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Family-Friendly Travel In Coastal Alabama Part 2

Updated: Jul 1

For Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, see PART 1



In my last post, I discussed family-friendly things to do in the Coastal towns of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan. In this installment, I will be going over unique family things to do in Pensacola, Dauphin Island, Foley, The Eastern Shore, Mobile and Biloxi MS.


So now I’m going to go over some stuff to do in the surrounding regions of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. First stop:


PENSACOLA

the giant beach ball in pensacola, FL
A local Landmark

Pensacola is a historic town with lots to do besides the beach (which is technically in Pensacola Beach, not Pensacola. They're different) There are restaurants, museums, playgrounds, galleries, shops and even a Graffiti Bridge! The Main Street to check out as a tourist is Palafox. There are many great restaurants there’s a park that often has festivals. You can find the pensacola events schedule here.



Before I go on let's talk for a minute about the FLAGS.


The flags are posted at every public beach and they are like a code that tells everyone whether it's safe to go in the water or not. Here's the code:



warning flags for pensacola beach
So THAT's what those flags mean!

PLEASE Abide by them. When you don't listen, that's how people get hurt.



Ok so on to the fun stuff.


the grafitti bridge in pensacola, FL
legal graffiti - not just an oxymoron


The graffiti bridge may be your only opportunity to contribute to graffiti legally! The artwork on this famous bridge changes nearly daily and it is considered a local landmark. Even if you don’t contribute it’s fun to check out.


If you like organic food, nearby organic grocery store Everman will fullfill your every organic hope and dream. Seriously. Just don’t eat at the buffet. It's overpriced and tastes like cardboard. There, I said it. And you can't say I didn't warn you.






The Naval air base in Pensacola is really awesome. They have a museum with All kinds of planes on display from many eras. Kids can even sit in a couple of them!



kids ride on bombs at the naval air force base museum
Fun at the Museum


Much of the museum is inside but There's also a trolley ride tour to see outdoor exhibits. It’s fun for adults too. And it’s FREE! It’s on the naval air base so bring your photo ID or passport.

It was closed for several years so we're blessed to have it back.




The lighthouse in pensacola. FL  on the naval air base is a fun place to visit - but only if you have no fear of heights
Acrophobics, Beware!

Also on the base is a lighthouse you can tour. Definitely NOT for people with vertigo.



the mess hall lkids museum in pensacola FL
getting messy


If it’s rainy you can check out the Mess Hall in pensacola which is a hands-on kids science museum. It’s Small but packed full of activities.




there are five civil war forts in the Alabama/ Pensacola gulf coast region visit one and wathc history come alive
Guess the fort?

If it’s nice out of course there’s Pensacola beach but there’s also

Fort Barrancas & Fort Pickens which are civil war forts if you haven’t visited one in yet. Barrancas will reopen in May 2024. Pickens is closed due to renovations. If this Fort isn't open You can always check out Ft. Morgan which Is open to the public.



feeding the birds at the gulf breeze zoo in gulf breeze FL
The Bird is on the wing

If you want more animal encounters, there’s the Gulf Breeze Zoo which isn’t too far from Pensacola and has a really cool aviary where budgies fly and land on you. If that gives you Alfred Hitchcockian nightmares FYI it’s optional. You can also feed the giraffes for about $5. Did you know they have black tongues?!?


If you want up close dolphin encouters this is the place to do it
The gulfarium

If you like aquariums there’s the Gulfarium. It’s a smallish aquarium about an hours drive west from orange beach in gulf breeze but they have DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS, As well as other animals encounters such as sharks and stingrays and penguins. We did the dolphin encounter with my son for his birthday and he had the time of his life! TOTALLY worth the money


My kid got to train a dolphin for his birthday . I thin kthat was his best birthday ever!
Dolphin Encouter

Heading north/west


FOLEY

You can check out the Tanger outlets in Foley off the 59, which is mostly just shopping, but they DO have a nice playground for when your kids have had it!



train museum in foley, AL has limited hours but is a fun place to visit
All Aboard!

Other foley stuff to do includes

The Train Museum which has trains to climb on on the outside of the museum and hosts a large miniature area with a Where's Waldo-esque scavenger hunt on the inside.

The inside has limited hours so plan ahead.


There's a cool store across the street called Action Games and Movies which sells used video games and dvds. My kids LOVE this place



Stacy Rexalls old fashioned drugstore i nFoley, Al
What happens at Stacy's, Stays at Stacy's

And within walking distance is either yabbas wacky snack shack or Stacy’s old time soda fountain which is worth a look-see for the trains going around the top of the room and cool 50s decor. The ice cream is pretty good too!


Nearby is Mama Mia’s Pizzaria which is our personal family fave. If it’s nice out eat out back in the courtyard, it’s lovely back there. Just go take a seat, a waitress will be with you shortly :)



Alligator Alley in Foley AL allows kids to hold a baby alligator
Alligators. Not Crocodiles.

Alligator alley is a fun time right in Foley where you can touch or even hold a baby alligator (They tape their mouths shut). You also can watch them feed the big gators. It is mostly outdoors so you’ll want to save it for a sunny day. Not to be confused with the Gator boardwalk in Daphne. See under Daphne section, below.



Magnolia springs 

Jesses restaurant is on the way from Foley to Fairhope and is a fine dining experience you won’t want to miss. They opened a second location last year in Ft. Morgan which is just as good AND has sunset Views over the water. This is 5 star dining with a 5 star price but totally worth it.



Wales west rv park has a real working steam train you can ride which they decorate and go all out for various holidays including Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. Christmas is the most spectacular. Seriously - don’t miss it.


wales west rv park near loxley and fairhope al has a rideable steam engine and is totally worth it
wales west rv park at christmas

The train goes to see Santa’s workshop and the sheer amount of lights is flabbergasting. They have all kinds of activities as well including the grinch and most of them are FREE. In the summer they have a water slide and pool available for a modest fee. You don’t have to stay at the rv resort to enjoy the amenities, and many of them are free.

fun Rv Park in loxley, AL has swimming, real steam train, indoor pool, christmas halloween and easter displays
Wales west Rv Park in the Summertime



EASTERN SHORE is comprised of several towns that border Mobile Bay. They include Point Clear, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, and Malbis. And maybe a few smaller ones too. Take the scenic route 98 if you’re headed to Mobile, it’s not much longer but the views of Mobile Bay are lovely.


Dont miss Panini Petes Restautant in Faihope., AL's French Quarter
The French Quarter in Fairhope, AL

Fairhope is a super cute little artsy town (that I happen to Live in) that has lots of posh shops, galleries and restaurants. it's been featured in moies because of its small town feel, including "The Map of Tiny Perfect Things" and "Jesus Revolution," and both are clean and actually pretty decent films. Don’t miss their tiny French Quarter! It's labelled "Frenchman's corner" on google maps.

the french quarter in fairhope, AL
Frenchman's Corner in Farihope, AL

While there Try my whole family's favorite, Panini Pete’s for lunch and

Mr genes beans for dessert. You can also run off some of your lunch at

Fairhoper’s Community park - the within-walking-distance, pirate-ship-themed, playground-and-splash pad (whew!).



Fairhoper’s Community park - within-walking-distance, pirate-ship-themed, playground-and-splash pad
Fairhoper’s Community park - the within-walking-distance, pirate-ship-themed, playground-and-splash pad

There are many other great independent restaurants in Fairhope. I haven’t even eaten at them all. A few of my faves include Tamara’s, Gambino's, and Kravers.






The Grand hotel in Fairhope, AL has beautiful grounds, restaurants, a conference center, golf course  and more
The Grand Hotel in Fairhope, AL


If you get a chance, the Grand Hotel has beautiful grounds to check out right along mobile bay as well as a very nice restaurant. I have drawn caricatures several times here at their convention center which surprised me with its size. A gorgeous & relaxing place to have a convention!



Fairhope also has another large park that boasts a fishing pier along mobile bay and also has their own beach with playgrounds, restrooms and pavilions. Walking or Fishing From The Pier is free . The beach is $20 per car.


The fairhope Pier is the jewel in the crown of fair Fairhope, the fairest of the communities on the Eastern shore of Mobile Bay, AL
View from the Fairhope, AL Pier

                      

There’s a new restaurant that’s right on the pier which I haven’t tried yet called the Blind Tiger . Taking a walk on the pier is nice and the pier is free and open 24/7 and a good place to go fishing. This park/beach/pier is the gem of Fairhope’s crown. Don’t miss it. The beach nearby has playgrounds and a nice walk but will set you back $20 per carload or $5 per person. This is a new Development and the entire town is in an uproar about it. We'll see how long it lasts.



Daphne 

There are real, live gators in mobile bay, and 2 good places to see them (from the safety of a raised and enclosed boardwalk of course) would be these parks in Daphne AL:


Park and walk down towards the overpasses. Follow the trail to the right. Anywhere along the bayou here you might see some gators.



Bay Front Park in Daphne Al is one place you can see alligators in the wild in Alabama
Yes that's a real baby alligator. Yes, I took this picture myself. No I did not get eaten.


And there’s also Bay Front Park

Take the trail to the left and stop at the first bridge. You may get lucky!


One of the few beaches in Alabama that no one knows about.  Only problem is you have to share them with alligators.
Bay Front Park, Alabama


There's more to Daphne than gators!

One of my favorite little cafes is in Daphne. It’s called the East Shore Cafe. They serve some seriously awesome stuffed French toast, among other things.


Easte Shore Cafe is one of the best restaurants around loacted in Daphne AL
A picture Borrowed from Yelp


I also have heard good things about Rock the spectrum, an inclusive indoor play place. My kids are too old so I haven’t checked it out personally but it’s worth a look.



Spanish Fort

For more shopping and dining try

Eastern Shore Centre  in Spanish fort, off the 10.


They have an indoor mini golf, axe throwing, build a bear workshop, bookstore, and cinema and bowling alley that’s more of a family entertainment center. There's some nice dining choices here and the price point is generally cheaper than the beach. They also have seasonal artisan events where local artists come and sell their wares. (I’m one of these! Come get a caricature drawn by yours truly at these events.


caricature drawn at eastern shore center www.caricaturesbykathy.com
Caricature Drawn by Yours Truly

 Join my mailing list to get informed of when I’ll be performing here


There’s also urban air which is an indoor trampoline park similar to the factory but is in Spanish fort and has other offerings such as a ropes course and a rock climbing wall.



rainy days at the eastern shore arent a waste at urban air trampoline park in spanish fort, AL
urban air


Nearby is Blakely state park which actually has a Civil War battlefield you can go to and a Civil War era ghost town. It’s also not expensive.

If you like nature there’s a nature center there near Blakely park. It’s free. Five rivers delta nature center



At five rivers delta natrue center you can go for a hike, take a boat ride, or see a stuffed buffalo
Five Rivers Delta Nature Center


There’s also river cruises from there that have different themes throughout the year.



MOBILE

(Or "mobil" as my phone likes to call it)


Battleship USS Alabama is located right on the waterfroint in Daphne Al. A great place to tour with kids
Battleship USS Alabama

The Battleship USS alabama in mobile is a unique living history museum. Included in your ticket is a self-guided tour of a real battleship and a submarine too! My boys love this. It’s Not terribly wheelchair or stroller friendly however. (The doors all have “lips” you must step over because it was a working battleship).




Visit Ft Conde, a Replica of a Revolutionary era fort
Ft Conde

Nearby in the museum district is a pre-revolutionary war fort, fort conde.

It was eye-opening for me to find out that Mobile was a colony before the constitution was signed. The reason it’s not considered one of the 13 original colonies is because they sided with the British! Fort conde tickets are free with a history museum ticket.



A couple of nearby museums include the Exploreum and gulf quest which is HUGE  , indoors, and great for a rainy day.


South of Mobile is Bellingrath Gardens. I went there this Christmas to see the lights for the first time and I was really impressed.




Bellingrath Gardens is a breath of fresh air for citygoers and one of the hihglights of the christmas season for locals
Bellingrath Gardens at Christmastime


MISSISSIPPI


BILOXI - This could be a whole other vacation but it’s worth a peek. Only about 2 hours drive from Gulf Shores and they have lots of casinos, an awesome arcade for the whole family in margaritaville and right next door is

Paradise pier fun park which has actual carnival style rides, only newer and safer looking.


Traitastic recently moved to a nearby space that is larger and more modern. My family was all impressed. only about 1.5 hours from the gulf coast near Biloxi, MS
Traintastic!


And finally there’s a really awesome Traintastic museum in Mississippi which isn’t that far away in gulf port.


They recently changed its name to “Traintastic”. They Claim to be the largest model railroad museum in the world and I'm not going to argue with them. Seems Legit to me.


It used to be free but now they charge a modest fee to get in. I believe it s $12 for kids and $15 for adults. Seniors and military get a small discount. It’s still pretty cool, and once you pay to get in everything is covered including all the various train rides.


They have play areas for kids, models of legos and trains like you wouldn't believe, trains to ride and a LOT to see. You could spend a whole day here. However, we arrived late last time we went which was actually a blessing because we found out we could get in for only $5 each after 4pm (they close at 5) My kids are older now but they still enjoyed it. The lego sets displayed here are pretty amazing too. If you like legos or trains it’s definitely worth the ride.


Plan on spending at least half a day here. Then go for a dip in the gulf and some dinner at Shaggy's for some interesting food or just some good burgers. OK ok, yes it's a tourist trap. But a good one!




Caricatures make a great activity for your convention or company outing. Caricaturist near me kathy buskett is your best choice for this venue as she lives ony ten minutes away
Caricatures at the Grand Hotel in Fairhope, AL


Finally I am going to give myself a plug. you cant blame me, right?


My name is Kathy Buskett.

I’m a Traveling Caricaturist And I come to you to create each of your traveling companions a bucket-list caricature that is flattering, fast and fun. Please check out the rest of my website!


I am going to be working at the beach club resort this summer on Mondays and Wednesdays drawing caricatures for $15 per person. It’s open to the public.

(The money goes to the resort not me so please consider tipping!)



Caricatures are a great activity for resorts as they can be branded with your resort logo and info, and guests take them home and hang them right on their wall  - which acts as an ad for your resort. Hire Kathy buskett, your best choice for caricatures near me
caricatures at the beach club resort in ft. Morgan AL

You can hire me to come to private parties, weddings, trade shows and more. Check out the rest of my website www.caricaturesbykathy.com


Follow my

Facebook page to see where I’ll be drawing in public next


contact me

or message me


Here’s some more places I’ve listed on Yelp

to help you have a fun vacation!


Hope you have a lovely vacation and I hope all that was helpful!


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