Throughout central Alabama are numerous landmarks and a ttractions that are favorites of residents and tourists alike. Here are a few of the more popular places to visit in the Metropolitan Region.
Noccalula Falls (Gadsden)
The amazing falls cascade down 90 feet of Lookout Mountain into a flourishing ravine and under the Gilliland-Reese Covered Bridge. Here you will find a botanical garden, a pioneer homestead, nature trails and picnic areas. This ideal location for family fun also features year-round camping and a petting zoo.
Eddie Aldridge first fell in love with the natural beauty of the Coxe Family Estate in 1966, when he was hired to plant three magnolias on the grounds. Eddie and his father, respected horticulturalists, recognized the grandeur of the land, and in 1977 Eddie purchased the property with the intention of developing it as a public garden. Twenty years later the gardens opened to the public, and today they are the site of many weddings, public celebrations and private events.
Named after the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto, the Desoto Caverns are a vast system of caves and underground rock formations. The main room of the caverns is twelve stories high, with an area larger than a football field. The history of the DeSoto Caverns is almost as vast and complicated the caverns themselves. Over the years, the caves have been used as Native American burial ground, Confederate gunpowder-mining center, being mined during the civil war for saltpeter, an illegal Prohibition cave-saloon known as "the Bloody bucket" and finally becoming an public attraction in the 1960's. Surrounding the caverns are a number of attractions and games designed for the whole family.
One of the most popular zoos in Alabama, the Birmingham Zoo draws over 450,000 visitors each year. Among the 750 animals in the permanent exhibits are Komodo Dragon, Red Panda and American Bison. The zoo frequently hosts traveling exhibits with exotic species of animals, and the permanent animal list boasts endangered species from six continents. The zoo has been enriching the Birmingham community for over 50 years.