Ten Sites To See in Alabama
When outsiders think of Alabama, the very first thing that comes to mind is farms and backroads, possibly even a few controversial subjects. But contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of gems hidden across the Heart of Dixie that many, including those who reside in the state aren't aware of.
In fact, it is considered to be the second most culturally and scenically diverse state to film a movie in. The great state of California holds the first place title.
While Alabama has more than enough hidden gems to offer, unfortunately, all of them can't be squeezed in to one list. Here are the top ten, in no particular order:
New Years Even in Mobile
Located just a stone's throw away from the sandy white beaches of Gulf Shores, Mobile is home to an array of cultural influences and is also billed the "Birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S.". It is also known as the "Little Easy".
On New Years Eve, thousands of onlookers line up in front of the RSA Trustworth Tower to witness the annual "Moon Pie Drop" before an awe-inspiring firework show. It's the equivalent to the annual "Ball Drop" in Time's Square, only replace the giant, disco-esque ball with a 600lb electronic Moon Pie logo.
Now what makes this end of the year event worth seeing? It's originality of course. How often do you have the opportunity to see a tasty childhood treat descend from the top of a high-rise building in celebratory fashion?
Alabama's Gulf Coast
Alabama's sandy white beaches are arguably the prettiest beaches on the Gulf. The beautiful beaches attract visitors from all ends of the Earth and also happen to be one of the state's major tourist destinations.
From Gulf Shores to Orange Beach and everything in between, each coastal town offers its own set of unique attractions which includes beach side bars and condos, along with other various seaside attractions, making a trip to Alabama's beaches worthwhile.
Liberty Park in Birmingham
If you've dreamed of one day seeing the Statue of Liberty in person, but can't quite afford a round trip to New York, then why not see the closest thing to it?
In the center of the complex, you can find a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty standing atop a concrete pedestal beside a flagpole. It may seem underwhelming, but let's face it, it's a more affordable trip and the kids are bound to enjoy it!
The replica actually sat atop the Liberty National Life Building until it was moved in 1989.
Cheaha Mountain in Cleburne County
Located in Cleburne County inside of the scenic Talladege State Park, Mount Cheaha is Alabama's highest natural point.
Aside from hiking, Cheaha State Park also offers a lodge, restaurant, swimming and picknicking along with other amenities and activities as well.
While Mt. Cheaha may not be the biggest mountain in the southeast region of the United States, or the most popular, it's ideal if you're simply looking for a weekend getaway in the hills!
Dauphin Island in Mobile County
Known as the "Sunset Capital of Alabama", the gorgeous Dauphin Island is a barrier island located just three miles south of Mobile. In order to get to the island, you can either drive across a long bridge from Mobile or hop on a ferry.
The island itself offers gorgeous beaches, affordable condo rentals and campgrounds, a golf course, ferry rides and a sea lab. How many island hotspots, other than Hawaii of course, can offer the aforementioned amenities?
Cathedral Caverns State Park in Marshall County
This massive and beautiful cavern has one of the widest entrances of any commercial cave in America (measuring 126 feet wide and 25 feet high)! It is also home to the largest stalagmite in the world. Locals refer to it as "Goliath".
In addition to simple sightseeing, the park also offers hourly tour guides, a campground and even gem mining.
Cathedral Caverns state park is located seven miles south on the town of Woodville in Marshall County.
Splash Adventure Theme Park in Bessemer
Splash Adventure Theme Park is another one of Alabama's best kept secrets. If you hate fighting the crowds of White Water Adventures in Atlanta, or the long and tiresome drive to Universal Studios in Orlando, then Splash Adventure Theme Park is the perfect place for you!
Located in the small town of Bessemer, halfway between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Splash Adventure Theme Park offers a dozen different attractions at an affordable price and even unbelievable group discounts.
The park opens in May and closes in late September.
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is named after and designed by legendary golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones.
Across the state of Alabama, there are eleven different championship caliber golf courses that make up the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, all offering peaceful scenery and a challenging game. You can find them in Greenville, Opelika, Montgomery, Huntsville, Dothan, Point Clear, Mobile, Birmingham, Hoover, Gadsden and Muscle Shoals.
Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham
The Birmingham Zoo opened its doors to the public in 1955 and to this day remains Alabama's largest zoological park. It features over 800 animals representing over 200 species, including a plethora of endangered species from six different continents across the globe.
In 2011, the zoo opened a major trail known as the "Trails of Africa". The first of its kind on American soil, it houses Bull African Elephants in a bachelor herd setting.
Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa
If you're a fan of sporting events, then witnessing a football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on the campus of The University of Alabama is a must.
With a seating capacity of just over 101,000, not only is the stadium itself a spectacle to behold, but the atmosphere is unparalleled. If you aren't a football fan before experiencing a game at Bryant-Denny, you will be upon leaving.
While it's extremely difficult to rank the best of these ten phenomenal places (as it all boils down to personal preference), my personal award would have to go to Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa. If golfing, beaching, hiking, exploring, swimming and sightseeing is out of the vacation/getaway equation this year, be sure to experience a football game along with 101+ thousand other rabid Alabama fans in one of college football's best.