The southeastern state of Alabama has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in culture and history, looking for adventure, or simply want to sit back and watch the world go by, Alabama has something for you.
Alabama has a rich and storied history when it comes to Civil Rights and you’ll find plenty of excellent monuments, museums, and historic sites honoring Civil Rights, including the Civil Rights Institute and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and Montgomery’s Civil Rights Monument.
You can admire the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright at the Rosenbaum House Museum, see the birthplace of musician W.C. Handy, and wander around the impressive art collections of several major art galleries.
Alabama also has some beautiful natural attractions that offer a wealth of outdoor fun from the sandy shores and warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile Bay to plenty of parks and reserves with a diverse array of fauna and flora.
Here are 35 of the best things to do when you visit the Cotton State.
1. Head into Space at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville
US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville by Tandy Penn / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
If you have a love of science or space travel history, the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville is a must! Hailed as the world’s largest museum, it has an impressive collection of over 1500 artifacts associated with space exploration, including items from the Apollo and the Space Shuttle programs, and Army rocketry. Top adventures at the center include Sea Trek, DIVR, a virtual reality snorkeling system experience, and astronaut training.
Address: 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805, United States
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10 am – 4 pm / Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 11 am – 5pm
Suggested Tour: Guided Tours and Group Visits
2. Explore the USS Alabama Battleship in Mobile
The USS Alabama (BB-60) by Ben Jacobson / CC BY 2.5
The USS Alabama Battleship is docked within the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, along with other vessels like the USS Drum submarine, and a river patrol boat used in the Vietnam War.
The park honors the mighty battleship that was built in the 1930s and defended the United States during World War II. The park features several other interesting attractions such as bomber and fighter planes and a collection of military equipment and it is home to both a Korean War and Vietnam War Memorial.
Address: 2703 Battleship Pkwy, Mobile, AL 36603, United States
Opening Hours: 8 am – 6 pm, daily
3. Hit the Beach at the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores
Gulf State Park Pier by Outdoor Alabama / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The area of Gulf Shores on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a great place to visit to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities close to the sea. Gulf State Park has more than two miles of white, sandy beaches, 25 miles of paved walking and biking trails, and a championship golf course.
A Nature Center in the park offers guided nature walks, educational programs led by naturalists, fishing lessons, animal encounters, and more. There are also a wealth of recreational facilities including tennis courts, a swimming pool, volleyball, and horseshoes, and a large campground that offers 500 full-hookup sites for RVs.
Address: 20115 Alabama 135, Gulf Shores, Alabama
4. Ride a Camel at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham
Lorikeet at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham by Frank / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Spanning 122 acres in Birmingham, this zoological park is home to more than 800 animals across 200 species housed in natural habitats. Some of the top exhibits include the Primate Building, the Predator Building, the Flamingo Lagoon, the Alligator Swamp, and the Kangaroo Kontry. Watch sea lions strut their stuff at the Sea Lions Splash Show and ride a camel in during the spring and summer.
Address: 2630 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223, United States
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 9 am – 4 pm
5. Explore the World of Science at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham
Appalachiosaurus at the McWane Science Center by Ralph Daily / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The McWane Science Center is an interactive, state-of-the-art center that celebrates science with an impressive collection of more than 500,000 artifacts and an array of hands-on exhibits for adults and children.
Some of the highlights of the 9,000-square-foot center include fossils and precious minerals, Native American objects, dinosaur fossils, and the fossil of an 80-foot whale. The center also has an IMAX Dome theater and the Challenger Learning Center.
Address: 200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Friday: 9 am – 5 pm / Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 12 – 5 pm
6. Feed Alligators at Alligator Alley in Summerdale
Alligator Alley in Summerdale by Dennis Church / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Alligator Alley in Summerdale is an alligator farm where you can see over 200 alligators from hatchlings to adults in their natural environment. Alligators are viewed from elevated platforms, as well as other animals like bullfrogs, owls, ospreys, and turtles and you can hold a baby gator in the air-conditioned gator station. If you are brave enough you can feed an alligator during one of the feeding times daily.
Address: 19950 Co Rd 71, Summerdale, AL 36580, United States
Opening Hours: 10 am – 4 pm, daily
7. Stroll Around the Huntsville Botanical Gardens in Huntsville
The Aquatic Garden at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens by Kmacgilvray / CC BY-SA 4.0
Conveniently located near the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens are home to beautifully manicured gardens that include a nature garden, an aquatic garden, a biblical garden, a lily garden, a fern glade, and a fragrant herb garden. A nature trail winds its way through the gardens with interpretive boards, and a butterfly house is open seasonally.
Address: 4747 Bob Wallace Ave SW, Huntsville, AL 35805, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm
8. Take a Journey Back in Time at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute by Maureen / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This modern interpretive museum in Birmingham depicts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement that Alabama was famous for in the 1950s and 1960s. The museum tells the story of the movement and the struggles they encountered and serves as a connection to the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.
Visitors take a self-guided journey back in time to a segregated city in the 1950s where they can see a replica of a Freedom Riders bus and the actual jail cell door that kept Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. behind bars. It is a fascinating and haunting experience but well worth it.
Address: 520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States
Opening Hours: Thursday – Saturday: 10 am – 2 pm
Suggested Tour: Civil Rights Tour
9. Hike in Cheaha State Park in Delta
Cheaha State Park by Andrea Wright / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cheaha State Park is the oldest park in Alabama and is a great place to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Spread over 2,800 acres in southwestern Cleburne and Northern Clay Counties, the park is open for day use and has several hiking and mountain biking trails with scenic overlooks boasting breathtaking scenery and a lake where swimming, boating, and fishing can be enjoyed.
The park has a campground with 73 campsites with electric, water, and sewer hookups, and the Cheaha Lodge has comfortable guest rooms and a swimming pool. The park is a wonderful spot for a picnic.
Address: 19644 AL-281, Delta, AL 36258, United States
Opening Hours: 7 am – 9 pm, daily
10. Marvel at Goliath in the Cathedral Caverns State Park in Woodville
Cathedral Caverns State Park by faungg’s photos / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Located southeast of Woodville in northern Marshall County’s Kennamer Cove, the Cathedral Caverns State Park protects a massive cavern of unbelievable awe and beauty. Originally called Bat Cave, Cathedral Caverns was renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance and its massive entrance.
The cavern is filled with beautiful formations like the “Goliath” which is 45 feet tall with a circumference of 243 feet, making it one of the largest stalagmites in the world. Other fascinating attractions in the park include a “frozen” waterfall, a large stalagmite forest, and a “caveman” perched atop a flowstone wall. You can enjoy activities in the park-like gem mining, picnicking, and overnight tent camping.
Address: 637 Cave Rd, Woodville, AL 35776, United States
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm, daily
11. Point Mallard Park in Decatur
Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival at Point Mallard Park in Decatur by Dystopos / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Located next to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Point Mallard Park is a 500-acre public park that is open year-round for visitors and well worth a visit if you are in the state.
The park is centered around the Blackburn Aquatic Center which features a large wave pool, a diving pool, and several thrilling water slides, as well as a children’s activity area with a splash pool, a sandy beach, and various playgrounds.
Address: 2901 Point Mallard Dr. SE, Decatur, AL 35601, United States
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 6/8 pm, daily
12. Go Backcountry Camping in Little River Canyon National Park in Fort Payne
Little River Canyon National Park by Richard A. Weaver / CC BY-SA 4.0
Little River Canyon in Fort Payne is located on Lookout Mountain and is home to the longest mountaintop river in the United States. The canyon created by the river was originally known as May’s Gulf and is said to be the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River.
Little River Canyon National Park is a great place to get out into nature and you can enjoy fishing, permitted hunting, and backcountry camping in Billy’s Ford, Hartline’s Ford, and Slant Rock.
Address: 4322 Little River Trail NE Ste 100, Fort Payne, AL 35967
Opening Hours: 8 am – 4 pm, daily
13. Play a Round on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Auburn/Opelika
Grand National Golf Course, Robert Trent Jones Trail by Rawpixel Ltd / CC BY-SA 4.0
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is an impressive collection of world-class golf courses around Alabama. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., as part of investments by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the renowned group of courses offers challenging games for all levels of golfer amidst spectacular scenery. A round on one of these immaculate courses is a must if you are a golf-lover.
Address: 3000 Robert Trent Jones TrailOpelika, AL 36801
14. Wander Around the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham
Birmingham Museum of Art by Sean Pathasema / CC BY 3.0
The Birmingham Museum of Art boasts over 24,000 different exhibits showcasing works of various mediums such as paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. Some of the highlights of the Museum include top collections of Asian art, Renaissance paintings, and European decorative arts. You’ll also find works by local artists like Carrie Hill and Hannah Elliott, and some of the best collections of Alabama art.
Address: 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday 12 am – 5 pm
15. Explore the History of the Mardi Gras at the Mobile Carnival Museum in Mobile
Mobile Carnival Museum by Natalie Maynor / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Housed in the historic Bernstein-Bush mansion on Government Street in downtown Mobile, the Mobile Carnival Museum is dedicated to the history of the carnival and Mardi Gras which have delighted people for over 100 years.
Explore the historical evolution of the celebration and its early beginnings and marvel at fascinating exhibits of majestic crowns, robes, and scepters of monarchs of the carnival, and a variety of original Mardi Gras posters and art pieces from local artists.
Address: 355 Government St, Mobile, AL 36602, United States
Opening Hours: Wed / Fri / Sat / Monday: 9 am – 4 pm
16. Watch a Football Game at the Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa
Bryant–Denny Stadium by thatlostdog– / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Home of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, the Bryant–Denny Stadium is an outdoor stadium on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Established in 1929, the Stadium can hold over 100,000 fans and if you can catch a game when the stadium is at full capacity, it’s a thrilling experience! You can also take walking a tour of the stadium to learn about its history and
Address: 920 Bryant Dr., Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Suggested Tour: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tours
17. Have a Picnic at the Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore
The Bellingrath Gardens and Home can be found on the banks of the Fowl River in Theodore near Mobile and feature the 65-acre estate garden and historic home of Walter Bellingrath, one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast.
The exquisitely manicured Southern estate garden presents year-round floral pageantry in various gardens including a conservatory, the bridal garden, and the great lawn and you explore the garden and historic on self-guided or group tours.
Address: 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd, Theodore, AL 36582, United States
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm, daily
Suggested Tour: Bellingrath Gardens and Home Tour
18. Visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum by raymondclarkeimages / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum displays one of the finest collections of vintage motorcycles and automobiles in the world and if you are a motorhead, this is a must. Located on 740 acres in Birmingham, the museum houses over 1,450 modern and vintage motorcycles and racing cars from around the globe, including the world’s largest collection of Lotus race cars.
Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy, Leeds, AL 35094, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 12 – 5 pm
19. Pay Homage to Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks in Montgomery
The Rosa Parks Library and Museum by USIA / Public Domain
The Rosa Parks Library and Museum honors “the mother of the civil rights” Rosa Parks, a brave African-American woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus in 1955.
Located on Montgomery Street in Montgomery, the museum features fascinating exhibits about Rosa Parks and the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and some historically significant artifacts like the original fingerprint arrest record of Mrs. Parks.
Address: 208 Montgomery St, Montgomery, AL 36104, United States
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm, daily
20. Grab a Soda at Toomer’s in Auburn
Toomer’s Drugs by JOgdenC / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Toomer’s Drugs is an old-fashioned soda fountain on the historic Toomer’s Corner where Magnolia Avenue and College Street meet and a hallmark destination of the city. Dating back to circa 1896, the corner café is named after businessman and State Senator Sheldon Toomer and is a popular hangout with locals who come for the world-famous freshly squeezed lemonade.
Toomer’s Corner is also famous for being the places where thousands of revelers engage in the long-standing celebratory tradition of “rolling Toomer’s Corner” – covering the trees in strings of toilet paper after a significant Auburn sports victory.
Address: 100 N College St, Auburn, AL 36830, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm / Sunday: 12 – 5 pm
21. Marvel at the Neversink Pit in Fackler
The Neversink Pit by Jimmy Emerson, DVM / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The aptly named Neversink Pit in Fackler is a cross between and cave and a sinkhole that drops a dramatic 162 feet into a massive chasm filled with cascading waterfalls and rare ferns. Located in the Neversink Preserve in the small community of Fackler, the geological wonder is the most photographed sinkhole in the United States and attracts climbers and photographers from around the world.
Address: Fackler, Alabama, 35746, United States
22. Appreciate the History of Mobile
The History Museum of Mobile by Altairisfar / Public Domain
The History Museum of Mobile is housed in a historic complex in Mobile known as the Old City Hall or the Southern Market and is dedicated to the history of the town of Mobile. Permanent exhibits in the museum include a community gallery where the works of local artists are highlighted and the “Faces of Mobile” exhibit which showcases the people who helped develop and grow the town over the past 300 years.
Address: 111 S Royal St, Mobile, AL 36602, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm / Sunday: 1 – 5 pm
23. Catch a Classic Movie at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham
The Alabama Theater by Wally Argus / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Alabama Theater in Birmingham was built in 1927 as the flagship theater and movie palace for Paramount’s Publix Theatre chain. The theater could seat up to 2,500 people and presented performing arts, first-run movies, and vaudeville shows.
Today, the historic movie palace is still operating and sees many visitors, many of whom come to see the large theater pipe organ that still exists and catch a classic movie or a live show in the beautiful old theater.
Address: 1817 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States
Suggested Tour: Tour of the Alabama Theatre
24. Listen for Ghosts in the Richards-DAR House in Mobile
Set in the De Tonti Square District, the Richards DAR House is a beautifully preserved 1860’s Italianate townhouse and one of Mobile’s most treasured historic landmarks. The historic house museum was once the home of Charles and Caroline Richards and is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of a mid-19th century house in the area. Legend has it that the house is haunted, and children’s laughter and voices can be heard.
Address: 256 N Joachim St, Mobile, AL 36603, United States
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 11 am – 3:30 pm / Sat: 10 am – 4 pm / Sunday: 1 – 4pm
25. Pay Tribute to Paul W. Bryant in Tuscaloosa
The Paul W. Bryant Museum by Amy Meredith / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Paul W. Bryant Museum at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa pays tribute to Paul W. (Bear) Bryant, one of the leading coaches of all time at the University of Alabama. Opened in 1985, the museum also celebrates the history of Alabama football with artifacts and memorabilia that tell the story of football at the university and how Coach Bryant led the team to numerous victories. It’s a football fan’s delight.
Address: 300 Paul W Bryant Dr, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, United States
Opening Hours: Thursday – Sunday 9 am – 4 pm
26. Pay Tribute at the Civil Rights Memorials in Montgomery
The Civil Rights Memorial by J. Stephen Conn / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery honors those killed during the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. Standing in a square next to the Civil Rights Memorial Center, the exquisite black granite sculpture is striking.
Other interesting memorials in the area include the Wall of Tolerance, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a six-acre space featuring artwork, sculptures, and monuments honoring various figures in the Civil Rights movement.
Address: Civil Rights Memorial, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm, daily
27. Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House Museum in Florence
The Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House Museum by Roger Smith / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Rosenbaum House is a single-family house designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939 for newlyweds Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum. The Usonian-design house is made of cypress, glass, and brick and features striking design elements such as board-and-batten walls and a flat, multi-level roof.
The house is filled with original Wright-designed furniture and is well worth a visit if you love architecture and design as it is one of only 26 pre-World War II Usonian houses and the only Wright building in Alabama.
Address: 601 Riverview Drive, Florence, Alabama
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 4 pm / Sunday 1 – 4 pm
28. Drop by the W.C. Handy Home and Museum in Florence
The W.C. Handy Home and Museum by David Brossard / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The W.C. Handy Home and Museum is dedicated to the life of iconic musician, W.C. Handy, who was fondly known as the “father of the Blues.” Handy wrote his most famous songs like Beale Street Blues and Memphis Blues in the house and visitors can see the see original sheet music hand-written by the artist, as well as other personal items, and musical instruments.
Address: 620 West College Street, Florence, Alabama
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
29. Explore the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma
The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute by Peter Durand / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute is dedicated to exposing the struggle African-Americans and women had for voting rights in the 1950s and 1960s. It is located at the site of the “Bloody Sunday” attack on protesters who were marching from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
The museum features interesting exhibits that focus on famous figures like Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Jesse Jackson, and President Barack Obama. There are also some haunting displays about women’s suffrage and extremist organizations like the KKK.
Address: 6 US Highway 80 East, Selma, Alabama
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm, daily
30. Visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro
The Unclaimed Baggage Center by Kellie Parker / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
If you are looking for something fun and unusual to do, pay a visit to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro where you’ll find some real treasures at the country’s only lost luggage store.
The center covers an entire city block in Scottsboro and buys orphaned luggage from airports and gives them new life by recycling and selling the contents. You’ll find some very interesting titbits.
Address: 509 W Willow St, Scottsboro, AL 35768, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
31. Take a Night Hike at Dismals Canyon Conservatory in Franklin County
Rainbow Falls at Dismals Canyon by RBharris / CC BY-SA 3.0
Dismals Canyon is a beautiful natural sandstone gorge near Phil Campbell in Franklin County that is famous for being home to insects called dismalites. The larval form of the insect emits a bright blue-green light to attract food and mates and is an incredible sight at night.
Take a guided night hike through the canyon to see these tiny bioluminescent glow worms light up the sky.
Address: 901 County Rd 8, Phil Campbell, AL 35581, United States
Suggested Tour: Guided Tours on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 pm (summer only)
32. Explore Ancient History at the Moundville Archeological Park in Moundville
The Moundville Archaeological Site by Altairisfar / Public Domain
The Moundville Archaeological Site is a Mississippian culture archaeological site on the Black Warrior River in Hale County that was once a large settlement.
Also known as the Moundville Archaeological Park, the park features many fascinating outdoor exhibits showcasing the finds at the site, as well as an informative museum documenting the history of the area. Watch the movie before hiking around the grounds to get a good understanding of the site.
Address: 634 Mound State Parkway, Moundville, AL 35474, United States
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm, daily
33. Walk the Tinglewood Trail at Orr Park in Montevallo
The Tinglewood Trail by Alby Headrick / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Tinglewood Trail is an easy path through the landscapes of Orr Park in Montevallo with an interesting twist – there are faces carved into the trunks of the dead or dying trees. Folk artist Tim Tingle has carved faces of humans, animals, and fantastical creatures into the trunks of dead or dying cedar trees to preserve them, giving the park a mystical ambiance. A book about the “Tinglewood Carvings” is available at the Montevallo City Hall.
Address: Park Dr, Montevallo, AL 35115, United States
Opening Hours: 6 am – 6 pm, daily
34. Explore Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman
Miniature Jerusalem at the Ave Maria Grotto by 1sock / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Ave Maria Grotto is a four-acre, landscaped park in an old quarry on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman that features 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous religious structures of the world such as the entire city of Jerusalem.
The works were created by Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey who used recycled materials to make his miniature fairyland.
Address: 1600 St Bernard Dr, Cullman, AL 35055, United States
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, daily
35. Brave a Zip Trip at Red Mountain Park in Birmingham
Fly through the treetops in the 1,500-acre Red Mountain Park in Birmingham on an exhilarating zipline ride with Vulcan Materials Zip Trip. Soar over the beautiful landscapes of the park and soak up breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and historical mining sites.
The basic zipline trip glides 40 feet above the forest floors, while the Mega Zip at the Kaul Adventure Tower is a heart-stopping 1,000-foot zip thrill ride that travels up to 30 miles per hour.
Address: 2011 Frankfurt Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211, United States
Opening Hours: 7 am – 5 pm, daily