Alabama is a great destination for people interested in getting back to nature, relaxing, and meeting some of the friendliest people in America. Known as “The Heart of Dixie,” Alabama certainly takes southern-ness to heart. From the rolling foothills of the Appalachians in the north, through the plains in the middle of the state, and down to the beaches and bayous along the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama offers hospitality, a laid-back attitude, and enough history, soul, and activities to satisfy any visitor.

The South is proud of its history, and although its past certainly has some checkered moments, modern Alabama has come to grips with the worst parts, while embracing the future at the same time. Certainly no city demonstrates this juxtaposition more than Huntsville. Located an hour and a half north of Birmingham, the Rocket City is home to Alabama’s high tech industry. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is there, along with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and others. The Space and Rocket Center is one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to space travel, and home to Space Camp. Each year kids from all over the world come to learn about humanity’s continuing journey to the stars, operate mock-ups of NASA equipment, and undergo some of the same training that real astronauts do.

For outdoors enthusiasts, Alabama is chock-full of rivers, trails, lakes, parks, and beaches. Canoeing is very popular in the state, and the numerous river and streams offer challenges for all skill levels. The Coosa River in Wetumpka offers seven miles of rapids, calm waters, and gorgeous scenic views as paddlers make their way through the canyons and hills of central Alabama.

Golfers will find few destinations that can offer the passion for the sport as well as the quality of courses that can be found in the Heart of Dixie. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail offers ten public courses spread throughout the state, all of championship quality and affordable prices, and all showcasing the beauty of the state. Many tourists to the state spend days, if not weeks, traveling up and down the state stopping at each spot on the trail and lingering over their putts.

Most people don’t think of Alabama as a beach destination, but the same coastline that millions travel to Florida to enjoy is present in Alabama, if on a much smaller scale. Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Dauphin Island all provide visitors the chance to dive, ski, swim, or just laze about under the sun. The cuisine is also second to none, featuring fresh fish and shellfish, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables from one of the best growing regions in the U.S. Mobile showcases its antebellum past with its forts and historic battle sights of the Civil War.

Alabama does things its own way. It could be the heat, but things seem to get done on a different schedule than the rest of the country. They still get done, but never in a hurry, and rarely without a smile and a ‘Thank You’ or ‘You’re Welcome.’ People interested in seeing what the south has to offer will find it all in Alabama.