Ah, Alabama. The Heart of Dixie.
It’s a beautiful destination thanks to its abundance of excellent food, picturesque sceneries, and rich historical heritage.
And, of course, there’s football.
This post is full of amazing locations to see in Alabama, from historical sites to breathtaking natural wonders (and a couple of fun spots).
This state, the 22nd to join the Union, has a rich and varied history, culture, and wildlife that are sure to impress visitors.
In Alabama, you can always find something entertaining to do.
Now, let’s go load up your itinerary!
Some Fun Things to Do in Alabama
In this list, we’re going to have fun, but we’re also going to learn.
Anyway, who says you can’t do both at the same time?
Alabama has so many things to offer to history buffs, foodies, partygoers, fitness enthusiasts, parents, and kids.
Take some ideas below as you’re planning your trip to the Cotton State.
Cathedral Caverns State Park
Located in Marshall County, Alabama, southeast of Woodville, is Cathedral Caverns, State Park.
The beautiful cavern within the park that is a popular tourist destination is the park’s namesake.
The spectacular Cathedral Caverns were formerly referred to as the Bat Cave, but their resemblance to a cathedral is so striking that its new name is more fitting.
There is a massive entrance to the Cathedral Caverns that is 25 feet in height and 126 feet in width, and the temperature is a constant 60 degrees.
Although 11,000 feet of the Caverns have been explored, the remaining 2,700 feet have not been mapped and are therefore closed.
You can go camping, have a picnic, take a cave tour, or dig for gems in the usable areas of the park.
Goliath, potentially the largest natural column in the world, is the most impressive feature of the Cathedral Caverns.
The stalagmite stands at 45 feet in height and has a 3-inch diameter and a circumference of 243 feet.
It slants upward to the ceiling about twenty-five feet above.
It is the natural, historical landmark that serves as the park’s focal draw.
Related Reading: Dumb Alabama Laws – Read Them Here.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
Located in Birmingham, Alabama, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum spreads out across a whopping 740 acres of land.
They have the finest and most extensive collections of classic cars and motorcycles in the world.
George Barber, who has an extensive collection of vintage motorcycles, came up with the idea.
In 1988, he used the pieces in his collection to launch a museum.
Nonetheless, Barber was more than just a collector.
He raced Porches and won 63 races, but his friend Dave Hooper suggested he switch to motorbikes because cars were so widely collected.
As a result of his devotion, Barber began amassing what would become the largest motorbike collection in the world.
In excess of 1,450 motorcycles from 20 different countries are on display at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum today.
Popular brands like Honda and Harley-Davidson sit side-by-side with more obscure manufacturers like DSK and Cagiva.
In addition to motorbikes, the museum houses the largest Lotus racecar collection in the world.
Without a doubt, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is one of the best attractions in the state for motorcyclists and motor buffs.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a compelling visit for any history lover planning a trip to Alabama.
It’s common knowledge that Birmingham, Alabama, was a focal point for civil rights campaigners in the 1950s and 1960s.
The museum, which can be found in Birmingham’s Civil Rights District, features a number of interactive exhibits.
These teach visitors about the struggle for civil and human rights and its historical context, as well as contemporary issues affecting African Americans and other marginalized groups.
Sobering relics of segregation, such as separate water fountains for White and Black kids, are also on display.
I suggest checking out the Institute’s website to learn more about the many educational events that are being held at the Institute throughout the year.
Rosa Parks Library
A courageous African-American woman on a Montgomery city bus on December 1, 1955, refused to give up her seat to a white man.
She is known as “the mother of the civil rights” for taking this bold stance.
There is a museum dedicated to Rosa Parks not far from where she made her famous stand.
The Rosa Parks Library and Museum, which is open to the public and is located on Montgomery Street in Montgomery, Alabama, is open Monday through Friday (except on major holidays).
Even though you can take a virtual tour of the museum, you should visit in person to see all the exhibits.
A restored 1955 station wagon, genuine historical documents, and a reproduction of the public bus are just some of the objects on display.
There’s a kid-friendly section so the next generation may learn about this remarkable lady, too.
Related Reading: Black History Of Alabama – Get The Insights Here.
Mobile Carnival Museum
Make time to visit the charming Mobile Carnival Museum for an out-of-the-ordinary and amusing time. It’s a must if you’re in Mobile.
You might think that New Orleans is the only place where Mardi Gras is celebrated, but the Mardi Gras Museum in Alabama will show you otherwise.
This stunning southern mansion is home to a collection of Mardi Gras relics from years past, including lavish jewelry, elaborate costumes, and even pieces of historic floats.
Don’t let slip that Mardi Gras was created in New Orleans, or you might get a spontaneous lesson in American history!
Discover the essence of Mobile Mardi Gras in this in-depth and informative guide.
Little River Canyon
Near Fort Payne, on Lookout Mountain in Alabama, is the Little River Canyon National Reserve.
It’s one of the grandest sights in the state, and it’s also the location of the longest mountaintop river in the country.
The canyon, formerly known as May’s Gulf, is widely recognized as the deepest of its type east of the Mississippi River.
If you plan on visiting Little River Canyon, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of exciting things to do there.
Hartline’s Ford, Billy’s Ford, and Slant Rock are all great places to set up a backcountry camp.
A valid license is required for all fishing and hunting activities.
A beautiful panorama of the canyon may be seen from a car as you drive along the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway for 23 miles.
Unclaimed Baggage Center
This is an unusual one.
In Alabama, the Unclaimed Baggage Center ranks among the most interesting tourist destinations.
It is located in Scottsboro and serves as a possible destination for lost or abandoned baggage looking to find new homes.
Airlines often compensate passengers for missing baggage or cargo and then resell any recovered items.
One such company is the Unclaimed Baggage Center, which has been in operation since 1970 and specializes in buying misplaced luggage.
They launched as a side gig, but by 1995, they’d grown to encompass an entire city block.
Every day, over 7,000 brand-new products are added to the store, making for a diverse and fascinating inventory.
You can locate a wide variety of stuff, most notably apparel, at the Unclaimed Baggage Center.
Many people’s bags contain not only electronic devices but also books, jewelry, sports equipment, cameras, and toys.
The occasional parachute, suit of armor, fighter jet system, jewel, or even a live rattlesnake has also been reported.
The on-site museum houses the most valuable artifacts.
Among these are Egyptian artifacts, Jim Henson’s Hoggle from the Labyrinth, and a violin from the 18th century.
Over two hundred alligators find refuge in the wetland known as Alligator Alley.
Folks from all walks of life around the world visit this popular tourist destination every year.
Visitors can safely watch hundreds of alligators and other animals from the comfort of a wooden boardwalk.
You may see alligators being fed by their trainers, observe them swimming and sunning themselves in the muddy water, and even get your hands on a baby gator for a photo op.
Aside from gators, Alligator Alley is home to ospreys, turtles, bullfrogs, and owls. This is a fun option for adventurous animal lovers.
Related Reading: Snakes In Alabama – Click Here To Learn More.
McWane Science Center
One of the best places in the state to take the kids is the McWane Science Center.
Since its kickoff in 1998, it has been a hit with families and their young children by providing them with science lessons that are both educational and engaging.
At more than 9,000 square feet, it features an IMAX Dome theater, a Challenger Learning Center, and a variety of hands-on displays.
There are over half a million objects here, spanning every scientific discipline.
This includes things like fossils, Native American artifacts, and minerals, as well as the official state fossil of the state, an 80-foot whale!
Moundville Archeological Park
Alabama has been home to people for far longer than you might imagine.
One of the best things to do in Alabama is to visit the historical site of Moundville Archaeological Park and learn about the prehistoric Mississippian people who lived there.
We don’t know quite know much about this site yet.
What caused this settlement to flourish and then collapse and how its inhabitants interacted with local Native American communities remain mysteries to historians.
Ancient Mississippians used the park’s 326 acres and 29 flat-topped mounds for public gatherings and rituals.
When you’re done visiting the old structures that have stood there for nearly 800 years, head to the museum.
If you’re an adult and you’re interested in history, this is one of the top things to do in Alabama.
Cheaha State Park
In Northern Clay and Cleburne counties, you’ll find the Cheaha State Park, Alabama’s oldest state park, which opened in 1933 and covers around 2,800 acres.
This park is fantastic for just about any kind of park activity you can imagine, from sightseeing to hiking to camping to water sports and beyond.
There are modern camping facilities and a lodge with a pool, and 30 guest rooms available at Cheaha State Park.
Get out on the water for some fishing, swimming, or boat launching to cool off and bond with family.
There are many beautiful places to hike to, with trails such as the Pinhoti Trail, the Chinnabee Silent Trail, and the Odum Scout Trail all being well-traveled favorites.
The Cheaha State Park offers not only standard park facilities but also a café and general store.
Related Reading: Types Of Trees In Alabama – Click Here To Find Out.
Point Mallard Park
Located in Decatur, Alabama, Point Mallard Park is 500 acres in size and is open all year.
The nearby Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is another great attraction in the state.
The Blackburn Aquatic Center, which has one of the first wave pools in the United States, is the park’s main draw.
A diving pool and several massive slides are also available at the park.
Bring the kids; there’s a sand beach, a squirt gun factory, playgrounds galore, and plenty of food and drink offerings at the concession stands.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
The USS Alabama, on which construction started on February 1, 1940, can be seen today in the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
After two years of construction, it was finally unveiled to the public at a fancy ceremony.
On August 16 of that year, Captain George B. Wilson took command, and a little over a year later, the unit saw its first action in combat.
The vessel was scheduled for demolition in 1962, and it sat mostly unused until 1977, when the Battleship Memorial Park was established nearby.
The battleship is now a national historic landmark, joining the likes of the submarine USS Drum and other historic ships in this illustrious company.
Both of those ships date back to World War II.
In addition to the memorials for the Vietnam War and the Korean War, the Battleship Memorial Park is home to a patrol boat from that war, as well as other military equipment, fighter and bomber jets, and other historical artifacts.
Related Reading: Zoos In Alabama – Read About Them Here.
Huntsville Botanical Garden
Nearly 308,000 people visit the Huntsville Botanical Garden every year, making it one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations and a prime example of Alabama’s natural beauty.
It’s a fantastic, reliable choice because it’s always open, no matter the time of year.
The Nature Center and Children’s Garden at the Huntsville Botanical Garden is a highlight since it houses the largest seasonal butterfly house in the United States.
Space and dinosaur gardens, as well as a garden inspired by fairy tales, are among the kid-friendly attractions here.
In addition to the cool nature trail, there are many more gardens to explore, including a daylily garden, biblical garden, fern glade, and herb garden.
The Galaxy of Lights, Scarecrow Trail, Huntsville Blooms, and Beaks and Barks are just a few examples of the many seasonal activities held in Huntsville throughout the year.
Find out if you’ll be in town for a fun event at the Huntsville Botanical Garden by checking their calendar.
The Wharf at Orange Beach
The Wharf is a waterfront destination with endless activities for you and your travel companions to enjoy.
It’s a one-stop destination for shopping, water activities, and delicious cuisine.
Yes, there are tons of things you can do on The Wharf.
Activities such as going to the amphitheater to see a show, dancing the night away to the tunes of a skilled DJ, riding a Ferris wheel, and indulging in a meal of fresh seafood while nursing a glass of wine.
You can also enjoy your day at the marina with some water sports like boating, fishing, and swimming are all perfect examples.
Gulf Shores is ideal for folks who want to do nothing more than lounge on the beach or do some light exploring.
As befits a top-tier beach holiday spot, there is a wide range of places to stay, from hotels to B&Bs to condo and beach house rentals.
When you’re in the area, it’s worth your time to explore the area’s many restaurants, bars, and clubs, as well as its many museums, galleries, and shops.
Of course, there is a wide variety of beach and water sports, as well as other outdoor activities, such as fishing, boating, and cruises.
Related Reading: Best Beach Towns In Alabama – Click Here To Learn More.
US Space & Rocket Center
Do you find the vastness of space to be absolutely fascinating?
If so, you’re sure to enjoy a visit to the US Space & Rocket Center.
Stunning exhibits from the United States space program are on display at this museum.
Here, visitors can take a tour of the facility and pick up some knowledge about rockets, space travel, and the American space program.
There are a lot of interactive displays. As an example, SCUBA is a type of underwater astronaut experience in which participants dive to a depth of 24 feet and engage in activities with a trained instructor.
One popular attraction is the flight simulator, which lets visitors learn the ins and outs of piloting an F-18 Super Hornet.
There’s a good reason why this spectacular natural phenomenon is considered one of the best tourist destinations in Alabama: it’s jaw-dropping.
Sinkhole/cave hybrid Neversink is 40 feet across at its widest point and plunges a staggering 162 feet to the bottom.
Not only do climbers and mountaineers love this area, but photographers come here all year round to take spectacular pictures.
One of the best parts about descending Neversink is seeing how the landscape transforms with the seasons.
Head here in the spring, and you may find waterfalls, whereas you’ll be met with verdant ferns in the summer and sheets of ice in the winter.
You’ll have to trudge up the mountain for a good 30 minutes if you want to reach Neversink.
However, after you get through, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramas of the limestone cave.
Unfortunately, you can only rappel down (and climb back up) Neversink if you’re an expert climber with vertical caving skills.
If you think you can tackle it, then all you need to do is apply for a specific permit through the online permit system.
Related Reading: The Alabama Aquarium – Learn More Here.
Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House Museum
One of Alabama’s most visited museums, the Rosenbaum House, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
It’s the sole structure by the famous Frank Llyod Wright in the state, and it’s one of the loveliest buildings in the country.
In 1940, Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum had this dream home built.
Mildred would stay here until 1999, and eventually, the city of Florence would take full ownership of the property.
Now it serves as a shining example of Wright’s Usonian style, a movement in architecture that emerged because of the Great Depression.
The term “Usonian” is an initialism for “United States of North American,” and the structures that employ this style aim to be economical, practical, and aesthetically inoffensive.
This meant using lots of glass, cantilevers, horizontal lines, and wood.
Wright nailed it with a spacious yet intimate main room and an adjoining addition that worked brilliantly for the Rosenbaums as their family expanded to include four kids.
Wright was thrilled when, in 1948, a Japanese garden and more sleeping quarters were added to the structure, seeing this as a testament to its adaptability.
Although it may not be the most exciting of Wright’s works, a visit here will give you a deeper respect for the architect’s brilliance.
Bankhead National Forest
Bankhead National Forest is a paradise for adventurers thanks to its abundance of breathtaking natural attractions.
There are lovely forests, numerous waterfalls, and 90 miles of trails in this 180,000-acre area that is only 90 minutes from Birmingham.
Bankhead National Forest is an excellent destination if you enjoy waterfall hikes.
Seeing the breathtaking Kinlock Falls is a must on every trip to Bankhead.
Just a quarter of a mile from the car park is an easy path that leads to a spectacular waterfall that spans 25 feet in width.
Don’t forget your swimwear and towel, as this is a common place for swimming!
Undoubtedly one of the odder things to do in Alabama is to check out Dismals Canyon after dark.
This is because dismalites, extremely rare fly larvae, are only found in a few locations worldwide.
It may not sound appealing to snoop around in the dark for fly larvae, but once the sun goes down, these odd insects will begin to glow a bluish-green, creating a surreal light show.
Dismalites, sometimes known as “glowworms,” thrive in the mossy environment of the 85-acre nature conservatory.
You can take a 45-minute guided night tour of Dismals Canyon to witness this extraordinary natural spectacle.
There are two beautiful waterfalls in Dismals Canyon, as well as some of the largest Canadian Hemlock trees in the world.
There is a trail that goes into the canyon floor for about a mile and a half, passing by caves, huge boulders, cascading waterfalls, and tall trees.
If you are a bookworm, you must stop by Alabama Booksmith before leaving the Heart of Dixie.
This one-of-a-kind bookstore is filled with hundreds of volumes, all of which have been personally signed by their authors.
Time will fly by as you lose track of it amidst the shelves of books at Alabama Booksmith.
It’s the best location to find first editions, rare novels, and signed copies of classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and many others.
Related Reading: Thrift Stores In Alabama – Find More Here.
Birmingham’s Zoo Park is situated on about 122 acres of land and is home to about 200 animal species and 800 animals.
Over 470,000 people visit the Birmingham Zoo annually to see the animals and participate in the many educational and entertaining programs.
In 1955, when it originally opened, it housed a few exotic animals in a firehouse. It expanded to the point where a park was built.
The Predator and Primate Pavilions, Kangaroo Kontry, Flamingo Lagoon, Alligator Swamp, and Sea Lions Splash Show are just a few of the park’s most popular attractions.
The spring and summer months also feature camel rides.
Campus No. 805
There’s something about Alabama’s approach to brewing artisan beer that shines.
The Yellowhammer State is home to several creative breweries, but if you want to visit the best concentration of them in one place, go no farther than Huntsville.
The first stop on your boozy tour is Campus No. 805, a former school that has been converted into a variety of hip eateries and retail establishments.
Check out the local craft brewery, Salty Nut Brewery, and order a pint of their award-winning Imperial Moustache Red.
After that, stroll on over to the nearby Yellowhammer Brewing, where they’ve been making Southern-inspired beers since 2010.
If you’re feeling tipsy and want something to soak up the alcohol, the Yellowhammer is located next to a wood-fired pizza joint.
The hip Straight to Ale, serving up delicious pints of their signature Monkeynaut IPA, can also be found on Campus 805.
Pints & Pixels is just down the street if you can handle it.
This bar is a great way to round off a night of drinking in Huntsville, with a lengthy menu of local beers and a selection of arcade games from the 1980s.
Dexter Parsonage Baptist Church and Museum
You shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about the history of the United States at this stop along the US Civil Rights Trail.
Some of the best things to do in Montgomery are to visit the Dexter Parsonage Museum and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.
For its role in the Civil Rights Movement, the church was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Throughout the Montgomery Bus Boycott, here is where Martin Luther King Jr. practiced his pastorage.
Just a short walk away is the Dexter Parsonage Museum, which features a permanent exhibition of the home where Dr. King and his family resided from 1954 to 1960.
After being attacked while he and his family were inside on January 30, 1956, the house was renovated.
Fortunately, no one was hurt during the incident, so the site can still attract tourists with its original beauty.
One of Alabama’s lesser-known attractions, the Natural Bridge, is sure to impress.
The iron ore and sandstone bridge stand out from the incredibly rich flora and awe-inspiring rock formations that surround it.
Slowly taking shape on the outskirts of what is now William Bankhead National Forest, this bridge took almost 200 million years to form.
It’s 148 feet in length and 50 feet in height, and it fills the space of a cave.
This area was home to Native Americans for millennia prior to its designation as a national park in 1954.
It’s too dangerous to cross the bridge at the moment, but it’s still beautiful to look at from underneath and capture on camera.
A mysterious Native American head carving, thought to depict a long-dead chief, can be found a short distance from here.
One of the most interesting sights to see in Alabama is the Sloss Furnaces, a national historic landmark.
The furnaces first started producing pig iron in 1882 through their use as blast furnaces.
After the Sloss Furnaces complex was decommissioned in 1971, it was preserved as a tourist attraction.
Colonel James Withers Sloss, one of Birmingham’s pillars, was a proponent of railroad expansion; therefore, the intriguing buildings bear his name.
He established his company on 50 acres of land that had been given to him for the development of the industry.
Even with all that space, they could only fit two furnaces there.
Each furnace stands at a height of 60 feet and a width of 18 feet, and they are surrounded by the many machines and instruments required to create pig iron.
When Sloss was ready to retire, he sold the enterprise.
The park extended to accommodate the new boilers, and the company quickly became a global powerhouse in its field.
A community of cottages was established for the labor force, and these dwellings were continually refurbished throughout the years.
After the US Clean Air Act was enacted, they were forced to close.
The buildings were given as a donation to the Alabama State Fair Authority, and preservationists worked to keep the fairgrounds from being torn down.
These days, the Sloss Furnaces is home to an industrial museum that hosts a world-famous metal arts program and educates visitors about the complex’s historical past.
Concerts and festivals frequently take place there, making it one of the few places in the state where attendees don’t have to pay to enjoy themselves.
GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico
One of the greatest ways to gain an authentic feel for the Gulf of Mexico is by visiting the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum.
The Gulf of Mexico Museum at the Southern tip of Alabama is the world’s only maritime museum devoted only to its subject.
It’s an essential stop for anybody interested in learning more about the Gulf of Mexico.
Built in the SS McLean’s container hold, it represents the rise of containerization as a concept in the 1950s.
Related Reading: Other Museums In Alabama – Click Here To Find Out.
Civil Rights Memorial
The Southern Poverty Law Center is just opposite the Alabama Civil Rights Memorial.
It’s one of the best places to visit to get a sense of the weight of the civil rights movement’s symbolic significance, despite the fact that it’s quite traumatic.
It honors the memory of forty people who gave their lives between 1954 and 1968 in the pursuit of civil rights.
Maya Lin, who also built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, had her work dedicated there in 1989.
The memorial was designed with a soothing, water-based aesthetic. A guard is stationed at the memorial around the clock in case any vandalism should occur.
Big Fish, a film from 2003, features a fictitious town called the Town of Spectre.
In the film, the main character visits Spectre many times, going as a youngster to find it charming and vibrant, then arriving later to find it decaying.
The protagonist then takes charge of the situation, tries to resolve the problem, and returns to find that everything is as good as new.
It’s quirky and melancholic — even more so when you see the present condition of the set of Spectre.
Spectre was erected along the Alabama River on a private island.
The town facades were left to stand there when filming was done, along with all the other decorations of the set.
The reason it appears so run-down is that that version of Spectre was the last to be filmed; thus, it already looked purposely shabby when production concluded.
Debris from the fall of one of the buildings caused a fire, and the owners of several others are in the process of trying to salvage them before they completely collapse.
The river home from the movie was also demolished owing to flooding that damaged it.
Folks can still enjoy the town of Spectre, but it’s considerably smaller now.
Only six homes, two trees, a chapel, and columns from a historic edifice remain.
If you enjoyed the film, you could leave your shoes at the long line currently hanging here.
Birmingham’s Alabama Theatre opened in 1927 with the intention of becoming the region’s best movie theater.
As one of the earliest structures to feature air conditioning, it played host to Mickey Mouse Club events during the 1930s.
The theater initially only showed silent films accompanied by the Mighty Wurlitzer organ.
Ultimately, it was this organ that prevented the theater’s demolition.
The Alabama Theater is now a nonprofit organization, yet it still puts on shows regularly.
It has gone a long way from its days as a simple theater where people could see vaudeville and other performances since it now boasts seating for 2,500 people.
Since it’s Alabama’s only remaining district theater, seeing a show there is guaranteed to be a memorable experience.
The Talladega Superspeedway is a fantastic way to experience Alabama’s racing culture and other forms of entertainment.
It’s the longest and fastest NASCAR course at 2.66 miles.
It was founded in 1969 as the Alabama International Motor Speedway, but it quickly gained a reputation as cursed due to its placement atop the burial grounds of ancient towns.
The Talladega Superspeedway stands out from other racetracks because it allows visitors to camp for free on the grounds on weekends when races are scheduled.
You can camp in an RV, a tent, or in the great outdoors.
The Party Patio is a recent addition that provides a panoramic view of the entire track while guests relax and wait for the races to begin.
Related Reading: Movies Filmed In Alabama – Check Them Out Here.
Final Thoughts on Alabama Attractions
This has been quite a lengthy list, but there are still so many more places to visit in The Cotton State.
The state has so much to offer, like natural spectacles, Southern food, sporting events, rich culture, storied history, and white sand beaches.
Alabamians are lucky to enjoy these gems all year long, but they’re always ready to welcome you with some good old Southern hospitality.