OWA – An Alabama Amusement Park and So Much More

Gulf Shores, Alabama welcomes thousands of families each year with its sandy white beaches and clear turquoise water.   But did you know there is more to do there than just “beach”?  Located about twenty minutes from the pristine shores, you will find a family-friendly destination in Foley, Alabama calling your name.  OWA, which means “Big Water” in the Muscogee Creek language, is an amusement park and entertainment destination that needs to be added to your family’s travel plans. This world-class family destination features a theme park, a shopping and dining district, and on-site lodging.  It offers all the fun you’ve come to love about amusement parks without the lines you’ve come to hate – and expect.  owa-theme-park


OWA is so much more than just an amusement park. This place is huge. In fact, it’s so ginormous that it has its own town. Seriously. Downtown OWA is a real thing, and it’s really fantastic. What makes OWA so incredible is how family-friendly it is. I mean that in more ways than one. Of course, the amusement park vibe of it all is tailor-made for families. It’s more than that, though. Being able to stay right there in the park where you play, eat, shop, and enjoy everything else that OWA has to offer is family-friendly in its own right. The kids aren’t bored and frustrated by waiting to get into the park, and parents aren’t annoyed with the hassle of trying to find parking, waiting in lines, and all of the other rigamarole that normally goes hand in hand with visiting an amusement park. With over 500 acres of attractions, accommodations, dining, shopping, and so much more, OWA is the kind of place that was designed to be the absolute complete package. And to top it all off, it’s only about 10 minutes from the white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. OWA

Our OWA Trip

There is so much to see and do at OWA that it’s hard to put it all into one post.  Instead, I’m going to walk you through our latest trip to this amazing Alabama destination. With a three-day stay at OWA, there was a lot to do and see!

Day 1

Check In

On our first day, we checked into the Marriott TownePlace Suites. It’s a lovely hotel that is situated right on the property. It’s within walking distance of everything, so it’s the perfect hub for any family staying at OWA. It also offers a pool and an outdoor seating area complete with a fire pit.

Dinner at El Diablo Taqueria & Cantina

From there, we had dinner at El Diablo Taqueria & Cantina. This restaurant has some of the best Mexican fare you’ll find anywhere, and they’ve got a beautiful back porch view to enjoy. Featuring everything from tacos and fajitas to ribeye steak with a Mexican twist. Their Baja fish tacos and Redfish Vera Cruz are two highlights you must have.  Seared redfish served over cilantro rice and black beans topped with delicious vera cruz sauce and finished with lime crema was to die for!  El-Diablo-OWA If you’re feeling extra hungry and extra brave, take the grand burrito challenge! A humongous burrito stuffed with house-seasoned beef, shredded chicken, chihuahua cheese, Mexican rice, and refried beans. Smothered in their house salsa, queso and salsa verde.  It’s a sight to be seen and eaten! 

Murder Creek Distillery Street Party

We ended the night by attending the Murder Creek Distillery Street Party featuring music from Brandon Hammonds.  It was a great night filled with live music, tons of friendly people, and all kinds of delicious drinks. The blueberry drink that I had packed a big punch.  You can tell these boys know their moonshine.  Moonshine distilled, mixed, bottled and labeled right at OWA.  Plus, all ingredients, bottles and labels are 100% American produced and made.  We had to pick up a few to take back home!  murder-creek-distillery-owa

Day 2

On our second day at OWA, we made sure to enjoy as much as we possibly could.  The Park at OWA is just about the best thing you’ll find in all of Gulf Shores. It’s THE Alabama amusement park if you ask me, so of course, we wanted to soak it all in.  OWA Theme Park boasts a variety of rides as well as other entertainment options for practically everyone, whether they love roller coasters, games, or water parks. park-at-owa For the older kids and thrill-seeking adults, OWA Theme Park offers heart-pounding rides to satisfy that need for adrenaline.
  • Air Racer
  • Alabama Wham’a
  • Crazy Mouse
  • Freedom Flyer
  • Rollin’ Thunder
  • Twister
the-park-owa Little ones can enjoy slower-paced rides designed to feed their imaginations without making them feel unsafe.
  • Happy Haulers
  • Leap Frog
  • Flying Aces
  • Zip Zap Race
  • Swingin’ Fun
  • Gully Washer
The great thing about The Park at OWA is just how much it has to offer. Of course, you’ll find roller coasters, but you’ll also find other fun amusement park rides for toddlers to adults, as well as snacking, dining, and shopping. One highlight is Downtown OWA. This area is so beautiful and clean and features tons of shopping, dining, and fun events.

Downtown OWA Labor Day Car Show

We attended one of Downton OWA’s wonderful events – their Labor Day Car Show. Downtown was full of all kinds of makes and models of cars. Hot rods and custom builds lined the street, all waiting for passersby to take in their beauty and marvel at their craftsmanship. What was super fun about the show was that the cars were also on display throughout the park, as well! owa-labor-day-car-show While Labor Day may have come and gone, this car show is an excellent example of the types of special events and activities that families can find year-round at this amazing Alabama destination. The holidays are always special at OWA, which is one reason we love it there so much.

Lunch at Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill

For lunch, we stopped at Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill. This restaurant is all about good food and good times without any airs.  It’s unfussy, adventurous, and all about the food & the experience.  Everything from ribs to cheesy fries loaded with absolutely everything you’d ever want. I highly recommend The Bird Sandwich if you stop in.  A fried chicken breast topped with melted cheddar cheese and strips of bacon!  Let’s just say this is what I had that day and on a return visit! It was DELISH! With a variety of tasty, made-from-scratch recipes, you’re going to love the food whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. sassy-bass-amazin-grill

Gravity Island Watersports

After lunch, we headed over to Gravity Island, OWA’s fantastic aquatic wonderland. Gravity Island features an inflatable obstacle course on the water, a 2-tower cable system with obstacles both above and below, outdoor watersports, and so much more. They even offer wakeboard lessons.  Whether you are experienced or not, they offer a safe and controlled environment to experience some of the best Gulf Coast watersports.  Operated by local professional wakeboarder, T. J. Allen, and his wife, Caitlin, they provide hands-on training with the cable system to help you glide across the lake if you choose to wakeboard.  Certified lifeguards are on hand to ensure a fun, safe experience for all guests.  The boys decided to take part in the Aqua Play fun. You can check out all their fun and my play-by-play commentary here.  This was truly one of the highlights of our trip.  I got a kick out of watching the boys play.  gravity-island-watersports

Live Music on OWA Island

Along the way from Gravity Island to our dinner destination, we took in some live music. You can find it almost anywhere and in almost any genre. Music fills the air whether you’re walking the streets of Downtown OWA or stopping by the outdoor amphitheater.

Dinner at Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar & Restaurant

Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar & Restaurant is one of those places that makes you feel right at home from the time you walk in until you leave. It features a laid-back atmosphere and brunch, lunch, dinner, and late-night options full of coastal-inspired dishes and contemporary American food. They also have live music and an incredible staff. You’ll also enjoy the outdoor patio seating overlooking the water. Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant I had the Cabo Shrimp and Grits and their signature drink, the Shark Attack. I highly recommend them both when you stop in for your meal.  Seasoned gulf shrimp served over pepperjeck cheese grits and topped with a honey jalapeno butter sauce, oh la la.  The Cabo Shrimp and Grits was the perfect blend of Cabo and Creole bringing just the right amount of spice. If you’re up to it, let Lucy’s hit you with their best shot, the Infamous Scorpion Tequila Shot.   You’ll get a t-shirt if you dare! Regardless, you are sure to have a great time at this fun restaurant overlooking the water.  

The Brandon Styles Magic Show

After dinner, we headed over to see the Brandon Styles Magic Show at the Brandon Styles Theater.   I’ve actually seen him a few times, and he never disappoints!  He truly does wow you with his spot-on impressions, mind-blowing magic and perfectly timed comedic bits.  The Brandon Styles Theater is also home to the Gulf Coast Comedy Fest, Murder Mystery Dinner Shows, and more. It’s also the perfect size to enjoy a show.  With a little over 100 seats, everything feels intimate and personal, making for a memorable experience every time.

Taking in the Labor Day Fireworks

Finally, we capped off our day by taking in the stunning labor day fireworks. This patriotic fireworks extravaganza was perfectly choreographed with fantastic music. It’s one of the best fireworks shows we’ve ever seen, and it can be seen everywhere. No matter where you are in the park, you’ll have a view of the colors.

Day 3

This was our final day at our favorite destination so we chose to take things a bit slower.   After our big day of exploring the park and big night out with dinner, a show, and fireworks, we slept in. Our first stop of the day was lunch at Groovy Goat. groovy-goat

Lunch at Groovy Goat

Groovy Goat is a family-friendly sports bar that everyone will love. It features tons of delicious food options, including local specialties, along with huge screens for the sports area. They even have TVs in the booth, and the walls are absolutely covered with sports team memorabilia. Their scratch kitchen brings you all your favorite sports bar offerings with a new twist and has everything from soups and salads to steaks and seafood. Even the salad dressing is made from scratch! While you’re there, I highly recommend ordering their tableside nachos. Just be sure to leave room for your “official” meal, too! I had the buttermilk chicken sandwich. It’s a real winner.

More Park Exploration

Throughout the rest of the day, we continued to explore the OWA park. This Alabama amusement park hotspot has so much to offer, you never run out of things to see and do. Everywhere we looked, children and adults alike were taking part in the Labor Day celebration fun. We simply wandered the park, people watched, and did whatever struck our fancy at the moment.  We even made some cool handprint patriotic flags, courtesy of OWA.  They always offer family friendly activities throughout the year. 

Legends in Concert at OWA Theater

Legends in Concert is one great show! We stopped in and were so blown away by the quality of the performers. At this show, you’ll find impersonators that deliver amazingly authentic performances that make you feel like you’re seeing the real deal. Famous acts include Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston. Legends in Concert always has a spectacular lineup of the world’s most famous and influential icons and the biggest names in music history ready to entertain you. The longest-running and most-awarded show in Las Vegas will wow you at the OWA Theater. Now showing at the theater is the all-new Classic Christmas.  This show pays tribute to music royalty including Celine Dion, Karen Carpenter, Young Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. 

Dinner at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen

For dinner, we stopped into one of the best restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining in. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is more than a restaurant, it’s an experience. From the friendly staff to the downhome comfort food, and her on-site store offering everything from seasonings to coatings and sauces, Paul Deen’s Family Kitchen is a must when you visit OWA. Among the delicious comfort food options available are classic fried chicken and catfish, ribs, mac and cheese, creamed corn, creamed potatoes, and collard greens, all of which we feasted on. Be sure to pair your meal with their delicious peach tea and finish it off with their delicious Vanilla Ooey Gooey Butter Cake!

OWA is More Than an Alabama Amusement Park

It’s an experience! Of course, this Alabama amusement park icon offers rides and all the other things you’d think of when you think of an amusement park, but there’s just so much more to experience there. From classic amusement park rides to live shows, special events, its very own downtown featuring shopping and dining, and even a waterpark, OWA has so much to offer any family. It’s a must-visit if you’re headed to the Gulf Shores area. In fact, it’s a family vacation in and of itself. If you’re planning a family getaway I can’t recommend OWA more highly.

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