11 Reasons to Visit Alabama

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Alabama, often referred to the as the “Heart of Dixie,” is located in the Southern region of the United States. Alabama has some absolutely intriguing tourist attractions and offers something for every visitor to enjoy. With that in mind, here are our top reasons to visit the great state of Alabama.

It’s surprising - and a true fact - that Alabama is the least-visited State out of all fifty. We at Southern Travel + Lifestyles Magazine know more about Alabama than any traveler could ever hope to discover. We, like so many that have travelled to Alabama, can tell you that this “untraveled” and misunderstood state is our secret to discovering all that is good in the South. We will let you in on why Alabama is the reigning underdog, and hand our readers the key to truly uncovering all of its wonderful secrets.

#1 The Gulf Coast

Alabama’s Gulf Coast is home to 32 miles of stunning, powdery white-sand beaches. Alabama is fortunate in that the Gulf Coast kisses its most southern border. The beaches include Dauphin Island, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. These beaches are gorgeous and much less crowded than the beaches of its flashy neighbor Florida. The year-round warm climate makes Gulf Shores and Orange Beach a great shoreline escape in every season. We recommend visiting in the fall if you’re looking for some peace and quiet because it’s the off-season; you can have the beach nearly all to yourself and restaurants aren’t overly crowded. Blindingly blue skies and the seaside sister towns are a Southern foodie’s paradise, and make the perfect destination for anyone seeking a serene Southern-style escape.

Enjoy a beautiful hike on a warm, sunny morning through the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge - a nature reserve that is home to endangered wildlife and native plants. You can also take a riverboat cruise or kayak through the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs from Brownsville, Texas to Chesapeake Bay; here, you’re likely to spot dolphins, blue herons, pelicans, and hundreds of other species of birds.

#2 Food— but Southern

The culinary scene alone is enough reason to visit. With many Louisiana-inspired dishes and fresh seafood, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are on par with Southern food frontrunners like New Orleans and Nashville. You’ll find classic Southern dishes like gumbo, po-boys, crawfish, shrimp creole, red beans and rice, hush puppies, and even beignets.

#3 Outdoor Playground

Outdoorsy types will find plenty to enjoy under the Alabama sun. Fishing is something of a statewide pastime, as is hunting for whitetail deer, turkey and quail. If you’re not much of a hunter, you can still enjoy the scenery on Alabama’s beaches (where sea turtles are common sights) or on trails like the Alabama Scenic River Trail. Little River Canyon National Preserve at Fort Payne is a beautiful collection of waterfalls and the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi and is surrounded by scenic Lookout Mountain.

#4 Rich Civil Rights History

There’s no question that Alabama was one of the most important sites when it came to the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century. Today, you can explore this side of Alabama’s heritage at sites like the Rosa Parks Museum, Kelly Ingram Park (free audio tours are available) and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

#5 Good...No, Great Golf

Gorgeous rolling green hills beg you to grab your nine-iron and head out onto the courses of Alabama. The one and only Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is located in Alabama. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail has helped transform Alabama into one of the top golf destinations in the world. With designs by the likes of Arnold Palmer, you know you’ll be up for a challenging game, and with backdrops of waterfalls, lakes and forests, you just can’t complain – even if you wind up in a bunker.

#6 Hidden Vineyards

You don’t have to head to Northern California to spend a weekend wandering through lush vineyards with a wine glass in hand – instead, make your way toward Central Alabama. Muscadine grapes are de rigueur throughout Alabama, as are sweet wines, but you’ll find dry reds, too. Check out Vizzini Farms Winery for a taste of the more traditionally known wines, or Bryant Vineyards for a sweeter taste of muscadine and specialty wines.

#7 U.S. Space and Rocket Center

Alabama is responsible for putting the first humans on the moon and is home to the world’s largest space flight museum. Learn how rockets were developed and built; and take your own exploration into deep space at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. At this NASA Visitor Center, you can see one of the world’s largest collections of space memorabilia. Take a walk through the history of space and the U.S. Space Program, and ride the rides. Attend space camp when you visit the museum and see for yourself all the adventures of the space program offers.

#8 Sports Fanatics

When it comes to sports, Alabama doesn’t disappoint. Alabama is home to the #1 college football team, Talladega Superspeedway, and to Rickwood Field - America’s oldest baseball field. Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium (capacity: 101,821) and Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium are among the largest football stadiums in the country and host exciting SEC football action every fall. Birmingham is also home to the oldest baseball stadium in America, built in 1910. At Rickwood Field, baseball’s golden era is perfectly preserved – from the stadium right down to the uniforms.

#9 Small Towns

Alabama’s small, picturesque towns will leave you speechless. Brantley is known as The Front Porch City and is as charming as a town can get. Frequently hailed as ‘the jewel of the Eastern Shore,’ the picture-perfect community of Fairhope overlooks scenic Mobile Bay. Its bustling downtown, sandy beaches and friendly small town vibe are welcoming. A collection of hip boutiques and restaurants make up much of Fairhope’s eclectic downtown and its active arts community has led to a number of galleries and events like art walks and festivals.

Nestled on the edges of Walter F. George Lake across from neighboring Georgia, the town of Eufaula was an important river port during the late 19th century when steamboats used its advantageous position on the Chattahoochee River to trade. Today, the town retains much of its quintessential Southern charm with beautifully preserved antebellum houses throughout its historic district that can be visited during the town’s Annual Eufaula Pilgrimage.

Quite rightly named the literary capital of Alabama, historical Monroeville has produced several literary greats including Truman Capote and Harper Lee, whose seminal 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird is loosely based on the town. An archetypal small Southern town, Monroeville’s beating heart is its beautiful town square flanked by historical buildings like the Old Courthouse, immortalized in Lee’s book.

#10 Antebellum Everywhere

Alabama’s gorgeous antebellum homes will definitely take you back in time. The Belle Mont Mansion, built between the years 1828-1832 for Dr. Alexander W. Mitchell, is a pre-Civil War Jeffersonian-style plantation home that’s located in Tuscumbia. This beautiful plantation home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is currently operated as a historic house museum. Mr. Archibald Tyson, a cotton planter, built the Pillars, a Greek Revival-style antebellum plantation home in Lowndesboro, in 1857. The Pillars is part of the Lowndesboro Historic District.­­­­ ­Located in Tuskegee, and built in 1857, Grey Columns now serves as the home of the president of Tuskegee University. This plantation home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

#11 Roadside Quirkiness

Alabama isn’t afraid to show off its quirky side through its unique roadside attractions. Bamahenge in Elberta, is as you’d have guessed it a replica of Stonehenge. In Albertville, you’ll find the one-millionth fire hydrant made in 1989 by the Muller Company, in the Fire Hydrant Capital of the World. It stands outside the Chamber of Commerce. Andalusians textile company in (you guessed it) Andalusia, is the White Dress Shirt Capital of the World. They have the biggest white dress shirt on display finished with a gargantuan tie that is changed according to the seasons. And if Alabama hasn’t already impressed you with its Southern-ness; check out the Coon Dog Cemetery in Cherokee.
Does a traveler really need a reason to explore a new destination? Absolutely not; but Alabama is not your typical tourist destination; it is something extraordinary and one of a kind. We love Alabama for its historic charm, quirky destinations, beautiful landscape and warm locals. Put Alabama on your next bucket list of places to explore and you will not be disappointed, we promise!

More Alabama Discoveries

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