Southeast

7 Stays in Alabama that are Worth the Trip

The Yellowhammer State will surprise you with these diverse properties ranging from the beaches of the coast to the Appalachian foothills.

I never realized how awesome my home state was in a travel sense until I left and traveled back. That’s when I began to stay at some of Alabama’s amazing hotels and resorts, places where you can find platinum records hanging on the wall of your room recorded by world-famous acts just down the road, or ultra-eco-conscious properties right on the beach.

Being a born and raised Alabamian who has lived outside the state for most of my adult life, I’m constantly amazed at what I discover when heading back home. Scratch that Southern travel itch at one of these seven hotels and resorts spread throughout Alabama, from the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico to “The Shoals” centered around Florence in the northwest part of the state along the Tennessee River.

Stay in a Small Inn with a Speakeasy Vibe and a Hidden Bowling Alley in Alabama

Walking past this unassuming three-story building in downtown Florence, it’s hard to imagine it contains one of Alabama’s coolest hotels, much less a vintage bowling alley and a restaurant owned by one of the more celebrated chefs in the South.

Yet it’s all right there behind the stone-faced façade with the Navy blue awning of the Stricklin Hotel, a small boutique with a speakeasy vibe, industrial-chic décor, and ultra-comfy king-sized beds in each room.

The four-lane bowling alley is tucked in the basement, out of view from passersby on the street. Called The Boiler Room, it has a bar, serves food, and features live music. You can also try your hand at other old-school games like shuffleboard, darts, skeeball, and foosball.

The restaurant — Big Bad Breakfast — sits at street level. Serving breakfast and lunch only, it’s the comfort food brainchild of celebrity chef John Currence, a James Beard award winner in the “Best Chef South” category who helms a handful of popular restaurants in the region.

The Stricklin

Florence
8.9 Excellent (225 reviews)

Choose a Suite that Suits Your Style at this Non-Traditional Boutique Stay in Alabama

In Florence, the GunRunner Boutique Hotel offers a different kind of small hotel experience with only ten suites – all of them locally themed and finely curated to fit a different niche. Choose a suite that best suits your style.

There’s the Billy Reid Suite, named for the world-famous fashion designer who calls Florence home. The bed in this suite was built by the designer himself. The Muscle Shoals Sound Suite features actual gold records and other authentic memorabilia hanging on the walls from the many well-known musical acts who recorded hits at studios near the hotel. There’s also the Frank Loyd Wright Suite with furniture and décor to match Alabama’s only Frank Loyd Wright home only a few blocks away and open to the public for tours.

The Gunrunner practices a hands-off approach, meaning self-check-in, keyless entry codes, and no one to bother you every time you walk through the common areas to your suite. It was this way before the pandemic, so they were ahead of the curve in that regard. The common area serves as a non-traditional lobby where you can meet fellow guests and grab one of the guitars available for an impromptu jam session.

Gunrunner Boutique

Florence
9.3 Excellent (116 reviews)

Indulge Your Senses at this Historic Renovated Waterside Resort in Alabama Founded in 1847

In Alabama, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more historic resort than the Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa at Point Clear on Mobile Bay. History buffs will relish a provenance dating back to 1847 and a timeline that includes the hotel being turned into a hospital for soldiers during the Civil War and playing host to classified training operations during World War II. The resort honors its military heritage with a ceremonial procession and cannon firing over the bay every day at 3:45 p.m.

Awaken the chef and mixologist inside you at the Grand Hotel Culinary and Beverage Academy, with expert-led sessions occurring each weekend centered around a different foodie or mixology topic.

Designated as one of the Historic Hotels of America, the Grand completed a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation in 2019 that preserved the historic elements while upgrading the accommodations and other aspects of the resort, including the restaurants and a palatial pool with zero-depth entry, waterfalls, a waterslide, and a splash pad. Next to the pool area, the resort has its own private white sand beach on the bay, with calm-water swimming coves and watercraft available for exploring the idyllic coastline known as the Eastern Shore.

Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa

Top rated
Point Clear
9.1 Excellent (755 reviews)

Practice Sustainable Tourism at this Extraordinary Beachfront Resort in Alabama

The Lodge at Gulf State Park isn’t your ordinary state park lodge. Located on one of Alabama’s most immaculate stretches of beach on the Gulf of Mexico, it’s worth the trip for eco-conscious travelers who practice sustainable tourism and prefer to stay at hotels with multiple green certifications.

The Lodge serves as a benchmark property for its responsible development and conservation efforts. They use condensation from the HVAC units to fill the swimming pool, the parking lot is permeable so rainwater can be absorbed, and environmentally friendly toiletries are provided. The list goes on.

It makes sense that the hotel makes such an effort to protect nature because it’s surrounded by protected ecosystems, with no nearby development except for a pier stretching for a quarter-mile into the Gulf. Explore 27 miles of trails through a secondary dune system and maritime forest in the state park, when you’re not beachcombing or lounging on the sands of this pristine coastline.

The Lodge At Gulf State Park, A Hilton

Gulf Shores
8.9 Excellent (439 reviews)

Get Lost in Visual and Culinary Arts at this Sophisticated Spot in Alabama

For a bit of urban sophistication in Alabama’s largest city of Birmingham, the Grand Bohemian Hotel beckons art lovers and those up for a culinary adventure.

This destination hotel in the tony historic suburb of Mountain Brook has its own art gallery, as well as common spaces and rooms filled with original works from local artisans and imaginative eye-catching lighting and design elements throughout.

The culinary arts are just as important here as the visual arts. Guests can take classes at the on-site cooking school staffed with expert instructors, and even attend a wine-blending class led by a sommelier. The hotel’s restaurant, Habitat Feed & Social, draws locals as well as travelers to sample the delectable regionally-inspired fare from a menu that changes with the seasons.

After dinner, meet and mingle at the popular rooftop bar and expect to hear live jazz, blues, and more from a variety of local acts.

Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook Autograph Collection

Top rated
Birmingham
9.0 Excellent (302 reviews)

Find Golfing Nirvana in Alabama at One of the Longest Courses in the World

Golfers searching for a one-stop, worth-the-trip destination in Alabama will find finely-appointed accommodations, resort amenities, an award-winning course, and more at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort.

Part of Alabama’s acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which the New York Times has called “some of the best public golf on Earth,” the challenging and scenic course at Ross Bridge is one of the longest in the world at 8,191 yards. The layout features significant elevation changes, so much so that there’s an 80-foot cascading waterfall right in the middle of the course.

The stylish hotel has a full-service spa, multiple dining options, and indoor and outdoor saltwater pools. Rooms have private balconies with views of the Southern Appalachian foothills that cradle the course. Unwind after a day on the links at JTs Lounge with craft cocktails, local brews, and live music.

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

Top rated
Hoover
8.6 Excellent (874 reviews)

Take a Chance at this Alabama Hotel Featuring the State's Only Casino-Style Gambling

If you enjoy casino-style gambling, there’s only one place to do it in Alabama: on Native American tribal land. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians — the only Federally recognized tribe in Alabama — operates the state’s only hotel casinos under their Wind Creek banner. The Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Atmore is the flagship property of the tribe. Enjoy more than 1,700 games of chance on the sleek casino floor with fanciful lighting and design elements that will have you feeling like you’re not in Alabama anymore.

The resort experience also includes a wide array of dining and entertainment options, so you never have to leave once you get there. An outdoor amphitheater brings in A-list touring acts. Previous bills have included a diverse array of musicians ranging from Willie Nelson to CeeLo Green. Also onsite to complement the upscale accommodations: a movie theater, a bowling alley, a large kid-friendly arcade, and a golf course.

Wind Creek

Top rated
Atmore
8.9 Excellent (680 reviews)