Author Alice Meriwether Bowsher

“Architecture and landscape design…can give a community clarity, coherence, and order, as well as beauty and delight, and can help define a community’s identity and values. We can celebrate places that nurture our living together.”

Author Alice Meriwether Bowsher, Community in Alabama

Garlan Gudger

“Someone else can use these things again, I feel like I’m giving them back their purpose.”

Garlan Gudger, referring to doorknobs

Al Head

“Good design, smart planning, creative place-making are all pillars of progressive growth that occurs as part of creative problem solving, taking advantage of opportunities and having an elevated vision for the present and future.”

Al Head, retired Executive Director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts and Alabama Native

Urban Studio

Auburn University’s Urban Studio

While Auburn University’s Rural Studio gets plenty of attention, its counterpart, Birmingham-based Urban Studio, has also made a lasting and beneficial impact on Alabama communities. The Urban Studio was founded in 1991 as an outreach initiative to seek out projects to engage students and make Birmingham and Alabama towns a better place to live. Its Small Town Design Initiative, developed by former Urban Studio Director Cheryl Morgan, expanded the Urban Studio philosophy of promoting good design and planning statewide, serving more than 70 Alabama neighborhoods and communities. Alex Krumdieck is director.

Photo Credit: Auburn University’s Urban Studio

The INBirmingham campaign

The INBirmingham campaign

Simplicity is often best in graphic design. That certainly proved true with an ad campaign for the Birmingham Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. In 2007, Big Communications decided to capitalize on the name of the city itself, the “IN” in the word Birmingham. Those two letters boxed in red became the campaign’s logo. A public relations campaign was then launched to discover all the “IN” places in Birmingham. This got the community involved and generated a lot of pride. Big Communication’s ad campaign was a win-win for Birmingham and an example of how the simplest ideas are often the most effective.

Photo Credit: Big Communications & Birmingham Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

ConnectLivity Maps and Books

ConnectLivity Maps and Books

ConnectLivity Maps and Books

Discovering the best Alabama has to offer takes time, effort and a bit of luck. Word-of-mouth or coming across a magazine article will provide information, but chances are you’ll never be aware of everything to see and do that’s great in the state. With DesignAlabama’s ConnectLivity, all the work is done. A 12-pack of destination itineraries with maps is available or one can select a coffee table book with all 12 itineraries plus information about each destination. Each itinerary has a different theme such as arts, architecture, crafts, Civil Rights and family fun, and each contains helpful tips. All you need to hit the road and experience Alabama to the fullest.

Photo Credit: Copperwing Design

Kennedy Prints

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.

“We demand the very best from our clients!” This quote, a manifesto for art over commerce, is from letterpress printer and bookmaker Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., the subject of the documentary film “Proceed and Be Bold.” Kennedy calls himself “a humble Negro printer” whose work conveys a fierce sense of social justice. Cliff Meador, head of the master’s program in book arts at Columbia College in Chicago, calls Kennedy’s posters “beautiful, provocative and powerful… ” His graphic design uses bold blocks of text over layers of pale transparent imagery. His messages reflecting African-American history include “Rosa Louise Parks 1913-2005” and “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.” Formerly based in Gordo in Pickens County, Kennedy has relocated to Detroit.

Photo Credit:

Bib & Tucker Sew-Op

Birmingham: Bib & Tucker

Bib & Tucker Sew-Op in Birmingham is keeping the longtime tradition of the sewing circle alive. Its mission is to provide a place for people to come together who want to sew in the role of either teacher or student. Founded by Annie Bryant and Lillis Taylor, Bib & Tucker Sew-Op has developed a sewing-based cottage industry to provide income and flexible working conditions for women who head their households. Several programs and workshops are offered, including youth programs. A nonprofit organization, Bib & Tucker is funded through grants and charitable contributions.

Photo Credit: Bib & Tucker Sew-Op

Biscuit Leather Company

Birmingham: Biscuit Leather Company

In her studio adapted from a 100-year-old shotgun house in Birmingham, Becky Stayner handcrafts leather goods that are “soft and buttery like a fresh hot biscuit.” Hence the name Biscuit Leather Company, where leather is cut, punched, stitched and finished by hand to create bags, totes, clutches, belts and other artisan leather goods. These are simple, one-of-a-kind creations that improve with age. Country Living magazine placed the Biscuit Leather Company at No. 9 in its 2018 “The Country’s Most Creative” list.

Photo Credit: Biscuit Leather Company

Standard Deluxe

Waverly: Standard Deluxe

Standard Deluxe is both a graphic design shop that promotes music and a music promoter that prints graphic designs. Founded in Waverly by Alabama native Scott Peek, Standard Deluxe blends the aesthetics of rural Southern culture, contemporary serigraphy and 21st century Southern rock music. Working out of a cluster of historic buildings, Peek’s print work combines retro iconography with pop art printing techniques. Peek also hosts musical events, including the “Old 280 Boogie” held every fall and spring. The National Trust for Historic Preservation calls Standard Deluxe and Old 280 Boogie reminders “of how positive and expansive preservation can be.”

Photo Credit: Standard Deluxe

Billy Reid

Billy Reid

Florence: Billy Reid

An issue of GQ magazine features a photo of actor Benedict Cumberbatch in a moss green corduroy shirt. The actor never looked better. The shirt was created by Florence-based fashion designer Billy Reid, one of only four designers to have won three or more CFDA Awards. Reid brings a regional sensibility to his brand that W magazine calls “Southern Gentleman sartorialism.” Headquarters is an old building in downtown Florence. Along with designing clothes, Reid hosts an annual event called Shindig, “a multicultural weekend of fashion, art, food, music & friends” held at locations throughout Alabama including Muscle Shoals. For Reid, music, place and fashion are inseparable.

Photo Credit: Billy Reid


Florence: Idyllwilde

Indigo dye is an organic compound that creates some of the most beautiful shades of blue – colors that make chemical dyes pale in comparison. At Idyllwilde – a design company and workshop studio based in Florence – indigo and other plant-based dyes and natural fiber textiles are used to create clothing, accessories and home provisions. Clothing is cut and sewn in small batches and many are made to order. Founder Nadene Mairesse also offers workshops on using plant-based dyes, plant-based printing and denim repair.

Photo Credit:

Brooks Barrow

Montgomery: Brooks Barrow

Stone carving might be the world’s oldest three-dimensional art form and one that self-taught stone sculptor Brooks Barrow has mastered with his elegant stone vessels and sculptural objects made of Alabama limestone and marble. Though Barrow primarily works with native limestone and marble, he also carves granite and slate to make his one-of-a-kind pieces that are freeform and not turned on a lathe. Old world techniques and traditional tools are used to create functional objects and works of art that have a modern, minimalist aesthetic.

Photo Credit: Brooks Barrow

Moulton: Red Land Cotton

Moulton: Red Land Cotton

Moulton: Red Land Cotton

For three generations the Yeager family has been doing their part to keep Alabama’s cotton industry alive, growing cotton in the rich, red soil at the foot of the Bankhead National Forest. They harvest their fine homegrown cotton and turn it into bed sheets, pillow covers, bath towels and other high-quality home linens. Farm-to-home produced products also include other items for the bed, bath and kitchen. Their heirloom-inspired bed lines are recreations of those made and enjoyed nearly a century ago.

Photo Credit: Red Land Cotton

Hunter Foy

Auburn University industrial design graduate Hunter Foy has made a name for himself in both the corporate world at IBM and as an independent consultant as president of OrchardDesign studio. While employed at IBM, Foy worked on the design of the Simon, the world’s first smartphone that went on sale in 1994 and featured a touchscreen, email capability and a handful of built-in apps including a calculator and sketch pad. The award-winning designer also created several tablets and notebook-style laptops, and worked on the design of kitchen appliances, outdoor lighting and medical devices. Foy was also lead designer on a diagnostic tool for General Motors.

Howard Garrett

Howard Garrett

For years considered the “face of industrial design in Alabama,” Bessemer native Howard Garrett graduated with a degree in industrial design from Auburn University in 1950 and then worked in the store planning and fixture industry. In 1960, the World War II Army veteran founded Howard Garrett & Associates Inc., which provided store, product and fixture design services to the national retail market. The firm evolved in 1981 into HGA Products, which provided total store interior design services to global clients such as Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and all of the custom store case work for Tiffany worldwide.

Photo Credit: Howard Garrett

Intergraph Corporation 

Intergraph Corporation 

Though Silicon Valley may be the epicenter of tech companies today, one of the earliest developers of hardware and software got its start in Huntsville. Intergraph Corporation was founded in 1969 by former IBM employees who worked with NASA and the Army to develop systems to apply digital computing to missile guidance. By 2000, Intergraph was focusing exclusively on software and by 2008 was one of the world’s largest software companies. The company was acquired in 2010 by Hexagon AB, a global technology group based in Sweden.  

Photo Credit: Intergraph

Brad Lugar

Brad Lugar

Part of Birmingham’s flourishing beer scene is Steel City Taps, a design and production company started by Auburn University 2013 industrial design graduate and Alabama native Brad Lugar. The company’s main focus is the design and production of custom, hand-painted tap handles, along with branding and promotional materials with all products made in-house. Steel City has created taps for a number of breweries nationwide. The company is also working with several microbrewers to help with their marketing and branding needs through the use of keg collars, stickers, web pages and other means.

Photo Credit : Brad Lugar

UAB Campus Recreation Center

Birmingham: UAB Campus Recreation Center

Designed by Williams Blackstock Architects in association with CannonDesign, the UAB Campus Recreation Center is a 152,000-square-foot facility that serves as a hub promoting health and fitness. A main feature is the interior jogging track, which runs throughout the building giving joggers views of the campus, as well as the city to the south and the mountains beyond. All of the activities taking place inside are on display, thanks to the large expanse of exterior glass. The $22 million project received several awards including the 2007 Honor Award, Institutional from Birmingham Chapter, AIA.

Photo Credit: Williams Blackstock Architects

Leroy Pope Mansion

Huntsville: Leroy Pope Mansion

Alabama was not yet a state when the Leroy Pope Mansion in Huntsville was built in 1814. The oldest documented mansion in Alabama, it was built for Pope, who was part of Huntsville’s early development. Architect George Steele is credited with the design, which includes a Classical-Revival portico with Federal-style ornamentation. Construction materials were brought from Tennessee on flatboats and transported to the site by wagons. Pope hosted a public dinner on the lawn for General Andrew Jackson, who was passing through on return from the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The house is owned by descendants and leased to the University of Alabama in Huntsville as its president’s house.

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy

Bank of Brewton

Brewton: Bank of Brewton

Recognized as Alabama’s oldest bank, the Bank of Brewton opened in January 1889 and continues to operate, though it has since moved into an adjacent newer building. The original two-story brick building remains a local landmark with its façade of imported white tile decorated with a green border. Inside, the counters are made of native curled pine. Brewton citizens were given the best banks had to offer in their day. As noted in a local newspaper article: “large safes, a large fire and burglar proof vault and the very best combination locks made.”

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy

Homewood Middle School

Homewood: Homewood Middle School

It’s been proven: well designed schools improve learning and that’s the case with Homewood Middle School. Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio designed the school to connect to its surrounding community and as a standard for environmental sustainability. One entrance is for automobiles and another is a pedestrian bridge that connects the school to the downtown. In 2005, the building became the nation’s first middle school to receive LEED® Silver certification, accomplished under budget and completed six months earlier than scheduled. The project received the LEED® Silver Certification/USGBC Merit Award/AIA.

Photo Credit: GA Studio

Montgomery March Interpretive Center

Montgomery: Selma-Montgomery March Interpretive Center

A turning point in Alabama’s history is the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, commemorated at the Montgomery Interpretive Center set to open early 2019. The center is the third of three interpretive centers that connect Selma to Montgomery. Construction was completed in 2017 and the interior exhibit space is being completed by the National Park Service. The center’s primary facade captures the spirit of the march with an 18-foot-tall limestone front wall featuring a sandblasted relief pattern that replicates the march. Designed by Chambless King Architects in Montgomery, the project won the 2018 Excellence in Design Honor Award from AIA Alabama.

Photo Credit: Chambless King Architects

Opelika: South Railroad Avenue/CB

Opelika: South Railroad Avenue/CBD

After decades of decline, many historic downtown districts across Alabama began thriving. It happened with gusto in Opelika. Renovated buildings along South Railroad Avenue and elsewhere downtown now sport colorful awnings and new coats of paint. Once vacant and unmaintained historic properties now flourish as restaurants, art galleries, shops and offices. The Railroad Avenue Historic District was the center of downtown Opelika when the city was incorporated in 1854. South Railroad Avenue remains a vibrant part of Opelika’s commercial core and is the site of several annual city events.

Photo Credit: Opelika Chamber of Commerce

Mt Laurel

Mt Laurel: Mt Laurel

Architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk are synonymous with New Urbanism, having made their mark planning new communities and revitalizing existing ones across America, including Mt Laurel southeast of downtown Birmingham. Mt Laurel is built on a 460-acre wooded parcel with varied typography. The community is divided into three neighborhoods, each a five-minute walk from the edge to the town center. Residents enjoy green spaces, wide sidewalks, hiking trails and free-standing craftsman-style houses. Other traditional building types include small apartment buildings and row-houses with shops below.

Photo Credit: Rip Weaver

Huntsville: First Baptist Church

Huntsville: First Baptist Church

Whether traditional or modern, the best designed sacred spaces evoke emotion, as does First Baptist Church in Huntsville. Built in the 1960s, the architectural design of the sanctuary presents several theological affirmations. This is reflected in the unusual shape of the building, expanding outward from the pulpit to the outer doors, and the seven arches of the roof. A focal point is the majestic mosaic of Christ created by a Fort Worth stained glass studio that took seven years to complete. The steeple is a Huntsville landmark and part of the skyline. A 48-bell carillon is housed in a free-standing tower.

Photo Credit: Daniel Cathen

Tuskegee: Tuskegee University "The Ave"

Tuskegee: Tuskegee University “The Ave”

As any Tuskegee University alum knows, “Strollin’ down the Ave” means to march along University Avenue which runs through the center of campus and dates back to the days of founder Booker T. Washington. “The Ave” also runs through the middle of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. Walking east to west along the route, one experiences the westward growth of the early campus and key historic landmarks. These include the 1889 Band Cottage, the oldest building on campus; the 1910 Tompkins Hall and White Hall with its original clock tower; and the 1915 George Washington Carver Museum. “The Ave” terminates at the 1922 Booker T. Washington Monument facing the 1901 Kellogg Conference Center and the 1969 Tuskegee Chapel.

Photo Credit: KPS Group, Inc

Decatur: Princess Theater

Decatur: Princess Theater

Talk about adaptive reuse. Decatur’s Princess Theatre was originally built in 1887 as a livery stable. In 1919, the theater became a silent film and vaudeville playhouse. Art Deco flourishes were added later when it became a movie house. A local architect painted the interior in burgundy and gray with glow-in-the-dark murals. Outside the doors, the terrazzo floor is paved in a map of Alabama. The building was renovated after it was purchased by the city of Decatur and became the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, a popular performing arts venue.

Photo Credit: Princess Theater


Homewood: 18th Street and Central Business District Revitalization Plan

Eighteenth Street South is a traditional main street shopping district in Homewood, a bustling Birmingham suburb incorporated in 1926. A key characteristic is “The Curve,” part of downtown Homewood’s identity but also a traffic problem. The 1992 revitalization plan by KPS Group, Inc preserved The Curve while creating a more pedestrian-friendly outdoor space and improving traffic flow. Other improvements include streetscaping, landscaping and a sign ordinance. The plan was recognized with an Alabama Council AIA Award. The district has been described as being “big on personality.”

Photo Credit: Homewood Chamber of Commerce

Gainesville: Historic District

Gainesville: Historic District

Before the wide use of railroads, Gainesville thrived as a vital cotton shipping port. It grew so rapidly that by 1840 it had become Alabama’s third largest town. Its bygone role as a bustling inland port is reflected in its two historic districts – the Gainesville Historic District and the Main-Yankee Street Historic District, which contains five contributing properties that predate the Civil War. Among the architectural styles that dominate the two districts are Federal, Greek-Revival and Queen Anne. Gainesville’s oldest building is the Gainesville Presbyterian Church, built in 1837.

Photo Credit: Alabama Historical Commission


Florence: CBD and Court Street

Though best known for its musical legacy, Florence is becoming renowned for its other cultural resources. Southern Living magazine says Florence “oozes creativity, from hometown heroes W.C. Handy (the father of blues) and legendary record producer Sam Phillips to contemporary designers Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin.” Founded in 1818, the college town is revitalizing its downtown area centered on Court Street. The National Register of Historic Places district has many structures built from 1880 to 1920, mainly Revival and Victorian style buildings with bracketed cornices and decorative brickwork.

Photo Credit: Main Street Alabama

Birmingham: Alabama Theatre Interior

Birmingham: Alabama Theatre Interior

Inside the historic Lyric and Alabama theaters in downtown Birmingham’s Theater District are ornate lobbies, stages and Wurlitzer organs. Both theaters were purchased by Birmingham Landmarks and restored to their former grandeur. Built in 1927, the Spanish-Moorish Alabama Theatre was designed to impress with elaborate marble, plaster and gold-leaf detailing, its décor suggesting exotic lands and cultures. The theater was one of Alabama’s first air conditioned buildings, so just imagine stepping inside on a hot day to watch a movie in a space that inspires awe and fantasy. The Alabama Theatre is now a 2,200-seat performing arts venue.

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy

Tuskegee: Tuskegee University Chapel Interior Tuskegee: Tuskegee University Chapel Interior

Tuskegee: Tuskegee University Chapel Interior

Concerning architecture, Tuskegee University is best known for its Booker T. Washington-era buildings built by students. But the National Historic Site is also home to an internationally renowned work of modern architecture: the Tuskegee University Chapel. Built in 1969 to replace the original 1898 chapel, the monumental brick edifice was designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph and the African-American firm of John A. Welch and Louis Fry, who taught at the Tuskegee Institute. Listed by Southern Living as one of “The South’s Most Beautiful Chapels,” the structure is known for its expansive, light-filled sanctuary – a balance between the “opposite movements of space and light,” as Rudolph described it.

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy

Birmingham: Intermodal Facility

Birmingham: Intermodal Facility

The wide overhanging roof of the new two-story Birmingham-Jefferson County transit hub soars over the street, providing shelter from the elements. The $30 million glass-enclosed intermodal station has a long waiting room and seats oriented outward so riders can watch the bus stop for their ride while sheltered by the overhanging roof. Designed by Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio and Hoskins Architecture, the contemporary modern complex has no ornamentation. Instead, everything speaks to the utilitarian aspect of the building. Materials are kept simple and in a neutral palate.

Photo Credit: GA Studio


Birmingham: Guaranty Federal Savings and Loan

The former Guaranty Federal Savings and Loan was housed not in one but two important examples of mid-20th century architecture in downtown Birmingham. The 1948 building designed by Warren, Knight and Davis architects featured an exterior clad in dark-green marble with mirrors, glass and photo-murals dominating the interior walls, along with black and red terrazzo floors. In 1960, the savings and loan’s four-story modern building was designed by Charles McCauley & Associates, a firm that designed many of Birmingham’s significant buildings. New City Church occupied this building from 1995-2010.

Photo Credit: Williams Blackstock Architects


Eufaula: CBD/East Broad Street

Eufaula has one of the state’s largest historic districts with more than 700 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Remarkably, its central business district along East Broad Street has most of its late 19th and early 20th century buildings intact. Several early structures are open to the public. In 1832, Barbour County was incorporated and two years later Captain Seth Lore began developing the commercial core with three- and four-story buildings along Broad Street.

Photo Credit: Encyclopedia of Alabama


Birmingham: Alabama Power Building

Standing tall at the main entrance of Alabama Power’s early headquarters in Birmingham are three, 8-foot-high, carved-in-place limestone figures representing power, light and heat. Built in 1925, the 16-story Art Deco building was designed by Warren, Knight and Davis of Birmingham. Its limestone entrance portal facing 18th Street is heavily ornamented with stylized Corinthian capitals on the supporting piers. The building also features brick and tile ornamentation at the top and a peaked red tile roof. A 1951 west addition was designed by Birmingham architect Jack Bass Smith. In 1990, a massive complex was added to the north side with a glass atrium.

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy


Birmingham: Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo Phase 1

A delight for every kid at heart (and who isn’t?) is the Junior League of Birmingham-Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo, a focal point of the Birmingham Zoo. The $15 million exhibit opened in 2005 to coincide with the zoo’s 50th birthday celebration. The children’s zoo features a stream with native fish, a petting zoo, a play area with “leaping fountains” and a hand-crafted carousel designed with 36 hand-carved mounts, each representing an endangered species. It is one of only 30 new carousels created in the world since 1933. The project was designed by Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio and Macknally Land Design.

Photo Credit: GA Studio


Demopolis: Gaineswood

It took 18 years for owner and amateur designer Nathan Whitfield to build Gaineswood, his vast plantation home in Demopolis completed in 1861 on the eve of the Civil War. The exterior features 18 fluted Doric columns and 14 plain square pillars that support three porches, the main portico and the coach gate. Inside the Greek Revival-style home are a series of suites with domed ceilings. Three of the original outbuildings survive. Typical of most antebellum mansions, Gaineswood was built primarily with slave labor. Gaineswood today is a museum operated by the Alabama Historical Commission.

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy


Selma: Live Oak Cemetery

One of the most hauntingly beautiful cemeteries found anywhere is Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, with its abundance of weathered statuary and Spanish moss-draped live oaks. The oldest portion was purchased by the township of Selma in 1829 and called West Selma Graveyard. The newer section of the cemetery grounds was purchased in 1877 and combined with the older section to form Live Oak Cemetery. Many prominent local residents are buried here, including U. S. Vice President William Rufus King, one of the founders of Selma, and Benjamin Sterling Turner, Alabama’s first African-American Congressman.

Photo Credit: Alabama Tourism Department


Birmingham: Red Mountain Park

Birmingham lays claim to the largest urban park in the United States. It’s Red Mountain Park, developed on land long exploited by mining. The 1,200-acre park consists of more than 40 miles of trails with a 10-mile rail trail and a four-mile highline trail, a 45-acre commons, a 20-acre lake, reopened interpretive mines and recreation areas. The master plan was developed by the Philadelphia-based firm Wallace, Roberts, & Todd, who worked from a concept by Nimrod Long & Associates in Birmingham. When the park received the ASLA 2012 Honor Award, the jury noted that it is “brave to have something this bold that conveys the social and physical history of Birmingham. It transforms without obliterating.”

Photo Credit: Eddie Freyer


Moundville Archeological Park

Alabama is home to the remains of one of the country’s largest prehistoric Native American settlements. Located along the Black Warrior River just south of Tuscaloosa, the site was once a flourishing ceremonial and political hub of Mississippian culture and occupied over three centuries until it was abandoned in the 16th century. Today, the Moundville Archeological Park contains the original site with its large earthen mounds arranged in an open plaza. Also part of the park is the Jones Archaeological Museum that displays over 200 artifacts. The park and museum are operated by the University of Alabama.

Photo Credit: Lewis Kennedy


Mobile: Eastern Shore Trail

There’s plenty to do and see along Mobile’s Eastern Shore Trail. Beginning at the U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and traveling south to Weeks Bay, the urban trail is a 32-mile, hiking and biking trail which runs through Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope and Point Clear. It provides a combination of sidewalks and paved trail sections that offer sweeping views of Mobile Bay. Tour the U.S.S. Alabama, a World War II battleship, as well as a nearby hangar that displays historic aircraft. In Daphne, the half-mile Gator Alley Boardwalk offers sightings of alligators, turtles and seabirds. The section through downtown Fairhope is a special treat, as it’s one of Alabama’s premier destinations.

Photo Credit: Internet


Anniston to Atlanta: Chief Ladiga Trail

Reviews for the Chief Ladiga Trail, Alabama’s first rails-to-trails project, are overwhelmingly positive. “What a great way to see the Alabama countryside.” “A runners/walkers and cyclists delight.” The 33-mile trail stretches from the Alabama-Georgia state line to Anniston and passes through scenic landscape and towns. The Chief Ladiga Trail is on the same rail corridor as the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia. Plans are to join the two trails, creating a 90-mile corridor from just west of Atlanta to Anniston. Ideal for all skill levels, the Chief Ladiga Trail is accessible year-round and dogs are permitted on the trail but must be kept on leash.

Photo Credit: Goodwyn Mills and Cawood


Land Trusts/Forever Wild

Since 1992, the Forever Wild Land Trust has secured more than 255,000 acres of land in Alabama for public use. Its mission is to conserve, connect and care for land and water in Alabama. Since 2010, 100 miles of trails have been completed in Jefferson County. The master plan for the Red Rock Trail System proposes 750 miles of multi-use trails, parks, bike lanes and sidewalks. Once completed, the trail system will consist of seven corridors: Jones Valley and Valley Creek, Village Creek, Five Mile Creek, Shades Creek, Cahaba River, Turkey Creek and Northern Beltway. Current trail projects include the Vulcan Trail extension, the High Ore Line and the Five Mile Creek Greenway.

Photo Credit: Copperwing


Weogufka: Pinhoti

The longest hiking trail in Alabama and Georgia is the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail, which stretches 171 miles across Alabama and another 166 miles in Georgia. Pinhoti Trail starts at Flagg Mountain near Weogufka, cuts through the Talladega National Forest and ends in Northeast Georgia at the Benton MacKaye Trail where it connects to the Appalachian Trail. This network provides a trail corridor from Alabama to Maine. Pinhoti Trail is also part of the 5,400 mile Eastern Continental Trail from Florida to Newfoundland, and the 1,800 mile Great Eastern Trail that runs west of the Appalachian Trail from Alabama to New York. “Pinhoti” derives from the Creek Indian word meaning “turkey home.”

Photo Credit:


Montgomery: Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park

The 250-acre Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park offers three venues in one – the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Hannah Daye Ridling Bark Park. Outdoor sculpture is displayed throughout the grounds from the museum’s collection. The renowned Alabama Shakespeare Festival brings professional performances to the park. Bark Park is a park-within-the-park with separate areas to walk dogs. Blount Cultural Park features ponds, walking trails, a natural amphitheater and scenery reminiscent of the English countryside. Shakespearian features include a stone bridge and a thatched-roof storybook-style structure.

Photo Credit: Chris Granger


Barber Motorsports Park

According to Guinness World Records, the nonprofit Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham contains the world’s largest collection of motorcycles. The museum is part of the Barber Motorsports Park, which also includes a racetrack that hosts motorcycle and car racing events. The grounds of the 740-acre park are a sight to see, with a quirky collection of giant sculptures in the infield of the track, such as spiders, Bigfoot and a woman in a pond with just her head and knees poking out of the water. Pedestrian bridges over the racetrack are also part of a recent expansion. Barber Motorsports Park was listed among CNN’s 2016 “16 intriguing things to see and do in the United States.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum


Bankhead Tunnel, Mobile

Bankhead Tunnel is a road tunnel in Mobile that carries Government Street under the Mobile River from Blakeley Island to downtown Mobile. Constructed in 1938-1940, it features Art Deco-style entrances and a large “flood door” that can close to prevent water from Mobile Bay flooding the tunnel during storm surges. Built in sections, each section was sunk next to the previous section and joined underwater. The depth of clearance is 40 feet for the ship channel over the tunnel. Bankhead Tunnel was the location of a scene in the 1977 Steven Spielberg hit “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” with a character played by actor Richard Dreyfuss driving through the tunnel chasing UFOs.

Photo Credit: Alabama Department of Archives


Red Mountain Expressway

Want a close-hand look at rock formation and a lesson in geologic history? If so, simply drive through the Red Mountain Cut, one of seven National Natural Landmarks in Alabama. “The Cut” was created by blasting through part of Red Mountain in the 1960s to extend the Red Mountain Expressway into downtown Birmingham. Due to high cost and time, engineers discarded a proposal to create a tunnel through the red ore and instead built the Red Mountain Expressway Cut, which exposes geological strata that spans millions of years.

Photo Credit: Internet