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Bring a healthy appetite when you visit ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in 2012 as the State celebrates the Year of Food! It will be hard to resist that famous southern hospitality all wrapped up in fried green tomatoes, fresh-from-the-gulf seafood and mouth watering barbecue! This 14 night tour begins in Memphis, Tennessee and winds through both the foothills of the Appalachia and vibrant Alabama cities to finish on the sparkling waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast...
Arrive in Memphis! During your two night stay visit some of its famous attractions including Graceland, Sun Studios, Stax and the Rock n’ Soul Museum. Take time to enjoy great live music on Beale Street! Try Neely’s for seriously good ribs!
Journey on to the ‘The Shoals’, a cluster of towns in the Northwest of Alabama made famous by international superstars like Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd who recorded here during the 60s. Experience sumptuous delights and an amazing view in the revolving restaurant at the Marriott Grille 360 in Florence. Swing by The Palace in Tuscumbia for a Harvey Milkshake or George’s Steak Pit in Sheffield for a Ribeye dinner. Tour FAME Studios for a fascinating insight into the role that this region played in music history. The W.C. Handy Festival celebrates the ‘Father of the Blues’ who was born here each July and his home is now a museum. The Shoals also has fascinating Native American and Civil War history, Helen Keller’s home and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
A two night stay in Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’, Huntsville provides an ideal opportunity to sample some of its exciting day and night time entertainment.
Located in the heart of Alabama’s Mountain Region, Huntsville Washington Square in the city’s downtown boasts venues like the Jazz Factory, Crossroads Cafe and Humphrey’s showcasing Blues, Jazz, Folk and Rock music. Indulge your passion for food with a visit to Cotton Row, owned by renowned chef James Beard for an upscale dining experience or Greenbrier Bar-B-Que for the best down home barbecue food. For shopping and yet more dining, the new Bridge Street Town Centre features over 70 upscale shops and restaurants, a 10 acre lake with gondola rides, water craft rentals and park areas.
By day, visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, a huge space museum featuring a full size space shuttle, a Saturn V rocket and the actual Apollo 16 capsule. Families can thrill to interactive rides and flight simulators and children can also attend ‘Space Camps’ here. Another nearby attraction which is well worth a visit is the Huntsville Botanical Gardens where you can enjoy the Alabama sunshine whilst exploring 112 acres of flora and fauna.
For a different perspective, go back in time by visiting Alabama Constitution Hall, part of the Earlyworks Museum complex which shows a historic village circa 1819. Another living history museum, Burritt on the Mountain, has five 19th century farmsteads illustrating daily life in early Alabama and there are some great views and hiking here too.
Birmingham, your next stop, is Alabama’s largest city and known for its diversity. Overlooked by Red Mountain, the city is home to grits, gravy, great culture and gracious folks! Folks in Birmingham love to eat and those who visit here will get a taste of its fabulous variety in cuisine whilst enjoying all the arts that the city offers.
Don’t miss The Hot and Hot Fish Club, owned by Chris Hastings who was recently voted ‘Best Chef in the South’ by American Food Network show ‘Iron Chef of America’. Head for the Irondale Cafe for their fried green tomatoes or Jim ‘n Nicks for their pulled pork and cheese biscuits!
Jazz still echoes from downtown nightclubs in places like Ona’s Music Room and the Blue Monkey. The Five Points entertainment district has music of all types as well as great dining. Jazz enthusiasts would do well to visit the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame which pays tribute to great artists with ties to Alabama like Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.
Aside from the music, Birmingham has museums by the dozen and it’s story of Civil Rights conflict and reconciliation should not be missed. It’s told at the moving and educational Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The Barber Motorsports Park and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum are a must for motor enthusiasts and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Zoo are just some of the city’s other great attractions.
Moving south to Montgomery, Alabama’s State Capital is the birthplace of both the Civil War and Civil Rights and therefore steeped in history. Walk in the footsteps of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King who shaped U.S. history at the city’s museums and landmarks. Take a break and dine at Montgomery’s entertainment district home to a variety of restaurants, bars and live music. Try ‘Central’ for great American dining with a lively atmosphere. The nearby Hank Williams Museum documents the life of this Country Music pioneer famous for such classics as “Hey Good Lookin” and “Cold Cold Heart”.
The historic port city of Mobile which is one of the oldest cities in America is your home for the next two nights. Part of Mobile Bay, an exclusive entertaining, indulgent and relaxing destination, it boasts the original Mardi Gras which started in 1703 and is still celebrated every year two weeks before Lent.
Mobile features delicious seafood and an array of bars, restaurants and live music venues – just what you would expect from Jimmy Buffet’s hometown. The Lo Da Entertainment District has over 20 establishments with live music on different nights of the week. Stop by ‘Veets’ for a late night drink and live bands. Try oysters ‘fried, stewed or nude’ at the famous Wintzell’s Oyster House or Spot of Tea on Dauphin Street which is a favourite for breakfast. Explore the beautiful Oakleigh Garden Historic District for a look at some of the city’s finest late 19th century residences. Head for the Five Rivers Center in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta for a Delta Safari, Gator’s after Dark tour or Sunset cruise! Don’t miss the USS Alabama Battleship and over 20 rare historic aircraft at USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile Bay.
Today travel the beautiful Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and visit the charming town of Fairhope perfect for unique shops, art galleries and restaurants. The Dragon Fly Food Bar here has a wonderful laid back atmosphere and unusual culinary creations! This brings you to your final stop ... the 32 miles of white sandy beaches at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Dip your toes in the sand, enjoy live music at beachside bars and visit Lu-Lu’s Homeport Marina for their famous ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ !
Fly home from Mobile.
12 Night Music Itinerary:
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