Tourism Tuesdays Jan. 7, 2020

Attendance Figures needed from state attractions and events

Forbes names Birmingham as one of world’s top affordable winter travel destinations

Southern Living hotel planned for north Tuscaloosa

A growing U.S. travel destination not much known: Montgomery

8 reasons to visit Huntsville

Commissioner encourages locals to get out and see Alabama’s beauty

Metro Birmingham well-represented on list of best burgers in Alabama

Great Alabama 650 returns in 2020 with changes

Opp to host World Food Championship Alabama State Qualifier

Capitol Oyster Bar owner opens RV park on river

Welcome Centers greet tourism partners

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Attendance Figures needed from state attractions and events
The Alabama Tourism Department is asking representatives of state attractions and events to turn in their attendance figures for the year 2019. These attendance figures are the basis for the annual “Top 10” listings. The figures serve as a vital guide for the media, state government and local organizations.

*In order for you to be counted we must have your data by Friday, Jan. 17. The online reporting process should take less than five minutes to complete. Please follow this link to enter your attendance figures:

Note: There is only one event or attraction per online form and only one classification can be chosen. The Alabama Tourism Department reserves the right for final determination of classifications.

If you have any questions please contact: Pam Smith at or
(334) 353-4541.

Forbes names Birmingham as one of world’s top affordable winter travel destinations
From the article by Sean Ross on

An article by Forbes this week named Birmingham, Alabama, as one of the world’s nine best affordable winter 2020 travel destinations.

Other cities honored were Chicago, Guadalajara, Mexico City, San Antonio, Cartagena, Toronto, San Diego and Rome.

Forbes wrote of Birmingham, “This Alabama destination is growing in popularity and for good reason. Its cultural roots combine effortlessly to produce an amazing food scene, where high-end culinary chops meet down-home flavors. In addition to the restaurants helmed by James Beard Award-winning chefs, you’ll also enjoy a delightful art scene.”

“You’re sure to be surprised at all this Southern destination offers,” the article added.

For the complete article please see

Southern Living hotel planned for north Tuscaloosa
From the article by Jason Morton on

A Southern Living-branded hotel has been announced for construction on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

Planned for a 37-acre site between the now-shuttered Cypress Inn and the Rice Mine Road Loop, the estimated $60 million “Southern Living Hotel Tuscaloosa” could be open by February 2021.

And its design, according to developer Lifestyle Hotel Group, is geared toward women.

“All the things are going to be developed to meet the needs of the female traveler,” said William Shoaf, president and CEO of Lifestyle Hotel Group.

Shoaf, who has been in the hotel development business for the past four decades, said his Rosemary Beach, Florida-based company has built luxury hotels across the nation, from Georgia to Hawaii, and recently completed a project at the Sundance resort in Utah under the direction of actor Robert Redford.

Southern Living Hotel Tuscaloosa is meant to cater to the 20 million or so women who subscribe to the Southern Living magazine, Shoaf said.

“We’re very excited to get the project closed so we can get to the point where we can officially come to Tuscaloosa,” Shoaf said.

The site is planned for more than just a hotel, though.

While the 124,000-square-foot complex is set to include 120 suites starting at an estimated $250-per-night, the hotel also will include a new restaurant developed by Birmingham restaurateur Chris Hastings and a rooftop lounge on its fourth floor.

“The Boat House” is a separate building intended to house its own food hall and entertainment venue with what Shoaf described as a “modern barn” appearance.

A TopGolf Swing Suite also is expected to be featured in The Boat House, Shoaf said, and a proposed “Southern Life Studio” will offer wine and bourbon tastings along with cooking and baking tutorials, among other activities.

The “Great Southern Bakery and Coffee House” is also planned for the campus. This eatery, in partnership with Southernn Living magazine, will offer food and beverages that are featured in the magazine’s pages.

“Our hotels are really run as restaurants with rooms,” Shoaf said.

Also slated for construction are 32 individual “Southern Living Residences,” which will be for sale to individual owners and, depending on preferences, give those living in these homes access to the same amenities as hotel guests, from in-room dining to maid services.

“If you buy one of these, you’re basically living in a hotel,” Shoaf said.

That includes access to the Wellness Center, which will offer Peloton equipment, yoga classes, strength training, meditation classes, massage and facial therapy rooms, dry bar hair salons and a nail salon, as well as the Lagoon Pool, featuring hot tubs and locker rooms for both men and women.

Shoaf said working with Redford on Sundance gave him an appreciation for the natural look of the land and that he intends for the project to disturb no wetlands while preserving as many trees as possible on the site which features nearly 2,700 feet of frontage along the Black Warrior River.

This is the same tract where, in August 2015, Atlanta-based National Ventures Group announced its intentions to develop the $32 million Regent Club of Tuscaloosa, a proposed 135-room luxury hotel meant to cater to the Crimson Tide football traveler.

Plans for this resort-style hotel now appear to be dead.

Council President Cynthia Almond, who represents this area as part of District 3, she said she’s glad that nine months of work and behind-the-scenes discussions can now be publicly unveiled.

“This is an exciting, first-class proposal to bring to Tuscaloosa a hotel experience unlike anything we currently have,” Almond said. “It would be beneficial to our entire community to have a Southern Living-branded hotel here.”

For the complete article please see

A growing U.S. travel destination not much known: Montgomery
From the article by Juergen T. Steinmetz on

Visit Montgomery has a message for global travelers. In Montgomery, people know a little something about great stories since that were producing headline news since the 1800s. This is the message on the Visiting Montgomery Tourism website.

Civil rights attract visitors to the Alabama Capital.

The Camellia Bowl is one of the tourism events that make this city famous. Camelia Bowl is an annual National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctioned FBS college football bowl game played in Montgomery, at the Cramton Bowl. The game features teams from the Sun Belt Conference and the Mid-American Conference.

Having events like a New Year’s Eve celebration, the Camellia Bowl, those types of events fill in around the tourism season, according to Meg Lewis with the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.

The city saw tourism growth all year long in 2019, and the New Year night was a sellout.

Occupancy and room nights sold in Montgomery is on a growth trend for sure. In 2019, over 30,000 more hotel rooms were sold than in 2018.  Travel-related expenditures were up nearly 16 percent last year.

The state tourism department reported that statewide travel-related expenditures were up near one billion dollars. The Montgomery area experienced a 15.5 percent growth over the previous years.

The recent growth to the attractions in and around downtown is credited.

Montgomery has become a destination for travelers both leisure tourists people who are traveling for their own enjoyment, or education – we’ve seen a lot of that in Montgomery especially as a result of the Equal Justice Initiatives work here and all of the other civil rights and historic destinations that make up Montgomery is the message by tourism officials.

2020 will be a good year is the overall response.

For the complete article please see

8 reasons to visit Huntsville
From the article by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt on

Huntsville has low-rise city buildings, historic homes, and a tidy town air. But Huntsville didn’t earn the title Rocket City for being quiet, or retiring.

Instead, there are so many dynamic happenings in Huntsville that it has soared on the US News and World Report’s list of best U.S. places to live, and been A-listed by the New York Times as a must-travel-to destination.

So, what’s so great about Rocket City?

1. Huntsville folk are smart
Huntsville’s original claim to fame was as the Watercress Capital of the World. That was before 1950, when the U.S. Government brought Wernher von Braun and his team of German rocket scientists to Huntsville to work on aeronautical research — designing the Saturn V rocket that sent astronauts to the moon.

Today, Huntsville remains an aerospatial/technology hub, employing one of the highest concentrations of scientists and engineers in the country. Employers include Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA), Boeing, Redstone Arsenal, and the HudsonAlpha Institute.

Bright people have diverse interests and Huntsville residents ensure that there is so much more to do in Huntsville than watch watercress grow.

2. You can experience space
Huntsville is home to Alabama’s top tourist attraction, the U. S. Space and Rocket Center. This Smithsonian-sized and affiliated complex houses one of the world’s largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia. Experience the immensity of the projects when walking under the full-stack Space Shuttle and the suspended Saturn V moon rocket (if not prone, it would be 36-storeys high). Visit a mock-up space station and learn how astronauts live in space. Try out simulators — the G-Force accelerator or the moon shot (go 140 feet up in the air in 2.5 seconds). I looked after a woman’s guide dog while she shot up in the air. She was so much braver than I!

Attend Space Camp — it’s not just for kids. There’s a space camp for adults, plus a multi-generational option. Accommodation is in bunk beds, so some adults prefer staying at the Marriott on the Space Campus, or in the nearby RV Park.

3. Rocket science means great beer
Beer brewing isn’t rocket science, but both involve exploration, experimentation and standardising processes for consistent results. A number of Huntsville’s science/engineering folk brew beer and are behind the Free the Hops campaign that lifted Alabama’s beer alcohol limit from 6% to 13.9% — legitimizing the craft-brewery scene.

Downtown Huntsville, Inc. has created beer trails so tourists can experience some of the results. I had my first taste of beer aged in a bourbon barrel here. Verdict: hints of chocolate, coffee, and toffee. Yum!

Discover rocket-related beers along the trail. Some labels are obvious, such as Monkeynaut, others more obscure, such as T-Minus, Illudium, and Unobtainium. Can’t fathom the NASA-speak? Ask a clever local.

Grab your trail card at the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor Center (a great place also for discounts on attractions). Walk the trail, use Zagster, join Bikes and Brews, or use Uber/Lyft.

4. Huntsville repurposes its old buildings
If you were way too cool for school, you’ll love Campus No. 805, a series of bars and restaurants in a disused junior high. A playground for adults, it feels so naughty drinking in classrooms. I loved the speakeasy at Straight to Ale Brewing, where the secret entry is hidden behind lockers. There’s also coffee, great food, and activities from axe throwing to ballroom dancing. In summer, enjoy free concerts hosted on campus.

The Stovehouse is a new leisure precinct in an old stove factory with restaurants, a cocktail bar, and boutique shops. Enjoy living room, vinyl evenings, live bands, and seating around outdoor firepits.

A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard (circa 1895) retains much of the original rough-sawn lumber and is on the railway tracks. It offers meals, live entertainment, and socializing nooks that include old rail cars.

The heritage-listed 1922 Lombardo Building is a stop on Huntsville’s Antiques Trail. Repurposed as Railroad Station, you’ll find three storeys of curiosities to mill over.

Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment (open Wednesday through Saturday) is the nation’s largest privately owned art studio. The old textile mill is home to 148 working studios that tourists are welcome to visit. Enjoy six galleries, restaurants, performance venues, workshops, and classes. Culinary arts are represented by Piper and Leaf’s artisan tea blends and chocolates from Pizzelle’s Confections. Irons ONE Distillery offers whiskey tastings and tours.

5. Arts and Science intersect in Huntsville
The arrival of culturally-minded Germans further enhanced Huntsville’s arts scene. Enjoy a concert by the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra (the longest continuously operating professional orchestra in Alabama) or attend a Broadway Theatre League or Huntsville Ballet Company performance at the Von Braun Center. Visit the Huntsville Museum of Art with its impressive collection of American art and yearly exhibitions by the Huntsville Photographic Society, whose members’ interests include aerial and astro-photography.

Discover Huntsville’s public artworks on a Secret Art Walk. There’s a koi fish mural at the corner of Spring and Spragins streets. Stand at the point marked RB and see it in 3-D. This is the kind of smart art you’ll find in Huntsville that encourages people to stop, think, and engage.

6. Huntsville has a stellar food scene
This is the Deep South, so open wide! At G’s Kitchen, feast on Southern fried chicken, catfish, fried green tomatoes, black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, and Huntsville’s best meatloaf. Or head to Blue Plate Cafe for breakfasts of bacon, eggs, cheesy grits, and biscuits and gravy.

Huntsville’s German legacy lives on in its cuisine, too. Ol Heidelberg, a Huntsville haunt since 1972, serves sausage platters, stroganoff, and a dozen varieties of schnitzels. Head to Hildegard’s, where happy hours mean cheap drinks — and also German potato pancakes with sour cream, and pretzels with house-made beer cheese.

On Thursday evenings April through October, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center holds a Biergarten featuring German cuisine. The Nook, a much-loved local bar, runs Tuesday German food nights. At Yellowhammer Brewing, learn about German brewing traditions. Of course, Oktoberfest in Huntsville is celebrated with gusto.

For high-end dining, head to Cotton Row for American cuisine with a Southern twist (think cornmeal-crusted oyster salad). Chef Boyce’s pedigree includes top restaurants in New York, California, and Las Vegas, and his cookery demonstrations are a great way to eat out and learn how a master creates delicious cuisine.

Wine merchants Stephanie and Matt Mell own Purveyor Huntsville, where you can enjoy fine wine, bourbon (over 50 selections), and handcrafted cocktails, plus an innovative menu with dishes such as duck meatballs topped with black truffle pate shavings or guacamole laced with a slug of bourbon. You can also head to Domaine South for exceptional wine and cheese pairings.

7. Huntsville’s forward thinking preserves its past
Visit Harrison Brothers Hardware — Alabama’s oldest operating hardware store. With old counters and Reggie the original cash register, it’s a unique shopping experience. These days, nails and spades have been replaced with top-quality American-made toys and souvenirs.

For an old English experience, book an afternoon tea at The Poppy, an English-style pub with tiered stands, scones, and cucumber sandwiches.

During the Civil War, while Union Soldiers captured Huntsville’s Depot, the town’s historic homes were spared, which is why Rocket City features the South’s largest concentration of antebellum homes.

The Twickenham Historic District is walkable from downtown. Download a tour map or take a free walking tour in spring or fall. The pillared mansions are straight from Gone with the Wind. Homes date from 1819 and many have rambling gardens. The Weeden House Museum was home to Maria Howard Weeden (born 1846), known for her watercolors of former slaves. The dignity and realism of her portraits still move onlookers today. Note that the museum has limited opening hours.

At Alabama Constitution Hall Park, step back to 1819, when delegates gathered in the cabinetmaker’s workshop to agree on Alabama’s state constitution. The complex has many historic buildings. I enjoyed watching the craftsmen and hearing their explanations of how wooden toys had a purpose in improving children’s dexterity in farmyard chores such as milking.

Mere steps away are the bootprints of Alan Shepard, the first man in space. You’ve certainly landed on a history trail when you come to Huntsville!

8. Nature walks abound in Huntsville
Wander through Big Spring International Park with its 60 cherry trees and red friendship bridge (gifts from Japan). Huntsville Museum of Art is at the park’s edge. Visit the terrace for a casual meal at Pane Vino Pizzeria (another Boyce restaurant). Here you’ll be treated to glorious views, and in winter you can watch — or participate in — outdoor ice skating.

Explore Huntsville Botanical Garden, with its 112 acres of lush greenery, Japanese reflection pools, America’s largest seasonal open-air butterfly house, and a grandiose Southern mansion-style guest center. At Christmas time, enjoy the Galaxy of Lights — 1.8 miles of 200 animated displays to walk or drive.

Visit Burritt on the Mountain, a historic mansion, and other buildings in a park setting showing how people lived in the 19th and 20th centuries. With dramatic views back over Huntsville, mull over just how far the city has come as you walk on the wooded trails of this 167-acre park that, like the town, is filled with history.

For the complete article please see

Commissioner encourages locals to get out and see Alabama’s beauty
From the article by Jessica Vaughn on

Commissioner of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Chris Blankenship visited Coastal Alabama on Tuesday, Nov. 19 to speak at a South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Leadership Series. Originally from the Dauphin Island area, he’s had a lot of opportunities to get out and travel the entire state of Alabama since taking on his new role back in 2017, something he greatly encourages others to do as well.

“We live in a beautiful state, an absolutely spectacular state, and I am honored and blessed beyond words to be commissioner of the Department of Conservation and get to go out and see a lot of this state,” he said. “Outdoor recreation is over a $14 billion industry in Alabama and it supports over 135,000 jobs. It’s a huge industry for us.”

There are 21 state parks in Alabama, including our very own Gulf State Park, covering a total of 45,000 acres for all parks combined. Alabama recreation draws in five million visitors annually, accommodating them with 700 total hotel rooms offered in state parks, three golf courses, over 200 miles of trails, over 2,200 campsites, and two caves.

One of the most recent additions to the state parks is the Gulf State Park Lodge and Conference Center. Aside from The Lodge, the project also included dune restoration, an interpretive center, a learning campus, trail enhancements, and a pedestrian bridge.

“One of the things that I’m most encouraged about that we’ve done at the Gulf State Park is that the Eagle Cottages on Lake Shelby have been named one of National Geographic’s unique lodges of the world,” Blankenship said. “There are only 55 properties in the entire world that have that designation. It really opens us up in Alabama to a whole new demographic of people around the world who probably didn’t even know Alabama was a state, let alone that we have a beach or all the other things our state has to offer.”

For those interested in outdoor recreation around our state, there are two canoe trails, 23 public fishing lakes, three Wildlife Management areas, and 17 community archery parks, like the one at Graham Creek Nature Preserve in Foley. Blankenship stated Alabama leads the nation in community archery parks, and the next closest state only offers six. His department maintains many boat ramps throughout Alabama, three freshwater hatcheries, an Aquatic Biodiversity Center, and Claude Peteet Mariculture Center in Gulf Shores. Alabama also maintains the largest artificial reef program in the world.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Division was created approximately a year ago to coordinate all the funding streams and the work being done towards the recovery from the 2010 oil spill.

“Before, that work was being done through the commissioner’s office, but I wanted to set up a section that would have continuity no matter who the governor and commissioner were to continue that work for the next 20 years or more,” said Blankenship.

He stated there have been approximately 130 projects and nearly $740 million dollars-worth of investments that have been made in Coastal Alabama from oil spill funds. Projects include conserving water, conserving habitat, and restoring water quality, with plans in the future to continue to provide for the environment.

“If you haven’t yet, you need to get out and see your state,” Blankenship said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, and I love it here. This is where I lived for most of my life until a couple of years ago when I moved to Montgomery to be Commissioner of Conversation, and it has opened opportunities for me to go see different parts of Alabama that I didn’t know were there. We have a beautiful place here in Coastal Alabama, but I hope everyone will get out and visit the other state parks and Wildlife Management areas around the state and just see what else our state has to offer. I think you’ll be very happy that you did.”

For the complete article please see,87686

Metro Birmingham well-represented on list of best burgers in Alabama
From the article by Stephanie Rebman on recently ranked the top burgers in America state-by-state, and now it takes a deeper dive into Alabama.

Metro Birmingham burger joints came up big on the list of the 25 Best Burgers in Alabama from Big 7 Travel.

While the No. 1 spot went to Farm Burger, which is in Huntsville, the chain had been in Birmingham in two locations before closing.

The list also includes from the metro area:
No. 2: Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint – Birmingham
No. 3. Chubbfathers – Alabaster (which also took the top spot on the state-by-state ranking)
No. 5. Marre & Allen Bar + Kitchen – Birmingham
No. 7. Paramount – Birmingham
No. 8. Chez Fonfon – Birmingham
No. 11. Golden Rule BBQ – Helena
No. 12. John’s City Diner – Birmingham
No. 14. Mudtown Eat & Drink – Birmingham
No. 17. Hotbox – Birmingham
No. 19. J & J Groceries – Bessemer
No. 23. Baha Burger – Hoover
No. 24. Saw’s Soul Kitchen – Birmingham
No. 25. Milo’s Hamburgers – Many cities

See the list of the 25 Best Burgers in Alabama here:

Great Alabama 650 returns in 2020 with changes
From the article by Dennis Washington on

Registration opened Jan. 1 for the second Great Alabama 650, a grueling 650-mile non-motorized paddle race across some of the most scenic lakes and rivers in Alabama.

The Alabama Scenic River Trail said registration will open at noon CST on PaddleGuru. The race will be held Sept. 26-Oct. 6, starting at Weiss Lake in northeast Alabama and finishing at Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay.

Organizers have made a few changes for 2020. Participants must have competed as a solo or two-person tandem racer in a qualifying race within the past five years. The event will also be capped at 20 boats.

Racers who have not competed in a qualifying race will be given an opportunity to compete in a 65-mile race in June on a section of the Great Alabama 650 course. The winner of that race will get an automatic spot into the 2020 Great Alabama 650.

The first Great Alabama 650 was held in September. Of the 12 entrants, only the three winners completed the course. Florida resident Bobby Johnson won the race in seven days, eight hours, one minute and 55 seconds, despite trailing for the first 500 miles. Johnson covered more than 85 miles per day on the course, which includes several Alabama Power dams and waterways.

Not far behind Johnson was Salli O’Donnell, the only female solo competitor. O’Donnell, who lives in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, led for the first 500 miles of the race but finished six hours behind Johnson.

Tandem paddlers Ryan Gillikin of Bay Minette and Susan Jordan of Mississippi finished on the ninth day of the race. The finishers, as the top male, top female and top tandem, split a $22,500 prize equally among those three divisions.

For the complete article please see

Opp to host World Food Championship Alabama State Qualifier
From the article by Christopher Smith on

The Wheelhouse Restaurant in Opp in coordination with Alabama Coasting, Alabama Cattleman’s Association World Food Championship and the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo announced that it will host the World Food Championship Alabama State Qualifier called the “Steak Bite Showdown.”

The qualifier is an open competition for chefs and home cooks from around the state of Alabama for their chance to win a golden ticket to the World Food Championship to be held in November in Dallas, Texas.

Wheelhouse chef Jon Gibson used to be a competitor for the World Food Championship and noticed that most of the qualifiers were held in bigger cities and wanted to make a change.

“I was just trying to think of something else that could generate a little bit more traffic and people to visit Opp,” Gibson said. “The Rattlesnake Rodeo, of course, brings in a lot of people, but I wanted to think of something else that could bring even more people to Opp during that time period.”

After talking to coordinators of the qualifiers, they agreed that Opp would be a great place to hit regions where people don’t have to travel as far.

“We discussed it over several weeks and they finally agreed that we needed to find a place in between Montgomery, Birmingham and Mobile,” Gibson said. “The main points that I brought up to them about bringing it to Opp is that we will be able to hit parts of the state that haven’t seen or experienced the World Food Championships yet.”

No matter what level a person can cook at, Gibson said they could compete in the event.

“You don’t have to be a certified chef, working as a chef or anything like that,” Gibson said. “When I competed, you would see several competitors that were home cooks and have never cooked in a professional kitchen. They just wanted to get in on the World Food Sport. It’s open to anybody that wants to do it.”

As far as the Wheelhouse is concerned, this event is a way not only to put their name on the map but a way to push the culinary envelope.

“At the Wheelhouse, we want everybody to experience a cuisine that is not found in the South,” Gibson said. “We kind of want to be the spearhead in South Alabama to push that culinary envelope to let people know that there is more out there than hamburger steak and fried chicken. That is what the whole world food sport does.”

If people don’t feel like competing and they would like to be a World Food Championship E.A.T. Judge, Wheelhouse will be holding E.A.T. classes for those who want to be a certified WFC Food Judge.

“On Feb. 12, we will be holding classes to be an E.A.T. judge,” Gibson said. “It will be $60 for the class and we will have two teachers here that will basically walk them through what it takes to become a world Food Championship judge. At the end of their discussion, myself and probably another chef, will put out two competition dishes that they will learn how to judge. They will learn how to taste the food, learn about the presentation of it and how to judge the flavors; basically everything other than just eating it.”

Wheelhouse will host two days of competition one day for the “Burger” Category and one day for the “Steak” Category during the Rattlesnake Rodeo. Winners will be announced on the Main stage at the 60th Annual Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo. Currently, the prize purse is at $3,000, with the winner qualifying for the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas.

For the complete article please see

Capitol Oyster Bar owner opens RV park on river
From the article by Brad Harper on

Longtime Capitol Oyster Bar owner Lewis Mashburn couldn’t stop thinking about the potential of the area around his restaurant, which sits on the Alabama River just north of downtown Montgomery. Thinking turned to planning, which slowly turned to progress.

Now, Mashburn has opened the Montgomery Marina RV Resort, a park and campground that connects to a riverfront walking trail and a boat dock along the property. Each of the 30 RV spots have hookups for sewer and power, and the campground is covered by high-speed internet service. Security cameras are spread throughout the park. Campers are issued a remote that opens the entrance gate.

For those who don’t have their own RVs, Mashburn is renovating two airstream trailers that will be available for rent next month. He’s turning a third one – a 1957 Spartan Imperial Mansion – into a “time capsule” experience with 1950s décor, movies and music.

A few lawmakers have already reserved spots at the campground during the next legislative session, and Mashburn expects it to be popular among construction workers involved with the Hyundai assembly plant expansion.

Down the road, he’s hopeful that it will pull in people who are here to visit downtown Montgomery’s whitewater park, which is being built one exit away. He’s even floated the possibility of ferrying them back and forth by river.

“We’ll have a spot for them to fish in the river,” Mashburn said. “We’ve got a walking trail all the way around here. It’ll be a pretty place to bring your family and set up out here with a campfire.”

Meanwhile, he’s planning for more amenities. He’s working on a playground area for kids and has an idea for a mini golf course nearby. Early next year, Booker T. Washington Magnet School students will paint sponsored murals on fencing around the property as part of a school fundraiser.

For the complete article please see

Welcome Centers greet tourism partners
Mark your calendar. 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 state-wide 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 sharing in our hospitality on the following dates:

7: Grand Bay Welcome Center
8: Baldwin Welcome Center
12: Lanett Welcome Center
14: Sumter Welcome Center
20: Cleburne Welcome Center
21: Ardmore Welcome Center
27: Houston Welcome Center
28: DeKalb Welcome Center

Please contact the Welcome Center managers to RSVP.

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
New Year’s Resolution: making your partner listing the best it can be. Refreshing your listings will increase the chance of it being featured elsewhere on Alabama.Travel.

Time to sign in, edit your location or event and upload your images.


Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to: The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

To subscribe to the newsletter please contact Dwayne O’Riley at:

Alabama Tourism Department