If you are looking for Alabama Road Trip Ideas near Fort Rucker we have a few ideas thanks to Nicole, International Spouse Liaison!
We took this fun Alabama road trip over Spring Break. We didn’t realize there were so many cool places so close to home. We have two girls aged 6 and 8 years and my husband and I love good coffee and good food, so this trip had a little bit for everyone.
Our first stop was Auburn. (2 hours drive) This town has such a great vibe. College was on spring break while we were there so it was pretty quiet – great for us, who just wandered around soaking up the history of the Auburn University campus. A friend recommended a restaurant Acre and it did not disappoint. I would describe it a modern Southern Cuisine. Loads of fresh ingredients from their garden and a fresh approach to classic Southern dishes. The chicken fried bacon was my highlight – although not something I’d like to eat everyday.
A stroll around town was in order after lunch with a stop at Toomer’s Drug Store for their famous fresh squeezed Lemonade – don’t miss it. The girls enjoyed an ice pop at Steel City Pops while Mum had a quick peak at some of the stores on College St.
A quick drive over to Opelika is a must to check out the shops and cafes down by the railroad. Wish we had more time to spend here.
My coffee recommendation for Auburn is Prevail Union It’s popular with the college crowd so can get crowded but the coffee is worth the wait.
We were surprised by the gorgeous Lake Martin (2.5 hours drive) and the many towns and villages surrounding it. It is definitely on our list of places to stay this summer. With over 750 miles of shoreline there are plenty of places to eat, stay and explore. Perfect if you have a boat or watercraft and only 2 hrs from Fort Rucker!
No Alabama road trip would be complete without a stop at the highest point in the state – Cheaha State Park (4 hours drive) This state park has a lot to offer, with campgrounds, cabins and a lodge and a restaurant with a stunning view. There are some hiking tracks for the adventurous and also some geocaches to find to keep the kids entertained.
Situated close to Cheaha State Park is the Talladega Superspeedway . (4 hours drive) Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day for a track tour but it was still cool to take a drive around the grounds and visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
The town of Anniston offered up the biggest surprise of our road trip. I had heard about the Anniston Museum of Natural History but did not have very high expectations. After all, what can this little town in Alabama offer that I had not already seen at the Smithsonian Museum in DC or the Natural History Museum in NYC? Plan to spend a couple of hours here and to be amazed at the size and diversity of the collection. The kids had a ball finding exotic animals they had not seen before and did not once whinge about being bored! There is also Berman Museum next door which features treasures and objects from around the world, collected by a local man on his travels. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit, but it is on our list for next time we are in the area.
After our detour to Chattanooga we set off to find Russell Cave National Monument This is a neat place to visit and is an archaeological site with one of the most complete records of prehistoric cultures in the Southeast. There is a small museum with artefacts dating back from 10,000 BC. Also being a National Parks Service site, they offer a Junior Ranger program and my girls got to add to their collection of Junior Ranger badges!
Lake Guntersville State Park was a pleasant surprise for many reasons. Boating and fishing seem to be the most popular activities here. There is a large campground and beautiful lodge situated high on the bluff with a spectacular view. We stumbled across an awesome coffee shop – Jomokas Coffee Co Inc in the nearby town of Guntersville. Chatting with the owner was a delight and I strongly recommend the sausage bites – but get in early as they sell out quickly. They offer a small range of food (muffins etc) all baked in house.
Perhaps my favourite area we explored on our road trip was the area in the north of the state and west of the I-65. The Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman worth a quick stop. Situated on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery, it is a lovely to stroll around the peaceful gardens. The town of Decatur has much to offer on the banks of the Tennessee River. Avenues of old homes, interesting shops and the Point Mallard Park are all worth the visit here.
For music buffs, I highly recommend the Muscle Shoals (5 hours drive) area. Definitely watch the documentary Muscle Shoals before going to fully understand the impact this quiet area of Alabama has had on world music. It is possible to tour the FAME music studio but the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is currently undergoing a renovation. The list of legendary 60’s and 70’s music that was recorded in these two studios will astound – Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd to name a few.
The nearby town of Florence is worth a stop. Stroll the main street for neat shops, including the flagship store of designer Billy Reid. Stop in at the Court Street Market for breakfast and be treated so some amazing coffee and delicious food.
Just down the road in Athens the UG White Mercantile store has been a local intuition for almost a century. Here you will find just about everything, from cookware to camping gear and flip flops to candy. I had to drag my kids out of there which is most unusual as they generally wail “no more shopping Mummy” as soon as they see a store.
We ventured to the other big University campus, the University of Alabama – “Roll Tide” – in Tuscaloosa. Wow, is the only way to describe this place. Maybe it was because the students were back from spring break but this place was really buzzing. Don’t forget to stop in gorgeous downtown Tuscaloosa too for some neat restaurants and shops.
Just outside Tuscaloosa, towards Birmingham, is the Mercedes Benz Factory. There is a museum here and with advance reservations it is possible to tour the factory on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Much to my husband’s dismay, children must be 10 years or older to take the tour so we missed out.
To end our road trip, our final stop was Birmingham. One of the perks of trip planning is fitting in activities that I love. So we didn’t do much in Birmingham other than shopping. The Summit shops is a must stop for the shopaholic, offering all my favourites – Pottery Barn, The North Face, J Crew, Ann Taylor, Saks Fifth Ave, Madewell, Anthropologie and sooooo many more. Restaurants are plentiful in this area so you can keep going all day!
What is your favorite road trip near Fort Rucker? Share your favorite, too!
Some expert tips from a seasoned spouse that is also half of our Fairy Godmothers Project team.
Typically for a military ball the dress is floor length. However, some choose to wear a shorter dress, and that is OK, but this is not a cocktail event, so keep the dress a respectable length. Do the finger check - if you extend your hand down by your side and you touch skin, it might be too revealing. Think of your military date in his formal uniform for a military ball as being like a civilian in a tux for a formal event for a military ball.
If you keep three levels in mind, you'll probably be safe - nothing too low, too high, or missing too much in the middle or back. Always remember that your date's boss and coworkers will be at the event.
Undergarments are a must! I know I shouldn't have to say this, but I am mentioning this because I can't "un-see" what I've seen over the years.
Formal gowns are rarely the same size as your street clothes. So pick the dress that fits you well and don't go by the number. You don't have to get you hair professionally done, but it's fun to pamper yourself once in a while!
Feel free to have fun with your gown's colors, but you'll have lots of pictures to remind you of your choices. A little animal print or bright color can go a long way. A simple black or navy can also be dressed up if you want. But don't be afraid of red, greens, yellows, and even prints and "sparkles". If you can work the color go for it!
There is no rule stating that you have to have a new dress every ball. The same people won't be there and your date wears his uniform every time! Rotate the ones you have, share with friends, shop the sales after prom season, and check out lending programs like FRCSC Fairy Godmother Project!
Military balls are a fun way we celebrate our military traditions. It's a memorable evening to honor the soldiers and their spouses who support them. Here at Fort Rucker, it's especially important that we celebrate the new aviators and thank their spouses for supporting them through the long training. So get dressed up and a have a fun evening out!
Your Fairy Godmother Tanya
Are you a new military spouse or new to Fort Rucker? Family Readiness Group leaders and members of the Fort Rucker Community Spouses' Club encourage you to take advantage of a great opportunity to learn more about your military life!
ACS (Army Community Services) conducts the Get REAL (Rucker Experience Army Learning). If you haven't had a chance to attend then please call ACS (255-1429) and sign up for the next date.
If you have attended and want to come again, that's great too!
They will be covering various Army topics such as Acronyms, Customs & Courtesies, Benefits & Entitlements, Expectations, Military Rank & Chain of Command, Resiliency, and Community Resources. It is a fun day of learning all about this Army life we enjoy and maybe make some new friends. It's never too late to learn!
Members enjoyed Get REAL last year:
"The community of spouses at fort rucker can be there for each other and learn from each other. Today some of our members taught classes at the Fort Rucker Army Community Service Get REAL program at Divots. Some of our members learned more about Army life. The best part? Everyone learns, everyone gains, everyone grows
Fort Rucker Community Spouses’ Club Announces Annual Membership Super Sign Up and Expo
The Fort Rucker Community Spouses’ Club (FRCSC) will hold their annual Membership Super Sign-Up and Exposition Thursday August 18th. Attendees can enjoy music, food, shopping, door prizes and more while meeting new friends from 10am to 2pm at The Landing, Fort Rucker.
Since 2001, the FRCSC has distributed more than $271,000 in scholarships to local students through fundraising events such as the annual Hollyday Bazaar. Each year the FRCSC members and volunteers donate thousands of volunteer hours to support its various programs to include its Scholarship Program.
Participants can shop with local and national vendors while meeting new and old friends. Membership information for monthly luncheons, fundraisers for scholarship outreach, and volunteer opportunities will be available. There will be free food, over 30 shopping vendors, games, and door prizes.
This event free and open to spouses of active duty and retired military personnel residing in the Wiregrass area and to civilian employees and spouses of civilian employees employed at Fort Rucker. Visit the Fort Rucker Community Spouses’ Club Facebook or website for additional information.
Media is invited to join the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club on the day of the event. Please contact Lisa Eichhorn 334-255-2590 with the Fort Rucker Public Affairs Office to schedule an escort onto post. Access will be coordinated at Daleville gate visitors center.
Incorporated in 1977, the Fort Rucker Community Spouses’ Club’s primary mission is to develop a spirit of community responsibility. Volunteers gladly give of their time and talents to serve both the military and civilian members of the Fort Rucker and Wiregrass communities. More information about membership and welfare programs are available at www.fortruckercsc.com or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/FortRuckerSpousesClub/.