Alabama is known for its southern hospitality, and for its football, but there is a lot more to explore in this southern state.
The state’s history can be experienced in different attractions that includes a battleship that carries its name, as well as centers for exploring space and modern science.
Art and history are also prevalent where you can learn more about the history of Alabama.
Famous Landmarks in Alabama
1. USS Alabama
The USS Alabama is a retired battleship docked near Mobile, Ala., where it is preserved as a museum ship. There is also a submarine in this park area. The ship was the last of the Dakota class “fast” battleships.
The ship was built at the Norfolk shipyard and put into service in February of 1942. The USS Alabama first served in the first part of World War II, escorting convoys in the Atlantic.
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In 1943, she was transferred to the Pacific and was involved in several key battles through the end of WWII. It remained active until 1962 and was eventually docked in Mobile to create a museum park.
The USS Alabama is 680 feet long and weighs 38,000 metric tons. The USS Alabama is a national historical landmark and is open to the public year-round.
2. Helen Keller Birthplace
Helen Keller was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Ala., and before she was two years old she had an illness that left her blind and deaf. The place where she was born and grew up, in Tuscumbia, was built in 1820 and called Ivy Green.
The house is furnished with much of the original furniture that belonged to the family. The house has many of Keller’s possessions, including books and gifts she received from her travels.
She learned to read and write braile, to type, and eventually graduated from college. She spent her adult life trying to improve conditions for blind and deaf people and was an inspiration to a lot of people.
In 1954 the state of Alabama made the house a permanent shrine and it was placed on the register of historical places. Live performances are given during the summer months, and it is open year-round.
3. Alabama State Capitol
The Alabama State Capitol building is in Montgomery and is a 150-year-old building that is a museum of state history and politics.
The building is not used for legislative purposes anymore, but it is a tourist attraction and a historical landmark. It was the first capital of the Confederacy.
The building was completed in 1851, and there have been additions over the years. Ironically perhaps, the greatest civil rights march ended at this state capitol building and led to the voting rights act of 1965.
The building was used by the state legislature until 1984 when they moved to another building in Montgomery. There are eight large murals depicting Alabama’s history inside the large rotunda.
An avenue of flags has a flag from every state on the grounds. A large part of the building is open to the public and may be toured. There are guided tours, and you may explore the open parts on your own.
4. U.S. Space & Rocket Center
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a museum in Huntsville that shows rockets and achievements of the space program. It has been called the world’s largest space museum. It was opened in Huntsville in 1970 after the Apollo 12 Moon landing.
The center showcases the Apollo space exploration program, and the space shuttle program, and has more than 1500 rocket and space exploration artifacts. The center also has bus tours of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which is nearby.
There is a space camp that allows people to stay overnight and allows people to work with simulators and get more in-depth information about the space program.
The center is one of the most extensive space exploration museums in the world. The museum also shows Alabama’s contribution to space exploration.
5. Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park is a recreational area near the city of Gulf Shores in south Alabama. The park has 6,500 acres behind the Gulf Shores Beach community.
The park has a large beach, marshes, boggy streams, three spring-fed freshwater lakes, and a plethora of wildlife native to the region. There are large fishing areas, large swimming areas, and many nature trails to explore.
The facilities in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park was opened in 1939. The park had extensive damage from a hurricane in 2004, and it has seen several big storms over the years.
The park has 2.5 miles of unspoiled beach, as well as modern campgrounds, cabins, and primitive campsites.
6. McWane Science Center
The McWane Science Center is a large science museum in Birmingham, housed in the historical Loveman’s Department Store building.
It has a modern science center, a large aquarium, and a large domed theater. It opened in 1998. The lower level has an aquarium and displays more than 50 species of water wildlife.
There is a touch tank, large displays of sharks’ teeth, and displays about water pollution. The second floor has 500,000 items from the former Red Mountain Museum, and many items of historical importance to Alabama.
There is a large display of dinosaurs as well. The upper area also has a large area for children where there is a miniature city where they can explore various aspects of urban life. There is a large Native American area.
The museum preserves Alabama’s history from pre-historical times through the space age.
7. Birmingham Museum of Art
The Birmingham Museum of Art is one of the largest and most extensive art museums in the Southeastern United States.
It has more than 24,000 works of art, such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and decorative arts. There is artwork from Native American, American, European, African, and Asian cultures.
There is also a large collection of Pre-Columbian and many more historical works of art going back to the 13th century. The museum is in the downtown area in the cultural district and was built in 1959.
There is also an outdoor sculpture garden with works by many famous sculptors and is one of the largest outdoor displays of this kind of art in the United States. The building also houses an art research library, which is also one of the largest in the nation.
8. Barber Vintage Motorsports
Barber Vintage Motorsports is part of the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, home to one of the largest collections of motorcycles in the world.
The annual Vintage Festival is a three-day event that is one of the largest motorcycle events in the world as well. The park covers 880 acres and includes a Vintage Motorcycle Museum.
It has hosted Indy Car Grand Prix racing, Grand-am, Historical motorcycles, and vintage racing series events, and has been a testing ground for a variety of vehicles. The track is 2.3 miles long and has 16 turns. There is also a large RV camping area.
Spectators can watch races from hillsides along the course. The infield also has a large area of sculptures with wildlife themes. The museum was started by George Barber in 1988 with his extensive private collection and has grown from there.
9. Vulcan Park and Museum
The centerpiece of the Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham is a huge statue of Vulcan, the original ironman.
Vulcan was the Roman God of fire and forging, and that is the symbol of the city’s roots as an iron-making city. In 1903, the city chose Vulcan to be the symbol of Birmingham, and that same year an Italian sculptor was hired to make the statue.
The statue is 56 feet tall, and with its huge pedestal, it rises to 180 feet. The statue weighs 101,000 pounds and is the largest statue of its kind in America. It was on display at a world’s fair, but it was not until 1936 that the statue was moved to its present permanent home.
The park and museum have an interactive history center, great views of Birmingham, and tell the story of the city and of the statue itself.
10. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a memorial in Montgomery, dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people and their continuing struggle for equality in America. Work on the memorial began in 2010 on a six-acre site.
It uses sculpture, art, and design to showcase the racial terror that has existed. The site has 800 steel monuments, one for each county where a racial terror lynching happened. The center is open year-round.
It is designed to encourage people around the nation to engage in meaningful work to advance justice by confronting the racial history of the nation.