Tourism Tuesday August 11, 2020

Join Alabama Tourism in Alabama Restaurant Week

Journalist wins award for her story on Southern food and visit to Highlands Bar & Grill

10 fantastic outdoor experiences in Gulf Shores

Restoration of Alabama’s Lightning Point nearly complete

Update Your Partner Listing Just in Time for Alabama Restaurant Week

Best thing to do in Alabama: Pay respects to Montgomery’s history

Florence-Lauderdale tourism board on a listening mission

‘Save Space Camp’ exceeds fundraiser goal helped by group from Cleveland, TN

World’s Longest Yard Sale still lines roads from Alabama to Michigan

Huntsville historic walking tours for Oct. canceled

Alabama Tourism Partner Pointer

Join Alabama Tourism in Alabama Restaurant Week


The Alabama Tourism Department is encouraging all local destination marketing organizations in the state to join us in promoting Alabama Restaurant Week which begins this Friday, Aug. 14-23.

There are several ways help your local restaurants receive extra business through this promotion at no cost to you.

In this year’s promotion, we are encouraging everyone to visit an Alabama restaurant at least twice during the 10-day period by dining in, carrying out or ordering take out. There is no requirement for any restrictions or special requirements for restaurants.

Local DMOs, we encourage you to:

• Contact your local news outlets and remind them of the Alabama Restaurant Week promotion

• Link to the Alabama Restaurant Week website or create your own.

• Promote on your social media channels.

• Encourage all restaurants to make sure they have their location page on our database through Partner Portal so their restaurant will show up on the Alabama Restaurant Week location map.  If your restaurant is already listed, make sure information is current.  This simple task will ensure their location listing on our website.

• Participating restaurants, and their DMO, CVB, Chamber, are more than welcome to download assets from the press kit in our resource center.

The assets include logos to add to the menu. Posters to hang in windows are provided. You may use any of these assets in your printing of material.

For more information, contact

Journalist wins award for her story on Southern food and visit to Highlands Bar & Grill
Editor’s note: Travel writer Sara Lawrence visited several Southern U.S. states on a trip to sample food. Her visit not only resulted in great dining but gained her the Highly Commended award from the VisitUSA organization in the United Kingdom. She has now written a blog on her thoughts on visiting the USA in which she says she will never forget Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham. Read her memories visiting America and then click on the link below to read her award-winning article.

Sara Lawrence talks food, more food (and the USA)

By Sara Lawrence

When I think back to my first Coachella in 2011 it’s not Kanye or Kings of Leon who loom largest in my most nostalgic memories of that insanely cool time. Nor is it the clean lines and perfect proportions of the mid-century modern Palm Springs property I rented with some Californian friends. Nope, it’s the thought of the ‘Double-Double Animal Style’ burger from regional fast food chain In-N-Out on the drive back to LA that fires me up most, full of longing for proximity to that iconic red and yellow sign and what lies within. At around $3 for two juicy patties grilled in mustard, two slices of cheese, cooked onions, lettuce, tomato and thousand island sauce crammed into the crispy on the outside, soft on the inside bun, this off-menu (you’ve got to request it) item has become my very own American dream.

To be fair, it’s far from the only one. My idea of holiday heaven is always a food crawl and thinking about the many and varied US locations I love, it’s the meals, snacks and eating-related pit stops which stand out. Crab cakes in Charleston, fish tacos from an unassuming roadside stand in Los Feliz, pizza all over NYC, fried green tomatoes in the South, a food truck serving the king of grilled cheese sandwiches in Massachusetts, the perfect egg custard tart from a Chinese bakery in San Francisco. Hash browns, over easy eggs and bottomless coffee in unpretentious, down-home diners around the country. Long dinners featuring fancy tasting menus, sustainable farm-to-table lunches in a succession of rural idylls, mouth-melting ribs and brisket at mind-blowingly brilliant BBQ joints – two things you can be sure of with these is that A) all will claim to be best in the business and B) whilst you’re eating there you will wholeheartedly agree. Until you hit up the next, of course.

Last summer I was commissioned by a few magazines to take an epic road trip from Nashville to New Orleans through the Deep South and write about it afterwards. The highlights, from visiting the birthplaces of my favourite music, exploring the childhood homes of big-league writers and being amongst extraordinary scenery, were legion. But, true to form, it’s the food I’m still salivating over. Amongst the many sensational eating possibilities this all-encompassing journey offered, it’s dinner at the Highlands Bar & Grill which I will never forget. ‘America’s most outstanding restaurant’ according to 2018’s James Beard Awards (the Oscars of food in the US, these are a very big deal) is found in the somewhat unlikely location of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, a bustling city which played a crucial role in the Civil Rights movement.

The Southern-accented French cooking is exquisite and the service, décor and sophisticated-yet-relaxed vibe add up to a sensational dining experience. The stuffed squash blossoms with farmer’s cheese, tomato relish and basil aioli are next level and there simply aren’t enough superlatives available to describe their pheasant two ways with baked grits. Not only did they clinch the big award but pastry chef Dolores Miles also won in her category – it would be crazy not to leave space for pudding because the memory of her dense yet light, strongly flavoured yet strangely subtle coconut cake dazzles long after the event.

The current absence of travel and restaurants has me yearning for all sorts of food in all sorts of places, but top of my list, now and forever, is always America. The endless variety and strong sense of place all this eating offers makes it easily my most aspirational foodie destination. I can’t wait to get back and greedily resume consuming the joy.

To read her award winning article, about her Nashville to New Orleans trip which included stops in Muscle Shoals, Birmingham, Montgomery, Monroeville and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, go to

10 fantastic outdoor experiences in Gulf Shores

From the article by Sara Broers on

Gulf Shores, Alabama, is home to 32 miles of pristine beaches that run parallel to Alabama’s Coastal Connection. It is home to fantastic outdoor experiences that include the beach, encounters with wildlife, and much more. I fell in love with this area of the country several years ago. I hope you find enjoyment in all of these outdoor experiences as I have.

1. Board A Gyroplane And Soar Above Gulf Shores

Beach Flight Aviation offers an out-of-this-world experience in a gyrocopter. You will fly high above the shoreline and experience Gulf Shores from a bird’s eye view. All of the necessary safety information will be reviewed with you before you take to the skies. You will take off at the local airport, a short two miles from the beach, and begin your outdoor adventure. A little while into your flight, you will have the opportunity to take over the controls and fly the plane. On my flight over Gulf Shores, I flew over Fort Morgan and took it all in. This is one of the most epic outdoor experiences that you can have in the Southern part of the United States.

2. Bike Through Gulf State Park

You can hop on your bike or rent a bike and take a leisurely ride on the Backcountry Trail in Gulf State Park. There are seven trails that wind through this area, which includes swamps, sand dunes, marshes, and an opportunity to explore the beach. At one point you will have the opportunity to stop at the botanical butterfly garden and picnic pavilion. Shaded areas are in abundance, as are wide-open spaces. Keep your eyes open, as you may see the alligator that frequents this trail. Beach Bike Rentals offers top-notch customer service with their bike rentals as well as great bikes.

3. Spend A Day On The Beach

Gulf Shores is home to numerous miles of beaches that include fine, sugar sand that you can sink your toes into. Bring a bucket if you like to gather shells as well as a fishing pole if you like to fish. These beaches offer an opportunity to relax or be adventurous. It’s not uncommon to see people fishing and running along the beach. My perfect day on the beach includes a beach chair with a view that I never tire of. It’s important to note that Gulf Shores has a policy that all items must be removed from the beach at the end of each day.

4. Zip Through The Trees On A Zip Line

Zip-lining at The Wharf on the Hummingbird Zipline Course offers a zip line adventure through a canopy of trees. You will fly more than 115 feet above and zip along at 30 miles per hour, high above the trees. It will take you a little more than two hours to complete the course. The actual time it takes will be dependent on the number of people in your group. Each time I have been on this course, there have been people of all ages in my group. It’s always fun to listen to the excitement that the first-time participants show as they fly over the wooded area.

5. Hike The Jeff Friend Loop Trail

The Jeff Friend Loop Trail is a 0.9-mile lightly trafficked loop trail that is ideal for all skill levels. Prepare yourself for this short hike by applying sunscreen and bug spray, and pack your binoculars. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips. It is accessible year-round. It is a level trail that is wheelchair friendly and a perfect trail for relaxation. It is quiet and depending on the time of year you hike this trail, different species of birds can be seen. The belted kingfisher, bobolink, and brown-headed nuthatch can be spotted.

6. Dine At The Pink Pony Pub

The Pink Pony Pub offers a meal with a view of the beautiful beach in Gulf Shores. You cannot miss it, as it’s a pub that is painted in bright bubblegum pink with a memorable outdoor dining experience. The building has been a staple in Gulf Shores since the 1950s. It has a historic look and feel that you will appreciate. Pub favorites include a shrimp basket, a fresh crab claw basket, and New Orleans barbeque shrimp. If you want a traditional burger, you can order one of those, as well. A visit to The Pink Pony Pub will not disappoint, as you’ll get to experience some of the nostalgia of Gulf Shores.

7. Kayaking With The Dolphins

Kayaking with WildNative Tours offers a memorable kayaking tour with the dolphins. I enjoyed every moment of this tour as we explored the waterways. I realized at one point on this kayaking tour that I was experiencing something that many people will not ever experience. It was the moment that a dolphin went under my kayak that I realized I was in the home of the dolphins. These three hours were a fantastic way to connect with nature along the coastal waterway. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced kayaker, the trained staff will offer great guidance as you navigate the waters.

8. Kayak Fishing

If you want to take your kayak adventure to a new level, book an experience with Whistlin’ Waters. This is a great way for the “lazy kayaker” to experience kayaking, as you use your legs to move the kayak. I loved this adventure for this reason, as my legs are stronger than my arms. There are several different types of adventures to choose from. Choose one that fits into your schedule and interests you. This area of Gulf Shores also offers fantastic birding experiences. Another option: kayak fishing. While kayak fishing, you have the chance to catch a fish, view birds, and kayak through the beautiful waters. A tip that I would give you is to take your camera and view an epic sunrise while out on the water.

9. Build A Sandcastle

Sandcastle building is something for kids of all ages, adults included. For a fun way to experience the beach and the great outdoors in Gulf Shores, book a sandcastle-building class through Sand Castle University. These folks bring all of the necessary equipment to your location on the beach. Your class includes a free time-lapse video of your group building your epic sandcastle. If you have always wanted to build a sandcastle on the beach and were not quite sure how to do it, this is your opportunity.

10. Fish Off The Gulf State Park Pier

The Gulf State Park Pier is the perfect place to toss your line in to catch your find of the day. There is a small fee to visit the pier and you will need to have an Alabama fishing license. You can purchase each of these things on-site at the pier. There is a place to purchase your fishing supplies on the pier as well. The day I fished off of this pier, I learned from a local how to use shrimp for bait.

I live in the North, and I quickly learned that a fisherman does not use a whole shrimp, but portions of it for bait. I was used to baiting the whole worm on the hook, and I was grateful that a local fisherman was willing to educate me. That being said, I did not catch a big fish on that day, but I sure had a memorable fishing experience.

Gulf Shores will keep you busy in the outdoors for hours on end. If rain pops into the forecast on your visit, check out these 10 things to do in Gulf Shores on a rainy day. When the weather is nice, don’t be afraid to explore the miles of trails and the beaches. Sunrise and sunset are two beautiful parts of the day to visit the beaches. And don’t forget to drive and enjoy the best Gulf Shores experiences along Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway while in this area of Alabama.

For the complete article please see

Restoration of Alabama’s Lightning Point nearly complete

From the article by Dennis Washington on

Work to restore and preserve one of Alabama’s most iconic and important coastal habitats is wrapping up as planners shift their focus to building trails, boat ramps and a pavilion at the site.

The Nature Conservancy in Alabama (TNCA) said heavy construction at Lightning Point in Bayou La Batre is almost complete. Judy Haner, Marine Program director, said contractors finished this phase of the project two months ahead of schedule.

“The contractors really went above and beyond,” Haner said. “The great thing about working with really good contractors is they know how to do it and to do it right. They found ways to do a couple of things at the same time, so it saved us time and made this project progress faster than what we thought.”

Contractors installed two jetties at the mouth of the channel and 1.5 miles of overlapping, segmented breakwaters along both sides of the navigation channel. The breakers provide a buffer from waves and boat wakes while the jetties help maintain access for all types of vessels, including commercial shrimp boats and recreational bay boats.

“The project was about more than the habitats,” Haner said. “It was about how those habitats supported the fisheries and the livelihoods, how the breakwaters protect the entry to Bayou La Batre, this fishing hamlet on the coast of Mississippi Sound. That is the biggest win for me.”

TNCA broke ground on the restoration project in April 2019 after securing support from public agencies and private organizations, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Alabama Power. As the project got underway, additional support was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, CITGO, Restore America’s Estuaries, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, the city of Bayou La Batre, Mobile County, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Partners for Environmental Progress, UAB, Embrace the Gulf 2020, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alma Bryant High School and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Haner said construction was handled by engineers and contractors at Moffatt & Nichol, GEC, J & W Marine, Magnolia Dredge & Dock, Wildlife Solutions and Hydroterra.

“When we first started this project and we saw this schematic our engineer firm, Moffatt & Nichol, came up with, we all thought, ‘Doesn’t that sound good? It looks good. It’s pretty on paper, but can we really build it?’” Haner said. “What we’ve seen is we have. We’ve watched that transformation over time and what’s really cool is the community has watched that transformation over time and they are excited.”

In addition to the breakwaters and jetties, the project created 40 acres of coastal habitats ranging from marshes to tidal creeks, scrub-shrubs and shell hash beaches that support a wide range of fish, shellfish and birds.

“We’re really excited about the diversity of the habitats we’ve been able to create at this project,” Haner said. “The wildlife we’ve seen over on the west side – otters, alligators and, in our tidal creeks, we have schools of minnows that have come in and are already using areas that don’t have the habitat fully set yet. So if you will build it, it looks like they will come.”

The project got its first test in June when Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Louisiana, dumping lots of rain and generating a 4-foot storm surge at the new breakwaters. Haner said the breakwaters performed as designed.

“Four feet of water came over the top of these breakwaters, but it held up like a champ,” Haner said.

For the complete article please see

Update Your Partner Listing Just in Time for Alabama Restaurant Week

Alabama Restaurant Week begins this Friday, August 14. Make it easy for travelers and locals alike to find your restaurant by becoming an Alabama Tourism partner. By becoming a partner, you can promote your organization through our content online, social media, promotions and collateral. The best part: it’s free! If you’re already a partner, be sure to update your listing to ensure your restaurant’s details are up to date. Guests will especially want to be reassured of your safety measures and aware of any modifications to your on-premises dining operations.

Visit today to update your listing.

Best thing to do in Alabama: Pay respects to Montgomery’s history

Traveling to the South is complicated. It’s a region of the United States with plenty of attractions for tourists (not to mention some of the best food in the country), but, like much of the U.S., it hasn’t always owned up to its ugly past. But Montgomery is one city that is starting to find a balance between tourism and history, with cultural institutions like the Legacy Museum opening their doors among the chain restaurants and riverboat tours. “My time in Montgomery was a reminder of how crucial it is to cling to sacred remembrance and confront those ghosts of a troubled past,” writes Nneka M. Okona, an Atlanta-based travel writer, of her visit to the museum. “It’s a difficult space, but it’s also one where the act of remembering honors the struggles of the past—while leaving room for transformation and healing in the present.”

For the complete article please see

Florence-Lauderdale tourism board on a listening mission

From the article by Bernie Delinski on

Florence-Lauderdale Tourism officials want to do a lot of listening.

On Monday, the board held a planning meeting led by Mitch Hamm, director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the College of Business at the University of North Alabama.

Tourism President/CEO Rob Carnegie invited Hamm to talk with board members about ways to enhance communications with the public.

Hamm discussed the importance of letting the public know you want to hear from them, rather than simply speaking to them.

“Ask them for ideas,” Hamm said. “Tell them, ‘Here’s the situation: We’re looking for ideas on what you want us to do.”

He challenged the board and staff to look for a pattern in presentations they have made.

“The common thing I kept recognizing is there was somebody you felt didn’t understand,” Hamm said. “Is there a different approach you could use?”

For the complete article please see

‘Save Space Camp’ exceeds fundraiser goal helped by group from Cleveland, TN

From the article by Alison Pryor on

Last week, Space Camp and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama announced that they would have to close their doors in October if they didn’t raise 1.5 million dollars.

Happily, they reached and are now exceeding their fundraising goal in just 7 days. Over 8,000 people donated with major donations from two corporations.

The Alderman Group, based in Cleveland, played an integral role in running the ‘Save Space Camp’ fundraiser.

Years ago, they assisted space camp with social media and marketing. When they were asked to help this time with an important mission, they were pleased to facilitate the fundraiser and be part of the group that saved Space Camp.

“I’m proud of Space Camp. I’m proud of our team and the role that they’ve played. They’ve worked non-stop, and I’m proud of the American people and people across the globe,” Rob Alderman, Senior Partner at Alderman Group, said of the fundraiser.

He continued “and, it’s really lovely to see people to get on board a mission of hope and exploration.”

He called the campaign reaching its goal inspiring, adding “to be a part of something like that is truly humbling for us, and we’ve loved every minute of it.”

Even though the original goal has been met, Save Space Camp continues to raise funds to ensure it thrives for future generations.

For the complete article please see

World’s Longest Yard Sale still lines roads from Alabama to Michigan

From the article by Jay Reeves on

For decades, thousands of vendors have fanned out along roadsides from Alabama to Michigan each summer to haggle over the prices of old Coca-Cola bottles, clothes, toys, knives and more at The World’s Longest Yard Sale.

And though the coronavirus pandemic has canceled events around the globe, the six-state yard sale is happening this weekend for the 34th straight year.

Beginning Thursday and ending Sunday, thousands of people will mingle, chat and bargain across a 690-mile-long stretch of Middle America. You can see tents lined up along U.S. 127 in Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

Organizers say they might not get the usual crowd, estimated at 200,000 people, but they could.

“We feel like there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” said Hugh Stump III, executive director of tourism in Gadsden, at the southernmost end of the sale.

The crowd was predominantly older on the first day in Gadsden, and many people wore face masks and visibly tried to keep away from others. COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, can be particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other health problems.

But many others didn’t wear facial coverings, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people standing shoulder-to-shoulder as they looked through racks of clothes or tables full of shoes set up outside.

Promoters considered canceling the event because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 160,000 Americans and infected 5 million more, but they decided to go ahead with precautions including reminders about masks, social distancing and hand-washing.

For the complete article please see

Huntsville historic walking tours for Oct. canceled

From the article by John Few on

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another annual event, at least for 2020. The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has announced that the guided historic walking tours, originally scheduled to take place the first two Saturdays in Oct. are now cancelled.

The free walking tours are part of a statewide initiative by the Alabama Tourism Department to foster the exploration of Alabama’s history and culture. They have been held through the Five Points, Old Town and Madison historic districts.

The CVB hopes to return the walking tours for the spring season in April 2021.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Tourism Partner Pointer

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Follow the link, give us a “like” and get connected.