It’s time to head South for some quality family time in Alabama. Whether you’re looking to get lost in history, enjoy time connecting in nature or explore local family-friendly attractions, Sweet Home Alabama has something for everyone.
From space exploration to a foodie family’s dream spot, you and your crew will love what you’ll find along the scenic roads of Alabama. We rounded up our favorite family road trip finds for your next three-day getaway.
Start your epic road trip in Huntsville, nicknamed Rocket City. With the perfect balance of history, art, culture, nature and science featured in their family-friendly attractions, we picked our top places to stop in 24 hours.
Grab freshly-made pastries from Peggy Ann Bakery, one of the oldest and most revered bakeries in town. It’s perfect for any sweet tooth in your family, providing endless options of cookies, brownies, cupcakes and muffins. Then, head ten minutes up the road to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Get ready to check out one of the biggest collections of spacecraft, rockets and tons of incredible space artifacts. Anyone over the age of seven can participate in the Family Aviation Training and the Family Astronaut Training as long as they bring an adult.
When you’re ready for lunch, head to Tenders! in the Five Points Historic District for the best platter of nuggies—a.k.a. the “Big Daddy” that comes fully loaded with tenders, fries, Texas toast, slaw and a side of two sauces.
Then, drive eight minutes southwest to the Hunstville Botanical Garden for 118 acres of fun, exploration and beauty. From aquatic habitats and stunning woodland paths to beautiful collections of Alabama’s native plants, the Garden invites guests of all ages. We recommend scoping out the open-air butterfly house, the largest in the nation, so your youngsters can encounter breathtaking butterflies.
Once everyone dries off, drive seven minutes to the Earlyworks Children’s Museum, an interactive museum built for children. Inside you’ll find hands-on exhibits such as their kid-struction zone, federal house, general store, and more. Don’t forget to stop by the Talking Tree for a magical storytime.
Finish your first day with award-winning, Alabama-style eats at Moe’s Original Bar B Que, from delicious wings and pulled pork to Shrimp Moe-Boy sandwiches. Bonus: the Mississippi mud pie will be the sweetest ending to your first day.
Drive just 90 minutes south, and you’ll be in beautiful Birmingham where sports, history and animal fun abound. If you’re going to explore all this town has to offer, you’ll need to start with a hearty breakfast. Filter-Coffee Parlor makes all-day frittatas and hefty bagel sandwiches. After breakfast, head five minutes away toward the 56-foot-tall cast iron statue (the largest on earth) in the four-acre Vulcan Park.
After you take in some of the best city views in town, stop by the Vulcan Park & Museum for a kid-friendly scavenger hunt. First, grab a worksheet; you’ll love how it captures your kids’ attention and keeps them interested in what the museum offers. Then, walk up the stairs or hop on the elevator to see the city from a phenomenal perspective.
Pro tip: Your tickets are good all day, so you can come back to see the sunset after you finish your Day 2 adventures. It’s open until 10 p.m.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head downtown to Railroad Park. The 19-acre green space, known as “Birmingham’s Living Room,” hosts family activities, concerts and cultural events.
It’s hard to believe, but 15 minutes away, you’ll find what feels like a world away at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. With over 1,000 acres to explore, an afternoon won’t feel like enough time, but you can still do and see plenty. Start at the Nature Center, where you can see native species, including snakes. Then, hit the Quarry Trail. It’s very clearly marked and easy to follow. About halfway through the hike, you’ll get a great view of all the planes coming and going from the airport. Fur babies are welcome at the preserve, too.
For dinner, head 16 minutes south of Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve to check out the Homewood location of Ashley Mac’s. The mom-owned and mom-run restaurant not only boasts an epic kids’ menu but they’ll also help keep your little ones’ hands busy with Wiki Stix. If you’d rather grab takeout, the restaurant offers weeknight meals for around $35 to feed a family of four.
We found two great itinerary options for the last day of your adventure.
Head a half hour south and get ready to spend the perfect family day at Oak Mountain State Park. With over 50 miles of hiking, biking, fishing, swimming and equestrian trails, your tiny outdoor enthusiasts will love all that there is to do. Pack your food because the state park is in a remote location and be sure to take advantage of the day-use picnic facilities where tables and grills make for an enjoyable lunch.
For fun, rent a boat or pack a paddleboard to get out on the water. The lake is also known for its good trout fishing, so don’t forget your tackle box. Or, spend the day soaking in the sun and splashing in the clear water.
Drive about an hour and a half to Montgomery, the capital city and one of the most important sites of the Civil Rights Movement. This thriving city was home to the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached and where the Selma to Montgomery Marches ended.
Start your day at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, America’s first national memorial to remember the victims of lynching. Each steel monument hanging from the ceiling represents the U.S. counties where lynchings tragically occurred. In addition, the museum provides an impactful opportunity to teach kids about slavery and discrimination.
Finish your last day burning off some energy at the Montgomery Riverfront Park that sits along the banks of the Alabama River. It features areas for little and big kids to enjoy, including riverboat rides, an amphitheater for concerts and productions and the historic Union Station Train Shed that serves as a venue space for family-friendly events. Your kiddos will love the sprawling space and nonstop entertainment.
To customize your charming Alabama itinerary to fit your family’s interests and needs, head to alabama.travel for unique road trip suggestions throughout the North, Central, South and Gulf Coast regions of the state. Download the Alabama Tourism Department’s mobile app for a breakdown of various trips by market, region, topic, experience and more.