Day 1 You'll See:
- W.C Handy Home
- Helen Keller Home
- Frank Lloyd Wright Home
Day 2 You'll See:
- Ave Maria Grotto
- The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
- Historic Bank Street
- Old State Bank
Day 3 You’ll See:
- Unclaimed Baggage Center
- Scottsboro Boys Museum and Multicultural Center
Get ready for a true Alabama adventure as your group travels through the central and northern parts of the state exploring local historical, fun, or just plain unique tourist attractions. Visit the homes of important local figures in music, literature, and architecture, as well as local impressive religious structures and shopping experiences. Providing the perfect mix of Alabama education and fun, this 3-day southern getaway will be a refreshing surprise for anyone in your group!
W.C Handy Home - Welcome to Florence, where your group will enjoy a multitude of famous homes including this first stop at W.C Handy’s home. Known famously as the Father of Blues, William Christopher Handy’s museum lets you see the beginning of one of the biggest musical movements of the century. As a child, W.C Handy would stand in his yard and visualize bird calls as notes on a scale and let his mind take him to a musical world of creativity. Walk through the simple log cabin Handy lived in while he created the St. Louis, Beale Street, and Memphis Blues. A tour of his home will allow you to stand by the piano that started it all, as well as view original hand-written sheets of music. A large collection of personal papers, memorabilia, and artifacts will immerse your group into the past world of rhythm and blues with this one-of-a-kind musical opportunity.
Helen Keller Home - Next stop, Tuscumbia, where your group will find Ivy Green, the home of Helen Keller and her family. This simple, white clapboard Southern style home sits on a 640 acre property zone and is surrounded by a forest of English Boxwoods and ivy over 150 years old. On your tour of the grounds your group will see the ‘whistle path’ to the outdoor kitchen, memorial fountain, garden-filled ‘clearing’, carriage house, and gift shop. The inside of the estate has been maintained to the smallest detail in its original state, untouched by the Civil War. Built in 1820, the house now serves as a ‘shrine’ to the miracle of Helen Keller’s life and has plenty of personal mementos on display for guests. Be sure to check out Keller’s original braille typewriter on your way out!
Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum Home - Back to Florence for this next stop to the only Southern Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian home. The Rosenbaum home is another great example of the work of the most revered 20th century American Architect. Some even make the claim that Wright was and still is the best American architect of all time. The home is made with cypress wood, brick, and glass and features unique multi-level steel roofs. The property sits on 2 acres on the north bank of the Tennessee River. True to the Usonian style homes, Rosenbaum was created for an American family with the purpose of being affordable and adaptable to the changing American society. A visit inside will let your group see up close and personal the important interior furnishing details, as well as learn more information about this famous architect and his work.
Ave Maria Grotto - Sitting on a 4-acre park in St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, you’ll find your next stop at the Ave Maria Grotto. This garden setting holds 125 miniature reproductions of famous religious structures from around the world. Often referred to as “Jerusalem in Miniature,” these stone and concrete structures were made by Benedictine Monk Brother Joseph Zoettl. Working in the pump room for St. Bernard Abbey for 30 years, Brother Joseph started a hobby to pass his time that has since attracted guests from around the world. Let your group explore the Holy Land, Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Spanish missions, South African Shrines, the Tower of Babel, and even Hansel and Gretel’s Temple of fairies all within this mini religious wonderland.
The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery - On your next stop your group will get to explore even more religious knowledge and culture at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This church and monastery is based off of Italian churches from the 13th century and is quite well known for its architectural authenticity. Vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and one impressive Sursum Corda Shrine all greet you inside as your group steps across the marble floors to this ‘psalm of praise.’ One of the more unique features outside is the piazza, a long open hallway structure in which a person is supposed to clear their head before entering the sanctuary, also known as a ‘divider from the world.’ Tours of this facility involve breakfast or lunch, tours of each room and hall, plus optional confession at the end.
Historic Bank Street - Get ready to relax with some blast from the past retail therapy in downtown Decatur! This historic street, known and named for its proximity to the original Old State Bank, is picturesquely lined with local trees and offers some unique shopping opportunities while letting visitors feel the history of the city inside the shops. The street is filled with specialty shops and antiques, as well as delicious local food fares and history tidbits about the city and state. Some of the things your group can look forward to here are original pieces of art, toys, jewelry, clothing, home appliances, and more food!
Old State Bank - The Old State Bank in Decatur, Alabama, is a 170 year old structure that has survived the test of time and new serves as a museum for the city and for banking. Built in 1833, this bank originally served as Tennessee Valley’s branch of banking. The building itself was quite an architectural trend-setter for Alabama, being one of the first buildings to embrace federal and Greek revival style. A tour of the complex today will teach your group about how this bank played a crucial role in establishing the town, and give you a unique insight into the beginning of banking in Alabama.
Unclaimed Baggage Center - Get ready for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience in Scottsboro at one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions, the Unclaimed Baggage Center. This shopping center was created in 1970 after a member of the local Owen’s family decided to bring home unclaimed baggage after a trip to Washington D.C. and sell the merchandise off of card tables on the street. Now this establishment takes up an entire city block and attracts over 1 million shoppers per year. Inside your group can shop a selection of lost luggage that includes clothes, shoes, formal ware, electronics, sports gear, books, fine jewelry, and yes, even luggage! Shopping inside is quite the adventure, never knowing what you're going to find in those suitcases. You can even stop at the cafe for lunch, grab coffee at Starbucks, or get some dessert from Dippin Dots while you’re shopping.
Scottsboro Boys Museum and Multicultural Center - This museum created in 2010 serves to commemorate the lives and legacy of nine African American boys who, in the 1930’s, became important symbols of race-based injustice in the South. The Scottsboro boys were accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931, and were quickly incarcerated and found guilty when put on trial. All but one were sentenced to death (but were much later freed), even though the women admitted they lied to avoid arrest for fighting and prostitution. The structure sits close to the railway in which it happened at a church that is now considered the oldest African American church in the state of Alabama. Now the museum has a clear goal of advancing reconciliation and healing, as well as cultural appreciation throughout the United States.