So, maybe, I learn how to up my game while in Alabama and go to Sand Castle University?

(It’s not an actual university)

13. Pick a food trail and conquer it

The Alabama Gulf Shores area has more than one food trail. How do I choose?

Entree at Odette's
Photo courtesy Alabama Tourism. Photo by Chris Granger

Well, I suppose, if I had to choose, I do like the idea of the seafood trail. The food has to be super fresh!

14. Add a little extra to the dolphin watch excursion

Orange Beach has many charters that guarantee seeing dolphins. Why pick a passive (albeit relaxing) cruise to see dolphins when you can combine it with oystering, shrimping or crabbing?

I’ve found tour companies that offer that combo!

Photo courtesy Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism
All the bucket list-worthy things to see and do around the Alabama Gulf Coast (including Gulf Shores and Orange Beach). There's even a seafood trail to conquer!

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