What are some of the fun bucket list things to do in the Gulf Shores area? Read this list and start checking!
Awaken Your Internal Artist
In Orange Beach is a beautiful waterfront building that serves as the hub of all things artistic. Called the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, the campus overlooks scenic Wolf Bay.
Until 2015, the arts center was located in what was the city’s first hotel. Built in 1923, the boarding house style hotel featured 11 bedrooms and a half bath upstairs while the family resided downstairs. Only accessible by water until Canal Road was completed in the 1940s, the hotel originally served workers in the turpentine industry.
Severe structural damage led to the building’s replacement with the facility seen on the property today. Historical elements collected from the hotel are featured in the 10,000-square-foot gallery, which also displays the artwork of Gulf Coast watercolorists, potters, painters, photographers, sculptors and textile artists.
The campus also includes two other unique spots generally not accessible to the public in other municipalities: a hot shop and a clay studio. At The Hot Shop, you can make your own glass piece or enjoy a hot glass demonstration. At the Clay Studio, you can throw on the wheel or hand build your own creation.
This complex truly is an oasis for the arts! Try your hand at creating your own beautiful piece of coastal art!
Fly High Above The CrowdThose looking for an adrenaline rush should try flyboarding over the Gulf of Mexico. Flyboarding is a new action watersport where a foot mounted board is connected to a personal watercraft via a 60-foot hose.
The water output that would usually propel the watercraft is redirected to two jets on the bottom of the flyboard, creating lift.
A trained flyboard operator controls the throttle on the personal watercraft so riders can fly. Flyboard Bama, 251-981-7673, is a local provider on the Gulf Coast.
Parasailing is another exciting over-the-water activity to cross off your bucket list while you’re in Gulf Shores.
A recreational kiting activity where you either individually or with a partner or two, parasail participants are towed behind a boat while attached to a specially designed, parachute-like canopy wing.
While parasailing, you will have a bird’s eye view of the white-sand beaches from the air.
There are numerous companies along the Gulf Coast that provide parasailing services, including Ike’s Beach Service Parasail, Caribe Marina and Watersports, Chute ’em up Parasail, Chute for the Skye Parasail, Orange Beach Marina Watersports and Orange Beach Parasail.
Set Sail For AdventureEnjoy a sunset cruise with the crew from Back Bay Sailing Adventures. Your cruise will be two to three hours long, and you’ll enjoying the sounds of the wind and water as you glide across the waters of Orange Beach and Perdido Key.
Or, hop on board for a six-hour sailing excursion out to Fort McRee in Pensacola. Once the crew drops anchor at the fort, you can swim, paddleboard, explore the fort or relax in a hammock on board as the Blue Angels practice overhead. Bring a picnic basket, and the crew provides water, Gatorades, snacks and fresh fruit.
Glide Over The BeachGain new perspective from your seat aboard BeachFlight Aviation’s powered hang gliders.
On board the powered hang glider, otherwise known as a trike, with an FAA-certified instructor, you will maneuver it to fly over the beautiful Alabama coastline along Gulf Shores and the Fort Morgan peninsula.
You are secured into the cockpit with shoulder and waist safety restraints and fitted with an intercom flight headset and protective helmet with windscreen. Within minutes, you will be taking off on the runway and climbing skyward to see the expansive Gulf Coast landscape.
Look for stingrays and dolphins in the water, and learn how to maneuver the aircraft with confidence, all the while enjoying the stunning coastal scenery.
A camera mounted on the wing records the flight with memorable images to keep and share.
Big Game Fishing
The mild Alabama Gulf Coast climate leads to some fantastic fishing, especially in the spring, summer and fall.
Fall is especially wonderful because that’s when the air temperature cools, and the blue water from the Gulfstream pushes closer to the Alabama shoreline.
And for game fish such as blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, swordfish, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and wahoo, the best results likely will come from a full-day or overnight charter.
Hangout For Some TunesAlways held in May, the Hangout Music Festival is “music’s ultimate beach vacation.”
A three-day music festival held at the public beaches of Gulf Shores, the festival brings a variety of genres to the beach: rock, alternative rock, electronic dance music, indie rock, hip hop, jam band, reggae and more.
Performers rock several stages throughout the day, with major headliners at night. In between performances, concert goers can enjoy a game of beach volleyball or visit special areas on the grounds, such as the Beach Club, where you can sip on cocktails, relax in a chaise, take a paddleboard or kayak for a spin.
Hammock Beach is a favorite spot for lounging. The Big Tap area is a spot to find a selection of craft beers. Malibu Beach House is where you’ll find DJs spinning all weekend long. Camp Hangout is a perfect spot for friendly games of tug of war, roasting s’mores and other fun camping experiences. Hey, you can even get married if you want to! It’s all in fun, of course, but if you want to do it for real, the Hangout has the hookup.
Start Off With A BangThose who don’t mind the scenic drive down Fort Morgan Road will want to pay a visit to Fort Morgan, a historic masonry pentagonal bastion fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
Preceded by another fort, Fort Bowyer during the War of 1812, Fort Morgan is a third system masonry fort built between 1819 and 1833. Standing guard where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864. Used intermittently through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II, the site showcases the evolution of seacoast fortifications and adaptations made by the U.S. Army for the defense of the country.
More than just history, the site also has nature areas and a boat launch.
Fort personnel take great care to explain what life was like for the soldiers stationed at the fort, and encourage visitors to get up close and personal to the buildings and museum exhibits. A cannon on site is fired on during special events, including the Tuesday night tours held during June and July.
Coastal Bird BandingSpeaking of Fort Morgan, bird watching enthusiasts will delight in a weeklong activity in April you should experience at least once.
Birmingham Audubon and its partners, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Mississippi State University, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, Alabama Historical Commission and Mobile Bay Audubon Society, operate the coastal bird-banding project in April at Fort Morgan historic site.
Reviving the bird-banding program originally championed by the late Bob Sargent and his wife, Martha, this event provides an invaluable look at spring migrants traveling across the Coastal Alabama section of the Mississippi Flyway. Throughout the week, participants enjoy unparalleled access to the researchers and the work, with up-close-and-personal views of some amazing birds.
The Mississippi Flyway sees more than 325 bird species make the round trip flight each year from their breeding grounds in Canada and the northern United States to their wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico and in Central and South America.
During the bird-banding project, some of the birds you might see include the Little Blue Heron, Clapper Rail, Black Skimmer and Red Knot, which Audubon has named as priority Mississippi Flyway birds.
Event organizers remind observers to bring water, sunscreen and a chair, among other items. While entrance to the bird-banding project is free, there is an admission to enter the Fort Morgan historic site.
Check out these other fun “bucket list” places and activities mentioned in our video: OWA, a 21-ride amusement park just north of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach; The Yard, an amazing place to get a milkshake (they’re over the top…seriously); the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf; dolphin cruises; the new boardwalks at Gulf State Park; and the Skycoaster at The Track Family Recreation Center!
If it’s a romantic bucket list trip with your sweetheart, check out these one- and two-bedroom condos. If you’d like to bring the whole family along for the ride, there are numerous three- and four-bedroom houses that can accommodate lots of people.