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7 noteworthy staycations in Alabama

The Station at 5 Points; Cottage Hill, Montgomery, AL A hip, renovated firehouse in Montgomery's Five Points area gives guests walking-distance access to the city's top attractions. | Photo courtesy The Station at 5 Points

Italy’s Amalfi Coast may be lovely this time of year, but getting there can take up to a full day of traveling. Ditto for Hawai‘i, Rio de Janeiro, and other far-flung vacation favorites. And let’s face it, most of us don’t have time for that. Sometimes all you need to scratch that travel itch is a nice, relaxing staycation.

Fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves. Explore fascinating facets of Alabama history. Indulge in a luxurious spa treatment or 2. Whether you’re looking for the lap of luxury, a super hip hideaway, or a rustic tree house (with llama neighbors, no less!), Alabama has plenty of great places to get away from it all.

1. St. James Hotel Selma, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

St. James Hotel

The newly debuted St. James Hotel in Selma sits in the heart of the town's storied Civil Rights history. | Photo courtesy Hilton

Newly reopened, Dallas County’s St. James Hotel Selma offers the perfect home base for a deep dive into Selma’s rich civil rights history. For starters, the building itself was spared from destruction during the Civil War thanks largely to hotel manager and former slave Benjamin Sterling Turner, who went on to become Alabama’s first Black congressperson. On-site, enjoy newly renovated rooms and suites, an elegant courtyard, and delicately fashioned wrought iron balconies with pretty views of the Alabama River and Selma’s famous Edmund Pettus Bridge. About 4 blocks away, the Old Depot Museum houses artifacts such as a handwritten hospital log from the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers who were beaten by state troopers. Explore the eateries and parks in the historic district just outside your door or cross the bridge to visit Civil Rights Memorial Park and the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute. Rates start at $119.

2. Grand Bohemian Hotel

Grand Bohemian Lobby

Bold design and art-forward amenities greet guests at Birmingham's Grand Bohemian. | Photo courtesy Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook

True, this luxurious hideaway in Birmingham’s Mountain Brook area is close to some of the city’s best-loved attractions, such as the zoo and botanical gardens. But when it comes to entertainment, guests don’t need to leave this boldly designed compound at all. A pool and high-end spa beckon relaxation seekers. 

Grand Bohemian Poseidon Spa

Would it be a staycation without a spa treatment? Treat yourself at the Poseidon Spa at Birmingham's Grand Bohemian. | Photo courtesy Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook

An on-property art gallery spotlighting top regional talent sates connoisseurs of a different type. And a newly expanded curriculum at the on-site cooking school invites guests to indulge their inner gourmands. Blend wine under the tutelage of a master sommelier, make Spanish tapas, or perfect homemade pasta in a state-of-the-art kitchen. Classes start at $119. Hotel rates start at $379.

Read more: How to have a magical visit to Birmingham

3. Tree Top Tree House

Tree Top Tree House

This rustic treehouse in Shorter boasts glamping-style amenities and llamas for neighbors. | Photo by Teresa and Jason Price

Kick back 30 feet in the air in one of the most unusual vacation rentals in the state. Nestled in the countryside between Montgomery and Auburn, this tree house on the 17-acre Bella Luna Farm in Shorter is a glamping-plus experience like no other. The cozy accommodation offers features such as a small deck, TV, AC, and a kitchenette with running water—not to mention the oak trunk running through the living room. But the real action takes place at ground level. A pack of alpacas lives in the field below the lofty perch, offering plenty of fluffy entertainment. Enjoy a farm tour and spend a weekend learning as much or as little as you like about the working farm from owners Teresa and Jason Price. Guests can even pitch in on some of the tougher “chores.” “We usually have some baby goats in the early fall and are still gathering eggs from our chickens,” Jason says. From $199.

4. The Lodge at Gulf State Park

The Lodge Perch Restaurant Patio

On-site dining, infinity pool and bike rentals help guests relax at The Lodge in Gulf Shores. | Photo courtesy The Lodge at Gulf State Park

For those whose ideal staycation leans more “infinity pool” and “white-sand beach,” The Lodge at Gulf State Park is an excellent place to unwind in the Gulf breeze. Terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows in the common areas frame postcard-perfect sunset views. Firepits, board games, and a hopping poolside bar provide plenty of entertainment on-site. 

The Lodge Suite

Soak up beach vibes with a balcony room at Gulf Shore's The Lodge, situated on the white sands of the Alabama State Park system's crown jewel. | Photo courtesy The Lodge at Gulf State Park

And since the Hilton property is located inside Gulf State Park, guests have easy access to 28 miles of hiking and biking trails through 9 different ecosystems and a tram to other park destinations, including a Nature Center with plenty of kid-friendly programming. 

The Lodge Lobby

Find unparalleled beach views and nature-based activities at The Lodge, the upscale hotel located in Gulf State Park. | Photo courtesy The Lodge at Gulf State Park

The hotel’s construction, completed in 2018, included the restoration of 27 acres, so keep an eye out for the last sea turtle hatchlings of the season and the endangered Alabama beach mouse. From $129.

5. Springwood Inn

This stately Anniston bed-and-breakfast with views of the Talladega National Forest calls to outdoor adventurers and solace-seekers alike. Cyclists can pedal on one of many trails, including on the iconic Pinhoti National Recreation Trail and the Chief Ladiga Trail. Guests can also roam the 20 acres of foothills and gardens—complete with a small waterfall and a pond—that surround the historic home. The truly ambitious might seek out a hammock slung between magnolia trees or take complimentary wine and cheese onto the veranda overlooking the state’s highest point, Mount Cheaha. Four elegantly appointed rooms with private baths include a gourmet breakfast each morning. From $175.

6. The Station at 5 Points

The Station at 5 Points

The circa-1930s Five Points fire station in Montgomery is now home to one of the city's most unique vacation rentals. | Photo courtesy The Station at 5 Points

A renovated firehouse-turned-hotel in one of Montgomery’s oldest neighborhoods gives guests walking-distance access to the capital city’s most in-demand attractions. The hotel is 2 blocks from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and just under a mile walk from the world-class—and recently expanded—Legacy Museum. In between, find historic Dexter Avenue stretching all the way to the Capitol as well as the Freedom Rides and Rosa Parks museums. The firehouse itself, built in the 1920s, stands on the route the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers took into the city. “We couldn’t be located in a more historically significant part of town,” proprietor Stephanie Reynolds says. This hidden gem may be surrounded by history, but inside it is a thoroughly modern getaway. From $95.

7. GunRunner

GunRunner Hotel

Each stylish room in Florence's Gunrunner Hotel pays homage to regional icons, like this suite dedicated to local fashion designer Billy Reid. | Photo courtesy of GunRunner Hotel

One of the state’s chicest boutique hotels happens to be housed in a former pawn shop from which it takes its name. The GunRunner in downtown Florence is known for oozing style thanks to its 10 luxuriously appointed suites that pay homage to icons from local fashion designer Billy Reid to genre-defining architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed a home nearby. The GunRunner has the city’s only publicly accessible rooftop. The accommodation boasts top-of-the-line spa treatments at the GunRunner Spa, from deep-tissue massage to more medically informed treatments like CoolSculpting and SkinPen sessions. Rates not yet set.

Pro traveler and guide author Jessica Fender scours the South and beyond for destination-worthy accommodations. Follow her adventures at 

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