Think outside the gift box this holiday season. From adrenaline-pumping adventures to high-end entertainment, the ways to experience Alabama are vast and varied, and they also make a perfect Christmas present.
Here’s a twist on our annual “Made in Alabama” holiday gift guide, because there’s nothing you can put under the tree. But these Alabama experiences are sure to create memories that last long after the season has faded.
Explore the Black Belt
Add a little excitement to your shopping list with an adventure in Alabama’s Black Belt, the southern region of the state named for its dark, fertile soil.
There are zip line tours that send riders soaring high above the Chattahoochee River from Georgia to Alabama near Phenix City, starting at about $45 per person. Elsewhere, there are all-inclusive deer and hog hunting packages at Hawkins Ridge Lodge in Eufaula, priced from about $2,000.
Other options are listed at Alabama Black Belt Adventures, along with ideas to customize your own trip to experience the culinary talents and arts scene across the region.
Delve into the science and art of winemaking at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook.
Expert sommeliers lead these hands-on, 90-minute wine blending classes, where participants learn the history of the craft, discuss flavors and structures and create their own red wine blend.
Classes cost $129 per person, and guests will take home a customized label for their wine.
Take in the beauty of coastal Alabama with a stay at the posh Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Point Clear.
Situated on 550 acres along Mobile Bay, the Grand has been a favorite getaway for locals and visitors alike for more than 170 years.
In that time, it has transformed from a two-story building with 40 rooms to a sprawling modern hub of leisure and business travel, with more than 400 guest rooms and suites, a 20,000-square-foot spa, two golf courses and gourmet dining.
Founded in 1847, the Grand’s storied history features a stint as a hospital during the Civil War and as a training site for American soldiers during World War II. Notable guests over the years have included Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, Barbara Bush and Dolly Parton.
Explore the great outdoors with a gift card for Alabama State Parks. The 21-park system offers a variety of activities, from hiking the foothills of the Appalachians at Cheaha State Park to relaxing on the beach at Gulf State Park.
Recent additions include an off-road vehicle course, archery park and renovated cabins at Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula. Other improvements include renovations to the mountaintop chalets at Lake Guntersville State Park.
Earlier this year, Alabama taxpayers approved an $85 million bond issue that will fuel upgrades to campgrounds, cabins, playgrounds and other amenities across the park system in the coming years.
For the golfers on your list, consider a 2023 Trail Card for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Priced at $44.95 through Dec. 31, the card offers entry to the trail’s loyalty program, along with discounts and other perks.
The RTJ Trail, which spans 11 sites in Alabama, includes championship-caliber courses that draw golfers from across the U.S.
The 26 public courses are carved out of hills and valleys around the state and offer distinctly different scenes. Golfers can skirt the shores of 600-acre Lake Saugahatchee at Grand National in the Auburn/Opelika area, take in sweeping views of the Tennessee River at The Shoals in Muscle Shoals or play among marshlands, creeks and cloverleaf bunkers at Magnolia Grove in Mobile.
The trail is hailed as world-class golf from leaders in the sports and tourism industries.
Catch a show
If there’s a music lover or theater buff on your list, there’s an Alabama experience for them, too.
Downtown Birmingham is home to a pair of historic, renovated theaters that host a variety of live events.
The Alabama Theatre, built in 1927 as a movie palace for Paramount Films, will host the State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine performing “Sleeping Beauty” in January. Ticket prices start at $27.
Meanwhile, at The Lyric Theatre, upcoming performances include a Bee Gees tribute band, with tickets priced from $21. The Lyric, which dates back to 1914, was built for vaudeville shows.
A little farther south, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery has been a performing arts hub for theatrical performances and education programs in the state for 40 years. ASF produces classics, contemporary plays, musicals and more, and a four-show subscription package starts at $100.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.