Whether you've booked an Orange Beach condo rental or you are staying closer to Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores or Perdido Key, this coastal stretch of Alabama and Florida is the perfect spot for family vacations. Not only will the kids love playing on the white-sand beaches, they'll be thrilled to explore the wildlife at nearby Gulf State Park.

In this stunning state park, some will be fascinated with the many bird species that call this forested area home, while others will want to scout at ground level for some unforgettable nature sightings. Here are a few animals you might be able to see on a nature walk along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails in Gulf State Park.

Alligators

Alligators swim in the park's creeks and canals.Many visitors have only seen alligators at the zoo, but you can spot them in their natural habitat as you stroll through the park's backcountry trails. Head out on the Middle Lake Trail, which hugs a small canal where alligators love to float to the surface and sun themselves. Have the kids try to spot their eyes and noses peeking out from the water's surface! Always keep your distance from the gators, though - remember that you are in their habitat and they can be very protective of their territory.  

Frogs, snakes and lizards

You'll see small creatures throughout your hike or ride through the park's trails, but the saw palmetto leaves that fall along the Armadillo Trail make an especially great habitat for these tiny amphibians and reptiles. It's especially fun to spot them when they blend in so well with their surroundings.

Turtles

Turtles float alongside their reptilian cousin, the alligator, in a number of creeks and canals throughout the park. Gulf Oak Ridge and Rosemary Dunes offer visitors wonderful opportunities to see small alligators and turtles sunning together on logs and on the banks of the canal.