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Whether you prefer touring giant space rockets at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, watching epic sunsets from the shores of Dauphin Island, or walking in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers and civil rights heroes, Alabama is a dynamic destination deep in the American South. Grab a heaping platter of Southern comfort foods and let the state’s charming small towns transport you to simpler times.

A green fountain during the evening surrounded by skyscrapers.

Photo: Getty Images

Fun on Water

Bass fishing is king in Alabama, and Guntersville Lake in the state’s northeast corner is home to some of the fattest bass in the South. These waters are also great for boating and water sports. Experienced paddlers will want to head to northeast Alabama’s Little River Canyon National Preserve for some scenic views and whitewater rapids. For a more relaxed paddling experience, check out the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River, a National Wild and Scenic River. Lewis Smith Lake in the Bankhead National Forest is another favorite for fishing, paddling and boating, thanks to its exceptionally clear waters.

Small yellow bird

State Bird: Yellowhammer. Getty Images

Great Outdoors

Alabama’s 60 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico could be considered small but mighty, attracting visitors from across the nation with sugary white sands and endless emerald waters. From bubbly beachside towns like Orange Beach and Gulf Shores to the pristine beauty of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama’s Gulf Coast is sure to delight. Northeastern Alabama is home to expansive views and waterfalls, with recreation opportunities on the Tennessee River and in the Appalachian Mountains.

Cities

Centrally located, Birmingham is Alabama’s largest city. On the top of nearby Red Mountain, a massive statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, overlooks the city in a nod to the town’s vibrant steel industry. Take a trip up the tower that forms the pedestal to check out the views and learn more about the town’s many attractions. Less than 100 miles to the south, visitors will find Montgomery, the state’s capital, which celebrates the arts with a vibrant cultural scene. On the southern coast, Mobile is an action-packed hot spot.