Free & Fun Things To Do In Orange Beach

There are many ways to explore Orange Beach during a beach vacation without shelling out lots of cash. Here are a few places the locals said you should try:

Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum

Operated by the City of Orange Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the Indian and Sea Museum was originally built in 1910 as a schoolhouse. It has served as a museum since 1995 and was moved to its present location across from City Hall in 1999.

Open Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Wednesday during the winter months from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum houses local artifacts and memorabilia relating to the area’s Native American and fishing heritage. Families of early fishermen have donated supplies and collectibles that remind of the challenges and achievements of the earliest days of the local fishing industry.

Gulf State Park Beaches

There are two public beach accesses in Orange Beach, both falling within the operation of Gulf State Park.

Romar Beach, with a limited amount of free parking, is perfect for a quick beach stroll or last-minute lunchtime break. The access is located 6.8 miles east of Ala. Hwy. 59. Future plans call for construction of restrooms and rinsing showers.

Cotton Bayou is located at the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 182 and Hwy. 161. Nestled between condominium buildings, this access is a busy spot that offers restrooms and outdoor showers on site as well as ample free parking.

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail takes visitors throughout the region, including Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which begins at the Perdido Pass bridge on Ala. Hwy. 182 and east of Ala. Hwy. 59.

Beginning at Perdido Pass – Alabama Point East, enthusiasts might see a Snowy Plover, a species of conservation concern, which nests in the area. Alabama Point also provides critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse, and a wide variety of shorebirds are commonly seen in summer. In winter, common loons feed in the pass during changing tides.

Other spots to visit on this loop include Boggy Point, which offers an excellent view of Robinson Island, a roosting site for herons and egrets, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails, where there are 11 miles of paved trails providing access from six entry points to habitats such as sandy oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, relict dune swales, seepage swamps and a pitcher plant bog. Interpretative signs placed along each trail identify many of the natural features of the maritime forest.

The loop also takes visitors to the Gulf State Park Pavilion, the Gulf State Park Nature Center/Education Center, Marsh Bridge, Shelby Lake Picnic Grounds, Gulf State Park Fishing Pier, Little Lagoon Pass and Wade Ward Nature Park.

From the loop sites in Gulf Shores, you would continue north on Ala. Hwy. 59 to the intersection of Ala. Hwy. 180/Fort Morgan Road to continue onto the Fort Morgan Loop.

SPECTRA Light Show at The Wharf

Take the kids to The Wharf for the SPECTRA Sound & Light Spectacular at 7:30, 8 and 8:30 p.m. SPECTRA incorporates sophisticated choreographed lighting effects with popular music to deliver an enlightening entertainment experience. Palm trees light up to the sound of the music.

Before, during and after the show, browse shops, stop in for a gelato or a cup of coffee from Southern Grind or enjoy dinner at one of many restaurants.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida.

At just over 20 miles from Orange Beach, the museum is located on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola and contains more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Aviation displayed in 35,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on the 37-acre grounds.

On-site attractions include the Naval Aviation Memorial Giant Screen Theater, flight simulators, Flight Deck Operations exhibit, cockpit trainers, Kiddie Hawk play area, Flight Deck store and Blue Angels 4D Theater.

Watch The Blue Angels Practice

The world-famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels are based at NAS Pensacola and can be seen practicing over the museum at NAS Pensacola most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. Practices typically begin at 11:30 a.m., and last about 55 minutes. Admission to practice is free and open to the public.

The outside viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the museum flight line north of the museum. Signs are posted to direct visitors to viewing and parking locations, including limited parking for handicapped visitors. Open bleacher seating is available for 1,000 people.

Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, Clay Studio & Hot Shop

The Coastal Arts Center, located just east of the intersection of Canal Road and Hwy. 161, is home to a temporary gallery and gift shop in the construction trailer located at the front of the cultural campus. Once construction is complete on the center’s brand new building on Wolf Bay later this year, the gallery will become part of the permanent structure. Local and regional artists featured include watercolorists, potters, painters, photographers, sculptors and textile artists.

The Clay Studio showcases the work of in-house ceramics artist Maya Blame-Cantrell. The public is invited to make their own clay pieces. Call (251) 981-ARTS for reservations.

Enjoy a visit to the Hot Shop by appointment only. You can make your own glass creation during sessions at 9 a.m., Monday through Friday. The session includes a 30-minute live glass-blowing demonstration of an ornament, flower and paperweight. Then, choose which one you would like to create for yourself.

Kayak Or Canoe In Wolf Bay

There are 10 designated canoe trail sites posted along the shores of Wolf Bay, Bay La Launch, Arnica Bay, Bayou St. John and Cotton Bayou.

Load up your canoe or kayak and dock from one of the sites on Gulf Bay Road, Cypress Avenue, Waterfront Park, Palmetto Extension, Harrison Park, Mississippi Avenue, Look Rook Road, Wilson Boulevard, Boggy Point or Cotton Bayou.

Keep your eyes peeled to see dolphins or a variety of birds, like the brown pelican, egrets or herons.

Curl Up With A Good Book

If you came to the beach and forgot a book, stop by the Orange Beach Public Library to pick up a library card; residency is not required.

There are cozy spots indoors and outdoors at the library to read your selections. Check out the calendar for story time, book club meetings, and other gathering times and special events.

Perdido Key State Park

Perdido Key is a 247-acre barrier island near Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico. White sand beaches and rolling dunes covered with sea oats make Perdido Key State Park a favorite destination for swimmers and sunbathers. Surf fishing is another popular activity. Boardwalks from the parking lot allow visitors to access the beach without causing damage to the fragile dunes and beach vegetation. Covered picnic tables overlooking the beach provide a place for family outings.

The park is open for daily use from 8 a.m. to sunset and features tow parking areas and eight covered pavilions. Big Lagoon State Park, just across the bridge on the mainland, is open for camping and hiking.

Walk, Jog or Bike Backcountry Trails

Orange Beach is a great place to explore the 16 miles of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails.

A collaborative effort between the City of Orange Beach, Gulf State Park and property owners along the trail’s alignment, the trails were historically used by the area’s indigenous people as well as explorers and settlers.

With maps available at all trailheads, it’s easy to pick out a few trails to explore.

Along the (all paved) trails you will find restrooms and water fountain, bridges, interpretive signage, bike stands, places to stop and relax and a picnic pavilion.

You might even see a “Lefty” the alligator mom and her three babies along Rosemary Dunes Trail.

And, at the intersection of Cadman Road and Rosemary Dunes Trail is the new Boulder Park, which invites kids to climb on large boulders to enhance coordination, strength and flexibility. Located next to the Pavilion and Butterfly Garden about 1½ miles from the Catman Road Trail, Boulder Park is a favorite of local children.

Play At Waterfront Park

Located a quarter of a mile east of County Road 161 on Canal Road, Waterfront Park is a family park on scenic Wolf Bay.

Amenities include a 400-foot fishing pier with covered pavilions and seating, a bayfront beach, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, a paved walking path and parking.

Enjoy A Round Of Disc Golf

On Canal Road adjacent to the dog-friendly “Unleashed” Dog Park, play a round of disc golf at the City of Orange Beach disc golf course.

The trees, shrubs and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for players. There is no greens fee, and you won’t need a golf cart to enjoy this course. Bring your own discs, though.

Go Boating

The City of Orange Beach purchased Robinson Island and Bird Island in 2003 to preserve them from development. Today, the islands are a sanctuary for birds and wildlife and is used by residents and visitors as a gathering spot.

There are two public boat launches in the city, both of which offer paved parking and are operated by Gulf State Park: Boggy Point Launch at the end of Marina Road off Hwy. 61 and Cotton Bayou Launch on Hwy. 182 just east of the Hwy. 161 intersection.

The Boggy Point launch is the nearest to the Perdido Pass Bridge and is directly adjacent to the main channel with lots of marine traffic.

When visiting Orange Beach, bring the entire family and book a beach house. Or, if it’s a smaller crew, a condo could fill the bill.

Halloween on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Spooky. Cute. Fictional characters. No matter your costume style, Halloween is a chance to let your imagination soar. Choose from a variety of opportunities for all ages to celebrate this fall holiday along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Halloween, haunted house, gulf shores, alabama, orange beach, foley

For spooky or not-so-scary Halloween fun for any age, the Alabama Gulf Coast is the place to be!

Nightly between 6 and 9 p.m. through October 31, LuLu’s in Gulf Shores becomes BooLu’s, including the Manor of Doom haunted house and maze plus age-appropriate games. The $5 donation goes to local school arts programs—and for another $5 donation, test your climbing and balancing skills on the Mountain of Youth Ropes Course.

Boo at the Zoo speaks to the softer side of the season. With furry, feathery and scaly friends all around, your little ones will squeal with extra delight Thursday, October 25 at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores. The costume contest for kids of all ages begins at 5 p.m., but games, prizes and snacks will round out the fun from 4 until 6 p.m. Admission is $2 for kids, $1 for adults.

Bring the whole family to the Uptown Foley Halloween Party on Thursday, October 25. This free event, 5:30–8:30 p.m., is a block party-style celebration. Local businesses will line the streets, where you’ll enjoy a food court, cake walks, spook house, obstacle course, face painting, free games and treats, an inflatable jump house, and a costume contest for all ages.

Combine trick-or-treating with a shopping excursion at SanRoc Cay in Orange Beach. This Friday, October 26, from 3 until 9 p.m., bring your own bag and pick up treats at the SanRoc Cay merchants. While you are there, enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants, shop to your heart’s content, and even paint a special Halloween mask at Life’s a Canvas.

Get spooked at the Terror on the Gulf haunted house at The Hangout in Gulf Shores. For just $5 (or $25 for a season pass), find your way through the maze—but watch out for creatures! Open 7–10 p.m. for all ages that can handle the fright, then the adults-only version will run from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. for those 18 and over. Dates are Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27, then again October 29–31.

Let your pet in on the holiday fun! Bring your costumed pet, children and self to Magnolia By the Gulf Animal Clinic at Hwy. 59 and Co. Rd. 6 at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 27. Judging begins at 11 a.m. and prizes will be awarded for various categories for pets and people.

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Tiptoeing past a scary sight is just one of the many ways to celebrate Halloween in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.

Halloween Family Fun Night at the Bodenhamer Recreation Center in Gulf Shores includes fireside stories, carnival games, dunking booth, a cake walk, and costume contests. This event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, October 27. Admission and popcorn are free, and game tickets may be purchased for 50 cents.

Bring your lawn chairs and blankets Saturday, October 27 for movie night on the marina lawn at The Wharf in Orange Beach. The full evening begins at 6:30 with Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special, followed by Monsters, Inc. at 7 p.m. As the younger children head home, the screen will light up with the scary Poltergeist at 9 and Amityville Horror at 11. Admission and popcorn are free for all movies.

On Saturday, October 27, 7–11 p.m., join the Treasures of the Isle krewe for their Halloween Fundraiser at the Orange Beach Community Center. Your $20 donation includes a dinner of barbecue, chips and slaw. Ice, cups and set-ups will be provided, and you can dance to the music of Knee Deep. Be sure to dress up—you could win prizes in the costume contest!

Of course, you’ll need a place to relax after all the spooky fright of Halloween. Plan now to stay with Meyer Vacation Rentals any time of year for pure peacefulness at the beach.

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest.

Oktoberfest in Perdido Key

October is just around the corner. That means it’s time for Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest, Perdido Key, FL, German, accordion, music, folk, tradition

Dress in German folk attire (you could win a prize!) or come as you are. Perdido Key Oktoberfest is filled with music, games, brats and beer. Join the festivities October 5 & 6, 2012!

The 3rd Annual Oktoberfest in Perdido Key, Florida, is proof of the success of their first two events. It has already outgrown the one-day schedule, so this year you have two days—October 5 and 6, 2012—to raise a toast to the folk traditions of Germany.

You’ll be treated to a musical performance schedule that features Buttons and Bows (accordionist Julie Council with her 9-year-old grandson Christopher Conger), Josef Mit Dehr OomPa, and the German band Bayrisch Blau that plays everything from polkas to American contemporary pop/rock.

Of course, the food is a huge favorite at the festival. Brats, schnitzel, pretzels and more will be savored by all ages. Children will enjoy the setting of the root beer garden that includes a bounce house. And the adults have the opportunity to sample a number of German beers by purchasing a $20 set of 10 tickets; single tickets can be traded for sample sizes of ale, or two tickets will return a full-size serving of your favorite variety.

Start warming up now to win one or more of the festival games described below. One game will be played every 15 minutes between 2:30 and 4 p.m. on Friday, and between each music set the remainder of the event.
›  Hammerschlagen—Be the first to pound the nail into the wood.
›  Stein Race—Run the course the fastest without spilling the beer.
›  Masskrugstemmen—Hold a beer-filled, liter-size stein at a 90-degree angle as long as you can. (This is harder than it sounds!)
›  Keg Roll—Push the keg through an obstacle course.
›  Brat Toss—Toss brats with a partner, using buckets.

Don’t forget to wear your traditional German clothing—at 5:45 each day, prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed male and female!

This free family-friendly event begins Friday, October 5 at 2 p.m. and Saturday, October 6 at noon; closing time is 8:00 both evenings.

You’ll find the fun at 13200 Gulf Beach Highway, on the former Sacred Heart Soccer Fields next to the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center.

Come for the weekend—or better yet, stay a few extra days! Make it a cozy getaway in one of Perdido Key’s 1-bedroom condos or bring the family and stay in a 3-bedroom Perdido Key condo. No matter how many in your party, you’ll have a wonderful time at Perdido Key Oktoberfest and the beach!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Back-to-School Beach Bash

You may not know it by the weather, but summer is coming to an end. At least it is for students and their families. Rather than bidding the season a sad farewell, come celebrate it with free live music and s’mores at the beach!

smores, s'mores, beach bash, back to school, gulf shores, alabama

Free s’mores and live music on the beach! Bring your family to celebrate the end of summer at Gulf Shores Public Beach on Friday, August 10, 2012.

This Saturday, August 18, the City of Gulf Shores will host the second annual Beach Bash. Starting at 5 p.m., it won’t be hard to find the activity at the west end of the public beach. You’ll see campfires surrounded by folks of all ages creating and savoring (or gobbling) toasty, melty, oh-so-good s’mores. And others will be enjoying shaved ice.

With all that extra energy from the treats, you and the kids will have a blast dancing to the music played by DJ Shawn Weaver.

Send the season out with a simply yummy event. Round up your beach blankets and chairs, a cooler of cold beverages, and your family and friends, then relish the final evenings of relaxation before school activities kick into gear.

How about celebrating even bigger with a last-minute back-to-school beach getaway? When you stay by August 25 and pay for 4 nights, you’ll get two more nights FREE! Check out the details, then start packing for some fabulous end-of-season bonding with your family.

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

SEC Beachfest 2012

Start warming up your arms for weeks of high-energy fist pumps. Begin your food planning for weekly sports-related snacks. Get your voice back in shape to enthusiastically sing your favorite school’s fight song.

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Meet current and legendary coaches, play beach games, swap stories with players and fans, enjoy two great concerts, and participate in even more family-friendly fun at SEC BeachFest August 23–26, 2012 in Gulf Shores, AL.

And now there’s one more preparation for an awesome SEC football season: Pack your bags and head to the beach!

Get psyched to meet current and legendary coaches August 23–26, 2012, during the first SEC BechFest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. There’s no question that you’ll know these names: Nick Saban of Alabama, Gene Chizik of Auburn, Les Miles of LSU, Pat Dye of Auburn, Gene Stallings of Alabama, Vince Dooley of Georgia, R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M, and Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee.

ESPNU’s SEC preview show will be broadcast from the beach, and it will include the current coaches. Get the inside scoop from these hard-hitting leaders during town hall discussions with the fans. You may even learn a few new moves from the icons of Southeastern Conference football at the FanZone sports clinics and games.

For some, it may be hard to understand that SEC football isn’t at the top of your loved one’s list. We understand your disappointment. But don’t leave those folks behind! Fueled by BP, FanZone will also host family and kids’ activities such as a sandcastle-building competition, beach games, beach volleyball, touch football with SEC legends, a 5k run and one-mile fun run, and a waffle breakfast. You can even get a foursome together and participate in the SEC BeachFest Golf Scramble.

In keeping with the excitement-filled “something for everyone” weekend, you’ll be treated to two fabulous evening concerts: Celebrate 35 years of rockin’ beats with the B-52s on Friday night, and dance on the sand Saturday night to Grammy-winning voodoo funk by Dr. John.

Each SEC school will have a fan/alumni headquarters at LuLu’s (Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee), Tacky Jack’s Gulf Shores (LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M) or Tacky Jack’s Orange Beach (Alabama, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri), so be prepared to swap stories and relive great football and school memories between 5:00 and 8:30 each evening.

To make the weekend even more appealing, we’ve arranged for you to get your 3rd night free in a condo or your 4th night free in a house when you stay with Meyer Vacation Rentals—AND you’ll get FREE passes to the weekend’s activities (each ticket is a $25 value). Get all the details, then get busy warming up for a fantastic SEC football kickoff event at the beach!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Summer Beach Games

“Ready . . . set . . . go!”

beach games gulf shores coast 360 summer 2012

Kids compete in beach games Thursdays at Gulf Shores Public Beach.

Each Thursday through the end of July, ten children between the ages of 7 and 11 will have the opportunity to participate in old-fashioned beach fun.

From 11 a.m. until approximately noon at the Gulf Shores Public Beach, these kids will race, throw, bend and twist their way through games as they compete for the winning position.

Register at 10:45 to play Hula-Hoop, Fish in a Barrel, Bucket Ruckus, Low-Tide Slide and Seafood Scramble. But be there early, as there is only room for ten children, so it’s first come, first served. The top three will receive special awards, but all participants walk away with a souvenir for their efforts.

You’ll find the fun—whether participating or watching—at Lifeguard Station #4. For further information, call the game sponsor, Coast360, 251-967-7572.

Still looking for the perfect vacation place for your family? Look no further! Perhaps a 3-bedroom condo or house in Orange Beach will fit your needs, or maybe a 2-bedroom Perdido Key property is just right. With more than 1500 vacation rental properties on or near the beach, all sizes and budgets, it’s easy to find what you are looking for.

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on Twitter and Facebook.

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