Is the wonderful state of Alabama on your bucket list? if not, it really should be! Last year Hunstville hosted TBEX, one of the largest travel blogging conferences in the world that attracted travel bloggers and writers from all over the United States, and around the world. Many people instantly fell in love with the incredible selection of places to visit in Alabama. From the civil rights trail to space camp, the beaches and parks along the southern coast to the fascinating cities of Montgomery, Selma, Huntsville and Birmingham, here’s just a TINY taste of some of the wonderful things to do and see in Alabama.
Amazing Places To Visit in Alabama
Capital of cool Montgomery
Having spend almost two weeks this beautiful Southern State last spring, I was able to get a nice taste of many of the top places to visit in Alabama. I particularly loved my visit to Montgomery and was pleasantly surprised by how many great bars and restaurants there were. I think the crazy mix between super-local home style cooking joints, hot dog shops and fancy upscale restaurants made the travel experience here so much more memorable. Must do things in Montgomery include paying a visit to the Civil Rights Memorial and the Alabama State Capital, seeing a play at the Shakespeare Theatre, and of course spending some time at the famous Rosa Parks Library and Museum.
The Museum of Alabama
Suggested by Tomeka from Short Weeks, Long Weekends
One of the best places in Alabama that visitors can explore three hundred years of the state’s history is the Museum of Alabama. There are several interactive exhibits for them to see along a self-guided tour at their own pace. The Museum is located in downtown Montgomery, at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Because the Alabama Department of Archives is the nation’s oldest state-funded, independent archival and historical agency, this museum is well thought out with authentic chronological displays.
No trip to Alabama would be complete without a visit to historic Selma. I spent a few days here last year and of all my incredible travels across the United States and around the world, my few days in Selma has the most profound affect on me. While I have written previously about my reflections on racism, civil rights and rebuilding Selma, I think it’s so important to talk about some of the other reasons people should visit this historic destination.
First of all, signing up to do a walk of the town with local guide Dianne Harris is a must. She will show you all the historic spots in town, tell you stories that she lived through herself but will also explain how Selma is moving forward and many people round hear are hoping, praying and working towards a brighter future. There are some beautiful old houses to visit in Selma, lots of nature nearby and my absolute favourite place to visit, the gallery of Tin Man Charlie Lucas! This extraordinary man (if I ever go back to Alabama I will make a video about him) is a true wonder his works of art, and his work with local kids, phenomenal. Selma is definitely one of the most important places to visit in Alabama and a visit here will touch your heart.
Huntsville’s best breweries
Suggested by Steve from My Geography Lessons
To people outside of Alabama, Huntsville is probably best known as the home of Space Camp. However, something different is helping the Rocket City make its mark: craft beer.
Since 2009, Huntsville’s craft beer scene has taken off. Six breweries call Huntsville home with another three in suburban Madison and more on the way. The city’s craft beer scene is clustered along Clinton Avenue just west of downtown around Campus 805. Campus 805 was converted from a former middle school into a vibrant brewery and entertainment district that hosts Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer Brewery. Walking distance from two of the city’s stalwarts is Salty Nut Brewery, which moved into Yellowhammer’s previous facility, and InnerSpace Brewing is scheduled to open its taproom between Salty Nut and Campus 805.
Downtown Huntsville is home to nanobrewery Green Bus Brewing and the city’s first brewpub, Below the Radar Brewhouse. Just north of downtown is Mad Malts Brewing. Madison, which is a 15-minute drive from Huntsville, is home to Blue Pants, Old Black Bear, and Rocket Republic.
Connecting the breweries together is the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail, which includes all of the city’s existing breweries plus a few craft beer bars/stores like Old Town Beer Exchange (OTBX) and Liquor Express. So if you’re planning your next beercation, the Rocket City should be on your radar.
Gulf State Park in the Gulf Shores
When you need a break from lazing on the white sand beaches of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, head to Gulf State Park. The park offers 25 miles of paved and natural paths plus beautiful boardwalks, perfect for hiking and biking. Pick up a bike from Beach Bike Rentals and you’ll have easy access to the park. The terrain is easy and there is a lot to see along the way.
On our ride through the park, we biked over the marsh, under trees laden with Spanish moss, and close to several alligators. Benches along the way provide a nice spot to take a break. Now about those alligators—keep an eye out as you bike next to wetlands. Some of the gators were quite close to the trail (with no fence between us), but they can be hard to spot if you’re hurrying. But why would you hurry? You’re on beach time, so take it slow and enjoy the view.
Space Camp in Huntsville
Suggested by Vicki from The Vicki Winters Show
Did you know that Huntsville, Alabama is also referred to as Rocket City? That’s because Huntsville, is home to the U.S Space and Rocket Center, and Space Camp. Space Camp, Aviation Challenge and Space Camp Robotics are three separate programs where people of all ages can learn more about how things happen, out in the “wild blue yonder.”
If you’re thinking, who would want to go to a camp where people get to dress up in ACTUAL ASTRONAUT gear, participate in activities that only REAL astronauts get to do, and learn all about what happens on a SPACE Mission. The answer is…EVERYONE. Including me.
Off We Went Into The Wild Blue Yonder
I spent one whole day as part of a simulated space mission, hanging from a harness learning how to put tiles on a Rocket Ship, spinning on the Axis Trainer that simulates weightlessness, and almost throwing up. It was fascinating to learn how Astronauts go to the bathroom in space, too. Space Camp. Not just for kids!
Street art in Huntsville
Suggested by Cathy from Street Art Chat
I never expected to find street art in Alabama! Huntsville, Alabama was full of surprises. Walking through Big Spring Park, the coy fish were plentiful in the river. As we rounded a turn to head into town, a beautiful wall mural featuring larger than life coy fish greeted us. The art did not stop there in Huntsville. Alleyways led to live music and more art. Each turn held a surprise. Look up, down, and all around for the hidden ducks of Huntsville. 14 small bronze ducks are hidden all over the city, adding fun to the art. Huntsville is embracing the arts and plans to add more each year. Be sure to take a walk and see what you can find!
The city of Birmingham
Suggested by Archana from Travel See Write
The ‘Magic City’ of the ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is magical in every sense. From a revolutionary history to topnotch southern hospitality, Birmingham surprised me in so many ways. Can you imagine a world where people are forbidden to eat together, travel together or use the same washroom? Yes, it was a reality until Sir Martin Luther King decided to change the course of the American history and it all started here. Learning about the Civil Rights Movement at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Church, and Bethel Baptist Church was a very emotional experience.
However, the bright present is no more clutched in the claws of a tragic Afro-American past. Today, Birmingham is brimming with happiness and inclusive growth. People are extremely generous and their generosity can be seen in their food portions. Ovenbird, Roots & Revelry and Rib-it up Barbeque made a non-foodie a foodie. The southern hospitality was matched with equally stunning panoramic views from the Vulcan, the largest cast iron statue in the world. The Negro Southern League Museum and vibrant live music venues are must for sports and music aficionados.
Unclaimed Baggage Center
Suggested by Myles from Myles to Travel
Did you ever wonder what happened to your luggage that never made it to your destination? Or that tablet you forgot you put in the seat pocket in front of you on the plane? You might find it at Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsdale Alabama. Disclaimer, all items are bought from the airlines after 90 days and every attempt was made to return to its rightful owner. You can find camera’s, clothes, shoes, jewellery and household items. They even had hair weave and beauty products. If you’re planning a trip to Lookout Mountain, Huntsville or U.S. Space camp, make a stop at and claim some unclaimed baggage. To see what I bought when I visited Unclaimed Baggage, read this post.
Conrad Swanson Observatory
Suggested by Leslie Walker from TourDatesTravel
Lots of places offer you the moon, but my bucket list pick actually delivers it! Perched high above Huntsville, Alabama near Monte Sano State Park is the Von Braun Astronomical Society’s Conrad Swanson Observatory and Wernher von Braun Planetarium.
Built partially out of spare space program parts (true story), this observatory and planetarium has played host to everyone from two original Mercury 7 astronauts (Alan Shepard & Gordo Cooper) to the King of Rock and Roll and even a moon walker. In fact, in 1999 while speaking at a U.S. Space and Rocket Center event honouring the 30th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Buzz Aldrin recalled how, peering at the Moon through this very telescope, Dr. Von Braun assured him they would get there! How cool is that?
These days, the passionate team of volunteers host Saturday night planetarium shows throughout the year. I have got to get to one of these in 5, 4, 3, 2….
Suggested by Kaleigh Allen from KK Travels and Eats
Orange Beach, Alabama is nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, close to the Florida border. Its white sand beaches are the perfect place for family vacations, trips with friends or even for a solo getaway. Once you’re done relaxing on the beach or playing in the sugar-sand there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied. There’s The Wharf (shops and restaurants), mini golf, jet skiing, fishing and so much more.
No trip to Orange Beach is complete without a stop at the famous Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar. Food and drinks are served at this beachside spot where I’d recommend having a frozen Bushwacker, especially on a hot day. If you want to be more secluded while being a beach bum then I’d recommend going to Perdido Key State Park. This 247-acre island is right over the border going into Florida and is the perfect place to spend the entire day on the beach. Just be sure to bring some sunscreen!
Orange Beach is only a short drive away from Gulf Shores. There are several airports close by and is not too far from bigger cities like Atlanta, Mobile or even New Orleans. This makes it the ideal location to see when going to the beach along the Gulf.
A Taste Of The South
Restaurants suggested by Connie from There goes Connie
Alabama, Land of Grits and Sweet Tea, might not be known for its acclaimed chefs and fine dining, but it should be. Up and down the length of the state, you can eat your way through the amazing dishes of James Beard nominees and the winner of Food Network’s “Chopped.”
In Huntsville, look for Grille 29 and Chef Cara Thompson, and any of the 3 restaurants owned by Chef James Boyce will amaze you. In Birmingham, Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill is consistently ranked among the top choices in Alabama. SpringHouse in Alexander City is worth going a few miles off of Highway 280 to sample the creations of Chef Rob McDaniel, and in Auburn, Chef David Bancroft is a strong advocate of local produce and farm-to-fork fare at ACRE. On the Alabama Gulf Coast, seafood at its best is prepared by Chef Bil Briand at Fisher’s in Orange Beach. Come and enjoy! If you’re planning out the top places to visit in Alabama, starting off at one of these restaurants would be a good choice!
Little River Canyon
Suggested by Charles from McCool Travel
Many things about Alabama surprised me but perhaps nothing more than Little River Canyon National Preserve and Little River Falls. If pressed for time, you can drive right to magnificent Little River Falls, located only a few miles from I-59. For a super wicked fun adventure, like I did, meander among countless small roads and stumble upon the southern entrance to Little River Canyon. The 11 mile, amazingly scenic drive terminates at the waterfall parking lot, where you are figuratively required to park and dip your feet in the Little River headwaters. Careful, though, because the rocks are slippery!
Fairhope / Point Clear
Suggested by Mike from Mike’s Road Trip
Suggested by Hope from Getawaysforgrownups
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