If you think Alabama books there's one title that looms above the rest - Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". This story explores issues of family, community and race in a compelling voice that stays with you long after you've closed its pages, and the Pulitzer Prize-winner deserves its lofty place and the renewed attention as it's celebrating the 60th anniversary of its publication July 2020, but the state is blessed with an abundance of literary treasures for you to discover too.
To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning literary masterpiece is unforgettable. Capturing an ephemeral moment in Southern history, it explores uncomfortable truths about justice and the human condition.
'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the '30s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will tolerate only so much.
All Over But The Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
When childhood is complicated by poverty and an abusive, alcoholic father, it becomes focused on survival. Were it not for the dedication and strength of his mother, Rick Bragg may have never left northeast Alabama and become a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. His memoir captures the essence of the South, explores the bonds and responsibilities of family, and, in the end, celebrates his own coming-of-age.
Ava’s Man Rick Bragg
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author of All Over But the Shoutin' continues his personal history of the Deep South with an evocation of his mother's childhood in the Appalachian foothills during the Great Depression and the inspiring story of the man who raised her.
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Top 10 Music Attractions in Alabama
Alabama's diverse musical roots make it a great place to visit for all music-lovers. Country, Blues, Rock, Gospel, Jazz, Soul, and R&B all have a strong place in the musical culture of the state. Immerse yourself in musical history in 'Sweet Home Alabama'! Here's our round-up of the attractions not to be missed...
- Muscle Shoals in Northern Alabama is an area of huge musical influence. It is here that you will find two of the most impactful recording studios in the US - the iconic FAME studios, and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. To get the most out of your visit, check out our '48 Hours in The Shoals' itinerary.
- Also in The Shoals (and on our itinerary), but worthy of a separate mention, is the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Here, Alabama's great music achievers are honoured and showcased.
- If you're a fan of music festivals, Alabama is a great place to be! Throughout the year, there are various festivals which showcase the amazing musical diversity of the state. Festival highlights include the W.C. Handy Festival, and the Hank Williams Festival.
- Speaking of festivals, why not schedule your visit for February to take in the Alabama Mardi Gras in Mobile? Like its New Orleans counterpart, this is a full-on street party, with elaborate floats, costumes, and marching bands.
- Jazz lovers just have to make time to see the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham. Here the musical pioneers who shaped Jazz history are honoured, and their work and lives showcased in the many exhibits. Jazz icons such as Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington all began their journeys to Jazz greatness in Alabama.
- With such eclectic musical heritage, visiting some of the many live music venues in Alabama is a must! There are so many to choose from, with every musical taste being catered for.
- If you fancy combining beach-life and live music, then the renowned Flora-Bama Lounge in Gulf Shores is definitely for you! With five music stages and an outside beachfront bar area, this is Alabama at its laid-back best!
- Country Music enthusiasts should make time during their Alabama stay to visit the Hank Williams Museum, celebrating the life and music of one of the most famous country singers of all time.
- Another museum well worth adding to the itinerary is the W.C. Handy Museum & Library in Florence. Commemorating 'The Father of The Blues', it charts his life and work through an impressive collection of Handy's personal letters, artefacts, and memorabilia.
- If you want a music-themed Alabama trip, then our 14 day Music Tour Through Alabama is worth considering. Taking in all the key locations and attractions, this is every musical heritage enthusiast's perfect tour!
If you want any further information, please do get in touch with our state experts - we are always happy to help you plan your perfect holiday!
The Alabama Scenic River Trail
The Alabama Scenic River Trail is the longest and most experience-diverse river trail in America, from mountain streams to multi-class white-water rafting to river delta and the salty waves of the Gulf of Mexico.
The paddling and powerboat experiences to explore are along over 5,300 miles of accessible waterways with over 50 adventure services to entertain you. There is an organised network of volunteer Trail Angels who will help you plan your journey. We have amenities and campsites to support everything from long-distance touring to organised paddles and races. You can have an overnight trips or any kind of day trip you might imagine – there really is something for everyone!
The Great Alabama 650 – the world’s longest annual paddle race
Every September you can test your strength, endurance and mental fortitude in the toughest paddle race in the United States. This epic adventure takes racers along the core section of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, the longest river trail in a single state. From rushing white-water to the ambling river delta, the race will challenge even the most experienced paddler. In true Alabama fashion, racers will also encounter southern hospitality from “Trail Angels” – paddlers and river enthusiasts who offer assistance throughout the trail. This race is sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience that will not soon to be forgotten! This is also a great spectator event if you don’t wish to participate.
For more information on the River Trail or the Great Alabama 650 visit alabamascenicrivertrail.com.
Alabama's Historical Top 10
With so many historical sites and attractions to choose from, planning what to do and see in Alabama can be a bit overwhelming. That's why we've rounded up our Alabama History & Heritage Top 10...in no particular order, these are the things you should definitely try to make time for during your Deep South stay!
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute presents a powerful historical catalogue of the American Civil Rights struggles of the 1950's and 1960's, charting the racial disparities and key events of the period. A must-see for anyone interested in the Deep South's turbulent race relations during the 20th Century.
- Another civil rights visit to add to your itinerary is the Montgomery Civil Rights Landmarks. Perhaps we've cheated a bit here as this is multiple attractions, but all doable in less than a day and well worth adding to your itinerary. Highlights include the Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter Parsonage, and Freedom Rides Museum.
- A must for all World War II buffs is the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, where the infamous African-American pilots trained.
- For civil war enthusiasts, Fort Gaines will pique the interest. This was a crucial site for the south during the conflict. The guided tour is worth booking in advance due to its popularity.
- For the literary, a visit to the Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum is something not to pass up on. This is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the authors. Though they only resided here during 1931 and 1932, it is filled with intriguing artefacts.
- Step back in time when you visit immersive Old Alabama Town. About 6 city blocks in size, this is an area of restored buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Experience life as it used to be in the Yellowhammer State.
- Another slice of Alabama's history worth seeing is the Old Cahawba Archeological Park. Cahawba was the state capital in the early 19th century, and today is an important archeological site.
- Reserve a day or two to experience the historical diversity which Historic Blakeley State Park has to offer. Its 2000 acres are home to native American settlements, the sites of the largest civil war battles, and the important early Alabama town of Blakeley.
- Florence's Indian Mound & Museum takes you way back further into the area's history, with many pre-historic exhibits.
- The second weekend in March each year sees the Gainesville Civil War Re-enactment. If you are visiting at this time, it's something well worth attending. Civil War history immersion at its very best!
Want to find out more? We are always happy to hear from you; our expert teams will be able to answer all your questions, so get in touch!
Best Bars in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach
You might be wondering where's the best place to grab a cold beer and watch the waves roll in along Gulf Shores and Orange Beach so here's our list of the Top 5.
Flora-Bama is a legendary landmark that hosts live music of all genres nightly from national recording artists to local and regional bands. This entertainment complex straddling the Florida-Alabama line is considered one of the last American roadhouses serving up a variety of food and drinks, including the infamous Buckwacker.
Interesting ingredients and coastal character give Big Beach Brewing Company a beachy edge on Alabama’s craft beer movement. The destination’s only brewery is a non-smoking, family-friendly facility indoors and outdoors featuring live music throughout the week, frequent firkin tappings and allows guests to bring their own food.
Since 1956, the Pink Pony Pub has served up some of the best burgers, nachos and Gulf seafood on the island. Located on the Gulf Shores Public Beach, this dive is a staple for many guests and locals alike due to its convenient beachside spot and live music/karaoke. Patrons can enjoy a nice selection of beer, wine and frozen drinks, including its version of the Bushwacker.
The open-air Pleasure Island Tiki Bar located at Sportsman Marina in Orange Beach is a favorite watering hole among locals at and is known for choice cocktails like the Robinson Island Bloody Mary, bountiful bar food and live music.
Wind down at Red or White at The Wharf for – you guessed it – an extensive selection of red and white wines as well as cheese boards, charcuterie boards and pizzas. This classy waterside establishment also hosts live music and wine dinners frequently.
For more information on any of the places featured above email firstname.lastname@example.org