The possible activities to participate in - from golfing to geocaching - could last you an entire vacation, but if you're strapped for time and just looking for the highlights, check out these three spots first:
Fishing from the Gulf State Park Pier
This landmark was rebuilt and reopened in 2009 and
is now the largest on the Gulf of Mexico, stretching 1,540 feet long with 41,800 square feet of space. Its size and new amenities make it one of the best fishing spots along the entire Gulf Coast. Inside, you can sit and eat, buy fishing tackle or get a saltwater fishing license.
Learn about the area at the Gulf State Park Nature Center
Although much of the park is developed, its Nature Center seeks to educate visitors about its natural delights, building a connection between people and the environment. At the center, which acts as a living museum of native Gulf Coast plants and animals, visitors can brush up on their knowledge of species like great horned owls, American alligators and loggerhead sea turtles before they head out on a hike.
Hiking the Alligator Marsh Trail
Many of the park's attractions hug the shores of the Gulf of Mexico or Shelby Lake, but the expanse of land extends into the backcountry, too, and the sights are no less thrilling. To explore the backcountry trails in the park, which wind through the wilderness of the park, head out on the Alligator Marsh Trail and be on the lookout for alligators, turtles and frogs, as well as other small animals. The trail winds around a small canal and offers hikers a chance to see sawgrass - a type of tall marsh grass with sharp, saw-toothed edges.
After squeezing in as much activity as possible, head back to your vacation condo or beach house to prepare and enjoy the fish you caught earlier in the day. Once you have refueled, head out again to enjoy some of the nightlife of the island.