11 Best Things to Do in Alabama

Alabama. It's more than just a state. It's an experience.
best places to visit in alabama
Last Updated
August 8, 2023
Editorial Staff
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The best vacation spots are those that make the best of what the area has to offer.  And Alabama is one of the best places in America for vacations because it offers so many diverse locations and activities, from parks and preserves to fishing holes and hiking trails.

In this article, we'll present you with a list of the best things to do when you are in Alabama.

To help you decide which one(s) would be best for your family or group, we've included a short description of each location as well as some helpful tips on things that may not be immediately obvious but will still affect your experience there.

We hope you enjoy reading our guide! 


1. Fort Morgan State Historic Site

Fort Morgan State Historic Site Alabama USA
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If you have never visited the fort, now is the time to visit it. The fort was built in 1834 and was used during four major wars. The site is home to many museums and other attractions, including a Civil War Museum. It is also the location of the largest Civil War battle in the U.S., and it is worth the trip for history buffs of all ages. 

Located on a peninsula near the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay, Fort Morgan is a great place to take a walk or take a boat tour. You'll find plenty of history on this site. It's part of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, and dogs are welcome, but they must be leashed. The site also has a variety of beaches, so if you're planning a trip to this area, be sure to bring your pup along. 

For a more active day trip, check out the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, just east of Fort Morgan. Here, you'll find a beautiful place to hike and view the local wildlife. During the war, the fort was used to defend Mobile Bay, and the British left it after their unsuccessful attempts to take New Orleans. The fort was completed in 1934 and is open to the public. Guided tours of the fort are offered on the park website, and evening tours are held every Tuesday and Thursday in the summer. 


2. Noccalula Falls Park

Noccalula Falls Park
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This park is a beautiful place to visit, and it's one of the most popular tourist destinations in Alabama. The falls are located on Black Creek and cascade over a 90-foot cliff. There is also a cave that you can explore while you're there. Noccalula Falls Park has picnic areas, shelters, playgrounds, and a petting zoo for the kids. It's open every day from dawn until dusk, and admission is free.

This park is best for those who want an easygoing outdoor experience. You can take your time exploring the falls and the caves, then enjoy a picnic lunch before heading home. Pets are welcome but must be kept on leashes at all times; there is also a designated area where they can be let off their leashes to play.

The best time to visit is typically in the summer because it's warm enough for swimming. The falls are best viewed from above, so plan on walking down into them if you want a better look. There are also areas where you can jump off of high rocks into the pool below; however, this may be dangerous during wet conditions or when there are small children around. If possible, check with park staff before jumping!


3. Oak Mountain State Park

This park is a great place to spend the day with your family. It's open every day from sunrise until 11:00 pm, and admission is free. There are plenty of activities for everyone, including:

  • hiking trails
  • biking trails
  • fishing spots
  • a golf course

The park also has a nature center where you can learn about the local wildlife, and there are picnic areas throughout the park if you want to bring your own food. Pets are welcome in the park but must be kept on leashes at all times too.

Oak Mountain State Park is also great for those who want an active day outdoors. The hiking trails are moderate in difficulty and offer beautiful views of the area. If you're up for hiking, consider renting a bike to take with you. You can also play a round of golf or visit the nature center, which is best for children 7 years old and older.


4. Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores Alabama
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Gulf Shores is a popular beach town on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The beaches here are some of the best in the state, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your stay. You can go fishing, swimming, parasailing, or just relax on the sand. There are also restaurants and bars along the coast if you want to eat out or grab a drink.

All of these resorts offer great amenities like pools, spas, golf courses, and more. They're also close to the best restaurants and shopping in town.

Gulf Shores is best for those who are interested in spending time at the beach or playing golf. There aren't many hiking trails here, so this area isn't ideal if you're looking for outdoor adventures. If you want other recreational activities like swimming or parasailing, however, Gulf Shores has plenty of options! The best time to visit Gulf Shores is during spring break because there are more family-friendly events going on around that time of year.


5. Huntsville

Rockets at Huntsville Space Center

Huntsville is best known for its association with the space industry, as it's home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. However, there are plenty of other things to do in this city that's located in north Alabama. You can visit:

  • the U.S. Space and Rocket Center
  • NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Madison County Nature Trail
  • The Burritt on the Mountain Mansion Museum

If you have children, they'll love Huntsville because there are interactive museums like Sci-Quest and Earlyworks Children's History Museum where they can explore science and history. The Huntsville Botanical Garden is also a great place to walk around and enjoy nature. There are several gardens including a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and an arboretum.

For outdoor entertainment, consider renting a boat or kayak to take out on nearby Lake Estes. You can also go fishing at the city's best fishing spots like Blevins Gap Nature Park and Monte Sano State Park if you have your own equipment. The park also has nature trails that are best for hiking.

Huntsville is an important part of Alabama's history because it was one of the key cities in America's Civil War battle between Unionists and Confederacy soldiers. In fact, there are several sites located near downtown Huntsville including:

  • the EarlyWorks Family History Center
  • Government Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery
  • Meridian Street United Methodist Church Cemetery This historic town makes a great place to explore when you're in the area.

6. Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island During Sunset
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When you're looking for a destination with coastal charm, check out Dauphin Island, an idyllic barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. With a population of approximately 1,200, this tiny but scenic barrier is an excellent choice for a family vacation. You can enjoy the crystal-clear water and powdery white sand and take a ferry over to Dauphin from mainland Alabama.

If you're a wildlife lover, check out the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. It's a great place to learn about local wildlife. There are two public aquariums, and you can also touch stingrays! You can also walk through the Living Marsh Boardwalk, where you'll get to see more than 100 species of birds. If you're looking for a relaxing and peaceful place to spend a day, head out to Shell Mound Park. The ruins of Native American communities are preserved, and you can see the remains of shell mounds that were created centuries ago.

All of these resorts offer great amenities like pools and access to the beach. If you plan on staying on the island, you may want to check out nearby pubs and restaurants or reserve a picnic shelter and enjoy the views. The uncrowded beaches are perfect for swimming, relaxing, and surfing.

For those looking for a quieter environment, try a walk through the 11-acre Indian Shell Mound Park. This historic burial ground is an important stop on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or just love birds, Dauphin Island is the perfect place to spend your next vacation. Its serene natural setting and historical significance make it a perfect getaway for a relaxing beach vacation.


7. Birmingham

Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and has something to offer everyone. You can visit the following:

  • the Birmingham Zoo
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
  • Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
  • Vulcan Statue and Park
  • Railroad Park

If you're a sports fan, you'll want to check out the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers or the Negro Southern League Museum. There are also several theaters located in downtown Birmingham like the BJCC Performing Arts Theater and the Lyric Theatre. The Iron City Brewery is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, and there's usually live music happening on weekends. If you're looking for some good Southern food, try Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q. Their ribs are best eaten with some fresh banana pudding for dessert!

Birmingham has a lot to offer when it comes to outdoor activities like hiking and biking, but one of the best ways to see this city is by taking Segway tours or scenic views on an open-top double-decker bus. There are several different tour companies in Birmingham that will provide you with transportation while visiting popular landmarks like Vulcan Statue (the largest cast-iron statue in the world) and Sloss Furnaces. These unique experiences make Birmingham stand out as one of Alabama's best cities for visitors looking for something new and exciting during their vacation time.


8. Decatur

Decatur Alabama
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Decatur is a charming small town in northern Alabama that's best known for its annual Cornbread Festival. This event celebrates the best of southern cuisine with live music, arts and crafts, and, of course, lots of cornbread! If you're not able to visit during the festival, there are still plenty of other things to do in Decatur. You can visit:

  • the Point Mallard Park which has an amusement park, waterpark, golf course, and nature center
  • the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge where you can go fishing or hiking
  • the Burritt on the Mountain Mansion Museum
  • The Rosenbaum House which is an example of Italianate architecture

If you enjoy history and museums as we do, then be sure to check out the Morgan County History Museum which showcases artifacts from local farm families. There are also several art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops in downtown Decatur so you can explore this area during your vacation time if you have some extra free time on your hands!

There's a lot more adventure waiting just outside of town at Point Mallard Park. This amusement park has lots of rides, water slides, golf courses, and nature centers--and it even has an official zoo where kids will enjoy seeing all kinds of animals up close! If history or museums are what you're looking for then be sure to visit Burritt On The Mountain Mansion Museum which was built using stones collected from the nearby mountain. This museum offers a look into life in the early 1800s and also has rotating exhibits that are sure to interest visitors of all ages.

Decatur is definitely a place worth exploring if you're looking for a unique small-town southern experience during your next vacation.


9. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park

This memorial park is located in Mobile, Alabama, and is best known for being the home of the USS Alabama Battleship. This ship was used during World War II and was later turned into a museum. The memorial park also has a submarine, destroyer escort, and several aircraft on display. There are also interactive exhibits where you can learn more about life on a battleship as well as experience what it's like to be in a fighter jet or torpedo room.

The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is perfect for visitors who are interested in military history and want to learn more about how these ships operated during WWII. You can explore this park on your own or take one of the guided tours that are available. If you're visiting with kids, there's even a special area called the Kiddieland Playground that is specifically designed for children.

This memorial park is definitely a must-see if you're interested in military history and want to learn more about how these ships operated during WWII.


10. Perdido Bay

Perdido Bay Alabama
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Located near Orange Beach, Alabama, this bay is best known for its many wildlife refuges. There are three different areas where you can go fishing and boat tours are available as well. If you'd rather explore the area on foot then there's also an eight-mile stretch of beach that runs along Perdido Bay called The Gulf Coastal Plain Nature Trail which includes several trails ranging from one to ten miles in length.

If hiking isn't your thing or if you're looking for other activities while visiting this part of Alabama, be sure to check out:

  • the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar is located right next door at the Perdido Key Pass Resort & Spa
  • Gulf Shores Botanical Gardens where guests will enjoy exploring the many plants and flowers that are on display
  • The Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce is located in the middle of Orange Beach.

This visitor center has lots of information about local attractions, upcoming events, and restaurants--and it can even help you find a rental property if you're looking to stay here for your next vacation! If shopping or dining is your thing then be sure to check out Gulf Shores Town Center where there are plenty of shops and restaurants for visitors to enjoy.


11. Orange Beach

Orange Beach Alabama
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This beach town is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is best known for its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. There are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy while they're in Orange Beach, including fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, parasailing, and windsurfing. You can also go swimming, sunbathing, or just relax on the beach.

If you're looking for a place to eat while in Orange Beach then be sure to check out:

  • the Original Oyster House which has been serving up fresh seafood since 1969
  • Gulf Shores Steak & Seafood Company where guests can enjoy steak, chicken, shrimp--or all three!
  • The Hangout is best known for its tacos but also offers a wide variety of other dishes.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy while visiting Orange Beach including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing--and more! This beach town is best known for its many outdoor dining options where you can sit back and relax with your favorite meal after an afternoon spent in the sun. If shopping or nightlife is what you're looking for then be sure to check out The Wharf, which has restaurants as well as lots of shops so that you can find souvenirs before heading home.




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