A guide to in-state summer fun in Alabama
Published: June 1, 2019
19950 Highway 71, Summerdale
So many alligators, so little time. See more than 450 gators as well as turtles, ospreys, owls and bull frogs from the elevated boardwalk at Alligator Alley. A re-created natural habitat keeps the wildlife here happy with places to sunbathe and relax.
Ave Maria Grotto
1600 St. Bernard Drive, Cullman
Ave Maria Grotto is a four-acre park in an old quarry on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey, and has been an Alabama attraction for many years. In the garden-like setting you’ll find 125 miniature reproductions of religious structures (Jerusalem in Miniature). Ave Maria Grotto is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage along with the National Register of Historic Places.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home
12401 Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore
Bellingrath Gardens and Home is comprised of a 65-acre garden with stunning landscape and the historic home (current-day museum) of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. Located on the Fowl River near Mobile, Bellingrath is hugely popular with locals as well as visitors to the area. Walter Bellingrath was one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast and used that wealth to build this estate garden and home which is now listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and the National Register of Historic Places.
Carnival Cruise Line via the Port of Mobile
201 South Water Street, Mobile
If you are looking to see more of the world, you can book a cruise and leave from the comfort of the Mobile cruise port. Carnival Cruise Line currently has a ship there with regular itineraries to Mexico and the Caribbean. They offer fun for the whole family with kids’ clubs, lots of music, Broadway-style shows, a myriad of eateries and so much more!
Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa
2213 University Boulevard, Tuscaloosa
Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa offers a fabulous opportunity for kids to actually touch everything in sight! Explore, create and discover are the things kids need to do to learn through play. Enjoy exhibits and three floors of fun for families as well as school groups. Newborns through age 13 will love the 25 exhibits of things all touch-worthy!
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
101 Bienville Boulevard, Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island Sea Lab is a great place to learn about and explore marine science. Don’t miss the estuarium highlighting Mobile’s estuary system through interactive exhibits. You’re bound to leave with a better understanding of the interactions taking place in Mobile Bay, which incidentally, is the fourth largest estuary system in the country.
7104 DeSoto Parkway NE, Fort Payne
It’s great to get the family out and about enjoying all Mother Nature has to offer. DeSoto Falls is a great place to do just that. DeSoto Falls is a 104-foot waterfall located near Mentone in DeSoto State Park and it’s cool to witness how the falls have carved out their own little canyon.
Foley Railroad Museum and Model Train Exhibit
125 East Laurel Avenue, Foley
Do you have a train enthusiast in your group? Foley Railroad Museum is the place to visit! It’s a free museum so that’s a plus, and it features a large remote-controlled model railroad along with train cars and exhibits the family will love. The sweet reminders of yesteryear are plentiful in this museum.
Fort Morgan Historical Site
110 State Highway 180 West, Gulf Shores
Fort Morgan played a significant role in the state’s history and you can learn all about it by visiting the Fort Morgan Historical Site. From living history, lessons are taught and learned from tour guides filled with knowledge regarding the most famous battle that occurred at the fort in the summer of 1864 when Confederate and Union naval forces were in conflict over the bay entrance. Each year in June/July, a living history program is conducted by uniformed tour guides who retell Alabama’s Fort Morgan story.
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center
65 Government Street, Mobile
Young and old alike enjoy hands-on learning about science. At the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, you’ll have the opportunity to view the world’s highest mountain ranges, check out dinosaurs and more with your perfect seat in a Dome Theater. Plus, there are new exhibits coming through all the time, as well as special events like Spark Talks and Summer Camps. There’s a lot of family fun to be had at the Science Museum too!
Gulf State Park
20115 AL-135, Gulf Shores
Gulf State Park is situated on Alabama’s stunning Gulf of Mexico and each year families flock to the area for outdoor fun and recreation. Encompassing some 6,500 acres with sugar-white sandy beaches, three fresh-water lakes, a campground, nature trails, fishing, swimming, golf and a brand-new hotel, The Lodge at Gulf State Park. The Nature Center, a living museum of native plants and animals, is full of education insight, mostly free and open to the public.
300 North Commons Street West, Tuscumbia
Ivy Green is Helen Keller’s birthplace and a notable attraction in Alabama. The place where Anne Sullivan broke through the communication nightmare of Helen’s dark world, Ivy Green is popular for field trips and family outings. The last week in June the annual Helen Keller Festival is held, so consider traveling there during this time.
Mobile Bay Ferry
51 State Highway 180 West, Gulf Shores
Adventures are everywhere if you know where to look! The Mobile Bay Ferry is a unique family adventure on a passenger/vehicle ferry operating between Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island daily (every 45 minutes). The community experience is exciting within itself, but there are things in both places to attract families (Fort Morgan Historical Site and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, to name a couple).
The Park at OWA
1501 South OWA Boulevard, Foley
The Park at OWA is a theme park, shopping, dining and entertainment center with much to do. There are rides for all ages and fun restaurants like Groovy Goat and Wahlburgers. Enjoy the onsite hotel property with a pool and other amenities for close proximity to the park. (Note: a water park is coming soon to OWA.)
Paul W. Bryant Museum
300 Paul W. Bryant Drive, Tuscaloosa
The Paul W. Bryant Museum on the campus of the University of Alabama offers a walk in the footsteps of legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Learn the history behind the man through museum exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia. Also, check out the state-of-the-art displays highlighted by player videos, plays and games from the archives.
Point Mallard Park
2901 Point Mallard Drive, Decatur
Many do not realize that Alabama is home to America’s first wave pool at Point Mallard Park. Great for summer excursions with swimming, golf, camping and tennis, but also offering ice skating and batting cages. There’s something for everyone and being outside is the best part of all. (Note: the waterpark is seasonal).
Rosa Parks Museum
252 Montgomery Street, Montgomery
Troy University Montgomery is home to the Rosa Parks Museum. A great learning experience for families, the museum is chock-full of great information, exhibits and artifacts from the world-changing Montgomery bus boycott of 1955.
3366 Speedway Boulevard, Lincoln
Talladega is a motorsports complex hosting several large racing events per year. People may camp out for these events in several ways: infield RV camping, tent/car camping, outside camping and other opportunities as listed on the website. Racing enthusiasts love this event and may plan for this months and years in advance.
USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park
2703 Battleship Parkway, Mobile
Family-friendly and so much fun is the USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park featuring the Battleship USS ALABAMA, Submarine USS DRUM, rare and historic aircrafts, tanks and other military equipment. Additionally, the open lawns of Mobile Bay Park provide great opportunities to view shorebirds as the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail loops through this park. A paved walkway is also available and leads to a nice nature observatory.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
One Tranquility Base, Huntsville
Enjoy learning about space at one of the state’s top attractions – the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Visit the museum, historic Shuttle Park, Rocket Park, exhibits, hands-on demonstrations, simulators and a high-def film in the National Geographic Theater at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.
The Wharf at Orange Beach
23101 Canal Road, Orange Beach
Who doesn’t love a Ferris Wheel ride? Get that and so much more at The Wharf at Orange Beach! Enjoy boutique-style shopping, dining, a marina, amphitheater, a spa, mini golf, a movie theater and much more in this walkable entertainment center. Stay on property or choose any of the great lodging partners in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. (Note: great rainy-day spot when staying at the beach.)
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
3121 Visitor Center Road, Decatur
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of about 35,000 acres along the Tennessee River and was originally established as a habitat for migrating birds. If your family loves wildlife, head to Decatur! The area has attracted a large amount of sandhill cranes and whooping cranes which may be spotted wintering in the area along with Canadian geese, ducks and maybe even alligators.