If you are headed to Gulf Shores on your road-schooling journey, then you made a great choice! Gulf Shores and the surrounding areas of Orange Beach, Mobile and Pensacola are rich with learning opportunities in history, nature, art and much more. Here you can tour a battleship, cuddle with lemurs and enjoy some beach time all in one visit. Check out the great learning opportunities available to you when you visit this one of a kind destination!
If you can get a group of your homeschool peeps together, the ultimate Gulf Shores educational experience is with Marine Science Adventures. Whether you are a homeschooler or teacher, consider booking this is a once-in-a-lifetime marine science field trip. You will explore a variety of marine habitats with hands-on activities including the collection, observation, and investigation of a wide variety of marine species.
My kiddos and I got to experience a portion of their offerings while we were there this spring and I have to say that Dr. John and his team were amazing! My kids got to seine the river, recreate a sea turtle nest and explore the ecosystem of Gulf Shores dunes.
Once you book your trip here, you will be given access to special materials to enhance the learning experience pre-visit and post-visit. This is one of the best educational experiences we have had at a destination. Definitely worth organizing a trip down here with a homeschool group or friends. You won’t regret it!
I know what you are thinking, you can visit a zoo anywhere, why would you take time away from your beach vacation to visit this one. I can guarantee that you have never experienced a zoo quite like this one. Known as the little zoo that could, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo proves that great things sometimes come in small packages. The thing that sets this zoo apart from all the rest is their passion and commitment to their animals along with a desire to educate everyone about animal care and conservation. One of the unique ways they do that is with their animal encounters. This zoo lets you get up close with several of their animals, in the past this has included, kangaroos, lemurs, alligators and tiger cubs. This is one place that is a must visit for us when we visit Gulf Shores.
The Holmes Medical Museum is located in Baldwin County’s first hospital, which served the community from 1936-1958. Many of the items on display are the original medical artifacts including surgical instruments, operating room machinery and a human skeleton. The interior of the museum is practically unchanged from the time it served as the area’s first hospital. This is a hidden educational gem and a must visit!
Weighing in at more than 44,500 tons, this massive battleship was in engaged in battle in World War II for 37 months before begin put on reserve duty in 1947 and finally retired in 1962. Many retired ships during this time were scrapped, but Alabama wouldn’t hear of it. They rallied and raised the nearly 1 million dollars needed to bring the U.S.S Alabama home for good and preserve it for future generations. Touring the battleship is equivalent to stepping back in time. Reproductions and memorials are peppered through out the ship, giving you a glimpse into life in another era. Make sure you download their app before your tour to get the best experience.
The Mobile Carnival Museum highlights the history of Mardi Gras in its true birthplace, Mobile Alabama. Immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions of carnival . Here you can see the intricate designs and artistry of majestic crowns , scepters and robes of Mardi Gras monarchs, discover the art of costume design and float construction and browse a pictorial gallery of historical photographs dating back to 1886.
The Dauphin Island Estuarium is an exciting educational public aquarium highlighting the four key habitats of coastal Alabama: the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. It includes the 10,000 square foot Exhibit Hall, a 7,000 gallon sting ray touch pool, and the Living Marsh Boardwalk. This facility has 31 aquariums totaling over 30,000 gallons with more than 100 species on display. The Estuarium showcases the plants, animals, and other natural resources found in the Estuary and its surrounding marine habitats. Educators are on site to give demonstrations and hands on learning opportunities throughout the estuarium.
The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum is home to more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation. These historic and one-of-a-kind aircraft are displayed both inside the Museum’s nearly 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on its 37-acre grounds. Best part of this museum is that admission is completely free all day everyday. Do yourself a favor and add this to your list of must do’s!
There is a plethora of dolphin tours and eco tours in Gulf Shores, you can’t go wrong with any of them. However, I HIGHLY recommend Wild Native EcoTours, their Coastal Eco-tour takes you on a 1 hour voyage through Oyster Bay, Bon Secour Bay and the Bon Secour river, all the while watching for a variety of wildlife including dolphins, bald eagles, osprey, heron, pelicans and more. Their conversant and funny captains make for a very entertaining and educational ride.
The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is over 7,000 acres of wildlife habitat for migratory birds, nesting sea turtles and the endangered Alabama beach mouse. 4 hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous take you through the different habitats of the refuge and introduce you to the animals and plants that call it home.
Never underestimate the educational benefit of a day at the beach. Nothing compares to an impromptu marine biology lesson in the clear blue waters of the gulf. Make a game out of identifying shells, fish and other ocean life. Check out my free beach scavenger hunt printable and beach journal page to enhance the learning fun.
As of October 2014, you can explore 300 years of Mobile history for FREE! The History Museum of Mobile is an educational and entertaining destination for people of all ages. As you explore the museum’s galleries, interesting artifacts and fascinating stories will appear around every corner. Explore the Community Gallery where local artists display their work, go back in time with the Faces of Mobile exhibit and have fun in the interactive Old Days New Ways exhibit.
Known as the Guardian of the Bay and the location of the historic Battle of Mobile Bay, Fort Morgan was built in 1834 and is still in remarkable condition today. Step back in time and imagine what life was like at the fort during the height of The Civil War when Union Admiral Farragut and his troops were aggressively advancing through the mine fields in the bay while Brig, General Richard Page was steadfastly defending this southern stronghold from Yankee invasion. Ultimately, the fort was taken by the union army after a ground battle that led to General Page surrendering the fort to the union. You can self tour the grounds and the museum daily and guided tours are available in June and July.
Founded in 1984, the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,500 pieces across all media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints, posters and photography. It is thought to have one of the most extensive sports art collections in the world. This is a fantastic educational and cultural experience for your family, best part is that it’s completely FREE.
Located in the restored home of the Phoenix Volunteer Fire Company No. 6, The Phoenix Fire Museum houses turn-of-the-century horse-drawn steam engines and early motorized vehicles. The gallery on the Second Floor recounts the history of the volunteer fire companies of Mobile from their organization in 1838. Your family will love the history here!
Experience colonial Mobile like never before at Historic Fort Conde. Here you can learn about the people who colonized early Mobile. See historic artifacts of Native Americans and Europeans who played large roles in the evolution of the Port City in a time shaped by innovation and war. Don’t miss the Lifeway galleries where you can get a taste of what colonial life was like.
Don’t miss a chance to see an outstanding collection of American, European, African and Asian art including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative art. Highlights of the collection include: 19th century American landscapes, realist paintings from the WPA era, contemporary international studio glass, turned wood and ceramics.
Where the Mobile, Spanish, Tensaw, Apalachee and Blakeley rivers flow into Mobile Bay stands an incredible facility for outdoor recreation, conservation and land stewardship in Alabama: 5 Rivers. It’s the ultimate place to begin your adventure into over 250,000 acres of scenic waterways, woods and wetlands.
The Apalachee Exhibit Hall has over 4,000 square feet of exhibits including plant and animal life in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, and cultural and historical information about Alabama too. Browse through turn-of-the-century photographs, unique art designs, and learn about the Forever Wild Program. See a 12 1/2 foot alligator caught from their very own backyard – and don’t forget to take a selfie with the enormous wild boar!
The Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island has been named one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring bird migrations. It consists of 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach. Recently, the 3 mile trail system within the Sanctuary has been designated as a National Recreational Trail. Don’t forget your camera and a pair of binoculars.
The botanical garden is 100-acres of cultivated gardens, woodland trails, and longleaf pine restoration. You can enjoy picnicking, birdwatching, hiking, walking, drawing, painting, and photography in this lovely setting.
With more than 150 interactive exhibits, thought-provoking larger-than-life IMAX films, and fun, hands-on educational programming, the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center aspires to increase science literacy among the people of south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region, residents and visitors alike.
By sparking imagination, creating curiosity and instilling a sense of wonder in the world, the Exploreum has been a cornerstone of informal learning on the Gulf Coast since its inception more than 30 years ago. With the continued support of the community – visionary civic leaders, generous donors, contributing members and volunteers – the Exploreum is able to bring the world of science to the Gulf Coast.
Community theater is a great way to introduce your kids to the performing arts and a fun way to support local artists in the process. South Baldwin Community Theater puts on several family friendly performances throughout the year and is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for something entertaining, educational and fun.
Gulf Shores is a wonderful stop on your roadschooling journey!
Thank you to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism for hosting us on a fantastic getaway. All opinions are my own. Please see my disclosure policy for details.