Planning a vacation down South but don't know where to start? If you're headed to the Heart of Dixie, you may be surprised at all the unique and enjoyable experiences Alabama has to offer. With enriching cultural and historical sites, delicious eats from barbecue to seafood, and some of the most exciting sporting events found anywhere; visitors learn why residents call it "Sweet Home Alabama."
Huntsville, Alabama, the home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, is often called “Rocket City." Residents are proud of the work that was done here that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon, and pioneering modern aeronautics work such as the design of the new Space Launch System continues to be performed here. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the largest spaceflight museum in the world, celebrates these achievements with amazing rocket and artifact displays including a 363-foot Saturn V and pieces of moon rock.
Red Mountain Park in Birmingham, is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy hiking its extensive trails, or take your furry friend to Remy's Dog Park, a six-acre park that is the largest dog park in Alabama. However, the best way to experience Red Mountain Park is by zip lining over it. Choose from the 1.25-hour Vulcan Materials Zip Trip for a longer tour, or go straight for the thrills with the Mega Zip, a 1,000-foot thrill ride that will have you soaring through the treetops at up to 30 miles per hour.
Visit the highest point in Alabama at Cheaha Resort State Park. At 2,407 feet above sea level, visitors enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding Talladega National Forest as well as excellent hiking, biking, camping, and birding. After a day out in nature, pamper yourself with a delicious dinner and watch the sunset from the sky window at Vista Cliffside Restaurant.
Since Montgomery was the site of many critical events in the Civil Rights Movement, it is fitting that the beautiful Civil Rights Memorial is also here. Designer Maya Lin, who also created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, chose a round black granite table with water flowing across the top and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous interpretation of Amos 5:24 - "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Don't miss other important sites such as the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church while you are in the area.
Enjoy a little cultural enrichment at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama. One of the ten largest Shakespeare Festivals in the world, the theater produces nearly a dozen shows each year, including typically at least three Shakespeare works. Located in the beautiful 250-acre Carolyn Blount Cultural Park, the organization also offers a number of educational outreach programs and sponsors the Southern Writer's Project. Pay a visit to the nearby Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts while you are in the neighborhood too - admission is free.
If you are planning your visit around Thanksgiving, you'll have the opportunity to experience one of the most anticipated events in the state - the Iron Bowl. This annual matchup between the state’s biggest football rivals is one of the most epic showdowns in college football history. Held each year in Auburn or Tuscaloosa, tickets can be hard to come by, but the atmosphere is unforgettable. Get there early for the tailgating and stay late for the victory celebrations, including barbecue nachos or rolling Toomer's Corner.
When visiting Alabama, racing fans can't miss the opportunity to attend one of the fastest and most competitive racetracks in the world. The Talladega Superspeedway in tiny Lincoln, Alabama lets fans can camp out and take in an exciting race. Or they even get in on the action themselves with the NASCAR Racing Experience or a NASCAR Ride Along.
Head down to the beautiful Gulf Coast region to visit the charming city of Fairhope. Each year it hosts the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival in March, a three-day fine arts festival that also includes live entertainment. More than 200 exhibitors from all over the country attend to show off their paintings, pottery, jewelry, and other interesting artwork.
Did you think that American's first Mardi Gras was celebrated in New Orleans? If so, think again. Mobile was actually the home of the first Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S. in 1703. The party begins in this port city around two weeks before Fat Tuesday. It features colorful parades, festive marching bands, artfully-decorated floats, and flying Moon Pies, curious Southern cookie sandwiches featuring a sweet marshmallow center.
Though Alabama only has 32 miles of coastline, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. Warm currents circulate through the Gulf of Mexico, creating water so green it is called the Emerald Coast. Kick back with a cold drink and sink your toes into the sugar-white sand in a beach town while you listen to the waves. Go on a dolphin cruise, look for shells, and go out for amazing Gulf shrimp and spicy gumbo.
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