Summer’s end sends many of you east on I-20 to get kids settled into college in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
While in the area, and perhaps as a celebration of Empty Nester Status, I suggest a tour of Alabama’s Black Belt Region.
Enjoy all the ingredients of a fantastic road trip: amazing food, historic homes, American history, and the absolute nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
A short seven-hour drive from Dallas, the region encompasses the lower middle section of Alabama, including Tuscaloosa, Livingston, Selma, and Montgomery.
This region’s famously rich soils and landscapes had a profound impact on America’s culture, history, and politics, from prehistoric settlements to essential sites of the Civil Rights Movement, from the famous Gee’s Bend Quilters to breathtakingly beautiful antebellum mansions.
History enthusiasts will enjoy such Civil Rights sites as the Brown Chapel AME Church and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and Safe House Black History Museum in Greensboro, famous for keeping Martin Luther King, Jr. safe overnight while in the area.
Those interested in Native American sites and heritage must visit the Moundville Archaeological Park. This site includes 28 earthen mounds built between 800 and 1,000 years ago. One mound has steps, so you can climb to the top and see the entire area from above. There’s a wonderful museum containing pottery, stone carvings, and other excavated artifacts.
If you want to know more about Alabama’s history, I’d recommend touring the Old Cahawba Archeological Park. In 1819, Cahawba was Alabama’s first state capital, built upon the remains of an earlier ghost town, a 16th century Mississippian Indian village.
Cahawba is an important archaeological site and an authentic ghost town. The grounds, open daily, offer fantastic programming, including a Civil War walking tour, nature walks, cemetery preservation workshops, and haunted history tours.
All the ingredients of a fantastic road trip are included: amazing food, historic homes, American history, and the absolute nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
Foodies? Not far from Selma is a must-eat stop. The Orrville Farmer’s Market is amazing. Pick up locally grown fruit and vegetables, canned goods, jams, jellies, and the most delicious cheese straws I’ve ever eaten.
At the market’s restaurant serving up delicious breakfast and lunch, I enjoyed chicken fried steak, sweet potato casserole, collard greens, and cornbread – for lunch. And I ate every single bite. And I’m not even embarrassed.
Where to rest your weary head? Two recommendations: The Venue at Lakewood in Livingston. Recognized by Southern Living Magazine, this fantastic 1840’s antebellum mansion is an Air B&B property with seventh-generation owners.
Alternatively, stay at the 1850s Greek Revival antebellum mansion Liberty Hall Bed and Breakfast in Camden. Recently voted “2021 Best B&B” by the readers of Alabama Magazine, fifth-generation owners are quite possibly two of the kindest people I have ever met.
Get in the car, y’all, and get ready to start humming “Sweet Home Alabama” on repeat.
Mary Meier-Evans, of University Park, has a Texas-sized curiosity. Check out her blog and podcast at thecuriouscowgirl.com.