Every August, the World’s Longest Yard Sale snakes its way 690 miles from Gadsden, Alabama to Hudson, Michigan. With such an embarrassment of riches, the shopper may not know where to start. (The stopping part is easy: you run out of money and/or room in the car). Here’s a suggestion: the southernmost part of the route follows the scenic Lookout Mountain Parkway 93 miles from Gadsden through a corner of Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since the Alabama portion of the route alone boasts some 1000 vendors, you will probably be throughly over the whole experience by the time you hit Chattanooga. If not, no problem. Just keep following the U.S. Highway 127 Corridor from Chattanooga for another 600 miles.
The beachfront town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, is headquarters of Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s, a combination restaurant, gift shop, fun park, and way of life perched on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway. LuLu’s,which is getting ready to celebrate its 19th anniversary, heads into Mardi Gras with a party involving a boat parade, live music from New Orleans’ Big Fun Brass Band, birthday cake and a couple of thousand well-wishers. “Mardi Gras is in the Buffetts’ blood,” says Marketing and Communications Director Gabrielle Barnett, who as she spoke was getting ready to go to Destin, Florida, which has its own LuLu’s. Lucy Buffett agrees: “Mardi Gras is special to me because I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, where Mardi Gras originated.”
Early each spring, the charming resort town of Fairhope, Alabama, welcomes special guests to its haven on Mobile Bay. The travelers happily settle into their cottages near the pier and enjoy a hearty welcome-back dinner of mosquitoes.
A tree-lined neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama’s midtown cradles a Victorian mansion where visitors can experience the gentility of the Old South. The Kate Shepard House, a stately Queen Anne-style home replete with porches, balconies and turrets, was built in 1897 from a kit—the house’s components were assembled on-site–and went on to a distinguished career as both the Shepard family home and a private school run by Miss Kate Shepard. Outliving its original family by some years, the building fell upon hard times before it was rescued and renovated. Today, as the Kate Shepard House Bed and Breakfast, it has become a beloved Port City destination.
Alabama’s Fort Morgan perches on the shores of Mobile Bay, which was indeed the site of Admiral Farragut’s profane denunciation of torpedoes. Today the Fort, a State Historical Site located on 600 scenic acres at the end of State Highway 180, offers everything from historical reenactments to beach-going to world-class birding.
The battleship USS Alabama, having come through World War II with nine battle stars to her credit, now lies at anchor on the shore of Mobile Bay, where she is rated one of Mobile’s top family attractions. Designated as a National Historical Landmark, the Mighty A is the centerpiece of the 100-acre Battleship Memorial Park, which is also home to the submarine USS Drum as well as vintage aircraft, Coast Guard vessels, and tanks.
Ten miles inland from Alabama’s Gulf Coast, the little town of Elberta is home to farmstead cheesemaker Sweet Home Farm. Owners Alyce Birchenough and Doug Wolford are Michigan transplants who in 1985 relocated to become Alabama’s first licensed farmstead cheesemakers.
Nestled on the banks of the Magnolia River in south Baldwin County, Alabama, the tiny town of Magnolia Springs is an oasis of calm a few miles inland from the bustling Gulf beachfront. In addition to being charming and peaceful, Magnolia Springs is unique—the only town in the continental U.S. where mail is still regularly delivered by boat.
Mobile, Alabama’s bustling riverfront is now home to Gulfquest, the world’s only maritime museum dedicated to the maritime history and culture of the Gulf of Mexico. Designed to look as if it were a ship headed into Mobile Bay, the 120,000-square-foot building includes 90 interactive exhibits which immerse visitors ( roughly 50,000 since its 2015 opening) in the heritage and culture of an area which is sometimes referred to as America’s “forgotten coast.”
Perched on the western slope of Lookout Mountain, the little Alabama town of Mentone has welcomed travelers since the nineteenth century, when the area’s natural springs were a draw. Today, visitors come for the views, the recreational activities and the laid-back vibe. Summer camps have long called the area home, and generations of kids have spent a chunk of vacation here.
Alabama’s stately waterfront Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa has provided travelers with a gorgeous view over Mobile Bay for more than one hundred fifty years. Today the resort’s restaurants invite the public to drop in for the ultrafresh food and bayfront ambiance which has long wowed guests.