Craving a coastal summer holiday? If one glance at the list of all the best things to do in Orange Beach, Alabama, has got you hooked, we can’t blame you. Located on the Alabama Gulf Coast, Orange Beach is one of the most popular seaside getaways in the Deep South.
Orange Beach is a lively little coastal city, known for its white-sand beaches and family-friendly hotspots. Since the beach town shares an island with Gulf Shores, you can treat both as your playground. All of the Alabama Gulf Coast’s top tourist attractions—like Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar, Fat Daddy’s Arcade, and Gulf State Park—will be at your fingertips in Orange Beach.
Struggling to choose what to do in Orange Beach, AL on your next South USA beach vacation? Craft your itinerary in a breeze with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Orange Beach, AL.
Best places to visit in Orange Beach, AL
Orange Beach Waterfront Park
Whether you’re looking for a nice place to walk along the water or a playground for the kids to go wild, a trip to the Orange Beach Waterfront Park is a must on your Alabama Gulf Coast adventure.
The Orange Beach Waterfront Park occupies a prime location along the Wolf Bay waterfront and will delight you with its amazing views and ample amenities. Though the seaside park’s iconic fishing pier is not currently open to the public, it’ll form a lovely backdrop for your family vacation photos.
Planning a picnic? Orange Beach Waterfront Park has several pavilions with BBQs for grilling anything your heart desires. The sun can get pretty hot around along Alabama’s Gulf Coast; you’ll find the picnic shelters provide some respite in the shade.
Gulf State Park
To marvel at one of the most beautiful sunsets on the Alabama Coast, plan a trip to Gulf State Park. For an especially good view, take a walk down the Gulf State Park pier just before dusk and sit with your legs dangling over the edge.
From beaches and bike trails to designated hiking trails and the infamous Lake Shelby, Gulf State Park offers you a little bit of everything. You’ll be able to explore several diverse ecosystems within the park along with brilliant displays of the local flora.
Gulf State Park offers visitors a chance to choose their own adventure; everyone in your travel will be able to find something to do at this popular Alabama state park.
Whether you’ve built up an appetite or are seeking a little fun, you can’t skip a visit to The Wharf when visiting Orange Beach. This waterfront boardwalk is home to many of the top Orange Beach tourist attractions, making it the go-to destination for entertainment on the island.
There’s not much you can’t do at The Wharf. You can go on a shopping spree, ride the Ferris wheel, or depart on a dolphin-watching cruise. Anything is possible around here.
If you don’t want the fun to end, eat dinner at one of The Wharf’s famous restaurants or book a stay in one of the trendy hotels, right in the center of all the action.
Fort Morgan State Historic Site
One of the best places to go in Orange Beach for history buffs is the Fort Morgan State Historic Site. Explore the military fort’s involvement in World War I, II, and the Spanish American War, and, most prominently, the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War, which took place on Fort Morgan’s soil.
Walk through the barracks, get your hands on historic cannons, and look out over the coastline in search of military ships; you’ll feel like you’ve been sent back in time and dropped into a different reality.
Not too into history? The Fort Morgan State Historic Site also offers beaches, nature trails, and waterfront picnic sites.
Have some kiddos that need to let their energy out in your travel crew? Plan a day at Adventure Island. This top Orange Beach attraction offers carnival rides, laser tag, mini-golf, and paddle boats. When it gets too hot in the Gulf Coast sun, you can even head inside to the Alligator Alley Arcade to cool off.
Each attraction at Adventure Island is priced separately; you can even just pick one or two to fill in a gap in your schedule. Want to play all day? You can also easily stack all of Adventure Island’s fun activities on top of each other for an entire day of excitement.
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
If you’re looking for outdoor activities to enjoy during your Orange Beach holiday, meander along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Choose any one of the 26 trails under this umbrella “trail” to weave through miles of maritime forest and coastal hardwood swamps.
Sure, you can walk the nature trail on foot, but the best way to explore the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is to rent a beach bicycle and feel the wind blow through your hair.
Near the nature center at the trailhead, you’ll find a water fountain for your dog to rehydrate and a rock climbing wall to keep the kiddos entertained, among other amenities.
Want to learn more about the biodiversity of Orange Beach? Choose a trail crossing through the butterfly garden and observe the local flora and fauna. Or stop in at the nature center with the kids to check out its educational programs.
Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum
If you find yourself down by City Hall, be sure to make a quick pit stop at the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum. Admission is free, so all it will cost you is a little bit of your time.
It won’t take you long to roam around the galleries of this original 1910 schoolhouse. Just be sure you visit on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday; the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum is closed for the remainder of the week.
The Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum is a great place to learn about the region’s Native American heritage as well as the history of fishing along the Gulf Coast, so arrive ready to take it all in.
Alabama Point East
A Gulf State Park must-see, Alabama Point East has a beachy landscape that’ll blow your mind. At this top-rated seaside destination, you won’t believe you’re not on an island in the Caribbean!
At Alabama Point East, the crystal clear waters are interlaced with white sandbars stretching far out and underneath the Perdido Pass Bridge. It’s quite the sight to behold. And with miles of seagrasses, boardwalks, and dunes, the land here is almost as pretty as the sea!
If you’d like an unobstructed view of the stretch of sand in all its glory—or to snap a few wanderlust-inducing photos—plan for a sunrise visit. After that, Alabama Point Eat stays busy until well after the sun sets.
Even when you get tired of sunbathing, there’s a ton to do at Alabama Point East. During the summer months, you’ll also find food trucks lining the beach. Hit them up if you’re in the mood for a mid-day snack. You’ll also find vendors renting bicycles to take up and down the boardwalk.
Note that the waves are more powerful at Alabama Point East than in other areas; be sure you’re a strong enough swimmer if you plan to venture further out.
The Fun Boat Dolphin Cruises
If you consider yourself an animal lover, then an excursion with The Fun Boat Dolphin Cruises is a must. Choose between an afternoon or sunset departure, and head out into the bay in search of everyone’s favorite sea mammal.
Watching the dolphins jump, play, and chatter in their pods will be an experience you’ll never forget. After all, this top-rated attraction is called The Fun Boat for a reason!
Besides being one of the leading dolphin cruises in Orange Beach, the trip also offers a ton of fun activities for you to participate in on board.
In this kids-approved experience, your little ones will shriek with excitement as they have a super-soaker war with other fun boats in the fleet. Captain Dean will also give them some hands-on time with local sea creatures such as crabs, shrimp, and sea urchins.
Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach
Once the city’s first hotel, the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach is now the go-to arts museum on the Alabama Gulf Coast. You’ll be elated roaming the halls, featuring original pieces.
The entire collection at the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach is crafted by local artists, spanning every medium you can imagine. From oil painting and pottery to metalwork and weaving, Orange Beach’s locals can do it all. The gift shop is also the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir that will always hold an esteemed in your home.
Consider yourself a creative soul? The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach encourages you to have a picnic and sketch, paint or doodle the afternoon away on their manicured lawns. From the coastal estate to the Wolf Bay waterfront, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in your surroundings!
Fat Daddy’s Arcade
One of the best places to visit in Orange Beach for a good laugh, Fat Daddy’s Arcade is an essential stop on your Gulf Coast itinerary. Play your way through arcade classics like ring toss, claw games, Skee Ball, shooting hoops as well as some new pop-culture computerized games.
Fat Daddy’s Arcade uses a digital system. It makes it super easy to load up on “tokens,” rack up your totals and trade them in for that dream prize hanging on the wall.
A visit to the arcade is a great way to wait out a rainy afternoon, cool off after a hot day at the beach, or continue the fun after the sun sets; be sure to keep this popular spot in your back pocket for an easy solution.
Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar
For a true taste of the Gulf Coast, be sure to stop at Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar. Overlooking Wolf Bay, this seafood-focused casual dining restaurant will be a hit with everyone in your crew. Take a seat at a checked-top table for that old-school diner feel or get takeout and enjoy a picnic in the sand.
At Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar, you’ll chow down on Southern staples like hush puppies, seafood platters, and cups of gumbo.
Have a successful day of fishing out on the bay? Don’t toss it back! Bring your cleaned catch to Doc’s; they’ll gladly cook it for you and serve it up with some traditional sides.
The Southern Grind Coffee House
To delight in some of the city’s finest brews, make a pit stop at The Southern Grind Coffee House. This coffee shop has two locations: one at The Wharf and the other in the Hotel Indigo on Perdido Beach Boulevard. You can fit this coffee house into your day no matter which part of the city you’re exploring!
You’ll adore the charming coastal decor of the cafe. And if you see something you simply must bring home, you can actually buy many of the pieces on display.
Besides a yummy selection of espresso-based beverages, The Southern Grind Coffee House also serves breakfast, lunch, and a selection of gelato desserts. Trying to eat plant-based? They have plenty of options for the vegetarian crowd, which can be hard to find in a coastal, seafood-obsessed city.
Cotton Bayou Beach
A part of the Gulf State Park reserve, Cotton Bayou Beach is one of the top tourist attractions in Orange Beach if you’re looking to get away from the bigger crowds. This beautiful beach offers warm white sands, rolling waves to splash around in, and a relatively pristine landscape thanks to its state park designation.
Bring a beach chair to this lovely stretch of sand and you’re all set to go. You can spend the day reading a good book and watching the sandpipers play along the shore.
Though Cotton Bayou Beach is smaller than some of the others in the area, it would hardly qualify as a hidden gem. It’s well-loved by local residents and tourists alike—and it’ll take just one visit for you to understand why.
Sand Castle University
Here’s a fun and unexpected vacation activity that’s fun for the whole family: Learn how to win any beachfront contest and impress all your friends back home with a lesson from Sand Castle University.
Yep! This fun activity exactly what it sounds like: A team of sandcastle-building pros will arrive with shovels and buckets in hand, prepared to teach you the art of making envy-worthy sandcastles.
Sand Castle University offers various classes, suited to beginner and advanced builders. It even offers a sea creatures class where you’ll sculpt a turtle, octopus, or crab out of the sand with your own two hands!
A lesson from Sand Castle University is highly adaptable to meet your needs. Each class is private and taught on-location, wherever you may be.
If you don’t have access to a private beach at your vacation rental, they’ll gladly meet you on the public beaches of Orange Beach or Gulf Shores. Since it’s offered in both towns, you can choose your location based on what else is on your itinerary for the day.
The Gulf Orange Beach
Looking for a waterfront restaurant to eat dinner at the end of a busy day of touring? Chow down at The Gulf Orange Beach. Sit at a whitewashed picnic table or a hightop on the patio and browse their extensive menu of beach bar classics.
What might that look like? Fish fry and burgers are some of the most popular menu items, and they also have a selection of casual small plates if you’re looking for a beach day snack.
Head to The Gulf Orange Beach for your Taco Tuesday celebration to delight in their fish tacos. You can choose between shrimp and mahi mahi for this tourist-approved meal.
Worried it might be a little too cool for a beachfront meal? The Gulf has several comfy lounge areas in the sand with firepits lit up during the winter months and on chilly evenings.
Big Beach Brewing
In the mood for some refreshing craft beer? Head on over to Orange Beach’s neighbor, Gulf Shores, and imbibe in some of the Alabama Gulf Coast’s finest brews at Big Beach Brewing.
One of the most popular places to go in Gulf Shores, this popular microbrewery has 12 rotating taps, an open-air taproom, and a pretty fireplace for chillier evenings. Though they don’t have an in-house kitchen, you’re welcome to bring food with you or order takeout directly to the front steps.
Not a beer drinker? Big Beach Brewing has four local wines on its menu as well. If you’re traveling with little ones, the brewery’s courtyard offers a family-friendly atmosphere. They even serve up craft sodas so that everyone—young and old—has something fun to sip on!