Here is the second installment of what to do in Alabama.  My first and second installments include:

Where to go in North Alabama: U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Sci-Quest, Monte Sano, Jesse Owens, Oakville Indian Mounds & more


Where to go in Central Alabama: Factory tours, museums, hiking & more

Remember these are places we have visited as a family.  There are a number of spots we haven’t visited. The reviews are based on my personal experience with the facilities or locations.

Each of my travel posts will include an educational value star rating system.  Below is an explanation:

★ – Very little educational value. No signage, museums, plaques, explanation of visual interests.

★★ – Some information is provided or readily available online.  It could also mean the item or location has a deep history worth researching however information is not provided at the scene.

★★★ – The location or attraction offers educational talking points, signs, displays but is low on quantity of information provided.

★★★★ – Great quality of information, worth stopping by and offers informative and educational experiences throughout the facility.

★★★★★ – A must see attraction or experience with an abundance of resources, educational scavenger hunts, worksheets or books.  Plaques, displays are interactive and thorough.

So here we go county by county:


Peach Park 

Educational value:  ★☆☆☆☆

Description: This is an iconic stop along I-65.  For years families headed south to the beach or north to their homes have stopped for fried pies and peach ice cream.  Over the years the roadside attraction has added gardens and some play-ground equipment. There are static horse and cow statues, children and sit on for pictures.

Admission: Free but there is a charge for food and drink.  There’s also a farmer’s market.

Go here to get directions and information.  They are a seasonal business.  As of the time of this post they will open March 3.



We haven’t done this yet but it’s on our list – Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. I wanted to mention it because it is a significant part of history and it’s a National Park Service managed site.  Junior Ranger badges are available. Admission: Free.

Go here for directions and events.



Reader submitted tip from Tracy Leary

Jasmine Hill Gardens in Wetumpka
Educational value: ★★★★★
These gardens were originally built and maintained by a couple who brought back many beautiful reproductions of ancient sculptures from Greece and Rome, including the building of a full-sized replica of the Temple of Hera. I have been to Olympia, and if you look at the picture of us standing in front of the temple there, you would not know whether we were in Wetumpka or Greece! The gardens are beautiful in the spring, but admission is a little pricey.

Adult: $10
Children 3-12: $6
Children under 3: Free
Active Military: $8
Seniors (65+): $8
AAA members with card: $9

Go here for information and directions.


Toomer’s Drugs/Corner

Educational value:  ★☆☆☆☆

Description: There’s little educational value here, but it’s an iconic part of history in Lee County, home of Auburn University.  Stop by and get a lemonade and walk around the city.

Admission: Free, however there’s a cost for food and drinks.

Go here for directions and menu.

Chewalca State Park

Educational value: ★☆☆☆☆ (however they are adding a nature center which could increase that value, opening Spring 2015)

Description: This is a standard state park, recreational options, fishing, hiking and camping.  We enjoyed camping there and riding bikes.

Admission: $3, however we got in free. Your price may vary.

Go here for information, directions and more.


Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site Booker T. Washington’s home The Oaks

(Also George Washington Carver Museum)

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: The Booker T. Washington home ‘The Oaks’ is worth seeing if you’re ever in historic Tuskegee, AL. The home is incredibly beautiful and full of interesting history.  The home was build by Tuskegee University students. You will need to schedule a tour or be available during tour hours.  Children can earn a Junior Ranger badge, which is free.

Note: When we visited Tuskegee, the Carver Museum was being renovated. It has since opened.  We need to go back.

Admission: Free

Go here for directions and schedule information for both locations.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Moton Field & Museum

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: Don’t miss this amazing museum and historic airfield.  You must tour the new Hanger 2 museum. It is top notch. Don’t forget to do the free National Junior Ranger program with your kids, also free. The site also participates in the Civil War collector card series, ask about that program as well.

Admission: Free

Go here for directions and information.



Gulf Coast Exploreum

Educational value: ★★★★☆

Description: Great place to visit in downtown Mobile.  This is a standard science center but they have penguins! There are a number areas for various age groups, young to adult.  It’s super hands-on and worth visiting, especially if you’re an ASTC member – because you will more than likely get in free with your membership card.

Admission: Packages vary.

Go here for details and information.

USS Alabama Battleship & USS Drum Submarine Battleship Park

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: This is an incredible park you must do before you leave Alabama.  In addition to a self-guided tour of the battleship, there’s a static display aircraft museum and you can tour the USS Drum Submarine.  The park has a free mobile app that’s worth downloading as well.  There is a lot of walking, a lot.  So little legs may get tired of all the steps, narrow passages and heat.  Keep this in mind if you hit it during the summer.

Admission: There is a $2 parking fee.  AAA and military discounts are available.  Go here to see the chart.

Go here for directions and more.

Dauphin Island public beach

Educational value:  ★☆☆☆☆

Description: There are very few access points to public beaches on Dauphin Island.  We hit the city public beach and paid $5 (I think) to swim as long as we wanted to. It’s a hike to the beach but manageable.  I wouldn’t schlep alot of stuff down there, waters and snacks etc.  There are some changing stations and covered pavilions.  The water is pretty and the sand is beautiful.

Admission: Price may vary.

Go here to learn more. 



Alabama Department of Archives 

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: The Alabama Archives is a must see if you are touring the capitol.  It’s right across the street from the capitol and next to the Little White House of the Confederacy.  There is a large bronze plaque of Alabama outside the kids can walk on and you can photograph.  There is a free scavenger hunt option inside you don’t want to miss.  Head up to Grandma’s Attic for fun interactive Alabama history activities and check out the rest of the free museum full of information on Alabama.

Admission: Free

Go here for details and directions. 

Alabama State Capitol 

Educational value: ★★★★☆

Description: You’ll pass through metal detectors and a baggage search as you enter the state capitol.  You can get a tour or take a self-guided tour courtesy of free maps at check-in.   The rotunda is beautiful and depicts pictures of significant points in Alabama history. Photos are allowed.  The governor’s office is located on the first floor, you’ll notice a separate guard for this area.  He will stop you if you get too close.

Inside the capitol you’ll see where the house and senate once met before the new building was built across the street.  There are several historical markers around the campus.  You can also take a stroll around the courtyard where 50 flags and stones from each state are on display.

Admission: Free

Go here for tour information and more.


First White House of the Confederacy

Educational value: ★★★★☆

Description: This little white house is next to the Alabama Archives and across the street from the Alabama State Capitol. It was the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family during the Civil War until he moved to Richmond in 1861. It is not on it’s original location.  This is an interesting museum, more so for adults than children however my kids love Civil War history. The house is old, of course, and dark.  Ask a docent for information and tours or check it out by yourself.

Admission: Free

Go here for directions and information.


Governor’s Mansion Tour (Home of the Alabama shaped swimming pool)

Educational value: ★★★★☆

Description: The Governor’s Mansion is a beautiful home worth seeing.  It’s in an unexpected part of Montgomery but fairly easy to find.  The tours are informative but limited to certain portions of the home, of course.  You must have an appointment to tour the public portions of the home. Go here for the brochure.

Admission: Free

Go here for a description, directions and more.

Montgomery Zoo & Museum

Educational value: ★★★☆☆

Description: This is a fun zoo that I like much better than the Birmingham Zoo.  It’s more contained and entertaining.  There’s a sky lift that is so much fun for kids to get an aerial view of animals below. Don’t wear flip flops or Crocs, they could fall off and be gone forever.

Admission: It varies. Go here for details.

Go here for directions, events and more.



Horseshoe Bend National Military Park (NPS)

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: This is a must see if you’re in Tallapoosa County.  Horseshoe Bend is a National Park Service site meaning there’s no cell service for this rural area of Alabama.  There is a Junior Ranger badge program, it’s free.  Ask a park ranger for the booklet.  This is the site of the final battle of the First Creek War with Andrew Jackson’s army fighting Red Stick Creek warriors along the Tallapoosa River. There are numerous events throughout the year, including demonstrations.

This is the first Junior Ranger badge my boys earned. (My daughter’s first badge was in Colorado) It’s an informative booklet.  The museum is relatively small but informative.  Take a driving tour of the park and get out and hike a few of the battle overlooks.  This is an important part of Alabama history.

Admission: Free

Go here to learn more and check out the park’s calendar of events.