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We’re always looking for family-friendly places to visit that we can drive to from Nashville. One of our favorites is OWA Parks & Resorts on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. It offers something for everyone, including an amusement park, water park, live concerts and magic shows, a variety of restaurants and fun retail shops. Here’s our list of the best things to do at OWA Parks & Resort.
Disclaimer: Our friends at Visit OWA have sponsored our trips on several occasions since 2019. Although they’ve comped our stays, our opinions are honest. And we provide feedback to the resort on how to improve the experience to ensure visitors create lifelong memories for their families.
Best things to do at OWA Parks & Resort in Foley, Alabama
Cool off at Tropic Falls Water Park
The newest addition to OWA is the Tropic Falls Water Park. It features more than ten water rides and attractions for visitors to enjoy. While it’s the perfect spot to cool off during the summer, this indoor water park is actually open year-round.
The water park wasn’t open during our first couple of visits, so it was a special treat for us when we visited in May 2023. Tropic Falls water park offers water rides and attractions for all ages. Tuki’s Tower offers a kid-friendly play structure and slides. More adventurous visitors can ride slides and chutes to pump up their adrenaline. Or you can relax in the lazy river, hit the 30,000 sq ft wave pool, or catch a wave on the surf simulator.
One ticket provides admission to both the water park and the amusement park. Tickets are $63 per person for the water park and theme park or just $26.99 for the theme park only. Season passes start at $269.99, and a Family 4 Pack of tickets is $230 ($57.50 per person).
Thrill-seeking rides at Tropic Falls Amusement Park
Speaking of thrilling rides, we love the variety of attractions at the Tropic Falls amusement park. It offers attractions for all ages, including our favorites: The Alabama Wham’A, Mystic Mansion, and Rolling Thunder. The amusement park features more than 20 rides and attractions, and they’re evenly split between children and adult rides.
What I love most about the amusement park is that you rarely wait more than a couple of minutes between rides. In some cases, we’ve been able to walk right up and get on the ride. During our visit, I think the longest we waited for any ride (Rolling Thunder) was about five to ten minutes.
For visitors that aren’t interested in going on the rides, Tropic Falls offers a non-rider ticket. This is ideal for people that want to watch the fun but aren’t actually interested in going on the rides themselves. It’s awesome that everyone gets to participate without paying for a full-price ticket.
Be amazed at the Brandon Styles Theater & Magic Shop
My buddy Brandon Styles has one of the best magic and impersonation shows around. His nightly performances amaze visitors with close-up magic, sleight of hand, zany comedy, and fun impressions. He and his wife, Diamond, put on an amazing show that you can’t miss.
Throughout the year, Brandon also hosts themed dinner theater events. His “Trip Down Memory Lane” dinner show offers impersonations of almost 40 famous singers from the 1950s to 1970s. Tickets are available for all of his variety and magic shows. Plus, you’ll save 20% with this link for Terrific Tuesdays performances through the end of 2023.
For more ideas about what to do during your visit, check out the podcast episode I recorded with Brandon about the best things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Watch the fountains at Downtown OWA
One of the best things to do at OWA Parks & Resort after a long day is to grab a drink or ice cream (or both!) and watch the fountains at Downtown OWA. They’re located in the lagoon in the center of the entertainment district. This free show happens throughout the day, and it is a good way to chill out and relax while the kids play in the nearby splash pad.
Unleash your inner Picasso at Paint Party Studios
There’s an artist hidden inside each and every one of us. At Paint Party Studios, you can let your creative juices shine with beginner-friendly art projects starting at just $5. Most paint projects take 30 to 60 minutes. They even offer private group sessions if you want to bring friends or have a large family.
For an adults-only trip, they also offer Adult Paint & Sip parties to enjoy a glass of wine while painting your masterpiece.
Catch a performance at OWA Theater
Local acts, tribute bands, and nationally-recognized performers visit OWA Theater to entertain guests. This 430+ seat venue features everything from music to comedy to hypnotists. During our stay, Taylor Hicks from American Idol was performing on Saturday night.
Upcoming shows include:
- Elevation, a U2 tribute show
- Broken Hearts, a Tom Petty tribute band
- Chi-Town Transit Authority
- White Tie Rock Ensemble
- Face Value, a Phil Collins tribute artist
Wine tasting at C’est Le Vin Wine Bar & Shop
While this may not be a kid-focused activity, parents need to have a little fun too. Grab a glass of wine at C’est Le Vin Wine Bar or sample a variety of varietals with a round of wine tasting. Once you’ve found a wine that you like, buy a bottle or order a glass to go. Remember, you can walk around the Visit OWA entertainment complex with drinks from any of the participating restaurants and drink shops.
If wine isn’t your idea of fun, stop by Murder Creek Distillery or the Rum Island Daiquiri Bar. Murder Creek Distillery offers moonshine tasting inside and mixed drinks to-go. There are numerous flavors of moonshine available, and our favorite was watermelon. You can also buy mason jars filled with your favorite flavors to enjoy at home or give to friends. Rum Island has a variety of adult slushies to enjoy while walking around OWA, or you can relax on their chaise lounges overlooking the lake.
Sweet treats at Hershey’s Ice Cream Parlor
After dinner or between meals, nothing makes kids happier than a big scoop of ice cream or a tasty chocolate treat. Hershey’s Ice Cream Parlor is near the entrance of Tropic Falls, so it gave us plenty of time to enjoy our ice cream as we walked back to our hotel, the TownPlace Suites by Marriott, at the other end of the OWA Entertainment District.
We had about 15 flavors to choose from, so all of us got to pick a flavor we liked. The kids couldn’t decide which was their favorite, so they ordered two scoops each. It’s vacation time, so only half of the calories count, right?
Casual dining at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar
There’s so much to do at OWA that it can be easy to forget to stop and eat. Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar has a cool vibe with a surfer theme. Its menu features something for everyone, plus some more exotic options for adventurous eaters. We ordered fish tacos, chicken quesadillas, a grilled chicken sandwich, and chicken tenders. Plus, I enjoyed a couple of margaritas during our meal that helped me cool down after a hot day at the theme park.
What I really like about Lucy’s are the outdoor seating areas. You can sit on the enclosed patio with ceiling fans or enjoy the wooden rocking chairs overlooking the lake.
Online gaming at Clash eSports & VR Experience
Although the kids play enough video games on their electronics, playing games at Clash eSports brings things to another level. Clash moved to a new location next to the Brandon Styles Theatre, which makes it easier for guests to find it. There are numerous video game stations inside plus a fund virtual reality experience for guests who want to try out the latest technology.
Take the burrito challenge at El Diablo Taqueria & Cantina
During our last visit, we stopped by El Diablo for some tasty Mexican food. My buddy David is a total foodie, and we convinced him to take the burrito challenge. You have 25 minutes to eat an 8-pound burrito. If you can finish it, you get it for free!
I wasn’t that brave, but I wanted something delicious. So, I ordered the steak with garlic butter. It was such a cool presentation with the liquid fire as they flambéed the steak for the finishing touches.
Relax by the fire pit at TownePlace Suites by Marriott
After a long day at the park, I love being able to relax by the fire with my feet up. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the lights and sounds with Anna and the kids. Depending on how full the hotel is, other guests may be using the fire pit. So, ask if you can join them or wait your turn.
The TownePlace Suites Foley at OWA by Marriott hotel also has a couple of BBQs outside. For families that love to cook while on vacation, this is a great way to save some money while enjoying delicious food.
Release your inner child at Toys Under Twenty
Buying souvenirs for the kids on vacation is a basic expectation for most families. However, prices seem to be out of control at some tourist attractions. At Toys Under Twenty, everything in the store is $20 or less. For families on a budget, you have no fear about busting the budget when entering this store.
What I love most about the store is the comfy reading corner in the back of the store. It’s awesome that they encourage reading for kids. And the store even has a small bookcase where kids can take a book for free. So, even if your wallet is running a little thin, you can still bring something home from your trip.
Grab a slice of pizza at Valerio’s Pizza & Italian
Pizza is one of my four basic food groups, so of course, we had to visit Valerio’s Pizza & Italian for dinner. Instead of a traditional full-service restaurant, this is more of a fast-casual concept. You walk up to the counter and order your food, and then the servers bring your food out to you.
We ordered a variety of Italian dishes, including a couple of pizzas, pasta, salad and more. All of the food was good, and the service was excellent. Everyone we encountered was super friendly and attentive, which you normally wouldn’t expect at a fast-casual diner.
Enjoy seasonal events all year at OWA
While there are so many things to do at OWA Parks & Resorts throughout the year, they also offer seasonal events to offer something new during every visit. Here are a few of the best things to do in OWA Parks & Resorts throughout the year that you may want to plan your trip around:
Hit the beach at Gulf State Park
Just down the street from Downtown OWA is the pier and beach at Gulf State Park. After enjoying breakfast at a local diner with my cousins, we headed to the beach to splash around the water for a couple of hours. For people that like to fish, you can head up to the pier and cast your line. Overall, the water was warm, and the beach was nice. We had a great time playing in the water… although the kids were having a little too much fun tackling me in the waves.
The Bald Thoughts about the Best Things to do at OWA Parks & Resort
If you’re looking for a family-friendly getaway, book your trip to the Gulf Coast of Alabama to the Visit OWA entertainment district. There are so many attractions and dining options here, and our 16 best things to do at OWA Parks & Resorts barely scratches the surface. We were only able to stay for a few days during our latest visit. So, you can accomplish a lot in a couple of days, or book a longer stay to experience everything that Tropic Falls and Downtown OWA have to offer.