What’s New in Alabama -- Year of Music, Civil War Plays and a National Maritime Museum Among New Tourism Venues for 2011

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The Year of Music campaign, two Civil War plays at the Shakespeare Festival and GulfQuest, a National Maritime Museum, are among the list of new tourism venues in Alabama for 2011.

Year of Alabama Music Logo

The Flag Maker of Market Street

The Year of Music campaign, two Civil War plays at the Shakespeare Festival and GulfQuest, a National Maritime Museum, are among the list of new tourism venues in Alabama for 2011.

The state tourism department has compiled the following list of new tourism-related events, attractions, restaurants, hotels, shopping and entertainment. More than 50 venues that have opened, been updated or are under development as of May 2010 are included in the list.

Events:
The Year of Alabama Music — statewide
From the Muscle Shoals studios, to the Hank Williams Trail, to beach music, visitors can experience the history, hear the sounds and uncover the untold stories behind dozens of world-wide number-one hits as Alabama celebrates the “Year of Music” in 2011. Hear live music at more than 200 festivals from fiddlers on front porches to Mardi Gras bands parading through Mobile throughout the Year of Music. It’s also a good time to visit the state’s 10 music-themed attractions. http://www.yearofalabamamusic.com

Becoming Alabama: Commemorates Eras of Creek Indian War, Civil War & Civil Rights
In 2011, Alabama will begin a five-year period of commemorations for three significant events in American history – the Creek War (1813-1814), the Civil War and Emancipation (1861-1865), and the Civil Rights Movement (1950s-1960s). Visitors can enjoy historic attractions and museums that explore these unique periods in our state and nation’s history.

Russell Cave National Monument 50th Anniversary — Bridgeport
One of the earliest known habitations of Native Americans and Alabama’s only National Monument Russell Cave near Bridgeport will host a special 50thanniversary celebration on May 11, 2011. The event will include storytelling, dancing, demonstrations of early living, pottery making, Cherokee encampment, flute music, archery, flint napping and woodcarving. 256.495.2672, 256.259.5500, http://www.nps.gov/ruca

W.C. Handy Music Festival Named 100 Best Events for 2011 — Florence
The American Bus Association named the W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence one of North America’s 100 Best Events for 2011. The festival will be held July 22-30. ABA chose the W.C. Handy Music Festival from among a record number of more than 650 event nominations. The Top 100 Events list is available online at http://www.buses.org/top100 and is published in the September/October issue of Destinations magazine. For more information on the W.C. Handy Music Festival, visit http://www.wchandymusicfestival.org.

Narnia Exhibit at U.S. Space & Rocket Center — Huntsville
Narnia, the Exhibition will open at the U.S. Space & Rocket center Oct. 9, 2010-Jan. 5, 2011. The 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art entertainment and educational experience offers visitors the opportunity to tour scenes from the fantastical literary world of Narnia. Through authentic costumes, props and set dressings from Disney’s magical films, visitors will enter a world that combines the wonders of science with elements of fantasy.

CSI Exhibit at U.S. Space & Rocket Center — Huntsville
The exhibit, CSI: The Experience, immerses guests in hands-on science while leading them through the challenge of solving a crime mystery. Jan. 21, 2011- May 1, 2011.

Museum of Mobile September 11 Exhibit — Mobile
The Museum of Mobile opened in its present location 10 days after the horrific devastation of September 11, 2001. In quiet celebration the museum will remember those dark days beginning September 2011 with an exhibit organized by the NY State Museum, the exhibition – “September 11, 2001” -- features rare artifacts from the World Trade Center recovered after the collapse, and a timeline that traces events of the day. It includes personal stories and objects, images, interactive programs and films about everyday life at the World Trade Center and the aftermath of the attack.

Museum of Mobile Exhibit: The Working White House — Mobile
The exhibit explores the occupational culture—the stories, traditions, memories, and skills—of the men and women who have operated, maintained, and helped preserve the Executive Mansion. Developed and supported by The White House Historical Association with assistance from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The exhibit is on display September 17-November 27, 2011 and was organized for travel by the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service.

Two Civil War Plays at Alabama Shakespeare Festival - Montgomery
Just in time for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Alabama Tourism Department and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival have joined forces to produce two new plays inspired by real Montgomerians of the 1860s. “Blood Divided” is the story of passionate secessionist William Lowndes Yancey. “The Flag Maker of Market Street” centers on the creation of the first Confederate flag by a slave whose owner holds secret Pro-Union meetings. The plays will be showcased in February-March 2011.

80th Anniversary of the Scottsboro Boys Trial – Scottsboro
Special programs will take place in March 2011 at the new Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center to commemorate the famous civil rights trial. The trial is noted by many Law Schools as one of the greatest in World History. 256.609.4202.

Helen Keller “Miracle Worker” play celebrates 50 Years — Tuscumbia
Playwright William Gibson's epic drama, "The Miracle Worker" is performed on the grounds of Ivy Green in Tuscumbia. In 2011 the play will celebrate 50 years of outdoor performances at the birthplace of “America's First Lady of Courage.” The dates for 2011 are June 4-July10. The play carries the audience into the daily disappointments and then the miraculous breakthrough of the young Helen Keller at the guidance of her teacher Anne Sullivan. The show is produced by the Helen Keller Foundation, Inc, a non-profit organization.

Attractions:
Civil Rights Heritage Trail — Anniston
Anniston has completed a two-year effort on a Civil Rights Heritage Trail to commemorate the civil rights movement in the area. Events are planned for May 2011, 50 years after the historic 1961 Freedom Ride. The Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library will host an exhibit of photographs of the attack and the burning of the “Freedom Riders” bus. The city will host a screening of the documentary “Freedom Riders” in May. Stops along the trail include the former Greyhound Bus Station on Gurnee Avenue, two former bus station buildings and the site of the bus burning on Old Birmingham Highway. Anniston Star - Anniston to commemorate the Freedom Riders.

Railroad Park — Birmingham
Birmingham’s long-awaited Railroad Park, a green oasis in the middle of the city, is now open.
Railroad Park is a 19 acre green space in downtown Birmingham that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of our great city. Situated along 1st Avenue South, between 14th and 18th Streets, the park is a joint effort between the City of Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation. Hailed as "Birmingham's Living Room," Railroad Park provides a historically rich venue for local recreation, family activities, concerts, and cultural events, while connecting Birmingham's downtown area with Southside and UAB's campus. http://www.railroadpark.org.

New Country Music mural and audio tour — Dothan
The 21st mural entitled “Country Music” has been dedicated in the historic section of Downtown Dothan. This mural is the second of the Wiregrass Music Murals. The final music mural will be finished May 1st. You can now download an audio tour of the city’s murals from the Dothan Convention and Visitors Bureau, thus enhancing the mural experience.

“Little Zoo That Could” moving to larger facility in 2011— Gulf Shores
The Little Zoo That Could” is expected to in new, larger area by early 2011, but the site will retain the small-park charm that made it the star of a 2006 Animal Planet television series. The zoo will have a hurricane-resistant building. All 270 of its animals had to be evacuated to the zoo director’s home twice; once in 2004 and again in 2005 because of hurricanes Ivan and Katrina.

The Huntsville Museum of Art — Huntsville
The museum is opening a 21,000 sq. ft. new wing November 21, 2010 allowing the museum to showcase almost double the amount of exhibitions for 2011. Visitors can see new exhibits from all over the U.S. as well as an expanded collection.

GulfQuest — Mobile
The National Maritime Museum, GulfQuest is projected to open in mid-2011. It will be the first museum dedicated to presenting the maritime heritage and culture of the Gulf Coast, and only the third maritime museum in the U.S. to primarily feature hands-on, interactive exhibits rather than maritime artifacts and memorabilia. GulfQuest’s interactive exhibits will address topics such as early Gulf settlements, marine archeology, deep sea exploration, modern shipbuilding, maritime commerce and industry, navigation techniques, weather and hurricanes, the river systems and coastal stewardship. 251.436.8901, http://www.gulfquest.org.

Carnival Cruise Lines – Mobile
On May 15, 2010, the ELATION replaced the FANTASY as Carnival’s Cruise Ship that sails from the port of Mobile. It holds over 2,000 passengers and in addition to the regular 4 and 5 day cruises to the western Caribbean, offers a limited number of seven day cruises throughout the year. These seven day cruises include stops in Jamaica in addition to the western Caribbean Mexico port of calls. The Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal is located at 201 S. Water Street in downtown Mobile. http://www.mobilebay.org, 1.800.5.MOBILE

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove – Mobile
The Crossings course at Magnolia Grove in Mobile re-opened after undergoing a 6-million dollar face lift. This course hosted the LPGA Bell Micro Classic in spring 2010. In November 2009, RTJGT began renovations on the Falls, the other 18 hole course at Magnolia Grove, to be completed in late fall of 2010.

Joe Wheeler Home — Pond Spring
In time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the home in which General Joe Wheeler raised his family will re-open to the public in late 2011. The historic home was built after the Civil War and is undergoing restoration. The state owns the site and closed the home four years ago after it showed significant deterioration.

Unclaimed Baggage Center — Scottsboro
Unclaimed Baggage Center began out of a small 2 bedroom house in 1970 and is now a nationally known tourist destination celebrating its 40th anniversary. The store has recently undergone a major remodel and now includes expanded departments. It also includes a new, improved museum with fun and interesting facts about the business, and the history behind this once part-time venture.

Moundville Archaeological Park undergoes $5 million expansion — Tuscaloosa
A site that was once the largest city in North America with more than 1,000 Native Americans now has an updated and exciting museum. The Moundville Archaeological Park first opened in 1939 A National Historic Landmark; Moundville is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

ACCOMODATIONS:
Microtel Inn & Suites — Auburn
Conveniently located off I-85 at Exit 58, the Microtel Inn & Suites is adjacent to Tiger Town retail shops which feature dining and shopping experiences. 1651 Parker Way, 334.745.0415

Studio 6 Hotel — Auburn
Auburn’s newest extended stay facility features affordable and comfortable rooms with fully equipped kitchens, expanded work areas, expanded cable and guest laundry. 2100 Gateway Drive, 334.737.6040

Comfort Suites Hotel — Dothan
The hotel opened July 2010. It is located at 1650 Westgate Parkway. 334.792.9000, http://www.comfortsuites.com.

Renaissance Ross Bridge Spa Boutique — Hoover
A new spa boutique and reservations center is opening at Ross Bridge adjacent to the lobby. The new shop will sell spa robes, swimsuits, intimate apparel, skin products, gift items and other accessories. A reservationist will make same day and advance appointments for the Spa at Ross Bridge. The Spa at Ross Bridge is part of the Spa Trail on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Springhill Suites — Huntsville
The 153 room hotel located in downtown Huntsville is scheduled to open in February 2011. The hotel is part of the Marriott brand and will be near the Von Braun Civic Center.

Marriott Grand Hotel Renovation — Point Clear
The resort’s 405 guest rooms are being renovated with a January 2011 completion date. The new décor features several shades of light blues and greens with a strong coastal feel. While rooms were updated after Hurricane Katrina, the new look has already been getting rave reviews from Grand Hotel guests. Travel + Leisure magazine recently named the Grand Hotel as one of the top resorts in North America and Conde Nast Traveler recognized it as one of the country’s premier golf resorts in 2010.

Hilton Garden Inn — Trussville
The Hilton Garden Inn opened in Trussville in September 2010. The hotel has 104 rooms, 26 suites, a full-service 3,500 square foot restaurant, and 4,500 square ft. of meeting space with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment. The Hilton Garden Inn is located off I-459. 205.655.5222.

ENTERTAINMENT:
Carriage Rides — Birmingham
Visitors to Birmingham can now tour the historic downtown area in an elegant horse-drawn carriage. Classic Carriage Company has expanded operations from Miami to downtown Birmingham with carriages available for tours, special events, weddings and taxi service to and from restaurants and hotels. 205.377.2530

Entertainment Pavilion at Ingalls Harbor — Decatur
A new 25,000-square-foot entertainment pavilion at Ingalls Harbor is under construction with a completion date set for May 2011. With the new world-class entertainment facility Ingalls Harbor will host an array of events that not only meets local needs but will also attract events on a regional and national scale.

Swamper’s Bar & Grill to Debut at Marriott Shoals — Florence
In Muscle Shoals, they have the Swampers and they are known to serve a meal or two. The alternate lyrics to “Sweet Home Alabama” pays tribute to the music legacy of the Muscle Shoals area and the new bar and grill concept for the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa. Swamper’s Bar & Grill combines the previous bar and restaurant space, a new addition and patio enclosures at the hotel.

Battle House Hotel Offers New Entertainment — Mobile
The Battle House Hotel has been a fixture in Mobile entertainment since first opening in 1852. That tradition continues with a series of new entertainment. Big Band dances are being held each month at the Battle House. The Big Band sounds follow an elegant dinner and feature both professional and recreational dancers. In addition to the Big Bands, some of today’s hottest comics appear monthly in the Joe Cain Café at the Battle House. The “Bonkerz” comedy series features both well known comedians such as Killer Beaz and Grandma Lee.

All Aboard at Renaissance Riverview’s New Outdoor Bar — Mobile
Fathom’s Streetside Bar at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza is a new outdoor covered bar featuring outdoor seating, fire pits and great views of the Mobile Bay and the Convention Center. The Bar opened in October and provides a fun alternative to the Royal Street bar scene. The bar’s theme is consistent with the nautical styling of the hotel. Most of the hotel’s 374 luxurious rooms have stunning views of either Mobile Bay or the city’s historic downtown.

Broadway Shows at Renaissance Montgomery — Montgomery
World-class Broadway shows are coming to the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre. The touring Broadway productions of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Grease” will be coming to Montgomery along with the Manheim Steamroller and Blue Man Group. NBC’s Last Comic Standing will be at MPAC in February, 2011 and will be followed by a repeat performance from The Fab Four. The Montgomery Performing Arts Centre is located at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. For details, visit http://www.mpaconline.org.

Pedi Cab Rides — Montgomery
Experience downtown Montgomery’s newest form of transportation, Pedi Cab rides. The bicycle powered rides are available for downtown transportation, weddings and private events. Contact pedicabco@gmail.com for more details on the newest form of downtown transportation.

Capitol City Carriage Service — Montgomery
What better way to see scenic downtown Montgomery than from a horse-drawn carriage? Our drivers are professional and knowledgeable and can provide you with historical facts and wonderful stories of our city, or let you have that quiet, romantic ride with that special someone. Sit back, relax and experience Montgomery’s history and attractions aboard one of our stylish coaches. http://www.capitolcitycarriage.com

New Amphitheatre — Tuscaloosa
The Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre is under construction in the downtown area on the banks of the Black Warrior River The 7,200-seat state-of- the- art amphitheater is blocks from the lively downtown district and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2011. The first act is tentatively scheduled for the end of March/beginning of April.

RESTAURANTS:
Maestro 2300 — Auburn
Maestro 2300 is an authentic Mediterranean-style restaurant named for the essence of the restaurant and the aspirations of Maestro’s creator. The restaurant has a full-service European old world style lounge and bar suitable for celebration, dinner and live music business. Maestro’s menu focuses on traditional Mediterranean dishes using classic preparation and the freshest ingredients. 2300 Moores Mill, 334.821.4448, http://www.maestro2300.com.

Piccolo — Auburn    
Piccolo is Auburn’s newest gathering place. The menu features small bites with a large variety of appetizers and desserts. Piccolo also features live jazz music Friday and Saturday nights from 8-11 p.m. 241 S College Street, 334.844.5140

Irish Bred Pub — Auburn
The only Irish Pub in Auburn is suitable for groups, take out and catering. Outdoor seating is available and a good place to watch football games. Live music or a DJ most nights. 833 Railroad Avenue, Opelika, 334.363.2235.

Good People Brewery — Birmingham
A young craft-beer brewery has moved its headquarters into a warehouse near the new Railroad Park. Good People Brewing Company produces several varieties of beer, which is available in kegs at local restaurants and from some local merchants. The company plans to begin offering its beer in cans later this year. http://www.goodpeoplebrewing.com.

The Rattlesnake Saloon — Colbert County
Once a Native American Bluff now sits the Rattlesnake Saloon built in the shadows of a cave just past the Seven Springs Lodge in Colbert County. The saloon is built of rustic materials and is housed within the wide expanse of a natural overhanging bluff. Sheltered by the ledge, which is covered with woodsy ferns and foliage, the outdoor stage provides a venue for performances by some of the Muscle Shoals area’s most popular musicians. Country music or classic Southern Rock, your pick is your pleasure at The Rattlesnake Saloon. A “Saloon Taxi” will deliver you from the parking area, down a hill and to the cavernous. Open Thursday-Sunday11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 800. 344.0783 or 256.383.0783, http://www.ColbertCountytourism.org. Seven Springs Lodge and the Rattlesnake Saloon - 256.370.7218.

Polka Dots Café — Greenville
The new restaurant features “Kolaches,” warm, delicious, slightly sweet fresh-baked yeast roll pastries filled with a variety of food from sausage, egg and cheese to all types of fruit. Also available will be home-made soups, salads and sandwiches. Hours of operation are 7am to 4pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturdays. 207 East Commerce Street, Downtown Greenville,

River Market & Deli — Montgomery
The River Market and Deli will open in Montgomery’s Alley Way in December. The upscale delicatessen will offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, salads, and ice cream, coffee, breakfast and specialty market items. The deli will be open seven days a week. For updates on The Alley’s newest additions contact The Montgomery Convention and Visitors Bureau, 334.261.1100.

Village Kitchen — Montgomery
Village Kitchen is a new neighborhood restaurant at The Atlantic and Pacific Development opening on Sept. 29, 2010. Nestled in the heart of historic Cloverdale Village, the restaurant will feature a menu reminiscent of traditional, southern favorites with a fresh, modern twist – all within an inviting, energy-packed atmosphere. Open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, Village Kitchen focuses on familiar, flavorful comfort foods of the New South with an array of signature soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, entrees and desserts.

Internet/ Media:
New Gulf Coast Tourism Web site — Gulf Coast
The City of Bayou La Batre and the Town of Dauphin Island partnered to create and launch a new web site, http://www.AlabamaCoast.org. The site is designed to serve as a clearinghouse for up-to-date information on upcoming events, tourism related questions, and the latest on Wild Caught Gulf Seafood safety. 251. 617.3933.

New Tourism TV Channel in Tuscaloosa Hotels — Tuscaloosa
The Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation unveiled a new visitor information television channel, Travel N Alabama. The channel can be seen on local hotel room televisions. The channel includes local tourism information, traffic conditions and road closures. The system is a joint project of the Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation and local hotels. Alabama Network Media currently operates the channel in 27 hotels in Tuscaloosa. http://www.visittuscaloosa.com.

The Bridge bi-monthly magazine — Trussville
The Bridge is a new bi-monthly magazine dedicated to providing information related to the Trussville area to its residents. The Bridge is published by Reliable Advertising Group, Inc., 205.910.6279, http://www.TheBridgeTrussville.com.

RECREATION:
Birmingham Hooks Major Championship — Birmingham
A major championship on the high-profile Champions Tour is coming to Birmingham next year. The Regions Tradition will be played at Shoal Creek Country Club May 2-8, 2011. Tour officials say the event will boost Birmingham’s reputation in the eyes of the golf world as the championship draws big-name senior golfers such as Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Fred Couples. Shoal Creek is considered one of the finest golf courses in the Southeast. The Regions Tradition will be the first of five major tournaments on the 2011 Champions Tour. http://www.regionstradition.com, http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2010/08/striking_green_at_shoal_creek.html

Doc Hilt Trail named National Recreation Trail — Clay County
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior designated Doc Hilt Trails as a National Recreation Trail. The trial is located at the foothills of Cheaha State Park and the Talladega National Forest. It is the only OHV friendly, private National Recreation Trail (NRT) in Clay County. And the second private park of its kind nationally.

Splash Pad at Sparkman Park — Hartselle
The splash pad at John Mark Stallings Special Needs Accessible Playground (SNAP) at Sparkman Park is open. The splash pad represents the second phase of construction for the SNAP project. It is located behind the outfield fence of the Reuben Sims Baseball Complex and the back gym of Sparkman Civic Center and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

SHOPPING:
Grand River Outlet Mall — Birmingham
Avid shoppers are eagerly awaiting the grand opening of the Shops of Grand River in late October. The new outlet mall will open with 330,000 square feet of retail shops. The Shops of Grand River are in the neighborhood with the world-class Barber Motorsports Park and Vintage Motorsports Museum and the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World & Nature Park. http://www.shopsofgrandriver.com.

Meetings and Conventions:
Von Braun Civic Center Renovations — Huntsville
A $5 million renovation is expected to transform the VBC’s Arena that was originally constructed in 1975. An additional $3 million dollar donation will renovate the Concert Hall at the civic center that is expected to be completed in November 2010. The renovation includes changing the facade of the Arena to a modern glass frontage overlooking Big Spring Park as well as expanding the lobby by adding more pre-function space and a pub. The project is also adding over 1,000 seats to concert setups, VIP suites, and additional restrooms. The construction venture will be complete by February 1, 2011. The Arena will be renamed the Propst Arena in honor of the considerable donation made by Huntsville businessman Bill Propst.

For more information at events, attractions, and accommodations in Alabama visit http://www.alabama.travel.

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