Take Your Pick
Birmingham, AL
Beam Me Up Scotty
Vulcan Statue - When my little monkey ears first heard there was a Vulcan Statue towering over Birmingham, I thought there must be some huge Star Trek fans in Alabama. As it turns out, this Vulcan is the Roman god of metalwork and forge. Sorry Spock. Originally created for the 1904 St Louis World's Fair by sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, this 60 ton giant stands a top a 124 foot pedestal overlooking the city from Vulcan Park. It is the largest cast iron statue in the world. When visiting, enjoy the Vulcan Center Museum and then head up to the observation balcony at the Vulcan's feet.
Birmingham, AL
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute - Three of the most notable Civil Rights sites are all located near each other, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The Civil Rights Institute depicts the struggle for equality with several well designed galleries depicting barriers, confrontations, and milestones. Kelly Ingram Park was the meeting place for many of the 1960s Civil Rights marches. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is the location of the September 15, 1963 racially motivated bombing that resulted in the deaths of four young African American girls attending service.
Birmingham, AL
Pig-Iron Sloss Furnaces
Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark - The Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark preserves the pig iron-producing blast furnaces that operated here from 1882 to 1971. The furnaces were founded by James Withers Sloss after discovering this area of Alabama had all the ingredients needed for producing iron, coal, limestone, and iron ore. At its peak, the Sloss Furnaces were among the largest pig iron producers in the world. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1981 - self-guided tours are available during operating hours.
Bridgeport, AL
Learn to Throw a Spear
Russell Cave National Monument - For over 12,000 years people have inhabited Russell Cave with the generally accepted sequence of Native American inhabitation as: Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian. The Archaic Indians lived here the longest, from about 8000 BC to 500 BC. The cave is a perfect shelter with a large east facing opening that allows the morning sun inside and a small stream flowing through the cave. Guided tours are available to the cave and be sure to ask the Ranger if you can learn to use the "atlati". The atlati is a leveraging device that allows you to throw a spear really far. Very cool.
Childersburg, AL
Desoto and Socko Were Here
Desoto Caverns Park - Desoto Caverns Park, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is named for Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer who traveled through this area in 1540. The park combines roughly 25 family fun activities, including go carts, a maze and water golf with a gorgeous little cave. The greatest feature of this cave is the Great Onyx Hall, a 120 foot tall and 300 foot wide area filled with the largest concentration of onyx draperies (stalactites and stalagmites) in the world. Tours last about an hour and are concluded with a wonderful sound and light show.
Danville, AL
Birthplace of Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens Memorial Park - In 1936 Adolph Hitler presided over the Olympic Games in Berlin, certain his German "Aryan Race" would bring home the gold. Enter James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens, an African American from rural Alabama. Jesse Owens astonished everyone by winning four gold medals for the USA, one each in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 400 meter relay. The Jessie Owens Memorial Park honors his accomplishments with a 20 acre site that includes a museum, statue, long-jump pit and replica of his home.
Enterprise, AL
Mr Boll Weevil.....Dance
Boll Weevil Monument - There isn't much mention of the boll weevil these days, but in the early 1900s the little guy nearly wiped out all the cotton crops in Alabama. Luckily, through adversity comes innovation and change. To avoid more loses farmers began to plant peanuts and a whole new industry was born. To show their appreciation to the boll weevil, in 1919 the town constructed the Boll Weevil Monument (the boll weevil atop the statue was added later). It is the only monument dedicated to an agricultural pest.
Gadsden, AL
90 Foot Waterfall
Noccalula Falls State Park - Noccalula Falls State Park is a beautiful 250 acre park featuring a 90 foot tall waterfall. Noccalula was a stunning Indian maiden distraught because she was being forced by her father to marry a brave from a neighboring tribe, rather than her true love. On the day of her wedding she threw herself over the cliff by the falls. A bronze statue at the top of the falls honors Noccalula's jump. In addition to the falls, there are hiking trails, camping sites, caves, botanical gardens, and a pioneer village.
Huntsville, AL
Major Socko to Ground Control
US Space and Rocket Center - The US Space and Rocket Center is a fantastic place to spend the day with the family. Exhibits include memorabilia from the earliest stages of space exploration to designs of the future of space travel. There is an extensive collection of rockets, a space shuttle exhibit, rides, and an IMAX Theater. Inside the Davidson Center for Space Exploration is a full size replica of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket broken in stages for complete viewing. The hands-on exhibits and rides are the fun stuff. You can experience 4 Gs on the Space Shot, spin at 3 Gs on the G-Force Simulator and even Land the Shuttle. The US Space and Rocket Center also has several Space Camps, up to a week long, where children can train to be astronauts.
McCalla, AL
One Big Chunk of Iron Ore
Tannehill Historical State Park - The Tannehill Historical State Park is a fantastic 1,500 acre tree-lined recreation area with old iron ore furnaces, hiking trails, craft shops, a museum and trade demonstrations. The first furnace was built here in 1830, with others soon to follow. At the peak of production the ironworks turned out roughly 22 tons of iron a day, most of which was used by the Confederate Army for ordinance and cookware. Then on March 31, 1865 the Union Army laid ruin to the furnaces and surrounding buildings. The Alabama Iron and Steel Museum chronicles the history of Roupes Valley Ironworks and displays artifacts that survived the Civil War.
Mobile, AL
Captain Socko
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park - The USS Alabama is a South Dakota-class battleship that was commissioned in 1942 and served diligently during WWII. After 20 years of active and reserve service she retired and the next year was opened as a museum in Mobile Bay. The USS Alabama isn't the only attraction at this 175 park, there is a museum filled with military aircraft, the grounds host an assortment of armored vehicles, and on dry dock is the USS Drum. The USS Drum is a WWII Gato-class submarine that was commissioned in 1941 and retired in 1969. It is impressive to walk through the tight passages and corridors of this deep diving giant.
Mobile, AL
Oakleigh Historic Complex
Oakleigh Historic Complex - The Oakleigh Historic Complex features three 19th Century antebellum homes which offer a glimpse into 1800s Gulf Coast living. The centerpiece of the complex is the 1833 Oakleigh House, a T-shaped Greek Revival mansion with a unique single support or cantilevered staircase and six-by-six windows. The two other homes built in 1850 are the Cook's House which was used for slave quarters and the Cox-Deasy Cottage is a typical working class home of the period.
Montgomery, AL
Famous Rosa Park Bus Stop
Rosa Parks Library and Museum - Located on the very corner where Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat is the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. That day, December 1, 1955, started the Montgomery Bus Boycott by African Americans that continued for over a year. This led the Supreme Court to rule that segregation of bus service is unconstitutional. Inside the museum is a powerful film relating the historic event, a full-size reconstruction of the street corner, the police report of Rosa Parks arrest and numerous artifacts of the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to the permanent exhibits display, there are special and traveling exhibits throughout the year.
Montgomery, AL
White House of Jefferson Davis
First White House of the Confederacy - Located across the street from the Alabama state capitol building is the executive mansion (moved from its original location) of Jefferson Davis and First White House of the Confederacy. The residence was built in 1835 and occupied by the Davis family for only a few months in 1861, prior to the Confederate White House moving to Richmond, Virginia. Many of the artifacts in the house were donated by Mrs. Davis, including personal items, period furnishings and Civil War related paraphernalia.
Montgomery, AL
Heart of Dixie Capitol
State Capitol Building - Built in 1851 and standing atop of "Goat Hill" is the Alabama State Capitol Building. It is the second capitol building on this site; the first was destroyed by fire after only 2 years of use. It was on these steps that Jefferson Davis took the Oath of Office for the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861 and on these same steps where Dr Martin Luther King spoke after the long Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Inside is a beautiful winding staircase and a dome with murals depicting scenes from Alabama's history.
Orrville, AL
Ghosts in the Woods
Old Cahawba - From 1820 to 1826, Old Cahawba was home to Alabama's first state capital. Due to concerns about flooding of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers, the capital was moved to Tuscaloosa. After a slight decline in population, the town boomed again until it was seized by the Confederate government during the Civil War. The town was then used as a Union prison, housing nearly 3,000 prisoners. Shortly after the war the town was nearly abandoned. Walking the streets of Old Cahawba today you can see the site of the old prison, the picturesque Crocheron Columns, and visit the graves of Civil War soldiers. Maybe it's because it was nearly dark or because the place was eerily empty, but this monkey felt like there were ghosts watching from the woods.
Selma, AL
Historic Selma
National Voting Rights Museum - The National Voting Rights Museum contains a vast collection of photographs and written accounts from participants of the Civil Rights struggle. It is located near the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where on March 7, 1965 roughly 550 marchers were attacked by police using tear gas and night sticks. The attack is known as "Bloody Sunday". Another march took place two days later, but it was the final march on March 21, that successfully went from Selma to the state capitol building in Montgomery. Led my Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and escorted by the National Guard, the demonstration lasted 5 days. The route is now a National Historic Trail.
Tuscaloosa, AL
Roll Tide!!!
Alabama Museum of Natural History - Located on the campus of the University of Alabama, is the Alabama Museum of Natural History. The museum has a nice collection of plants, animals and minerals on display. One of the most notable exhibits is the Hodges Meteorite - the only documented case of a meteorite hitting a person. There are also several prehistoric lizards called a Mosasaurus in the collection. When going, remember to wear crimson colors and with a rebel yell scream "roll tide" every chance you get.
Tuscumbia, AL
An Inspirational Water Pump
Helen Keller's Birthplace - Helen Keller (1880-1968) was born a healthy child, then at age 19 months, she lost her sight and hearing to a severe illness speculated to be meningitis or scarlet fever. For the next 4 years Helen Keller's behavior became increasingly erratic. Her parents, through the help of Alexander Graham Bell, united the seven year old Helen with a 20 year old Perkins Institute for the Blind student Anne Sullivan. The first break-through into the dark world of the young girl came at the Ivy Green farm's water pump. It was here that Helen realized that the physical water had a name associated with it. For the next 49 years Helen and Anne worked together. Helen Keller went on to be the first deaf and blind girl to earn a Bachelors Degree, a gifted writer and international speaker.
Wetumpka, AL
Checking out the History of Alabama
Fort Toulouse and Fort Jackson State Historical Site - The Fort Toulouse and Fort Jackson State Historical Site is a 165 acre park featuring a French Fort, American Fort and Mississippian Mound Site. Fort Toulouse is a recreation of the third French Fort built on this site between 1749 and 1751. It was used by the French to establish a larger presence in the area. The partially Fort Jackson was built on this site in 1814 and the Mississippian Mound built over 3,000 years ago. The park hosts living history programs every month and special events throughout the year which bring to life the different eras of Alabama's past.