Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls is a 90 foot waterfall located in Gadsden. Photo by U. Glidewell

It’s summer, it’s hot, the kids are out of school, and it’s time to be thinking about vacations. As you’re reading this, I’ll be on a cruise ship with my three daughters. It’s not a long cruise…only four days, but I’m really excited. Vacations are good, vacations on a cruise ship are better, and time I can spend with my daughters is priceless.

I know how busy life can be, whether you’re still working or retired. My “To Do” list has more things on it each day than I could possibly accomplish. Yours probably does too. But may I suggest that, however much you have to do, you schedule some time to take a break. Your work and responsibilities will both profit for you’re taking that break.

Vacations don’t have to include a cruise or even traveling a long distance, and they don’t need to be expensive. Some of the neatest places to visit can be found right here in Alabama. Here are a few of my favorites, with a link to their website:

• DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne. Conveniently located on Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, it offers a family-friendly environment and one of the prettiest waterfalls anywhere. It’s worth the trip just to see DeSoto Falls.

• Noccalula Falls in Gadsden. The 90-foot waterfall is worth the trip all by itself, but the park offers a lot more than that. For a modest admission fee, you can ride an authentic Huntington miniature train through the park. You can then stop at various places, pet and even feed the animals. At $6 for adults (less for seniors and military) and $4 for children 4-12, it’s one of the best deals around.

• Cheaha State Park on top of Cheaha Mountain. At 2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha Mountain is the highest point in Alabama. The park offers hiking trails, the Observation Tower, picnic tables and much more. Admission is $5 for adults and children 12 or older (less for seniors). $2 for children ages 4-11. You can picnic there or grab lunch at the restaurant. Be sure to check out Bald Rock while you’re there.

• U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. It’s more expensive than some of the other “vacation” activities, but it’s worth the price. Admission for adults is $25, kids 5-12 is $17, and children four and under are free. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and it’s worth the trip to Huntsville to see the history of American space travel.

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s enough to get you started. You can also Google “Best vacation spots in Alabama” for an extensive list. Whether you choose one of these I’ve suggested or plan your own, I hope you’ll take time to vacation and make memories with the people you love.

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