Part of the Travel Local, COVID getaway, series– this post is meant for locals in Alabama that are getting stir crazy and will travel regardless of guidance from our government. The suggestions below are to keep the spread of the virus in a place that has the resources necessary should an outbreak occur. The outdoor recommendation(s) is a place not far from the city stop. To contain the virus please fill up your gas tanks before leaving your town and bring snacks and other essentials. Outdoor recommendations are typically in areas with limited resources.
City stop: Birmingham
As a city in Alabama you will find the Southern culture you should expect… as well as added influences from around the World. There is a rich history of immigrants here, including but not limited to: Greek, Lebanese, Italians and Hispanic… In fact, it’s the perfect local getaway to satiate an international trip. If you live in AL. this would be a perfect place to do a ‘safe’ Food Tour Around the World!
Although, I’m a sucker for southern food. Anyone visiting in the morning would be amiss if they didn’t start their day at The Alabama Biscuit Co. Currently they are only offering curbside pickup. In fact, even if you decide to spend your day hiking- I’d encourage you to stock up on carbs before you head out. There won’t be any issues parking- this place is just south of downtown.
Outdoors: Northern Alabama
If you want to get outdoors but stay nearby, I recommend Oak Mountain state Park- although it might be crowded being in such close proximity to Birmingham. Try going on a weekday. This park has plenty of trails- 30 miles of MTB trails alone.
If you want to chase waterfalls, check out DeSoto State Park up north. This park is closer to Chattanooga, TN.(1 hour). This park has a 104 ft waterfall! Be mindful of the season- many of the waterfalls are dried up in the summer months- depending on the rainfall. The park is stunning in the fall. DeSoto State Park is closest to Chattanooga- only 1 hour; and is about 2 hours from Birmingham and Atlanta.
Finally, if you want to get out of the heat, and away from the sun- there is a cave. PLEASE bring at least 3 light sources, extra batteries and PLENTY of water. If you have not been in caves… err on the side of caution and do some research, it’s not as simple as a mountain hike. This beautiful cave is not far from DeSoto- 1 hour west, it’s called Stephens Gap Callahan Preserve. You need a permit to enter- same day permits were easy to get before COVID, but you might want to secure one in advance. For more information click here.
Keep Nature Wild
Please leave the places you visit better than you found them. Pack out whatever you bring in- this includes compostable (and non- DUH!) dog waste bags. It also includes fruit/vegetable or other food scraps- if it’s not growing wildly there, it doesn’t belong; an INVASIVE SPECIES. Leaving seemingly harmless and compostable waste is SEVERELY HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECOSYSTEM. This includes bringing firewood from out of town to local campsites. Wood carries insects and disease- a rule of thumb is to buy firewood within 10 miles of where it’ll be burned. And of course- check the daily fire danger rating to prevent a wildfire.
For those of you visiting from a city in a bordering state- Alabama is known for their white BBQ sauce; make sure to grab some while you’re in town.
Alabama State Parks just made it possible to book campsites online, too! As of THIS MONTH you can reserve a spot in advance- here.