Baldwin County, which sits on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay, became Alabama's largest county in 1809. With just over 190,000 people, the county boasts first class golf courses, beautiful beaches and popular recreational areas with plenty of free things to do -- making it a great place to visit for families with children.
The Baldwin County Heritage Museum has a collection of artifacts gathered from the people who built the county, including special collections from local Baldwin residents. There is a history walk highlighting important moments from the rebuilding period of the county following the Civil War. Admission to the museum and grounds are both free. Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum is a 100-year-old museum housing local artifacts from families of early fisherman, as well as memorabilia of the area's Native American people. The museum offers group tours by reservation. Both admission and tours are free.
The Baldwin County Strawberry Festival, held every April, has over 100 arts and craft exhibits, food vendors, children's games and entertainment and a petting zoo. Families can also enjoy the antique auto show and live music. While food, shopping and rides require you to spend money, admission to the festival is free -- and there's plenty to do there without spending a penny. At the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival in June, hot air balloons enthusiasts from across the country come to show off their balloons. Families can enjoy free entertainment like country and rock music and a Frisbee dog show, as well as arts and crafts booths. Children will also love the free Kid's Fun Zone, where they can pet a baby alligator, play games and get their faces painted.
3. Active Fun
Beulah Heights Park has baseball and softball fields, playground equipment, basketball courts and tennis courts. Kids can also try their luck on the tennis court or simply have a family picnic under one of the many trees in the park. The Foley Hike-Bike Trail is actually a network of landscaped trails that take you past museums and a number of parks. There are gazebos and several benches along the way where families can rest for a few minutes or hide in the shade when the weather gets too hot. The trails cut through the nearby John B. Foley Park, where kids can join art activities and festivals throughout the year.
4. More Outdoor Entertainment
Designed as a joint effort between local children and architects, Foley Kids Park is an attractive but accessible children's park with plenty of areas to picnic, castles to climb and play equipment to enjoy. There's also a hand tile exhibit. In the Gulf State Park area at Florida Point, Orange Beach has beautiful white sand beaches with turquoise-colored water and more than 6,000 feet of oceanfront coastline. Picnic areas, boardwalks and outdoor showers are all free, so families can drop by at any time and spend time having fun in the sun. Parking is also free.