Indian name meaning “Here We Rest”
Nickname: The Heart of Dixie
State bird: Yellowhammer (Flicker)
State flower: Camellia
Time: Central (GMT – 6)
Alabama offers mountains, lakes, caverns, woodland and beaches. Birmingham is its largest city and cultural centre. Attractions include the VisionLand theme park and McWane Center (a hands-on science adventure) and IMAX theatre; the Birmingham Museum of Art; and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF), founded in 1967 and dedicated to sporting legends such as Jesse Owens and Joe Louis. Montgomery was the first capital of the Confederacy, and the First White House of the Confederacy, home to Jefferson Davis, first President of the provisional government, is still open to the public.
Country music lovers from across the USA make pilgrimages to the Hank Williams Memorial in the Oakwood Cemetery Annex. Fans lay flowers next to the huge cowboy hat that lies on his gravestone.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the fifth-largest Shakespeare festival in the world, attracts around 170,000 visitors every year and is staged at the Carolyn Blount Theatre.
Alabama played a key role in the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr first preached at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, a National Historic Landmark, and sites commemorating the struggle can be found across the State. These include the statues in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park, Selma’s National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery. In Birmingham, visitors can go on the Black Heritage Tour of the city centre and visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) with its impressive display of African-American history. Tuskegee is just an hour’s drive from Montgomery.
A former slave, Booker T Washington, founded the Tuskegee Institute to improve educational opportunities for blacks. Today, visitors can take guided tours of the thriving university and a restored version of Washington’s home, which is a National Historic Site.
Mobile is a major seaport, home to the Mobile Museum of Art, Battleship Park and a lively Family Mardi Gras celebration (14 Feb-4 Mar 2003). The city is famed for its diverse architecture resulting from French, Spanish and English rule. For children, there is the Gulf Coast Exploreum, a science museum and the Phoenix Fire Museum, which includes antique fire engines.
Other Alabama tourist destinations include the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville; Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail; the Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport; and the resort towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.