Tourism Tuesdays April 23, 2019

State tourism award nominations

Welcome Center greeting tourism partners

Last weekend to take part in April Walking Tours 2019

Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood a hot destination

Travel Weekly-U.K. takes readers on a coastal road trip through Louisiana, Alabama and Florida

Explore must-visit museums and historical sites on a weekend getaway to Montgomery

Famed Muscle Shoals recording studio launches new podcast series

State parks director announces Joe Wheeler campground renovations

“We Rocked the World” trolley tours of Shoals music attractions

Alabama could see more International RV campers

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


State tourism award nominations
The 2019 Tourism Award nominations are now open. Please submit your nomination for a tourism professional you feel has gone above and beyond the call of duty. There are 13 categories to choose from: Tourism Hall of Fame, Attraction of the Year, Event of the Year, Governor’s Tourism Award, Tourism Advocate Media, Tourism Advocate Government, Tourism Professional of the Year, Tourism Executive of the Year, Tourism Organization of the Year, Tourism Partnership, Welcome Center Employee of the Year, ATD Employee of the Year, Rising Star, and Themed Campaigns.

The deadline for nominations is May 3, 2019 at 2 p.m. If you have any questions please contact Cynthia Flowers at 334-242-4413 or by email:

Welcome Center greeting tourism partners
The Alabama Tourism Department-Welcome Center Program will be welcoming guests throughout the state to increase the awareness of the economic, social and cultural impact that tourism has on the local, regional and statewide communities. We invite our tourism partners to participate at each Center from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. (central standard time) by bringing special promotions, coupons, etc., and share in our hospitality on the following dates:

May 9: Lanett Welcome Center, Grand Bay Welcome Center and Houston Welcome Center
May 10: Baldwin Welcome Center
May 15: Cleburne Welcome Center
May 16: Sumter Welcome Center
May 23: Ardmore Welcome Center
May 30: DeKalb Welcome Center

Please contact the Welcome Center managers to RSVP.

Last weekend to take part in April Walking Tours 2019
More than 1,400 people across the state have taken part in the April Walking Tours, so far this year.

A variety of community leaders lead the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns on Saturday mornings in April. The last tours of the year start this Saturday at 10 a.m.

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; Decatur, Old State Bank Building; Elba, Chamber of Commerce; Elkmont, Elkmont Depot; Enterprise, Pea River Historical Society; Eutaw, Prairie Avenue; Eufaula, Carnegie Library; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations; Foley, Welcome Center.

Livingston, McConnell Field on University of West Alabama campus; Madison, Madison Roundhouse; Mobile, Welcome Center at The History Museum of Mobile; Monroeville, Old Courthouse Museum; 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; Springville, Springville Museum; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore.

The tours are being coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state. More than 36,000 people have participated in the walking tours since the beginning of the program 16 years ago and the tours keep increasing in popularity every year,” Jones said.

More information about the April Walking Tours is available on the Alabama Tourism Department website at

Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood a hot destination
From the article by Tracey Teo on (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Chef John Hall sprinkles the final shreds of mozzarella cheese on his best-selling pizza, the swine pie, and deftly slides it into a wood-fired oven at Post Office Pies in the Birmingham neighborhood of Avondale.

“We’re here in Alabama, and people love pork,” he said of the pizza laden with pepperoni, bacon and sausage.
Hall, 37, is the third generation in his family to live in Avondale, a revitalized neighborhood that has gone from ghost town to night-on-the-town destination over the last decade.

As a child, Hall used to play in the streets, but he had to stay within certain boundaries because “it wasn’t the safest or the best neighborhood.” He recalls his grandfather dropping off mail in the former post office that now houses his restaurant.

Avondale got its start in the 1880s as a company town for textile workers at Avondale Mills and was incorporated into Birmingham in 1910. In the 1960s, it began a slow slide into oblivion. By the early 2000s, 41st Street, now a thriving commercial corridor, was a blighted eyesore.

Fast forward to 2010 when ambitious brew master Craig Shaw opened Avondale Brewing Co. (now owned by Good People Brewing) in a building that had been vacant since the 1980s. Other young entrepreneurs took notice and began coming to Avondale with their own dreams.

Hall was among them.

He returned from a long stint cooking in some of New York’s top restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern and Per Se, and opened Post Office Pies in 2014, determined to serve the best pies in the city.

“I’m an everyday, blue collar person,” Hall said. “I like being back home where I can reach a broader audience.”

Avondale has the same gritty, industrial vibe that he remembers, but in an edgy, fun way, not a watch-your-back way.

As far as Hall is concerned, his corner of sweet home Alabama just got a little sweeter.

He’s not alone. Here are six more reasons to visit the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham.

Fancy’s on 5th
Fancy’s on 5th, a burger and oyster bar, is named in honor of Miss Fancy a beloved, but mischievous elephant that lived at the zoo in Avondale Park in the 1920s.

According to local lore, she frequently escaped from her keeper and would trample flower beds, peep in windows and occasionally make a surprise visit to the elementary school where children rushed out to give her treats.

You might say she was the Avondale mascot.

But there’s nothing fancy about Fancy’s. It’s a make-yourself-at-home kind of place where burger lovers dine on juicy favorites with whimsical names, like the Strange Brew, slathered in beer cheese sauce, and the Flaming Lips, liberally smeared with jalapeño cream cheese and drizzled with jalapeño ranch dressing. Oyster enthusiasts love the choice of briny bivalves that go well beyond the common Gulf Coast variety. While waiting for their order, customers can entertain themselves with a table toy — a Magic Eight Ball or a Rubik’s Cube.

Saw’s Soul Kitchen
Next door to Fancy’s on 5th is Saw’s Soul Kitchen, where the smell of slow-cooked meat hangs in the air like a bewitching fog, luring passersby inside for specialties like pork n’greens, a hearty meal that’s piled on a layer of creamy grits and crowned with a tower of crispy fried onions.

In Birmingham, barbecue is the great equalizer. Come lunch time, politicians in crisp suits and construction workers in grimy hard hats cram together in the tiny space (it’s undergoing an expansion) to get their hubcap-sized plates of smoky, tender meat. More than just a barbecue joint though, Saw’s Soul Kitchen also serves a sweet tea fried chicken sandwich, shrimp and grits, and baked potatoes stuffed with chili or chicken and broccoli, among other options.

When every seat is taken, picnic tables on the sidewalk accommodate the overflow.

Cookie Dough magic
Licking the spoon is the best part of making cookies, right? Thanks to Cookie Dough Magic, you can skip the flour-coated kitchen and get right to the good stuff.

An enticing selection of cookie dough flavors range from old standards like chocolate chip to the unexpected and delicious Euro dough that tastes like Biscoff cookies served on some airlines. No baking needed. The dough is scooped out like ice cream, and you can get it in a dish or a cone.

Big Spoon Creamery
If you actually prefer ice cream, Big Spoon Creamery is a small batch artisan ice cream shop where you can get your frozen fix. Husband-and-wife team Ryan and Geri-Martha O’Hara, both chefs, started their business with an ice cream tricycle in 2014 and opened their Avondale store in 2017. In just one lick, customers realize this ice cream is far superior to anything at a chain store.

Here’s the inside scoop. The O’Haras apply the same farm-to-table culinary philosophy they practiced as chefs in some of the city’s top restaurants, sourcing the best fresh, local ingredients possible. The shop is known for unusual flavors, so if you have an adventurous palate, go for the exotic goat cheese strawberry hibiscus.

The Marble Ring
At Hot Diggity Dogs, a well-dressed couple squeezes into a blue phone booth near the counter and never comes out. They have vanished into The Marble Ring, a “hidden” speakeasy that’s the bee’s knees with the in-crowd. They sink into red velvet chairs beneath the soft light of crystal chandeliers and sip cocktails with names like Jolene’s Request, made from Old Forester bourbon, strawberry mint shrub, ginger beer and rhubarb bitters.

Sure beats drinking Prohibition-era bathtub gin.

The roaring ‘20s theme is a nod to Alabama native Zelda Fitzgerald, dubbed the “first American flapper” by her husband, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, but you don’t have to sport fringy skirts and a bob to embrace the zeitgeist of the Jazz Age.

Saturn and Satellite
Part of the appeal of Saturn and Satellite is the ever-changing nature of the entertainment at this neon-orange, space-themed spot where even the trash cans are shaped like rockets.

Catch a show at Saturn, a music venue that keeps Birmingham guessing what band is going to roll into town next, or just hang at Satellite, the adjacent coffee shop and bar where Japanese anime movies play continually.

Gamers are forever checking the website for the next vintage video game night, an event that appeals to everyone from Gen-Xers that remember heading to the local arcade with a pocketful of quarters in the ‘80s, to Millennials who are intrigued by old-school, low-tech games their parents played, like Pac-Man and Asteroids.

Travel Weekly-U.K. takes readers on a coastal road trip through Louisiana, Alabama and Florida
Editor’s Note:  Travel writer Ella Buchan visited Alabama in October researching a coastal road trip spanning Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.  The Alabama portion of her trip was coordinated by Surinder Manku and Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department, Tara Zieman with Visit Mobile and Kay Maghan and Ally Dorrough with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism.  Buchan has written previous articles on Alabama for Travel Weekly, CNN Travel and Rough Guides.

From the article “Southern Exposure” by Ella Buchan in the U.K. edition of Travel Weekly magazine:

The sound struck me first: a surprisingly loud munch-crunch as the pair of manatees, elephant grey and shaped like small airships, filled up on seagrass. Finally one ascended, her whiskers grazing my arm and tickling my face as she broke the water’s surface to inhale the air. It was a while before I caught my breath.

Florida’s Crystal River is the only place in the U.S. where you can swim with manatees in the wild – reason enough to jump on a plane. It’s an essential stop on a road trip between New Orleans and Tampa. Following a coastline that curls softly around the Gulf of Mexico, the journey showcases a wilder side of America’s Southern states.

Passing through towns with pastel-colored beach homes, crossing roads that skim over the water and stopping to laze on some of the world’s whitest beaches, the route is easily doable in a week – though clients won’t regret taking a little longer to savor the journey.

New Orleans to Mobile
How far: 150 miles
See: Suggest clients spend a couple of days soaking up the fun, food and music of New Orleans before hitting the road. Brunch at Brennan’s, with crab-stuffed omelets and grits on the menu, is a must, as is live jazz at revered Preservation Hall.

The road east passes swathes of green, from the soupy swamps and wetlands of the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge to roadside forests with intertwined canopies. There’s endless blue, too, as the road skims across Lake Pontchartrain towards Mississippi, whose slice of coastline has buttery beaches and casinos.

Suggest a stop in Bay St Louis, a cute town with antiques shops, fishing piers and restaurants serving just-caught seafood, before continuing to Mobile in Alabama. This port city is interlaced with creeks and inlets, and has charming streets lined with magnolia trees and Creole architecture. Dauphin’s, which serves seafood infused with rich Southern flavors, on the 34th floor of a skyscraper, frames the water with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Stay: The super-stylish Ace New Orleans is walkable from much of the action, though it has plenty within its walls, too. Three Keys, for example, is a cozy live-music venue tucked off the lobby, and there’s a rooftop garden with cocktail bar, pool and views over the city. Doubles from £110.

Mobile to Gulf Shores
How far: 49 miles
See: Mobile is a walkable city that (as anyone here will gleefully tell you) hosted the first organized Mardi Gras, in 1703. Its Carnival Museum displays gem-encrusted costumes worn by carnival kings and queens.

From here, it’s a short drive to a very different side of Alabama – a wide stretch of coast with blazingly white beaches. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach make up Alabama’s Gulf Coast, with clusters of bars, seafood restaurants and shops selling inflatables and surf gear.

Wild Native Tours’ Wildlife & Dolphins Kayak Tour (£50 for three hours) offers the chance to paddle close to bottlenose dolphins and through Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, where dunes trimmed with black needlerush provide a habitat for endangered Alabama beach mice.

Later, The Gulf is a chilled-out choice whose beachfront bars and street-food stalls are fashioned from shipping containers.

Stay: The Lodge at Gulf State Park opened in late 2018, steps from the beach. It offers access to the 28-mile Hugh S Branyon Backcountry Trail, which winds through pitcher-plant bogs, old-growth forests and sand dunes. Coastal-chic rooms have private balconies overlooking the sea or parkland. Doubles from £125.

Gulf Shores to Pensacola Beach
How far: 42 miles
See: Flora-Bama – on the border between Alabama and Florida – is the place for kitsch selfies. This tumbledown beachfront maze of outdoor and indoor bars has giant chairs, fairground cutouts and license plate wall-art. Rock and country bands play across the five stages pretty much all day.

For the complete article please see

Explore must-visit museums and historical sites on a weekend getaway to Montgomery
From the article by Dana Form on

There’s a street in Montgomery that locals say is one of the most historic in America. A large fountain sits at the western end, the site of the city’s once-booming slave market. At the eastern end is the Alabama State Capital, where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy. In between is Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor in the late 1950s. The street is also home to the spot where Rosa Parks boarded the bus on which she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger.

That roughly half-mile street, Dexter Avenue, tells the story of Montgomery as both the birthplace of the Confederacy and the city where the modern civil rights movement took off. The history here is complicated, crowded, and occasionally competing, and it’s on full display this year as Alabama gears up for its bicentennial celebration. Alabama became a state on Dec. 14, 1819; Montgomery was founded the same year along the banks of the Alabama River.

The capital city is ready to celebrate the anniversary. Its latest and greatest draw is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first U.S. memorial dedicated to the victims of lynching and racial terror. When it opened in April 2018, the country took notice, with everyone from Gloria Steinem and Al Gore to The Roots turning up in support. About the memorial, The New York Times said: “There is nothing like it in the country. Which is the point.”

Set on a small hilltop overlooking Montgomery, the memorial contains more than 800 weathered steel slabs. Each represents a county where a lynching has taken place and includes the name or names, when known, of those killed. The slabs are hung from the roof, but the floor is sloped, making them appear at eye level at the start of the memorial and rise above people’s heads toward the end. Along the way, visitors may read purported justifications for the killings: “For voting.” “For asking a white woman for a drink of water.” “For organizing local sharecroppers.” The six-acre site is a powerful reminder of the past, but it also serves as a call to action. An identical set of steel slabs rests on the ground nearby; they are meant to be claimed and installed by the counties they represent. So far, none have moved. But the Equal Justice Initiative, the organization behind the memorial, is in talks with dozens of communities interested in erecting their monuments.

The provocative memorial opened at the same time as downtown’s Legacy Museum, which sits on the site of a former slave warehouse. The 11,000-square-foot museum helps put the memorial into context, tracing the history of racial inequality from slavery and segregation to present-day mass incarceration.

While downtown, don’t miss several other spots significant to Montgomery’s history. The Rosa Parks Museum puts visitors directly outside a replica of her bus to watch a reenactment of her arrest. By design, the room is dark and cold, much like the evening of Dec. 1, 1955. It was this event that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the success of which electrified the civil rights movement and catapulted a young King into the national spotlight. See where MLK preached at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, which offers tours of his office and the sanctuary. If you go on a Sunday, note that the organist King hired still plays services. From there, visit the Dexter Parsonage Museum, the simple clapboard house where King lived with his family.

For a look inside another historic home, this one from the Civil War era, head to the First White House of the Confederacy, once the residence of Jefferson Davis and his family. Tour his bedroom and see a variety of keepsakes, such as his pipe, a lock of his hair, and flowers from his grave. Nearby is the Alabama State Capitol. It’s here that Southern delegates met to organize the Confederate States of America and swore in Davis as their president in 1861. The Senate room is restored to look like it did that year, complete with replica desks and light fixtures. A monument to Davis sits outside the capitol building not far from where King stood to deliver his famous “How Long, Not Long” speech at the end of the historic Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.

The capitol steps are the perfect place to pause and reflect on the various histories contained within Montgomery, and to think about the city’s future. King similarly took the long view when he addressed marchers that day. “How long?” he asked in unison with the crowd: “Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

More to Explore: Taste of Montgomery
So fiercely does Montgomery love its food, it named its Minor League Baseball team the Montgomery Biscuits. (The team’s mascot? A biscuit-eating beast named Big Mo.) Begin your culinary tour of the capital at Cahawba House, a cozy breakfast and lunch spot known for—you guessed it—biscuits. The restaurant also makes a pretty mean cinnamon beignet.

If you prefer a quick in-and-out lunch, try Derk’s Filet and Vine, a restaurant and market in one. Make a plate at the hot bar, which is always stocked with Southern favorites, such as pulled pork, fried chicken, and vegetables cooked into submission. The jalapeño cornbread is perfection. Wash it all down with some sweet tea, and pick up a six-pack of Imperial Stout from Alabama’s Blue Pants Brewery to go. Speaking of beer, Montgomery recently welcomed its first production brewery: Common Bond. Its industrial downtown taproom doesn’t serve food—just good beer, including crowd-friendly American ales—but you can call Bibb Street Pizza next door and have a pie delivered.

For a more upscale experience, try Central. The restaurant, set in an 1890s warehouse space, is Montgomery’s go-to place for creative cocktails and well-made classics. Order the fett sow fries to start. (They look like fries, but they’re pork belly.) Mains are made in the open kitchen using fresh and local ingredients. To pick up some of those basics, head to Montgomery Curb Market, which offers everything from flowers and produce to homemade soups and pies several mornings a week. Not ready for the day to end? Top it off with a nightcap at the downtown Aviator Bar, so named for its over-the-top airplane kitsch and wartime memorabilia.

For the complete article please see

Famed Muscle Shoals recording studio launches new podcast series
From the article by Russ Corey from (The Associated Press)

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio’s first major recording session in 1969 will be the topic of the iconic recording studio’s first podcast, which is expected to debut Sunday, the same day Cher’s “3614 Jackson Highway” session concluded.

Debbie Wilson, the studio’s executive director, said the subject of the first podcast, is appropriate since “3614 Jackson Highway,” which features the musicians and producers standing in front of the building, is being released by Run Out Groove Records to commemorate the album’s 50th anniversary.

The album featured the studio’s rhythm section — Barry Beckett on keyboards, Roger Hawkins on drums, David Hood on bass and Jimmy Johnson on guitar. Eddie Hinton played lead guitar and Jeannie Greene, Donna Jean Thatcher, Mary Holladay and Sue Pilkington provided backing vocals.

“That’s the thing that got us started,” Wilson said. “The Cher sessions will be literally 50 years old on the 19th. They finished on the 21st.”

A podcast is a series of audio or video files about a topic that can be downloaded and listened to, or subscribed to through various services like iTunes. The term was created from the iPod media player and the word “broadcast.”

Podcasts can be listened to on various music file players or cellphones.

Wilson said the podcast idea came from studio Manager Anna Hyde, First Impressions Coordinator Mallory Kirk and tour guide Terrell Benton, who will record the podcast.

“It’s really good exposure,” Wilson said of the studio entering the podcasting world. “We have so many stories to tell. It’s another marketing tool to get it out there. It will take marketing to the next level.”

Hyde said each edition of the podcast will last 20 minutes. Hyde said research indicates listeners lose interest after about 20 minutes.

During staff discussions, Hyde said Benton asked who would actually speak on the podcast. Hyde said she responded, “You.”

“I volunteered him to do that,” Hyde said. “His voice tells a story. That’s what you want a podcast to do, and it’s easy to understand his voice.”

Benton said he’s getting some help from Nina Jackson, the production manager at Big River Broadcasting, who will serve as his de facto producer.

The podcast will be called “The Vibe of Muscle Shoals Sound,” and Hyde said it will be quarterly at first, but could expand in frequency in the future.

“As it grows, we may amp that up,” Hyde said. “We hope at some point to do video recording at the same time on a YouTube channel so people can watch.”

Benton already has numerous ideas for future podcasts, including a history of some of the more recognizable albums recorded in the studio, including Boz Scaggs’ second album.

“David told me some great stories of that recording,” he said.

He’d also like to take a look at the Leon Russell sessions where producer Denny Cordell called the rhythm section the “Swampers,” a name that stuck with them for decades.

Producer Jerry Wexler could be the subject of a future podcast, as could the Swampers themselves and the unsung guitarist and songwriter Eddie Hinton.

“It’s storytelling,” Benton said.

Above all, Wilson said the podcasts, are another way to promote the studio, and they could end up creating revenue if advertisers can be secured. The first episode has already received sponsorship from Florence-Lauderdale Tourism and NuWay Vinyl in Muscle Shoals. They will also promote them through the studio’s website and Facebook page.

“More than anything, it’s a good marketing tool and good exposure for the sponsors,” Wilson said. “We want to market it internationally, too.”

Hyde said the podcasts must be approved by whoever is offering them before they area made public, at least for the first few releases.

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was only open for 10 years at 3614 Jackson Highway before moving to a building on Alabama Avenue.

For the complete article please see

State parks director announces Joe Wheeler campground renovations
From the article by Russ Corey on

Joe Wheeler State Park is one of the top-10-attendance and revenue generating state parks in Alabama, and its campground is slated to get a massive upgrade next year.

Greg Lein, director of Alabama State Parks, told members of the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments Board of Directors on Thursday all 116 campsites at the popular north Alabama park will be upgraded.

Lein said one of the park system’s goals is to have one large renovation project each year.

He said the park system has seen many ups and downs in the past several years, but has now stabilized where all 21 state parks are self-sufficient and operating on revenue they generate.

District Superintendent Chad Davis, who manages Joe Wheeler and four other north Alabama state parks, said the project is still in its infancy. Park personnel have been meeting with architects to finalize details.

The plan involves upgrading the power pedestals at all 116 campsites. Lein said 30-amp power pedestals will be upgraded to at least 50 amps, and some may be upgraded to 80- to 100-amp capacity.

Improving wireless internet services is also planned, Lein said.

Davis said other projects include replacing sewer lines and the campground’s three bathhouses. Campsite pads will be enlarged to accommodate large recreational vehicles.

“People need bigger sites,” Lein said.

Lein said the fishing cabins in the portion of Joe Wheeler State Park in Colbert County near Wilson Dam are being renovated at a rate of about two per year.

Lein said the plan is to close the campground after Halloween and finish the work by spring break 2020. Davis said that is the best-case scenario, but he cautioned the project could be impacted by wet weather.

Davis said the campground has been in place since the 1970s.

“We’re thinking about what’s being needed 20 years from now,” David said.

He said construction cost estimates have not been calculated.

Davis said the park rents 13,000 to 14,000 campsites per year, with the majority of the visitors coming from Alabama and Tennessee.

“The campground brings in nearly $400,000 a year in campsite rentals,” he said.

Davis said repairs to the portico at the lodge entrance should be completed by Memorial Day.

During his NACOLG discussion, Lein said the park system wants to develop master plans for each state park, and address the backlog of maintenance issues at the 21 parks.

He wants the park system to leverage its money against grants, and partner with local governments for some improvement projects.

For the complete article please see

“We Rocked the World” trolley tours of Shoals music attractions
From the article by Kathryn Rickmeyer on (WAFF48)

Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau’s “We Rocked the World” marketing campaign is expanding with a series of guided tours beginning Saturday, April 27.

The tours, which will be led by noted music historian George Lair, will be aboard Tuscumbia’s new trolley.

“These tours are for Shoals residents and music fans from all over who want to get a close-up look at where some of the greatest hits of all time were recorded,” said Susann Hamlin, president and CEO of Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau. “During the tours, they will hear stories about the stars who recorded here and amazing men and women who wrote those songs, sang or played instruments on the recordings or worked behind the scenes in the studios. When George Lair talks about Muscle Shoals music, he is not just repeating something he read in a book. He was there working in the studios and at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame when history was being made on the local music scene.”

The April 27 journey through the history of Muscle Shoals Music includes tours of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia and FAME Recording Studios and Wishbone Studio, both in Muscle Shoals.

Along the route, Lair will point out and discuss other music attractions including the Singing River Statue at Muscle Shoals Public Library, the Pathways to Muscle Shoals Music exhibit at Muscle Shoals City Hall and East Avalon Recorders Studio.

Participants in the tour will meet at the Music Hall of Fame, 617 U.S. Hwy. 72, Tuscumbia, at 12:30 p.m. to begin the four-hour exploration of how the Muscle Shoals area rocked the world with its music.

A tour on Saturday, May 25 will showcase Sheffield’s music attractions, including the original location of Muscle Shoals Sound at 3614 Jackson Highway, Cypress Moon Studios (the second location of Muscle Shoals Sound), and the Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery Music Museum.

Other attractions Lair will point out and discuss include Broadway Recording Studio, Widget Recording Studio, the Percy Sledge/Norala Studio historical marker and the Singing River Statue in front of Park Place. Participants will meet at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to begin the four-hour tour.

The cost of the tours, including transportation, the tour guide and admission to the attractions is $40.

Participants will receive a complimentary copy of Colbert County Tourism’s audio tour on CD that provides turn-by-turn directions to and commentary about area music and historic attractions.

Lair, of Florence, owner of VIP Music Tours, is available for personal and group tours of local music attractions.

Additional “We Rocked the World” music tours will be offered in July and August.

The guided tours are the latest addition to the “We Rocked the World” marketing campaign launched by Colbert Tourism in 2016. Other planks of the campaign include the audio tour on CD, a brochure for music attractions in The Shoals and souvenir items featuring the “We Rocked the World” logo.

“The recording studios and musicians in the Muscle Shoals area are well known around the world,” Hamlin said. “We have tour groups and individual travelers from around the world who come to The Shoals to see where their favorite songs were recorded and hopefully get to meet some of the artists who wrote the songs or performed on those recordings.

We are fortunate here to have multiple studios that are open for tours, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and legendary musicians who enjoy meeting fans. Sometimes, they will pick and song or two for the fans they meet.”

For the complete article please see

Alabama could see more International RV campers
Cruise America RV Rental location in Gardendale is one of 132 in the USA and Canada, but it’s Cruise America’s newly opened Rental Hub in Nashville that may bring in additional international visitors to camp grounds and parks in Alabama.

Only a few of the 132 Cruise America locations are classified as RV Rental Depots. Because of the large number of available RVs which the Depot classification renders, only Cruise America RV Depot locations are promoted by international tour operators as rental centers.

Nashville makes the second Cruise America depot location near Alabama.  Atlanta was the first near our state.

“International visitors can now rent RVs in Nashville and travel south to Alabama or rent in Atlanta and travel west,” said Grey Brennan, Alabama Tourism Deputy Director. “For many visitors from international locations, an RV is an iconic way to visit America.”

The Alabama Tourism Department promotes Alabama’s numerous campgrounds and RV parks.

For more information, contact

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