Those who wish they could go to infinity and beyond shouldn't miss Hunstville's U.S. Space & Rocket Center, One Tranquility Base (tel. 256/721-7155; www.spacecamp.com/museum), which holds over 1,500 pieces of space-program hardware. Translation: Yes, you get to see big rockets like Saturn V and Apollo 16's command module, among other cool celestial equipment. There are also rides for the kids, a nifty simulated trip to Mars, and the Spacedrome IMAX theater. Nearby in the town of Tuscumbia is the birthplace of one of Alabama's most revered daughters, Helen Keller. At Ivy Green, 300 W. North Commons (tel. 888/329-2124; www.birthplaceofhelenkeller.com), you can see the main house and the cottage where Keller was born, including her entire Braille library and her original Braille typewriter, all on a beautiful tract of 624 acres. While you're in Tuscumbia, head over to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, 617 Hwy. 72 W. (tel. 800/239-2643; www.alamhof.org), where you can learn about some of Alabama's famous musical sons and daughters, like Nat King Cole, W.H. Handy, Emmylou Harris, Wilson Pickett, and Hank Williams Sr. Speaking of, the town of Georgiana hosts the Hank Williams Sr. Boyhood Home & Museum, 127 Rose St. (tel. 334/376-2396; www.hankmuseum.com), full of ol' Hank's personal belongings, newspaper clippings, sheet music, and the church bench he sang on as a child.
The picturesque town of Monroeville will thrill the literary-minded, as it is the birthplace of two of American literature's most important 20th-century writers, pals Truman Capote and Harper Lee. Fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird should be sure to check out the Old Courthouse Museum, 31 N. Alabama Ave. (tel. 251/575-7433), the site that served as the backdrop for Lee's book of racial struggle in the 1930s South.
Spelunking enthusiasts should check out the myriad caves in the state, many found in Alabama's state parks. Particularly interesting is Sequoyah Caverns, 1438 County Rd. 731, Valley Head (tel. 800/843-5098; www.sequoyahcaverns.com), with its amazing underground rock formations and great campgrounds. Explorers of a different kind -- those who live by the credo "One man's junk is another man's treasure" -- will be equally fascinated by Unclaimed Baggage, 509 W. Willow St., Scottsboro (tel. 256/259-1525; www.unclaimedbaggage.com), the last stop for unclaimed airport items and, in essence, one of the more interesting thrift stores in the country.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.