Arkansas and Alabama are two of the most naturally beautiful States in America, so it comes as no surprise that outdoor adventurers flock here from every corner of the globe.

With plenty of adventure on offer in the sky, on the water, and on land, you'll never be bored with a trip to one of the following southern destinations. This is a list of epic adventures in Alabama and Arkansas: the Gulf Shores, Mobile, Huntsville, and more.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

There are plenty of options for adventure in Alabama's Gulf Shores, and those who love spending time on the water are in for a treat. Adventure here ranges from dolphin cruises to chartered fishing trips, and there are boat rentals available for those excited about exploring the Gulf of Mexico and the back bays.

Prefer a land-based adventure? Try the Historic Fort Morgan or the zipline course at Gulf State Park. Gulf Shores is a resort community, so hotels here are very close to each of the above attractions.

Surfing in the Gulf of Mexico
Photo by The Pug Father

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile was selected by National Geographic as one of America's 100 best adventure towns, and the options here won't disappoint. This is a historic port city that serious fishers and shipwreck explorers will absolutely love. Kayakers and hikers revel in old Native American shell mounts, and many travel here to charter sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico for deep-sea fishing.

The best part about an adventure holiday in Mobile is the cheap lodging. Book at the Hampton Inn Mobile/Bellingrath Gardens for rooms starting at $100 per night.

Huntsville, Alabama

Hunstville is a fantastic destination for outdoor adventure, offering Alabama's very best trails for hiking, cycling, trail running, climbing, mountain biking, paddling, and more. Whether you're aiming for a quick excursion or a multi-day adventure, Huntsville has a lot to offer.

For the best climbing, head to Jamestown. For the best paddling, head to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Head to Monte Sano State Park for scenic trail running.

Huntsville is a picturesque place, so be sure to book a hotel with a good view.

Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

While known for its naturally hot springs, Hot Springs Village is a great opportunity to try ziplining in Arkansas, and many different packages are available, from the original canopy zip tour to a full moon zip and even a haunted forest tour.

The full moon tour is particularly adventurous. Once a month, travelers gather for the thrill of zipping through a dark forest! Arriving at dusk, you will harness up and get ready to soar through the night-time sky.

Ziplining in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Photo by edwardotis

Little Rock, Arkansas

For those looking for some extreme adventure, Little Rock has you covered. If you enjoy the sensation of free-falling, try skydiving, parachuting, hang gliding, or a range of other aerial sports. There is no better way to take in the breathtaking panoramic view of Arkansas than with a bird's-eye view.

A great place for hang gliding is at Mount Magazine. At 2.753 feet high, this is the state's tallest mountain. You can also hang glide at Mount Nebo or the Ouachita Mountains.

  Featured photo by Pat David

  This article was originally published on Mapping Megan on April 12th.

Published in United States

Think one Southern city is like all the others? Think again. As these six towns demonstrate, stereotypes and generalizations can’t possibly account for all the distinct, quirky, and amazing towns that blanket the American South!

Asheville, North Carolina has some seriously quirky, offbeat charm

1. Home of the Locavore Aesthetic: Asheville, NC

Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the town of Asheville, which has earned a reputation for itself as a hub of artsiness, outdoor adventure, and a strong local aesthetic. The city’s downtown is comprised almost exclusively of independent shops and eateries, and the town is filled with artists and musicians from all walks of life (which explains the city’s vibrant busking scene). The city is also a self-described “Foodtopia,” a rich food scene with a farm-fresh bent. And if spiritual exploration is your thing, you’ll be right at home in Asheville, which attracts many a mystical seeker. In short? If you want to expose yourself to unique sights, tastes, sounds, and people, get thee to Asheville.

2. Home of Eclectic Attractions: Birmingham, AL

An odd assortment of attractions has made Alabama’s largest city a popular destination for travelers of all backgrounds. The largest cast iron statue in the world—dubbed “Vulcan”—stands guard over the city, broadcasting to all who enter that Birmingham is just a little bit different. Whether you spend your time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the McWane Science Center (which features exhibits on topics ranging from dinosaurs to space exploration), the Splash Adventure Water Park, the Barber Motorsports Museum (home to more than 1,200 motorcycles), or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham offers something unique for every kind of traveler.

3. Home of Southern Outdoorsiness: Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s culture is distinct in that it combines refined, southern hospitality with rugged outdoorsiness. That’s thanks in no small part to the city’s location: The lively downtown sits near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of this prime location at popular outdoor destinations that range from the refined Anne Springs Close Greenway, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and Biltmore Estate to the more adventurous U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers rafting tours of the area’s Catawba River. Combined, Charlotte’s zest for life and welcoming attitude have earned it a reputation as one of the friendliest cities in the South.

Columbia, South Carolina has some seriously quirky and offbeat charm
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Akhenaton06

4. Home of Epic Festivals: Columbia, SC

Columbia’s tagline is “famously hot,” and it’s easy to see why. The weather is warm (the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in winter), the attractions are popular, and the college sports scene is hoppin’. The city serves as the capital of South Carolina and is home to the University of South Carolina, which makes for an interesting mix of college-town culture and commercial prowess. But what really sets the city apart is its exciting annual calendar of events, including January’s World Beer Festival, February’s Lake Carolina Oyster Roast, June’s Ribs & Renaissance extravaganza, July’s Lexington County Peach Festival, October’s South Carolina State Fair, and December’s Famously Hot New Year.

5. Home of Stately Art and History: Savannah, GA

Art and history collide in gorgeous Savannah, where the weather is fine, the architecture is Antebellum, and the trees are shrouded in Spanish moss. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while strolling the streets of Savannah’s pre-Civil War district, and you’re likely to feel out of place virtually anywhere in the city if you aren’t wearing your Sunday best. Class and elegance infuse every aspect of Savannah—including its most popular tourist activities, such as the Savannah Arts Festival, the Savannah Tour of Homes, and the Savannah Film Festival. But don’t let all the stateliness fool you; in Savannah, Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has some seriously quirky offbeat charm

6. Home of All Things Retro: Tulsa, OK

Tulsa has been a cult favorite since the heyday of Route 66, which passes right through the city. Today, the town draws tourists who are interested in both what the city used to be and all that it now has to offer. From its iconic oilman statue to its neon signposts, old-fashioned pump stations, and art deco buildings, Tulsa has retro funk on lock. The city is also home to a thriving festival scene—most notably, Tulsa hosts one of the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations each fall.

From giant statues, to exciting festivals, to dynamic arts, music, and food scenes, these cities provide a whole new take on the meaning of Southern charm.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 18th.

Published in United States

Summer is coming, and the beaches are calling. Whether it be on the east coast, the west coast, or the Gulf, get ready to feel the sand between your toes. These five destinations are family friendly but also offer plenty of activities that will appeal to adults of all ages--but especially those still young at heart. Get ready for a fun summer!

Gulf Shores, Alabama

When it comes to overlooked family destinations, Gulf Shores should be at the top of everyone's vacation list, with 32 miles of pristine white sands. It's the home of both the Gulf State Park and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, as well as more than half a dozen different golf courses--even a mini golf center for the kids. There's Waterville USA and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, not to mention a seemingly never-ending number of water-based activities in the warm Gulf waters. What are you waiting for? Get packing and come on!

Marina del Rey, California

The beachside Los Angeles suburb of Marina del Rey is small but beautiful. The area gets its name from the marina, which is actually the world's largest small boat marina in the world. Marina del Rey is home to over 5,000 boats and yachts, Burton Chace Park, Mother's Beach, and Fisherman's Village, which has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows over the years, including one of my favorites, Arrested Development. Other must-visit attractions include the famous Venice Beach and refreshing Yvonne B. Burke Park.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Known for its many miles of boating canals and iconic riverwalk promenade, Fort Lauderdale has long been a popular year-round destination. Besides all the obvious aquatic activities, there is a sprawling city to explore full of museums, parks, shopping districts, casinos, live music venues, delicious restaurants, and sports arenas. The area is also home to hotels of all budgets, including the immaculate Lago Mar Resort Hotel & Club for discerning travelers, as well as several more affordable chain options.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

For those looking for a romantic luxury getaway, look no further than Hilton Head Island. This upscale island paradise is full of beautiful beaches, meandering rivers and streams, relaxing parks, lavish resorts, 24 sprawling golf courses, and over 350 tennis courts. While these are all perfect for couples, those traveling with children might consider checking out Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. Located on an island within a river, this is arguably Hilton Head's most impressive resort.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Everyone in America knows the name Myrtle Beach, but the city is popular with international tourists as well. Beyond the 60 miles of soft beaches lies an exciting and fun-filled city to explore. For adventurous travelers, there are adrenaline-packed activities like NASCAR races at the Myrtle Beach Speedway, ziplining, and even skydiving. Water lovers will find that their days are full of parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, and scuba diving. Are arts and culture more your thing? Myrtle Beach is home to a wide array of museums, historical tours, live music venues, and, of course, the Duplin Winery.

Published in United States

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