When you think of Alabama, you likely think of sweet tea, humidity, football, and civil rights history—and that’s right on the money. However, this southern state has some unique places to see that extend beyond these themes.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Unique Alabama Bucket List Destinations
- Alabama Bucket List Hikes, Parks, and Outdoor Activities
- Kid-Friendly Bucket List Ideas for Alabama
- Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Alabama
- Birmingham, Alabama Bucket List Ideas
This post will help you plan your visit to Alabama, especially if it's on your bucket list. If you’re already familiar with the state or just hoping to find a few cool places to see as part of a road trip, be sure to keep reading, too.
This post will cover more than 33 of the top bucket list ideas in Alabama, including food and activities with specific kid-friendly options, as well as the best things to do in Birmingham.
Unique Alabama Bucket List Destinations
Making a travel bucket list is a bit of an art form. Your list wouldn’t be complete for Alabama without a few of the following haunts—as quirky as they may be, they’re certainly worth the trip.
1. The Museum of Wonder in Seale
Full of folk art and architecture made out of antiques, found objects, and taxidermy by artist Butch Anthony, the Museum of Wonder tops the list of unique bucket list destinations in Alabama. Nextdoor, you can find an auction house specializing in “junk,” as well as a barbeque restaurant, Possum Trot.
2. Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman
This park, located on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey, features 125 miniature replicas of religious sites from around the world. Spanning four acres, including a quarry, St. Bernard Abbey and Ave Maria Grotto is a great place to take pictures, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air.
3. Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia
Once a shelter for Native Americans, this large stone bluff is now the site of the Rattlesnake Saloon, a great spot for food and catching live music. You can also rent out nearby cabins to extend your stay, as well as lodging in an old grain silo.
4. Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House Museum in Florence
One of a few homes built in what’s known as “Usonian” style, this home, constructed in 1940, features the unique design and furniture of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He built it for the Rosenbaum family, who lived there until 1999, and it’s also on the National Register of Historic Places. The home required significant repairs after the family passed away and moved out, which were paid for by the city of Florence.
5. Spectre in Millbrook
If you haven’t seen Tim Burton’s film, “Big Fish,” the car or plane ride to Alabama is the perfect time to do so. The main character comes across the fictional town of Spectre, Alabama, which is actually located near Millbrook, Alabama. The set is still standing but was never inhabited, leaving behind the slightly spooky overgrown remains.
6. Rock Zoo in Fackler
For those who love petting zoos but aren’t keen on allergies or potential germs, the Rock Zoo in Fackler is for you. This “zoo” is made up of painted boulders alongside a family’s farm, and they’ve been adding to the collection since the ‘70s.
The colorful creations make for great photo-ops and a way to stretch your legs. However, the zoo is located on winding back roads, and there isn’t much else around, so be advised.
Alabama Bucket List Hikes, Parks, and Outdoor Activities
While visiting Alabama, you’re likely on the hunt for hikes, parks, and other outdoor activities, especially during cooler, colorful fall months. The following options surely won’t disappoint.
7. Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge is exactly what it sounds like—a natural bridge. This large stone arch is located in Natural Bridge Park in Natural Bridge, Alabama. (You’re not likely to forget the name!)
8. Dismals Canyon in Phil Campbell
Dismals Canyon Nature Conservatory is a Registered Natural Landmark. You have the option of visiting Dismals Canyon and staying overnight in cabins—perfect for catching a night tour to see some bioluminescent glowworms. However, keep in mind that this site is only open during warmer months of the year and is currently closed until March 2022.
9. Cheaha Mountain in Delta
Cheaha Mountain, also known as Mount Cheaha, is the highest point in Alabama. At the mountain, you’ll find different types of lodging, including cabins, cottages, chalets, and an inn, as well as plenty of outdoor activities like camping, swimming, hiking, and more.
10. Neversink Pit in Fackler
This pit is 40 feet wide at the top and 162 feet deep to the cave’s floor, with a large interior. Only seasoned rappelers can experience the full extent of the adventure of Neversink Pit, but it’s still a stunning location.
11. Rickwood Caverns in Warrior
Another great option for cave-lovers, Rickwood Caverns in Warrior offers guided tours deep into the Earth’s past. The limestone formations are believed to be 260 million years old. The park offers plenty of picnicking, swimming, and a snack bar.
12. Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island is situated on Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, making it a refreshing escape for the whole family. The island offers a no-frills approach to vacationing—there are only bike paths, walking trails, and miles of white sandy beaches.
13. Chewacla State Park Stone Cabins
Staying in one of six stone cabins at Chewacla State Park makes for a comfortable yet rustic retreat. Each of the cabins offers views and easy access to Lake Chewacla. Some of the cabins date back to the 1930s, but each one was renovated in 2003.
Kid-Friendly Bucket List Ideas for Alabama
Pleasing a carload full of kids (or kids at heart) may not sound like the easiest thing to accomplish. Thankfully, however, there are spots all around Alabama that your whole family will love.
14. DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg
In addition to kid-friendly guided tours of the caverns, DeSoto Caverns also offers other mini attractions (including water attractions), craftsmen, as well as live entertainment. You’ll find things like mini-golf, archery, gemstone panning, fire and ring juggling, and more.
15. U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville
Perfect for wannabe astronauts and space history enthusiasts, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center offers a variety of immersive activities. Not only can you experience what it’s like to board the space shuttle and other simulators, but you can also take in the wonders of the solar system at the planetarium.
16. Gulf Shores
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer a variety of lodging, amenities, and activities so you can plan your family’s dream getaway. That being said, dropping in for a quick visit will still be worth your while. In addition to the friendly beaches, you can also find amusement parks and go-karts, art centers, shopping, and great dining options.
17. Bellingrath Gardens
If you think your kids could use a bit more nature and simplicity, Bellingrath Gardens is a great option. During the holiday season, you can also take in their Christmas lights show. Be sure to check out their website to see what’s in bloom before you plan your visit, as well as for more information.
18. Foley Railroad Museum in Foley
Many children have a fascination with trains — and what better way than to fuel this imagination than with a visit to Foley Railroad Museum? You and your family have the option of taking a free train ride in addition to viewing tons of model trains and the accompanying museum.
19. Children’s Hands-On Museum in Tuscaloosa
The Children’s Hands-On Museum is the perfect place to encourage creativity and play without the typical limitations of other museums. It offers three floors and 24 different exhibits to explore.
Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Alabama
Even the pickiest eaters and food connoisseurs are bound to find something delicious in Alabama—whether it be seafood, French cuisine, or ice cream. You can also check out some tips on how to make a food bucket list.
20. Momma Goldberg’s Deli in Auburn
Opened in 1976, this deli offers both customizable and hand-crafted deli favorites with tons of meats, bread, and cheeses to choose from, in addition to salads, soups, sides, and something called a “cookie sandwich.”
21. Chez Fonfon in Birmingham
Described as “a casual, bustling bistro,” Chez Fonfon is nothing short of an authentic French experience. This includes décor brought over from “the motherland” and imported wines and classic French bistro cuisine. Enjoy dishes like steak frites, chicken seasoned with herbs de Provence and duck fat potatoes, desserts like lemon meringue pie, as well as specialty cocktails.
22. Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham
Reservations are recommended for this sought-after restaurant in Birmingham, but it’s worth the visit. A place best-suited for special occasions, Hot and Hot Fish Club offers a variety of alluring appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
23. Fisher’s in Orange Beach
Offering two distinct dining areas, Fisher’s is a great option for anyone visiting Alabama looking for great seafood. Their upstairs offers a fancy dining room, while downstairs offers plenty of space for kids and other guests in swimsuits to lounge around.
24. Acre in Auburn
Sophisticated, modern, and Southern, Acre offers farm-fresh dishes to delight patrons of all ages. Enjoy dinner parties, elegant business lunches, or join your friends in their lounge, all the while taking in their sustainable and repurposed architecture. Acre is also award-winning for its wine selection.
25. Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream Shop in Mobile
Since 1969, this family-owned ice cream shop has been serving up nearly 50 flavors, all derived from an original homemade recipe. They also offer freshly made brownies, cookies, and other treats, as well as a few non-dairy options.
26. The Bright Star Restaurant in Bessemer
As the oldest family-owned restaurant in Alabama, opened in 1907, you’ll surely want to stop in for some Greek-style steak and seafood. According to CNN, this restaurant is also considered one of the best historic restaurants.
27. Tomatinos Pizza in Montgomery
Offering high-quality pizza in a “funky, eclectic atmosphere,” Tomatinos will certainly be a crowd-pleaser. They specialize in local, organic ingredients and offer massive pies with unique combinations of toppings.
Birmingham, Alabama Bucket List Ideas
Wondering what to do while you’re in Birmingham? While checking out some history is undoubtedly at the top of your list, here are some highlights of the top spots you should see.
28. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Civil Rights Historic District
A crucial facilitator of civil rights and Birmingham history, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and surrounding district are dedicated to encouraging cultural awareness and “championing civil and human rights by creating an atmosphere of dialogue and understanding.” (BCRI.org)
In addition to ongoing exhibits, holiday gatherings, and special events for visitors and residents, the institute offers courses to support both children and families.
29. McWane Science Center
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly museum or just want to catch a movie at an IMAX theater, McWane Science Center is the place to be. Combo ticket options are also available, making it a nice escape if you encounter rainy days while visiting Birmingham.
30. Negro Southern League Museum
For baseball lovers, the Negro Southern League Museum provides an important glimpse into the sport’s past. A notable source of talent and hall-of-famers, the Negro Southern League was made up of eight original teams and ran from 1920 through 1951. With an extensive collection of artifacts, this museum offers a combination of “history, sports, and innovation,” great for families and other groups.
31. Birmingham Botanical Gardens
If you’re looking for a free and refreshing option to enjoy some time outdoors, the Birmingham Botanical Garden offers a variety of gardens and an art gallery. The gardens are also open year-round, but what’s in bloom may vary.
32. Sloss Furnaces Natural Historic Landmark
Once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world, Sloss Furnaces “stands today just as it did in the late 19th century—a monument to the Industrial Revolution.” (Slossfurnaces.com) This impressive landmark offers both self-guided tours (that occur mostly outside) and guided tours.
33. Barber Motorsports Park
For motorcycle, car, and racing enthusiasts, Barber Motorsports Park is a can’t-miss destination. This park has hosted a number of legendary motorsport races and events and is also home to the Porshe Driving School.
Sweet Home Away From Home Alabama
No matter if you’re driving through, planning an extended vacation, or just trying to get to know Alabama a bit better, hopefully, these bucket list ideas have fueled your inspiration and a little bit of wanderlust. You may also be interested in this guide on how to make a travel bucket list.