Disclosure: I visited Gulf Shores and Orange Beach as part of a 12-day multi-state press trip. We were hosted throughout by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism but as always, all opinions are my own. I will not lead you astray! My Unique Things to Do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach highlights some unique things we did while in the area that go above and beyond your usual beach vacation. Enjoy!
Growing up in Alabama, Gulf Shores was the place to go on vacation. It had a bit of everything…beaches, great food and it was within easy driving distance. With some of the prettiest beaches around, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are a must-visit for any beach-loving but beaches aren’t the only draw! Here are some of my favourite unique things to do in Gulf Shores for your next visit.
If you asked me if I would ever go zip lining 6 months ago, I would have told you “Heck no!” I am such a scaredy-cat when it comes to doing anything new that involves heights. Now, I can tell you that it was one of my favourite parts of my trip to the Gulf Coast.
Trip and Chase were such good sports dealing with a big group of women who were REALLY not sure this was a good idea. They led us through their ziplining course that included 8 ziplines with over 6000 feet of total ziplining.
The tallest tower was 115 feet! There were a few times that I thought I had to quit but then I found out the only way down was to be lowered on a rope! That sounded scarier than continuing. In the end, I was so excited that I had conquered my fear!
Ziplining is a fun outing for a group of girls, a couple or the whole family. It pushes everyone out of their comfort zone and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. One thing to note, though, is there are a lot of stairs so you need to able to climb them to do this activity.
They are open 7 days a week year-round but their hours vary seasonally. It is easiest to check their website or call. Participants have to be 10 years and older and not pregnant.
Ok, you all know that I am not a very religious person so hang with me. The Flora-Bama is an iconic bar straddling the Alabama/Florida border. It’s known for the Bushwacker cocktail (basically an alcoholic chocolate milkshake and SO GOOD), great musical acts and their annual mullet toss. It is a must-visit place for any trip to Gulf Shores but most visitors know this. But did you know they host church too?
On Sunday mornings, though, they are home to Central Church. People come to see the non-denominational service, hear the music and get an uplifting message.
Oh, and the bar is open. The church’s message is “It is okay to not be okay”. Even as a person who doesn’t consider myself religious, it was a great message and a great way to kick off our girls’ trip in the area. Want to see what it is all about? Visit their website and watch their services online.
Do you love bath and body products? Do you ever wish there were more fragrance options than those offered at stores? Well, High Cotton Bath is for you! High Cotton Bath offers a wide variety of bath and body products ready for purchase but they can also help you make your own custom products.
It was so cool to sit down in front of over 250 essential and fragrance oils that you can mix and match to create your own individualized scent. You get to play scent developer using oils and strips of paper until you find your perfect scent. While we were developing, our teacher played a “guess that smell” game with us. Holy cow, I am terrible and figuring out smells. It was fun to see just how far off my guesses were.
At the end of our class, we got to take two small-sized products home with us. I made a lotion and a scrub each with a different fragrance and colour. The perfect way to remember my vacation with a souvenir that I can use!
If you’ve visited my blog before, you know I’m not overly crafty. I love the idea of crafting but some of my finished projects look more like a cautionary tale. Thankfully, the talent of the teachers at Blue Girl Beading was stronger than my non-craftiness.
During our class, we each got to choose our materials, make a hand-stamped pendant and learn basic jewelry making techniques. In the end, I left with a piece of jewelry that I wear often. It reminds me that I can be crafty and of our fun class. I highly recommend setting up a class for a group of friends or for a mom and daughter class. It’s the perfect activity for a down or rainy day.
Rent a cruiser bike in your favourite colour at Beach Bike Rentals Orange Beach or snag a free bike-share bike and hit the Backcountry Trail. Biking not your thing? Walking is just as enjoyable, you’ll just cover a bit less distance.
Two of our group rode bicycles and two of us walked. Walking along the boardwalks was a great way to unwind and see a bit of the area. Plus we got to see two armadillos digging away at the roots near the boardwalks. They are such weird little creatures!
Have you seen those GIANT milkshakes with all the yummy goodness on top? You know…the Instagram worthy ones? Well, The Yard Milkshake Bar is the perfect place to go get a gorgeous and delicious milkshake that your family will still be talking about next year!
You can make your own creation or pick from some of their popular combinations. We tried Peanut Butter Brownie Bliss, The Sea Turtle and The Mermaid. Each was delightful in its own way but I think I liked the Peanut Brownie Bliss the best for taste. The Mermaid was definitely the most Instagram-worthy.
One thing though, these are big enough to share even in the pint-size. We kept saying “a pint is plenty”. So get a couple and share them with your family or friends!
The Perch is a great restaurant to visit any time but their Wine and Dine events are a must-try. Each month they pair wines with delicious food from their kitchen. The wines and the food are tied together so that their “themes” match while using the freshest local ingredients possible. Pricing will vary depending on the price point of the wines being featured that month. You can find all the info about their events on The Perch Facebook Events page.
Get Your Spa On at The Spa at The Beach Club
Okay, okay, I realize that going to the spa isn’t that unique. However, I can say that me taking the time to pamper myself is unique. Getting a massage at The Spa at the Beach Club was such a decadent pleasure that I couldn’t leave it off the list. Remember, while you have to make your vacation fun for the whole group, make sure to carve a bit of time out for yourself. A massage is a perfect way to do that!
Where to Stay While You are There
I highly recommend staying in a rental house or condo while you are in the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area. It gives you more room to spread out than a hotel and you can grab a quick breakfast before heading off on adventures. Plus, there are places for every family size and budget.
We stayed in the Barefoot Beach House in Gulf Shores through Harris Property Management. It was GORGEOUS and perfect for a family reunion or group of friends.
It has a pool and is right on the beach. I loved walking along the beach shelling every morning before we left for the day. On a few of my walks, I even got to see the Blue Angels practicing right offshore. Always super fun to spot them when you are out and about in the area.
Great Places to Eat
Visiting the Gulf means that you can find fresh and delicious seafood almost anywhere. I have a hard time ordering anything else when I’m at the beach. Bring on the shrimp, oysters and fish! Yum!
Some highlights for me were:
Anchor Bar and Grill – Enjoy a sunny day while eating delicious food right on the water’s edge overlooking the marina.
If it is a Saint’s game Sunday, stop in for brunch. It is SO GOOD! Their brunch menu changes often. I really enjoyed the Tasso and Green Tomato Tots pictures above. Yum!
DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen – DeSoto’s is a down-home local seafood restaurant. I fell in love with their food. They have something for everyone from seafood to salads to Southern favourites. The Royal Reds and hush puppies are a must-try.
Big Fish Restaurant – Don’t let the location in a strip mall turn you off. Big Fish is a gorgeous restaurant inside and the food doesn’t disappoint. I had the catch of the day “Big Fish Style”.
Don’t overlook their sushi menu either. It was fresh and delicious!
Love donuts? You’ll want to stop by Lickin Good. I love donuts too but what got me really excited about this place is the Conecuh sausage kolaches. Oh my goodness they are SO GOOD! Spicy sausage wrapped in subtly sweet dough and baked? Be still my Southern heart!
We had such a great time during our 3 days in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Even though I grew up not far from here, everything we did was all new to me. It was a great reminder that you can have a unique and interesting vacation no matter how near or far you travel. I hope you find a few ideas for things to do in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach to make your next vacation even more fun.