Alabama, also known as the “Heart of Dixie,” is the Deep South home of southern hospitality, legendary comfort food, and one of the biggest rivalries in college football. It may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of adventure, but hold that thought.
Whether you root for the Crimson Tide or you’re more of an Auburn fan, Alabama has a fantastic mix of rich history, strong culture, and stunning natural landscapes to explore. We’re going to share 10 must-sees in Alabama for your next road trip to this southern staple.
10 Alabama Bucket List Destinations
Peruse this Alabama bucket list for 10 pretty places to visit in Alabama. You’re sure to find several you can’t wait to check out!
1. Stephens Gap Cave
This stunning cave is an absolute must-see in Alabama! It features a large photogenic 143-foot pit opening, where light rays filter through. If you time your visit for just after heavy rains, you may also be lucky enough to catch a waterfall flowing into the cave.
Getting to Stephens Gap requires an easy two-mile round-trip hike. There’s a walk-in passage at the bottom of the cave, but thrillseekers may want to rappel down. Please note that Stephens Gap is located on private property, so (free) permits are required.
2. Little River Canyon National Preserve
Tucked into the Southern Appalachian Mountains, this spectacular preserve is among the top pretty places in Alabama. It’s home to the deepest canyon in the state and Little River, unique because it flows on top of Lookout Mountain. Drive the 11-mile Little River Canyon Rim Parkway and stop at its eight overlooks, hike or bike 26 miles of trails, and enjoy the river by kayaking, canoeing, or fishing.
3. Orange Beach & Gulf Shores
Most people associate pristine beaches with California or Florida. However, Alabama’s beaches are some of its best-kept secrets. Head to adjacent Orange Beach or Gulf Shores to enjoy sugar-fine white sand beaches, warm gulf waters, dolphin cruises, and some of the best fishing anywhere. When you want a break from the water, check out Adventure Island amusement park or ride the iconic ferris wheel at The Wharf.
4. Fishing in Gulf Shores
Speaking of great fishing, this is definitely an activity that should be on your Alabama bucket list — especially in Gulf Shores! Between Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, the fishing opportunities are endless. Bring your own boat, or rent or charter one from hundreds of outfitters. Popular catches include redfish, snapper, and speckled trout, but if you go offshore, you can also catch Mahi Mahi, blue marlin, or yellowfin tuna.
5. United States Civil Rights Trail
Alabama played a critical role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s. Today, several historically significant sites are among the most unique places to visit in Alabama. Consider visiting a replica of the famous bus at the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, walking the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma (along the route of crucial voting rights marches), and exploring Birmingham, the site of several violent protests and other incidents.
6. Cathedral Caverns State Park
There are over 4,800 caves in Alabama — and those are just the ones that have been discovered. However, Cathedral Caverns is perhaps the most famous. With an opening that measures 25 feet high and 126 feet wide, it has one of the largest natural cave openings in the world, making it a must-see in Alabama. To best experience Cathedral Caverns, book a 90-minute cave tour.
7. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile
It’s not every day that you can tour a decommissioned WWII battleship and submarine. That’s exactly what makes this memorial park one of the most unique places to visit in Alabama! The park is home to important but little-known parts of WWII history, including the USS Alabama, USS Drum submarine, and an impressive collection of aircraft, tanks, and artillery. Visitors can also enjoy lunch in the picnic area and fish off the fishing pier.
8. Talladega Superspeedway
There are lots of reasons to add Talladega to your Alabama bucket list. It’s the longest, steepest, and many say fastest, NASCAR track in the world. It’s also the only one to offer free camping. Many people view camping at Talladega a must-do experience in itself!
9. Bankhead National Forest
Outdoor lovers, Bankhead National Forest is a must on your Alabama bucket list! Home to the Sipsey Fork, a National Wild and Scenic River, the forest offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. There are several canyons, bluffs, lakes, and waterfalls. In fact, this area is known as the “Land of 1,000 Waterfalls.” Talk about pretty places in Alabama!
10. U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville
No Alabama bucket list is complete without the state’s most popular attraction. Often called “Earth’s largest space museum,” the U.S. Space and Rocket Center features several interactive exhibits, tons of space artifacts, and yes, the famous Space Camp. Enjoy space travel simulators, planetarium shows, and unique exhibits such as one of only three Saturn V moon rockets in the world and the burial site of the first space monkey.
Now that you know 10 of the best things to do in Alabama, it’s time to start planning your trip!
Road Trip To Alabama To Visit Unique Places
One surefire way to make your Alabama trip even better is to reserve a Cruise America RV rental! Bring the comforts of home on the road with you so you can explore at your leisure. Simply choose your favorite RV model, decide which Alabama location to pick it up from, and hit the road!