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.
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.”
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.
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.