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Offbeat Things to Do in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama

Graphic for blog post about offbeat things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach including images from Hammock Time Tiki Tours, Sky Surfer parasailing and Sand Castle University

For me, getting off the beaten path is often half the fun. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of offbeat things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.

Whether you’re interested in spending time outdoors, relaxing on the beach or engaging in a high-flying adventure, these coastal communities have tons of incredible experiences to offer visitors of all ages. While Alabama’s Gulf Coast is known for its pristine white sand beaches, there are lots of other hidden gems in this area just waiting to be discovered.

Keep reading for a full guide of offbeat things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. However, all opinions are my own.

Bike Along a Boardwalk in Gulf State Park

Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just an occasional biker, it’s definitely worth hopping on two wheels to explore Gulf State Park. Named the best recreation trail in the country, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a 29-mile paved trail system that helps visitors see a slice of the park’s 6,150 acres. Get a new perspective on the area’s wetlands and marshes from the vantage point of one of the park’s many boardwalks.

And don’t worry if you didn’t bring your bike with you! Rentals are available at a number of places throughout the park (as well as outside of out) through the local outfitter Beach Bike Rentals. The team at this shop was so helpful in finding the right ride and even offers electric-assist bikes for a little extra boost.

Gulf State Park, 20115 State Park Road in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Explore the Oddities at Barber Marina

Graphic for blog post about Barber Marina in Elberta, Alabama featuring images of the dinosaurs in the woods, Bamahenge and the Lady in the Lake

If you’re looking for an unusual spot along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, look no further than Barber Marina. Located about 35 minutes from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, this functioning marina is also home to all sorts of unique installations, from Bamahenge and the Lady in the Lake to dinosaurs and knights.

Take a Class from Sand Castle University

Sure, you probably built a sand castle or two as a kid. But now thanks to Sand Castle University, you can build sand sculptures like a pro.

This local business provides everything you need to make a next-level sand castle including amazing expert instruction. All of their classes are private so they’ll be tailored specifically to and for your group, and their instructors come directly to your preferred beach location.

We took an hour-long Sand 101 class and had so much fun learning the professional way to build a traditional sand castle. If you’re already a pro (or have taken a class before), Sand Castle University also offers Sand 201 classes that include more advanced or collaborative creations. This is definitely an all-ages vacation activity you don’t want to skip!

Relax with Hammock Time Tiki Tours

Take a load off and let your worries slip away with a ride aboard Hammock Time Tiki Tours. There are plenty of offbeat things to do in Gulf Shores but this was definitely one of my favorites! The boat’s captain Glenn was an incredible host and is incredibly knowledgeable about the area.

Glenn has great recommendations for how to spend your time, and will drive you around while you relax, hop off the boat to grab a Bushwacker or beach on one of the nearby islands for you to explore. Lounging in the hammock while soaking up the sunshine is a must, especially if you’ve had a jam packed adventure on Alabama’s beaches.

Hammock Time Tiki Tours, 28101 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Alabama

Sip on a Shark Attack at The Hangout

World-famous Shark Attack cocktail at The Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Giant hand sculpture at The Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama

There are lots of incredible restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. But there’s only one where you can order a world-famous Shark Attack and that’s The Hangout. Made with Malibu Coconut Rum, blue Curaçao and pineapple juice, this fun beach beverage is served with a plastic shark full of bright red grenadine. Simply tip the shark upside down into your glass to see how this cocktail got its name!

The Hangout, 101 E. Beach Boulevard in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Ride on a Gyrocopter

Before visiting the Gulf Shores area, I had never heard of a gyrocopter. But after my experience with Magni Gyroflight I can’t recommend this unique way to experience the area enough. These unique two-passenger aircrafts provide a breathtaking view of the Gulf Coast from a much lower vantage point that you’ll experience on other aerial tours.

Gulf Shores Airport, 3190 Airport Drive in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Enjoy a Beach Picnic

Take the stress out of your beach vacation with a stunning picnic put together by The Beach Moms. While this talented local concierge company offers plenty of different services, their beach picnics are truly an unforgettable experience.

Simply tell them where to set up and they’ll take care of the rest. Their two-hour picnics include all sorts of delicious snacks and beverages, comfortable an stylish seating and even a bluetooth speaker to play your own music. We were blown away by the attention to detail and incredible hospitality of The Beach Moms, and I’ll definitely be looking into their other offerings the next time I visit the Gulf Shores area!

Pedal a Flamingo Paddle Boat at High Tide Daiquiris

Take a relaxing paddle along a serene inlet aboard a whimsical pedal boat. After enjoying a flight of frosty beverages at High Tide Daiquiris & Mimosas, hop into onto of their rentable pedal boats for some additional fun.

The shop has a variety of boats to choose from, but we opted for the bright pink flamingo. After some brief instructions and information about navigating the area, you’ll be off and ready to enjoy your afternoon. To rent a pedal boat, inquire at the counter inside High Tide.

High Tide Daiquiris & Mimosas, 807 Gulf Shores Parkway in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Go Parasailing

Even if parasailing hasn’t been your bucket list, I can’t recommend booking an experience with Sky Surfer Parasailing enough. This was an incredible activity and a great way to see Alabama’s coast in a new way.

While this might not be the best activity for people with a fear of heights, the team at Sky Surfer made me feel incredibly at ease and made me the entire experience a breeze. After arriving at the boat’s dock, we climbed aboard, received some safety and logistical instructions and then we were flying high above the crystal clear water. One of the things that surprised me most about parasailing is how serene it was once you’re in the air — just like being attached to a giant kite!

Sky Surfer Parasailing, 27101 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Alabama

The Best Places to Stay in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama

Turquoise Place

There are lots of places to stay in Orange Beach, but Turquoise Place is an experience like no other. This beautiful beachfront resort has ample units and tons of wonderful amenities to make your vacation as worry-free as possible.

We stayed in a stunning three-bedroom condo facing the beach and loved all of the in-unit amenities available. From a full kitchen and wet bar to in-unit laundry and a hot tub, Turquoise Place has everything you need to take your time on the Gulf Coast to the next level.

Turquoise Place, 26302 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Alabama

The Lodge at Gulf State Park

For a more traditional hotel experience, consider booking a stay at The Lodge at Gulf State Park. Due to its location in the state park, you’ll enjoy a beautiful beachfront experience that makes you feel like you have the coastline to yourself. The rooms are comfortable and spacious, and the hotel provides incredibly convenient access to the neighboring beach and trail systems.

The lodge is also home to a number of on-site dining options. My favorite of them is Perch, which serves upscale coastal fare with a gorgeous view of the beach below.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park, 21196 E. Beach Boulevard in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Other Accommodation Options in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama

There are no shortage of places to stay in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach! While that’s a great component of this vacation community, it can also be hard to find the right spot.

Browse a variety of lodging options, or use the amazing resource put together by Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism.

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I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite offbeat things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama?

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