Alabama: Beauty, History, Culture and Adventure
A Music Mecca
In addition to songs like "Sweet Home Alabama," Alabama has a rich and dynamic musical history. Music legends such as Nat King Cole, W.C. Handy and Hank Williams were born in Alabama, and artists such as Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones came to Alabama to record in Muscle Shoals, part of the southern music triangle with Memphis and Nashville. Visit famous recording studios and music museums, but most of all enjoy Alabama's live music halls and entertainment districts.
It was in the southern river city of Montgomery, where the breakaway Confederate States of America were born under the imposing white dome of the State Capitol resulting in the American Civil War.
Alabama is also famous for its role in the struggle for equality between black and white Americans. Montgomery is where Rosa Parks challenged segregation by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man and where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to preach. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is across the street from the historic 16th Street Baptist Church. Both King's church in Montgomery and the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham have been nominated as world heritage sites.
Antebellum Homes and One-of-a-Kind Attractions
What really evokes that Deep South USA atmosphere are the grand, columned antebellum homes that are located across Alabama, many open for tours.
Alabama is filled with unique destinations that thrill the whole family. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville is the world's largest space museum and is also the location of U.S. Space Camp. The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham is home to the world's best motorcycle collection with over 1,200 motorcycles and racecars. Wild whitewater rafting is located in Phenix City. Ancient Moundville is near Tuscaloosa. Scenic mountains and waterfalls are found in Mentone, Fort Payne and Gadsden.
Alabama is one of the greatest food destinations in the United States. Here, you can sample slow-cooked Southern delights, elegant fine dining restaurants and fresh gulf seafood.
White Sand, Clear Water and Mardi Gras
The very southern tip of Alabama is best known for Mobile Bay and the Gulf Coast beaches. Mobile is where Mardi Gras started in America. During Carnival season, the streets of downtown Mobile are filled with the sights and sounds of live marching bands and brilliantly colored floats.
The resort areas of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach comprise 32 miles of beautiful white beaches. Between the two adjacent resort towns is a large beachfront state park with a fishing pier and public beaches. Each resort town has a large choice of restaurants, bars and nightlife.
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is one of the world's most incredible golf destinations with 26 courses and 468 holes across the state.
Southern USA Trip
Alabama is the physical heart and the cultural soul of the Deep South. Key cities of Montgomery and Birmingham are a 2.5-hour drive from Atlanta, while Mobile and the beaches of Gulf Shores are about the same distance from New Orleans. Alabama cities of Florence/Muscle Shoals and Huntsville are only a few hours from Nashville.
At the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, lost airline luggage is unpacked and sold to the public at discount prices. More than 7,000 new and second hand items are stocked daily, and all clothing is washed and sorted by size.
Don't overlook this...
Artists such as Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Otis Redding came to Alabama to record in the 1960s and 1970s in Muscle Shoals, called at the time the ‘Hit Capital of the World’. Visit FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, just two of the recording studios located in the four adjacent cities of Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals. Florence is also the city where the father of rock and roll (record producer Sam Phillips) and the father of the blues (musician W.C. Handy) were born. Handy’s birthplace and museum welcomes visitors, and there are festivals and music events honouring both Handy and Phillips annually.
If you want to fit in...
- Order grits (coarsely ground corn) for breakfast, sweet ice tea at lunch and fresh gulf seafood for dinner
- Be sure to say “Y’all” (pronounced as one syllable, like ‘yawl’) when referring to a group of people—such as “Y’all look nice”, “Hello y’all” and “Bye y’all”
Made in the state
In the rural hamlet of Gee’s Bend, African-American quilters make marvellous works of art. Their style is based on traditional American and African-American designs, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art, now passed down through at least six generations. The women hone and teach their craft at the Gees Bend Quilters Collective. Visitors are welcome and you can purchase a quilt or even sew a square or two.
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum features more than 1,200 vintage and modern motorcycles and racing cars, including the largest collection of Lotus sports cars and motorcycles dating back to 1904. The museum is part of the Barber Motorsports Park, which is also home to world-class racing and a driving school.
Only have one day here?
Walk from the Alabama Capitol building to the Alabama River in the footsteps of history. Along this short walk are museums and historical buildings. They include: the church where Dr. Martin Luther King preached; a museum honouring Rosa Parks at the location where she was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a bus; the Hank Williams Museum containing the car in which he was discovered dead in the back seat; a tunnel leading to the Alabama River through which slaves and cotton were transported; the First White House of the Confederacy; the Capitol building where representatives from southern states voted to leave the USA—and where some 100 years later, Dr. King led marchers to the steps in protest. In the evening, you can take a horse-drawn carriage along the route, just as many would have travelled when much of the history took place.
- The longest urban whitewater-rafting course in the world starts in the twin cities of Phenix City, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, on the Chattahoochee River
- One of the world’s most incredible golf destinations, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail features 26 courses created by the famous course designer.
Where locals go to relax
Something magical happens when you visit the Alabama Gulf Coast, with its sparkling emerald water and 32 miles of white-sand beaches. The moment you arrive in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, the world starts to fade away. You can go deep-sea charter fishing, scuba diving or on a dolphin watching cruise. Nearby is Mobile, with beautiful historic homes and moss-covered oak trees. Go kayaking to barrier islands off nearby Dauphine Island or birdwatching along the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.
You might be surprised by...
The Moundville Archaeological Park is one of the most significant Native American archaeological sites in the USA. The 26 flat-topped earthen mounds were the location of the second-largest settlement of Mississippian culture, a people who pre-date the Choctaw and were in the region when the first European explorers arrived. At the time when Moundville was most heavily populated between 1000 and 1450 A.D., the community took the form of a 300-acre village built on a cliff overlooking the Black Warrior River.
Your child will always remember...
At the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, simulators let you experience a space shot, G-forces and weightlessness onboard a spacecraft. Tour the grounds of the U.S. Space Camp Training Center, where over the past 25 years, more than half a million children of all ages have come to experience life in the final frontier.