It’s one of the best entertainment districts in the South, The Wharf Orange Beach is the place to be along the Gulf Coast! Whether you’re looking for a classic date night, excellent restaurants or some family time, there’s so many things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach Alabama!
Situated on the water, it’s a great spot to hang out day or night The Wharf at Orange Beach is a must-visit any time of year, and is also one of the top things to do in Orange Beach, Alabama.
This is your guide to everything you need to know about The Wharf!
The Wharf Orange Beach Guide
This post covers what to see and do plus so much more! Here’s what to expect:
- The Wharf location
- What time is the light show at The Wharf in Orange Beach?
- The Wharf Orange Beach restaurants
- Can you fish at The Wharf Orange Beach?
- Things to do at The Wharf at Orange Beach
- Close accommodations
- Best way to get around the area
- Nearby attractions
Oh, and just a quick note. Retail space turns over, so this info is accurate at the time of publication. Let’s support small businesses so they can continue to operate and not leave The Wharf!
So, let’s get to a few common questions about the area first!
Where is The Wharf at Orange Beach?
Located inland a few miles from the Gulf, The Wharf is on the Portage Creek which feeds into Wolf Bay. Here’s a map that may help get the feel for the area. I’ve placed a few pins of other popular spots to frame the area.
What time is the light show at The Wharf at Orange Beach?
One of the top things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach is check out the light show. You’ll see it at #17 below.
The light show time varies based on season and when the sun goes down. In the fall, winter and spring, the light show at The Wharf is at 6pm and 7pm.
During the summer season, the SPECTRA Light Show begins at 8:30pm and starts every 30 minutes until 10pm.
The Wharf Orange Beach restaurants
There are so many restaurants at The Wharf at Orange Beach, you certainly won’t go hungry! From fine dining to casual eats and the perfect snack to tide you over until your next meal, too.
Here are some of The Wharf Orange Beach restaurants:
- Ginny Lane Bar & Grill (see #12)
- Local Life OBA
- Villaggio Grille
- YoHo Rum & Tacos (see #2)
- Mile Marker 158 Dockside
- Dippin’ Dots
- Island Time Daiquiris
- Kilwins (see #5)
- And more!
The Wharf is home to some of the best Orange Beach restaurants on the water, too! More details later in the guide.
Can you fish at The Wharf in Orange Beach?
Despite the fact that The Wharf is home to hosting some of the greatest fishing competitions in The Gulf Coast (see #21 below), there’s no fishing directly at The Wharf. Without a public pier on site, there’s not really a convenient spot for fishing.
However, the nearby Gulf State Park Pier is a fantastic spot for fishing! Be sure to grab a local license before dropping a line into the water, though! Here are more fishing locations in Orange Beach.
Alright, now that a few common questions have been answered, let’s get to all the activities at The Wharf!
Things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach
The Wharf at Orange Beach is a staple in the community. Whether you’re traveling to Gulf Shores with kids, on a couples vacation or a friends’ trip, it’s a must visit!
Let’s dive into the list!
1. Ride the Ferris Wheel
Starting this list off with probably the most obvious activity – riding the Ferris Wheel! As soon as you drive into the area, you’ll see one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the region.
Towering over The Wharf at 112 feet in the air, The Wharf Ferris Wheel is a fun and affordable activity for all ages.
During the day, you’ll get great views of Orange Beach and the surrounding waterways. At night, you’ll get an even better view of the SPECTRA Light Show!
Pro tip: check out the Ferris Wheel at The Wharf Facebook page for seasonal updates and weather closures.
2. YoHo Rum and Tacos – and boat bar
If you’re looking for good food and a good time, then you need to go to YoHo Rum and Tacos. With a patio overlooking the water and an outdoor boat bar, this place just has a fun vibe!
Oh, and being a margarita girl, I can honestly say one of the top 5 margaritas I’ve ever had is here at YoHo Rum and Tacos! (A couple other top margs have been at Margaritas on the Rock in Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie, Ohio and Casa De Reyes, Old Town, San Diego. Yum!)
Anyhow, the tacos are great, the drinks are delicious and the atmosphere is top-notch. It’s a must-visit at the Orange Beach Wharf!
3. Concerts at The Wharf Amphitheater
Music fans will love this one! The Wharf at Orange Beach concerts seat 10,000 and are tons of fun! From country to hip hop and rock and roll, the biggest names in music perform at The Wharf!
To see if there’s a concert while you’re in the area, visit Ticketmaster.
4. Take a dolphin tour (one of my favorite things to do at The Wharf in Orange Beach)
You’ll love this one! Dolphin tours depart from the marina at The Wharf, and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach!
Cruise for dolphins through the waterways surrounding The Wharf at Orange Beach. Small pods of dolphins live in the channels and feed off the smaller fish that live in the streams and bays from the Gulf. Book a tour and see them in their natural habitat!
This type of activity is great for getting to know the area better, too. You’ll ride along the shores of Orange Beach, watching the water for dolphins as you go along.
Book it now: dolphin tour
Pro tip: book a sunset cruise to watch the sun go down on the water for pure Alabama magic! ✨
5. Get ice cream
Alright, I can barely go on a vacation without trying the local ice cream. On a weekend to San Diego, a vacation to Dillon, CO or a hiking trip to Moab, Utah, ice cream is a good compliment to any trip!
In this case, there’s an ice cream shop located on the main strip in The Wharf that you really need in your life. With fun flavors like Turtle Cheesecake, Sea-salt Chocolate Caramel, Georgia Peach and Raspberry Sorbetto, everyone in your group is sure to get a flavor they love!
Visit Kilwins day or night for delicious scoops!
6. Photo with the Marlin statues
If you’re looking for the best photo ops in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, then be sure to check out Marlin Circle at The Wharf. These two large fish are the iconic image of The Wharf, and it’s a fun spot for a family photo or to post on social media.
They’re located at the heart of events and festivals at The Wharf, and are such a perfect memory to capture your time here.
7. Take the perfect selfie
Speaking of photos, this one is a fun one for teens or those looking to take photos for social media! The Cool Shots Selfie Museum is a space with fun designs and props to create the perfect picture.
It’s a perfect rainy day activity, or to get bored teens to open up a bit while on vacation.
Cool Shots Selfie Museum is located on the 2nd level across from the Ferris Wheel. Check pricing and hours before you go.
What to do at the Orange Beach Wharf
That’s a good start, right? With restaurants covered and a few activities covered, we’re just getting started on the many things to do at The Wharf in Orange Beach. One of my favorites is up next!
8. Rent a boat
The Orange Beach Wharf has boat rentals so you can explore the water on your own. This might just be the perfect way to spend the day for your family or group traveling to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores!
So pack your cooler, grab your sunscreen and enjoy the sights from the boat! (By the way, always be sure to use ocean-safe sunscreen to keep our oceans healthy. This one is my favorite and smells great!)
Note: previous boating experience is required to rent a boat at the marina.
9. Conquer an escape room
Are you up for the challenge?? Perfect for groups or families with older kids, Breakout is one of the most fun things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach!
You’ll create memories while you search for clues and solve puzzles, just in time to accomplish your mission and escape! Reserve an hour to try to escape fun challenges like ‘Runaway Train,’ ‘Operation: Casino’ ‘Island Escape’ and more!
10. Ice skate at The Wharf Orange Beach Alabama
During the winter, from mid-November to mid-January, ice skating is a popular activity. It’s real ice set up inside a tent and it’s might just be the perfect way to spend an evening in the wintertime.
Check the current calendar of events during the winter to see what times ice skating is open. Typically it’s in the evening hours (4-10pm) and most of the day on weekends (10am-10pm).
Ice skating at The Wharf at Orange Beach is a fun activity for the whole family – or a perfect way to spend a romantic getaway!
11. Blow your mind with virtual reality games
A fun spot to hang out anytime of year is Outer Limits VR Game Room. Fly through the air, race through town on a motorcycle in an all-too-real experience. But wait, you’re still at The Wharf at Orange Beach!
Located on main street of The Wharf on the lower level across from the Ferris Wheel, this is one spot you won’t want to miss – especially if traveling with teens! Check out the website to get a sneak peek on games, pricing and hours.
12. Seafood at Ginny Lane’s
One of the best Orange Beach restaurants on the water, Ginny Lane is a great place for seafood. Sit outside on the patio with water views and watch the boats in the marina. Or, hang out indoors and catch the game on TV.
From spinach and artichoke dip to fried green tomatoes and blackened shrimp, this place has a great appetizer selection. Oysters, shrimp and grits or crab cakes will make any seafood lover swoon. There are also plenty of non-seafood options, too!
13. Catch a movie
I know what you’re thinking: go to a movie on vacation? Well, if it’s raining or you need some down time, then a movie is a great way to enjoy your time relaxing.
The AMC Classic Wharf 15 has a variety of shows playing, so surely one of them will appeal to your group! Check out show times here.
14. Play mini golf
A family or date-night favorite, mini golf at The Wharf is a fun time for any age. The Wharf at Orange Beach mini golf has 18-holes, and is open seasonally.
It’s especially convenient to tie this activity in before or after shopping or eating. Mini golf course is located just east of the main entrance at The Wharf.
15. Shopping at The Wharf at Orange Beach
There’s plenty of shopping at The Wharf, too! Grab a souvenir from Orange Beach, new clothing, swimming suits, home decor, specialty spices or even accessories for your pet.
Spend an afternoon away from the water and walk the main street of The Wharf and you’ll find something irresistible worth bringing home. 😉
16. Enjoy a local cup
Morning, noon or night, there’s always something to do at The Wharf at Orange Beach! One of my favorite spots to grab a smoothie in Orange Beach is The Southern Grind Coffee House.
In the morning, grab a coffee and some traditional breakfast (eggs and bacon, anyone?). Over lunch have a sandwich and smoothie. Later in the day grab a cold brew or other type of cocktail.
The Southern Grind also has a great collection of beachy home decor and clothing, so if you still don’t have a souvenir yet, you can grab one here.
More things to do at The Wharf in Orange Beach
Can you believe this list? And there’s still more activities to get to.
Let’s keep going!
17. SPECTRA Laser Light Show
Mentioned a few times earlier in this post, the SPECTRA Laser Light Show can draw a crowd! In fact, it’s one of the top reasons to go to The Wharf at Orange Beach!
It’s a free show put on by The Wharf, and coordinated with music, lights and sometimes fog. The light show plays a few times a night after the sun goes down, after 8:30pm every 1/2 hour in the summer and 6:00pm each hour in the winter months.
You can catch it anywhere on the main street of The Wharf. I especially love that the palm trees are lit up!
This is a favorite for kids to experience and is one of the top things to do in Gulf Shores with kids.
18. The Pantry and a picnic
Okay, this is one of the best things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach Alabama and away from it! The Pantry is a convenience store with a light menu of freshly made food. It’s literally a perfect spot to grab food and hit the beach!
You can also order family-style meals with 24 hour notice. It’s perfect if you’re traveling with your family and just don’t feel like sitting at a restaurant one more time.
19. Build a teddy bear (perfect for traveling to The Wharf at Orange Beach with kids)
If you’re on a family vacation with little kids and they need a break from the beach, this is a great way to spend an hour or so. Kids can pick out their favorite character plush or stuffed animal and customize it exactly how they want it.
What a great souvenir to bring home, and a way to remember a great vacation in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores! Check Build a Bear Workshop website for pricing and hours.
20. Play laser tag
Let’s get active with some laser tag! Traveling with teens? This is the perfect activity! Haven’t played laser tag in years? This will be great! No matter what way you spin it, a fun activity like laser tag is sure to make everyone smile.
Arena The Next Level is where you’ll find the best laser tag you’ll play during your vacation! 😉 It’s on the second floor of The Wharf, across from the Ferris Wheel.
21. Throw it back with arcade games
Located at Arena The Next Level, this old-school arcade turns back to an era of innocent games while winning hearts of travelers of all ages. It reminds me of the classic arcade in downtown Breckenridge, which was also a great time!
Anyway, this is a perfect activity for a rainy day, with a family or as a date night! Challenge your opponent at skee ball, basketball or air hockey, just to name a few. What can be more fun than that?
22. Catch a sport fishing competition
The Orange Beach Wharf hosts some of the Gulf Coast’s most intense sport fishing competition! The teams come to The Wharf to show off their catch, and spectators come from near and far cheer them on.
The Blue Marlin Grand Championship, Orange Beach Billfish Classic and the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Series will seriously impress you with the size of fish caught for the competitions. Summertime is when to catch these competitions, if you happen to be in town at the same time!
23. Events and festivals
There always seems to be something happening at The Wharf in Orange Beach! From outdoor concerts to karaoke, carriage rides to holiday themed events, you’ll find it at The Wharf! Oh, and don’t forget about kid’s nights, food (and wine) festivals and girl’s night out.
Check the events calendar to see what’s happening during your stay in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach!
24. Taste the local flavors
Kentucky Mist Distillery specializes in creating their own whiskey and vodka, and is located right on the main strip of The Wharf. You can taste samples of their liquors, or buy a bottle as a souvenir.
Branded distillery merchandise is available in their storefront as well. So collectors will love the local distillery!
Whew! That’s the end of the list of things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach. Let’s get into more details about the area that may help you plan your trip!
Where to stay at The Wharf in Orange Beach
If you’d like to stay near all the action at The Wharf Orange Beach, here are a few suggestions:
- SpringHill Suites Orange Beach at The Wharf. Water views, a pool and steps away from The Wharf main street.
- The Wharf Orange Beach condos. On property at The Wharf, these condos provide a bit more space to stretch out.
- Large, pet-friendly vacation rental. With less than 2 minutes drive to The Wharf, this rental is perfect for larger groups and pets.
For more options during your vacation, check out the properties on Booking.com. I like using this site because it has a variety of options, including both hotel and vacation properties.
Search now for stays in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
How to get around The Wharf and Orange Beach
If this is your first time to the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area, welcome! The area is pretty spread out, so renting a car is ideal.
I typically book rental cars through Discover Cars because I regularly save 10-30%. You can search top car carriers (for free) and it finds the best deal for you. It’s like a win-win!
Search now: rental cars in Orange Beach
Attractions near The Wharf Orange Beach Alabama
If you’re coming to The Wharf for a concert or event, then you should definitely spend some time seeing more of the area! There’s a ton of things to do at The Wharf, and even more to see and do in the nearby Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Be sure to check out these guides:
33 Incredibly Fun Things to Do in Orange Beach Alabama
21 Exciting Things to Do in Gulf Shores with Kids
Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach:
- Beach time! With 32 miles of white-sand beaches along the coast, you’ll fall in love with this place!
- Gulf State Park for biking, hiking, kayaking and fishing.
- Fun activities like jet skiing, go-karting and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
- Other eateries, like The Gulf, GT’s on the Bay and The Hangout.
There’s not shortage of attractions, dining and beaches in the area, that’s for sure!
Things to do at The Wharf Orange Beach – a recap
What a list, right? Whether you love good food, high-energy concerts and festivals or family-friendly fun, this list of activities at the Orange Beach Wharf has something for everyone. And with places to stay near The Wharf and extra activities, you’re all set for your trip!
My favorite part of traveling to the Alabama coast is that there’s never a dull day!
Let’s recap that list again, in more succinct manner…
Things to see and do at The Wharf at Orange Beach
- Ride the Ferris Wheel
- YoHo Rum and Tacos
- Concerts at The Wharf Amphitheater
- Take a dolphin tour
- Get ice cream
- Photo with the Marlin statues
- Take the perfect selfie
- Rent a boat
- Conquer an escape room
- Ice skate at The Wharf Orange Beach
- Blow your mind with virtual reality games
- Seafood at Ginny Lane’s
- Catch a movie
- Play mini golf
- Shopping at The Wharf at Orange Beach
- Enjoy a local cup
- SPECTRA Laser Light Show
- The Pantry and a picnic
- Build a teddy bear
- Play laser tag
- Throw it back with arcade games
- Catch a sport fishing competition
- Events and festivals
- Taste the local flavors
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Thank you to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism for hosting me! As always, all opinions are my own.