Updated: Mar 19
After hitting southern Alabama, we started zig zagging our way up. So far with Us & A Bus, there has still been a lot of learning and figuring out. One thing we have learned already, is that we don’t like going to museums nonstop, and some cities just don’t interest us. That being said, we’ve seen a lot of cool and unique places while continuing to explore Alabama. Here’s a summary of our favorite things to do.
A lot of these places also conveniently were or are nearby a campground (CG). The closest cities are also under the location for the next time you find yourself planning an Alabama trip. A full campground blog will be following this writing.
1. Big Fish Movie Set (CG)
By far one of our favorite stops in Alabama. Located about 10 minutes north of Montgomery, you will find the original movie set from Tim Burtons movie, Big Fish. If you haven’t seen this movie, pause reading this and go watch it! The movie set, City of Spectre, consists of a handful of old buildings, the artificial tree entrance to the dark forest, the old beams from the character Jenny’s home, the shoe line, and a couple movie information boards to read. What really drew us to this spot was of course the movie set, but also the camping and goats. Did we just say goats?! YES we did!!! There are at least 50 goats who run around the island! We love goats, so walking down the movie set with a bunch of goat friends sounded like a dream! HINT: if you want make more goat friends, they love sunflower seeds ;)
Price: $5 per person (entrance to park for the day)/ $15 per person (camping/entrance fee)
2. The Legacy Museum & The National Memorial for Peace & Justice:
Our next stop took us into Montgomery. There are a lot of different museums here, but the one that caught our eye was the Legacy museum. Through the Equal Justice Initiative, for only $5.50 a person you get access to the Legacy Museum, The National Memorial for Peace & Justice, and shuttle services to and from both locations.Both of these stops combined you can plan on spending a solid 2-3 hours. It’s dark history, much more dark than you might expect. Our eyes were really opened...
The Legacy Museum was an intense walk through Black history. With everything we learned there, it made us question how much the education system is lacking. From beginning to end, this museum shows you the harsh conditions of slave trade, the life as a slave, the civil war, life post civil war, civil rights movement, the continued hate and racism shown towards black people, and the battles black people still face today from the battles they faced hundreds of years ago. There is so much information here to dissect.
Side note: They also have restaurant attached to the museum, so if you need a break in between you can get a bite to eat. It smelled good!
A short shuttle drive to the top of the hill takes you to The National Memorial for Peace & Justice. Here you will find a memorial that represents the thousands of people who were lynched... most of which happened post the Emancipation Proclamation time period.
Price: $5.50 per person
3. Edmund Pettus Bridge:
The historic site of Bloody Sunday took place here. Bloody Sunday was one of the first televised events showing the unjust use of force as Martin Luther King and a group of Civil Rights Activists began their walk from Selma to Montgomery. This is a great and quick stop to feel the energy of the bridge, and think about all that took place then, prior and afterwards.
4. Cheaha State Park (CG):
About a 25 minute drive South of Oxford you will find the highest point in Alabama! At Cheaha State park you can enjoy a variety of trails, with the main trail being very handicap accessible. When we arrived, they had just gotten snow, a very rare sight in Alabama!
Cheaha Mountain sits at 2407 feet elevation. The State park is a great spot to park the trailer and enjoy all that there is to offer. I also noticed a sign saying it is home to the first ever Alabama mountain biking trail, so don’t forget your bike!
Price: Camping varies/ $5 per person (entrance)
5. Noccalula Falls (CG):
Our first waterfall stop took us to Noccalula Falls. The park itself is very well maintained and offers a lot of parking. As a visitor you can walk the perimeter around the falls, as well as take a trail that will put you directly below the waterfall. There is fishing access below the waterfall, as well as a trail that will take you across the swinging bridge.
If you’re looking for an awesome spot to camp, this is also the place to be. The campground is about a mile away from the base of the falls, as well as centrally located to several trail systems. More of this to come on our campground piece.
6. Little River Canyon National Preserve:
For those looking for an incredible scenic car drive and hiking, you cannot miss this! This drive consists of multiple view points, hikes, and various picnic areas.
Little River Canyon is one of the biggest canyons in the eastern United States and begins at the mouth of Little River Falls (another great waterfall). The best time to visit is supposedly the fall and spring time. The winter time you can enjoy and great view of the river, while in the summertime the river loses much of its water flow.
This is a great detour for anyone traveling North to South (Fort Payne- Gadsden), or like we did South to North (Gadsden-Fort Payne)
7. DeSoto Falls (CG):
Fort Payne, AL
Near Little River Canyon is DeSoto Falls. The state park itself is five miles south of the falls, and has a combination of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a campground facility.
It's free to drive through the park, but there is a fee if you're planning on parking to take a look at the waterfalls. There are several options here:
1. Park directly at the falls and walk down the stairs to view the falls from above.
2. Park next to the trail access before the the falls itself and follow the top trail to the waterfall overview (Best Picture Spot).
3. (We did this one) Take the pink trail down to the river base and follow it all the way to the falls. This would be the go to option when its warm outside, as you have access to a huge swimming area below the waterfall.
Price: $4 per vehicle (only if parking at the end picnic area)
8. Unclaimed Baggage:
Another favorite stop of Alabama! If you find yourself planning an Alabama trip or nearby Scottsboro, you MUST stop here.
Unclaimed Baggage was started by Doyle Owens with a pickup truck and a $300 loan in 1970. Eight years later, Doyle and his wife partnered with their first airline In 1978.
Now with 50 years of business, Unclaimed Baggage is the only retailer of unclaimed baggage in the US. This place is MASSIVE! You will find anything you can think of and more! Around the store they have several “Hall of Fame” items which ranges from Roman helmets to giant musical pipe instruments!
Expect to spend about an hour here, and expect to find some awesome deals!! For three hats, a comfort color sweatshirt and WiFi extender we only spent $53! That’s what we’re talking about baby!!
9. Cathedral Caverns:
What a place this is!! Prior to this we had only been to De Soto Caverns (we don’t recommend De Soto Caverns, way too touristy and money focused for us). Cathedral Caverns is one of a kind and a definite must see. They offer a 90 minute tour which takes you 3/4 of a mile through the cave. Our group size was massive as it was on a Saturday afternoon, so being able to hear the tour guide proved to be difficult.
This cave is millions of years old, with much of it never being touched. There’s even a prehistoric shark tooth in the roof of the cave which is more prehistoric than the Megalodon. Native Americans used this area for what seems to be mainly shelter, no signs have ever indicated it to be a burial site.
Do yourself a favor and don’t come here on a weekend or in the afternoon if possible. There is so much to learn about this cave!
They also have a new campground they’ve put in at the park. We decided not to stay here.
Price: $20 per person
Whelp, there you go friends! Those were our favorite spots after continuing our way north through Alabama. We hope this gives you a few more ideas of things to do while in Alabama, and we look forward to sharing the rest of favorite places in Northern Alabama. Huntsville, Bankhead Nat’l Forest, Florence and Muscle Shoals to come, as well as a full In depth list of all the campgrounds we’ve visited while in Alabama!