Daily Archives: April 1, 2014

Birmingham, Alabama at a Glance: Civil Rights History

This Southern destination is full of Civil Rights history and home to a variety of museums and gardens, not to mention the biggest cast iron statue on Earth.

Give your group a taste of Southern-style attractions and rich history. Also, keep an eye out for big festivals and concerts taking place in Railroad Park, also known as “Birmingham’s Living Room.”

Activities

  • Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world and won grand prize in the 1904 World’s Fair. Your group will enjoy the museum at Vulcan has interactive exhibits and displays that portray the region’s history and progress.
  • Groups can visit the Civil Rights district, home to the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
  • Located minutes from downtown, Birmingham Zoo is a must-see attraction where your group can see and learn about nearly 1,000 animals.
  • At Birmingham Botanical Gardens, you can see 67 acres worth of gardens, including Southern Living Gardens and a Japanese Garden. The gardens also include a French restaurant.
  • The Birmingham Museum of Art is the largest municipal art museum in the Southeast, featuring more than 18,000 works of art including American, European, Asian and African.

Dining

  • If you’re landing at Birmingham International Airport, head over to Jim ‘N Nick’s for some authentic southern barbecue.
  • Satterfield’s is a popular restaurant that offers global menu choices with an elegant Southern twist.

Accommodations

  • Your group can choose from more than 15,000 hotel and motel rooms in Birmingham. At Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, your group can enjoy the third longest golf course in the world or relax at a European-style spa.

Fairbanks, Alaska at a Glance: “The Golden Heart City”

Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska and a hotspot for cruise ship travelers. From exciting excursions to calm museums, there’s something for everyone in Fairbanks.

Since 1902, Fairbanks has been a gold rush destination. Today, you can try your luck in finding gold, or simply enjoy all that Fairbanks has to offer year-round. Keep an eye out for special events such as ice-carving contests and the World Eskimo Olympics.

Activities

  • To explore the land, try dog mushing, fishing excursions or ballooning. Fairbanks also offers an Alaska Northern Lights Tour.
  • A popular group activity is a Riverboat Discovery Tour, where your group sets out on a scenic river trip that includes a simulation of a native Indian village, giving you a feel for Alaskan culture.
  • The El Dorado Gold Mine lets you pan for gold and enjoy a train ride with commentary on local gold mining.
  • The Museum of the North at the University of Alaska is a natural history museum filled with artifacts and exhibits about Alaska from up to 2,000 years ago. While you’re visiting, be sure to see Blue Babe, a 36,000-year-old mummified steppe bison.

Dining

  • Alaska Salmon Bake offers bus service to groups staying at any of the major hotels in Fairbanks. At this all-you-can-eat venue, watch chefs prepare salmon, halibut and cod right before your eyes.
  • The Pump House Restaurant and Saloon, established in 1933 and registered as a National Historic Site, serves a variety of seafood, with a beef entrée available for those who may want something different.

Accommodations

  • Fairbanks offers a wide variety of accommodations, including bed and breakfasts, cabins, hotels, motels, lodges, campgrounds, RV parks, vacation rentals and even hostels.

Huntsville, Alabama at a Glance: The Rocket City

Go big in Huntsville and see one of the world’s largest space museums, the biggest seasonal butterfly house in the nation and the world’s most giant stalagmite column.

Nicknamed “The Rocket City,” Huntsville is known for being an important player in developing space technology since the 1950s. Tourist attractions reflect the heritage of Alabama’s first English-speaking city, the history of the American Civil War and the accomplishments of America’s rocket scientists.

Activities

  • A must-see in Huntsville is the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, one of the world’s largest space museums. It showcases rockets, achievements and artifacts of the U.S. space program
  • Another important stop in Huntsville for any group tour is Burritt on the Mountain, the city’s first museum where groups can see the mountaintop mansion, a historic park of restored 19th-century houses and a barnyard complete with demonstrators and animals.
  • Huntsville Botanical Garden is the perfect location for a tour group with green thumbs. The 110-acre site includes woodland paths and collections of annual, perennial and aquatic flowers. The Garden’s Butterfly House is the largest seasonal butterfly house in the United States and accommodates 50 species of native butterflies.
  • Just west of Huntsville is Cathedral Caverns State Park, where groups follow a guide through the cavern and see Big Rock Canyon, the Frozen Waterfall and Goliath, which is believed to be the world’s largest stalagmite column stretching to the cave’s 45-foot ceiling.

Dining

  • Blackjack’s and Things BBQ is a rustic, cowboy-like restaurant that specializes in ribs, pork sandwiches and smoked chicken.
  • While there are a lot of BBQ and American-style restaurants, Shinsegae Oriental Restaurant serves Asian dishes including mulmando, posot bulgogi, jae yuk gai, chicken teriyaki.

Accommodations

  • Whether you’re looking for a hotel/motel, RV Camping or a cozy and quiet bed & breakfast, the area offers nearly 6,200 rooms to choose from. You can have a view of the Saturn V rocket or be close to the hottest dining and shopping.

Anchorage, Alaska at a Glance: The Biggest City in Alaska

No matter what time of the year you visit, a trip to Anchorage will not only take your breath away with its natural beauty, but will give your travelers a wide variety of activities and attractions.

In Anchorage, learn about Alaska’s native culture, tour the city and simply take in the views all around you. Six of Alaska’s mountain ranges are visible from downtown Anchorage; there’s no other city with a view like this!

Activities

  • Your group can tour the vast landscape in any style they wish, including horseback, dogsled, four-wheeler or snowmobile.
  • You won’t want to miss seeing the northern lights dance over the horizon during the winter. In the summer, your group can go on a tour to see the glaciers. For a complete overhead view of the city, take a tour on the Alyeska Aerial Tram.
  • If your travelers want to stay indoors, you must see the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Imaginarium Science Discovery Center, both very group friendly.
  • Less strenuous outdoor activities include the Alaska Botanical Garden and salmon fishing at Ship Creek. At the Alaska Zoo, where you can see the widest variety of animals native to Alaska. Your group may also be interested in relaxing at one of the many city parks.

Dining

  • Alaska is well known for its abundance of fresh seafood, so if your group includes seafood lovers, they should be quite pleased at the menu selections. The Glacier Brewhouse is a perfect spot for your group to enjoy not only seafood, but also rotisserie roasted meats, pizza and pasta.
  • Platinum Jaxx, located downtown, it is a sports bar and grill and a night club all rolled into one. This is the place to let loose and enjoy a good meal.

Accommodations

  • In Anchorage, your group can stay in a hotel, motel, resort or lodge. If you want a warm and cozy lodging experience, stay in one of the many bed and breakfasts, cabins or vacation homes. Adventurous travelers can stay at a campground, where you can be one with nature.

Mobile, Alabama at a Glance: A Historical Adventure by the Bay

In Mobile, your group members have the option of enjoying their the day on the water or on land in this historical area.

One of the major perks of visiting Mobile is its adjacency to the Mobile Bay, where your group can not only enjoy the beautiful view of the water but also partake in riverboat tours and water activities. Mobile also offers museums, arts and a lot of Civil War history.

Activities

  • An airboat ride on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is a popular and exciting way for tour groups to learn about the natural resources of the land while spotting alligators, birds and other creatures in their natural habitat. For a more elegant experience on the water, groups can take a ride on a Southern Belle River Cruise.
  • Historic Blakeley State Park, the site of the last major land battle in the Civil War, offers group tours to visitors and group functions in the park’s nature center. Fort Gaines Historic Site and the Fort Conde Museum also allow your group to discover more Civil War history. At Battleship Park, you will see battleships, submarines, airplanes and a rose garden.
  • For some culture and beautiful sight-seeing, visit the Mobile Museum of Art, and then take a free tour of the Mobile Botanical Gardens that covers more than 100 acres. If these activities render your travelers culturally inspired, reserve a painting class at Paint Party Studios.
  • The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and IMAX Theater will interest the science buffs in your group as they check out the International Space Station, Hands on Hall and Diversity of Life exhibits.

Dining

  • A pleasant spot for group dining is the Spot of Tea. You have your choice of indoor or outdoor seating at this brunch restaurant, with service from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day of the week.
  • For dinner, try Wintzell’s Oyster House, where groups are welcome to sample a huge selection of regional seafood, steak, chicken and other delicious dishes for everyone’s taste buds.

Accommodations

  • There is a wide variety of lodging in Mobile ranging from hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and vacation homes.

Montgomery, Alabama at a Glance: Where Dr. King and Rosa Parks Began Their Civil Rights Efforts

Montgomery is known for its historical role in the Civil Rights Movement, but your group can do it all in this city from historical tours to Shakespeare shows.

Alabama’s capital is home to historical and government buildings, museums, riverboat tours and exciting downtown bars and clubs. Whether your group members want to relax and look up at the planetarium stars or go ice skating at the mall, Montgomery offers activities for everyone.

Activities

  • Montgomery is the place where Rosa Parks became the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum is a great way for group participants to learn more about her work as an activist.
  • Group tours of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and Parsonage are also available for those interested in seeing where Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. began his campaign for Civil Rights.
  • The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is a world-class theater where your group can sit back, relax and watch classics and contemporary performances.
  • To get a taste of travel in the early 20th century, visit the Historic Union Station and Montgomery Visitor Center on the Alabama riverfront. Housed in a well-preserved 1898 train station, this is a place where your group can view exhibits and stop in the gift shop.
  • The Hank Williams Museum contains most of Williams’ personal belongings and will delight country music fans.
  • At the Montgomery Zoo, your group can not only see more than 500 animals, but also feed a giraffe or take a ride in a paddleboat, skylift or train.

Dining

  • Just minutes from the state capitol building and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church is Baumhower’s Restaurant, which serves Southern favorites including wings and steaks.
  • Piccadilly Cafeteria is well suited to group dining, and you will be able to select from a wide array of dishes to satisfy everyone’s cravings.

Accommodations

  • Montgomery offers hotels, bed and breakfasts and RV/camping sites. The metro area offers more than 7,000 hotel rooms.