Your session will timeout due to inactivity, please choose to continue your session if you’d would like to continue.
Alabama lies in the Deep South, as its nickname, the 'Heart of Dixie', proclaims. It is rich in all that the South is known and loved for - natural beauty, down-home food and hospitality - but, unlike much of the South, it also carries the proud legacy of the civil rights struggle. The state was the site of the landmark Montgomery bus boycott and the 'Freedom March' led by Martin Luther King Jr.
Alabama's varying landscape and personality make it a great travel destination for both non-stop activity and laid-back escape. At its southern tip, the sugar-white sand and crystal clear waters of the Gulf Coast beckon; Alabama's beaches, unlike those of neighbouring Florida, are free of amusement parks and large-scale commercialisation. Inland there are the stately antebellum mansions and gardens of Mobile, as well as the rolling farmlands and quiet towns of the southeast.
Further north, the pace of life picks up in sleek Birmingham, with its great jazz, and the Talladega Superspeedway, which can seem like a small city in itself during NASCAR racing events. Alabama's northernmost region is situated at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, overflowing with stunning views, lakes, waterfalls and caverns. In autumn, when the trees blaze red and gold, it is a paradise for campers, hikers and mountain bikers. Alabama has a strong, sometimes fanatical, sports culture as well: it's home to the country's most heated rivalry in American college football, between the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers. During the Iron Bowl, when the two come together in a season-ending clash, the entire state enters into a frenzy of competitive spirit.
Alabama is a truly well-rounded tourist destination, with a diverse offering for travellers. Historic attractions, including civil rights commemorative sites and museums draw history enthusiasts to the state, while foodies are attracted by the mouth-watering culinary scene in the Southern cooking tradition. Perfect, powder-white beaches promise quality sun-lounging and golfers will be well entertained year-round on Alabama's celebrated golf courses. On top of all this, spectacular natural landscapes make cycling, bird watching, fishing, camping and hiking popular pastimes.
Alabama's best-known cultural attractions are clustered together in destinations like Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Florence and Tuscaloosa, where a good dose of Southern charm is also available. Visitors can experience the state's natural beauty in protected wilderness areas like the Talladega National Forest and Little River Canyon National Preserve. Winding through the famous Orange Beach and along the lovely coast of the Gulf State Park, and offering a taste of six of Alabama's ecosystems, a drive along the Hugh S Branyon Backcountry Trail is also highly recommended for nature lovers.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a homage to the spirit of both well-known and unsung civil rights heroes. Visitors take a self-guided journey through the permanent exhibitions, which chronicle the history of segregation and the civil rights struggle in America. It is a 'living institution', using the lessons of the past to shed new light on human rights issues today. Birmingham's pivotal role in the struggle takes central focus. There is also an art gallery with some items for sale. The museum is moving and despite its serious subject matter is suitable for the whole family; in fact, the educative function of the institution makes it very worthwhile for kids as it brings the history books to life.
Located atop Red Mountain, Vulcan Park is home to the world's largest cast-iron statue, and the second-tallest statue in America, behind the Statue of Liberty. The statue of the Roman god, Vulcan, is surrounded by a 10-acre green space offering panoramic views of Birmingham. The park contains a museum and observation balcony, as well as an Observation Tower, open at night, which allows visitors a good opportunity for star-gazing. Vulcan has become the symbol of Birmingham's striving spirit, the giant that represents the big heart of the city, and a visit to the statue is a must for travellers in the area.
The Birmingham Zoo, Alabama's most popular non-profit attraction, houses approximately 900 wild animals from 230 species in the centre of Birmingham. Animals include elephants, lions, monkeys, bobcats, otters, zebras, tigers, hippos, giraffe and rhinos, among others. There is an interactive aviary, where parrots land on visitors' shoulders; a savannah safari exhibit; and a sea lion show. Picnic areas and a food and gift shop are available. Daily activities include the Red Diamond Express train rides, sea lion training demonstrations, and protective life carousel rides. The whole family will enjoy a trip to the Birmingham Zoo. Check the zoo's official website listed below for details.
The South is the home of NASCAR, and about 30 minutes from Birmingham lies the legendary Talladega Superspeedway, one of the most competitive motorsports facilities in the world. More than 80,000 guests can be accommodated in the stands and thousands more in the 212-acre infield. The sheer volume of fans, let alone the record-breaking speed of the racers, makes a visit unforgettable. When no events are scheduled, tours are available daily. Adjacent to the track is the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum, also open daily, which displays racing cars and memorabilia worth vast amounts of money. A self-guided walking tour of the museum takes roughly an hour.
A visit to this stately plantation house is a great way to get a taste of real Southern heritage. Situated on six acres in the heart of Old Elyton, the house was built by Judge William S Mudd, one of the founders of Birmingham, in the 1840s. The house is in the Greek Revival architectural style typical of this period, and functions as a 19th-century decorative arts museum, with a collection of furniture, artwork, textiles and silver from the 19th century. The grounds are also beautiful, spread across six acres of leafy pasture, and are a joy to explore. The estate is a popular venue for events like weddings so it is worth checking in advance if it is open to visitors, especially in the summer months.
Located in northeastern Alabama, Russell Cave National Monument is one of the longest cave systems in Alabama at about seven miles (11.6km) long. Used as a shelter by prehistoric Native Americans, the cave is about 12,000 years old and contains a natural spring that eventually joins up with the Tennessee River. Russell Cave itself is roughly 210 feet (64m) long, 107 feet (33m) wide, and 26 feet (8m) high. The cave shelter is located conveniently close to the visitor centre and is accessible via an elevated wooden boardwalk. Guided tours of the cave shelter are conducted by National Park Service Interpretative Rangers. The cave shelter includes the areas that were occupied by prehistoric groups and features a diorama depicting the activities of the occupants.
Oak Mountain State Park is a great place for outdoor activities on any holiday in Birmingham. The park is equipped with over 50 miles (80km) of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, and has plenty of picnic facilities for day trips. Two lakes in the north of the park are good for fishing, and boats and canoes are available for rental. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the 18-hole golf course, complete with a pro shop and driving range. Teenagers can challenge themselves on the BMX courses, while children will love the petting farm. There are multiple fun activities on offer, so everyone in the family will be easily occupied, even if it is just lounging under a tree with a book and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
The average annual temperature in Alabama is 64°F (18°C), with the northern counties experiencing cooler temperatures and the southern counties having relatively warmer temperatures, influenced by the Gulf of Mexico. The average summer temperature is 79°F (26°C) and the average winter temperature is 48°F (9°C). Although the state doesn't experience the harsh winters of the northern US, the best time to visit Alabama is in summer or autumn, outside of the tornado season and when visitors can witness the fiery colours of the autumn leaves. Snow occasionally falls in the northern regions and frost is periodic.
Your session has timed out due to inactivity.