So, you’re planning a week of vacation at Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan for spring break, summer or fall break. We’ve already covered some lodging possibilities here, some great restaurant choices here, and an amazing Art Center here. Now let’s assume that you’ve been on the Alabama Gulf Coast for a day or two and you’ve gotten that first sunburn, just enough to let you know that you need to do something besides sunbathing all day. What then? What are other possibilities for fun and recreation in the area? Here are a few of the amazing possibilities:
- OWA in Foley, AL. OWA is actually a Creek Indian word meaning “Big Water.” It is a new amusement park operated jointly by the Poarch Creek Indian tribe and the City of Foley. In addition to shops and several eateries, OWA now features 21 rides — 7 for thrill-seekers, 7 of a medium level, and 7 specifically for the very young set and their parents. Of course, many people visit the Tanger Outlet stores for bargains and throw rolls at Lambert’s while they’re in Foley, too, so you can certainly “make a day of it” if you like.
- Both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have excellent Welcome Centers. They are filled with information and knowledgeable staff members. Ask your questions and gather brochures. You can even attend craft classes and lectures if you watch the schedule and time your visit accordingly. I attended a wire-working demonstration at the Orange Beach Welcome Center recently, and Steve and I both enjoyed a lecture about the Holmes Medical Museum and the Foley Alabama Railroad Museum and Model Train Exhibit. Both of these could be good rainy day learning adventures.
- Are you a history buff? Then, you’re sure to enjoy driving out to Fort Morgan to walk around the grounds of the State Historic Site and take in the exhibits in the museum.
- Do you like nature trails? At the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, you can get exercise AND bird watch simultaneously. The Jeff Friend Trail is actually a one-mile wheelchair accessible path if you want both the outdoors and a flat walking surface. It’s very peaceful and relaxing. The Gulf State Park is another great place for walking, jogging and strolling, plus the facilities are getting a major facelift.
- Gulf Shores has a ZOO!! Yes. For some reason, I had missed this fact in past years. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo — often referred to as the “Little Zoo That Could” — is near Waterville USA and Zooland Mini Golf on Gulf Shores Parkway. The present facility is showing some signs of age, but a brand new zoo is under construction and is set to open in its new location very soon. Here is a link to an update on the new zoo.
In addition to these suggestions, visitors can always find souvenir and beachwear stores, ice cream shops, bumper cars, fishing piers, shopping centers and boats offering charter trips. There is absolutely no reason to be bored. You can find plenty to do. Follow all the links in this post to get the details. OR you can just soak up the sounds of those waves, build sandcastles and eat fresh seafood. By all means, at least CONSIDER a vacation on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It’s stunningly beautiful and has something for everyone.