The city of Foley, Alabama was named after its founder John B. Foley who arrived in the state from Chicago in the early 1900s. He used some of his own funds to construct a railway line and the first station opened in the city in 1905. Today, the same railroad station is home to the city museum, and there’s much more to discover too.
Foley is just 10 miles north of the spectacular Gulf Coast with its white sandy beaches and natural islands. If you adore being at one with nature, the city is surrounded by lush wildlife preserves, walking trails and water adventures. If you are seeking a central base from which to explore Alabama, you can visit Mobile Bay, Gulf State Park coastline and even the cities of the Florida Panhandle from Foley.
I’m from Alabama and have traveled the state plenty, exploring all is has to offer. Foley is a great little town with tons of things to do nearby. I’m sure you’re gonna find something you like on my list of the best things to do:
1. Alligator Alley
Alligator Alley opened in 2004, when owner Wes Moore decided that alligators needed a natural, protected area where they are guaranteed a haven away from danger. This fascinating gator adventure allows you to view over 450 rescued alligators, ranging from the newly-hatched to mature adults.
As alligators have lost their natural fear towards humans, you must remain at a safe distance unless under supervision.
However, you will be able to see these majestic creatures basking in the Alabama sunshine, or nesting in the greenery from the viewing area, so don’t forget your camera.
2. Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park is located 10 miles south of Foley on the southern shores of Baldwin County, Alabama. The park encompasses a huge 6,500 acres of land with glorious beaches, streams, pine forests and fresh-water lakes to explore.
Whether you wish to glide along Lake Shelby by kayak, sunbathe on white sandy beaches, or wander along verdant nature trails, you can do it all here. The park offers cabins and camping facilities, so you can spend more time amongst nature, and enjoy the abundant recreational activities on offer.
If you fancy sticking around for dinner and admire the glorious Gulf Coast sunsets, I highly recommend The Perch at Gulf State Park, the food is here absolutely great, as well as the cocktails.
3. Orange Beach
If you dream of miles of soft, white powdery sands and glorious sunsets, then you should visit Orange Beach. Named as one of the top 50 beaches in the world, this beautiful stretch of sand on the Gulf of Mexico is home to stylish hotels, piers and waterfront dining.
You can charter a boat and go deep-sea fishing, play a round of golf, or visit The Wharf with its retail stores, eateries and Ferris Wheel. Jump on board the latter to view the beach and Gulf State Park from an elevated perspective, before enjoying delicious seafood by the pier.
Related reading: 12 Best Beaches in Alabama
4. City of Foley Antique Rose Trail
You can spend a fragrant afternoon in Foley following the beautiful Antique Rose Trail. The pretty trail winds through Downtown Foley from Heritage Park to Berry Street and showcases hundreds of heritages rose displays of all colors and sizes.
I visited in springtime, it’s probably the best time to visit, as all the roses are in bloom, but you can also observe wildlife and floral displays on this mile-long trail at other times of the year too.
5. The Park at OWA
Nestled on the shores of a 14-acre lake, The Park at OWA is the newest and largest retail, entertainment and dining complex in Alabama. The park features a fun amusement park with 21-rides which include the fabulous Rollin’ Thunder Roller Coaster and the thrilling Alabama Wham’a.
If you don’t fancy the adrenaline rush of the white knuckle rides you can indulge in some retail therapy! The park hosts a variety of shops, dining and entertainment options, including a vast game arcade.
I think this place is a fun day out for all the family, and it’s less than 5 miles from Downtown Foley.
6. Graham Creek Nature Preserve
If you love to surround yourself by nature like I do, Graham Creek Nature Preserve in Foley is home to abundant rare wildlife and plant species. Set in 500 acres of mixed forests, pine savannas and wetlands, this preserve allows visitors the opportunity to engage in myriad recreational activities.
Whether you wish to rent a canoe and paddle to Wolf Bay, walk the 5k cross-country trail, or indulge in a spot of bird-watching, you can do it all here.
The park hosts regular events which range from a ‘Feathered Friends Observation Day’ to the ‘Creek Crawl Obstacle Run’. So, if you want to meet like-minded nature lovers, or wish to make new friends while participating in a sporting event, head down to Graham Creek Nature Preserve.
7. Foley Railroad Museum and Model Train Exhibit
If you’re eager to learn about the early days of Foley, venture to the Foley Railroad Museum. Set in a restored railroad depot, it dates to the early 1900s and houses several historic displays and archives relating to the city.
In addition to the impressive depot building and artifacts, one of the highlights is the ‘O’ gauge model railroad layout. The model railroad was donated by Alan Goldman of Montgomery, Alabama on the understanding that children could view the exhibit free of charge. The exhibit showcases a quarter mile of track and features 12 different railroads, several animated sites and 3 operating double track routes.
If you love history, and enjoy discovering more about Alabama railroads, this museum ticks all the boxes.
8. Lambert’s Café
Experience a dining experience with a difference at Lambert’s Café in Foley, Alabama. The original Lambert’s Café was founded in 1942 in Missouri, and the restaurant quickly became known for throwing hot bread rolls to the customers, earning it the nickname ‘Home of Throwed Rolls’. The Foley establishment (café number III) opened in 1996, serving delicious and generous plates of fish, shrimp, steak and ribs.
Whether you fancy a pass-around lunch, a slice o’ hog ham steak, or a roast beef pot roast, you can try them all here. There are kids’ menus, Lambert’s classic dishes, take away rolls, salads and sandwiches to enjoy.
It’s a popular Foley restaurant, so be sure to arrive early to guarantee seating.
More on Alabama: 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama
9. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is less than 20 minutes’ drive from Foley, therefore it makes perfect sense to spend a day taking a walk on the wild side! There are over 600 animals at the zoo, and plenty which will pose for your photographs as they wander around their natural habitats.
Whether you wish to see majestic tigers, talkative cockatoos, Capuchin monkeys or reptiles, you can do it all here. Children can enjoy talks about Kangaroos, Lemurs and Tamanduas, and participate in regular zoo events held throughout the year.
If you want to make the most of your trip to Foley, I highly recommend the Family Fun Multi-Attraction Pass, it includes admission to the Zoo, as well as other top attractions in the area.
It’s likely you’ve heard of Stonehenge, the megalithic stone circle nestled in the English countryside, but have you ever heard of Bamahenge? Bamahenge was the brainchild of artist Mark Cline from Virginia and is a fibreglass replica of Stonehenge located in Alabama.
Bamahenge is a full-size reproduction of the real thing, which even incorporates the stones’ orientation towards the sun and summer solstice.
11. Dinosaurs in the Woods
Picture the scene. You’re taking a leisurely walk through the woods, when you come across a terrifying Brontosaurus. Don’t panic though, it’s not the real thing! It was created by the same artist who brought us Bamahenge – Mark Cline.
He ventured to the nearby woods to bring joy and happiness to visitors enjoying their nature stroll by recreating and placing life-size dinosaurs all around for you to discover.
This incredible ‘Jurassic Park’ style woodland walk is fun for all, so bring a picnic, and your camera and cosy up for a selfie with your favorite dinosaur.
12. Holmes Medical Museum
Hidden away above a Foley pharmacy is Holmes Medical Museum.
The museum is set in the location of Foley’s first hospital which was operational from the mid-1930s to 1958. Today, you can observe the old theater, see patient rooms which have not been altered since it closed, and view a bizarre collection of medical tools and equipment.
Some may find it gruesome, but I think it’s a fascinating insight into the city’s medical history.
13. Foley Art Center
Foley Art Center has served the local community for almost 50 years, showcasing Alabama artists and supporting and encouraging children in creative arts. They host regular events including the popular ‘Art in the Park’ – a fine arts show for south eastern Alabama artists, and Trim-a-Tree event, where local artisans and craftspeople create one-of-a-kind ornaments, pottery and decorations to decorate Christmas trees with.
The center also holds a vast array of classes ranging from Painting 101 for beginners to drawing classes and DIY craft days.
If you wish to take an art class during your stay, I recommend to book in advance to ensure a place for your chosen dates.
14. Kayak along Bon Secour River
Imagine a canopy of trees draped in Spanish Moss, bald eagles taking flight across the bayou, and a labyrinth of wetlands and waterways, then see yourself there, gliding along in a kayak or canoe.
This fabulous self-guided kayak tour takes you along the Bon Secour River, experiencing nature, wildlife and birdlife as you pass scenic woodlands and drift underneath wooden bridges.
This is the stuff of cinematic movies, and you can experience it all for yourself when you stay in Foley.
15. Baldwin County Heritage Museum
Experience the history and stories of this Alabama region at the Baldwin County Heritage Museum. Located in Elberta, less than 6 miles east of Foley, the museum houses a wide range of artifacts, machinery and tools used by citizens throughout the 1900s.
Located in a traditional whitewashed wooden house, this fascinating cultural museum offers an insight into local communities, with historic documents and photographic exhibits, plus there’s some lovely places outside to stop for a picnic.