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Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

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Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

We'll be traveling from the Smoky Mountains park towards New Orleans. Looks like the road is taking us right through Alabama and a bit of Mississipi too. I can allocate 2-3 days of our trip for this, but I have no idea where to go or what to do... This is part of a very long road trip, which had originally been intended for the West only, so I had no time to research these parts of the US, I'm afraid.

We are a family, with two kids aged 7 & 9. I really would be happy to just get a taste of the local culture, hear those accents and maybe see some nice scenery.

Reading through this forum, looks like there may be safety issues too, or is this just within Birmingham? Should we even plan on a stop there, or maybe one of the smaller towns on the way would be a better/more scenic/safer option? any recommendations?


Birmingham, Alabama
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1. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

One option would be to spend a day and overnight in Birmingham, then drop down I-65 and head toward Mobile and the Gulf Coast en route to New Orleans. It wouldn't add much time to your trip and would make for a more interesting route.

The safety concerns you hear about tend to center on downtown Birmingham, mostly after dark. During the day you will be absolutely fine; just use common sense as in any city. And the suburbs are extremely, extremely safe.

Some things that might be fun for your family in Birmingham:

- Civil Rights Institute

- McWane Science Center

- Birmingham Botanical Garden

- Railroad Park, a great green space downtown

- Vulcan Park

- Birmingham Museum of Art

- Catching a movie at the historic Alabama Theatre

- Strolling around the little area of Homewood (Homewood Park is also a fun place to burn off a little energy or have a picnic)

- Birmingham Barons baseball game

I'd consider staying in a southern suburb to give you a jump on heading south. Hoover is the largest and has a good variety of hotels. Try the new Embassy Suites on John Hawkins Parkway - the suite setup is perfect for families. Family-friendly restaurants abound in that area (my favorites: barbecue at Jim & Nick's, Italian at Cafe Lazio, Tex-Mex at Cantina, pizza at Tortugas).

Mobile would be worth a day as well. They have antebellum homes, a battleship and submarine you can tour, Fort Conde and the Museum of Mobile, and more. I'm not as familiar with the different neighborhoods, so the Mobile folks could give you advice on where to stay, etc.

The towns along the Gulf Coast are lovely and have some of the most beautiful beaches you'll ever see. It's hard to go wrong spending time in any of them, but I personally like Daphne and Fairhope in Alabama, and Gulfport and Ocean Springs in Mississippi.

Good luck and safe travels!

Gardendale, Alabama
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2. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

Totally agree with everything above. Birmingham is no less safe than New Orleans, you just need to keep your eyes open. The areas of Birmingham you don't want to be in after dark have nothing for you to do anyways.

I also agree with going south before heading to NO. There is not much of anything to do from Birmingham to NO via Mississippi.

Have fun and feel free to post more questions as your plans continue.

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3. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

If it were me, I would spend one night in Birmingham at the Embassy Suites in Homewood. I would visit the Civil Rights Museum and Vulcan then spend the evening dining and strolling around Homewood, just down the street from your hotel. I would then head down to the Mobile area and spend two nights at the beautiful and historic Grand Hotel (a Marriott resort) before heading to New Orleans. Here is a link for the Grand tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g30785-d113284-…

Have a wonderful trip!

Edited: 11:58 am, September 08, 2011
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4. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

Thank you everyone for your replies! Much appreciated! You provided me with some great pointers - I will research in more depth during the weekend - thank you!

Decatur, Alabama
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5. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

Go through Huntsville and take the kids to the Space and Rocket Center!

Birmingham, Alabama
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6. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

Trying to add options not already mentioned.

You may like to stop by Desoto State park, Desoto falls is great and Little River Canyon. This is near Fort Payne, Alabama. After being in the Smoky Mountains, maybe this won't appeal to you, but, if you like outdoors, i would recommend it.

I would also recommend Rickwood Cavern State Park, where they have a neat rustic tour of the caverns.

I disagree that downtown Birmingham is unsafe after dark. The places you would be: museums, parks, restaurants or bars, are as safe as any where else in the US. New Orleans' tourist areas are plenty dangerous, I went to college near there and know plenty of people who were mugged or robbed 1 block off of Bourbon Street, the main tourist destination.

I also agree that a better route would take you through Mobile - I-59 through Mississippi is dreadful, not even any rest areas.

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7. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

Welcome!! Birmingham is a sister city to Rosh Ha'ayin, Israel and has a vibrant and active Jewish community, with 3 synagogues, a JCC, and a Chabad House as well!!

If you are interested in seeing any of Jewish Birmingham, you should get in touch with the Birmingham Jewish Federation (www.bjf.org)!

In addition, Birmingham has a wonderful zoo that just completed a major expansion. Your kids would love it!

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8. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

If you decide on going through Montgomery and then to Mobile here's some joints to stop and rest for lunch on your way to LA.

The best seafood in Mobile, AL is at Wintzell's Oyster House. Get off I 10 at Exit 26 A and go W on Canal Steet. Go .4 mile and turn right on S Washington Avenue. Turn right and go .3 mile to Dauphine Street. Take a right and Wintzell's will be on your right. The best BBQ in the area is at Brick Pit. Get off I 10 at Exit 15B and go N on Highway 90 for 3 miles to Demetropolis Road. Take a left and continue on Demetropolis Road which becomes S University Boulevard. Go about 5 miles from the left you took on Demetropolis to Old Shell Road. Take a right and go to Brick Pit for outstanding BBQ. For fine po boy's and fresh seafood get off I 10 at Exit 15A and go N on Government Boulevard to Hall's Mill Road just past the shopping center on the right. Take a right and go to the Boiling Point.

Wintzell's Oyster House @ 605 Dauphin St., Mobile, AL 251 - 432 - 4605.


The Brick Pit @ 5456 Old Shell Rd., Mobile, AL 251 - 343 - 0001.


The Boiling Pot @ Suite G, 5300 Halls Mill Road, Mobile, AL 251 - 602 - 8405.


For fine southern comfort food get off I 10 at Exit 68 at Moss Point, MS and go N on Highway 613 to Tugus restaurant. Stay on Highway 90 going E from Ocean Springs, MS. Go to Market Street and take a right. Go to Ingall's Avenue and take a left. Go 3 or 4 blocks to Bozo's Grocery for fine po boy's.

For good BBQ and fun times get off I 10 at Exit 57 and go N on Highway 57 to The Shed for lunch or dinner. For fine country food for breakfast or lunch go E on Highway 90 to Ocean Springs, MS and turn right on Washington Avenue. Take your first left on Robinson Street and go to Bayview Gourmet. Fayard's has good BBQ. Ward's has good seafood and steaks. Phoenicia has good breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Tugus Restaurant @ 6909 Highway 613, Moss Point, MS 228 - 474 - 9910.

Bozo's Grocery @ 2012 Ingalls Ave., Pascagoula, MS 228 - 762 - 3322.

The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint @ 7501 Hwy. 57, Ocean Springs, MS. 228 - 875 - 9590.


Bayview Gourmet @ 1010 Robinson St., Ocean Springs, MS. 228 - 875 - 4252.

Fayard's BP @ 6905 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs, MS. 228 - 875 - 1020.

Kenny Ward's @ 1504 Government St., Ocean Springs, MS. 228 - 818 - 4505.

McElroy's on the Bayou @ 705 Bienville Blvd. 228 - 818 - 4600.

Phoenicia Gourmet Cuisine @ 123 Government St., Ocean Springs, MS. 228 - 875 - 0603.

Continue on Highway 90 to Highway 49 N in Gulfport, MS. Take a left and go one block to 13th Street and turn left to Half Shell Oyster House for fine fresh seafood for lunch or dinner. Or continue on Highway 90 to Cowan Road which is E of Highway 49 in Gulfport, MS between Gulfport, MS and Biloxi, MS. Go N on Cowan Road to W Pine Street. Turn left and go 3 blocks to Washington Street, Turn right and go to Blow Fly Inn where the local's dine on fresh seafood for lunch or dinner. Continue E on Highway 90 to Caillavet Street just E of I 110. Turn left and go N to Howard. Turn right and go one block to Old Biloxi Schooner for good po boy's. For fine fresh oysters and good seafood continue E on Howard to Fillin Station for lunch or dinner.

Half Shell Oyster House @ FL 1st, 2500 13th St., Gulfport, MS 228 - 867 - 7001.


Blow Fly Inn @ 1201 Washington Ave., Gulfport, MS 228 - 896 - 9812.


Ole Biloxi Schooner @ 871 Howard Ave., Biloxi, MS 228 - 435 - 8071.

Fillin Station @ 692 Howard Ave., Biloxi, MS 228 - 432 - 5565.


Continue on Highway 90 to Darwell's Cafe in Long Beach, MS for good lunch or dinner. Darwell's was featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives. Continue on Highway 90 to Shaggy's Harbor Bar and Grill across from the Pass Christian Yacht Club for good fresh seafood, cold drinks and nice music. Get off I 10 at Exit 2 at Bay St. Louis, MS and go E on Scenic Highway 90 to Trapani's for fine fresh seafood for lunch or dinner.

Darwells Cafe @ 127 East 1st St., Long Beach, MS. 228 - 868 - 8946.


Shaggy's Harbor Bar and Grill @ 120 S. Hiern Ave., Pass Harbor, Pass Christian, MS. 228 - 452 - 9939.


Trapani's @ 833 Highway 90 # 3, Bay St. Louis, MS 228 - 467 - 8570.

Edited: 11:12 am, September 22, 2011
9. Re: Going Through Alabama - Advice Appreciated

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