Enterprise, AL is a beautiful small city located in southeastern Alabama. This is considered one of the best small cities in the state to live in as it offers an excellent blend of a small urban environment surrounded by beautiful countryside. The downtown area has a typical small southern city feel with walkable streets lined with various shops, and restaurants.
The most famous downtown landmark is the Boll Weevil Monument. As the only statue in the world dedicated to an insect pest, it may seem like an odd choice to adorn the city center. The boll weevil is a beetle that feeds on cotton buds which was the major crop grown here in the early 1900s. At the time, the cotton industry was already in decline and the added pressure brought on by boll weevil damage forced many farmers to diversify into peanuts, tomatoes and other food products. This led to an economic resurgence for the area which is still going on today. In fact, this region produces over 75% of all the peanuts in the US and tomatoes are a big crop as well. Both crops are celebrated annually in the region with their own dedicated festivals. The massive National Peanut Festival is held every November in Dothan, AL, which is about 30 minutes to the east of Enterprise. The Slocomb Tomato Festival is held in Slocomb, about 30 minutes southeast of Enterprise, every June. Both are great festivals and worth a visit.
The Pioneer Museum of Alabama is located in Troy, AL about 45 minutes north of Enterprise. This is an old farmstead which was established to retain the artifacts and heritage of the area. Here you'll find a number of interesting exhibits spread out over the 40-acre property including an 1830s 'Dogtrot' cabin, a Tenants House, an 1881 logging locomotive, a gristmill, a one-room schoolhouse, and many other great exhibits and artifacts.
Mr D's RV Park is located on RT-231 in nearby Ozark. This is one of the best RV parks in the area and it provides great access to the attractions in the area as well as a direct path to our route to Hot Springs National Park.
The road trip to Hot Springs National Park is fairly straightforward and involves passing through several major cities. From Enterprise, take RT-167 north to RT-87 north which will connect to RT-231 north Just south of Troy. If you are staying at Mr D's, simply take RT-231 north to Troy. From Troy, continue on RT-231 north to Montgomery. In Montgomery, take I-85 west across town and pick up I-65 north to Birmingham. After passing through Birmingham, take I-22 west to I-269 west to I-59 north. This will take you into Memphis, TN. From Memphis, take I-40 west to Little Rock, AR. Then take I-30 south to get to Hot Springs, AR.
The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice are related facilities less than a mile apart in downtown Montgomery which feature exhibits and memorial features dedicated to those who have been victimized, imprisoned or enslaved by racial injustice. The museum features a number of powerful exhibits including immersive interactive exhibits and films detailing the struggles of marginalized people through recent American history. The memorial is located within walking distance, but a shuttle bus is also available, and it also has several very powerful features. So much so, it is also known as the National Lynching Memorial. These two facilities provide a powerful and compelling connection to this important topic, making it a must-see in Montgomery.
The Woods RV Park located on the southwest side of town is a good place to stay while in the area. It is conveniently located off I-65 just a few minutes from downtown.
Located on the east side of Birmingham, AL is a national historic landmark of epic size, not only physically, but in its importance to the economy of the area and the country in general. The Sloss Furnaces operated as a pig iron production facility from 1882 to 1971. It was the first facility of its type in Birmingham, which was a city founded in the Jones Valley just 11 years earlier to take advantage of the natural resources for iron production in the area.
The city founders knew all the materials necessary to make large quantities of iron were all available within a 30-mile radius of Birmingham, including massive iron ore deposits, coal, limestone, dolomite, and clay. All they needed was a foundry to put it all together. The Sloss Furnaces were that foundry and they were huge, build upon a 50-acre site donated by a local land company. The facility produced about 24,000 tons of iron in its first year and within ten years, 18 other foundries had sprung up in the county with a total production of over 700,000 tons.
Over time, the site grew to be the largest production site of pig iron in the world. This made Birmingham an economic powerhouse in the south and allowed the city to grow into what it is today. In 1977, a grant allowed the city to stabilize the vast majority of the historic structures of the Sloss Furnaces and they are open today for tours.
Birmingham South RV Park is a great place to stop for the night. It's located on the south side of the city right off of I-65. It is close to all the attractions in downtown Birmingham and is only about 25 minutes from the Sloss Furnaces.
What do the king of rock-n-roll, US presidents, Hollywood celebrities, top musicians, and major sports stars all have in common? They have all eaten at Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, and so can you.
This historic and iconic BBQ rib joint located off a back alley in downtown Memphis has been serving up its famous ribs to the rich and famous and everyday folks since 1948. You can smell the ribs cooking in their charcoal ovens as soon as you round the corner to the alley. Walking down the steps to the dining area is like ascending into the depths of porcine history. The walls are covered with old art and the signed photos of the famous people that came before you. You can even peek back into the kitchen and see where the magic happens. The huge ovens loaded with BBQ gold almost ready for eating.
This is a very unique place. Yes, the food is great, including perhaps the best dry-rubbed pork ribs you'll ever have, but it is so much more than that. It has history, it has character, it has personality. The average employee here has dedicated enough of their life to the place to have been born, graduated high school and headed to college for a degree in the BBQ arts and it shows. There may not be another restaurant in the country that stands as a monument to their respective food genre like Rendevous does. It is a must-visit when passing through Memphis.
T.O. Fuller State Park has a good campground in the area for an overnight stay. It's located in a fairly urban area, but you wouldn't know it from the inside. It's quiet, well maintained, wooded, easy to navigate and close to the downtown attractions.
The riverfront area of Little Rock, AR from the William J. Clinton Presidential Bridge to the US-70B bridge is a beautiful, walkable area to spend the day shopping and seeing the sights. In this area, you'll find the excellent River Market Area where you can shop for everything from souvenirs to commemorate your tri to fresh produce or even hot international foods at one of many food stalls.
A couple of blocks to the east is the William J Clinton Presidential Library which details the life, presidency, and legacy of our 42nd president. A few blocks west of River Market you'll find the excellent Old Statehouse Museum, where you can catch up on Arkansas history within a stunning building circa. 1833. All along the riverbank in this area is a beautiful park with walking trails, an amphitheater, and a splash pad for the kids. This area makes for a wonderful day out in a great little city.
The best place to stay the night here is the Downtown Riverside RV Park. This excellent facility is literally right across the river from the River Market Area. You can even walk across the river by foo ton the William J. Clinton Presidential Bridge which has trails that connect to the campground.
Hot Springs National Park is a different national park experience then you may be used to. Unlike most national parks which set aside large areas of unspoiled regions of natural significance, this park aims to preserve an area of significant modern human history. Sure, the surrounding hills and beautiful countryside are also part of the park, but those are not the focus here. What is the focus is the naturally occurring mineral hot springs in the area and how we humans utilized those for therapeutic purposes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
That history occurs in the area known as “Bathhouse Row” which is a couple of city blocks long in downtown Hot Springs. On those blocks stand several bathhouses that used the local hot springs as sources for hot mineral waters. These waters were used by wealthier folks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to “cure” all sorts of ailments. A couple of the bathhouses are still active if you'd like to enjoy a good soak and feel the benefits of this therapy of days gone by.
The park has no entrance fees and the visitor's center is located in the Fordyce Bathhouse, which should be your first stop on your tour here. There you can take one of the excellent free guided ranger tours of the bathhouse or you can explore on your own. The tour covers many of the rooms and facilities in Fordyce and gives some very interesting insights and history regarding the many features of the building.
Behind Bathhouse Row is the Promenade. This beautiful paved walking path makes for a great family walk on a sunny afternoon. It also provides access to some of the trailheads which lead up the mountain behind Bathhouse Row. At the top of the hill is a fire tower which provides excellent views of the valley below. There are also a number of hot spring features in the area including the beautiful hot spring above ground in the park.
The best place to park is the free parking garage on Exchange Street 1 block west of Bathhouse Row. It's a short, easy walk to the visitor's center from there.
A great place to eat is The Grateful Head Pizza Oven and Beer Garden. It is located on Exchange Street just north of the Parking Garage. They have outstanding pizzas that are served in a beautiful wooded patio environment. All along Bathhouse Row, across the street from the bathhouses, there are also numerous small shops and boutique stores to visit.
The best place to stay is Catherine's Landing RV Resort. This is a large upscale RV park located right on the river. They have a beautiful pool, a splash pad, a huge pavilion/entertainment complex and a lot more. For a more classical camping experience try Lake Catherine State Park. If you're lucky you may be able to land one of their lakefront campsites which for an incredibly beautiful camping experience.