In American culture, the term “Dixie” refers to states in the deep south of the country, those characterized by small town charm, thick accents, and unbeatable hospitality.
Alabama is known for being called “The Heart of Dixie.” You’ll know you’re in Alabama if you get that warm feeling accompanied by being called “honey,” which represents the hospitality that makes visiting the American south a great adventure. With rich history and great natural wonders, there is something for everyone.
Continue reading to find out exactly “what is Alabama known for?”
1. The peanut capital of the world
One of the most interesting facts about Alabama is that whether you’re eating peanut butter, Reese’s, or just plain old peanuts, they’re more than likely from Dothan, Alabama. This town is responsible for the majority of all peanut production in the U.S. The town of Dothan hosts the country’s annual peanut festival during the fall. It is a great representation of the hospitality that Southerners are so well-known for among the rest of the country.
For information on the festival, you might want to head to their official website here.
Another great part about Dothan is that it has a regional airport which I’ve flown into several times. Flying into Dothan helps you to save on the travel expense of driving a car several hours south to head to the coast. I would highly recommend checking to see whether this airport is a better option for your journey!
2. U.S Space and Rocket Center
If you’d like an indoor option while you’re in Alabama, head to the U.S Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. The awesomeness of this attraction is undeniable. The center serves as the public’s gateway to learn and understand better what happens at the NASA space station. This is where the country’s space camps are located, and it has a great mixture of learning activities and simulations to make it a worthwhile stop while in the state. If you want to know “what is Alabama known for,” this is it!
3. Muscle Shoals
The history of Muscle Shoals, AL is one of the interesting facts about Alabama. Music buffs call it the “Hit Recording Capital of the World.” In the mid-1900’s, two recording studios popped up in this small town off of the Tennessee River. Not long after, stars like Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan flocked to Alabama to record some of their biggest songs. More contemporary artists like the Zac Brown Band and Chris Stapleton have cut tracks here, as well.
4. Roll Tide
One cultural American phenomenon is the massive college sports following of the University of Alabama. If you’ve never been to a college football game, I highly recommend visiting one of the school’s games. You definitely won’t be disappointed.
Locals will greet you with the signature call “Roll Tide” on every campus block and Instagram feed the whole state over. When asking “what is Alabama known for,” most people might simply answer with a rousing “roll tide!”
Whether you’re from the US or are an international traveler, there is something special about the energy at an American football game. I would highly recommend sitting somewhere near the student section if at all possible. You may need to plan this Alabama bucket list item in advance, as tickets can be difficult to come across. Overall, if you’ve never been to a college football game, Alabama is the place to go.
5. Fort Rucker
In the military, Alabama is famous for the site of all Army helicopter training. Home to the United States’ aviation training campus, Fort Rucker is a well-known military base just northwest of the Dothan airport. I have visited the base multiple times and have enjoyed it for different reasons on each separate occasion.
One of the best things to do is go to the Army Aviation Museum on the base and get a look at the history of military flight vehicles, dating back to the earliest models of support and tactical helicopters. I had a chance to visit this museum with my young nephew and nieces and to look at all the different helicopter models. It was a great time! While you may need special permission to access various areas of the base, if you’re able to view some of the flight time, I would highly suggest doing so. I had a great time getting to watch the students practice their takeoffs and flight paths while there.
6. Edmund Pettus Bridge
One of the most symbolic and emotionally-charged relics of the Civil Rights movement is the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Named after a supporter of the KKK, the bridge marked a historic march of the movement, wherein white police officers attacked unarmed protesters on their way across the bridge (in an attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery). This march, “Bloody Sunday,” is one of the most historically important events in Alabama history. In fact, the Edmund Pettus bridge is an official national landmark for its importance in America’s history.
The 2014 film Selma centers on the important role that Alabama played during the movement. More specifically, it focuses on the events leading up to the eventual march from Selma to Montgomery. If you’re looking to understand more of Alabama’s history or want more context for a trip to the area, I would highly recommend checking out this film for more information.
7. The Montgomery Bus Boycott
Very important to Alabama history is the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the Civil Right Movement. If you didn’t know already, the boycott was a protest of the unjust segregation laws. Specifically, this protest stood against the law requiring African Americans to give up seats to white passengers on Alabama buses. The protest lasted for just over an entire year. Overall, the impact of African Americans refusing to take public transportation, however, had a huge economic impact on the state.
Historically, this protest is probably the number one event that Alabama is known for. In the end, the state’s legislature determined that they should no longer segregate buses. Not long after, they changed the law. Not only that, but what happened in Montgomery sparked a national series of protests that eventually led to the end of formal segregation.
On a more personal note, one of my favorite songs is about living in Alabama. It’s called “Paint Me a Birmingham” by Tracy Lawrence. In the song, a man is at the beach and sees an artist painting. He asks the artist to paint a scene of his former love at their would-be home in Birmingham. However, instead of just drawing her, the man requests that the artist re-imagine the scene. He asks that the artist paint him into the picture, back together with the love of his life.
This is a great visual because two national forests flank the city on the north side and one forest flanks it on the east. This adds great imagery to the song itself. Birmingham is a great destination if you’re traveling to the south. Alabama is famous for rich cultural centers like Birmingham. These cities sit within the larger forest-dominant landscape of the state as a whole.
9. Gulf Shores
The number one destination on your Alabama bucket list should be visiting the southernmost edge of the state and experiencing the absolutely breathtaking white sand beaches. Alabama is famous for the quality and quantity of destinations on the south coast. There are many different beach options.
You have to try some of the fresh seafood. While the area has plenty of chain restaurant options, I would highly recommend eating local as much as you can. In short, the South has some of the most savory foods in the entire U.S.
10. Talladega National Forest
The Talladega National Forest is a great perk of living in Alabama. It spans more than 600 square miles entirely in the state. Therefore, if you’re already there, you should check out some of the park’s waterfalls. These include: High Falls, Cheaha Falls, and Devil’s Den. If you’ve ever asked someone “what is Alabama known for” and been told the parks, Talladega National Forest is one of the ones they’re referring to.
11. The Natural Bridge
One awesome outdoor item to add to your Alabama bucket list is seeing the Natural Bridge. More than 200 million years old, the bridge is located in the William Bankhead National Forest. The forest is almost equidistant from Nashville and Atlanta. All in all, it would be a great addition to any American road trip adventure.
Although the bridge is no longer open to walk across (as it is highly dangerous), the park has plenty of areas to roam. Once you’ve seen this natural masterpiece, continue on to adventure on one of the trails or check out some of the waterfalls, for instance.
What is Alabama known for?
In conclusion, what makes Alabama great is that it truly lives up to the hospitality stereotypes of the south. The state has plenty to offer in the way of welcoming visitors.
A major player during the Civil Rights Movement, Alabama has a deep and charged history. The state played a major part in advancing race relations throughout the entire country through the strength of leaders like John Lewis, a native of Alabama.
All in all, Alabama represents the perfect blend of interests for all travelers. From science and history to food and nature, spending time in this state affords you the opportunity to experience some of the most rich cultural experiences the United States has to offer.