bing pixel

From the beach to fishing, birding and fantastic festivals, there are plenty of ways to enjoy activities on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast for free or nearly free.

50 Fun & Free (Or Nearly Free) Things To Do On The Gulf Coast

There are many ways to enjoy your vacation on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast without breaking the bank. Here are 50+ things you can do in the area for free or at a nominal cost.

beachesWith a temperate year-round climate, it is always a great time to hit the beach in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan or Perdido Key. Even if you are not staying Gulf front, there are more than 30 miles of white-sand beaches to explore from your beach condo or house rental or by visiting a public beach access. Many of the beach access locations are free, including free parking, while some charge a nominal fee for entrance and/or parking. (Details)

birdingGulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and Perdido Key is a bird-lover’s paradise. Be on the lookout for brown pelicans, blue herons, sandpipers, and even bald eagles. Don’t forget your binoculars!

  • Alabama Coastal Bird Fest is held in October and features workshops, a reception and expertly guided tours on land and water.
  • The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is located along the coast and inland in Baldwin and Mobile counties with 50 designated birding locations.

Boat Launches
boat launchesBring your watercraft to the Gulf Coast, whether it be a motor boat, a canoe or kayak, or a Jet Ski. There are numerous boat launches that make it easy to hit the water.

  • Boggy Point Launch (end of Marina Road, east off Hwy. 161, Orange Beach)
  • Canal Park Boat Launch (West Canal Road, Gulf Shores)
  • Canoe Trails in Orange Beach
  • Cotton Bayou Launch (intersection of Hwy. 161 & Hwy. 182, Orange Beach)
  • Fort Morgan Boat Launch (51 Hwy. 180 West, Gulf Shores)
  • Lagoon Park Launch (17595 Fort Morgan Road, Gulf Shores)
  • Galvez Landing Boat Launch (Innerarity Point Road, Pensacola)
  • Millview Boat Launch (South of Hwy. 98 at Dog Track Road)
  • Big Lagoon State Park Boat Launch
Festivals & Events
FestivalsNo matter the time of year, there is always a festival just around the corner. From celebrating seafood to local art, these festivals invite you to peruse, play, eat and explore the local area.
More Fun Stuff
More funCompletely unique to the area, next time you’re on the Gulf Coast, be sure to play a visit to the Battle of Mobile Bay Civil War Trail, watch the Blue Angels practice or drop by Sweet Home Farm to pick up a wedge of cheese.

  • Battle of Mobile Bay Civil War Trail stretches from the Gulf of Mexico over 90 miles to north Mobile County and documents the military movements and way of life from 1864 to 1865. A series of interpretive signs are available at over a dozen locations chronicling the historic events.
  • Blue Angels, the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, are based at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola and can be viewed at practice on weekdays throughout the year. In July they perform at Pensacola Beach and in November their homecoming show is at the Naval Air Station.
  • Sweet Home Cheese Farm in Elberta is a family-owned working dairy producing over 15 varieties of naturally aged cheese with no preservatives.
  • A quick drive north of the beach in Elberta, Ala., and headed toward Barber Marine are the Dinosaurs in the Woods. Kids love the offbeat attraction that invites them to spot the four dinos, get out of the car and climb on top for a photo! Other fun photo ops nearby include Bamahenge, the Roman Columns and Knights in the Woods.
MuseumsLearn more about the earliest beginnings of the rich Gulf Coast environment at one of many museums in the area.
  • Baldwin County Heritage Museum in Elberta resembles turn-of-the-century barns with a working windmill and several outdoor agricultural exhibits and indoor exhibits designed to preserve the area's rural heritage.
  • Gulf Shores Museum features a video entitled “Hurricane Hunters” and exhibits including “Fishing the Lagoon: A Way of Life.”
  • Historic Fort Condé in Mobile is a partially reconstructed 1724-1735 French fort featuring workable reproductions of 1740s naval cannons and muskets.
  • Holmes Medical Museum in Foley is housed in the county's first hospital (1936) and recreates an operating room, X-ray, pharmacy and patient rooms using medical antiques.
  • L & N Train Depot and Miniature Train Display is a railroad museum located at the City of Foley Museum Archives. Model train exhibit open Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.
  • National Naval Aviation Museum is one of the world's largest aviation museums with nearly 300,000 square feet of displays and over 150 restored aircraft. Note: Admission charge for optional IMAX films.
  • Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum houses local artifacts and memorabilia relating to our Native American and fishing heritage.
  • Phoenix Fire Museum in Mobile houses turn-of-the-century horse-drawn steam engines and early motorized vehicles of the Phoenix Volunteer Fire Company No. 6.
  • The American Sport Art Museum and Archives located in Daphne is dedicated to the preservation of sports history, art and literature.


NatureNature is on full display along the Gulf Coast. There are numerous places where you and your family can get up-close-and-personal with wildlife and the local flora and fauna.

  • Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, named one of the 10 natural wonders of Alabama, features six miles of hiking trails and beach access and a wildlife exhibit in a 7,000-acre refuge on the Fort Morgan peninsula.
  • Gulf State Park features 3.5 miles of beach in a 6,150-acre park. Note: There are fees for parking at the beach pavilion, fishing at the pier and golf.
  • Hugh S. Branyon Back Country Trail features multi-purpose trails through extraordinary habitats. Trailheads are located at Hwy. 161, the Orange Beach Sportsplex (off Hwy.180) and County Road 2 in the Gulf State Park.
  • Claude Peteet Mariculture Center/Marine Resources Division conducts studies and research that enhance our understanding of the life history of red snapper, various finfish and shrimp. It is located roughly halfway between Bon Secour Bay and Wolf Bay on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores.
  • Graham Creek Nature Preserve is home to hundreds of plant and wildlife species and is a great place for the entire family to explore the wonders of coastal ecology.
  • Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve protects 3,000 acres of coastal habitats and wetlands including an estuary. The Interpretive Center, off Hwy. 98 West, houses indoor exhibits and a live animal room.
  • Gulf Island National Seashore at Johnson Beach in Perdido Key, Florida is available during the day for swimming, boating, hiking and fishing fun. Another fun activity is to explore the forts that are located in the area. Note: A parking fee is charged.
ParksDo the kids need to blow off some steam? Does a playground or a skate park sound like something that would keep them entertained for a bit? There are many municipal and other parks to explore.

  • Gulf Shores Kids Park (2008 West 3rd Street, Gulf Shores)
  • Gulf Shores Wetlands Nature Park (19025 Oak Road West, Gulf Shores)
  • Meyer Park (400 East 22nd Avenue, Gulf Shores)
  • Orange Beach Kids Park (26425 Canal Road, Orange Beach)
  • Orange Beach Waterfront Park (26425 Canal Road, Orange Beach)
  • Robinson Island and Bird Island Park (Orange Beach)
  • Sims Park (2008 West 3rd Street, Gulf Shores)
  • Skateboard Park (400 East 22nd Avenue, Gulf Shores)
  • Wade Ward Nature Park (500 Gulf Shores Parkway)
Bringing the whole family to the beach? A four-bedroom condo or a five-bedroom or larger house anywhere along the Gulf Coast would be a super spot to use as home base during your visit.
search houses search condos

Related Articles

Fall in love with the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival

Fall in love with the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival

The weather along Alabama and Florida's Gulf Coast is always pleasant. If staying at a Perdido Key area beach house or condo rental the first full weekend of November, consider the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, where you can enjoy the beautiful sunshine while perusing crafts, visiting artists' tents and listening to live music.

Take the family to the National Museum of Naval Aviation

Take the family to the National Museum of Naval Aviation

Whether it's a rainy day or the warm sun is shining brightly, a visit to the National Museum of Naval Aviation should be on your itinerary while staying at a Gulf Shores area rental, especially if you're bringing your kids along with you.

Floating in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Floating in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

One of the best ways to experience the stunning waters off the coast of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is to throw on a life jacket and get adventurous with any number of sporting activities, which range from jet ski rides and parasailing to fishing and cruising around the bay.

Take a road trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama

Delights Beyond the Beach

Ready for an unforgettable retreat with your family and friends? All roads lead to the Gulf Coast of Alabama, where you can enjoy the most modern activities or explore antiques and history, and learn all about alligators.

Take a day trip to the Weeks Bay Reserve

Take a day trip to the Weeks Bay Reserve

There's so much for you to do in the Gulf Shores, Alabama area that you will have a hard time fitting everything in. But the Weeks Bay Reserve, which spans 6,000 acres from Weeks Bay to Mobile Bay, is a must for your vacation experience.

Go birding in Gulf Shores

Go birding in Gulf Shores

With some of the best golf courses in the world and more seafood to catch than you could possibly eat, the Gulf Coast is truly an outdoorsman's paradise. But did you know that one of the most popular area attractions is the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail?

There's more than just shopping in downtown Fairhope

There's more than just shopping in downtown Fairhope

A short drive from your vacation lodging along the Gulf Coast of Alabama is the charming town of Fairhope, where you can easily spend a full day shopping, dining and strolling through a lovely area just right for your retail therapy needs.

Watch The Blue Angels Practice

Take In A Blue Angels Practice March Through November

Coming to the Alabama or Florida Gulf Coast March-November? Take time to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation on a Tuesday or Wednesday to see the world-famous Blue Angels practice. It's a must-experience activity.

Fort Barrancas is one attraction visitors can see for free during trips to Perdido Key.

3 things to do for free near Perdido Key

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a great time during your vacation to Perdido Key, Florida. The fun you'll have on the beaches is priceless, but you can also visit plenty of historical sites in nearby Pensacola for free.

Kayaking is one of the best ways to see Dauphin Island.

Explore the best of Dauphin Island by kayak

Dauphin Island offers hundreds of opportunities to see some of the best of nature, but sight-seeing by foot can be limiting. In a kayak, however, travelers have the chance to experience the island from the perspective of the dolphins, herons and other wildlife they are hoping to see.

Newest Articles

At Christmas, All Roads Lead To The Beach

Here's a list of family-fun activities to enjoy at the beach this Christmas season.

November 12, 2018 - Things to Do

A Night Of Music, Magic & Fun With Brandon Styles At OWA

The Las Vegas-style variety show presented at OWA by Brandon Styles features singing, impressions, comedy, dance, magic and audience participation.

October 30, 2018 - Things to Do

Ideas For Fall & Winter Beach Fun On The Gulf Coast

Make plans for a beach vacation during fall and the Christmas holidays. There are so many things to do.

October 03, 2018 - Things to Do

2018 Wild & Wicked Beach Bash In Gulf Shores

Head to the beaches of Gulf Shores Oct. 19, 2018, for the Halloween-themed Wild and Wicked Beach Bash at the Gulf Place Public Beach.

August 29, 2018 - Gulf Shores | Things to Do


Alabama Gulf Coast

Upcoming Events

  • Nov 17
    2018 Coastal Academy Cup
  • Nov 17
    2018 Gulf Shores Junior Classic-Southeastern Junior Golf Tour
  • Nov 17
    2018 NJCAA Men's & Women's Half Marathon
  • Nov 17
    2018 NJCAA Men's & Women's Half Marathon Family & Fans
  • Nov 18
    Holidays at the Fort Tour and Gift Shop Open House
  • Nov 18
    Horse & Carriage Rides
  • Nov 18
    Live Music: Damien Joe Lamb & Jim St. James
  • Nov 18
    Live Music: Johnny Day, Will Rambeaux, & Christina Taylor

Local Weather

weather icon 46º Conditions: Clear
Humidity: 65%
Wind: North 5 mph

Weather information provided by

Last Updated on November 16, 8:35 AM CST

Latest Video