The beauty of Alabama is not only in its Southern hospitality and rich culture, but in its vast and varying landscape.
From lush mountain ranges to idyllic beaches, you will find an array of choices in activities. Enjoy everything from rappelling and rock climbing to dolphin-watching tours, parasailing and deep-sea fishing. The choices are nearly endless, and I was lucky enough to experience some exhilarating pursuits in what is truly an adventure state.
Get Active on the Coast
Visit “The Last Great Roadhouse” in America, the Flora-Bama, with a name that gives away its location on the Alabama-Florida state line. In the wooden beach hut-style maze of rooms, find dining, drinking and live music, all with Gulf of Mexico views. I danced the night away to a super fun cover band and mingled with the friendly locals. It was true Southern hospitality!
While on the coast, I also took some time out to enjoy beach activities at Gulf State Park and Orange Beach. I even tried out some volleyball at The Hangout, another fun and festive beach bar in Gulf Shores.
Escape to the Mountains
I have never had the opportunity to try any mountainous outdoor pursuits, and I knew that had to change once I arrived in Alabama. I threw myself into the deep end and had a go at rappelling at DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne. The adrenaline rush, combined with the scenic views, was simply exhilarating. Feeling braver, I took to the water at Little River Canyon and went kayaking. You can also take it down a couple of notches by taking in the majestic views of the many waterfalls or hiking in the parks.
Small-Town Gems in Mentone and Fort Payne
For a little break from the outdoors, downtown Mentone offers some great local traders selling handmade arts and crafts, furniture, garments and local produce. I love second-hand pieces, and Fort Payne has a great antiques district in the heart of downtown. While you are in Fort Payne, grab lunch at The Spot Coffee Shop, a café and art gallery; be sure to have The Turtle Freeze, a yummy blended coffee.
The waterfalls in the mountains around Fort Payne offer plenty of outdoor experiences, but year-round whitewater rafting is found just three hours south along the Georgia-Alabama border in Phenix City, Alabama. I was told this is where a dam-controlled river and engineered riverbed results in an exciting whitewater trip. Best of all, the whitewater course ends in the city’s downtown with plenty of restaurants, bars and a hotel only a short walk from the take-out point.
Golf, Gardens and a River Safari
If you’re an avid golfer, you won’t be disappointed at the wide range of championship-caliber courses across Alabama. I partook in 18 holes at a world-class Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail course in Montgomery. Being a bit of a novice, I think my favorite bit was driving the golf cart!
And just outside Mobile, I explored the beautiful grounds of Bellingrath Gardens by foot, a real horticultural paradise.
Finally, I discovered the vibrant wildlife of the South on the Five Rivers Delta Safari, which takes you through the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. You can be guaranteed to see an alligator or two, all from the safety of a guided river boat.
The beauty of Alabama is in the variety of activities with some of the most breathtaking back drops. Lush mountain scenery and infinite ocean views make any outdoor pursuit incredible. No matter how active you want to get, this charming state will have an option for you.