Tourism Tuesdays Feb. 4, 2020

April Walking Tours sign-up

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2020 Spring tourism workshop

Alabama Blues featured in UK Blues Magazine

2020 Edition of 100 Dishes to eat in Alabama unveiled

Primeclass Lounge coming to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport

Best wildlife to see along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Alabama State Parks honor supporters with Eagle Awards

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


April Walking Tours sign-up
It is time to sign up for the 2020 April Walking Tours. More than 2,300 people participated in the 2019 April Walking Tours, with 30 towns across the state hosting the tours.

The hour-long tours start at 10 a.m. each Saturday in April. Dates for the 2020 April Walking Tours are April 4, 11, 18 and 25. There is no cost to participate, and the Alabama Tourism Department provides all the posters, brochures and collateral materials.

Cities or towns interested in participating should respond with an email giving their town’s name, starting location, contact person and shipping address to The deadline to sign up for the walking tours is Feb. 14.

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2020 Spring tourism workshop
The Alabama Tourism Department will host its Spring Tourism Workshop in April. The date is still to be announced, but the workshop will be held in Montgomery at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building. The workshop is designed to inform our tourism industry partners, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area. ATD’s staff members will attend this workshop, and you will have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each of them. So, mark your calendars and make plans to attend.

For additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov

Alabama Blues featured in UK Blues Magazine
Music is one of the key reasons that visitors from the United Kingdom come to America on holiday. Alabama received a boost to its image as a location for blues when the largest blues magazine in the UK featured Alabama musicians Carroline Shines and Debbie Bond.   In the Feb/Mar 2020 issue of Blues Matters, the magazine placed both Shines and Bond’s photos on the front cover and printed extensive interviews with each artist as well as reviewing Bond’s performance at a UK club.

The magazine interviewed Carroline Shines in her family home on the outskirts of Tuscaloosa.

“Carroline Shines is a Southerner, born and bred in Alabama, a leading but often overlooked blues state with a heritage and significance that really should and easily could challenge its near-neighbour Mississippi for the title of home of the blues. And Carroline, like so many before her, started out on the usual well-trodden route of singing in church,” the article said.

“Of course, the name Shines is one of the most revered in blues music globally and Carroline’s late father until his passing in 1992, was one of the last surviving bluesmen to have travelled and worked with his old buddy, the legendary Robert Johnson.”

“Debbie Bond is nothing if not absolutely passionate about blues music generally but even more so about the place of Alabama in the blues world. For many years she championed the cause as a founder and mover behind the highly regarded Alabama Blues Project.”

In the review of her performance at Potteries Blues Club, located between the UK cities of Liverpool and Birmingham, the magazine talked about the performance that included her husband Radiator Rick.

“Such a magical chemistry between Debbie and Rick, and it’s there for all to see. Songs such as ‘Help Me’ by Sonny Boy Williamson brought the harmonica talents of Rick to the fore, then it got more serious on ‘Free At Last,’ a lasting lament to Martin Luther King Jr. Being in such a small club room made the atmosphere much more vibrant, and the feeling of blues music almost engulfed you. The way Debbie plays and sings has led in the past to comparisons with Bonnie Raitt.”

The issue is on stands in the UK and can be ordered online

2020 Edition of 100 Dishes to eat in Alabama unveiled
Since 2005, the Alabama Tourism Department has compiled a list of the best dishes throughout the state, making it easy for foodies to sample Alabama’s most outstanding food. The newest version is now available on, along with a checklist to organize a culinary adventure.

In celebration of the latest edition of the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama, a tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign was introduced. The Food Contest campaign follows what a food eating contest would be like if award-winning Alabama restaurants supplied the food. The conjectured result being that contestants would savor every bite rather than trying to eat as much as possible in a short amount of time.

“Alabama continues to shine as a rare gem in our nation’s food scene,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “Our restaurants consistently receive numerous James Beard Award nominations each year and have won many other recognitions. We are excited to introduce all that our state has to offer in terms of culinary diversity. Whatever you are hungry for, we have a dish for that!”

To view the Food Contest campaign or to start your own 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama journal, marking progress across the state’s culinary landscape, visit Alabama.Travel/100Dishes.

Primeclass Lounge coming to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport
From the article by William Thornton on

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport plans to open a passenger lounge later this year.

The project will be a Primeclass Lounge, similar to others in San Diego, Palm Beach and JFK Airport in New York City. It will occupy a 1,100-square-foot space in Concourse B, according to Allen Forrest, CEO of the Forrest Group. The lounge will be for common use, located near the Hudson News Vulcan store, just past the TSA security checkpoint.

“It will be a reflection of what’s local,” Forrest, an Alabama native said. “It will feel like a Birmingham, Alabama experience. For me, it’s about wanting to do something for my state.”

Ron Mathieu. President and CEO of the Birmingham Airport Authority, said completion of the lounge is slated for the fourth quarter of the year.

“We are always looking for ways to elevate and enhance our passengers’ experience at the airport,” Mathieu said. “We look forward to travelers having a quiet place to work or simply take a break from the hustle and bustle of air travel.”

Its facade is planned as a solid wood threshold with an Alabama dolomite stone reception desk. It will feature tables, workstations, high speed internet and Wi-Fi access, televisions and business equipment typically provided in airline lounges. Large woven light pendants will hang from the ceiling to provide filtered light.

Forrest said the lounge is still looking for a brand sponsorship, and plans to offer fine dining options.

“We looked at the numbers,” Forrest said. “There are three million passengers coming through Birmingham on a yearly basis. But there’s no central lounge. This is about bringing local economic development to the community.

For the complete article please see

Best wildlife to see along Alabama’s Gulf Coast
From the article by Sage Scott on

With 600 miles of tidal bay and bayou shoreline, Alabama’s Gulf Coast region is best known for the rolling tide that ebbs and flows along its sandy white coastline. And while the relaxing sound of the waves and the comfortably warm weather are the main draws for most snowbirds, the Yellowhammer State also offers the opportunity to observe critters that aren’t as common in other parts of the United States.

From dolphins frolicking in the bay to pelicans dive-bombing into the Gulf, here are a few animals to watch for along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

When I think of the swampy marshland of the Gulf Coast region, the first animal that comes to mind is the alligator. With its lumbering gait and toothy crooked “smile,” this 600-pound reptile is synonymous with the American Southeast.

Although alligators are slow and clumsy on land, their powerful tails make them fast as lightning in the bodies of fresh water where they make their homes. So while enjoying the lakes, ponds, and rivers along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, be sure to keep an eye out for alligators. They typically hang out in groups or congregations, so if you spot one gator, chances are there are others nearby.

For a sure shot at seeing alligators along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, stop by Alligator Alley. Located in Summerdale, Alabama, just west of the Baldwin Beach Express, Alligator Alley is home to more than 200 alligators ranging in size from hatchlings to adults.

Sea Turtles
Due to illegal poaching, fishing practices, beachside development, and changing climate, sea turtles are listed on the World Wildlife Fund’s endangered species list. But along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, from Orange Beach to Dauphin Island, volunteers at the sea turtle conservation program have helped more than 50,000 sea turtles hatch since 2003.

The best time to observe sea turtles is between July and October, about two months after female sea turtles have waddled ashore under the cover of darkness to dig 20-inch holes in the soft sand and discreetly deposit nests of eggs. When the eggs hatch, baby sea turtles emerge from just beneath the sand and make their way to the Gulf.

It’s important to note that both adult females and hatchlings are most active on the beaches at night, when they are less likely to be picked up by predators. This means that it may be difficult to spot sea turtles when you visit. However, early risers who enjoy walking along the beach might see the telltale tracks of mommas or babies who headed out to the water before the sun rose.

Pro Tip: Read and adhere to these rules to support nesting and hatching sea turtles.
See rules:

Bottlenose Dolphins
Several species of dolphins frolic in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding bays, but the most common is the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (like Flipper). Because bottlenose dolphins are fairly active during the day, you can spot them in the morning, afternoon, or evening. But to see these frisky marine mammals along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, you’ll have to get out on the water, so plan to take a dolphin cruise, jump on a jet ski, or hop on a paddleboard.

Pro Tip: If you prefer to watch for dolphins on dry land (perhaps with a Bushwacker in hand), it’s not uncommon to spot them from LuLu’s in Gulf Shores or Tacky Jacks in Orange Beach.

Blue Crabs
So named because of their lapis blue legs and pincers, blue crabs are some of the most common crustaceans you’ll see along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. They are typically found in the area’s back bays during the summer months, and one of the best ways to see them is to acquire a saltwater fishing license and go crabbing.

(Yes, a license is required — even if you plan to catch and release these crabby critters. There are exceptions for Alabama residents over the age of 65 and anyone under the age of 16.)

Brown Pelicans
It’s hard to spend time outside along Alabama’s Gulf Coast and not see a brown pelican gliding above the surf, keeping a watchful eye on the water below. And when he spots something that looks promising for dinner, he’ll dive-bomb into the water.

Hitting the water at full speed, he’ll fill his throat pouch with more than 2 gallons of water and small fish (like herring and anchovies) that live near the surface. As quickly as a chef separates an egg yolk from an egg white, he’ll drain the water from his pouch and let the fish slide down his throat and into his hungry belly. It’s quite a sight!

If you take to the water along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, one creature that you may not want to see is a stingray. After all, an Australian stingray was responsible for the tragic and untimely death of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. But in coastal Alabama, the most common stingray is the cownose ray. With a face that resembles the velvet-like sniffer of a dairy cow, the cownose ray is constantly in motion, making it unlikely that you’ll step on it when swimming.

However, the region is also home to the southern stingray and the Atlantic stingray. Unlike the cownose ray, these cartilaginous creatures regularly burrow into the sandy bottom of the Gulf just a few yards from the shore. While stingrays aren’t aggressive predators, they will instinctively sting if disturbed. So, in order to avoid a trip to the hospital, be sure to shuffle your feet to let the rays know you’re coming when wading into the water along the Gulf of Mexico.

To see stingrays with zero risk of being stung, visit the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Its 7,000-gallon stingray touch pool holds four species of stingrays and skates and is designed to allow visitors to pet the stingrays as they glide by.

Monarch Butterflies
One of the most spectacular things to witness along Alabama’s Gulf Coast is the annual monarch butterfly migration. Thousands of black wings accented with pumpkin orange and marigold yellow fill the sky, resting on trees and refueling on wildflowers. Monarchs flutter through Alabama twice a year, in March and April when they travel north for the summer and again in September and October when they head south for the winter.

From delicate monarchs to monstrous alligators and from sapphire-colored crabs to silvery dolphins, there are plenty of neat animals to look for along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

For the complete article please see

Alabama State Parks honor supporters with Eagle Awards
From the article by Lawrence Specker on

Alabama State Parks have announced winners of the 2019 Eagle Awards, including the parks’ first-ever award in the media category, which went to photographer Joe Songer.

The three-year-old program honors “outstanding efforts in supporting the parks.” Most of the awards are based on online nominations open to the public.

“We are proud to pay tribute to these special contributors to our state parts,” said Parks Director Greg Lein. “These Eagle Award winners have given of their time and talents and worked hard to keep our parks special.”

The winners
Community Partner — Mountain Lakes Tourist Association/North Alabama. The association “shares the good news about the parks at various trade shows in the region and beyond, and also provides space for parks’ personnel training.”

Elected Officials — Ala. Reps. Dickie Drake, R-Leeds, and Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores. Park officials credited Drake for his work on the Parks for Patriots Bill which grants free park admission to service members and veterans, and McMillan for supporting the Gulf State Lodge project.

Park Partner — Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP) for “organizing rides, staffing work days in Oak Mountain State Park and hosting social activities for the group in the park,” among other activities.

Volunteer — Robert Murphy and Linda Reynolds. Organizers said Murphy has done extensive trail maintenance work in Monte Sano State Park, while Reynolds has given “of her time, knowledge and energy in an enthusiastic fashion” at Lake Guntersville State Park for 34 years.

Media — Joe Songer, the first member of the media to be recognized with an Eagle Award, “is a regular visitor to our state parks, even during his off hours. Songer’s interest and enthusiasm for the parks show in his work that draws millions of page views to his postings on”

For the complete article please see

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Be sure you have a link to Alabama.Travel from your own organization or location’s website. This will help visitors float between our site and yours without any hesitation, making their trip-planning experience seamless!


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.

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