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4 Days in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL Itinerary

Ready for a beach vacation? This 4-day Gulf Shores and Orange Beach itinerary has you covered with all the best things to do on your beach getaway!

When I was a kid, we would vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama all the time. But I hadn’t been back as an adult until recently. And I’m so glad I got to re-visit because there are so many great things to do on Alabama’s Gulf Coast!

If you didn’t know Alabama has beaches, then you’re in for a real treat! Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are Alabama’s best kept secret. Alabama Beaches are the best place to spend your spring break or summer vacation.

Get ready to spend 4 days in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach with this action-pack itinerary!

Thanks so much to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism for hosting my trip to Alabama’s Gulf Coast! As always, all opinions are my own.

Beach view from Turquoise Place, Orange Beach, Alabama

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Itinerary

Day 1 in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

To get to Gulf Shores, you’ll likely come in off I-10. The fastest way to the beach is to take the Baldwin Beach Express, a toll road that leads from I-10 to the heart of Orange Beach right by The Wharf.

The toll isn’t required until the southernmost end of the Beach Express, so you can turn off before the toll and take Hwy 59 the rest of the way, you’ll just have a lot more lights than you would with the toll road.

Lunch at The Hangout

Depending on what time you arrive in Gulf Shores, you may have time for lunch. The Hangout it the perfect first stop!

This fun restaurant is located right on Gulf Shores’ main public beach. They’ve got a menu of seasonal seafood, live music and dancing, games and contests, a foam machine, and really fun decor made of nostalgic items like vintage lunch boxes, matchbox cars, and rubber duckies.

I recommend the Hang 10 Burger or The Lifeguard Burger if you’re really hungry (it’s a pound of meat stacked with delicious extras, and it comes with a lifeguard whistle). For an appetizer, go for the Fried Calamari.

And to drink, their Shark Attack is their signature cocktail that’s a lot of fun. This beautiful blue drink comes with a toy shark filled with grenadine that you pour in for a blood-in-the-water effect.

Check-in at Turquoise Place

Turquoise Place is an amazing place to stay in Orange Beach.

These oversized condos are decked out with plush furnishings, top-of-the-line appliances in the full kitchen and laundry room, and every balcony has a private hot tub (that’s honestly my favorite part).

Some of the units are vacation rentals that you can book through places like VRBO, but a lot of the units are direct through Turquoise Place and Spectrum Resorts.

You actually get the best deal when you book direct because you get perks like complimentary beach towels waiting for you in your condo, complimentary daily breakfast, discounts at their dining and shopping outlets, keyless room entry with their wristbands, access to the Spectrum Club Lounge, mid-stay room cleanings, a concierge package that can stock your kitchen for you, and discounts on their gulf-front poolside cabanas.

Read my review of Turquoise Place here.

Enjoy the Beach and Pool

Outdoor pool at Turquoise Place, Orange Beach, Alabama

Once you’ve check in, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the beach and pools.

Turquoise Place is right on the beach, so you’re just steps away from relaxing with your toes in the sand.

The resort also has indoor pools, outdoor pools, a lazy river, water slide, and a splash pad.

Dinner at Wolf Bay Lodge

Wolf Bay Lodge is a family-owned Gulf Coast tradition. They started as a bait shop along Wolf Bay in the 1940 before changing to a restaurant in 1973. The original restaurant was destroyed by a fire in 2008, and they reopened with a location here in Orange Beach.

Their menus feature hand-battered and cooked-to-order seafood with recipes made from scratch.

Start with the Fried Crab Claws. If you’re in the mood for a whole lot of seafood, go for the Captains Platter or the Wolf Bay Platter. My personal favorite was the buttery and delicious Shrimp Scampi.

End the Day in the Hot Tub

View from the hot tub at Turquoise Place, Orange Beach, Alabama

Because I love the private balcony hot tubs at Turquoise Place so much, I recommend ending every night of your 4 days in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores with a soak in the hot tub.

I’ll only include it in this itinerary once, but keep it in mind for night. It’s seriously the best way to relax after a long day of exploring.

Day 2 in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Your second day in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is going to be filled with non-beach activities because there’s more to this area than just the pearly white sands.

Breakfast at BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets

BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets is a cute local cafe that leans into its cat theme. It’s an adorable way to start your day.

They have simple breakfast foods, homemade pastries, coffee, tea, lite lunch items, and even ice cream.

I highly recommend their BuzzCatz “Pop Tarts”, which are large homemade versions of the classic kids breakfast treat. If you need something more to get you through the morning, their Breakfast Hollah is made with fresh Challah Dough filled with scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese.

Glass Blowing at the Coastal Arts Center

The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach is a beautiful campus on Wolf Bay. They have a fine art gallery, glass blowing, and a clay studio.

You can do classes at The Hot Shop glass blowing studio or the Clay Studio. I did glass blowing at The Hot Shop, and it was a lot of fun! It was hands-down one of my favorite things from my visit to Gulf Shores.

You’ll need to register for the class in advance, and remember to wear close-toed shoes.

During the glass blowing class, you get to learn how to make incredible creations. Choose from a blown glass ornament, a paperweight, a starfish, or a flower. I chose a flower.

The instructor will guide you through the whole process. Once you get in front of the fire, it honestly doesn’t take that long! But it is a little tough to pull and shape the glass, which the instructor will help you with. When you’re finished, you’ll have a new blown glass creation that they can ship to you or you can pick up the next day.

Lunch at LuLu’s

LuLu’s is an iconic Gulf Shores restaurant that’s owned and operated by Lucy Buffett, sister to singer Jimmy Buffett.

LuLu’s has similar Margaritaville vibes but with a bit more girly frills and family fun. There’s a ropes course, a sandy play area, an arcade, live music, and a gift shop.

The restaurant is located right on the Intracoastal Waterway, so you can watch barges go by as you eat. The menu is full of fresh coastal cooking from Lucy’s own recipes.

If you have food allergies, LuLu’s is the place to eat. They take it very seriously, and they have an extensive allergy menu that includes gluten free, dairy free, shellfish free, seafood free, egg free, soy free, and a small vegan menu. Allergy menu items are prepared in a separate area and a manager handles allergy orders from start to finish.

To start, get the Smoked Tuna Dip with tortilla chips. The Crab Melt Nachos are also great for an appetizer or for a meal. For your meal, I recommend the Grilled Shrimp Tacos. I also hear they have some of the best Chicken Tenders if you have picky eaters. To drink, I went with the Loopty Lu, but a Bucket of LuLu’s Rum Punch is also a top-notch option.

Visit Historic Fort Morgan

It’s a long drive out to Fort Morgan Historic Site on Fort Morgan Peninsula, but it’s worth the trip.

Fort Morgan was a masonry fort built between 1819 and 1833. It played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. Later, the fort was used during the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II. Fort Morgan was turned over to the state as a historic site in 1946.

Spend some time walking around the ruins of the fort; they’re full of picturesque nooks and crannies, and views from the top let you see Dauphin Island and the oil rigs dotted off the coast.

In addition to the 1834 fort, you can see the concrete artillery batteries built between 1895 and 1904, a small museum and gift shop displaying the military history of Mobile Point, and the exterior of historic military buildings dating from 1898 to 1910.

Get a Flight at High Tide Daiquiris & Mimosas

High Tide Daiquiris & Mimosas is a really fun restaurant and bar where you can get daiquiri flights and mimosa flights. I recommend visiting the Gulf Shores location that’s on your way back from Fort Morgan. This location is on the water of Little Lagoon and you can take out the swan and flamingo peddle boats.

They do have food, but you’re really here for the daiquiri flight (or the mimosa flight). They have so many fun flavors to choose from. And you can mix the daiquiri flavors to make something totally unique.

Get a flight of daiquiris like the Bushwacker, Pimento Cheese, and Key Lime. Try a bunch of different flavors and see what you like! (The Bushwacker was my favorite.)

Dinner at the Original Oyster House

Just across the water from High Tide is a great place for dinner: the Original Oyster House.

This restaurant has been a Gulf Shores institution since 1983. It’s a laid-back, casual seafood restaurant with chargrilled oysters that have won numerous awards.

It’s also usually pretty crowded. But don’t worry, you can go shopping at the boutiques in the attached shopping center while you wait.

Start with their Homemade Seafood Gumbo or their Shell Shocked Oyster Sampler. Their Parmesan Baked Shrimp was filled with buttery goodness. They also serve a great Bushwacker here.

Day 3 in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Day 3 of your Gulf Shores itinerary is a little bit of both land and sea. Don’t worry, I’ll get you back out on the water in this day’s itinerary!

Breakfast at the Sunliner Diner

Take a step back in time at the Sunliner Diner in Gulf Shores. Classic cars sit out front, the menu is made to look like a retro newspaper, the hostess is wearing a poodle skirt, they serve breakfast all day, and they have hand-spun milkshakes.

The Sunliner Diner is wonderful; it’s everything Steak & Shake wishes it could be.

This classic 1950s themed diner is a great way to start your day. On the menu are classic diner foods and all-day breakfast.

I had the Avocado Toast, but the Chocolate Chip Pancakes and the Chicken & Waffle Benedict are also great options. And you can get a milkshake for breakfast!

Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is home to over 199 species, from peacocks to monkeys to lions to bears (my favorite!). Spread out over 25 acres in Gulf Shores, this little zoo packs in a whole lot of fun.

One of the highlights of visiting this zoo (besides Boodah the bear, who is my main highlight) is their animal encounters. They have a lemur encounter, a sloth encounter, and giraffe feedings.

I did the lemur encounter and got to feed some of the black-and-white ring-tailed lemurs. This is part of their enrichment and training, getting the lemurs used to new smells and teaching them to come to the front of the habitat for a treat when the keepers need to do their check-ups.

You can book your encounter when you get your ticket at the gate.

Lunch at The Gulf

The Gulf is a restaurant with an interesting set-up. The buildings are made from old shipping containers and recycled materials.

There is tons of outdoor seating so you can dine right on the beach. There’s a bar as soon as you walk in, and a gift shop with plenty of Gulf gear.

The changing seasonal menu features fresh seafood, with everything from tacos to sandwiches to seafood boils.

I recommend the Lobster & Shrimp Roll, some Parmesan Truffle Fries, and their Cheesecake for dessert.

Hammock Time Tiki Tours

It’s time to get out on the water with Hammock Time Tiki Tours! Captain Glenn’s tiki-inspired pontoon boat is the best way to explore the backbays of Orange Beach.

Climb aboard the spacious pontoon boat, equipped with 2 double hammocks, a tiki bar, shaded seating, deck games, Bluetooth audio, and a bathroom onboard (you’re not going to find another tiki boat with a bathroom onboard).

They offer 2-hour, 4-hour, or private island tours. And it’s all up to you how you run it, where you go, and what you see.

On our tour, we pretty much just wanted to drink and enjoy the scenery. Captain Glenn kept an eye out for dolphins, and he found plenty of them for us! We had the best view of about a dozen dolphins who were playing around our boat.

The tiki tour is BYOB, so bring along any snacks and drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), sunscreen, towels, and sunglasses for your journey.

Dinner at Cobalt

Cobalt is right where the Hammock Time Tiki Tours docks, so I recommend sticking around for dinner (especially if you just drank a lot on the tiki boat).

This large restaurant has great views of the bay from every table. When the weather is nice, I definitely recommend dining outside on the patio.

Their menu features elevated seafood, with unique creations by three local chefs. And if there’s a long wait for a table and you have kids, you can order off the kids’ menu in advance. They’ll deliver the kids’ meal when its ready so you don’t have hangry kiddos.

I recommend the Tuna and Avocado Stack and the Firecracker Shrimp, both of which are on the appetizer menu but are great for meals. The Bushwacker here was also phenomenal.

Day 4 in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

For your final day before heading out, try not to be too sad! There are still some great things you can do before leaving your beach vacation behind.

Breakfast at The Southern Grind at Indigo

The Southern Grind at Hotel Indigo is a really cute and beachy coffee shop that’s attached directly to the hotel.

They offer their own specialty coffee blends, but they also have a menu of Southern comfort food, breakfast, homemade sweet treats, sandwiches, and salads.

I recommend the Biscuits & Gravy or Croissandwich.

Stop by City Donut

Need a road trip snack for your drive home? Stop by City Donut, the oldest donut shop in Orange Beach, for a donut or dozen for your trip.

Their donut flavors change daily and there’s always something new. They also offer a full ice cream menu and boba tea.

I definitely left there with a half dozen assorted donuts and an Alien Juice boba tea.

Walk Around The Wharf

Ferris wheel at The Wharf, Orange Beach, Alabama

One last stop before you hit the road should be to The Wharf in Orange Beach.

This waterfront dining and entertainment complex on the Intracoastal Waterway has dozens of shops and restaurants, the tallest Ferris Wheel in the Southeast, a huge amphitheater, and a nightly light show.

Take a walk around (maybe while you sip your boba tea from City Donut), stretch your legs before a long drive, and shop for some last minute souvenirs before heading home.

Where to Stay for 4 Days in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Obviously, I wrote this itinerary with a stay at the Turquoise Place in mind (that is where I stayed for my trip). But I wanted to give you plenty of options! You can read a little about some of the top places to stay below.

Turquoise Place

Living room at Turquoise Place, Orange Beach, Alabama

Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts in Orange Beach has large 3-5 bedroom beachfront condos right on the beach. I love that they have indoor and outdoor pools, a lazy river, and a water slide and splash pad.

Some of my favorite amenities are the private hot tub on every balcony, direct beach access, and plenty of space for everyone so you don’t feel on top of your family the whole vacation. You can read my review of Turquoise Place here.

Book a stay at Turquoise Place here.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park

King room at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores has stylish hotel rooms with a king- or two queen-sized beds, some rooms with bunk beds, and king suites. I love their gulf-facing rooms with private balconies and eco-friendly mission.

Some of my favorite amenities are the infinity edge, gulf-view pool, direct beach access, on-site restaurants, and easy access to the state park. You can read my review of The Lodge here.

Book a stay at The Lodge at Gulf State Park here.

The Beach Club Resort & Spa

Outdoor pool and condo building at The Beach Club Resort & Spa, Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Beach Club Resort & Spa by Spectrum Resorts has 1-5 bedroom beachfront condos and 2-5 bedroom lakeside cottages. I love that they have an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa, and private pools or hot tubs for some of the cottages.

Some of my favorite amenities are the spa, direct beach access, and large balconies.

Book a stay at The Beach Club Resort & Spa here.

4 Days in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Map

Ready to spend 4 days in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama? Use the map below to plan out your vacation.

I hope you found this Orange Beach and Gulf Shores itinerary helpful!

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4 Days in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL Itinerary

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