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Alabama slopes from the Cumberland Plateau across ridges and fertile plains to the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. The first European presence was established by the French along the coast in the early 1700s. During the next 100 years, settlement increased as overland immigrants from Tennessee & Georgia moved here. With progress, cotton fed the port of Mobile and the steel industry drove the Birmingham economy. Today the state is known for its diverse landscape, its antebellum architecture, and most importantly, its Civil Rights history. Alabama offers a transformative journey connecting our past and present through the settings that sh aped our nation’s Civil Rights story. 

Alabama offers exceptional football, and even better food – from being one of the finest barbecue havens in the country to oysters & catfish.

 

 

Day 1 – Home to Normal, IL 

Travel day through Wisconsin into Illinois. Excitement will build as we share our anticipation of Alabama adventures during our welcome dinner this evening at Destihl’s Brewery in Normal. 

Included Meals: Welcome Dinner 

Hotel: Hampton Inn 

 

Day 2 – Normal to Franklin, TN 

Breakfast is convenient at our hotel. Begin to look for emerging signs of spring as we travel through Western Kentucky and into Tennessee. We settle into our hotel and partake in the Drury’s Kickback Reception, which is a complete light meal. We are entertained this evening by R&J’s good friend Kevin Williams. Kevin, in his engaging style, sets the tone for the next 10 days, through the stories and songs of some of Alabama’s most iconic musicians. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Drury Kickback 

Hotel: Drury Plaza 

 

Day 3 – Franklin to Florence, AL 

Drury breakfast is the best before we depart. In less than an hour, we see the Sweet Home Alabama Welcome sign and realize our long-awaited adventure has begun! Just down the road we enter the village of Mooresville and think we must be dreaming. This is one of the most pleasant little “storybook” hamlets you’ve ever seen. Think intimate, tree-covered lanes, picket fences, garden gates, singing birds, and old-fashioned rose gardens. The people are warm and inviting! We are privileged to be welcomed to their little town. Our host is Mayor Nikki Sprader! What a delightful start to Sweet Home Alabama. Lunch today is “revealing.” The 360 Grille is a revolving restaurant, located on the top of the Renaissance Tower, offering breathtaking, panoramic views of the Muscle Shoals area. This area is famous in the music recording genre, so next we visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The list of artists exhibited here is endless. Now we visit Ivy Green, the birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller. Named “The Miracle Worker,” Helen was known as America’s First Lady of Courage. Then back to the music theme, we are treated to a private tour of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, tabbed “The Hit Recording Capital of the World.” Stand exactly where dozens of music stars recorded their hit songs: The Oak Ridge Boys, George Jones, Bob Dylan, Cher, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones…to name a few. We’ll wrap up our first day in Alabama with a light dinner & treat at Trowbridge Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop. The Trowbridge Family has been charming patrons in this same location since 1917! Wow! Our lovely Hampton is just a stones throw away at the end of the street. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Hotel: Hampton Inn Downtown 

 

Day 4 – Florence to Tuscaloosa, AL 

Enjoy breakfast at our hotel before we make a quick stop at the Florence Indian Mound nearby. This is a 43 ft high Native American Earthen Mound built around 500 BC. Soon we cross the Wilson Dam across the Tennessee River and traverse the backroads to Oakville, the birthplace and hometown of Jesse Owens. Jesse is quite possibly America’s greatest track athlete ever. He won a record setting 4 Gold Medals in the 1936 Olympics. His life and feats are well chronicled in the Jesse Owens Museum. On to lunch, it doesn’t get much better than The Freight House in idyllic Hartselle. This freight depot was built in 1915 and has seen tens of thousands of cotton bales in its glory days. Today, though, this just might be the best “cotton pickin” lunch you’ve ever had! Next up is the amazing Ava Maria Grotto, housing more than 125 miniature replicas of Biblical structures! We doubt you’ve ever seen anything like this before. Bring your camera. R&J loves covered bridges and we found one of the best! The Clarkson-Legg Bridge was built in 1904 and it is beautiful! When you think of natural bridges, you usually don’t think Alabama. But here it is. The longest natural bridge east of the Rockies. Hope you still have your camera. Then we are headed to Tuscaloosa, but on the way we stop for down home southern cookin’ at Cedar Landing Restaurant. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Hotel: Hampton Inn University 

 

Day 5 – Tuscaloosa to Demopolis, AL 

This morning we wake up in the Home of The Crimson Tide: The University of Alabama. This is the epicenter of college football. Our first stop is the Jemison Mansion, one of the south’s antebellum masterpieces. This sets the stage for a tour of the U of A Campus, culminating at the Bryant-Denny Stadium. We are privileged to explore the field, the locker rooms, the recruiting venue, and the Crimson Tide Hall of Fame. Lunch is on your own in downtown Tuscaloosa before we motor the backroads to Aliceville. What an incredible surprise story awaits us here! This is the home of the largest German Prison Camp in America during World War II. Our guess is you never knew this existed. Amazing stories abound. Across the Alabama countryside we roll on our way to Demopolis. Alabama is a treasure of homes and Bluff Hall is one of the sweetest. Built in 1932, it stands tall on the historic White Bluffs for which it is named, overlooking the Tom Bigbee River. We think this is a great night for a pizza party, so enjoy! 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

Hotel: Two Rivers Hotel 

 

Day 6 – Demopolis to Mobile, AL 

Breakfast is provided at the hotel. Another intriguing day is in store. Soon after we depart, we will be driving across the beautiful rolling farmlands of central Alabama. The crops aren’t corn & beans, but catfish! Scores of picturesque catfish ponds grace the countryside. We will be making a brief stop at Harvest Select Catfish where a representative will give us an overview of the industry. The city of Selma is well placed in our memory of the Civil Rights Movement. A local guide, well connected to that history, will give us personal insight to that story. The Tabernacle Baptist Church, Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Old Depot will be among the sights we will visit. Included lunch is a special dining experience at the Gainesville Ridge Dinner Club, who is opening for lunch just for our group! This region of the state is known as The Black Belt because of the black soil. (Just like MN!) So we are making a stop at Black Belt Treasures, an amazing outlet of all Alabama Made Products. Then we will be traveling through some classic southern communities featuring beautiful, historic courthouses and lovely, sweet homes! One of those attractive towns is Monroeville, the hometown of famous authors Truman Capote and Harper Lee. This begs a quick stop at The Old Curiosity Bookshop on the Monroe County Courthouse Square. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Drury Kickback 

Hotel: Drury Inn (2 Nights) 

 

Day 7 – Mobile Bay area 

Great breakfast at the Drury starts our day. Mobile is known as the Azalea City. We just happen to be there during the heart of the blooming season, so we have arranged for a local guide to lead us along Mobile’s famous Azalea Trail. It takes us to the incomparable Bellingrath Gardens, a vibrant, ever changing 65-acre estate, where there is always something blooming. Azaleas, delphinium, dianthus, Easter lilies, hydrangeas, hyacinths, tulips, and fuchsia…just to name a few. During our visit we are treated to an interpretive tour of the Bellingrath Mansion. Exquisite! We stay for the perfect lunch at the Magnolia Café. What a gorgeous morning we just had! Following lunch, we motor the 6 miles across Mobile Bay. You now have a choice to make for the afternoon. Visit the USS Alabama Battleship Park, which includes a tour of the battleship, the USS Drum Submarine, WWII Aircraft Pavilion, and the Tanks & Artillery Exhibit) OR take a scenic drive down the east side of Mobile Bay to Fairhope Pier, Point Clear and Miss Colleen’s House and the incredible Punta Clara Kitchen! Tough choice to make! By the way, Mobile is the hometown of Hank Aaron, baseball’s ultimate Hall of Famer. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Drury Kickback 

 

Day 8 – Mobile to Enterprise, AL 

We start making our way back north and over to the east side of the state. It’s Sunday morning, good time for a Sunday drive. Mid-morning we find ourselves in the very modest South Alabama village of Georgiana. Modest, but oh my! What a gift this humble little hamlet gave the world. Another Hank! THE Hank Williams! We will visit the boyhood home of this ultimate Country music singer/songwriter. Then another great lunch treat: Sunday dinner at the Bates House of Turkey! Established in 1970, they serve only turkey raised at the Bates Family Farm that’s just up the road a few miles. Next up could be the most appealing college campus you’ve ever seen. You be the judge. We think Troy State University is picture perfect. On to the pleasant city of Enterprise in the heart of cotton and pecan country. It’s Sunday afternoon, but several intriguing shops in their beautiful downtown are opening just for us, especially the Boll Weevil Soap, the Weevil Nut Company and Estate Sale Company. A very special included dinner is planned along with a wonderful surprise! 

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express 

 

Day 9 – Enterprise to Montgomery, AL 

We are out the door and on the coach bright an early this morning as we have lots of ground to cover. The backroads guide our way to Eufaula. First stop is the Largemouth Coffee Company which serves the best coffee ever! Right in the same shop is Superior Pecan with its amazing selection of premium pecans and nuts – stock up! So now we visit another of the Sweet Homes of Alabama. Located along an avenue of wondrous homes is the Shorter Mansion. An enchanting white pillared wonder built in 1884 and restored to its original splendor. As guests we’ll enjoy a guided tour and we’ve even been invited to stay for lunch in these beautiful surroundings. Aren’t we something! Montgomery is the State Capital and the heart of our civil rights history. We take the entire afternoon to explore this historic city including The Peace & Justice Memorial, Rosa Parks Museum, Freedom Rides Greyhound Station, Dexter Ave Baptist Church, Hank Williams Museum, and a photo opp of the Capitol building. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Drury Kickback 

Hotel: Drury Inn 

 

Day 10 – Montgomery to Calera, AL 

Another breakfast, then bring your coffee on the coach and just about the time of your last sip, we’ll be pulling into the campus of world-famous Tuskegee Institute. This is the home of Booker T. Washington. We can view the home and hopefully get a peek inside. We’ll do a driving tour of the campus before we make our way to the historic airfield of the WWII legendary Tuskegee Airmen. Another short drive takes us to the well-known iconic Alabama college town of Auburn. Before we get to campus, it’s time for an early lunch at Pannie-George’s Kitchen, serving Southern cuisine at its all time best! Now to the campus of Auburn University, Jordan-Hare Stadium, and the Bo Jackson Statue. They really celebrate football here! No visit to Auburn is complete without a stop at Toomer’s Drug, located on the same corner since 1896. Ranked No 1 by Esquire Magazine, it’s home of their famous Southern Lemonade! Fortified by the best lemonade in the world, we are on to Opelika, the historic sister city of Auburn. We’ll take some time in the courthouse square, graced by the magnificent Lee County Courthouse, standing strong since 1896! Right off the square is the fascinating Museum of East Alabama, sporting amazing & colorful murals depicting early days in cotton country. Now enjoy the scenic, mid-afternoon jaunt through the Alabama countryside to Calera, our resting place for this evening. Dinner will be on your own with restaurants by the hotel. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

Hotel: Hampton Inn 

 

Day 11 – Calera to Guntersville, AL 

Breakfast is served at the hotel. Promptly after departing we find ourselves in downtown Birmingham, epicenter of the Civil Rights Trail, just outside the 16th Avenue Baptist Church. You may remember that this church was bombed by the Klu Lux Klan in 1963, taking the lives of four young girls. Just across the street is historic West Park. You will have some time to walk through the park featuring many sculptures and exhibits depicting this challenging time in our history. Arlington Antebellum House & Gardens is next on our list of discoveries. Then lunch will be on our own with many great options at the downtown Pitzitz Food Hall. On the road again we take the quick freeway route northeast into the scenic Appalachian Mountain region of the state and to the mountain town of Fort Payne – home of none other than the legendary country band, Alabama. The Alabama Fan Club & Museum welcomes us as we relive the likes of Randy Owen, Alabama’s well-known lead singer. Fort Payne is also his hometown. Enjoy the music and the memories! Desoto Falls is a nearby natural wonder, again, have your cameras ready. Soak in the springtime scenery as we make our way to Albertville, famous for, you’d never guess, Fire Hydrant Capital of the World! It’s home of the Mueller Company, a fire hydrant manufacturer. On to Guntersville, a beautiful city nestled on the shores of Guntersville Lake, a part of the Tennessee River waterway, and our home for the evening. Dining tonight is perfect at Wintzell’s Oyster House on the bay. This will be your last chance for incredible catfish, so enjoy! 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

Hotel: Hampton Inn 

 

Day 12 – Guntersville to Franklin, TN 

Enjoy breakfast overlooking the bay before a scenic journey to Scottsboro, “Where The Mountains Meet the Lakes.” Here we discover Unclaimed Baggage. What’s this you say? A treasure hunt like no other! Here is all the lost baggage that was never claimed. Not just a museum but a shopping experience as well. Their motto, “Leave with just as many memories as treasure!” They serve up a great lunch too. On to downtown Huntsville and Harrison Bros. Hardware, a store unlike any other you will visit. This family store has operated in this same location since 1897. It retains its original appearance, and all the counters, displays, wood floors and fixtures are still intact. Sales are still rung up on the 1907 National Cash Register. You will really appreciate this experience. From old to new, we now take time to explore the US Space & Rocket Center. This Smithsonian Affiliate is the World’s Largest Space Museum. We’ll see the A-12 Oxcart Reconnaissance & Research Aircraft, the Space Station, and marvel at the Moon Rocket. At 363 feet, this Saturn V rocket is longer than a football field! A few short miles after departing the Space Center, we exit Alabama right where we came in just a fleeting nine days earlier. A brief time later we return to our lovely Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin. Just like Kevin Williams introduced us to the music of Alabama, Jason Coleman will help us relive those musical memories with his keyboard melodies right at our hotel. Jason is the talented grandson of the legendary Floyd Cramer, considered the Father of The Nashville Sound. A memorable evening indeed. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Drury Kickback 

Hotel: Drury Plaza 

 

Day 13 – Franklin to East Peoria, IL 

Following our last delightful Drury breakfast, we begin our trek home. Traveling again through Kentucky to East Peoria, Illinois. We will take a little time for a shopping & treats break at Patti’s 1880 Settlement in Kentucky. 

Included Meals: Breakfast 

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express 

 

Day 14 – East Peoria to Home 

Traveling through Illinois, Iowa and into our beloved Minnesota, we’ll be curious to see if all the snow banks have melted and we can find signs of spring returning to the north country. What delightful Backroads of ‘Bama memories we share of our Sweet Home Alabama adventure! 

Included Meals: Breakfast 

Motorcoach Per Person Pricing Information

Double: $3,949
Single: $4,979
Triple: $3,689
Quad: $3,519

Motorcoach Travel Protection Per Person

Double: $254
Single: $324

Travel Bucks

$50 Travel Bucks per person earned with this tour

Deposit Due

$100 deposit per person due at time of reservation. Full payment due 30 days prior to depart.

Passport Needed

No

Tour Pace

Moderate Walking

Price Includes

26 Meals & 5 Kickbacks, Hotels & Activities as stated, Luxury Motorcoach



The average temperature while R&J is visiting is 74°
Travel with R & J Tours to a warm destination where it is...
58°
Minneapolis, Mn
70°
Sweet Home Alabama: Backroads Thru ‘Bama
Motorcoach Departure Date:
03/17/2024
Motorcoach Return Date:
03/30/2024

Make a Reservation Online

Tour Map


Tour Highlights

Mooresville - incredibly quaint, peaceful village
Muscle Shoals
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Helen Keller’s Birthplace
Famous Trowbridge Ice cream Shop
360 Grill
Indian Mound and Museum
Freight House Restaurant
Jesse Owens Museum
Ava Maria Grotto
Clarkson Covered Bridge
Natural Bridge
Bryant-Denny Stadium
Aliceville - Largest POW camp in US
Edmund Pettis Bridge
Black Belt Region
Bellingrath Garden and Home
USS Alabama OR Fairhope Pier & Punta Clara Kitchen
Hank Williams Home & Museum
Rosa Parks Museum
Troy State University
Eufaula - the Natchez of Alabama
Montgomery - State Capitol
Pannie George’s Kitchen - authentic southern cuisine
Auburn University
Alabama Fan Club and Museum - Home to group “Alabama”
Unclaimed Baggage Center
Wintzell’s Oyster House
US Space and Rocket Center - Earth’s Largest Space Museum
Private Concerts by Jason Coleman & Kevin Williams



Travel with R & J Tours to a warm destination where it is...
58°
Minneapolis, Mn
70°
Sweet Home Alabama: Backroads Thru ‘Bama
The average temperature while R&J is visiting is 74°
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