25 Best Places to Visit in Alabama

jackson lake island

Alabama is one of the states with the richest history in the United States. 

Being the main civil rights battleground, it is often referred to as the cradle of American democracy. 

The mixture between various landscapes, charming countryside, historically rich cities and outstanding soft-sand white beaches is what attracts millions of visitors every year. 

Definitely one of the top advantages here is the fantastic weather. 

The summer season is quite long, especially in the South of the state. 

At the same time, winters are usually very short and mild, with a thin snow cover on very rare occasions. 

The best time to enjoy the ultimate vacation in Alabama is in spring (especially April and May), and that’s why most Americans prefer to spend the spring holidays here. 

In addition to everything we just said, Alabama is well-known for the affordable prices, even in the big cities and along the coast. 

Although partially overshadowed by the huge popularity of its famous neighbour Florida, Alabama should be definitely on the top of your travel bucket list. 

It offers a mind blowing diversity of places to visit and things to do, and here you can see a small part of them:

1. Noccalula Falls Park

noccalula falls park
Noccalula Falls Park by Andrea Wright/Flickr

Noccalula Falls is one of the major tourist attractions of Alabama. 

It is located on the northern outskirts of Gadsden, around 57 miles (or 92 km) northeast from Birmingham. 

As it is surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens, the area of the waterfall is a tempting place for recreation, walking and other outdoor activities. 

The place is so beautiful and diverse that you can easily spend the entire day here. 

One of the attractions is the wonderful Noccalula Falls Botanical Garden, which is a real piece of paradise on Earth. 

You will also be able to visit a really nice small zoo, and that’s great news if you travel with kids. 

Of course, the main attraction is the waterfall itself. 

Named after a beautiful Cherokee girl, it is approximately 90 feet (27.5 m) tall. 

It falls into a deep and shady but short gorge. 

On May 12, 1976, Noccalula Falls was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. 

Although it looks gorgeous all year round, it is in its best after heavy rainfalls. 

2. Dauphin Island

dauphin island
Dauphin Island by Jenni Konrad/Flickr

The western ⅓ of the Gulf Coast of Alabama is dominated by the sandy landscapes of the beautiful Dauphin Island. 

It is an important tourist destination and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year between late March and early November – a season that brings plenty of sunshine and temperatures of between 73°F and 90°F (between 23°C and 32°C). 

There are hundreds of reasons to visit and fall in love with this beautiful and quiet place. 

As it is inhabited only in the eastern part, the barrier island is home to hundreds of species of animals, including a large number of birds, sea turtles, dolphins, manatee and even alligators. 

Dauphin Island is 16.5 miles ( 26.5 km) long and most of the southern coast is covered by wonderful soft white-sand beaches. 

They are among the warmest in the continental United States (after Florida and small parts of Texas). 

The shallow warm waters along the coast attract swimmers and beach goers, including families with kids.  

3. Bellingrath Gardens and Home

bellingrath gardens and home
Bellingrath Gardens and Home by 12019/Pixabay

Created between 1925 and 1949 by Walter Belingrath (one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the region), Bellingrath Gardens and Home covers about 65 acres in the warm and sunny southern parts of Alabama. 

You will find it approximately 30 minutes drive south of Mobile, about a mile east of Bellingrath Road, on the bank of Fowl River. 

The place is known for its fantastic gardens and for the beautiful mansion in the Revival style where Walter used to live with his wife. 

Nowadays, this place serves as a museum and is open for visitors from around the world. 

The gardens within the complex offer the greatest flower collection in this part of the United States, including hundreds of varieties of Camellias and Azaleas. 

Although you can see plenty of species of flowers even in winter, as you can expect, the most beautiful time of the year to visit this place is in spring. 

If you visit the garden in April, you will be able to enjoy the greatest number of blossoming species of flowers and trees. 

In addition, April offers the most comfortable temperatures of around 77°F (25°C)

4. Lake Guntersville State Park

lake guntersville state park
Lake Guntersville State Park by 12019/Pixabay

Created in 1935 in northeastern Alabama, Lake Guntersville is an artificial freshwater reservoir along the Tennessee River. 

Because of the rich wildlife, the area attracts thousands of visitors from across the country. 

The main center of attraction is, of course, Lake Guntersville State Park, which lies on the eastern shore of the lake. 

The area offers a lot of things to see and do. You will find more than 35 miles of forest hiking trails within the limits of the state park as well as a large golf course. 

An impressive variety of species of mammals, birds, reptiles and many others call this place their home. 

Lovers of walking, cycling and other outdoor activities from all parts of the United States come here attracted by the lovely weather conditions in the area. 

You can enjoy temperatures of more than 72°F (22°C) during the day from early April till late October. 

Summers are very hot and humid with temperatures of around 90 – 92°F (32 – 33°C) in July and August. 

5. Montgomery / Governor’s Mansion

montgomery governor's mansion
Montgomery Governor’s Mansion by 12019/Pixabay

Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery was built in 1907, and today it is one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Alabama. 

It is located in the charming and popular Garden District, which is known for its architecture and old historical houses from the late 19th and the early 20th century. 

Most of the buildings in the area were completed in the Neoclassical, Classical Revival and Late Victorian architecture, and the Governor’s Mansion is a great example. 

Because of its cultural and historic importance, the house was listed in the U.S National Register of Historic Places on July 3, 1972. 

The building is elegant from outside and very aristocratic from inside. It has 17 rooms and a very beautiful garden. 

The entire territory of the property covers approximately 2 acres (0.81 ha).  

The main accent in the Governor’s Mansion is the double staircase which leads to the second floor of the house. 

6. Fort Morgan 

fort morgan
Fort Morgan by fritzmb/Flickr

Although Florida is considered to be the absolute leader when it comes to the number of fortresses in the Southeastern United States, Alabama offers several places that are definitely worth a visit too and one of them is Fort Morgan. 

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Located near the entrance of the Mobile Bay, Fort Morgan was constructed between 1819 and 1834 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. 

It was named after Daniel Morgan – a hero from the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) and an important American politician from Virginia.

Being one of the most important historical sites in southern Alabama and especially in the area of Gulf Shores, nowadays, the fortress is a popular tourist attraction. 

The place, however, is relatively quiet and secluded, especially on hot summer days. 

The tickets are quite affordable and you will be able to explore and walk around the fort as much as you want. 

The best option is to buy your ticket in advance online. 

7. Orange Beach

orange beach
Orange Beach by Bill Sutton/Flickr

Although the length of the coast of Alabama is only 60 miles (95.6 km), it is known for being one of the most attractive in the United States. 

Its snow-white soft sands can beat even the world famous beaches of California. 

Not to mention the warm subtropical climate, which brings summer temperatures from early April till late October. 

One of the very best stretches of sand in Alabama is Orange Beach. Locked between Florida to the east and Gulf Shore to the west, it is approximately 8.5 miles long (13.7 km). 

The beach is mostly family oriented and never too crowded. 

Most of the activities here are focused on the beach itself and include sunbathing, swimming, short cruises and boat trips, beach volleyball etc. 

The stretch of sand is mostly uninterrupted. 

The only exception is the eastern part which is separated from the rest of the beach through a narrow canal and falls within the neighbouring island of Perdido Key. 

In fact, Alabama and Florida share the island, with most of its territory falling within the borders of Florida. 

8. Gadsden

gadsden
Gadsden by 12019/Pixabay

If you want to feel and experience the old historical spirit of Alabama, you should visit the small town of Gadsden. 

Located in the northeastern part of the state, less than a hundred miles west of Atlanta, Georgia, it is home to only about 35.5 thousand people. 

Founded in 1846, Gadsden has always been a small but well developed industrial community. 

It played an important role during the Civil War and today is a very beautiful and popular tourist town. 

The main tourist attraction is the beautiful Gadsden Downtown Historic District, known for its old buildings, museums, craft shops and souvenir stores. 

It lies on the west bank of the deep and meandering Coosa River. 

In the southernmost part of the district you will find the Spirit of American Citizenship Monument, which was built in 1997. 

9. The Big Peach, Clanton

the big peach clanton
The Big Peach, Clanton by Jimmy Emerson/Flickr

Founded in 1866, Clanton is a small town that has a population of less than 9,000 residents. 

It is situated in the heart of Alabama, on the middle of the way between Birmingham and Montgomery. 

Clanton is a very good opportunity to explore the traditional rural landscape of Alabama, without being too far from the large cities at the same time. 

Despite being quite a small town, most of the travelers find Clanton very entertaining and diverse. 

The main tourist attraction is the extraordinary water tower, better known as the Big Peach. 

Approximately 120 ft tall (around 36.6 meters), it holds more than 500,000 gallons (or 1.9 million liters) of water inside. 

The huge peach tower was built in 1992, and it was inspired by another one, a bit bigger, located in Gaffney, South Carolina. 

The tower is a very important landmark and attracts visitors from across the country. 

10. Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, Mobile 

bragg mitchell mansion mobile
Bragg Mitchell Mansion, Mobile by 12019/Pixabay

Completed in 1855, Bragg-Mitchell Mansion is one of the biggest and most important tourist attractions in the coastal city of Mobile in southern Alabama. 

It is located in a green and quiet area, on 1906 Springhill Avenue and is surrounded by beautiful centuries old oak trees.

The mansion is a very beautiful historical building and a museum. 

The house was completed as a mixture between the Greek Revival and the Italianate architectural styles. 

It is considered one of the most photographed buildings in the United States. 

The mansion is really fascinating not only because of its beauty from outside but also because of its outstanding interior. 

You can still enjoy the authentic and well-preserved wooden furniture, high ceilings and authentic colors. 

11. Gulf State Park

gulf state park
Gulf State Park by Jodybwiki/CC BY-SA 3.0

Considering its scenic coastline and lovely weather for most of the year, Gulf State Park is not surprisingly a paradise for lovers of outdoor activities. 

The area is very attractive for bird watching, camping and recreation, and at the same time, it offers a very good choice of things to do.

It is known for its two miles long stretch of gorgeous soft sands and attracts visitors from early spring until late autumn, especially during the spring holidays when the weather is wonderful. 

Unlike California, the water along the Gulf Shore is warm and is therefore much more comfortable for swimming. 

The combination between white sands and clear emerald sea attracts visitors from across the country and from abroad. 

Although the area is relatively sparsely populated, the number of visitors is more than 6 million per year. 

If you want to avoid big crowds, you should visit Gulf State Park during the workweek, especially between Monday and Thursday.

12. Gulf Shore

gulf shore
Gulf Shore by Dominik Dome/Flickr

Located on a narrow strip of land that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the mirrored coastal lagoons, Gulf Shore is a popular spring break destination. 

The coastal city offers a very wide choice of things to do and places to stay in, and it is a great option, if you need an early summer vacation. 

The beach is considered one of the warmest in the United States outside Florida and Hawaii. 

It offers really fantastic weather between March and November, with July and August being a bit too hot and humid. 

According to travelers, April offers the best weather conditions in the area. 

Gulf Shore stretches to the west of Gulf State Park. 

The major attraction here is the outstanding beach, known for its fantastic white powder sand as well as for the crystal clear emerald water along the coast. 

The water is pleasantly warm from early spring till late autumn, making it much better for swimming than Southern California. 

13. Fairhope  

fairhope
Fairhope by Rex Hammock/Flickr

Situated on the east coast of the smooth and balmy Mobile Bay, Fairhope is often described as one of the 10 most adorable small towns to visit in the Southern United States. 

Although it was established relatively soon (only in 1908), it actually looks quite old because of its traditional architecture and wooden houses with large porches. 

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Fairhope offers a wide choice of places to visit, including restaurants and bars, museums, art galleries and many others. 

It is known for its beautiful parks and gardens along the coast, which attracts lovers of walking, running, picnicking and other outdoor activities. 

Because of its lovely weather, the town has always been a popular wintering destination for writers and artists. 

Indeed, it is a really good choice if you want to escape the cold weather in winter. 

January is the only month of the year when the average temperature during the day is less than 64°F (17.8°C). 

The beach of Fairhope is known for its mind blowing sunsets, which are considered the most beautiful along the Gulf Coast of the United States.  

14. Huntsville

apollo 16 capsule huntsville
Apollo 16 Capsule, Huntsville by James E. Scarborough/CC BY 1.0

Situated less than half an hour drive to the south of the border with Tennessee, Huntsville is one of the oldest cities in Alabama. 

It was established in 1805, and today it covers parts of the territories of two neighbouring counties – Madison and Limestone. 

Being the second largest city in the state, it is an important scientific, manufacturing and cultural center. 

Huntsville is the place to find one of the most exciting museums to visit, not only in Alabama but in the United States as a whole. 

Opened in 1970, the US Space and Rocket Center is unique because here you can see the largest and most impressive collection of spice and rocket exhibits in the world. 

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is operated by the government, and of course, it is open to the public. 

Some of the most interesting exhibits are the Apollo 16 capsule, Jupiter-C and Jupiter IRBM missiles, the replica of Saturn V and many others. 

15. Civil Rights Historic District

civil rights historic district
Civil Rights Historic District by Chris Pruitt/CC BY-SA 3.0

Being one of the cradles of American civilization, Alabama is saturated with all kinds of cultural and historical landmarks to visit and Birmingham is a great example. 

Here you will find some of the most worth visiting places in the state and one of them is the Civil Rights Historic District. 

Some of the attractions in the area include museums, churches, administrative buildings and busy shopping streets. 

It is recommended to spend some time here, exploring the six blocks of the Civil Rights Historic District as well as to have a cup of coffee or lunch in an attempt to immerse yourself in the spirit of the neighbourhood.  

Along with other things, the area is known for its beautiful architecture, dominated by old buildings in the Gothic Revival and the Classical Revival styles. 

The Civil Rights Historic District was designated in 1992, although it has been famous with tourists since the 1960s. 

The best time to visit this part of Birmingham is in spring and autumn. 

16. Cane Creek Preserve

cane creek preserve
Cane Creek Preserve by Dave Edens/Flickr

Cane Creek is a private preserve that covers approximately 413-acre (167 ha) of beautiful and various landscapes in the northwestern corner of Alabama. 

From deep and shady canyons to lush deciduous forests and shallow swamps, the preserve is home to a wide variety of animal species, including large predators such as mountain lions and alligators. 

The park is known for its wonderful tourist paths. 

The main trail is a 8.2 miles (13.2 km) long well-maintained and heavily trafficked loop, which connects some of the most beautiful places in the area, including caves and waterfalls, so you can enjoy the beauty of the park without leaving the route. 

If you are planning to travel to this beautiful place, the best time of the year to visit Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve (as it is its full name) is in spring and autumn, especially in April and October. 

You have to know that summers in this part of Alabama are very hot and humid so most of the travelers prefer the beginning and the end of the tourist season. 

17. Blue Hole and Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

blue hole and turkey creek nature preserve
Blue Hole and Turkey Creek Nature Preserve by Jimmy Emerson/Flickr

Turkey Creek is a beautiful nature preserve in the vicinity of Birmingham. 

It is well known for its dense forests and shady walking and cycling trails, which attract visitors from across the country and from the nearby city (the largest in the state). 

The major attraction in the area, however, is the Blue Hole.

Hidden amidst the deciduous vegetation, the Blue Hole is a magnet for cyclists and hikers in winter and for swimmers in summer. 

The waterfall fed swimming hole is a great way to refresh yourself on hot summer days (summers are scorching and very humid here!). 

The water usually remains cool even in July and August.

Even if you are not a lover of swimming, this place is recommended to visit. 

The hole is known for its irresistible emerald green color so you will be able to take some really nice pictures. 

The best time to come here is the period between mid April and mid May, which brings temperatures of between 75 and 83°F (between 24 and 28°C) during the day.

18. Birmingham Botanical Garden 

birmingham botanical garden
Birmingham Botanical Garden by Andy Montgomery/Flickr

Opened in 1962 in the southeast periphery of the city, the Birmingham Botanical Garden covers approximately 67.5 acres and is one of the most attractive in the United States. 

Safe, clean, quiet and diverse, it is one of the best places to relieve stress and recharge your batteries in Alabama. 

Open even on holidays, the garden is always free for visitors and offers a great choice of things to do. 

It is known for its small ponds, flower beds and places for recreation with free wi-fi. 

Here you will also find the only one of its kind horticultural library in the United States. 

The garden is the most favorite place for locals to spend their free time, especially on weekends. 

The green oasis often plays the role of an education center under the open sky. 

It is considered one of the largest living museums in the country and definitely the largest in Alabama. 

19. Jackson Lake Island

jackson lake island
Jackson Lake Island by Andy Montgomery/Flickr

Situated on the northern outskirts of Montgomery, the small Jackson Lake is one of the landmarks of central Alabama. 

The surrounding area is covered by lush vegetation and summers bring some of the highest temperatures in the United States as a whole. 

The main attraction in the area, however, is the tiny private Jackson Lake Island. 

Here you will find the small town Specter, which was specially built and served as a film set for the movie Big Fish (2003). 

The area is open to visitors and attracts lovers of walking and outdoor activities. 

Here you can spend hours enjoying the natural beauty and quiet walking trails with your family and friends. 

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As the area of Jackson Lake experiences very hot and humid climate with temperature of over 90°F (32°C) on hot summer days, the best time of the year to come here is in April and early May, when the average daytime temperature is around 77 – 84°F (25 – 29°C). 

October is a very good period to visit the lake too, because it brings more comfortable temperatures of around 79°F (26°C).

20. Dismals Canyon

dismals canyon
Dismals Canyon by Roger Smith/Flickr

Dismals Canyon is a unique place, located in the most remote and isolated area in northwestern Alabama. 

You will find it an hour and a half drive northwest from Birmingham, in the southern part of Franklin County. 

Deep and shady, the sandstone canyon is surrounded by lush subtropical broad leaf forests. 

One of the advantages of this place is that it remains off the beaten tracks so it is quiet even in the height of summer. 

Here you will find a shady 1.5 miles long forest trail, which follows the bottom canyon and leads to the relatively small but really wonderful Rainbow Falls and Secret Falls. 

The canyon is home to a rare species of insect that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. 

Orfelia fultoni (their official name) or dismalites (as the insects are better known among people), are an endemic bio luminescent species of flies that have a limited range in this area. 

If you join one of the night tours, you will be able to see the insects glowing blue or green.

21. Perry Lakes Park 

perry lakes park
Perry Lakes Park by James Diewald/Flickr

Perry Lakes Park is a wonderful place for bird watching and hiking, located approximately 6 miles (less than 10 km) northeast from Marion, central Alabama. 

It is dominated by broad leaved woodlands, parts of which are flooded. 

A number of small mirrored ponds surrounded by tall grasses are scattered in the area.  

Covering more than 800 acres, it is a great place for wildlife lovers and includes well maintained walking trails and picnic spots. 

Since the area has always been mostly unknown with tourists, it still remains off the beaten paths and is a good choice if you want to avoid the big crowds of visitors.

Although the weather is very warm and humid during the summer season in Perry County, this is the most beautiful time of the year to visit the area, with April and October offering the most comfortable temperatures (around 76°F / 24°C during the day). 

You should expect to feel the temperature warmer than it actually is because of the high humidity. 

22. Natural Bridge Park

natural bridge park
Natural Bridge Park by mojorison_75/Flickr

Established in 1954, Natural Bridge Park is located in an ecologically clean and detached forested area in northwestern Alabama. 

You will find it in the western part of the sparsely populated Winston County, in the vicinity of the small community of Natural Bridge, about an hour drive northwest from Birmingham. 

The park is very well-maintained and offers artesian water fountains and relaxing picnic areas. 

Following a quiet and shady forest trail through the park, you will reach the main attraction here. 

It comes to a 60 feet high (more than 18 meters) natural sandstone bridge, which was formed approximately 200,000 years ago. 

The weather in the area is warm from early April till late October, with July and August reaching 92°F (more than 33°C) in the shade. 

The most beautiful time of the year to visit this extraordinary place is spring when everything is emerald green. 

Autumn is irresistible with its warm red, orange and yellow shades. 

23. Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge 

cahaba river national wildlife refuge
Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge by Outdoor Alabama/Flickr

Located approximately half an hour drive south of the highway connecting Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2002. 

The area is dominated by the river and the surrounding forests. 

It is not a very popular tourist destination so it’s a good choice if you want to visit some beautiful but quiet place off the beaten tracks. 

The area is known for the rich variety of species of animals and plants, with the Cahaba Lily (Hymenocallis coronaria) being the most iconic of them all. 

If you want to see the river shoals covered with this wonderful plant, you should come in May or June, when the temperature during the day is between 83 and 90°F (between 28 and 32°C). 

If you want to experience the best of Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, you should explore the wonderful Piper Trail. 

It is approximately 2 miles long (3.2 km) and passes through some of the most beautiful places within the limits of the protected area. 

24. Fort Morgan Beach

fort morgan beach
Fort Morgan Beach by Balaji Shankar/Flickr

Fort Morgan Beach is one of the best stretches of sand not only in Alabama but along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico as a whole. 

You will find it on the right side of the entrance of the vast Mobile Bay. 

It is known for its long summer season which normally lasts at least from early April till late October. 

Because of the warm weather in April, Fort Morgan Beach is especially popular as a spring break destination. 

April is also the first month to comfortably enjoy the terrific snow white soft sands and warm emerald shoals along the coast. 

The average temperature during the day is at least 73°F (23°C) and around 66°F (almost 19°C) at night. 

The area of the beach offers plenty of things to see and do. 

You can find a number of attractions that are worth visiting, including a fortress and beautiful walking trails. 

One of the most interesting tourist attractions are the traditional colorful wooden beach villas on tall pillars. 

25. Battleship Memorial Park

battleship memorial park
Battleship Memorial Park by Tony Webster/Flickr

Don’t leave Alabama before visiting the Battleship Memorial Park. 

Established on January 9, 1965, the military history park is located on the coast of the city of Mobile, in the northernmost part of Mobile Bay. 

It is known for its incredible collection of military ships and air crafts, which is considered one of the 10 biggest collections in the United States. 

Open to the public, there are a number of outstanding exhibits in the historic park but probably the most notable of them is the retired WWII battleship USS Alabama (BB-60). 

Ordered in 1939, the ship was constructed between 1940 and 1942. 

The vessel took part in a number of historical operations, especially in the Pacific and in the Atlantic. 

Another very important part of the Battleship Memorial Park and one of the most visited historical landmarks in Alabama is the submarine USS Drum (SS-228), whose construction took place between 1940 and 1941. 

Because of her service during WWII, the submarine was awarded 12 battle stars.