Do an internet search for the word "Alabama" and the first thing you'll find on Google is football. And while it's true that the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide is the pride of the area, a passion for football is far from the only thing the state has to offer.
For cities rich in historical significance or scientific learning, look to Scottsboro and Huntsville, respectively. The infamous Scottsboro Boys trial and defense campaign to help nine falsely accused black men was enormously important in the U.S. judicial system, helping to change American views and shape laws granting the right to a fair trial. And just 45 minutes away sits the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, providing opportunities to glance both backward and forward in time. The space center isn't solely educational, either. Visitors to the center's museum can experience a rocket launch on a 140-foot simulator, feel the effects of centrifugal force on the G-Force Accelerator, and much more.
In many areas, like Gadsden or Decatur, charm abounds along with mom-and-pop shops, delicious local eateries and other hallmarks of the small-town South. Or, if you're really looking to get away from it all, Guntersville holds the state's largest body of freshwater and offers miles and miles of shoreline around the 69,000-acre lake. Even in the winter, when swimming is far from ideal, Lake Guntersville State Park hosts Eagle Awareness Weekends where visitors can view the large numbers of migrating bald eagles which make their way to the area.
Though you may not want to attempt a drive to Tuscaloosa on game day if the Crimson Tide is playing, the Children's Hands-On Museum there is a perfect playday for tots of all ages. The museum brings imagination to life amid replicas ranging from a Choctaw village to a Japanese house all the way to a backyard garden and a grandmother's attic. And for those over the age of 10, Tuscaloosa offers car aficionados the chance to tour its Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant. While you're in town, maybe you can settle a different score: The locals have disputed for nearly five decades about whether Dreamland's or Archibald's barbecue is the best in the area.
Any age can find a wide variety of options to choose from in Alabama's better- and even lesser-known cities. Just be certain to check the college football schedule before embarking on your next journey.