While we tend not to search out all the commercial attractions when we’re traveling- I have to admit, sometimes we really enjoy going with the flow and following the masses en route to the local tourist traps. But more likely, you’ll find us at totally out-of-the-way quirky roadside attractions in Alabama that are off the beaten path.
Cherokee Rock Village
Not only the very first outing we went on with friends in Alabama, but also one of our favorite outings, Cherokee Rock Village is certainly off the beaten path. Known as a great place to rappel, among the huge house-size boulders are many nooks, crannies, and caves to explore. Unfortunately, vandals have spray-painted some of the amazing formations, leaving their own unpleasant marks. The irresponsible behavior also extended to the on-site porta-pots which we found tipped over and rather disgusting. My advice? Stop at a service station just before your arrival for a potty break and take plenty of water so you don’t have to cut your trip short. Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera!
Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery
After visiting the well-known cottage, Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, we drove about a half hour through the Alabama countryside to the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery, the only cemetery of its kind in the world. While visiting, we enjoyed reading both the comical and heartfelt epitaphs on the graves of the once beloved hunting companions. Free, and not to miss if you like that sort of thing…and if you like movies, you may notice that the cemetery was referred to in the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reece Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughy. You can read more about it here.
Ave Maria Grotto
Finally, though not free, Ave Maria Grotto is one of those unique not-to-be-missed attractions that is well known in these parts. You can read all about our trip to Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama, the St. Bernard Monastery, where we learned about the inspiring art of Brother Joseph.
Brother Joseph was a monk that spent much of his life at the monastery recycling trash into treasured miniatures of well-known buildings throughout the world with a touch of whimsy every now and then. And if you’re passing through with your RV, you’ll find plenty of space to park your rig. So pull over, stretch your legs, take a tour and enjoy a picnic followed by a leisurely walk along the grounds of the monastery.
Have you been to any of these attractions?
Sunday 3rd of April 2016
i have been to both the Coon Dog Cemetery and Ava Maria Grotto. i do live in Alabama and there is much to explore in our beautiful state. When New Jersey friends visited us, we of course took them to Ava Maria Grotto! They loved it! not quite like Broadway shows in NYC, touring Princeton in NJ, or seeing the liberty Bell in PA (all attractions they took us to when we visited them, but still fun. We also took them to the Irondale Cafe, which was the cafe featured and written about in the Fried Green Tomatoes movie and book, It was called the Whistlestop Cafe in the movie and book. Also, Dreamland Barbecue, which is known for the best ribs anywhere. Thanks for featuring our beautiful state!
Sunday 3rd of April 2016
I wish I'd known about the cafe when I lived in Alabama. I certainly won't argue with your recommendation of Dreamland Barbeque! That is some delicious food. I loved touring NYC & Princeton (I've not been to Philadelphia yet) but Northern Alabama holds a special place in my heart. I need to plan a trip back to visit and maybe then I'll make that stop at Irondale Cafe, but not before I watch Fried Green Tomatoes again. :) Thanks for the suggestion.