Alabama

Alabama is home to many significant landmarks from the American Civil Rights movement and the Civil War. The telegram which set the guns firing at Fort Sumter to start the Civil War was sent from Alabama, the first White House of the Confederacy was in Montgomery and there are many stately homes to be admired.

Alabama is full of beautiful scenery with great hiking, boating opportunities and lovely gardens to visit. Follow the Alabama Garden Trail visiting seven gardens from north to south of the State finishing on the white sands of the Gulf beaches.

Like most of the Deep South states, Alabama has a incredible musical history and the conglomeration of four small towns known as The Shoals have a huge significance to the music world.

Florence was originally a textile town started in 1812.  Its fortune changed with the birth of WC Handy known as the “Father of the Blues” and Sam Phillips one of the first Rock and Rollers. WC Handy’s home is open to the public and full of memorabilia. There is also a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece: Rosenbaum House.

Sheffield, like its British counterpart, was a steel producing town but now houses the Muscle Shoals studio where the Rolling Stones, Paul Simons, Rod Stewart and dozens of others recorded in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Muscle Shoals itself did not start until Henry Ford bought the land in 1920 and owes its notoriety to the FAME recording studios and its resident musicians, the Swampers who appeared on more than 75 gold and platinum discs. You can go around the still working studios where you will often find musicians practising and recording as well as see the historic equipment used by former greats.

Tuscumbia was the home of Helen Keller, now open to the public as is the Belle Mont Mansion a historic Jeffersonian-style plantation home. Golfers will enjoy the 32 course Robert Trent Jones Trail which traverses 11 cities in Alabama.

Alabama is also steeped in history, and no more so than in the state capital, Montgomery, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement.  Visit the Dexter Avenue King Baptist Church and Parsonage Museum where Martin Luther King Jr was pastor, the Rosa Parks Library & Museum and the Alley Entertainment district.  The Civil Rights Memorial Centre contains many exhibits including the Wall of Tolerance where you can sign a pledge to promote racial tolerance.

The city of Birmingham was founded in 1871 as a steel making town and was a hub of activity during the 1950’s/60’s struggle for racial equality culminating in the protest in Kelly Ingram Park and the Ku Klux Klan murder of 4 girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church. Outside the city is the 10,000 acre Oak Mountain State Park with over 50 miles of hiking, biking and riding opportunities.

Huntsville was the birthplace of the American Space programme and the US Space & Rocket Center houses the first rocket that put Neil Amstrong and his team on the moon and the Saturn V rocket amongst its many exhibits while the city of Mobile, founded in 1702 as the original capital of the Louisiana Territory on the Gulf of Mexico, was the birthplace of Mardi Gras.  Visit the glorious Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, the Bellingrath Gardens and the USS Alabama. Although smaller than New Orleans, the Mobile Mardi Gras is huge fun and well worth a visit.

 

Fantastic!!! Left wanting more, and plan to return. Cannot fault any aspect of the holiday!!! Many thanks for all of your help - we had the best holiday ever!!

Mr Blyth - Travelled to New York