Family Vacations In Alabama: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

08/03/2011 02:02 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2011

Family vacations in Alabama can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on pretrip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Alabama family vacations.

Gulf Shores Orange Beach

Miles of sparkling sandy white beaches and the lure of turquoise waters are just two of the reasons that people flock to Gulf Shores Orange Beach. As you travel the Gulf of Mexico shoreline in Alabama, each beach is special in its own way, and you'll be able to create unforgettable memories.

Address: 20115 State Highway 135, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Phone: 251-948-7275
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, year-round
Price: Free

Splash Beach at Alabama Adventure

Splash Beach at Alabama Adventure is a splashing good time that will leave your family wanting to return again and again. With eight separate areas to beat the heat, this Alabama water park provides hours of endless fun. The park offers something for everyone, ranging from a lazy river to float your cares away, to high-speed slides for the speed junkies.

Address: 4599 Alabama Adventure Parkway, Bessemer, AL 35022
Phone: 205-481-4750
Hours: Operating hours and dates vary by day, so check the park's website before you go
Price: General admission, $35.99; seniors and children under 48 inches, $25.99; children 3 and under, free; parking, $10

Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa

The name says it all: Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa is exactly that -- hands-on. The entire museum is an interactive experience for all those who walk through its doors. This three-story Alabama museum is where creativity and curiosity bring your child's imagination to the forefront.

Address: 2213 University Blvd., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Phone: 205-349-4235
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Sundays and all major holidays
Price: General admission, $8; seniors, $6; children 1 to 3, $5

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is home to the most comprehensive collection of flight hardware. The center includes a theater, an educational training center and Rocket Park. This Alabama facility is home to a Saturn V rocket, which is suspended 10 feet off the ground. Influencing the astronauts of tomorrow, the center hosts Space Camp, where children can learn about America's space program.

Address: 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805
Phone: 800-637-7223
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
Price: Adults, $20; children, $15; children under 3, free. A variety of ticket options are available.

McWane Science Center

The McWane Science Center is a four-story interactive experience where imagination and creativity drive the hands-on experience. This Alabama center is home to the only IMAX theater in Birmingham. Starting in the lobby and ending on the fourth floor, every turn brings a new experience, with science and creativity as the main focus.

Address: 200 19th St. North, Birmingham, AL 35203
Phone: 205-714-8376
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (summer hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.); Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Closed New Year's Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving Day.
Price: Adults (13 to 64), $13; seniors and children 2 to 12, $13; chidren under 2, free

Iron And Steel Museum Of Alabama

The Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama lays out the historical framework of the steel industry of the Southeast. Dating back to the Civil War, this museum shows how steel has been made throughout America's history. The museum houses the country's oldest steam engine and part of the Henry Ford collection. Exhibits focus on geology, history and the iron industy of the Southeast.

Address: 12632 Confederate Parkway, McCalla, AL 35111
Phone: 205-477-5711
Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Price: Adults, $2; seniors, and children 6-12, $1; children under 6, free

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Tennessee River, is home to hundreds of species that are protected on 35,000 acres of land. Home to the largest collection of songbirds and ducks, this beautiful area is abundant with wildlife. This Alabama oasis serves as both an educational facility and an area where it's easy to relax. Photography is encouraged, and repeat visits are a must as each visit brings something new.

Address: 2700 Refuge Headquarters Road, Decatur, AL 35603
Phone: 256-353-7243
Hours: Dusk until dawn, all year
Price: Free

Have you been to Alabama? What are your favorite attractions?


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