20 Cities in Alabama

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Known as the Heart of Dixie, Alabama is one of the South’s most fascinating states. The state has been at the forefront of many of America’s most important moments and movements, with Alabama recognised as both the birthplace of the Confederacy and where Rosa Parks’ act of deviance on a bus kicked off Civil Rights Movements across the United States.

Alabama is home to several large metro areas such as Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile and Birmingham, while college towns such as Tuscaloosa and Auburn shape and educate the Alabamans of tomorrow. There are also the many vacation destinations and spring break cities packed along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, which treat travellers to some of the Gulf’s best beaches and wildlife.

With an endless amount of things to see and places to be, Alabama and America’s Deep South is an excellent region to discover that’s brimming with unique cultures, tons of history and that trademark Southern hospitality that puts a smile on your face in every town and city you visit.

Cities in Alabama

20 Alabama Cities To Visit

1- Birmingham

Birmingham city skyline
If you’re looking for cities in Alabama to visit, tick Birmingham off your list.

As the biggest and most populous metro area in Alabama, Birmingham is undoubtedly an enticing destination when travelling to the Yellowhammer State for the first time.

The city was named after Birmingham in England and was the centre stage of the South’s Civil Rights movements during the 1950s and 60s.

Birmingham features a plethora of unique activities and attractions vying for your attention, such as the expansive Birmingham Museum of Art, the annually held Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival and the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.

Widely touted as the Pittsburgh of the South thanks to Birmingham’s industrious steel-producing past, Alabama’s cultural and economic capital is a truly fascinating city to visit with something for all ages to see, do and discover.

Book this tour: Birmingham Civil Rights Tour.

2- Huntsville

aerial view of Huntsville at night
Huntsville is one of the major cities in Alabama.

Huntsville, commonly known as ‘Rocket City’, is a fascinating Alabama destination with a rich history that can rival any city in the nation.

Founded in 1805, the city served as Alabama’s first official capital for the newly admitted state’s first year in the Union, but NASA’S fascination with space really placed Huntsville on the international stage.

The city is among the largest in Alabama and treats visitors to a healthy balance between new and old, the arts and the outdoors.

For one of the country’s largest collections of Antebellum homes, stop by Huntsville’s Twickenham Historic District.

Alternatively, the U.S Space & Rocket Center offers kids and adults alike a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of America’s space exploration.

Download this app: Huntsville Rocket City Smart Phone Self Guided Audio (GPS/APP) Walking Tour.

3- Montgomery

aerial view of montgomery
Montgomery is one of the interesting cities in Alabama.

Not to be outdone by bustling Birmingham and innovative Huntsville, Montgomery is the state’s official capital and one of the most historic cities in the Deep South.

The city was incorporated in 1819 and named after Irishman and American Revolutionary War general Richard Montgomery.

Montgomery was where the Confederacy was formed in 1861 and where prominent Civil Rights leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr began their fights against injustice.

Today, modern Montgomery is a very forward-thinking city that’s home to various fun things to keep you busy, including the popular Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Civil Rights Memorial.

Book this tour: Sip-n-Cycle Pedal Cruise in Montgomery.

4- Mobile

mobile skyline
Mobile is one of the coolest cities in Alabama to visit.

Situated on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile is Alabama’s largest coastal city and the largest Gulf Coast city between New Orleans and St Petersburg.

The city’s history and culture are closely tied to the sea, with landmarks such as the USS Alabama Battleship and Colonial Fort Condé evidence of Mobile’s significance as a military and transportation stronghold on the coast.

Today, the city is one of Alabama’s largest and steeped in Creole and Antebellum culture, and plays host to vibrant Mardi Gras celebrations every year that’s the biggest outside New Orleans.

From the impressive Bragg-Mitchell Mansion to the inspiring Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail, there seems to be no end to Mobile’s laundry list of amazing things to see and do.

Buy this pass: Mobile Area Multi-Attraction Pass.

5- Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa City Alabama State License Plate
Tuscaloosa is one of the safest cities in Alabama.

Tuscaloosa is a mid-sized Alabama city and college town rolled into one in the state’s West-Central region, about 58 miles (93 km) outside downtown Birmingham.

The city is best known as the home of the University of Alabama’s main campus, with several of Tuscaloosa’s biggest attractions and landmarks on or near the university’s grounds.

The 101,000-seat Bryant-Denny Stadium serves as the official stomping ground of the university’s Crimson Tide football team and is, without a doubt Tuscaloosa’s biggest attraction during football season.

There are also plenty of non-sports attractions in the city, including the scenic Government Plaza Park and the historic Battle-Friedman House, making Tuscaloosa an interesting city in Alabama.

6- Auburn

Auburn is, much like Tuscaloosa, a major collegiate city in Alabama and home to Auburn University, the University of Alabama’s main rival.

The city is located in Alabama’s East-Central region and conveniently situated within a two-hour drive of either Atlanta or Birmingham.

The city is one of Alabama’s most picturesque, with tons of beautiful campus buildings and verdant public parks to enjoy in and around the city.

Auburn’s most popular attractions include the 87,000-seat Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the Auburn Tigers football team play their home games, the Jule Collins Smith Art Museum and the Whitfield-Searcy House, giving visitors plenty to do in the city.

Order this pass: Auburn, Opelika, and Alexander City Multi-Attraction Pass.

7- Talladega

Regarded as one of the South’s biggest motorsports capitals, the small city of Talladega has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1835.

The Talladega Superspeedway overshadows the city, a 175,000-seat motorsports venue with a 2.66 mile-long (4.28 km) oval racetrack that’s the longest on the annual NASCAR circuit.

Apart from being Alabama’s racing capital, the city is surrounded by some of Alabama’s most impressive outdoor attractions, including the Cheaha State Park and the Talladega National Forest.

There’s also the historic Silk Stocking District and the Desoto Caverns to explore in the city, so be sure to add Talladega to your Alabama itinerary the next time you’re in the Heart of Dixie.

8- Gulf Shores

Mobile might be the biggest Gulf Shore city in Alabama, but the city of Gulf Shores is undoubtedly the state’s go-to coastal destination for fun and relaxation, boasting many of Alabama’s best saltwater beaches.

The city boasts several miles of mesmerising Mexican Gulf beaches and is just 50 miles (80 km) southeast of downtown Mobile.

This coastal paradise treats travellers to the state’s best snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, surfing and dolphin-watching opportunities.

It is an excellent alternative to the bustling spring break destinations along the Florida Panhandle.

With several amusement parks, world-class golf courses and amazing Alabama sunsets to enjoy in Gulf Shores, it’s no wonder this idyllic seaside retreat’s the go-to vacation destination for so many Alabamans during summer.

Order this pass: Gulf Shores, Orange Beach Area Multi-Attraction Pass.

9- Dauphin Island

aerial view of port on dauphin island
Dauphin Island is one of the towns in Alabama you’ll love.

The small coastal city of Dauphin Island is a blissful natural oasis among the first North American stops for migratory birds returning home from South America.

Dauphin Island is connected to the Alabama mainland via the Dauphin Island Bridge and is just 37 miles (60 km) south of downtown Mobile.

Named after the Dauphin of France, Louis XIV’s great-grandson, the island is a must-visit Alabama destination if you’re an outdoor enthusiast interested in spotting migratory bird species.

10- Dothan

Home to the annual National Peanut Festival, Dothan is a fascinating city in Alabama’s less-travelled southeast corner steeped in tons of Southern charm, history and culture.

Dothan is informally known as the peanut capital of the world and is situated right on the state borders of Georgia and Florida.

The mid-sized city is roughly halfway between Tallahassee and Montgomery, making it an easily accessible city that can be an excellent base for exploring Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia.

From the intrepid George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum to the Adventureland Theme Park, there’s endless fun to be had in Dothan and beyond.

Book this tour: Dothan Downtown Tours.

11- Decatur

Picture-perfect Decatur is a blissful Alabama city along the banks of manmade Wheeler Lake in the Yellowhammer State’s far north.

The mid-sized city is within a 30-minute drive from downtown Huntsville.

It overlooks Alabama’s most populated city, making it an excellent alternative for exploring all that Huntsville and northern Alabama have in store without staying in Huntsville.

The city was established in 1820 and quickly grew thanks to its locale along a busy river and the arrival of the railroad, and is today a cosmopolitan Southern city with a fair amount of attractions and activities to sample.

Nicknamed ‘The River City’, Decatur’s top attractions include stopping by the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, touring the fascinating Blue and Gray Museum, and catching a live performance at the state-of-the-art Carnegie Visual Arts Center.

12- Gadsden

Founded back in 1825 by Native American-European settler John Riley, Gadsden is a charming mid-sized city in northeast Alabama that’s within a 2-hour drive from Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga and Huntsville, four of the South’s biggest and most influential cities.

Gadsden quickly grew in size as a vital shipping port along the Coosa River and is renowned for its most picturesque attraction, the Noccalula Falls Park, which features a thundering 90-foot tall (27 m) waterfall.

There are also several other great Gadsden attractions to visit during your stay, including the world-class Mary G Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, the scenic Neely Henry Lake and the Lookout Mountain Parkway from downtown Gadsden to Chattanooga.

13- Foley

Located in southern Alabama along the Gulf Coast, Foley is Alabama’s less travelled but just-as-scenic coastal city that’s neatly situated roughly halfway between Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.

Foley provides travellers with a more laid-back atmosphere along the busy beaches of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle during the summer months without leaving vacationers feeling like they’ve missed out on attractions and seaside adventures.

The city is also littered with its fair share of amazing things to see and do, including the Graham Creek Nature Preserve, the Foley Railroad Depot Museum and Foley’s Historic Downtown neighbourhood.

14- Selma

aerial view of selma, river and bridge
Selma is a historic city in Alabama.

The interesting city of Selma in central Alabama is a must-visit destination in the Yellowhammer State if you’re a history buff or just curious to learn more about the state of Alabama’s humble beginnings.

Situated along the shores of the Alabama River, the city is home to Alabama’s most significant historic district, which features over 1,000 unique historic buildings, each one telling Selma’s vital role in the Civil War and Alabama’s Civil Rights movements.

Selma’s top tourist attractions include the National Voting Rights Museum, the Jackson Home Historic Site, and the Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum.

Located just 50 miles (80 km) west of downtown Montgomery, Selma is an amazing Alabama city renowned throughout the South for its fascinating history and charming architecture.

Order this pass: Montgomery, Selma Area Multi-Attraction Pass.

15- Orange Beach

aerial view of orange beach
Orange Beach is one of the best cities to live in Alabama.

Another fantastic coastal getaway destination along Alabama’s sunny Gulf Coast, Orange Beach is an out-and-out resort city that balloons in size over the summer months, with spring breakers and families heading down to the coast for some relaxation.

The city lies next door to Gulf Shores and Foley and is within an hour’s drive from downtown Mobile and Pensacola, Florida.

Orange Beach and its four Perdido Pass islands are a haven for all sorts of watersports and water-based activities, whilst attractions such as the Wharf and the Gulf State Park are perfect places to stop by when you’re all beached out.

Book these tours:

16- Muscle Shoals

Muscle Shoals is a significant tourist destination in northwest Alabama renowned throughout the Yellowhammer State for its impeccable natural beauty and historical sites dotted throughout the city.

Muscle Shoals straddles the Tennessee River and is surrounded by Pickwick Lake, Wheeler Lake and Wilson Lake, placing Muscle Shoals right on the doorstep of some of Alabama’s best fishing opportunities and outdoor aquatic fun.

From the birthplace of author and activist Helen Keller to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, there’s quite a lot to see and do in Muscle Shoals.

Order this pass: Florence, Muscle Shoals Multi-Attraction Pass.

17- Florence

Deemed the cultural and economic hub of northwest Alabama, Florence is a timeless mid-sized city that’s home to plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions, landmarks and activities to stop by.

The city was officially incorporated in 1826 and is home to the Florence Indian Mound, an ancient earthen mound built by Native American tribes between 100 BCE and 400 BCE listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city is located near the Shoal Creek Preserve and McFarland Park, providing outdoor enthusiasts with stunning natural beauty and open-air activities.

Florence is also across the river from Muscle Shoals, allowing visitors to experience two of Alabama’s most exciting metro areas in one trip to northwest Alabama.

Order this pass: Florence, Muscle Shoals Multi-Attraction Pass.

18- Fairhope

Fairhope is a quaint and charming seaside city situated along the shores of Mobile Bay in Alabama’s sunny southwest corner along the Gulf Coast.

The mid-sized city is home to many craft beer breweries and is dotted with scenic pathways to discover the beautiful coastal city by hiking or biking your way across.

The city is just 19 miles (31 km) south of downtown Mobile and is a stone’s throw away from the amusement parks and pristine beaches of nearby Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Be sure to plan a visit to the Fairhope Pier and the Weeks Bay Reserve when travelling to Fairhope to get the most out of your trip to Alabama’s splendid Gulf Coast.

Book this tour: Walking Food Tour of Downtown Fairhope.

19- Fort Payne

Situated right on the doorstep of the 14,000-acre (5,666 ha) Little River Canyon National Preserve, one of Alabama’s most scenic natural landmarks, Fort Payne is well worth visiting if you’re a fan of the great outdoors.

Socks are Fort Payne’s biggest claim to fame, as the city dubbed the ‘Sock Capital of the World’ once produced half of all socks in the United States.

The city is built on the site of a former fort, hence the name, and is within an hour’s drive from Gadsden and Chattanooga.

Fort Payne is also home to the De Soto State Park, which features some of the best hiking trails in Alabama and more historic venues such as the Fort Payne Depot Museum and the Fort Payne Hosiery Museum.

Book this tour: Rappelling Adventure in Fort Payne Little River Canyon.

20- Guntersville

Alabama’s lakeside destination of choice, Guntersville, has more than 170 acres (69 ha) of lakeshore fit for recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating and paddleboarding.

Guntersville was established in 1785 by John Gunter, the great-grandfather of famed vaudeville actor and social commentator Will Rogers, whom the townsfolk of Guntersville organise an annual festival for in celebration of the American icon’s connection to their Alabama city.

There are also plenty of other great things for travellers to do whilst spending time in Guntersville, including stopping by the Guntersville Museum & Cultural Center or catching a locally produced show at the Whole Backstage Theater.

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Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.