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Alabama Jubilee

Photos and Text by Kathleen Walls

(unless otherwise noted)

A young boy visits the Little Zoo That Could.
Credit Alabama Dept. of Tourism

It's a jubilee! Even the creatures of the sea throw themselves ashore just to be in Alabama. The jubilee starts in Mobile Bay but the feeling is spread all over the state. It's not confined to that miraculous event that occurs spontaneously on warm summer nights just before dawn.

No one can predict a jubilee but it's a safe bet you'll have a lot of fun waiting around for one. You can visit the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve near Fairhope to learn more about marine life, You can visit Fort Morgan or Dauphin Island that guard the entrance to Mobile Bay.



Mobile's Bellingrath Gardens and Home . You can check out all the other animals in the "Little Zoo that Could" better known as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. You can get up in the air over Alabama at Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company in Foley . There are so may unique attractions to visit around here like the Mobile Carnival Museum  that celebrates the true history of Mardi Gras which began in Mobile contrary to popular belief.

Find time to drop in at LuLu's Sunset Grille on the water at Gulf Shore. Seafood is great there. This is the only place you can sample her own Crazy Sista Honey Ale. For those not in the know, Lulu is Jimmy Buffett's sister and the chief Parrothead himself has been known to drop in at lil' sis's place unannounced and sing a few songs.


An exhibit at the Hank Williams Museum

Almost anywhere you go in Alabama, there are stories of people who left their mark on the state. Montgomery area is filled with interesting people who made music as well as history. Extraordinary people and just ordinary folks, behind every attraction there is a person and a story. Marquis de Lafayette who spent a night at Lucas Tavern in Old Alabama Town and Hank Williams who was born and spent most of his life there. The Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery traces his life and death.

In our own time, no life and death had been so noticed as that of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Follow his story at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where the new young pastor. picked up the torch and led his people into a peaceful quest for the right to equal treatment. If you go there be sure to see the basement mural. It is a beautifully done piece of art depicting scenes from Dr. King's life painted by John W. Feagin.


Dexter-King Parsonage

Of course, next stop is the Dexter Parsonage Museum where Dr. King and his young family lived. Some of the furnishing are  the actual  pieces the King family used when they lived in Montgomery. Although Dr. King preached the way of peace and non-violent resistance, his opponents did not. There are still traces of the bombing inflicted on the parsonage when his wife and young baby were home. Shirley Cherry, The tour manager at the parsonage, tells of the impact Dr. King's work had on her own life. She states, "The Klan paid my way through college." Then into the shocked silence, she adds."I was working at a laundry in Tuskegee where Klux Klux Klansmen brought their robes to be washed." She closes her tour with the comment, "I know pre-King, I know during-King, I know after-King and after-King is so much better."

You can even visit the place where the Civil Rights Movement began, An incredible museum about an incredible lady, the Rosa Parks Museum . You enter and see memorabilia and then a film leading you to Rosa's courageous act of defiance. You are viewing as if standing on the sidewalk looking through the bus windows of that old 50s era segregated bus.

Partrait of Varina Davis at First White House of the Confederacy

Take it a step farther back in time and just across the street in distance and visit the First White House of the Confederacy . Stop in and imagine having tea with Varina Davis while her husband, Jefferson Davis, conducted business at the Alabama Capital . After the tea, be sure to head over to the Capital yourself.

The history of Selma is most often associated with two historic epochs titled with the word 'Civil': The Civil War and The Civil Rights Movement. Neither was at all 'civil.' Selma honors the memory of both events with the reenacting of two major events that shaped America. Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorates the march for voting rights that sparked a movement and changed our nation forever. And the Reenactment of the Battle of Selma highlights a key battle in the Civil War.

Landmark Park Credit Dothan CVB

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park has ties with both "civils." During the War Between the States, it was the site of a Union prison. During reconstruction, it became an enclave of former slaves who divided the city into small plots of land to farm and freedmen who used it as a relatively safe place to discuss political strategy. Today, it is preserved by the state and offers an interesting glimpse into the past.

In rural America, going to the mill to have corn ground was a festive occasion. In the Black Belt of Alabama, the mill of choice for over 100 years was Kenan's Mill in Selma. The mill is now restored and one again grinds corn. It hosts an annual bluegrass festival each November.

Many of Alabama's small towns like Dothan are steeped in history. Here, The Azalea-Dogwood Trail Tour occurs in March or April. Travel through the historic garden district abloom with azaleas and dogwoods and be greeted by Trail Maidens, young ladies dressed in period costume. Stop at Landmark Park , with its 1890s working farmstead and town center. Dothan, the Peanut Capital of the World, is also known as Alabama's Mural City. The 23 murals depict the history of the Wiregrass area from peanuts and George Washington Carver to Johnny Mack Brown, local star of countless Westerns in the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

Agriculture is big here, and Enterprise boasts the only monument in the world dedicated to an insect. The Boll Weevil Monument shows respect for the tiny insect's powers and its tremendous influence on the area's agriculture and economy.

DeSoto Caverns Credit DeSoto Caverns Park

Alabama has its share of literary heroes. Monroeville, Alabama's literary capital, honors Harper Lee and Truman Capote, who lived there. Lee's play 'To Kill a Mocking-bird' is performed annually in April and May. The Anniston Museum of Natural History educates and entertains. Anniston Civil Rights and Heritage Trail , a Civil Rights Trail that features outdoor wall murals at the former Greyhound, the site of the first Freedom Ride attack on May 14, 1961, and Trailways bus stations was unveiled just last year.

Golf is big all over Alabama, thanks to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail . Some of the finest courses are at the Grand National between Auburn and Opelika.

Between DeSoto Caverns and DeSoto State park you can go fast or you can go slow. Talladega Superspeedway moves at breathtaking speed. While Chief Ladiga Trail, Alabama's first extended rails-to-trails lets you wend your way slowly through 33 miles of Calhoun and Cleburne counties, connecting Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston before it intersects with Georgia's Silver Comet Trail forming the longest paved pedestrian pathway in America, 95 miles of fun and exploration.

A visitor stands next to a mock up of Vulcan's foot. Credit Birmingham CVB

In Birmingham, Vulcan Park and Museum tells the city's story. Naturally, there is a tribute to musical heroes. At Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame , you can get to know Erskine Hawkins who penned the jazz classic 'Tuxedo Junction.' Plus, don't miss visiting the Birmingham Zoo a nd the Birmingham Botanical Gardens . Cullman has Ave Maria Grotto and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament . History is also important in this area. Interesting attractions mark the site of two of the area's Civil War battles, Clarkson Covered Bridge , unique in its own right, at the site of the Battle of Hog Mountain, and Crooked Creek Civil War Museum where the Battle of Crooked Creek was fought.

Then there is Helen Keller's home, Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Dating back to 1820, it's a historical treasure as well as a shrine to a triumph over physical adversities. The Helen Keller Festival is held in June and the Miracle Worker Play in July annually. Close by, you'll find a tribute to our four-legged friends, the Coon Dog Cemetery .

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame nearby honors Alabama's immense musical heritage. Take a short hop to Muscle Shoals, Alabama's hottest musical spot in the 60s and 70s. The recording studios are still in operation and open for tours

While you're in a musical frame of mine, catch the WC Handy Home and Museum dedicated to Alabama's own "Father of the Blues". Frank Lloyd Wright's only designated structure in Alabama, the Rosenbaum House.

Little River Canyon Credit Al Dept of Tourism

Country music's all time favorite band Alabama's stomping ground, Fort Payne , where the music left a stitch or two in the tapestry that is Alabama is here too. You can look back on their career at the Alabama Fan Club and Museum .

One other DeKalb County museum that will take you back even farther is the Fort Payne Depot Museum . It is housed in one of Alabama's most beautiful buildings. Built in 1891, the depot was operated by the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. It served as a train station until 1970. It now houses railroad memorabilia, including one cute little caboose.

Depot Museum Credit City of Fort Payne

Natural attractions are all over here. After all now you are in the Appalachian foothills. Little River Canyon National Preserve protects some of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi River, the "Grand Canyon of the East," carved by the Little River as it descends from atop Lookout Mountain .

Stop and play at Desoto State Park , ranked one of the top ten of the nation by Camping Magazine, it is filled waterfalls, canyons and a 1,000-ft. Azalea Cascades Boardwalk Trail. For another dose of nature at its finest visit Buck's Pocket State Park, so named because it is located in a secluded pocket of the Appalachian Mountains. You can picnic high on a canyon rim with views into the natural pocket located on a tributary of Lake Guntersville. Great place to watch for bald eagles.

Check and see if your lost luggage ended up in Scottsboro's Unclaimed Baggage Center . Even if it didn't you can find some bargains there. But there's more in Jackson County. The Walls of Jericho , a large, bowl-shaped natural rock amphitheater, comprises more than12,510 acres of nature in Alabama, with an additional 8,943 acres in Tennessee; Pisgah Gorge has three spectacular waterfalls; and, for spelunkers, Jackson County has more caves per square mile than any county in America?5,500 charted so far. Alabama's only national monument, Russell Cave National Monument , is nearby at the end of a 12-mile hiking trail surrounded by 310 acres of pristine woodlands.

Docent Jerry demonstrates the art of Blacksmithing at Constitution Villlage

Huntsville has something for everyone. Constitution Village where Alabama drew up its constitution to become a state is right next door Early Works , a fun trip into yesteryear with interactive exhibits designed for preschoolers to high-schoolers and beyond. Next stop, the Huntsville Historic Depot where you can experience life on the railroad in the 1860s. Decipher the graffiti left by soldiers during the War Between the States. There is even a ghost or two in the old depot. Ride the mini-train and view the beautifully restored depot and trains, Automobiles and a fire engine from an earlier era will captivate all ages.

After all that history, it's time for a culture break. The Huntsville Museum of Art with its seven galleries ranging from the largest single collection of women artist to a Children's Community Gallery. It's been named in the ?Top 10? destinations by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel,

A mockup of the space shuttle at Rocket Center

Since Huntsville is known as the Rocket City, there is a lot of fun science. Sci-Quest has 40,000 square feet with more than 100 hands-on exhibits.

Space is the ultimate frontier and in Huntsville it's right is in your face. You can see the giant Saturn V rocket in front of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center from most places in the city. This place is out of this world, literally. It's the most comprehensive U.S. manned space flight hardware museum in the world. Relive the birth of our space program from the beginning of rocketry to today's shuttle system and beyond.

In case you think building green is a brand-new construction trend. There was some very environmentally conscious building going on in Alabama the 1930s. Dr. William Henry Burritt was a somewhat eccentric man but one far ahead of his time.

The Burritt Mansion

When he began building his retirement home atop Round Top Mountain just outside of Huntsville, Alabama in 1934, construction workers must have thought the good doctor was a few straws short of a bale when he instructed them to stuff straw bales inside the walls and ceiling of the mansion for insulation. He also had the revolutionary idea of building the house in the shape of a Maltese Cross to get cross ventilation as well as great views. To top off that, rich as Dr. Burritt was, much of the house was built with recycled material.

Today, architects as well as tourists still enjoy the good doctor's dream home. Burritt Mansion was Huntsville's first museum and is still one of Huntsville's most popular attractions. The museum grounds are filled with historic cabins that have been transported there and farm animals that reside there.

It showcases the culture and lifestyles of Dr. Burritt's time and proves that sometimes old ways just get recycled and become new again.

While there visit nearby Monte Sano State Park . It sits 1,600 feet above sea level affording its rustic stone cabins?built by the CCC?a spectacular view of the landscape below.

From the Gulf of Mexico to the southern Appalachians , from the Cradle of the Confederacy Trail to the Civil Right Trail , Alabama is chock full of historical, cultural, musical and just plain fun attractions.

Naturally there are tons of festivals to celebrate all the fun. from The Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery to the Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic in Decatur there is all kinds of festival fun.

As the old Red Foley song, Alabama Jubilee , says, Alabama "goes right to your head and trickles to your feet." You just have to experience the entire jubilee that is Alabama.

For more info:

Ala Gulf Coast CVB 800-745-7263
Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel Divisions 800-252-2262 
Alabama Capital 334- 42-3935
Alabama Constitution Village 256-564-8100
Alabama Fan Club and Museum. 256-845-1646
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo 251-968-5732
Alabama Historical Commission 334-230-2680      
Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame 205-254-2731      
Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic   256-350-2028
Alabama Music Hall of Fame (800) 239-2643
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame 205) 323-6665
Alabama Shakespeare Festival 334-271-5353
Alabama State Parks 1-800-ALAPARK
Anniston Museum of Natural History 256-237-6766
Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau 334-887-8747
Ave Maria Grotto 800) 722-0999
Bellingrath Gardens 800.247.8420
Birmingham Botanical Gardens. 205-414-3900
Birmingham CVB 800) 458-8085
Birmingham's Zoo 205-879-0409
Boll Weevil Monument
Burritt On The Mountain 256-536-2882
Calhoun County Chamber 256-237-3536
Chief Ladiga Trail
Civil Right Trail
334 418-0800
Clarkson Covered Bridge 256 734-3369
Coon Dog Cemetery 800-344-0783
Cradle of the Confederacy Trail
Crooked Creek Civil War Museum
Cullman County Chamber of Commerce 800-313-5114
Dauphin Island 251) 861-5525
Decatur 256 341-4500
DeKalb County Tourist Association 888-805-4740       
DeSoto Caverans Park 800-933-2283
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and Parsonage 334 263-3970
Dothan CVB 888.449.0212
Early Works 256-564-8100
First White House of the Confederacy 334.242.1861
Florence/Lauderdale Tourism 888-356-8687
Foley 877-25FOLEY
Fort Gaines 251/861-3607
Fort Morgan 251) 540-7127 
Fort Payne 256 845-1524
Fort Payne Depot Museum 256-845-5714
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center 877- 625-4FUN   
Gulf Shores 800-745-SAND
Hank Williams Museum 334-262-3600
Helen Keller's home 256 383-4066
Huntsville/Madison County CVB 256-551-2230
Huntsville Botanical Gardens 256-830-4447      
Huntsville Historic Depot 256-564-8100      
Huntsville Museum of Art  256.535.4350 
Jackson County Tourism 256-259-5500
Kenan's Mill 1-800-45-Selma
Landmark Park 334-794-3452
Little River Canyon National Preserve 256) 845-9605
LuLu's 251) 967-LULU (5858)
Mobile Bay 800-5-MOBILE
Mobile Carnival Museum 251-432-3324
Monroeville 251-575-7433
Montgomery Chamber of Commerce 334-261-1106
Montgomery Zoo 334) 241-4400
Oakleigh Historical Museum 251) 432-1281
Old Alabama Town 888-240-1850
Old Cahawba Archaeological Park  334-872-8058 
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail 800-949-4444
Rosa Parks Museum 334-241-8661
Rosenbaum House 256-740-8899
Russell Cave National Monument 256 495-2672
Sci Quest 256-837-0606
Scottsboro's Unclaimed Baggage Center 256-259-1525
Selma- Dallas County Tourism & Convention Bureau 334.875.7241
Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament 205-271-2917
Spirit of Anniston
Talladega Superspeedway 877-462-3342
Tuscumbia 800) 344-0783
U.S.S Alabama 251- 433-2703
U.S. Space & Rocket Center 256-837-3400      
Vulcan Park 205-933-1409     
WC Handy Home and Museum
Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve 251 928-9792


Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.

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