1. TAKE A SELFIE AT BAMAHENGE AND LADY IN THE LAKE
Virginia artist Mark Cline is a master of crafting captivating sculpture, and a number of his works grace our coastlines. Along with his dinosaurs at Barber Marina, Cline designed “Bamahenge” as an exact replica of England’s Stonehenge, made entirely of fiberglass. Floating in the Barber Marina is its sister statue, a fiberglass bathing woman famously titled “Lady in the Lake.” The beauty’s likeness was based on two Hollywood celebs, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and country music singer Sara Evans. Drive down to Elberta for some Insta-worthy snaps with the statues.
2. GO GLAMPING AT GULF STATE PARK
Outdoor enthusiasts, rejoice! The Outpost Campsites at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores allow you to “rough it” in luxury. Three platform-raised tents house four cots each. Access to port a potties, sinks and outdoor cooking areas makes spending the night in the great outdoors a little more comfortable. Cost is $50 per night.
3. TAKE A BUS TOUR OF HISTORIC FAIRHOPE
On July 15, join Fairhope Museum of History director Donnie Barrett as he guides four bus tours around the historic city. A passenger can hop on the 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. bus to learn the ins and outs of the town from an unbeatable perspective. Tickets are $20 and go on sale July 1 at the museum's office.
4. GO BLUEBERRY PICKIN'
Fairhope's Weeks Bay Plantation grows organic berries that are available for picking on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through June. Because of their high BRIX rating, which measures the nutrient density in produce, Weeks Bay’s berries are some of the sweetest and best around. Get pickin’! Cost is $8 per pound of berries.
5. TASTE TEST BUSHWACKERS
Whether you prefer a rum floater or not, there is constant debate over who makes it best. Some of the area’s favorite local freezes are from Pirates Cove, Flora-Bama, Tacky Jacks, The Hangout and Lulu’s. Gather friends for a bushwacker crawl and try them all!
6. EXPERIENCE A DOLPHIN CRUISE IN ORANGE BEACH
This two-hour excursion begins with the typical dolphin-spotting boat ride, but the fun doesn’t end there. Water wars are the second thrill of the trek, inviting kids and adults alike to shoot water guns from the upper deck to the lower and vice versa. The tour closes with a peek at the blue crab traps and opportunities for photos. Cost is $20 for daytime cruises, $25 for sunset cruises. dolphincruises.net
7. ATTEND CHURCH AT THE FLORA-BAMA
Join pastor Dan Stone and the Central Church for their beachside service at the Flora-Bama on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. A casual and relaxed experience, these non-denominational services take place inside the bar with a come-as-you-are atmosphere. Beach clothes welcome!
8. SAMPLE EVERY BEER AT FAIRHOPE BREWING
Thirsty for a challenge? While you can find Fairhope Brewing Company beers in local stores and restaurants throughout the area, the best way to get them is directly from the source. FBC circulates 12 on-tap selections at a time in their taproom with an option for every taste. Challenge accepted.
9. ENJOY A STAYCATION AT THE FAIRHOPE INN
Treat yourself to a good night's sleep away from home. The historic home-turned-hotel boasts a first-rate dining experience from chef Tyler Kean, a full bar for wine and cocktails, cozy rooms and a quaint outdoor courtyard. Cost is $90 – $120 per night. fairhopeinn.com
10. CELEBRATE 4TH OF JULY ON THE FAIRHOPE PIER
Celebrate the nation’s independence with a family-friendly concert and fireworks. The Baldwin Pops Band, an organization of local volunteer musicians, will provide a free concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. before the fireworks display. Food vendors will be located around the park; no alcohol or personal fireworks are allowed.
11. EAT AN “UGLY BISCUIT” AT BISCUIT KING
There's nothing “ugly” about this gem in Fairhope. These fluffy, filled delights will have you stuffed in seconds. Choose from cheese, eggs, breakfast meats or combinations for the loaded biscuit of your dreams.
12. SURF THE FLOWRIDER AT WATERVILLE
No matter how old you are, you have to give this one a try at least once. Boogie board or stand-up surf on the ever-popular Flowrider, a simulated wave machine that gives riders the thrill of the surf without braving Gulf waters.
13. PARTY IT UP ON A PRIVATE BOOZE CRUISE
A perfect private getaway for you and your friends, the Gulf Shores Booze Cruise is a must. The BYOB style cocktail cruise accommodates up to 12 passengers for a relaxing and fun ride. Other options include sunset cruises, dinner cruises and dolphin cruises.
14. HAVE AN OUTDOOR RETREAT AT OAK HOLLOW FARM
Horseback riding, hunting and fishing, oh my! The 300 acres of land at Oak Hollow Farm offer a day’s worth of activities for the whole family. Ride horses, shoot skeet, hunt pheasant, fish in the pond or take a relaxing hay ride to experience every corner of the countryside. Whether novice or experienced, professional help and equipment are provided for all activities.
15. ZIPLINE AT THE WHARF (COMING SOON!)
Ranked as the top outdoor activity in Gulf Shores from 2013 to 2016 on TripAdvisor, the Hummingbird Ziplines in Gulf Adventure Center at the Wharf offer a bird’s-eye view of the local landscape. The attraction reaches speeds of up to 40 mph at up to 90 feet off the ground. A new course is scheduled to open in July 2017, so stay tuned! Cost is $79 per individual, $59 for children 12 and under.
Text by Hallie King