17 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways in Alabama

Written by Anietra Hamper
Updated Mar 22, 2022
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Alabama is a great state to consider a weekend getaway because whether you want to immerse yourself in the beach scene of the Gulf Shores, eat your way through Birmingham enjoying homemade Southern BBQ dishes, drift off in nature, appreciate civil rights history in Montgomery, or take in football fever in Tuscaloosa, there are so many things to do throughout the state.

This is a great state to arrange a themed weekend, and accommodate the interests, tastes, and experiences that suit you, along with some surprise options that you may not associate with this Southern state. While Alabama is known more for its beaches than snow, you can hit the slopes in the northern part of the state from December to March.

More surprises await for music aficionados, who can follow in the footsteps of some of America's most famous musicians who got their start in a little town called Muscle Shoals. No matter what strikes your interest for an Alabama weekend getaway, you are sure to uncover more memories and experiences than you even thought was possible.

Plan your escape with our list of top weekend getaways in Alabama.

1. White-Sand Beaches Getaway in the Gulf Shores

Beautiful Gulf Shores beach
Beautiful Gulf Shores beach

The Gulf Shores of Alabama is hands-down one of the best weekend getaways in the state. The pure white sand that is known for squeaking between your toes is the perfect way to kick back for several days while you relax near the ocean. Seashell collectors have 32 miles of beaches to walk along and feel the warm Gulf water on their feet.

The area is made up of the beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which are connected by a bridge to some of the best beaches in Alabama.

Besides swimming in the ocean, you can spend part of your beach getaway hiking or strolling on the pier at Gulf State Park, or looking for wildlife at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. There is even The Lodge At Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel if you want to stay in the heart of the most natural park of the coastal town.

If you need a little more action or you're looking for a family activity, try taking a dolphin cruise on a glass-bottom boat or parasailing above the shoreline, or spend a day deep-sea fishing. For a fun hangout for the family stop by The Hangout restaurant, where locals and visitors like to relax and build sandcastles out back.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions in Gulf Shores, Alabama

2. A Downtown Birmingham Weekend

Downtown Birmingham
Downtown Birmingham

The biggest city in Alabama is Birmingham, which is why it makes for such a fun weekend getaway. There's so many things to explore, starting with the Civil Rights District, where you can visit the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and several churches made famous through the Civil Rights movement.

You can spend a full day walking through the historic downtown and other districts like the Loft District, where you can dig up some unusual finds at the Museum of Fond Memories, Birmingham Oddities, and What's on 2nd. If you want to stay downtown, The Tutwiler hotel (now a Hampton Inn & Suites) is the oldest in the city.

You could also spend an entire foodie weekend in Birmingham. The city has some of the oldest, most delicious, and most famous BBQ restaurants in the state. Plan your meals around Saw's Soul Kitchen, which serves up vinegar-based North Carolina-style BBQ; Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, which has been in the city for more than a quarter century; and Full Moon Bar-B-Que, which serves its famous Southern relish called chow-chow.

3. A Romantic Mobile Getaway

Fountain illuminated at night in Mobile
Fountain illuminated at night in Mobile

The elegant French influence in Mobile makes it perfect for a romantic weekend getaway in Alabama. Stroll through the historic neighborhoods, lined with shade trees and centuries-old mansions along the wide sidewalks.

Make your way to Fort Conde, which is also a welcome center, to pick up ideas for your visit. While you are here, take a tour to see the French Fort and learn about Mobile's history.

Next, visit the Mobile Carnival Museum, which highlights the carnival festivities in the area that date back to the 1800s. As the original destination of Mardi Gras, you can also plan your visit to enjoy celebrations that are lower-key than the scene in New Orleans.

Add to your romantic weekend by taking a short drive to the Bellingrath Gardens and Home, which is open year-round and features 65 acres of blooming azaleas, roses, and other flowers.

Mobile has several historic hotels that have welcomed famous guests, including The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa, a favorite for kings and celebrities since 1852, and the luxury The Admiral Hotel Mobile, Curio Collection by Hilton, which has hosted figures like Elvis Presley since 1940.

4. Historic Weekend Getaway in Selma

Edmund Pettus Bridge
Edmund Pettus Bridge

For a full weekend rooted in history about the civil rights era, Selma will keep you busy. Start your trip on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, which follows the same route that marchers took in 1965 to push for voting rights.

Stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, which is one of the most famous points along the 54-mile trail. Stop at the Selma Interpretive Center near the bridge to learn more about the area's role and the marches that led to two of the most significant legislative changes in the civil rights movement.

Continue your weekend at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, with exhibits showing important moments in the civil rights era. Be sure to walk around the outside to see the painted murals. Nearby is the Slavery and Civil War Museum, which has reenactments and interactive exhibits.

For a comprehensive history lesson take the Martin Luther King Jr. Street Historic Walking Tour through Selma to see locations, churches, and memorials throughout town.

5. Architecture Appreciation Weekend in Eufaula

Reeves Peanut Company building, Eufaula
Reeves Peanut Company building, Eufaula | Olin Gilbert / photo modified

If Southern architecture is your passion, a weekend in Eufaula in southeast Alabama is calling you. The area has some of the most spectacular mansions in the south. The town is located on a bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee River adding to the grand presence of the homes in the area.

The best place to visit first is on Eufaula Avenue, which is famous for its magnificent homes that have been described as looking like wedding cakes.

Some of the main homes to see in the Seth Lore-Irwinton Historic District are the Shorter Mansion, which is also the Eufaula welcome center, Fendall Hall (a home museum), and The Hart House.

While you can walk by the private homes anytime of the year, one of the best times to visit is during the spring Eufaula Pilgrimage (late March/early April), when you can take tours inside some of them and enjoy the gardens in full bloom. You can also take the Eufaula Athenaeum Tour to see a private collection of some historic items of the area.

Read More: Top-Rated Small Towns in Alabama

6. Archaeology Weekend in Moundville and Aliceville

Black Warrior River
Black Warrior River

While Alabama is known for its history and food, there is also a great weekend getaway rooted in archaeology waiting in the rural areas of Moundville and Aliceville just outside of Tuscaloosa.

Begin your weekend by visiting the Moundville Archaeological Park, where you will see artifacts from archaeological digs in the area dating back more than 1,000 years. Make your way to the 26 earthen mounds, which give insight into the area that was once populated by Native Americans who settled this region along the Black Warrior River.

There are nature trails and a boardwalk around the quiet, sacred grounds. Moundville has regular archaeological digs in progress, which you are allowed to visit during the spring and summer months.

Hunt for ancient shark teeth in Aliceville, where you can take a tour with Shark Tooth Creek Outdoor Adventures. The small group tours take you to a creek for one to two hours, where you will search the water and rock beds for shark teeth left behind from when the region was underwater 70 million years ago.

The best way to visit these areas is to stay in Tuscaloosa and make day trips to Moundville and Aliceville, and include a stop at the Alabama Museum of Natural History located in town.

7. An Out-of-this-World-Weekend Getaway in Huntsville

Space Shuttle at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center
Space Shuttle at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center

Looking for an out-of-this-world weekend experience? Huntsville has it. Plan to spend some time at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the largest space flight museum in the world. See the Apollo 16 space capsule and other exhibits.

Experience G-forces on the Space Shot ride, which drops you into a 4G free fall, or step into the Apollo Cockpit Trainer to experience a simulated space mission. While at the center be sure to walk through the Rocket Park, which leads you to the ultimate rocket, the Saturn V located inside the Davidson Center.

The Saturn V is a prototype and was never launched into space but it is on display to showcase space technology. It is also listed as a National Register of Historic Landmark. You can walk underneath the Saturn V as you explore the Davidson Center, which houses relics from the Apollo missions.

During your space weekend plan a visit to the Von Braun Astronomical Society Planetarium and Observatory, which houses the telescope used for scouting Apollo landing sites. There are public programs on Saturday nights to learn more about the observatory and its importance to the space program.

8. A Birding Trip to Dauphin Island

A flock of gulls on Dauphin Island
A flock of gulls on Dauphin Island

Pack your binoculars and camera and head to Alabama's Dauphin Island for a spectacular weekend of birding. Watch pelicans and great blue herons soar above the Gulf of Mexico as you make stops along the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.

With 50 designated birding sites along the trail, you can easily spend several days making your way from one to the other. The stops are located on a series of connected loops, making it an easy drive.

Stop by the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and find out why this is one of the top destinations in North America to spot various species of birds that pass through on a major migration path.

Continue your natural weekend at the Estuarium and Dauphin Island Sea Lab to observe native aquatic life, with exhibits representing the different habitats that exist in Alabama. Not far from Dauphin Island is the largest public garden in Alabama, Bellingrath Gardens and Home, which is also a prime birding location.

Walk along the Bayou Boardwalk Trail, which stretches into some of the backwaters, where you can observe eagles and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

9. Golf Weekend along the RTJ Trail

Ross Bridge Course
Ross Bridge Course | Rawpixel Ltd / photo modified

Golf fanatics should plan a weekend in Alabama to hit the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail, which offers a collection of courses around the state. The RTJ Trail has 26 golf courses and 468 holes that challenge every skill level.

One of the top courses on the trail is the Oxmoor Valley Golf Course in Birmingham. The rolling landscape of the course was built on old mining land, creating a scenic and challenging 54-hole course. Also in Birmingham is the Ross Bridge Course, one of the newest sites on the RTJ course. It is the fourth longest course in the world, with spectacular features like a waterfall between the 9th and 18th greens that drops 80-feet.

About an hour's drive from Birmingham is the Capitol Hill RTJ Course to round out your weekend. It is in the town of Pratville. There are three 18-hole courses on a stunning landscape appropriately named The Judge, The Senator, and The Legislator. You can plan RTJ golf packages to accommodate your schedule, location, and budget.

10. A Mountain Weekend near Ashville

Rural Springville
Rural Springville | Alby Headrick / photo modified

Plan a mountain weekend with a little bit of history and a lot of natural scenic beauty as you head to Ashville, where you will stay and set out on day trips. Familiarize yourself with the area by starting in historic Ashville which will be your home base.

Walk around the quaint square in the middle of town and take in some of the local culture at the Ashville Museum and Archives and the Ashville House Quilt Shop.

Next, plan a day trip to Springville, where you will experience the charm of the old south at its best. Downtown Springville has the Springville Antique Mall to experience, with several dozen vendors and a reward of ice-cream at the old-fashioned general store of Laster Sundries.

Spend another day of your weekend going to the top of Chandler Mountain, Alabama's third tallest mountain located in nearby Steele. Visit the Horse Pens 40 park, where you can observe rock climbers and walk the grounds to enjoy the view and see many rare species of plants and flowers.

If your timing is great, you will visit during one of the many bluegrass festivals that take place on the mountain.

11. Southern Antiquing Weekend in Eutaw

Antique store
Antique store

Some of the best antiquing is away from the big cities with finds in small independent shops, which is why you can spend an entire weekend in Eutaw in western Alabama looking for treasures. Your best bet is to stay in Tuscaloosa then make day trips to Eutaw (25 miles) and the other small towns with antique stores, located off Interstate 20.

You know you have arrived in Eutaw when you pass Jim Bird's Hay Bale Art, art sculptures made from bales of hay in the middle of a farmer's pasture. Head to Courthouse Square to start your antiquing journey.

Eutaw Antiques is one of the most popular stops for finding antique glass, silver, and other gems. It is located inside a former grocery store. The Courthouse Antiques store is also nearby with a nice collection of antiques for sale.

12. Covered Bridge Road Trip in Blount County

Swann Covered Bridge
Swann Covered Bridge

One of the most picturesque drives and one of the most romantic getaways in northern Alabama is in Blount County, which is considered the state's covered bridge capital. The state has 11 historic covered bridges, and three of them are located in north-central Alabama.

Spend a weekend driving the backroads to see the bridges that are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Easley Covered Bridge is the smallest of the three in Blount County. Built in 1927, it spans the Black Warrior River.

The oldest and tallest covered bridge in the area is the Horton Mill Bridge, which stands at 70 feet above the Black Warrior River. The original structure was built in 1894, with additional renovations in 1935, making it one of the tallest bridges in the United States.

The third bridge to visit is the Swann Covered Bridge, which is the longest covered bridge in the state. At 324 feet long, it is also one of the longest in the U.S.

13. Ski Getaway in Mentone

Skier making fresh tracks
Skier making fresh tracks

Alabama is known for is sunshine and beaches, so it's not the first place you might look for a ski weekend, but a skiing weekend in Mentone could add a new notch to your winter outdoor experiences.

Mentone is a small town in northeast Alabama and is the southernmost ski destination in the United States. From mid-December to March, The Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort operates a full ski offering, from beginner slopes to advanced slopes. The resort is located on Lookout Mountain, which as the name suggests, has incredibly scenic views.

Save a little bit of time in your itinerary to stop at DeSoto State Park, which has picturesque views and waterfalls that cascade for over 100 feet.

After you get your fill of the outdoors, stop into town for a bite to eat, and explore the artsy side of Mentone. The Log Cabin Village in downtown is where local artists sell goods like handmade soaps, jewelry, and wood carvings.

14. Music Visit to Muscle Shoals

Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals
Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

While places like Nashville get high praise for music-themed getaways, a weekend in Muscle Shoals will change your perspective on the roots of many of America's most notable recording artists. Muscle Shoals is a tiny Alabama town, and its simplicity will add to your enjoyment and appreciation of the authentic musical talent that was discovered here.

There's good reason that Muscle Shoals is considered the hit recording capital of the world. Music legends like The Swampers, Aretha Franklin, and The Rolling Stones made some of their most iconic music in the small recording studios that still operate in the town today. You can take a tour through the FAME Recording Studio, Cypress Moon Studio, and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

You can easily spend half a day at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, which is a must-visit for music lovers. The exhibits showcase historical insight and behind-the-scenes details of greats like Tammy Wynette, W.C. Handy, and other influential artists.

Many of the restaurants in town feature music memorabilia or autographed photos of artists who spent time in the area. One of the joys of Muscle Shoals is finding a roadside BBQ restaurant where you can enjoy the authentic flavors of regional dishes served up by generations-owned establishments.

15. Historic Getaway to Montgomery

Alabama State Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama at dawn
Alabama State Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama at dawn

A history weekend in the state capital of Montgomery will be a profound getaway. A good place to visit first is the Alabama State Capitol building, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the city.

The building is a working museum that sets the tone for the historical significance of the city. For those who really want to dive into history, a stop at the Alabama Department of Archives and History is worthwhile, especially if you want to do genealogy research or take one of the workshops that are offered.

Perhaps the greatest historical discoveries you can make in Montgomery involve the civil rights movement, as it is where so many turning points occurred. There are many points of interest for civil rights history that you will have to select a few or limit your time in each.

Some of the top things to see and do in Montgomery include the Civil Rights Memorial and Center and the Dexter Parsonage Museum, which includes the residence of Dr. Martin Luther King from 1954 to 1960. Others include the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, which has artifacts related to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Freedom Rides Museum, which played a significant role in ending racial segregation for public transportation.

Exploring the historical side of Montgomery can be heavy, so you will want to sprinkle in some of the lighter experiences in the city, like an evening enjoying music by the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra or a performance at The Cloverdale Playhouse.

There also are many parks and gardens around the city, where you can spend some downtime enjoying the surroundings. The Blount Cultural Park is one to put on your radar. It has great walking trails, ponds, and is the backdrop for the famous Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

16. Hike on Cheaha Mountain

View from Cheaha Mountain at sunset
View from Cheaha Mountain at sunset

Why not make a fun outdoor weekend getaway in Alabama? Start at the highest point in the state on Cheaha Mountain. Plan your weekend around the 7.5-mile hike up to 2,400 feet in Cheaha State Park in Delta, Alabama. While you can stay in the area in cabins or an Airbnb, you can also base yourself in a nearby city like Anniston, Oxford, or Munford, which are only 30 minutes away.

Making it to the top of Cheaha Mountain is only part of the experience. The scenery on the way is breathtaking as you hike through Talladega National Forest and the remote Cheaha Wilderness. You can appreciate the stunning natural elements in the oldest park in the state defined by giant granite boulders, delicate wildflowers, and unique trees.

If you want to experience Cheaha Mountain but are not up for the hike, you can drive County Road 42 out of Munford, which will take you on a curvy scenic route through the Talladega National Forest. For a bite to eat, stop by the Vista Cliffside Restaurant, which has panoramic views of the forest landscape from the dining room.

17. Football Fever in Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa football fields
Tuscaloosa football fields

It is difficult to visit Tuscaloosa without getting caught up in the Crimson Tide football fanfare of the University of Alabama, which holds the pulse of the city. Sports fans can plan an active weekend in Tuscaloosa by taking in a game at Bryant Denny Stadium during the football season and being a part of one the most spectacular football programs and fan bases in U.S. college football.

You will want to spend a few hours at the Paul W. Bryant Museum, which chronicles the history of the University of Alabama football, with artifacts and exhibits dedicated to the memorable players and coaches.

You can fill the itinerary around game times with lots of other things to see and do in the city. Downtown Tuscaloosa is a walkable area, which has a collection of restaurants, green spaces, live entertainment, and scenic views of the Black Warrior River. The Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is a 4.2-miles path that is nice for walking and biking downtown.

To get immersed in the true local flavor, stop by one of the Saturday farmers markets, where you can buy local products.

While you are visiting, you should plan some time to visit part or all of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail to learn about the history of the city. There are 18 stops along the trail that take you to some iconic locations involved in the Bloody Tuesday march in 1964, an important event in the American civil rights movement.

Map of Weekend Getaways in Alabama

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More in Alabama: To begin your vacation, search our guide on the Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Alabama for insight into the main things to do. Nearly any town you visit will have historic and chain hotels, but there are some top resorts in Alabama, too, with spa treatments, golf, and luxury rooms for your stay.