If you’re like most people, you don’t really think of Alabama when planning a vacation. After all, there’s not much more to see than cornfields and Civil War landmarks. However, that isn’t completely true!
Alabama has so much to offer tourists, from beautiful beaches, tropical getaways, and alabaster caves to waterfalls, sand dunes, and historical sites. If you’re looking for the more unusual spots, though, you might have to dig a little deeper, but it will be worth it when you find out where these hidden gems are located.
Alabama is one of the most underrated states in America, but it has its own unique culture, history, and scenery worth exploring. It has some of the most unusual places in the country, and even if you’ve lived here your whole life, there’s probably somewhere on this list that you haven’t been to before.
Whether you’re a native Alabamian or just traveling through on vacation, these 5 unusual places to explore in Alabama are sure to delight you with their beauty and diversity!
1) Gulf Shores
Located on Alabama’s southern Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores offers a family-friendly beach town vibe. The city is famous for its pristine beaches and gorgeous views, but there are also plenty of activities for adults.
Stroll down Highway 180A past beautiful homes, or visit Historic Fort Morgan, just north of Gulf Shores.
This beach city is world-famous for its white sands, making it an extremely attractive destination. In addition, the clean, gentle waters make it a popular place for swimming and other water sports like fishing and kayaking.
If you love seafood, you’ll be happy to know that fresh gulf shrimp are served at restaurants all over town. Lots of friendships have begun in this lovely city, so you should be ready to make new friends here. Just take extra caution to verify people’s identity on Nuwber before forming lasting bonds.
Gulf Shores has everything you could want from a beach vacation, including gorgeous sunsets and balmy nights with bonfires on the beach. So make sure you have your camera ready because this area is known for being home to some of America’s most breathtaking sunsets.
2) Moundville Archaeological Park
Moundville Archaeological Park is one of several Mississippian culture archaeological sites in Alabama. However, this park’s real draw lies in its large, earthen mounds and outdoor museum. The approximately 300-acre site includes a major platform mound that once served as a central plaza for Moundville.
Known as Moundville because of its many earthen mounds, Alabama’s largest archaeological park contains 29 large platform mounds and more than 80 other earthworks — including burial mounds, building platforms, and defensive embankments — spread out over approximately 185 acres (75 ha).
Today, visitors can walk along what was once Moundville’s Main Street and see excavated homes where archaeologists have uncovered thousands of artifacts from everyday life, including bones from human sacrifices. Other notable features at Moundville include burial mounds, ceremonial earthworks, and effigy mounds that depict animals such as panthers and serpents.
3) Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman
A life-sized replica of a Mediterranean village, Ave Maria Grotto is an unusual tourist attraction and religious sanctuary located east of Cullman, Alabama. Constructed by a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey known as Brother Joseph Zoettl, Ave Maria Grotto took about 50 years to complete—and was finished just before his death in 1961.
Stone walls, windows, towers, and other architectural details have been carved with simple tools from limestone mined nearby. The grotto also includes replicas of churches from several different countries; visitors can walk through tiny streets that connect each structure or simply observe from afar.
Today, Ave Maria Grotto is open daily for visitors who want to enjoy its peaceful atmosphere or learn about Catholic history.
4) The Hodges Meteorite, Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa, AL, has a lot of history around it, but one piece of history that most people do not know is that Tuscaloosa has had a meteorite hit them. On November 30, 1954, Ann Elizabeth Fowler Hodges was hit by a meteorite from outer space while napping on her couch. Luckily, she was only bruised, but the event has gone down in history as one of the few times a space bullet hit a human who went on to survive it.
The Hodges Meteorite belongs to an even rarer class of objects: it’s a carbonaceous chondrite—an iron-nickel meteorite that contains organic matter and water-bearing minerals. Scientists believe these meteorites are among the oldest materials in our solar system, dating back more than 4.5 billion years!
When the meteorite, now named Sylacauga, was falling through space, it split into 3 parts but didn’t burn up as most space rocks do. Possession of the rock, however, became a battle between members of the Maxwell Air Force Base, the Hodges, and the owner of the house, Mrs. Birdie Guy.
When the legal battle for the meteorite ended in Ann Hodges’ favor, the excitement over the incident had dwindled, and most big buyers had lost interest in it. Nevertheless, Mrs. Hodges eventually sold the meteorite in 1956 to the Alabama Museum of Natural History for $25.
This extremely rare event only occurs once every few hundred years, and people have traveled from all over to see where it landed and what happened. If you are interested in seeing an actual meteorite or learning more about a woman who survived being hit by one, then you need to visit Tuscaloosa.
5) Oak Mountain State Park
Oak Mountain State Park, south of Birmingham, Alabama, is the largest state park in the state and sits on 9,940 acres (4,020 ha).
Established in 1927, the park is now managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. You’ll find the Alabama Wildlife Center, Oak Mountain BMX Track, and Oak Mountain Interpretive Center in this really cool place.
It is filled with wildlife, lakes, and caves. It also has many trails for hiking. Oak Mountain State Park even has a haunted house that can be used during Halloween.
There are many natural springs around Oak Mountain State Park which makes it very beautiful. The park also provides fishing at Highland Lake and scenic overlooks at Goat Rock Overlook. These things make Oak Mountain State Park an awesome place to visit in Alabama!
There are many unusual places worth visiting in Alabama. From unique museums and galleries to ghost tours and haunted houses, there is no shortage of unique things to do.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family or friends that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, check out one of these 5 unusual places!