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Off-the-Beach Family Fun

A must-visit is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo (1204 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores; 251-968-

5732; map). It became known as “The Little Zoo That Could” on the Animal Planet channel. See more than 300 animals at the zoo, including red kangaroos, camels, monkeys, wolves, tigers and lions. It’s a day of fun for the entire family. The zoo is building a new home on AL Hwy. 59 in 2012, so check their website before visiting. Visit the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (12295 AL Hwy. 180, Gulf Shores; 251-540-7720; map), a short drive from the beaches down Fort Morgan Road. The refuge consists of nearly 7,000 acres of coastal lands with plants, flowers and animals native to the area. It’s open during the day for hiking, fishing, bird watching and enjoying nature. You can walk along a variety of trails such as Gator Lake Trail, Centennial Trail, Jeff Friend and Pine Beach. The trails range from one to four miles.For a little speed, fun and adventure head to the Waterville USA Park (906 Gulf Shores Pkwy./AL 59, Gulf Shores; 251-948-2106; map). Experience daring water slides, enjoy mini golf and race around a small track in go-carts. All ages are welcome at this 20-acre water park.Take a ride or walk along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (4009 Orange Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores; 251-981-1063; map) in Orange Beach. Tour guides will take you along the paved trail that winds through moss-lined trees, flora and fauna native to Alabama’s Gulf Coast. You might even run into the Cat-Man, a legendary wild man that is purportedly half cat and half man.
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