8 Fantastic Things to Do in Alabama During the Summer

8 Fantastic Things to Do in Alabama During the Summer

It’s time to put the car away and hit the road to enjoy the lazy, foggy and crazy days of summer. Your options for summer travel are endless, but there’s one destination that’s been missing out: Alabama.

Alabama has the most beautiful stretches of beach you’ll find anywhere, mega water parks, incredible outdoor adventures and more.

Here are eight reasons why you should put Alabama on your summer travel list.

1. Gulf Coast Beaches

Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island

While Alabama only has a small footprint on the Gulf Coast — 32 miles, to be exact — the state has some of the most beautiful snow-white beaches in the world. The brilliant white sand is underlined by the mesmerizing waves of the turquoise gulf.

On the east side of Mobile Bay, there are 15 beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Five of them are in Gulf State Park. Not only can you get the perfect tan, take a romantic sunset stroll, swim or body surf in the gulf, but there’s also parasailing and paddle boarding with the dolphins.

Gulf Shores has added beach access mats that allow wheelchair users to enjoy themselves. Visit the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach websites for tips on where to park and admission.

On the west side of the bay, Dauphin Island has three public beaches – the East End next to Fort Gaines, the West End and Public or Middle Beach next to the elementary school. Public Beach is a rare dog-friendly beach, though they must be leashed.

There are parking fees at the island’s beaches (and additional fees for RVs) and nominal fees for walk-ins.

Pro Tip: Before you go surfing, be sure to learn what the safety warning flags mean.

2. Tropical Falls

Foley

It is billed as the largest indoor water park in the region. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an argument against that claim when you visit the new Tropic Falls at OWA Amusement Park in Foley.

Larger than a football field, the park is surrounded by 1,800 glass panels that open on sunny days and close in winter so the park can stay open. Once inside, you’ll feel like you’re in the tropics, with palm trees and colorful lights all around. Then the fun begins – with a 30,000 square foot wave pool, 142 foot high waterslide, tube slides and body slides.

When you need a break from the water, head to OWA Park for even more fun on the thrilling rides. You can grab a bite to eat on the main street in the park.

Ticket prices and official times can be found on the OWA website.

Dolphin near Orange Beach, Alabama.
A dolphin in a bay near Orange Beach
(Photo credit: Darryl Vest/Shutterstock.com)

3. Dolphin cruises

Orange Beach and Gulf Shores

This is one of nature’s most incredible sights – dolphins escorting you in the wake of your boat as if welcoming you into their world and frolicking in the waves of the boat.

Alabama’s Gulf Coast gives you plenty of options to experience this magnificent spectacle. Watch dolphins and admire a magnificent sunset in the bays of the gulf aboard a sailboat. Feel the rush of being there in the water on jet skis or paddling silently in a kayak. Perhaps take a relaxed tour in the shaded comfort of a pontoon boat.

Whichever option you choose, a dolphin cruise should be on everyone’s travel bucket list at least once.

4. Visits to the caves of the cathedral

Woodville

Just 34 minutes southeast of Huntsville is the extraordinary Cathedral Caverns State Park.

The main attraction of the park is, of course, the cavern. 250 million years in the making, the cavern entrance is breathtaking, measuring an incredible 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. It is believed to be the largest such opening of any commercially mined cave in the world.

Park rangers then lead you inside the gaping opening for a 90-minute guided tour that takes you deep into the cave. Decorative lights illuminate incredible geological formations – rocks that look like a frozen waterfall, a forest of stalagmites, a gravity-defying stalagmite 27 feet high but only 3 inches wide, and the most amazing stalagmite, known as the name of Goliath. It is one of the largest stalagmites in the world, measuring 45 feet high and 243 feet in circumference.

The cavern is a must-see at any time of the year, but in the summer it is especially pleasant as the cave maintains a constant temperature of 60 degrees all year round.

There is no park admission fee; however, there is a fee to go around the cave. Tour times vary, so check the park’s website for the most up-to-date times and prices.

Rickwood Field, Birmingham, Alabama.
The oldest American baseball stadium still in operation: Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
(Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

5. Rickwood Field

birmingham

Nothing screams summer like a baseball game. Since the late 1800s, Americans have flocked to the ballpark to cheer on their favorite teams. Birmingham is home to the oldest baseball stadium still in use in the country – Rickwood Field.

In 1910 – and with the help of Connie Mack – Rick Woodward designed what (at the time) was described as the “greatest minor league ballpark ever”. Over 110 years later, Rickwood Field is still a field of dreams.

Every summer, Rickwood hosts a variety of events, like vintage map and memorabilia exhibits and of course, baseball games. In the past, they’ve held games to honor the Negro leagues, hosted reunions with famed 1970s Oakland A’s world champions (many players started their careers at Rickwood), and an annual “Roll Up” weekend. time’, where the old wooden bleachers and hand-posted scoreboard come to life as Birmingham’s own minor league side, the Birmingham Barons, play a series of games with another side from the Southern League, all dressed in classic uniforms from the past.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Pinson, Alabama.
Families frolic in the cool, clear water of Turkey Creek at Pinson.
(Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

6. Turkey Creek Nature Reserve

chaffinch

Isn’t swimming in a cold mountain stream in the summer heat inviting? Then Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson is waiting for you. It’s the perfect way to beat the heat.

There are not one, but two swimming holes at Turkey Creek. The first is where the cold mountain stream cascades into one of the clearest and bluest swimming holes in the state – Blue Hole.

The second forms just before Turkey Creek Falls and is only a few meters from the parking lot. The flow is fast but cold and so refreshing. And if you’re brave enough, bring your own inner tube for a fun and fast slide down the short chutes. The main drop is 6 feet.

The reserve has changing rooms in the main parking lot as well as restrooms. There are a few picnic tables, but get there early to grab one. There can be a lot of people. There is plenty of parking, but I would recommend parking near the main road. Otherwise, you may find yourself stuck on busy days.

7. Screaming Eagle Ziplines

Guntersville

Soar like an eagle through the canopy of the beautiful hardwood trees that line the shores of Lake Guntersville on the Screaming Eagle Ziplines, located in Luke Guntersville State Park. The zipline course has two lines that will take your breath away.

The first is the level one course. It features 10 ziplines ranging from 25 to 75 feet above the ground and crosses four swinging sky bridges.

Then there’s level two, a giant leap from level one and not for the faint of heart. It includes all of the Level One tracks, but adds an additional set of ziplines, one of which is 250 feet above the ground and over 2,000 feet long. Talk about thrilling excitement!

There is a small park entry fee and Screaming Eagle charges a fee to ride each zipline course. There are also weight restrictions for the ziplines. Book your reservations by visiting the Screaming Eagle website.

Canoeing, Coosa River, Wetumpka, Alabama.
Paddling a calm section of the Coosa River in Wetumpka.
(Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

8. The Coosa River

wetmpka

Novice and expert paddlers alike love paddling the Coosa River at Wetumpka. The 7 mile stretch of river from Jordan Dam to Coosa River Adventures on Company Street is a mix of flat water paddling, fun shoals and class II and III rapids.

Along the journey, you will encounter beautiful flowering swamps, dogwoods and azaleas, as well as century-old cypresses.

There are three rapids on the river – River Falls, the Pipeline and the famous Moccasin Gap Rapid. As the Coosa River Adventures staff will tell you during your safety briefing, just follow the course of the water and you can purchase one of those t-shirts that say “I Survived Moccasin Gap”.

Some summer weekends, Alabama Power opens the flow to 8,000 cubic feet per second, making the river more challenging for recreational kayakers. If the rapids, like Moccasin Gap, seem too intimidating, you can paddle sideways and haul your craft across on land.

Canoes and kayaks are available for rent from Coosa River Adventures, or they will shuttle your personal kayak back to the trailhead. Whichever way you choose, between Memorial Day and Labor Day you must make a reservation to ensure you can reach the river.

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