Beach Vacation, Gulf Shores AL.
When I asked my boys where they wanted to go on vacation they both yelled, “the beach!” Who doesn’t love the beach, right? I know I do, so I was eager to start planning the trip. And since the beach pretty much makes a perfect family vacation all by itself, the hardest part of the decision was choosing which beach to go to. I know several families who love Gulf Shores, so I thought we would check it out this summer.
Gulf Shores is a town on Alabama’s Gulf Coast that’s known for its endless strip of white, sandy beaches, lively dining and entertainment scene and natural habitats. It’s a relatively easy drive from St. Louis, but we broke up the trip by spending a few days sightseeing in Nashville first. Check out that post here. Then we headed south down I-65 to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf.
As we were driving to the Gulf we had some time before we checked into our condo so we stopped in downtown Mobile and found some fun street art. There are several cafes and restaurants in downtown if you need a snack.
Battleship Memorial Park
My boys loved climbing all over the huge battleship. It is a great place to stop if you need to get your kids out of the car and run some energy out plus an amazing way to bring history to life. We all loved the submarine tour too. It’s a quick tour and not as many places for your kids to hide.
Another fun adventure on your way to Gulf Shores would be to take the ferry to Dauphin Island. You can then explore the island and then take a ferry over to Gulf Shores.
Where We Stayed in Gulf Shores, AL
When I planned this trip, I had one requirement: a place right on the beach so that I could listen to the waves at night. I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling so relaxed and calm.
Space was another consideration when looking for a place to stay. I wanted my boys to have a room where they would get a good night’s rest and have their own space, and we had Grandma with us on the trip—I knew she would definitely need her own room to escape the madness!
I ended up finding the perfect place that fit our needs exactly: a condo with two bedrooms and two bathrooms beachfront, plus a bonus bunk room for the boys. The condo was beautiful and spacious with upgrades throughout, pool and beachfront views. But the best was, it was right on the beach. Check it out here.
If you ever find yourself looking for a condo rental in Gulf Shores, I’d highly recommend renting through Gulf Beach Rentals. They were a great resource for ideas and kid-friendly suggestions in the area. Not only that, they were super helpful when we got locked out of the unit (don’t ask), and flexible when we decided to stay an extra day because we were having too much fun! #familyfun
For a packing list when renting a beach condo check it out here.
Gulf Beach Rentals
Contact Emily at (251) 500-0596
When I asked the locals what the area is known for food/drinks they said:
The Bushwacker, a frosty rum drink
Snapper, grouper, oysters fresh from the Gulf
Since eating out with two boys isn’t always relaxing we used the kitchen in our condo quite a bit. It was functional and had everything we needed to make simple meals and enjoy them while relaxing on the balcony of the condo. Many breakfasts were spent just waking up to the ocean waves and watching dolphins as we ate.
When we did head out to eat, we tried to hit all the best kid-friendly restaurants in the immediate area. Bonus points for establishments that didn’t have golden arches or Kraft mac & cheese as an entrée! Here’s a run-down of our favorites:
Lulus is named after its semi-famous founder, Jimmy Buffett’s sister, Lucy. It’s a super-popular establishment with three locations; one in Destin, Florida, one in Gulf Shores and one in Myrtle Beach. With live music, fresh fish and seafood, and a giant sand area for kids to play in while families eat, we found Lulus to be absolutely perfect for kids. My advice is to plan to go at an off time (early or late lunch/dinner) to avoid looooong waits and huge crowds.
Matt’s Homemade ice cream. You can’t go on vacation without ice cream, right? My boys are always looking for a treat, and Matt’s certainly delivered—it was perfection. It’s the only homemade ice cream shop in Gulf Shores, serving 40 different flavors of ice cream, along with delicious throwback confections like banana splits, sundaes, and milkshakes. The boys couldn’t believe how amazing it was, and Logan was complaining his wasn’t as big as the rest of ours. Because, you know, comparisons.
The Hang Out. This fun beachfront place was perfect for families, with their loud, boisterous ambiance. In fact, while we were eating, an announcer came out and asked if anyone was celebrating a birthday. And I’m pretty sure that the few brave souls who admitted to it won’t soon forget it! The fun, friendly staff routinely gets people up dancing on tables, doing the electric slide, and generally having fun like you should on vacation.
A few places we didn’t have time to try that came recommended were:
Flora-Bama, home of the Bushwacker (the must-try frozen drink of the area)
The Gulf, a waterfront restaurant made of shipping containers
GT’s on the Bay
What we did for fun
There are endless activities that tourists enjoy in Gulf Shores, but we chose to keep things a bit more simple since we were traveling with young kids. We spent a ton of time on the beach, where we hunted for seashells, rode waves and built sandcastles. We went on walks and set up little scavenger hunts for the boys, which they loved. And at night after dinner, we’d return to the beach to get pictures and hunt for crabs as the sunset and the beach got dark. Don’t forget your flashlights and buckets for this fun activity!
For lots of other fun ideas (and discounts!), check out the coupon books located all around the area. There’s a place called The Track go-karts that’s a must-do; it’s a wild, woody track that has three levels of wild driving—perfect for my boys!
There’s also Pirate’s Island Mini Golf, which is a great family-friendly option if you’ve had enough of the beach.
A couple other recommendations we didn’t have time to try were:
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, called the little zoo that could.
Owa, an amusement park
All in all, Gulf Shores was the perfect beach getaway! It’s easily accessible. The beach is absolutely stunning, lodging is abundant and reasonably priced, and the dining, entertainment, and nightlife just can’t be beaten for families. There’s truly something for everyone in Gulf Shores!
Let me know your favorite beach trips with kids.
For other kid-friendly trips check out my posts about Nashville, Bentonville Ar, Big Cedar Lodge Branson Mo, and Echo Bluff State Park