What do you see when you think of the Heart of Dixie? We’re going to take you on a tour of the best things to do in Alabama.
Throw those preconceptions out the window. This state is unique in that it caters to all kinds of travelers. When you visit, you’ll find there are so many fun things to do in Alabama. Whether you’re looking for an eventful vacation or looking to lay back and catch up on that R&R, there’s something on this list for you. Of course, you will also find a rich cultural history worthy of your attention. This review of the best things to do in Alabama will take you on a tour of the top spots, hole in the wall places, and fill your appetite for adventure.
Here Are the Best Things to Do in Alabama
1. Visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville
Do you love science? This museum is the perfect place to take the kids and spend the afternoon. Here, you’ll get an outline of the space program and get to see a key number of artifacts critical in the development of space technology. Commonly referred to as Earth’s largest space museum, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center has thrilled countless guests with over 1,500 artifacts of discovery and exploration.
Included among those artifacts is the prized Apollo program, Space Shuttle program, and Army aircraft (not to mention rocketry). Last but certainly not least, you will also find two different camp programs for your enjoyment. If you ask us, visiting here is one of the best things to do in Alabama.
2. Soak up the Sun on Gulf Shores
You deserve a day of rest and relaxation. Where better to spend it than a beach that looks like you’re in the Caribbean? Whether you're traveling solo, with that special someone, or the whole family, white shores, blue skies, and warm water beckon you. Yet another jewel in the crown of Alabama’s coastline, Gulf State Park offers 6,000 acres of space for fun and adventures. Spanning from Gulf Shores to the famous Orange Beach, it is home to vastly different ecosystems and plenty of things to do.
3. Play Golf on Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
Who’s up for a great round of golf? If you’re already visiting, why not play a round? One of the best things to do in Alabama is hit up the greens. Here, you will get the opportunity to see some of the most famous collections of golf courses in the entire world. Among the most well known is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
This famous course had its beginnings in the 80s-era film Field of Dreams. The creation of Dr. David Bronner, it includes some 26 golf courses with 468 championship holes. All in all, they span eleven holes throughout the entire state. You haven’t lived until you have been golfing in Alabama.
4. Spend the Day at the Birmingham Zoo
One of the best things to do in Alabama is spend the day at the Birmingham Zoo. This zoological park is home to more than 200 species and 800 animals. The park spans some 122 acres of land. So, there’s plenty of place for you and the family to get an up close view at all of the beautiful wildlife in the park. Every year, more than 470,000 people travel from across the planet to view the exotic animals and take part in the programs that the park has to offer.
Ever since its doors opened in 1955, the park has been rehabilitating wildlife and making visitors happy. While it first started as a few exotic animals in a firehouse, over the years, it has expanded to become a large park. Today, some of the most popular exhibits include the Predator Building, Flamingo Lagoon, Alligator Swamp, and the Kangaroo Kontry. In the spring and summer, you can even find camel rides.
5. Learn a Little Bit of History at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
Looking for the best things to do in Alabama? If you have any interest in history, you will absolutely love visiting the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. After the park was established in 1977, the Battleship itself was declared a US national historic landmark, as were several other vessels on the park’s site. Along with the USS Drum, the Battleship is a preserved World War II era vessel.
6. Explore the McWane Science Center in Birmingham
The fun and learning never stops at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham. At this state of the art location, children and adults alike can explore the world of science around them. Spanning some 9,000 square feet, it is packed with a number of interactive exhibits and equipped with both the Challenge Learning Center and the Imax Dome Theater.
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that more than 9,000 of the artifacts inside were transported here from the Red Belt Museum. Among those artifacts, there are many commemorating Native American ancestry as well as a slew of precious minerals and unique fossils. One of our favorite highlights in the museum are the dinosaur fossils from the Mosasaurs and Appalachiosaurus. Last but certainly not least, there is also an eighty-foot-long whale, which is coincidentally the state fossil of Alabama.
7. Step Inside the Ruins of an Old Movie Set
Have you ever heard of the 2003 film Big Fish? No? Us either. But who cares? You can step inside the ruins of the old movie set right near the banks of the Alabama River. The fictional town of Spectre have been left on a private Alabama island. A few years after filming had wrapped up, the town’s set and storefronts began to crumble. The owners tried to clear away the debris but alas, a fire caught hold of the town, and the “commercial” district was in ruins.
Today, you can go visit the ghost set and view six homes, the church, and a handful of trees from the spooky forest. There’s also the columns in front of one of the main character’s house. Leave your mark along with other travelers and add a pair of shoes to the growing row outside the front door.
To get there, take the Alabama River Parkway until you reach Cypress Lane. From there, it’s about a quarter mile to the gate. It’s important to note that the park is available by daylight entry only. Once you reach the gate, call the number listed to get the sign in code. You will need to pay $3 per person for day access. If you want to go camping, that’s an option too. Camping will cost you $10 per person a night and $5 a person for any children ages ten years and younger. Exploring this quirky attraction is one of the best things to do in Alabama.
8. Marvel at the Beauty of the Huntsville Botanical Garden
Located near the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, you’ll find the Botanical Garden. Open year-round, they receive some 308,000 visitors every year. While there is a minimal fee to enter the gardens, it’s more than worth it to go. Walking these gorgeous grounds is one of the best things to do in Alabama. Some of our favorite attractions include the butterfly house, biblical garden, herb garden, and simply walking the nature trails. Give yourself plenty of time to walk around and soak up the sites. This isn’t the kind of place where you’ll only want to spend an hour.
9. Roam Around Cheaha State Park (Delta)
Spending a few days at the Delta is one of the best things to do in Alabama. As the oldest public park in the state, Cheaha has been in operation since 1933. You’ll find it covering 2,800 acres of land in both Northern Clay and Cleburne Counties. When you’re ready to escape the city, it offers just the perfect place for a humble escape. On site, there is a general store, restaurant, boat launch site, places to hike, and a host of other amenities.
In the summertime and early fall, this is the best spot to beat the heat. When you’re ready for some adventure, there are plenty of hiking sites available as well as prime spots for swimming, hammocking, and picnicking. Don’t just settle for the first table you see though. If you walk up a ways, there are scenic overlooks that will steal your breath away. And for those who are interested in pitching a tent under a pure black silk sky and a host of stars, there are plenty of campsites to choose from. All of them have modern amenities including electricity and water hookups.
10. Go See Point Mallard Park (Decatur)
Credit: Point Mallard Park
We can never get enough of this state’s natural beauty. Welcome to Point Mallard Park. Located on Decatur, this 500-acre land is open year-round to fun-loving travelers. Just around the corner, you will also find the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Here, the main point of attraction is the Blackburn Aquatic Center, home to one of the country’s first ever wave pools. You’ll also find a diving pool and a number of sites like the Pro Bowl, Sky Pond, and the Three Flumes Slide. This is a great place to bring the entire family. With attractions like the Squirt Factory, Sand Beach, multiple playgrounds, and various concession stands, how could you not?
Plan Your Trip and Check the Best Things to Do in Alabama off Your List
While most people wouldn’t think of Alabama when planning a family trip, they should. This diverse state has so much more to offer than the average traveler would suppose. From exploring museums with works from the world’s greats and finding great eats, to spending the day at beautiful national parks, your options will never run dry. Whether you are traveling solo, with that special someone, or taking the whole family, there is something for everyone here. Which one of the things on our list would you like to do the most?
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