It’s no wonder US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd raved about “Sweet Home Alabama” in their 70's hit. Nestled in the heart of the Deep South, Alabama is widely regarded as one of America’s best kept secrets and "The Heart of Dixie". This little gem of a state sweeps down from the heights of the Appalachian Mountains to the untouched, sun-drenched beaches of the Gulf Coast. This 22nd State epitomises the easy going laid-back way of life and warm welcome long associated with the Deep South.
Here you can delve into beautiful antebellum mansions of a long-gone era or play on world class golf courses by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones. Learn about the epic struggle of the Civil Rights Movement, celebrate the original Mardi Gras in lively Mobile or follow the music trail of Nat King Cole, Hank Williams, W C Handy and Tammy Wynette, all natives of Alabama, on a journey through the rich musical heritage that Alabama also has to offer.
Named after the Mobilian Indians, the lively port city of Mobile is
certainly worth a visit. It’s colourful history dates from its beginnings in 1702 as the first
capital of French Louisiana. There
followed rebellious colony days and its part in the Civil War and World War II. Few know too that this is where the world famous
Mardi Gras tradition originally began in 1703 when French
settlers first started the celebrations.
Today these festivities take place in January and February and unlike the
adult-themed New Orleans Mardi Gras, the
events are suitable and fun for all the
Looking for a little R&R? Mobile boasts 21 golf courses, an endless choice of mouth-watering seafood restaurants, jumping live music venues in Lo-Da and fascinating museums. There are art walks to join, birding trails to follow and grandiose historic homes to visit. Or take a river cruise aboard an authentic paddle-steamer straight out of the old movies. There’s cool stuff for the kids too; they’ll love the white sandy beaches of Mobile Bay, climbing aboard the USS Alabama Battleship or kayaking & viewing the wildlife in Five Rivers Delta.
If you like food you’ll adore Birmingham. Here the folks love to cook and love to eat. Bouillabaisse and barbeque;fried okra and foie gras; sushi, sweet tea and seven layer salad; perfect ribs and rack of lamb;tapas and turnip greens. None of these necessarily in combination of course, but an illustration of the wonderful wide range of dining decisions in a city where food writers from around the world congregate because of its amazing foodie reputation.
Non foodies will enjoy activities that range from water recreation to Wedgwood collections, science centres to skate parks, mountain biking (the best) to museums by the dozen. Throw in the zoo and botanical gardens and you’ve got yourself an truly diverse destination.
Long known as a city of civil rights conflict and reconciliation, Birmingham has matured into a city that acknowledges and embraces the impact of its past, both negative and positive. Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for an emotional and educational example of how a city broken by hate found a way to heal itself.
On a lighter note, forgive the pun, let’s not forget the music. It’s plentiful and pleasant and you’ll LOVE it. Jazz, blues, gospel, alternative, rock, country, new punk, sacred harp, bluegrass and reggae---all live, all the time. After all, why shouldn't it have a great music scene? Many of the most important and beloved jazz musicians of all time have come from Alabama, and a surprising number of these came from Birmingham. Jazz-lover or not a visit to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is a pure MUST..
In the heart of Alabama’s scenic Mountain Region, Huntsville hosts numerous music events throughout the year including one of the largest festivals in the USA - the Big Spring Jam. Head here in September for a lively, fun weekend where past performers include Village People, Huey Lewis and Three Dog Night. You’ll be enchanted too by the city’s downtown area with quirky music venues showcasing Blues, Jazz, Folk and Rock. For shoppers the upscale Bridge Street Centre offers designer stores and trendy eateries.
Another reason to visit Huntsville is the US Space and Rocket Centre, the world's largest space museum. Come for the unique Stars Wars Exhibit which will be featured between June 25 to September 6, 2010. 'Where Science Meets Imagination' is the first exhibition of its kind, combining costumes and important props from all six Star Wars films with real-world technologies as well as video interviews with the filmmakers, scientists and engineers. It includes design labs where visitors will get to build and test speeders and robots.
For something a bit more down to earth head for the beautiful Huntsville Botanical Gardens or go back in time at the Alabama Constitution Village and the Burritt on the Mountain living history museum and park. The more energetic can don hiking boots, slap on the sun screen and head off for to trek the foothills of the mountain region.
Alabama and Beyond.....
Calling all history buffs, foodies, music lovers, hikers, culture vultures, shoppers and beach seekers; you'll adore Alabama as it offers something for everyone and the welcome, in true southern style, is warm and friendly....
Snuggled neatly amidst the neighbouring Deep South States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia, it makes Alabama an easy base from which to explore this fascinating, unique part of the USA. Whatever it is that you would like to combine with your visit to Alabama we know we can help, so simply call or email Bon Voyage today.