Spring Break in Perdido Key: Seven Tips For a Fun-Filled Family Vacation February 16 2016
By Searcy Sledge
Miles of pristine beaches, plenty of historical attractions and a warm, family-friendly atmosphere have made Perdido Key a favorite spring break destination for decades.
If you’re planning a trip this year and looking for ways to keep the crew occupied during your stay, we can help. Here’s a rundown of some of our favorite kid-friendly attractions along the Gulf Coast:
Lions and tigers and bears — Oh my! The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo — located in Gulf Shores, Alabama — is home to more than 500 animals. This must-see attraction was even featured in the Animal Planet series “The Little Zoo that Could.” For a truly special experience, sign up for one of the zoo’s “animal encounter” programs where kids can get up close and personal with lemurs, kangaroos and even baby tigers.
The National Naval Aviation Museum, located on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola, is one of the largest museums of its kind in the country. Exhibits span the entire history of naval aviation, featuring more than 150 meticulously restored aircraft. Visitors can see some of the rarest aircraft in the world here, including the NC-4 (the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic), SBD Dauntless Bureau Number 16 (a veteran of the Battle of Midway) and the last F-14D Tomcat. The museum is free and offers self-guided and guided tours.
Don’t forget to pack your flash light! Crabbing season officially starts in April. On any given night, one can find parents and kids on beaches across the Gulf Coast chasing sand crabs with nets and pails. One of our favorite spots for crabbing is Little Lagoon Pass, located just west of Perdido Key, in Gulf Shores. The 10-mile long lagoon is perfect for crabbing, fishing or hiking.
The Alabama Coastal Bird Watching Trail is recognized as a haven for unique species of migratory birds and other wildlife. Spring offers especially good birding conditions, with many species passing through the region on their way home from wintering grounds further south. We recommend starting your journey at Alabama Point East where you might catch a glimpse of Common Loons and several different types of wading birds. The trail stretches out 10 miles to the west. Grab a pair of binoculars and a field guide and see who can identify the most species.
The MESS Hall — located in downtown Pensacola — is not your typical science museum. The name is actually an acronym for “math, engineering, science and stuff.” It’s also an invitation. Kids are encouraged to explore, tinker and, generally, make a mess of things with interactive learning exhibits.
With one of the largest water ride collections on the Gulf Coast, Waterville USA is perfect for the thrill seekers in your family. Visitors will find everything from a 60-foot water slide called the “Screamin’ Demon” to a three-story water playground called “Shrimp Boat Village.” Along with multiple water rides, the park is also home to a number of roller coasters, one of the most popular of which is “Cannonball Run” — one of the fastest wooden coasters on the Gulf Coast.
The dolphin is one of the Gulf Coast’s most iconic residents. On any given day, their aerial acrobatics brighten the eyes of visitors and locals alike. Dolphins also friendly and always interested in making new friends. Get up close and personal with these denizens of the deep by taking a dolphin cruise on the Gulf of Mexico. You won’t be disappointed.