Tourism Leaders Share Their Favorite Alabama Getaways

Activities, Magazine Features

Check out these Alabama getaways from those in the know, and start crafting your next perfect Southern itinerary

With a full schedule of trade shows, sales blitzes and even some vacation travel, these three ladies are true road warriors. Here’s a look at what they like to do when they’re back home for some of their favorite Alabama getaways.

Pam Williams

Tourism & Education Sales Manager

Huntsville/Madison County CVB

After 12 years at the CVB, Pam still embraces travel to the major industry trade shows and vacations with friends and family. When home, though, the Huntsville native has a few favorite spots she and friends enjoy.

Pam shared the news that the Huntsville Botanical Garden has a new visitor center, but her interest extends past the new structure to the gardening classes, which are quite fun when friends are in the classroom. Another favorite is Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, an extraordinary sensory treat. With more than 120 visual, culinary and performance studios and independent businesses, there’s always something new to see. A visit to the Saturday farmers’ market on the premises is always a delight.

One place that Pam will never tire of and enjoys with friends is the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, her employer prior to joining the CVB. She always feels a strong sense of patriotic pride when she visits. Pam’s preferred shopping spot is Bridge Street Town Centre with its 100-plus stores and restaurants. Asked about where she and friends go for dinner and an evening out, she replies Campus No. 805 without hesitation. A premier brewery and entertainment venue, it’s located on the site of a high school that served city and county students. Campus No. 805 is home to more than a dozen craft breweries, restaurants and specialty shops. (

Tara Walton

Director of Tourism

Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau

Born and raised in Birmingham, Tara has been with the CVB for more than 30 years. To say she knows her town may be an understatement, and her recommendations make for perfect additions to groups’ Alabama getaways.

The premise of Red Clay Tours is that local expertise takes a tour from good to great. Tara recommends the “Birmingham Brewery Tour” and “Bham BBQ Tour.” Red Clay will pick you up at any downtown hotel or Airbnb. If you’re ready to party, book your party of four to 14 on Birmingham Pedal Tours. Perfect for any occasion, it’s a fun two-hour tour of Birmingham’s best watering holes.

Escape games have become the rage for teams of two to 10. At Locked In, Tara’s ladies group from 16th Street Baptist Church challenged the youth. Asked how the youth fared, Tara’s replies, “They passed the challenge with flying colors.” No comment offered on how the ladies did.

Other fun parts of the Birmingham scene, Tara says, are The Market at Pepper Place, Ozan Vineyard and Mr. P’s Deli. The Market, located in a former Dr Pepper syrup and bottling plant, houses a design center, galleries, a theater, restaurants, shops and a seasonal farmers’ market. There’s even an outdoor kitchen with chef demonstrations. Located between Birmingham and Montgomery, Ozan Vineyard offers unique options. The Ozan Train provides a morning ride and the popular Souvenir Lunch Train, a three-hour experience with tasting, gourmet lunch and train excursion. Before departing Birmingham, do stop by Mr. P’s. It’s like going back in time to the neighborhood store. Fresh-cut meats and specialty items along with local Alabama products will certainly fill your cooler. (

Patty T. Kieffer, CASE

Senior Vice President

Visit Mobile

Other than time away for children, Patty has been with Visit Mobile since 1991. However, her southwest Alabama roots go back to the 1600s when her French ancestors settled in the area.

Living in the home of the first Mardi Gras, she never tires of visiting the Mobile Carnival Museum. In addition to the magnificent costume designs, scepters and crowns on display, the museum spotlights Carnival’s rich history in Mobile. The Azalea Bloom Out in March at Bellingrath Gardens is also a favorite of Patty’s, but she says any time of the year is perfect for a visit to the gardens and historic home. With Carnival Cruise Line having extended its contract with the City of Mobile, Patty was asked if she and friends planned a Caribbean escape on the Carnival Fantasy. It certainly had crossed her mind, she implied, but time is always an issue.

Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras, knows how to organize an event, and the regular Art Walk and Antique Events are special preferences of Patty’s. As for dining out, she likes the magnificent view and menu at Dauphin’s on top of the RSA Bank Trust building. (

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