As the years go by and time seems to move just a little too quickly, parents may often be struck by the desire to do something fun and memory-making with their kids before they grow up. Summertime is the perfect opportunity to make awesome vacation memories as a family, as it is easily the longest break during the school year and takes place during the most temperate and beautiful months of the year for much of the country.
Gulf Shores is no exception; the serene tropical paradise that you’ll find here during the summer lends itself to all sorts of outdoor activities, seasonal events and theme parks, and more, making it an ideal summer break vacation destination for kids and parents.
Kid-Friendly Things to Do and See in Gulf Shores
Chances are good that at one point or another in our childhoods, we’ve all experienced the “boring” parts of summer vacation, where our parents have dragged us somewhere decidedly more adult-friendly than kid-centric. If you want to avoid a repeat experience during your kid’s summer vacation (and kudos to you for having the stamina and willpower to do so), having something fun and exciting for your kid or kids to do on vacation can result in blissful memories that they will enjoy for years to come.
The beaches in Gulf Shores are a fantastic place to start. Snow-white sand lines the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, ideal for long days of building sand castles, taking a dip in the refreshing surf of the gulf, or trying out water-based sports like surfing, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding. You can make a whole day of it, start your mornings on the beach, or wrap up your day with some sunset waves.
If you’re looking for a different kind of water attraction, Waterville USA is an expansive water park that kids tend to go crazy over. An enormous array of water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and even kiddie sections for very young children can all be found in this exciting attraction.
Other entertaining parks include the Track Family Recreation Center’s arcade and go-kart track, Adventure Island in the nearby town of Orange Beach, and the iconic Ferris wheel and mini-golf course at The Wharf (also in Orange Beach). Many of these attractions are at their best during the day, though you can always try to visit during the slower hours to avoid big crowds. In the evening, The Wharf also has a dynamic light show called the Light and Sound Spectacular that makes for a fun nighttime experience for family members of all ages.
Many kids also enjoy the up-close animal encounters available at the Gulf Coast Zoo, or seeing real wildlife out in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Alligator Alley is also a fun part of Gulf Shores to visit, where families can check out a variety of gators and see these incredible native predators firsthand.
Delicious Restaurants Your Kid Will Love
Sometimes, kids can be a little choosy about what they want to eat and when, making it difficult to find restaurants that everyone will enjoy during your stay. Sure, you can stick to the familiar chain restaurants; you’ll find plenty in Gulf Shores. However, many of the area’s best restaurants are also incredibly kid-friendly!
Take Lulu’s, for instance. This Gulf Shores establishment is a must-try, not only for its delicious food with a distinctly Southern twist, but also for their cool extras like the Fountain of Youth (a water spot for kids to cool off in) and the three-story rope climbing on their Mountain of Youth. An extra bonus: they’re also really mindful of food allergies and restrictions, which is perfect for kiddos with specific dietary requirements. It’s the perfect spot for lunch or dinner.
The Hangout is another surprisingly kid-friendly restaurant. Located right on the beach, The Hangout has great food and even better music, all paired with open-air dining and spectacular views, especially at sunset. There’s also a bubble machine and a sand area for playing in. We recommend grabbing dinner here and soaking up the sunset.
Tacky Jack’s is also a popular option for young diners because of its casual atmosphere, pretty locations, playground, sand pit, and pool table. Oddly enough, it’s a fine spot for breakfast. Try starting your day here, then heading to the beach to catch some waves.
Tyler Fleck is a travel writer who’s written for many publications – and about many locations – across the world! Currently, he is a contributor and writer for Harris Properties; click here to learn more.