3 months ago

Alabama’s Spring Break destinations

Weary students and their equally winter-worn parents look forward to March and a little break from early classes, homework, projects and deadlines. The pandemic has added stresses like virtual learning, quarantines and limited extracurricular activities. With restrictions and safety recommendations limiting long-distance trips, Alabama has perfect Sweet Home getaways for spring break 2021. From the mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, here’s a roadmap (and a few tips for sneaking in some fun ways to learn something new) for the perfect spring break journey within a few hours’ drive.

The Beaches

Spring break and beaches are a perfect combination. If you’re looking for a lot of sand and some warm rays, Alabama beaches outshine their rivals. From Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island, there’s a perfect spot on the sand for your chair and cooler.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are the spring break meccas for beachgoers and offer all the high-rise condos, beach bars, and amusements you could want. Make a point to visit the fully restored Lodge at Gulf State Park. It’s worth checking out how architects worked their magic to build an environmentally friendly resort that conserves the natural beauty of the beach.

Tip: Open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, the Gulf State Park Interpretive Center offers visitors a glimpse at how the park is preserving the environment and natural resources and what simple steps they can take to do the same when they return home.

Fort Morgan is a family-friendly beach community with a good mix of beach cottages and condos located on the Gulf or Mobile Bay. Once sparsely populated and miles from restaurants, Fort Morgan now has ample beachside and bayside dining. Dog-friendly beaches allow the family’s best friend to enjoy spring break, too.

Tip: Visit historic Fort Morgan located at the end of Alabama Highway 180. (You can’t miss it!) Built between 1819 and 1833, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864 and was used through the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. As a day trip, consider taking the Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island. The island is home to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and its public aquarium.

Point Clear

On the eastern shore of Mobile Bay – about 45 minutes north of the Gulf beaches – sits what many call the jewel of Alabama’s resorts. The Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa, built in 1847, has been named on many national lists of best resorts with its tradition of southern hospitality that entices guests to return. Swimming (there’s even a beach), fishing, biking, fine and casual dining, kids’ activities, an award-winning spa, tennis, and golf are all part of the Grand experience. Shopping and lunch in the quaint nearby city of Fairhope is a fun excursion.

Tip: Visit the historic cemetery on the Grand Hotel property where both Union and Confederate soldiers are at rest. If you like unusual places, take a short drive to the Hermit House in Montrose, just outside of Fairhope. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the one-room, dome-shaped hut was built in 1928 by Henry Stuart, an Englishman, whose habits led to his title the Hermit of Montrose. The hut is located in the parking lot of an office complex at 22787 U.S. Highway 98 on property owned by Ashurst Niemeyer Real Estate.

City Lights

If the spring temps at the beach are not your style, Birmingham offers a great spring break alternative with fun attractions for kids young and old. Tripping.com lists the Magic city among its 8 Best Spring Break Destinations in Alabama. You’ll definitely find something to fit everyone’s idea of spring break fun at top-ranked hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

As you would expect in a big city, experiences are larger than life. Kids of all ages enjoy the McWane Science CenterBirmingham Zoo, TopgolfBarber Vintage Motorsports Museum and Autobahn Indoor Speedway. After a busy day of spring breaking, the Magic City will tempt you with internationally recognized restaurants, fun pizza joints, and brewpubs. Treat yourself to a stay at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in nearby Mountain Brook for an out-of-the-ordinary experience. The hotel features an eclectic décor, an art gallery, a cooking school and a spa.

Tip: Work in a little spring break history lesson by visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail – that features a rendition of a segregated city from the 1950s, a replica of a Freedom Riders bus, and the actual door from the jail cell that held Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mountain Views

Alabama’s mountains are known for attracting “leaf peepers” in search of autumn color, but spring is the best time for cool-weather hikes to explore the peaks. From Monte Sano Mountain near Huntsville to Cheaha Mountain in east Alabama, you can climb every mountain your energy level will allow. Cheaha is the state’s highest point at 2,407 feet above sea level and is part of the Talladega National Forest. Cheaha State Park accommodations include a lodge, cabins, chalets, and campgrounds.

Mentone is a popular spot for outdoor mountain fun. Located in Alabama’s northeast corner, this resort town is on the rim of Lookout Mountain. Visitors enjoy 104-foot DeSoto Falls in DeSoto State Park where there is camping, biking, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and rappelling.

Off the beaten path near the northwest Alabama town of Phil Campbell is Dismals Canyon. Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1975, the canyon has a 1.5-mile hiking trail at its floor where you discover grottos, caverns, and waterfalls. After dark, a guided flashlight tour of the canyon reveals bioluminescent creatures called dismalites that light up the canyon walls. The Dismals Canyon also contains one of the oldest primeval forests east of the Mississippi River.

Tip: If you’re driving between Birmingham and the north Alabama mountains on a pretty day, take a side trip through Blount County to see three of Alabama’s 11 remaining covered bridges. Old Easley, Horton Mill, and Swann covered bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, you can drive across the bridges, but very slowly. 

Whatever route you take, Alabama’s spring break destinations are sure to lead you to discover there truly is no place like Sweet Home Alabama. Enjoy the journey.

Alabama REALTORS® is the largest statewide organization of real estate professionals and the official advocate of Alabama’s multifaceted real estate industry. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date on real estate news in Alabama.

2 hours ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”



“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 hours ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.


“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.


The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 hours ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.


“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

5 hours ago

Ainsworth scores Tuberville endorsement

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has thrown his support to Will Ainsworth as the first-term lieutenant governor ramps up his reelection bid. Ainsworth announced Tuberville’s backing in a release from his campaign on Thursday.

The former college football coach offered that his endorsement of Ainsworth was an easy play call for him.

“I’ve spent most of my life recruiting,” Tuberville explained. “When you run across leadership it stands out, and I’ve seen firsthand that’s especially true in the political arena. Alabama is a gritty, hardworking,
conservative state that puts God and family first.”

He continued, “I’m proud to endorse Will Ainsworth for Lt. Governor as the leader that reflects the work ethic and values of the great state of Alabama!”


After announcing in front of 3,000 people during the first week in June that he would seek reelection, Ainsworth has now picked up the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association in addition to that of Tuberville.

Ainsworth welcomed the support from Alabama’s newest U.S. Senator.

“I am proud to have Senator Tuberville’s endorsement as I seek a second term as lieutenant governor to continue building a 21st century Alabama in which our people can earn a good living at a high-paying job and raise their families in safe, strong communities,” he remarked. “I’m focused on taking our Christian conservative values to Montgomery every day, ensuring we preserve and better the Alabama we all know and love for future generations to enjoy.”

Ainsworth’s first term has been marked by his heavy involvement in the state’s economic issues.

He has overseen the Alabama Small Business Commission, a panel tasked with recommending policies and legislation benefiting small businesses operating across the state.

During last year’s COVID-19 crisis, Ainsworth formed an emergency task force within the commission to focus on the reopening of Alabama’s economy. Most of the task force’s plan was implemented by the state during the reopening process.

Ainsworth has also served as chairman of the Aerospace States Association, a national group whose mission is to support and promote the interests of the aerospace industry in Alabama and across the nation.

Ainsworth has outlined that his focus moving forward would be to preserve Alabama values while improving opportunities for future generations.

“The main reason I’m running is for my kids, your kids, your grandkids’ future,” he stated. “It is a huge time commitment, but I want to say this: I want our kids, your kids, everybody in here to always be proud to call Alabama home. I don’t want our kids to have to move to Atlanta or Nashville or Austin or another state. I want them to be able to live right here in Alabama and have the same opportunities as any kids in the world. We’re going to do that.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia