Gulf State Park
Updated: Sep 10
What makes Gulf State Park a great kid destination?
Beautiful white beaches and turquoise waters
Bike trails through wetlands and parks
Beach side restaurants with playgrounds, volleyball, and other activities
skim boarding, boogie boarding, and swimming in waves
wildlife viewing of alligators, birds, armadillos, and others
We were unaware of Gulf State Park until my sister-in-law convinced us in the parking lot of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to change our camping plans and join her in Gulf Shores Alabama. We had already driven almost 180 miles from Bowling Green and this would increase our drive 380 miles instead of the 220 miles we had planned. She's convincing and we were not disappointed. We pulled into Gulf State Park about 9pm that night and woke up the next morning to one of the best campgrounds we've been to.
We were able to get one of the many pull through sites that had a nice walkout to the picnic table some grassy area and woods. You could see through the woods the next site but it really felt like we were secluded and had our own personal space. Drivers were mostly cautious and stayed at the speed limit and park police seemed to be always present.
If you want more of what biking is like at gulf state park see this YouTube video
There are over 28 miles of trails to explore throughout the park. Many of the trails are boardwalks that allow access over the wetlands throughout the park. We rode our bikes about five miles and experienced Left the alligator with her babies, and eagle nesting area, and climbing boulder area for kids and adults alike. The trail system has many maps available at important intersections. We were also greeted by many other explorers that were more than willing to share the best trail or provide us with directions.
Bring your rackets or paddles to Gulf State Park. There are four tennis courts by the pool and nature center and were always in use. If you want to play tennis play early. By 10 am, the courts were taken over by Pickle ballers. The courts are first come first serve and there is an hour limit when people are waiting.
After tennis the pool is conveniently located next door. It seemed the pool was heated and is quite large. Concessions are available with snacks and drinks. The pool is only four feet deep so it is limited to wading and light swimming. There is also a large splash pad for little ones.
Gulf State Park has two miles of beach. The parking pass from the campground allows access to the beach parking lot. We accidently paid the $5 fee and then noticed on our campground pass that we didn't have to. The parking lot is big but we can see where it could fill up fast. The white sand beaches are beautiful and great for walks, sunbathing, flying kites, and games. The water is great for skim boarding and boogie boarding. To the East is the fishing pier. They were also parasailing down by the pier.
Be on the lookout for wildlife throughout the park. We saw many pelican, a few alligators, and armadillo. On night walks bring a good flashlight. We stirred up an armadillo and it was fun watching it scurry from palm to palm across the road. You also want to make sure you keep an eye out for snakes and alligators. We didn't see an eagle on this trip but the nesting area is neat and we did see a nest in one of the distant trees on our bike ride. The nature center, by the pool, has purple marten houses and they seemed most active for viewing in the morning. Do you see the baby alligator sleeping on the branch below?
The Gulf Park fishing pier seems to be in a constant state of construction followed by various hurricanes. Hurricane Sally destroyed the pier in 2020. Fortunately, they are able to open some of the pier as they continue to build out the full length. There is a smaller amount of parking here.
There are many restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. We went to Sea and Suds on the beach. It was mostly fried seafood and chicken with a kids menu. The view was awesome and the sunset was amazing. Bigger pickups may have trouble finding parking spots in the area. I had to fold my mirrors in and get out the passenger side when we parked for dinner.
In Summary, Gulf State Park is beach/coastal paradise. With hundreds of campsites with full hookups it is a great place for spending Spring Break or other vacations with your brood. We are planning to go again next year and spend a full week exploring the area. There is a lot to discover here for people who enjoy the outdoors by playing sports, wildlife viewing and spending time on the beach and in the water. Let us know if you have any questions and if you enjoyed this post please consider clicking on our affiliate links when you do your shopping at Amazon, Wal-Mart, or Camping World.