We’ve all heard the song “Sweet Home Alabama”—that’s enough reason to experience the state. Spend an unforgettable Fourth of July vacation in Alabama, a state that’s part down-home country, part American history, and part outdoor adventure. Whether your family wants to visit a national park, hit the beach, or maybe even learn a thing or two at a museum, Alabama won’t disappoint. Check out hundreds of cozy Alabama vacation rentals and find your new sweet home away from home. That said, here are the top family-friendly cities in Alabama to visit on Independence Day.

1. Birmingham

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Source: Flickr/g – s – h

Alabama’s largest city has lovingly earned the nickname, “The Magic City.” Founded in 1871 as a steel-making center, it’s now a bustling hub of culture, heritage, and entertainment. Come for one of its beautiful golf courses, the fabulous shopping, or the world-class dining. There’s plenty to see and do including the Barber Motorsports Park, and the McWane Science Center. The Barber Motorsports Park might be just as fun for Dad as it is for the kids. Since opening in 2003, it has become one of North America’s finest courses for car and motorcycle racing. Catch a race or visit the museum with more than 1300 vintage and modern motorcycles and cars from 17 different nations, including the largest collection of Lotus race cars in the world!

2. Montgomery

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Source: Pixabay/tpsdave

From Civil War to civil rights, Alabama’s state capitol is rich with history. At the top of the must-see list is the historic state capitol building where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America in 1861. Nearly 100 years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his moving speech here at the end of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march. What a perfect place for your kids to see their history class come to life!

3. Huntsville

elephant hippopotamus
Source: Flickr/Laura

Huntsville is the birthplace of America’s space program is rich in history as well as technology. Come here for the museums and cultural opportunities like the North Alabama Railroad Museum, Twickenham Historic District, Monte Sano State Park, or Bridge Street Town Centre. Top on our list for the whole family to enjoy is Harmony Park Safari. This federally licensed nature preserve has free-ranging exotic and endangered animals. Drive through the two-mile route to see zebras, zebus, antelope, buffalo, a camel, ostriches, pythons, and crocodiles.

4. Mobile

Source: Pixabay/skeeze

When you think of Mardi Gras, you probably think of New Orleans, but Mobile, Alabama was actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States. This city was founded in 1702 as the original capitol of the Louisiana Territory, and now attracts visitors for its natural beauty, modern architecture, amazing museums, and famous seafood. Explore the USS Alabama, the mighty battleship that won nine battle during WWII, stroll the 65-acre gardens of Bellingrath Gardens or get a glimpse of life in the Old South at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion.

5. Lake Lurleen State Park

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Source: Flickr/Outdoor Alabama

If you’d rather have an outdoor adventure than visit one of the cities above, look no further than Lake Lurleen State Park. Located near Tuscaloosa, this park is situated on the 250-acre Lake Lurleen. Go fishing, swimming, or explore some of the 23.45 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and the entire family will love some modern camping in one of the area’s vacation rentals.

6. Gulf Shores

Source: Pixabay/moneyfool

It’s not summer without a trip to the beach, and Gulf Shores’s sugar-white beaches are just the ticket. Work on your tan, before playing one of the champion golf courses, chartering a fishing trip, or visiting one of the wildlife areas and historic sites. If your family is in it for the water sports, travel to Foley, a town about 20 minutes from Gulf. This water-sports paradise is surrounded by back bays and rivers. It’s the perfect aquatic getaway with sugar-white beaches, fresh seafood, and championship golf courses.

7. Childersburg

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Source: Flickr/Tennessee Wanderer

Take your family to explore a cave that’s 12 stories deep at DeSoto Caverns. Named after Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto who visited what was believed to be the location of a Coosa Nation village in 1540, the DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park offers guided tours of the cave with a light, sound, and water show on every tour. There are also 25 other attractions outside the caverns including a maze and wacky water golf. The Caverns will also be celebrating Independence Day Weekend with their Home Sweet Home Food & Music Festival. The park will be filled with live music, delicious food, and plenty of memories to make with your family.

8. Montevallo

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Source: Flickr/Curtis Palmer

Be sure to check out the American Village Historic Site in Montevallo. In this museum of ideas, you can follow America’s journey for independence and self-government. Highlights of the American Village include a full-sized replica of the Oval Office, Washington Hall, inspired by George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Colonial Chapel, inspired by one of America’s oldest churches. Thousands of visitors flock here for the special programs on major national holidays with Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day among the most meaningful.

9. Jacksonville

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Source: Flickr/Cynthia Phillips

Did you know that Jacksonville was first called Dayton? This city was founded in 1833 on land purchased from Creek Indian Chief Du-Hoag Ladiga and is now home to more than 12,000 people. Reconnect with nature along the Chief Ladiga Trail. This trail extends 32.5 miles from the Georgia state line to Weaver, Alabama and is the longest continuous paved rail-trail in the United States. Located on the Chief Ladiga Trail is the Historic Jacksonville Train Depot, which was constructed in the 1860’s and was used by the Confederacy during the Civil War. It has since been restored and is a great place to explore!

10. Cullman

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Source: Flickr/Linda

Cullman, located 45 miles of Birmingham, gives you that small-town charm that one should expect in Alabama. Visit the Ave Maria Grotto to see 125 miniatures of places from all over the world. Next on the to-do list is the Clarkson Covered Bridge and Park. Perfect for a hiking or a shaded picnic, this park is the location of one of the largest covered bridges in Alabama and the Battle of Hog Mountain site.