9 drivable destinations for ultimate summer travels under 5 hours from Birmingham [GIVEAWAY]


Your ultimate summer travel destination. (The Island Resort At Fort Walton Beach / Facebook)

From laid-back beach trips to thrilling outdoor excursions, summer fun is everywhere we turn. With summer being peak season for traveling, we rounded up nine getaway destinations in and around Alabama for all ages and personalities. Bonus: they’re all a reasonable driving distance from Birmingham.

Psst! Read to the end to find out how you can win a trip in our summer travel giveaway.

1. Blount Cultural Park 

Blount Cultural Park
These geese have a beautiful home. (Blount Cultural Park / Facebook)

Art, nature and culture unite at Blount Cultural Park in Montgomery. Arguably one of the most beautiful spots in the state, the park is inspired by the English Countryside and is home to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Here you can view a remarkable play, wander through the impressive halls of the free museum, stroll the gorgeous park grounds and set up a picnic or play a game of frisbee with friends. Whichever activity you choose, it’ll make for a dreamy summer experience. 

The park is also home to many adorable ducks and geese, so be sure to bring along some healthy snacks because they are known to wander over for a tasty handout. 

Distance from Birmingham: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Where: 1 Festival Dr, Montgomery, AL 36117
Hours: Daily, dawn-dusk
Cost: Free

2. Dauphin Island Sea Lab | Dauphin Island, AL

Discover amazing undersea creatures. (Dauphin Island Sea Lab)

Love marine life? My daughter sure does, but it can be tough finding worthwhile aquariums to visit. That’s why I’m pumped to tell you about Dauphin Island Sea Lab, my latest discovery during my search for family entertainment. 

What’s cool about this particular place is that thanks to its hands-on, interactive learning environment, you’re able to experience sea life in a new and engaging way. Here are some things you can do:

  • View 31 aquariums and discover more than 100 species on display.
  • Take an aquarium tour and learn from marine experts.
  • Feel undersea creates in the Touch Tank.
  • Go on snorkel adventures and see live sea creatures up close.

Distance from Birmingham: 4 hours, 11 minutes

Where: 101 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528
When: Monday-Sunday, 9AM-5PM
Cost: Adult – $12 | Children (5-18) or Students with ID – $6 | Seniors (60+)- $10
Website | Facebook | Instagram

3. Lookout Mountain Alabama | Fort Payne, AL

Lookout Mountain, Fort Payne
A natural paradise awaits you at Lookout Mountain. (Kendra Isbell)

Birminghamians crave time outdoors, so when the urge for a weekend getaway hits, pack a bag and travel to Lookout Mountain. Located in Fort Payne, it’s a beautiful spot to:

  • Swim beneath DeSoto Falls
  • Hike through the state park
  • Explore caves
  • Rock climb + zipline
  • And more!

There are also plenty of exciting events to take part in during the summer months, such as:

Distance from Birmingham: 1.5 hours

Where: 2414 Airport Road W Fort Payne, AL 35968
Website | Facebook | Instagram

4. Noccalula Falls Park and Campground | Gadsden, AL

Noccalula Falls Park and Campground
Chase those waterfalls. (Noccalula Falls Park and Campground / Facebook)

A picturesque experience awaits you at Noccalula Falls Park and Campground. Encompassing 500 acres of land situated at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this must-see destination offers everything an outdoor enthusiast could want, like:

  • An inviting family-centered campground
  • A breathtaking 90-foot waterfall
  • The Black Creek Trails, which include 15 trails for walking, running, hiking + biking

Distance from Birmingham: 57 minutes

Where: 1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden, AL 35904
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10AM-5PM
Cost: Adults – $6 | Seniors – $4 | Kids (4-12) – $4 | Kids (3 & under) – Free
Website | Facebook | Instagram

5. Point Mallard Park | Decatur, AL

Point Mallard Park
Hit the wave pool this summer. (Point Mallard Park / Facebook)

Seeking a day trip that’ll entertain the fam? Point Mallard in Decatur is an awesome choice—especially for families with elementary- to high school-aged kids.

Just look at this list of fun things to do:

  • Go on a water-filled adventure at the Water Park.
  • Test your skills at the tee at the Golf Course.
  • Hit the batting cages + driving range at the Strike Zone.
  • Walk, jog or bike along the Bill Slims Bike Trail.
  • Cool off with an ice skating sesh at the Ice Complex.
  • Sleep under the stars at the Camp Ground.

Distance from Birmingham: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Where: 2901 Point Mallard Dr SE, Decatur, AL 35601
Hours: Varies by activity
Cost: Varies by activity
Website | Facebook | Instagram

6. The Island Resort at Fort Walton | Fort Walton, FL

Paradise awaits. (The Island Resort at Fort Walton)

If you’re craving squeaky white beaches and fun in the sun, there’s no better place for a gulf-side getaway than The Island Resort at Forth Walton. 

This dreamy Florida destination offers everything for the perfect summer getaway, like on-site restaurants, nightly entertainment, a beachside bar and a full calendar of events. Yes, please! Book your stay now.

Distance from Birmingham: 4 hours

7. The Wharf | Orange Beach, AL

The Wharf is LIT. (Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism)

Love a summer trip to the Alabama Coast, but want more than sun and sand? The Wharf in Orange Beach is the ultimate entertainment spot for all ages. During your visit:

  • Get IG-worthy pics at the Cool Shots Selfie Museum.
  • Indulge at The Sugar Shack & Cafe.
  • Shop at an array of unique boutiques.
  • Ride the huge Ferris Wheel.
  • And more!

Here are more cool things to do nearby:

Distance from Birmingham: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Where: 23101 Canal Rd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
Website | Facebook | Instagram

8. Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo, MS
The King’s legacy lives on in Tupelo. (My Tupelo / Facebook)

Exploring new towns is my favorite type of travel. One place I have on my “visit soon” list is Tupelo, Mississippi—a small town where big things happen.

In Tupelo, you’ll find more than 160 restaurants serving up southern charm, one of America’s most popular national parks and even discover the birthplace of legendary icon Elvish Presley. Be sure to plan a visit to Johnnie’s Drive-In to gnash on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches just like the King himself once did. 

Distance from Birmingham: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Website | Facebook | Instagram

9. US Space & Rocket Center | Huntsville, AL

U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Blast off! (U.S. Space & Rocket Center / Facebook)

Ever wanted to fly to space in a rocket and land on the moon? I may not be able to pull enough strings to make that happen for you, but I do know how you can get as close to the real thing as possible. All you have to do is visit the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. 

One of the largest space museums in the world, the US Space & Rocket Center is where America’s space program was forged, and where real-life rockets were developed that put men on the moon.

Here are some things you can do during your visit:

  • Feel what it’s really like to blast into space on the Flight Simulator and the G-Force Accelerator.
  • Check out the Apollo 11 Virtual Reality Experience.
  • Watch out-of-this-world movies and shows at the planetarium.
  • View one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia in the world.
  • Learn about NASA and space excursions through space-related exhibits, collections + more. 

Distance from Birmingham: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Want to win an amazing stay at some of the places we’ve mentioned? Visit our Instagram @bhamnow to enter our summer travel giveaway! Deadline is Thursday, May 19, so hurry for a chance to win this awesome prize. 

Sponsored by:

Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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