My Alabama “Bucket List” for 2011

One of my goals for 2011 is to get to know Alabama a little better. I have called this great place home for four years now, but I must admit, there’s still so much I want to see!

My first year here, friends and I visited several must-sees: Vulcan Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Whistlestop Café in Irondale, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence, the Helen Keller Festival in Tuscumbia and the Sidewalk Film Festival. Recently I also had the privilege of visiting Harper Lee’s hometown, also where Truman Capote spent his childhood years, in Monroeville, and an interesting tour of Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. A great start to touring Alabama, don’t you agree?

But there’s still so many sites in this rich state to see. Here’s my Top 10 “Bucket List” for 2011:

1. Chilton County peaches—I may buy dozens of peaches during the summer at the Pepper Place Saturday Market, but this year I want to go to the source. And I want peach ice cream.
2. U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville—I’ve always been interested in planes and spaceships, maybe because I grew up as an Air Force brat. From what I’ve heard, this space center rivals the Air & Space Museum in D.C., and I can’t wait to visit.
3. Cheaha State Parksimply because I hear it’s beautiful. I love to hike, and used to do so frequently as a child with my grandfather at Lake George in upstate New York. Do you know of any good trails at Cheaha?
4. Mobile—the whole city. Period. I recently raveled there for AHF and I’m so enamored with the architecture, food and people. I want more time to explore! Luckily AHF is hosting one SUPER institute, and one SES institute, in the Mobile area this summer. And both institutes focus on the great culture of the Gulf Coast region. Check out in the upcoming weeks for all the details.
5. The Hank Williams MuseumIt’s The Year of Alabama Music and I plan to celebrate with Hank, The Temptations, Jimmy Buffet and all the greats. Who is your favorite Alabama musician?
6. Auburn—Now this isn’t to put down Tuscaloosa! I’ve spent a lot of time in T-town and found the downtown charming, the campus beautiful and the local restaurants tasty. It’s time to see what the other football town has to offer too!
7. Jasper—this town in Walker County is home to a beautiful old house where a Hollywood starlet, Tallulah Bankhead, once got married. Now the Bankhead House and Heritage Center, this will be the site of this year’s Museum on Main Street exhibit, “Journey Stories,” a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institute and AHF. I am so excited to hear Alabamians’ own journey stories and to see the exhibit travel to five other host sites: Alexander City, Marion, Mobile, Eufaula and Arab.
8. Alabama Book FestivalI am a book nerd, there’s no doubt about it. So when I heard this festival was held at Old Alabama Town in Montgomery, I was thrilled at the chance to combine two of my passions: books and history.
9. The Kentuck FestivalMore than 250 artists in downtown Northport on a beautiful October weekend? Sign me up!
10. Selma—The Bridge Crossing Jubilee in March at the Edmund Pettus Bridge remembers sad events in our history that, while hard to face, should not be forgotten. But it also brings light to the determination of the protesters during the Civil Rights Movement and the good they stood for.

What other sites in Alabama should I see? What’s on your Alabama “Bucket List” for 2011?