Tourism Tuesdays March 14, 2017

Family spring break destinations across Alabama

The Washington Post gives rave reviews to Birmingham in travel feature

Spring into adventure- exploring North Alabama nature

‘The Daily Show’ will put huge spotlight on Alabama in upcoming multi-part series

Alabama Bass Trail launches website for family fishing trips

Alabama Tourism Workshop- April 12

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Family spring break destinations across Alabama
Sugar-white beaches, moon rockets and the world’s largest cast iron statue are just a few of the great spring break family destinations in Alabama.

This is the perfect time to explore Alabama’s history and culture as the state prepares to kick off its three-year bicentennial commemoration.  The Museum of Alabama, Moundville Archeological Park, and Old Alabama Town each offer a unique look into our state’s past. Bellingrath Gardens and other natural destinations are also popular family vacation spots.

Spring break is the traditional start of the tourist season and that is good for the state’s economy with families spending money in hotels, gas stations, shops and restaurants across the state.  Tourism is big business in Alabama with more than 25 million people visiting the state annually and spending close to $13 billion, state tourism officials said.

The Alabama Tourism Department suggests the following attractions for spring break family trips.  For a complete attractions listing see

Gulf Coast Beaches- Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Dauphin Island
Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast is home to 32 miles of beach access and turquoise waters that are the perfect spring break trip.  The Gulf Coast is the state’s most popular tourist destination, attracting more than more than 6.3 million visitors last year.  Sugar-white beaches, fresh seafood, championship golf courses, dolphin watching cruises, charter fishing trips, wildlife areas and historic sites are just a few of the treasures.  The Wharf Entertainment Complex in Orange Beach is hosting a boat and yacht show March 23-26 with more than 700 boats exhibited. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo features 16 acres with more than 250 exotic animals in natural habitats.  Other area attractions include the Fort Morgan Historic Site, Adventure Island and Waterville USA.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center- Huntsville
During the week of March 13-17, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum education team will be rolling out hands-on activities that include celebrating Albert Einstein’s birthday and Pi Day, Marshall Space Flight Center’s birthday, the first orbital docking in space and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s birthday. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center holds one of the world’s largest collections of rockets and space artifacts including Mercury and Gemini capsule trainers, the Apollo 16 capsule and a Saturn V rocket.  The rocket is suspended 10 feet above the floor, allowing visitors to walk underneath it. There are also interactive exhibits, space-travel simulators, a six-story IMAX theater and a space shuttle.

Earlyworks Children’s Museum – Huntsville
Earlyworks Children’s Museum is the South’s largest hands-on history museum. It features a story-telling Talking Tree, giant-sized music instruments, a Kidstruction Zone, 46-foot Keelboat and a replica general store. Pre-schoolers will enjoy exploring Biscuit’s Backyard, a touch-and-learn area designed especially for them, which includes a garden, grocery store, water table and even

Vulcan Park and Museum- Birmingham
Vulcan is the world’s largest cast iron statue; made of 100,000 pounds of iron and 56 feet tall, he stands atop of Red Mountain overlooking the city. Vulcan Park and Museum features spectacular panoramic views of Birmingham and surrounding areas from an open-air observation balcony atop the statue’s 124-foot pedestal. Visitors can enjoy interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits and displays that give insight into the region’s geology, history and industrial growth as well as a beautiful 10-acre urban green space.

McWane Science Center- Birmingham 
The McWane Science Center is hosting the traveling exhibit, Going Places, on the third floor through May 7. Going Places is an interactive science exhibition that explores the technology humans have developed for travel including airships and hovercraft. McWane Science Center is a state-of-the-art science center, aquarium and 280-seat IMAX Dome Theater is housed in the historic and refurbished four-floor Loveman’s department store building in downtown Birmingham. There are several permanent exhibits that are a regular part of the science education experience. These include Itty Bitty Magic City, Explore! Collections Center, Alabama Dinosaurs and Sea Monsters, NatureScope, Fox 6 Weather Lab, Science on a Sphere, High Cycle, World of Water Aquarium and the Shark and Ray Touch Tank.

Moundville Archeological Park- Moundville
This 320-acre National Landmark Site contains 26 large, prehistoric, platform mounds, which from about 1000 to 1520 was one of the most significant sites of the Mississippian Native culture. Visitors can experience a reconstructed Native American village or tour the museum and nature trails.  The museum combines the latest exhibit technology with more than 200 artifacts, life-size figures displaying ancient clothing and jewelry, pottery and artwork.

Museum of Alabama- Montgomery
The Alabama Bicentennial Celebration kicks off this year and the Museum of Alabama is a great place to explore the history of our state.  The Museum of Alabama is located in the Alabama Department of Archives and History building across the street from the Capitol.  The museum opened in 2014 and tells the complete story of Alabama from prehistory to the present.  More than 800 artifacts, hundreds of images and documents, and 22 audiovisual programs tell the story of struggles over the land, the rise of a cotton economy, the Civil War, industrialization, world wars, civil rights, the race to the moon and more.

Old Alabama Town- Montgomery
Purchase one child’s admission to Old Alabama Town on Tuesdays in March and April and another child gets free admission. Old Alabama Town hosts the 12th annual Alabama Book Festival on Saturday, April 22. This free public event is the state’s premier book festival, with more than 4,000 people from around the state converging in the capital to meet with and hear from their favorite authors and discover new favorites. Old Alabama Town offers visitors a glimpse into life in the 1880’s and early 1900’s.  This collection of restored authentic 19th– and 20th-century homes and buildings, stretching across six blocks in the heart of downtown Montgomery, reflects all phases of Southern life.  Visitors can experience what it was like to make early-American staples, such as soap and cheese; attend school in an 1800’s classroom; see what a 19th-century church service was like; or sip lemonade in a tavern where Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette once dined.

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park- Mobile
An exhibit honoring the centennial anniversary of WWI opened earlier this month in the Aircraft Pavilion.  The new exhibit showcases uniforms from all major fighting forces, historical artifacts, and features a diorama of a wartime trench. At Battleship Memorial Park visitors can explore the mighty USS Alabama, winner of nine battle stars in World War II.  The battleship is more than two football fields long and had a crew of 2,500. Also on display is the Mach 3 A-12 Blackbird super-secret spy plane, the B-52 stratofortress Calamity Jane, the submarine USS Drum, an original plane that was used by the Tuskegee Airmen, plus 22 other aircraft and weaponry from all branches of the military.

Bellingrath Gardens- Theodore 
It’s an early spring at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Visitors are already enjoying the blooms of more than 250,000 azaleas in an explosion of color throughout the 65-acre estate. The annual Azalea Bloom Out goes back to Bellingrath’s earliest beginnings in 1918, when Walter Bellingrath purchased a rustic fishing camp on Fowl River. His wife, Bessie, who loved gardening, wanted to beautify the property and relied on old-growth azaleas as a starting point. Ever since, Bellingrath Gardens has been synonymous with the Gulf Coast’s beautiful azalea season. The gardens contain more than 2,000 plants representing 75 varieties including azaleas, hydrangeas, petunias and chrysanthemums. Bellingrath Gardens has twice won the honor as America’s most outstanding rose garden.

April Walking Tours- 28 towns statewide
Some 28 towns across Alabama will be on display during Saturday mornings in April as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s April Walking Tours.

A variety of community leaders will lead the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns.  The hour-long tours will start at 10 a.m. on April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Attalla, Gazebo at 4th St. and 5th Ave.; Bayou La Batre, Mariner Park; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Courtland, Courtland Heritage Museum; Cullman, Cullman County Museum; Daleville, Chamber of Commerce; Decatur, Old State Bank Building; Elba, Chamber of Commerce; Enterprise, The Rawls Hotel; Eutaw, Prairie Avenue; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations; Foley, Welcome Center.

Huntsville, Confectionary Shop at Constitution Village (April 1 & 8 only); Livingston, McConnell Field on University of West Alabama campus; Madison, Madison Roundhouse (April 15 & 22 only); Mobile, Welcome Center at The History Museum of Mobile; Montgomery; Montgomery Area Visitor Center; Mooresville, Post Office; Moulton, Lawrence County Archives; Pell City, City Hall; Prattville, Prattaugan Museum; Selma, Selma-Dallas County Library; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Shelby, Iron Works Park; Troy, Pike County Chamber of Commerce; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore.

The Washington Post gives rave reviews to Birmingham in travel feature
from the article by Andrea Sachs in The Washington Post:

With revitalized neighborhoods and a ramped-up food culture, Alabama’s largest city boldly returns to the stage and sings to a bigger audience.

On my first trip to Birmingham, I spent the entire visit pursuing Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks, the local songbirds who won “American Idol” in 2002 and 2006, respectively. On my second trip, nearly a dozen years later, I was too busy following the rising star of the Magic City to obsess over fallen reality stars. Since Jefferson County crawled out of bankruptcy, Alabama’s largest city has revitalized several derelict neighborhoods, earned more recognition from the James Beard Foundation for its chefs and earned a national-monument designation for its Birmingham Civil Rights District — one of President Barack Obama’s last acts in office.

“I have seen more movement and excitement in the last five years than I have in my entire 20 years here,” Ford Wiles, chief creative officer of Big Communications, told me outside a downtown bar one recent weekday morning. Of course, I had to ask Wiles whatever happened to Birmingham’s Idols. Hicks, I learned, co-owns a barbecue joint and Studdard frequents Cheesecake Factory. Maybe next time, or maybe not.

Local Faves
At Red Mountain Park, if you get red dust on your sneakers, don’t wipe it off: That’s iron ore, proof that you left your prints on the former mining site. The mountain, which is part of the Appalachians, has stormed back to life as a vertical playground, with 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, a trio of treehouses, a 1,000-foot-long zip line and an aerial adventure course seemingly built by a team of mischievous monkeys.

Birmingham claims the largest number of living Negro League players. So it makes sense that the Negro Southern League Museum opened its doors here, mere steps from Regions Field, home of the Birmingham Barons. (One famous alum: Michael Jordan. Yes, that MJ.) “Baseball was more than just a game for African Americans,” said director Natasha L. Rogers. “It provided a much-needed social outlet.” Practice hitting with legendary pitcher Satchel Paige, whose hologram throws a wicked hurry-up ball.

Guidebook Musts
You can spot the Roman god at Vulcan Park and Museum from 360 degrees of Birmingham, his CrossFit arm raising a spear as if he were planning to carve his name in the sky. At the 10-acre park, climb 159 steps or ride the elevator for a closer glimpse of the 56-foot-tall stud — a hand, a derriere. In the museum, learn about the world’s largest cast-iron statue that still turns heads more than 110 years later.

The 32-acre Sloss Furnaces no longer spews burning slag or paints the sky apocalyptic red. But on a self-guided tour, I still reflexively ducked as I passed boilers and hot blast stoves that, for 90 years, churned limestone, coke and iron ore into a fiery brew. The National Historic Landmark, which closed in 1971, is now a cultural center with metal-arts workshops, concerts and an annual festival. (This year’s headliner: Alabama Shakes.) And though you can no longer buy pig iron, the gift shop does sell iron pigs.

Local Faves
Ovenbird, the second Birmingham restaurant opened by James Beard Award-winner Chris Hastings, is inspired by the cooking techniques of cave men. The kitchen does not use gas or electric to prepare its small plates, just open fire. The staff pulls a surprising array of foods out of the oven, plancha, smoke box and spit-roaster, including sunchoke paella, braised goat, suckling pig and a beef-fat candle that will further ignite your culinary flame.

The menu at the Collins Bar basically tells guests that there is no menu: “We tailor-make our cocktails,” it reads. The bartenders ask a series of questions, such as whether you prefer light or dark liquor and where you fall on the sweet-to-sour scale. Based on my responses, Josh Schaff matched me with a Gin Gin Mule. While you wait for your bespoke beverage, study the periodic table that pays homage to the science of Birmingham: Stl stands for Steel, Cv is for Civil Rights and Tx represents Taylor Hicks.

Pizitz Food Hall exemplifies global equality; lunch lines are equally long for gourmet Italian cheese sandwiches, Hawaiian poke, Israeli falafel, Mexican paletas and Southern waffles. If you spill your lunch on your shirt, pick up a “It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham” T-shirt from Yellowhammer Creative. Opt for the dark blue if you plan to go back for seconds.

Guidebook Musts
Highlands Bar and Grill, a dining destination since 1982, transports France to the American South, marrying je ne sais quoi with a bit of y’all. The Frank Stitt establishment captures the spirit of a brasserie with chic vintage posters and a marble bar that serves oysters harvested from Alabama to New Brunswick. The menu changes daily, but the stone-ground baked grits always make a grand appearance.

The tomato salad at Hot and Hot Fish Club is so popular, the restaurant hires one guy solely to prepare the seasonal dish. (Diners, mark your calendars for early April.) The 21-year-old eatery, which occupies a former pool hall, follows the gospel of micro-seasonality. One day, you’ll see shad roe or crawfish or ramps on the menu; the next day, the flash-on-the-plate ingredient is gone till the next harvest.

Local Faves
Daniel Drinkard cast an eye over the rows of bins at Seasick Records and made a quick calculation: about 8,000 records, equally divided between new and used. For the obsessed collector, the shop sells indie-exclusive colored vinyl; Ryan Adams’s red version of “Prisoner” recently flew out the door. Musicians occasionally perform on a shoebox stage in the back, and a pair of barbers cut hair by the front window, the buzz of the shaver adding an unexpected wall of sound.

At Club Duquette, Duquette and Morgan Johnston, a musician-and-artist couple, have elevated the mom-and-pop (and toddler) shop to a stylish boutique. Copycat their aesthetic with a graphic T-shirt emblazoned with such insider-Birmingham phrases as “Surf East Lake,” a customized vintage military jacket with handmade patches or an oil essence that is blended on the premises and could become your Proustian fragrance.

Local Fave
Spend the night in the elegant Empire Hotel, which is slated to open in a former bank in mid-April, and you can boast to your friends that you slept on the “heaviest corner on Earth.” The nickname, which was coined in the early 1900s, refers to four buildings on 20th Street and First Avenue North that were once deemed the tallest structures in the South. (The Empire tied with a neighbor at 16 stories.) However, the five-star restaurant on the ground floor and the casual dining spot on the roof might cause guests to reinterpret the meaning of “heavy.”

Guidebook Must
Hank Williams spent the penultimate evening of his life at the Redmont Hotel, but his ghost might not recognize the property since it reopened last March. The city’s oldest hotel has mod furnishings with a touch of sparkle, a rooftop bar with a record player and a lobby-level restaurant called Harvest. To conjure his spirit, I stood under the original early-20th-century chandelier and whispered my room number, just in case he was in town and needed a place to crash.

Local Fave
A mural on the wall reads, “It’s Awesome to Have You in,” but years ago, the message might have been more cautionary. The neighborhood’s transformation started with the 2011 renovation of Avondale Park and has trickled up 41st Street. There’s Saturn, a planetary-themed bar with board games, Sega and concerts; Post Office Pies, a wood-fired pizza joint in an old mail facility; and Fancy’s on Fifth, an oyster-and-burger spot with Magic 8-Ball centerpieces. At Hot Diggity Dogs, step through a police phone booth and enter the Marble Ring, a speakeasy-style bar with Roaring Twenties swing.

Guidebook Must
Water hoses and attack dogs at Kelly Ingram Park. The tragic bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The momentous arrival of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The nonviolent movement that helped desegregate the city. It all happened here, in the Birmingham Civil Rights District. The newly minted national monument comprises several pillars of the struggle for equality, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the A.G. Gaston Motel, which King used as his “war room.” Signs mark the protesters’ route to City Hall, where “We Shall Overcome” still resonates more than a half-century later.

For the complete article please see

Spring into adventure- exploring North Alabama Nature
From the article by Catherine Godbey in The Decatur Daily:

Set against a backdrop of dirt paths and flowing creeks lined with colorful wildflowers and canopies of budding trees, a symphony of songbirds signaled the arrival of spring in north Alabama.

From the water to the land to the air, adventures for outdoor enthusiasts await.

“There are so many beautiful areas to explore in north Alabama. People think they have to go to Gatlinburg to see nature at its finest. That attitude comes from the idea that when things are close by, people tend to take them for granted. You don’t have to go anywhere. It’s amazing what is in our own backyard,” said Don Bowling, organizer of Athens Renaissance School’s outdoor adventure club.

The trailheads at Bankhead National Forest’s Sipsey Wilderness, bird watching trails at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and boat launches on the Elk River represent gateways into worlds of natural wonder.

Aaron Lesky, a California native who jokingly said he gave up fake rivers for real rivers and real mountains for fake mountains upon moving to north Alabama in 2009, serves as the outings chairman for the local Sierra Club chapter.

“When I got to Alabama, I was completely blown away with the amount of hiking and outdoor activities available,” Lesky said. “How can anyone ever be bored with these natural wonders surrounding us? There is so much to do and these places are so easily accessible. From my office in downtown Huntsville, I can be on a trail in 8 minutes.”

For nature lovers looking for an outdoor escape, north Alabama provides a variety of options for every skill level. It’s time to “spring” into action.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
“Spring is a great time to visit the refuge. The wintering waterfowl and cranes have headed north, making way for the spring migration of songbirds and shorebirds,” said Teresa Adams, supervisory park ranger.

The refuge’s 35,000-acre refuge serves as home to 300 species of birds. During the spring, expect to see hawks, herons, loons, ducks, sandpipers, owls, hummingbirds, kingfishers, woodpeckers, larks, martins, thrushes, wrens, warblers and finches.

To spot migrating songbirds, visit the Flint Creek Day Use Area’s 1.3-mile wooded trail on Alabama 67 or the Visitors Center’s observation building, an enclosed space overlooking a pool of water. For canoers and kayakers navigating Flint Creek, keep an eye out for the ospreys returning to their nests on the electricity transmission tower along Alabama 67 — nicknamed by the rangers as “Osprey Point.”

While a prime spot for bird watching, make sure to take in all of the refuge’s offerings.

“Turtles are frequently seen on sunny days and crappie fishing is at its best. The refuge roads are open for walking and bicycling. Horseback riding is allowed on roads when gates are open. Dancy Bottom Trail along Flint Creek off of Red Bank Road is a good place to see woodland wildflowers in March and April,” Adams said.

What you need to bring: Mosquito spray, binoculars, comfortable shoes, snacks, water and a birding book.

Want more? Visit

Completed in 2009, the 11-mile trail from Piney Chapel to Veto winds along wetlands, waterways, covered bridges and a Civil War battle site, offering an environmental and historical education. Open sunrise to sunset, the Limestone County trail is open to bikers, runners, bird watchers, hikers and horseback riders.

Monte Sano
With 14 miles of trails of varying difficulty, bicyclists of every age and level will find a suitable path with a scenic view. If riding with kids, try the 2.7-mile family bike trail. For a longer, more challenging ride, take on the 7-mile Monte Sano Plateau Loop that snakes along a bluff and crosses a stream. Sitting on more than 2,000 acres, the state park is at 5105 Nolen Ave. S.E., Huntsville. Open 8 a.m. to sunset. Cost is $5 for 12 and older, $2 for ages 4 to 11 and free for children 3 and younger.

Bill Sims Bike Trail
For a more leisurely ride along flat terrain, hop on the Bill Sims Bike Trail, a 12-mile route from Point Mallard to Wilson Morgan Park. The path passes by Rhodes Ferry Park, the Dancy Polk House and downtown Decatur.

Bankhead National Forest
Nestled partially in Lawrence County, the Bankhead National Forest offers escapes to waterfalls, bluffs, lakes and rock formations.

“The Randolph Trail is just beautiful. There are bluffs and rocks and water, everything you could imagine and more,” Bowling said. “You could go to Bankhead every day for weeks and do a different trail.”

If hiking with children, visit Brushy Lake and Sipsey Wilderness trails, both constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservations Corps. Lined with fields of wildflowers, the wheelchair-accessible Brushy Lake trail offers views from the bluff and around the lake. Featuring waterfalls and sandstone bluffs, the Sipsey Wilderness trail includes picnic tables and a pavilion. Parking costs $3.

Rainbow Mountain
Explore rock formations, fossils, caves and a waterfall at Rainbow Mountain Preserve, which offers skyline views of Madison. The Land Trust of North Alabama maintains and manages the trails, ranging in length from .4 miles to 1.5 miles.

On April 8, a family friendly hike will take place at Rainbow Mountain, Lesky said. Organized as a way to expose children to nature, the 3-mile round-trip hike will include storytime with a children’s book author.
Lesky also recommended Lake Guntersville State Park, Little River Canyon and DeSoto State Park and South Cumberland State Park.

“The hikes are beautiful and easily worth the drive,” Lesky said. “These are all very accessible and safe hiking areas with well-marked and maintained trails, accommodations and maps.”

What you need to know: Wear appropriate footwear, hiking shoes or sneakers with a good tread because of potentially slippery conditions. Bring a first-aid kit, including Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, drinking water, latex gloves, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic cleaning wipes, and Benadryl, in case of allergic reaction.

Want more? Visit for a list of weekly guided hikes.

Hurricane Creek Park
The paths skyward at Hurricane Creek Park in Vinemont cater to first-time climbers and professionals. An introductory class outfits participants with gear and teaches beginning climbers the techniques of scaling rocks and boulders.

If a person can fit in the harness, they can climb. Guides taught climbers as young as 4 and as old as 75.
Climbers can choose from 23 bolted routes of all skill levels around the park. The cost of the sessions varies depending on the number of climbers. All climbing gear is included.

What you need to know: Wear durable and loose-fitting, but not baggy, clothes. Climbers must be able to tuck their shirts into the climbing harness. Wear shoes that lace up tight, but have a soft-gripping sole, such as a good running shoe. Avoid stiff mountain-climbing boots and sandals.

Elk River
Armed with canoes, kayaks and paddles, Bowling, who, along with teaching at Athens Renaissance, owns Fort Hampton Outfitters, created a club to introduce students to nature. This school year, the club kayaked at Joe Wheeler Park, where they learned the basics of boating and about the history of the park, the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and the Elk River.

Split into segments, the 21.9-mile Canoe and Kayak Trail flows along the Elk River from Veto to the Tennessee River.

“The first two sections are beautiful. Depending on the current, the third section can get a little rough,” Bowling said.
Make sure to bring a picnic lunch.

“My goal is to get kids outside. A lot of kids do not get to experience the outdoors. It is so very important to get youth away from their video games and computers and to expose them to nature while they are young. They are the next generation that will take care of this world,” Bowling said.

That is a goal shared by environmentalists and conservationists.

For Mike Roden, who spent his childhood exploring creeks and forests, the disconnection between today’s youth and nature surprised him. Roden serves as executive director of Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers & Valleys Resource Conservation and Development Control, which runs the WaterWorks Center for Environmental Education in Hartselle.

“Our primary goal is to teach environmental responsibility. Over time, it became apparent that in order to teach environmental responsibility we had to first get kids outside,” Roden said. “We find kids from Hartselle, Decatur, Limestone County and Huntsville that have never really been in nature. “

The nonprofit WaterWorks Center provides students with hands-on interactions with animals and leads them on canoe trips on Flint Creek.

“Hopefully we can begin the slow process of getting kids engaged in the outdoors and develop an appreciation for nature,” Roden said.

Flint Creek
Flint Creek, one of Roden’s favorite spots to canoe, snakes through the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

“I love canoeing and camping. It’s so relaxing. There’s nothing like being out on the water. March is a good month because it is the time when you might be able to spot an alligator sunning on a rock,” Roden said.

Riverside Fly Shop
Drive an hour south to visit Alabama’s only year-round freshwater fly fishing spot.

“A lot of people don’t know about this place. I didn’t know about this place,” Bowling said. “It is a great way to spend a free day and is worth the hour or so spent driving. The guide taught us how to cast and about the different flies.”

Owned by Brandon and Mary Carole Jackson, the Jasper-based shop offers guided tours and casting lessons.

Want more? Visit for times and costs.

More outdoor fun

Walking tours: Every Saturday in April, 28 Alabama towns, including Athens, Courtland, Decatur and Moulton will participate in the state tourism department’s Walking Tours. The free hour-long tours will start at 10 a.m.

Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour: The outdoor treasure hunting game launched by Alabama Mountain lakes Tourist Association showcases 31 attractions and historic sites in north Alabama. Featured stops include the Princess Theatre and Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, Gen. Joe Wheeler’s Pond Spring home in Hillsboro, the Alabama Veterans Museum in Athens and 1818 Farms in

For the complete article please see

The Daily Show’ will put a huge spotlight on Alabama in upcoming multi-part series
from the article by Ben Flanagan on

Comedy Central’s late night news satire “The Daily Show” has returned to Alabama in hopes of learning more about its citizens in a multi-part series to air 3-4 weeks.

The show sent all four correspondents (including Birmingham native Roy Wood Jr.) and two crews to several cities this week to film multiple segments about Alabama history, politics, culture and more.

The New York City-based show, which airs Monday through Thursday, learned shortly after the 2016 presidential election that it was least popular in Alabama, according to a New York Times article about television viewership habits in the U.S.

“‘The Daily Show,’ Comedy Central’s news satire and talk show, typically has a politically liberal point of view,” the article states. “It’s most popular in cities and other more liberal-leaning areas along the coasts. Peak popularity is in San Francisco; it’s least popular in Alabama.” (For what it’s worth, the show on the NYT list that was most popular in Alabama: “Criminal Minds.”)

That inspired them to launch a trip to the South to meet as many people as they could and learn about the culture, and perhaps why they don’t watch the show.

The show has already visited Selma and Tuscaloosa, the latter shoot involving Paul Finebaum and four of his more popular callers, as well as correspondent Jordan Klepper. They’ll also travel to Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery.

Finebaum mentioned the shoot, which took place at Rama Jama’s in Tuscaloosa, during his Tuesday afternoon show. Phyllis Perkins (aka “Phyllis from Mulga”) participated and discussed the experience with Finebaum during his show.

Phyllis said Klepper’s comments poking fun at Alabama history and culture frustrated her.

“I was really angry yesterday,” Phyllis said, in reference to Klepper’s questioning and jokes about her home state. “It was just little punches he was making at people in Alabama.”

“That’s the reason I got all over his butt, because how dare him?” she said.

“I don’t think he ran over you,” Finebaum replied. “I think you showed The Daily Show on Comedy Central the way things really are.”

He then asked Phyllis how concerned she is that she’ll turn on the program in a few weeks to find she and others are butt of jokes all over the country.

“As long as I took up for my state, my beloved college and our beloved coach, and all that Alabama stands for, I don’t care what those idiotic people — ignorant people — say about me,” she said. “They know what they can do. They can stick it!”

Alabama Rep. Patricia Todd recently announced via Facebook she was contacted by “The Daily Show” and would do an interview with them on Wednesday. “They conducted a national poll and found that the show is the least popular in Alabama, so they are coming to find out why,” she wrote.

They also plan to shoot in smaller counties outside the state’s larger cities. Following their Tuscaloosa shoot, they traveled to a nearby area to ride with local bikers.

The segments will air on Comedy Central in about three or four weeks. “The Daily Show,” hosted by Trevor Noah, airs at 10 p.m. central Monday through Thursday, on Comedy Central.

The show also recently visited Alabama to talk to protestors and supporters at Rep. Gary Palmer’s Congressional town hall in Hoover.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Bass Trail launches website for family fishing trips
The Alabama Bass Trail recently launched the website to provide visitors with a one-stop shop for planning boating and fishing trips. The website has creative itineraries along with great suggestions for local dining, shopping and attractions for families to visit in the area. For more information please see

Alabama Tourism Workshop- April 12
The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wed., April 12.  This workshop is for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in the area. For registration and additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Adding images to your partner profile not only makes your location or event more appealing, it also greatly increases the chances of it being selected to be featured on elsewhere on the Alabama.Travel site. To add images, log into the Partners website, select your event or location, select Edit, scroll to the Images box, select Choose File, select the image you would like to display and add a caption for the image. You may add up to 6 JPG, GIF, or PNG images.

Need to polish up your partner account? Go to


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