A bustling destination for spring breakers and summer vacationers, this family beach retreat is also perfect during the more affordable shoulder season (the spring and bookends to summer).
Known for blue-green waters that rush upon soft, white-sand beaches, Orange Beach presents a myriad of accommodations, an amazing culinary scene, and lots of adventure and water recreation.
A one-tank trip for Atlanta residents, Orange Beach, and neighboring Gulf Shores occupy the same route from the central area of the Peach State: I-85 to I-65 and then over to AL59 for a straight shot to the beach.
This ultimate family beach vacation guide will take you from pillar to post without missing a beat so you can plan ahead and enjoy your trip.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN ORANGE BEACH
Best Family Resort: Turquoise Place is our go-to every time we’re on the Alabama Beaches! Run by Spectrum Resorts, you know the property and the service will be top notch. HUGE rooms, gorgeous patios with a hot tub, the clean bed guarantee (seriously, after you learn how much better they clean the bedding you won’t want to stay anywhere else.) See our full review here.
Best Beach Resort: Perdido Beach Resort offers beachfront accommodations in Orange Beach. With three pools and four restaurants on site, you’ll never have to leave! But if you want to visit the Orange Beach Waterfront Park or Adventure Island, this resort is only 1.5 miles away.
Best Indoor/Outdoor Pools: Also located close to Adventure Island, the Hampton Inn & Suites features a private oceanfront beach, indoor and outdoor pools, and a hot tub. They also offer a FREE breakfast, so you can fuel up before your day in the sun!
MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN ORANGE BEACH
Here are the things that you absolutely cannot miss when you’re visiting Orange Beach!
RIDE GO-KARTS AT ADVENTURE ISLAND
Adventure Island is the place to go if you and your family are looking for fun rides and lots of thrills!
Experience a competitive round of mini-golf, ride go-karts and paddle boats, play laser tag, and hit up the arcade!
(TIP: There’s a printable coupon on their website!)
EXPERIENCE ART AT COASTAL ARTS CENTER OF ORANGE BEACH
The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach is not only a great rainy day choice, it’s a great choice anytime!
The Arts Center offers many awesome artistic experiences, plus amazing views! (It overlooks Wolf Bay.) Visit their Fine Arts Gallery where you’ll see the work of Gulf Shores artists. The Hot Shop is Alabama’s premier glass blowing studio, where you can make your own piece. Or maybe the Clay Studio is more your style — you can throw on the wheel or hand-build your own creation.
There are also demonstrations and exhibitions held here.
TAKE A TOUR WITH LOST BAY HELICOPTERS
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, then look no further than Lost Bay Helicopters.
Lost Bay Helicopters, located in nearby Gulf Shores, grants you a birds-eye view of the beauty of Orange Beach and the surrounding area. They’ve got several different flight options and tours to fit exactly what you’re looking for.
The Sea & Wildlife Tour will take you out above the Gulf of Mexico in search of dolphins, the State Park tour takes you above Alabama Gulf State Park, or just take a quick, 8-minute flight down the coast! Whatever you choose, you’re guaranteed to love it. DISCOUNT TICKETS!
(Pssst! They also have an amazing Sunset Helicopter Tour too!)
SHOP AT THE WHARF
The Wharf is one of this seaside community’s most happening spots. It offers unique shopping, entertainment, dining, a marina (with a watersports outfitter), and an amphitheater where headliners are quite the draw.
A little town of its own, The Wharf is designed for you to park your car and walk or bike around. Bring your sticks and hit the golf course, spend time on the water with a chartered boat excursion, check out hammock island by the pool (my favorite hangout), and whatever you do, don’t miss the Ferris Wheel with fantastic aerial views of the Orange Beach area.
Rainy day? No worries. Take in a movie, shop ’til you drop, and enjoy your stay right on property at a luxury condo or hotel room.
SEE THE ANIMALS AT ALBAMA GULF COAST ZOO
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo takes you for a walk on the wild side with more than 500 exotic animals, daily keeper talks & shows, a petting zoo, aviary, and picnic area.
Get up close and personal with kangaroos and lemurs by participating in one of the zoo’s animal encounters!
Also known as the “Little Zoo” because of its starring role in Animal Planet’s The Little Zoo That Could, this zoo is located only 6 miles from the beach, and takes up 25 acres.
Make sure you see Chuckie, the American alligator — the zoo’s mascot and oldest resident!
ADVENTUROUS FUN IN ORANGE BEACH
Looking for adventure? Then look no further than these amazing options.
SEE DOLPHINS WITH CETACEAN CRUISES
Is there anything better than dolphin cruises? I think not! Try a cruise with Cetacean Cruises to see friendly dolphins, beautiful sunsets, or the wildlife that’s in the area.
VISIT THE PARK AT OWA
If you’re looking for thrills, games, and family-friendly fun, then look no further than The Park at OWA.
Home to 23 heart-pumping attractions, fun games, and restaurants, The Park at OWA is the premier amusement park of southern Alabama.
Explore OWA’s in-park shops or cool off at the splash pad. No matter what you decide, OWA’s classic southern-style amusement park experience is sure to impress both adults and kids alike! DISCOUNT TICKETS!
RENT A JET SKI
Ready to cruise the waters around Orange Beach…fast?! You can navigate the back bays of Orange Beach on a Yamaha 2-seater jet ski.
Create your own adventure as you zip through Wolf Bay, exploring nearby coves at high speeds. Keep an eye out for native wildlife like bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, and fish!
The shortest no-wake zone in all of Gulf Shores-Orange Beach makes this rental the perfect fit to get out there. Minimum age to ride is 3 years old. DISCOUNT TICKETS!
PLAY DISC GOLF
Grab your Frisbees and get ready to play disc golf, waterside!
Orange Beach installed a 9-hole, Par 27 disc golf course on a temporary site off Canal Road, just south of the “Unleashed” Dog Park.
Amateurs and pros will enjoy the bounty of trees and shaded cover that challenges a short course like this with plenty of winds and natural obstacles.
GO ON AN ORANGE BEACH PIRATE SHIP ADVENTURE
Arrrgh you ready for some swashbuckling fun?! The Orange Beach Pirate Cruise lets families become pirates for the day!
You and your little mateys will board the American Star and embark on a 2-hour pirate-themed cruise on Terry Cove.
Your kids can act like pirates, get their faces painted, and learn some pirate lingo. Once onboard, your little ones will get to defend the ship in a gun battle, sing along with the pirate crew, hear stories of pirate attacks, and hunt for the Captain’s lost gold and a treasure chest. There are musical games and Pirate Limbo too!
Sounds like a jolly (roger) good time!
CRUISE IN A TIKI HUT
Are you and your jolly crew looking for something unique to do out on the water? If so, then look no further than the Orange Beach Sunset Tiki Cruise.
You and your group will love cruising the water in your own private tiki hut. The cruise includes your very own tiki bar and captain, so you can sit back and relax in the shade.
All ages are welcome on this fun adventure, and you can bring your own drinks and snacks. DISCOUNT TICKETS!
SOAR THROUGH THE AIR ON A PARASAILING TRIP
Want to see Orange Beach from a completely different perspective? How about parasailing!
Soar 400 feet in the air above Orange Beach! The boats at Chute Em Up Parasail can accommodate up to 3 flyers and 15 passengers total, for a safe and comfortable ride in the sky.
Photo packages are available for purchase, so you can remember the experience. Up to three people can fly at once. Children 4-17 can parasail if accompanied by an adult, but children 3 and under are not allowed. DISCOUNT TICKETS!
LEARN TO SURF
Perdido Beach Services does so much more than providing beach chairs and umbrellas. (Although, they do do that!)
With services available at various points in Orange Beach, Perdido can arrange for you to go on a parasailing adventure, rent kayaks and paddleboards, ride on a Hobie Cat, or learn to surf!
Get ready to set sail aboard Wild Hearts — a 53-foot, open-ocean catamaran!
Offering several different cruising choices, you’re sure to find one that suits your group.
Choices include fun options such as: snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, family adventure, sunset cruises, and dolphin adventures.
Looking for something totally unique? Try the crowd favorite Dolphins & Blue Angels Sail, where guests get to see the Blue Angels practice their flights right over the Pensacola Lighthouse. Breakfast is provided on this sailing, and it’s sure to be something you and your group will remember for a lifetime.
TAKE OUT A PONTOON BOAT
Is there any better way to enjoy the waters around Orange Beach than taking out your own pontoon boat? How about if your boat had a slide?!
Rent an Orange Beach Full-Day Slide Pontoon Boat, and you and your group can enjoy an entire day of fun in the sun — while sliding down a slide into the water!
Looking for something more luxurious? Try renting a Luxury Pontoon Boat from OB Watersports. These boats are equipped with bimini tops for sun protection, and state of the art stereos for a rockin’ good time.
Charter your own Tritoon Pontoon Boat for a half-day excursion that you’ll love. This boat is the ultimate party machine, complete with seating for 11, premium stereo, and a cabana that provides plenty of shade.
LEARN TO SUP
Water Warrior offers stand up paddle boarding (SUP) lessons to get your family engaged in one of the fastest growing water sports trending across the world!
You can also learn about the Orange Beach ecosystem with a Water Warrior Eco-tour, as well as other excursions, like the Sunset Peaceful Paddler Experience.
EXPERIENCE NATURE AND THE OUTDOORS
Orange Beach is a nature lovers paradise! Here are some of our favorite outdoor experiences.
Fishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Orange Beach, and for good reason! It’s known as the “Red Snapper Capital of the World.”
Fish off the shore, or head over to the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier to try your luck. Make sure you have a fishing license. (Note: The Pier was damaged in Hurricane Sally. It is currently open past the halfway point. The restrooms and fillet table are still available.)
If you’re looking for a charter fishing boat to take you out, Orange Beach has quite a few options. Orange Beach Fishing Charters and Saltwater Guides, Distraction Charters, Cool Breeze Charters (offers deep sea fishing too), and Brown’s Inshore Guide Service are just a few of many companies that call Orange Beach home.
Click Here For Discounts on Orange Beach Family Fishing Excursion, or the Kids Inshore Fishing Trip with Gulf Island Charters.
EXPLORE A BACKCOUNTRY TRAIL
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail runs through parts of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and the Gulf State Park. It is an intricate design of seven trails that observe six different ecosystems spanning over 15 miles. You can read more about this complex, Gulf State Park, and great eco-tours in our Gulf Shores Best Beach Vacation Guide.
Looking for a really unique way to explore this area? Try a Segway tour with Coastal Segway Adventures.
VISIT A WATERFRONT PARK
Orange Beach Waterfront Park is a nice place for walking, fishing on the 400-foot pier, picnicking under covered pavilions (they have grills), and letting the kids play on the amazing playground.
There are onsite restrooms, and pets are welcome, too!
Waterfront Park, open year round to the public, is ideally located on scenic Wolf Bay.
PAMPERING SPAS IN ORANGE BEACH AND GULF SHORES
Vacation is the perfect time to relax and get pampered, and these spas aim to do just that.
SERENITY AT THE BEACH
Serenity at the Beach is a full-service Aveda salon and spa located in Orange Beach. They offer spa services, like massages, facials, body treatments, or enjoy a spa package. They also have salon services like haircuts and color, make-up, and manicures and pedicures. You will leave a visit here feeling refreshed.
THE SPA AT THE BEACH CLUB
Enjoy all sorts of body treatments like my favorites: the Hot Stone Massage and the Island Breeze Facial. Additionally, they offer hair and nail services, along with a fabulous relaxation room complete with a whirlpool and complimentary mimosas.
DINING OPTIONS IN ORANGE BEACH
Here are some of our favorite places to eat, but we also have a full list of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurants. Check it out too.
BEST WATERFRONT DINING
Cobalt, The Restaurant offers contemporary coastal cuisine in an awesome setting right underneath the Perdido Bay Bridge. With water views and outdoor heaters, you can dine outside year-round.
You’ll find amazing seafood dishes (the Firecracker Shrimp app is a favorite!), steaks, oysters, burgers, pizzas, salads, and sandwiches here.
It’s open daily for lunch and dinner, and offers a Happy Hour and Sunday Brunch.
Voyagers, an upscale restaurant located inside of Perdido Beach Resort, has lovely entrees prepared by award-winning executive chef Brody Olive is the spot for fine dining.
You’ll enjoy gorgeous views of the Gulf, while dining on sustainable seafood creations, locally-sourced vegetables, and organic meats. The menu here changes seasonally, so you’re always sure to get the best.
BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY DINING
Tacky Jack’s on the water in Orange Beach couldn’t be more perfect for families! With outdoor dining, a laid-back atmosphere and kid-friendly foods, Tacky Jack’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. I love their appetizers and could make a meal off of the Gator Bites and the Smoked Tuna Dip.
Also, for family-friendly selections, Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar is a good choice. Kids are welcome in this relaxed restaurant where gumbo, oysters and seafood platters rule! Wear your flip flops and eat where the locals do!
There is also a great breakfast nook I’ve found at The Wharf called The Southern Grind Coffee House.
Freshly brewed coffees and such start your day with a bang and are great with breakfast dishes like the Strawberry Belgian Waffle. Also, choose from fresh fruit, bagels or biscuits to round out the breakfast menu. This cute little coffee shop also serves lunch and dinner, and offers free WiFi in an eclectic setting.
BEST PLACE FOR COCKTAILS
The Flora-Bama Lounge is not only famous for the Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s greatest beach party, but also as an American roadhouse where friends meet, order drinks and watch the sun set. The Flora-Bama straddles the Alabama-Florida state line creating conversation just with its very name. Enjoy live music, favorite cocktails and a good time.
Happy hour at Ginny Lane Bar & Grill is open every day 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with awesome drink specials! Located at The Wharf, Ginny Lane also serves some delicious food in a sophisticated environment.
FESTIVALS WORTH THE DRIVE
Orange Beach Festival of Art has been held in the spring for more than 40 years. The location on Wolf Bay guarantees a spectacular backdrop as folks celebrate the arts (visual, performing, musical and culinary). The art festival is FREE but the parking shuttle from The Wharf to the festival is about $5. Take the little ones and visit the Art Alley for Kids with fun activities like: t-shirts, bug jars, clay art, sand in a bottle and more!
The Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Car Show is held in February and is a major fundraiser for Orange Beach schools. The festival is a full day of delicious food, arts and crafts vendors, and music for the whole family. This is an alcohol-free event. The festival includes a silent auction, car show, a Kids Zone with a climbing wall, inflatables and games, and also a children’s performance pavilion. The festival is free, but a $2 donation per car is requested.
Orange Beach is packed full of wonderful lodging and accommodations. Depending on your wants and needs, you can choose from campgrounds at Gulf State Park — which serves both the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach communities — a quality hotel, or a family-friendly condominium.
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