If you’re distance learning, virtual schooling, or homeschooling or roadschooling this year, things probably look a lot different for your family. Maybe you’re searching for creative ways to teach the kids, or maybe you just need to get outdoors for a while. Regardless of how you school, there’s no better place to do it than on Alabama’s white-sand beaches!
If you’re wondering how to pull off schooling your kids in a non-traditional environment, check out this list of 6 Ways to Make the Beach Your Classroom.
1. Take Your Kids on a Guided Pier Walk
Gulf State Pier (handicap accessible) is a must see when visiting Gulf Shores, so why not make it educational? Gulf State Park offers tours free of charge, though you will have to pay to access the pier. During this tour you’ll learn about the eco-systems of the Gulf, observe fisherman, be educated on species of birds and fish, and so much more! The pier is a half-mile walk there and back, making it accessible to even the littlest of learners. If you’ve got older kids, check out Gulf State Park’s Angler Academy, where you’ll learn how to saltwater fish!
*Note: The pier is undergoing renovations currently, but is scheduled to reopen in August 2020.
2. Visit Historic Fort Morgan, Alabama
Just a short drive from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Historic Fort Morgan is rich in history and fun! Fort Morgan was used throughout several wars, making it a unique destination to learn about those who came before us, and the battles that were fought to protect our area. Be sure to stop in the onsite museum and talk with historians, as well as pick up a map of the grounds. Guided tours are also available. The Fort has several areas where you can picnic, as well as let the kids play. If you decide to visit the Fort, plan to stay all day; it’s a wonderful experience to be able to watch the sunset over beautiful Mobile Bay!
3. Take a field trip to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab
The beach is the ideal location to dive deep and learn about marine biology. At Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the public aquarium is a great place to learn everything you need to know about the critters you’re swimming with in the Gulf! If you’d like to go a little more in-depth, join one of their Boardwalk Talks where you’ll learn how you can help preserve coastal and oceanic ecosystems.
*Note: As of August 2020, due to Covid-19, guests are required to wear a mask and must schedule their tour ahead of their visit.
4. Embark on a Dolphin Cruise
Though a dolphin cruise may just sound like another activity to entertain the kids, it’s far from it! Dolphin cruises are a wonderful opportunity to explore the calm back bays of the area and learn about local wildlife. Most captains are happy to answer any questions you may have, and some even have information and facts they will share throughout the journey! Dolphin cruises are family-friendly, and oftentimes have bathrooms on-board if you’re worried about younger kids. Most cruise staff welcome small coolers with drinks and snacks for your convenience. These cruises are a fun and engaging way to learn about aquatic animals, and you and your kids will no doubt have an amazing time!
5. Stop by Alligator Alley
If your kids want to learn a little more about the reptiles that call our sunny climate home, check out Alligator Alley. Your journey begins on an elevated boardwalk that will lead you to the habitat of more than 450 alligators! What’s the first thing you see? Baby gators! These cute little creatures are so much fun to watch, and you’ll even have the opportunity to hold one, if you’d like. As you continue down the boardwalk, you’ll see adult alligators, and you won’t believe how big they are! Along with these creatures, you may also see turtles, snakes, Osprey, Bullfrogs and even owls. If you’d like to see the alligators feed, you can watch at 11 a.m., at 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. This activity is handicap accessible.
6. Visit Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is one of the most popular family attractions in the region. Also known as the “Little Zoo” for its starring role in the 2006 hit documentary series, “The Little Zoo That Could” on Animal Planet, this non-profit zoological park is not just a little community zoo; it’s home to more than 199 species, 31 sub-species, and haven to eight endangered species. The zoo is about a mile from the beach and sits adjacent to a protected nature reserve. Tucked just off the main highway, visitors feel like they have entered a tropical urban oasis filled with intriguing sounds from their rich diversity of exotic animals. Whether it’s the distinctive call from their peacocks, chatter from the monkeys, or the occasional roar from one of their lions, you are instantly transported out of life’s hustle and bustle and into a peaceful nature setting. With wide pathways spread out over seven and a half acres, the zoo has shaded picnic areas, rest stops and benches, a seasonal concession stand, and a gift shop filled with awesome animal-themed merchandise. Voted the “#1 Zoo in Alabama” two times, they offer more than your typical zoo experience. Their friendly staff wants your trip to be as educational as possible, so they are always available to answer your questions. A trip to The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is a field trip like no other!
With so many unique learning experiences, there are plenty of ways to roadschool when you book it to the beach. Enjoy a whole different kind of recess when you bring your family to Turquoise Place in Orange Beach. The resort is just a short drive from every activity listed, making it easy for you to make the beach your classroom. So, what are you waiting for? School is in session!