DeSoto State Park, located atop Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Alabama, in the state’s northeast, offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of the area while enjoying a region of remarkable scenic beauty. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Federal agency created to offer employment to young men during the Depression, […]
Alabama’s Gulf State Park—more than 6,000 acres on the Gulf of Mexico—includes nine preserved ecosystems ranging from white sandy beaches to marshes. There’s plenty to do here on and off the beach.The area is a birding hotspot, particularly in Spring as migrating songbirds pass through from their wintering grounds south over the Gulf. Bald eagles […]
Birmingham, Alabama, acquired the nickname “the Magic City” for the way it sprang up seemingly overnight following the discovery that all the elements needed to make iron could be found within a thirty-mile radius in what was then called Jones Valley. Today, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark honors the people who made the magic happen. […]
Fort Morgan, Alabama, located on Mobile Bay at the end of State Highway 180, has long been a birding hotspot, especially in spring and fall as migrants pass through on their way to or from South America. The historic fort has been the site of various seasonal bird banding operations over the years. In 2019, […]
The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, located in downtown Mobile, Alabama, is featuring Cosmos 2021: Adventure into the Unknown through September 6
The tiny town of Magnolia Springs, Alabama, is an oasis of calm a few miles inland from the bustling Gulf beachfront. The village, which sits on the peaceful Magnolia River, is a charming spot where nature takes center stage, as evidenced by the town’s unique boast–it’s the only place in the continental U.S. where mail […]
SummerTide, the University of Alabama’s professional summer theatre, returns to Gulf Shores in June, 2021, with “Starting Here, Starting Now,” a musical revue featuring the songs of award-winning Broadway veterans Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire.
It all started with dinosaurs (yeah, I know, lots of things did). Wealthy Alabama businessman George Barber had commissioned artist Mark Cline to create some dinosaurs, a move guaranteed to add interest to one of Barber’s properties. In 2006, Cline was on-site, directing repairs to the giant beasts when Barber broached the subject of Stonehenge. Not exactly all in a day’s work, but Cline had previous experience building a Stonehenge replica from Styrofoam (and of course it’s known as Foamhenge). By 2012, Barber had selected the ideal spot for his own Stonehenge: the spacious grounds of Barber Marina, on the Intracoastal Waterway inland from Orange Beach, Alabama.
Each Spring, visitors to Bellingrath Gardens, near Mobile, Alabama, can wander through a fairyland of more than 250,000 spectacular azaleas in full bloom.
Located in Huntsville, Alabama, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center serves as the official NASA Visitor Center for Marshall Space Flight Center, home to development of the Space Launch System– the most powerful rocket ever designed—which will carry human explorers to an asteroid and to Mars.
Dauphin Island, located in the Gulf of Mexico south of Mobile, Alabama, is home to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and its Aquarium, which offers a close-up look at life under the water. The Aquarium—30 aquariums housing more than 100 species—is open to the public and highlights the four key habitats found along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Located in Gulf Shores, Alabama, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is not afraid of a challenge. In 2004, the Zoo had to relocate its animals in the face of Hurricane Ivan; the epic evacuation was featured in an Animal Planet documentary series, “The Little Zoo that Could.”
From now through May 10, 2020, visitors to the Mobile, Alabama, Gulf Coast Exploreum and Science Center, will take a trip back—way back—in time with Dinosaurs Around the World, a tour of ancient Earth complete with animatronic dinosaurs, fossils, and immersive design elements which bring the Age of Reptiles to life. At a time before […]
Fairhope, the scenic Alabama resort town on the shores of Mobile Bay, hosts a Mardi Gras which is a little less apocalyptic than the one in New Orleans (or, for that matter, the one across the bay in Mobile) but its celebration can boast that it’s not just for humans. This year is the 17th […]
Bellingrath Gardens and Home, a 65-acre estate located near Mobile in Theodore, Alabama, is currently presenting its 24th annual Magic Christmas in Lights display. Through December 31, visitors will stroll through a nightly array of more than 3 million lights and 15 scenes. The Bellingrath Home will also be decked for the holidays with a […]
On October 10-13, the Alabama coastal town of Gulf Shores celebrates the 48th annual National Shrimp Festival, four days of peace, love and shrimp on the white Gulf beaches. The Festival began in 1971 as a way to keep tourists on the beach after Labor Day. That first Festival was more like a shrimp boil on the beach, with star power provided by a couple who had won a trip to Gulf Shores on the television show “The Dating Game.” All 1500 attendees were reported to have had a good time.
The little resort town of Fairhope, Alabama, set picturesquely on the shores of Mobile Bay, has long had an intimate relationship with the arts. The scenic community was founded back in the nineteenth century as a utopian colony and over the years its mellow vibe has attracted a number of artists and writers. Residents aren’t […]
Visitors to Gulf Shores. Alabama, who want to take playing in the sand to the next level now have the option of learning how to construct an awesome sand castle under the tutelage of Janel Hawkins, young owner of Sand Castle University.
Just east of the beachfront town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge offers a safe home to some of the area’s most threatened species. The last large undeveloped parcel of land along the Alabama Gulf Coast, the 7,000-acre refuge was created in 1980 to protect the habitats of migratory songbirds and those of threatened and endangered species. The Refuge, which has been named as one of Alabama’s Ten Natural Wonders, also offers humans a chance to commune with nature along one of its scenic hiking trails.
Baldwin County, Alabama, is pretty scenic from the ground, but for visitors who want to literally take their experience up to the next level, there’s nothing like floating over the Gulf Coast in a hot air balloon. Tommy Rachel of Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company has been taking passengers aloft for eighteen years now, though his interest in ballooning started more than thirty years ago when he went to help a friend in Orange Beach set up a balloon.
Scenic Point Clear, Alabama, is home to an iconic business, born as a backyard hobby, which has been dishing out sweet and savory treats for more than 65 years. Punta Clara Kitchen, located in the circa-1897 Brodbeck family home, welcomes visitors to enjoy a step back in time.
Through April 28, 2019, Mobile, Alabama’s Gulf Coast Science Center is host to a spectacular exhibit spotlighting the world of Genghis Khan, whom some visitors will no doubt be surprised to see referred to as “The Great Civilizer.” Not that he wasn’t ruthless, but in conquering the largest land empire in history, Genghis Khan also […]
Tommy Rachel’s boat tours are headquartered in Magnolia Springs, Alabama, near the Alabama Gulf Coast. In addition to fishing trips, he offers nature cruises ranging from two hours to all day.
Since 1847, The Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa has welcomed travelers to the shores of Mobile Bay. Recently, the Queen of Southern Resorts completed a three-year transformation and has now joined the Autograph Collection, Marriott’s portfolio of more than 150 distinctive properties.
The coastal town of Gulf Shores is now home to the southernmost brewery in Alabama. Big Beach Brewing Company, the brainchild of the Shamburger family, got its start when Jim Shamburger received a Mr. Beer brewing kit and, says Jim, “an out-of-control hobby was born.” Opened in October, 2016, Big Beach Brewing Company is housed […]
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.
Spring brings the strawberry to Baldwin County, Alabama, and the fruit is celebrated with its own festival.
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.
Near the little mountain town of Mentone, Alabama, is a rustic chapel which appears to have suffered a close encounter with a meteorite.
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.
Gulf Shores, Alabama’s happening beachfront town, is now home to an oyster bar with a twist.
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.
Mobile, Alabama, is the original home of Mardi Gras. No! Really! Mardi Gras was observed for the first time in the New World in 1703 by French pioneers living at the site of the first settlement of Mobile. In 1711, the first carnival parade in North America took place in Mobile. This parade was low-tech; […]
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.
On the third Friday of every month, spirits are high around the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Point Clear, Alabama as the historic hotel presents its Beverage Academy. Led by Beverage Manager Danny Fuernrohr, the one-hour classes guide students through the finer points of mixing (and sampling) cocktails. The Beverage Academy […]
Who needs to watch a ball drop when you can have the truly Southern experience of watching a giant Moon Pie drop from the sky instead? Yes, you heard that correctly. In Mobile, Alabama on New Year’s Eve, a 12-foot-tall, 350 lb. cookie descends 317 feet from the RSA BankTrust Building downtown while people line the streets cheering in the New Year.
Dauphin Island—a sliver whose sugar-white beaches rise out of the Gulf of Mexico just south of Mobile, Alabama—has become one of the most popular birding destinations in the country. Every spring and fall, uncountable numbers of migrants pour through headed to or from their winter destinations in the tropics. The Audubon Bird Sanctuary’s l64 acres […]
Orange Beach is home to Alabama’s only public-access glass blowing studio. The Hot Shop @ Orange Beach Arts Center is attracting regional and national attention to the arts facility, which is open for tours, classes, demonstrations, special events and rentals. A $230,000 donation of glass equipment from Joe and Debbie Thompson of Bear Creek Glass […]
A lot of people don’t equate Alabama with great beaches, but the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area has over 32 miles of uncrowded, wide, white sand coastline. You’ll get more for your money here too as rates are much lower than in the neighboring Florida Panhandle. Things to Do and Places to See Try your […]
by Kathie Farnell Mobile’s African-American Heritage Trail celebrates the contributions of the Port City’s black citizens by recognizing significant historic sites in the city. Brainchild of City Council Member William Carroll, the trail has been developing since 2006. Today, sites include the first African-American hospital in the state of Alabama; a town founded by survivors […]
It began, as so many things do, at the Flora-Bama, rogueish beach bar perched precariously on the line which divides Florida from Alabama. Back in 1984, the beach tended to close down in late fall, and it was then that bar owner Joe Gilchrist decided to throw an end-of-season party honoring songwriters, the literally unsung […]