4 Must-Visit Places in Alabama
Alabama abounds in history and culture, natural wonders and Southern hospitality. There are so many hidden treasures that each visit to the state will uncover discoveries that will keep you coming back for more. No matter if you decide to visit Alabama’s coastline or explore some of the smaller cities, you’ll experience different vibes and authentic cuisine in each spot. A multi-city trip is a cost-effective way to cover many destinations on the go.
Known for its cuisine, art and hiking, Birmingham is located in the north-central part of the state. Once one of the South’s main industrial areas, it was given the nickname “the Pittsburgh of the South” in reference to the Pennsylvania city, which serves as a hub for iron and steel manufacturing. Birmingham witnessed violence during the Civil Rights Movement, and if you want to learn more about the part played by the city, various tours are available. Spoiler alert—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter of eloquence, spelling out his philosophy of nonviolence, while confined in the Birmingham city jail.
Of course, Birmingham isn’t all about history. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a curious first-timer, watch a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway and feel the rush of the cars flying by. Maybe you love drama. In that case, you can watch a show at the Alabama Theater downtown, which has everything from live music to classic movies. Birmingham is also a foodie city with many famous restaurants and a thriving nightlife of cocktail lounges, breweries and clubs. Also, it has a packed festival calendar, with events like the FOOD+Culture Festival happening year-round.
South of Mobile is one of Alabama’s best-kept secret beaches. Known for its stretches of white sand, beautiful woodlands with miles of walking trails and a host of shorebirds, this island is accessible from the mainland via a three-mile bridge that provides breathtaking views of the two historic forts guarding the entrance of Mobile Bay.
You’ll get a much quieter, laid-back vibe here than in nearby Orange Beach. Dauphin Island’s beaches are secluded, and there are only a few restaurants and condos. Nothing can be more frustrating than experiencing a poor signal on your cell phone, so get an eSIM, an industry-standard digital SIM supported by carriers worldwide to get coverage even if you don’t have a signal. Dauphin Island is the sunset capital of Alabama, so mix up a cocktail in the evening and check out the view.
Little River Canyon National Preserve
Little River Canyon National Preserve is often described as the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River. It’s located on top of Lookout Mountain, a gateway to the Southern Appalachians, comprising Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina. The flow of the canyon’s river is quite outstanding because its length flows on the top of the mountain, and the water quality encourages a rich natural diversity of flora and fauna. Little River Canyon National Preserve is home to moss, ferns, grasses and wildflowers, not to mention opossums, skunks, raccoons and armadillos.
Road biking and mountain biking are popular here, and most riding can be seen on Hwy. 176, which runs 218.65 miles. If you’re looking for a lower-impact activity, you’ll be happy to know that fishing is allowed in Little River Canyon (if you have a valid license, of course). But keep in mind that during the low flows of the summer, the fish spend more time hiding than actively feeding.
Not only is Montgomery the capital of Alabama, it’s also the second-largest city in the state. Situated on the Alabama River, Montgomery’s downtown has many attractions, from the State Capitol building to Riverwalk Stadium, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
This metropolitan city also has an incredible food scene, with barbecue, fried green tomatoes, pulled pork and raw oysters on the menu. Visit Café M at the Museum of Fine Arts for a local, seasonal menu before taking in American works of art from the 18th-21st century.
With friendly weather year-round, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Montgomery is home to some of the region’s premiere golf courses. You also won’t want to miss the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, which features six to nine productions a year, with three plays from the Bard himself.
So, if you’re planning an itinerary of the Southern states, take into account the Heart of Dixie, i.e., Alabama. If you’re taking a road trip, it takes about five hours to get from the northern border to the coast.