This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Alabama Tourism. The opinions and text are all mine.
Ever since I was sixteen and could get my hands on a set of keys, I have had a love affair with road trips. I still can remember my first: it was the summer before my senior year, and my best girls and I loaded up my parents’ ’81 Eldorado and headed out to Montauk Point, the eastern tip of Long Island. It was only a day trip, but something about the open road, the breeze, the music, the company. and the sites along the way got into my blood.
Fortuitously, I married someone who feels the same tug for the open highway. And just about every trip we’ve taken has been on the road. With both of our parents relocated to the South, we’ve got all kinds of new places to explore doing the trek between Tennessee and Florida. Next on our list: Sweet Home Alabama.
I admit, my first interest in Alabama was because Reese Witherspoon made it seem so charming in Sweet Home Alabama. But seriously, being right in our crosshairs to get our babies from one set of grandparents to the other, Alabama is calling our names. Alabama has over 60 different road trips (!!!) for those who want to explore the Deep South. Clearly, we won’t have time for them all, but here are the top 5 that my husband and I might agree on (or fight over).
#1. For the Football Fan: Tuscaloosa to Auburn – the Football Championship Tour: My husband loves college football, so this would definitely be on our list. You can visit University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Auburn University. On display at both campuses is sports memorabilia going back 120 years. You can also add in a stop in between the two and see the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
#2. For the BBQ Lover: A Tour of Alabama BBQ. It’s hard to say which my husband would love more- the football or the BBQ, but this would definitely be on his to-do list. Every time we take a trip, we have dedicated entire days to our hunt for authentic BBQ. Now, a road trip dedicated to BBQ? I think we just found his heaven. This tour will leads to the best BBQ in the state – a messy, delicious, binge-fest. It’s like our own personal Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The BBQ in Alabama is legendary, and this tour will make sure we don’t miss any of it! BBQ is so big in Alabama that each year 32 Southern barbecue joints go head-to-head in their version of NCAA March Madness. It has been one of the most popular social media and online events for the Alabama Tourism Department for the past several years
Just a little side note here before we continue onto our remaining 3 road trip destinations: The Alabama Tourism Department has declared 2015 as “The Year of Alabama BBQ” and are even as bold as to declare that BBQ in Alabama is not only among the best in the US, but is THE best. It was even named the “Most BBQ Crazed State in the US” in 2014, according to Estately.com
#3. For the Book Lover: To Kill A Mockingbird Experience: As an English teacher, this is where I might have to pull rank and insist on a stop. Monroeville is considered the literary capital of Alabama. If you are a book lover, you need to stop here. The Old Courthouse Museum highlights Harper Lee as well as her good friend, Truman Capote. Inside the courtroom, you can definitely imagine the scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird come to life. If you can hit it at the right time, you can see To Kill a Mockingbird on stage as well.
#4. For the Beach Lover: The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach We can’t drive through Alabama without driving through – and stopping -at the beautiful Gulf beaches. I don’t know if we can just do a drive-by without stopping and soaking in some of this atmosphere. Of course, the beaches. But there is also dolphin cruises, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, water parks and wildlife preserves. This area is a full vacation in itself, but it would definitely be worth the drive through, even if only to see the beauty.
(source: William Dark)
#5. For the History Lover: Selma to Montgomery: Alabama is the stage for some of the most history-altering events in our country, more specifically- the Civil Rights movement. History comes to life driving through some of these famous historic sites, and the struggle becomes real. There are actually a few historical tours, but this one leaps off the page for me. The iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge starts the tour, and from there, history comes to life with the Rosa Parks Museum, the capitol building where Martin Luther King Jr. laid his demands for black Alabamians at the governor’s doorstep. Living in the north, I know that I sometimes feel a little removed from this part of history. It would be good for me to experience this tour. There is even app for this tour to get you on your way.
As I said, there are over 60 tours – scenic drives, tours for bird-watchers, antique-shoppers, foodies, golf-lovers. If you love it, you can probably find it in Alabama. The apps for these road trips make the journey even more fun – and convenient!
Lots to see and do in Sweet Home Alabama. It’s a good thing we’ll have lots of opportunities to continue the road trip criss-crossing the state between grandparent visits.