Alabama conjures up so many images – music, especially blues and country, the civil rights movement and its legacy, rugged National Parks, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the Gulf Shores and wildlife including sea turtles and dolphins. Along with a little (now legal) moonshine at the many craft distilleries.
All this is within your reach as you travel in a high spec, thoroughly modern RV, or luxury campervan to use the British term. This state is replete with camp sites whether you’re in Talladega Forest, driving down the Lookout Mountain Parkway or near the city of Birmingham.
And you’ll be travelling in your home from home, with freedom and flexibility to suit yourselves. The open road and your RV lets you have exactly the road trip holiday you want.
Outdoors and Activities in Alabama
For National Parks, try Little River Canyon where, dramatically, the water flows across Lookout Mountain for most of its course, creating waterfalls, canyons, pools and cliffs. Drive the scenic Lookout Mountain Parkway or take the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, used by traders through the old southwest, along which you can also hike, cycle and camp, exploring wetlands, swamps and forests.
Visit Talladega National Forest for the wildlife and flora. Spot coyote, black bear, white-tailed deer in this wilderness at the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. Great for cycling and fishing, camping and hiking and another magnificent Parkway, that lets you enjoy the view from the comfort of your RV.
If you fancy something close to the Gulf Coast, a little Bayou crabbing is a fun thing to do. Join the groups catching Alabama’s famous blue crabs off the Gulf State Pier. There’s sea fishing to enjoy and a trip to Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island or the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, which protects Alabama’s precious coastal habitat.
Music in Sweet Home Alabama
Alabama has played a central role in the development of both blues and country music.
Muscle Shoals in the north is the location of many recording studios, including the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where the legendary musicians performed including our very own Rolling Stones and the town has been the starting point of numerous major hits for stars such as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart and Willie Nelson.
Head to Birmingham for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, not only celebrating legends such as Nat King Cole, but also still producing musicians of world-class fame, holding jazz festivals and teaching students. Try Jazzi’s on 3rd with cocktails, for musical entertainment or enjoy legendary music festivals – perfect for RV travellers!
The 1950s and 60s shook up America’s civil rights, or lack of them, with such eminent figures such as Rosa Parks and Dr Martin Luther King Jr taking action across the state. You can visit the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, the restored bus station where many African-American Freedom Riders were attacked in 1961.
Close by is the First Baptist Church on Ripley Street where Dr Martin Luther King Jr and other activists spoke so passionately. Visit the Alabama State Capitol which was the final destination of the March for the Vote from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, and the site of Dr King’s famous “How Long, Not Long” speech.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute houses an extensive collection of documents and oral histories pertaining to the Civil Rights movement, whilst the Kelly Ingram Park contains sculptures evoking the struggles behind it. The 16th Street and Bethel Baptist Churches are poignant reminders of the bombing atrocities suffered in places of worship by African-American congregations.
US Space Center
Huntsville has been home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center since 1960, which developed the Saturn rockets for the Apollo moon missions. Stop off on your road trip and visit the US Space & Rocket Center where you can learn to fly an F-18 Super Hornet, virtually experience the Apollo 11 moon landing, and even scuba dive at the Underwater Astronaut Trainer.