Alabama The Beautiful Offers Great Attractions
Published: January 1, 2019
By: Becky J. Beall
Alabama has mountains, lakes, plains and beaches, and many here realize what we natives have known forever – Alabama is beautiful. Outside of our central Alabama cities are a number of attractions for families, just a short drive away.
19950 Hwy. 71, Summerdale
Check out more than 450 alligators from the elevated boardwalk at Alligator Alley. Hanging out in their natural habitat, you’ll see them sunbathing and relaxing along with other friends such as turtles, ospreys, owls and bull frogs.
Ave Maria Grotto
1600 St. Bernard Dr., Cullman
Ave Maria Grotto has been a popular visitor attraction in Alabama for many years. It is a four-acre park in an old quarry located on the St. Bernard Abbey grounds. The garden setting houses 125 miniature reproductions of famous religious structures (known as Jerusalem in Miniature) and is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home
12401 Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore
Stroll through the beautifully-landscaped, 65-acre garden and visit the historic home (now a museum) of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath located on the Fowl River near Mobile. As one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast, Walter built the estate garden and home from his amassed wealth. It is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
Carnival Cruise Line via the Port of Mobile
201 South Water St., Mobile
Plan your next vacation on a fabulous cruise ship and leave right from the Mobile Cruise Ship Terminal. Carnival Cruise Line currently has a ship available on Alabama’s coast and is poised to deliver a fun time for the whole family with kid’s clubs aboard as well as tons of activities for parents and grandparents.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
101 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island Sea Lab is a great place to learn and explore about marine science. Don’t miss the estuarium highlighting Mobile’s estuary system through interactive exhibits.
7104 DeSoto Pkwy. NE, Fort Payne
Family adventures are the best when spent outdoors exploring DeSoto Falls, a 104-foot waterfall located near Mentone in DeSoto State Park. It’s neat to observe how the falls have carved their own little canyon.
Foley Railroad Museum and Model Train Exhibit
125 East Laurel Ave., Foley
Visit the days of yesteryear in this free museum featuring a large remote-controlled model railroad along with train cars and exhibits perfect for the entire family.
Fort Morgan Historical Site
110 State Hwy. 180 W., Gulf Shores
Learn about the role in Alabama history that Fort Morgan played by touring the facility, seeing living history and soaking in the information given by tour guides. The most famous battle that occurred at Fort Morgan was in the summer of 1864 when Confederate and Union naval forces were in conflict over the bay entrance. A living history program is conducted each year in June/July by uniformed tour guides re-telling the story of Alabama’s Fort Morgan Historical Site.
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center
65 Government St., Mobile
Discover science through special hands-on exhibits, learning experiences, IMAX films and lots of family fun at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Museum.
Gulf State Park
20115 AL-135, Gulf Shores
Many families visit and/or vacation at Gulf State Park, each year. Situated on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, the state park encompasses some 6,500 acres with white sandy beaches, three fresh water lakes, a campground, nature trails, fishing, swimming, golf (including a pro shop and snack bar) and other water recreation.
300 North Commons St. W., Tuscumbia
The birthplace of Helen Keller is Ivy Green, a popular attraction also noted to be the place where Anne Sullivan finally broke through the darkness of Keller’s world and gave her the gift of communication. The last week of June is a good time to visit during the annual Helen Keller Festival.
Mobile Bay Ferry
51 State Hwy. 180 W., Gulf Shores
A fun, family adventure awaits on the Mobile Bay Ferry. A passenger and vehicle ferry that operates between Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island daily (every 45 minutes), kids and adults will get a kick out of this unusual commuting opportunity.
1501 South OWA Blvd., Foley
Alabama’s Gulf Coast has a new treasure with OWA – a theme park, shopping and dining mecca. You’ll find lots of rides for all ages and unique restaurants like Groovy Goat and Wahlburgers.
Paul W. Bryant Museum
300 Paul W. Bryant Dr., Tuscaloosa
Located on the campus of the University of Alabama, the Paul W. Bryant Museum houses the history of legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant.
Point Mallard Park
2901 Point Mallard Dr., Decatur
Point Mallard is home to America’s first wave pool and a great family experience. Enjoy ice skating, golfing, camping, batting cages and more. Please note that the waterpark is seasonal.
Rosa Parks Museum
252 Montgomery St., Montgomery
Housed within Troy University, the Rosa Parks Museum is chock-full of informational exhibits and artifacts from the world-changing 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
3366 Speedway Blvd., Lincoln
Talladega is a motorsports complex hosting several large racing events per year. Folks may campout for these events in several ways: infield RV camping, tent/car camping, outside camping and other opportunities as listed on the website.
USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park
2703 Battleship Pkwy., Mobile
This family-friendly park features the Battleship USS ALABAMA, Submarine USS DRUM, numerous rare and historic aircrafts, tanks and other military equipment. The open lawns of the Mobile Bay park offer great viewing areas for shorebirds as the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail loops through the park. There is also a paved walkway which leads to a nice nature observatory.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
One Tranquility Base, Huntsville
Space education is as close as can be at one of the state’s most popular attractions — the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Take in the museum, historic Shuttle Park, Rocket Park, exhibits, hands-on demonstrations, simulators and a high-definition film in the National Geographic Theater at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.
The Wharf at Orange Beach
23101 Canal Rd., Orange Beach
Shopping, dining, an amphitheater, marina, entertainment and more greets visitors at The Wharf at Orange Beach. Ride one of the South’s largest Ferris wheels, play a friendly game of Putt-Putt or take in a movie (great rainy day activity), there is something for everyone at The Wharf.
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
3121 Visitor Center Rd., Decatur
Established as a habitat for migrating birds, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of some 35,000 acres along the Tennessee River. Visitors enjoy wildlife and birding, and recently the area has attracted a large number of Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes. The birds are wintering in the area and join Canadian Geese along with ducks and even some alligators.