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. Beaches 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) Birding 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.
Museums 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.
Parks 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.