52 Things to do Before Going Back to School

He is the rockers among mobile musicians: the Marshall Hanwell , a speaker in the style of famous guitar amplifiers, which is also known by the great stages of the world.

Sleep in an aquarium! zipline through the treetops! End summer 2017 with a bang!

We’ve compiled a list of 51 attractions in Northeast Alabama and our surrounding areas to help make the rest of your summer a blast. Each one of these attractions are family friendly and are within driving distance of Calhoun County.


  1. Picnic, Fish, Swim, Hike, or Camp at Cheaha State Park

Explore all there is to do in Calhoun County’s backyard!

The six-acre Cheaha Lake offers some of the best recreational bass and bluegill fishing in the area. Three beautiful waterfalls are found just a short distance from the Cheaha State Park in the Talladega National Forest. Cheaha Falls, High Falls, and Devil’s Den. Rent a space for primitive camping or reserve a cabin overlooking the breathtaking views from Alabama’s highest point.

Day use fees apply for Cheaha Lake and park entry. Parking fees may apply to access trails.

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  1.  Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls, in Gadsden, cascades over 90 feet into the Black Creek ravine. Explore all the park has to offer and stay awhile in the campground. Originally known as the Black Creek Falls, the Legend of Noccalula, is of a beautiful daughter of an Indian Chief who jumped from the falls over a broken heart.

Park Admission: Mini Golf:

Adults $6.00 Adults $5.00

Seniors/Military $4.00 Children $4.00

Children $4.00 Seniors $4.00

Toddlers $3.00 Groups (10+) $3.50/person

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  1. Choccolocco Park – A Park to Exercise and Enjoy

Choccolocco Park, in Oxford, leads the industry with its brand-new 300+ acre, one-of-a-kind sports complex. With cutting edge baseball, softball, track & field, and soccer amenities, along with educational, walking & biking trails, all-encompassing playgrounds, water & natural resources, and much more, we invite you to enjoy it for yourself!

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  1. Zipline over Guntersville State Park

This new zipline course is a treetop adventure complete with views of the park and Lake Guntersville. Experience this rush for yourself.

$55 – $99 per person

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  1. Visit the Berman Museum

View ancient treasures and objects from all over the world.

To schedule a tour for your group of 10 or more, call 256-237-6261 x 325.

Adult:  5.00

Senior: 4.50

Child (4-17): 4.00

3 years & under Free

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  1. Visit the Anniston Museum of Natural History

Night at the Museum   |   Thursday, July 27, 6:00-8:00 pm

Designed for ages 7+

Put on your thinking cap for Night at the Museum because your only way through the dark exhibit halls is to solve the riddles. Families, friends, and groups are welcome to register. This program includes dinner (pizza, snack, and drink), flashlight exhibit hall game, and Bump in the Night live animal show.

Call (256-237-6766) or visit to register by Friday, July 21.

Adult $10

Member Adult $8

Child $8

Member Child $6

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  1. Terrific Kid Tuesday at Quintard Mall

Get ready to play! Every Tuesday through July* from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm in center court. Kids can take a free jump in the bounce house, receive a free face painting and enjoy a live animal show at noon with The Anniston Museum of Natural History!

*no event on July 4

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  1. AMSTAR CINEMAS Summer Kids Flicks

Movies air at 10:00 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

For only $4.00 you’ll receive a movie ticket, a free box of popcorn, and a free kid’s soda.

The box office opens at 9:30 am at Amstar 12 located inside Quintard Mall in Oxford.

July and August Dates:

July 11 – 12   The Angry Birds Movie

July 18 – 19   Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

July 25 – 26   Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

August 1 – 2   Hotel Transylvania 2

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  1. See Rock City    

Just a short drive will take you to Rock City in Lookout Mountain, GA. The world-famous tourist attraction has been a favorite since the Great Depression. From atop the mountain, you can see seven states including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Hours: 8:30 am – 8:00 pm

General Admission Tickets

Adult $19.95

Child $11.95

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  1. Ruby Falls ZIPstream Aerial Adventure

You don’t want to miss this view of Chattanooga from the tree tops at Ruby Falls. The challenge is made up of suspended obstacle courses built in the trees that include ladders, nets, walkways, bridges, tunnels, and zip lines!


Extreme Adventure Pass $44.95 Includes 2 hours access to the Blue and

Green Diamond Courses, Tower ZIP Ride and

Climbing Tower

Children Adventure Pass $24.95 Includes 2 hours access to the Orange

Diamond Course and Climbing Tower

Add on Ruby Falls Tour +$15.95 Adults, $8.95 Children

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  1. Explore the caves at Ruby Falls

Tour a cave and witness geological wonders located deep inside Lookout Mountain at Ruby Falls. Cave tours range from $17.95 – $29.95 for children and $29.95 for adults. Tours are only available on specifics days so pick your tour today. Group tours also available!

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  1. Mcwane Science Center Day Trip

LEGO Day, on July 8, kicks off a month of events at the Mcwane Science Center In Birmingham. Explore LEGO displays, drop into the LEGO Lab, and visit the Jr. Builders Gallery.

Other July Events:

July 15 Design Dayz: Art

July 15 @ 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm Teens and Tech: Maker Lab

July 18 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Birmingham Sci Cafe

July 22 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Design Dayz: Music Fest

July 26 World of Water Day

July 29 Design Dayz: Motion

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  1. Visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

General admission to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center includes access to historic Shuttle Park, Rocket Park and all indoor exhibit areas such as the main museum atrium and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. With each ticket purchase, enjoy daily guided tours of the Saturn V Hall, featured traveling exhibitions, hands-on demonstrations and presentations, museum simulators and a behind-the-scenes tour of Space Camp.


Open 7 days a week |  9:00 am  5:00 pm


Adults 13 + $24

Children 5 to 12 $16

Children 4 and under FREE

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  1. Wind Creek State Park Water War

Get your teams and swimsuits together for the first annual Water War complete with water slides, gold fish races, duck races, sponge wars, water relays, and more!

When:   June 17 | 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Where:   The Campground Battlefield

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  1. Visit Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

Explore 19th and 20th century farm buildings, browse the Alabama Iron and Steel Museum, fish the creek for rainbow trout, and take a ride on the Tannehill Miniature Railway!

Day Use Admission:

$5 Adults (12 years and older)

$4 Seniors (62 and older)

$3 Children (Ages 6-11)

Free Ages 5 and under

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  1. Alabama Splash Adventure

Your ticket to Alabama Splash Adventure offers unlimited riding, sliding, and relaxing all day. Admission includes free parking, free soft drinks, free sunscreen, free inner tubes, and free WiFI. All guests over 2 years of age must have a ticket to enter the park.

Ticket Prices:

Adults $29.95

Seniors $25.95

Youth $25.95

Children $21.95

Toddler Free

Buy your one-day ticket online and receive $10 Bonus Cash to spend that can be spent on in-park purchases including food, merchandise and games!

Buy Tickets

  1. Flicks Among the Flowers

Grab a blanket and a date -or a group of friends- and head over to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for a movie on the lawn. We broke our own rule on this one because school will start before the next showing, but we couldn’t leave it out!

Father of the Bride

Date: September 27

Time: Movie starts at 8:00 pm

Gates open at 6:00 pm

Where: Formal Garden in front of Conservatory

How Much: FREE ADMISSION ($5 suggested donation)

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  1. Stroll through the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Admission is FREE to visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year! If you stay for lunch, visit The Gardens Café by Kathy G, Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 11:00 am – and 2:00 pm.

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  1. Ruffner Mountain

Ruffner Mountain is a 1,038-acre urban nature preserve in Birmingham. Ruffner, an old iron ore mine, is home to 14 miles of trails that branch throughout the mountain. The trails are free and open to the public for running and hiking everyday, from dawn to dusk.

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  1. Russell Cave National Monument

Russell Cave is an archaeological site with one of the most complete records of prehistoric cultures in the Southeast. Thousands of years ago a portion of Russell Cave’s entrance collapsed, creating a shelter that, for more than 10,000 years, was home to prehistoric peoples. Today it provides clues to the daily lifeways of early North American inhabitants dating from 10,000 B.C. to 1650 A.D.

The Russell Cave National Monument is open every day from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, and entrance is FREE!

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  1. Visit Alabama’s own Mini Jerusalem

Ave Maria Grotto, known throughout the world as “Jerusalem in Miniature,” is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world.

Open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

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  1. Take a Johnny Appleseed Tour

The tour, at Steel Orchard in Cullman, includes the story of Johnny Appleseed, as well as a visit to the bee station to learn about pollination (no live bees), the grading station to talk about picking apples, and the nutrition station to learn about different types of apples. Each child receives a goodie bag with the price of the tour.


Adults: $3.00

Children: $5.00

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  1. Explore all there is to do at Little River Canyon

Bird watching, bicycling, camping, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, scenic drives, and more! Visit Little River Canyon in Fort Payne for a day or camp all weekend!

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  1. Early Works Museum

Three museums – one incredible adventure! These three museums in the heart of historic downtown Huntsville will take you on a journey back in time. Experience history as it comes to life! Your incredible adventure awaits at the South’s largest hands-on history museum complex!

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  1. Spend the Night in a Train Car!

The Chattanooga Choo Choo offers fun for the whole family! Find out why Chattanooga is one of the South’s top destinations! Complete your Chattanooga visit with a stay in a train car or at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.

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  1. Float the Terrapin

There’s nothing better than a quiet peaceful float down Terrapin Creek in Piedmont. Clean, clear water, beautiful scenery, great fishing, wildlife, and enough moving water to keep things interesting. Everyone is welcome!

Boat Rental Information and Fees

All Rentals Include Shuttle Fee, Paddles & Life Jacket

Canoe Rental Kayak Rental Double Kayak Rental Shuttle Fee

$50 per day $30 per day $50 per day $5

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  1. Float Choccolocco Creek or the Tallapoosa River

Visit Floating Fun in Oxford and spend a few hours floating gently along the scenic banks of the Choccolocco Creek or the beautiful Tallapoosa River. This natural “lazy river” float can’t be beat!

Choose how you want to float – single tube, double tube, cooler tube,or a fun yak.

Prices range from $10 – $40 depending on the length of your float.

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  1. Cheer on the Birmingham Barons

Cheer on the Barons at Regions Field! The ballpark features a variety of unique attractions for fans of all ages including a Youth Sports Zone, a mini wiffle ball field, the Bright House Family Fun Park, NAPA Batting Cages, the Mercedes-Benz Courtyard. Adult fans can also access the entertainment area  which features the Coors Light Scrapyard bar and a Dreamland BBQ Stand.

View Schedule


  1. Get your Chop on with the Atlanta Braves

Visit the brand new home for the Braves, Suntrust Park in Atlanta. With dozens of restaurants and treat shops to choose from, you’re sure to find more than a hotdog and peanuts. Tickets start at $9.00.

View Schedule 


  1. Play Now. Grow Up Later. at The Factory

The Factory in Gadsden is home to more than half a dozen attractions to bring out the kid in everyone. With tickets starting at $7 you’ll have access to a number of the courses and games below.

Full Trampoline Park     Laser Tag      Batting Cages      Trampoline Dodgeball

Trampoline Basketball      Arcade Games      Glow Dance Room       Ninja Course

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  1. Dare to enter the Escape Zone

The Escape Room in Oxford offers two unique rooms The Bank Heist and Sully’s Sinking Ship. A third room, The Forgotten Pharaoh is coming soon. Spice up date night by interacting in your own movie or bring a group of friends to attempt your escape. $23 per person.

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  1. Tackle The Chief Ladiga Trail

Ride your bike down one of the longest continuous paved rail trails in the U.S. The Chief Ladiga Trail runs from Weaver to the Alabama-Georgia state line, 33 continuous miles of paved trail.


  1. Visit Desoto Caverns

Family-owned for more than 100 years, DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park is one of the most beautiful and historic show caves in the US. The park is located in Childersburg, just 36 miles southeast of Birmingham down Highway 280. The park offers campgrounds, a gift shop with a cafe, a scenic picnic area, and pavilions near waterfalls, streams, and ponds. A laser light, sound, and water show is included in every cavern tour. Plus explore more than 20 outside attractions including a maze, gem panning, crystal find, wacky water golf, archery, and more.

Value Packages:

Adventure Package 29.99 – 39.99 (includes meal)

Unlimited Day Pass 54.99

Regular Tickets:

Timeless Cave Tour 22.99 adult 17.99 child

Attraction Pass 4.99

Meal 10.99

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  1. Invest in a Horseback Riding Lesson

Spend the day enjoying the world class facilities at Windwood Equestrian in Pelham. Built as a training and stabling facility for beginners and competitive riders alike, the barns and training amenities are nestled into a rolling, wooded valley surrounded by riding trails.


1 lesson $65

4 lessons $180

8 lessons $320

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  1. Splash Around at Spring Valley Beach

Spring Valley Beach Waterpark is a family owned and operated waterpark located in Blountsville off of Highway 231. Spring Valley Beach is nestled away on 25 acres making for a perfect getaway adventure for the whole family. Spring Valley Beach is the only waterpark in the southeast where you can bring your own picnic basket or grill to the park, provides free suntan lotion, and offers free parking. With more than 20 gazebos and pavilion areas, 10 thrilling water slides, the Southeast’s largest pool, and a huge Kids water playground; Spring Valley Beach really does provide something for any occasion.


General Admission: $26 (over 4ft and adults)

Junior Admission: $21 (age 3 and under 4ft)

Senior Admission: $21 (age 62 and older)

Toddlers: FREE with paid adult

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  1. Explore Cathedral Caverns

Originally called Bat Cave, Cathedral Caverns is located in Woodville. In addition to cave tours, Cathedral Caverns State Park also features gemstone mining.

Gem Mine Hours:  9:00 am  –  6:00 pm

Bags of Mining Dirt range from $6.00 – $23.00

Admission Fees:

Adults Children 5 – 12 Children 4 & under

$18.00 $8.00 FREE (with paying guardian)

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  1. Free Friday Flicks at Veterans Park

Movies start at dusk at Veterans Park in Birmingham every Friday night through July. The kid zone opens at 6:30. Little Caesars pizza and drinks will be available for your picnic!

Movie Schedule:

July 7: The Jungle Book (2016)

July 14: Finding Dory

July 21: Trolls

July 28: Rain Date

Learn More 


  1. Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame is located in Tuscumbia. Alabama has produced major names in the music industry. Those names are found on bronze stars imbedded in the floor in the lobby creating  the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Walk of Fame The display is dedicated to the amazing artists from Alabama who have shaped the music industry.


Adults $10.00

Students and Seniors $8.00

Children under 12 $7.00

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  1. Dine in a Cave

The Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia provides a unique dining experience as it is located in the opening of a cave. The Rattlesnake Saloon is the watering hole under the rock. This is a place the whole family can come relax and enjoy connecting to local history.


Thursday, Friday and Saturday

11:00am until 10:00pm

(February – November)


11:00am until 3:00pm


Learn More 


  1. Make Time for a Movie Tour

Love The Walking Dead? Gone with the Wind? Wander over to our neighbor state and indulge in some flick fandom with Atlanta Movie Tours in Georgia. With bus rides including Zombie Tours, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind Tour, Best of Atlanta Tour, and Atlanta Heritage Tour you’re sure to find an entertaining and educational afternoon!

Admission and Fees starting at $55.00

Pick Your Tour


  1. Tigers for Tomorrow

Tigers For Tomorrow at Untamed Mountain in Attalla is a wild animal preserve and environmental educational center, home to over 160 animals including tigers, mountain lions, African lions, bears, wolves and black leopards.

Summer Hours

Wednesday and Thursday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

General Admission:

$15.00 Adults

$7.50 Children ages 3-11

FREE Under 3

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  1. Sip your way through the World of Coca-Cola

Experience the history of the world’s most famous beverage brand at the dynamic, multimedia home of the more than 125-year-old secret formula for Coca‑Cola. The World of Coca-Cola is located in Pemberton Place, a 20-acre plaza in the heart of Atlanta. Take a trip around the world in a thrilling 4-D movie experience and tempt your taste buds with more than 100 beverages from around the world.


Adults 13-64 $17.00

Seniors 65+ $15.00

Youth 3-12 $13.00

Toddlers 0-2 FREE with Adult

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  1. Listen, Learn, and Buy Local at Makers Market

Live music, local treats and art, themed city tours, and so much more can be found at The Main Street Anniston Makers Market every fourth Friday through October.

Admission is FREE!

Learn More 


  1. Drive-thru Safari… in Alabama?! YES.

Harmony Park Safari in Huntsville is a federally licensed nature preserve of free-ranging exotic and endangered animals.  Drive through the two-mile route to see zebras, zebus, antelope, buffalo, a camel, ostriches, giraffes, a kangaroo and tortoises, then park to visit the reptile house. Vehicles are available for rental, if desired.

Open 10:00 am – Sunset daily (March through November)


$9.00 per person

Toddlers 0-2 are FREE

Learn More 


  1.  Tennessee Aquarium / IMAX 3D Theatre / River Gorge Explorer


Discover why the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is consistently rated one of the nation’s top aquariums. Two buildings to explore! River Journey features freshwater habitats from our backyard and around the world. Ocean Journey brings you face-to-face with sea creatures from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the South Pole.

IMAX 3D Theatre

The Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater offers the best cinema experience in the region using the state-of-the-art IMAX with Laser projection system. You’re drawn into the onscreen action with brighter, bolder and more realistic imagery and a 3D sound sphere.

River Gorge Explorer

Travel swiftly and smoothly downstream into the scenic Tennessee River Gorge aboard a high-tech vessel. Experience “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon” aboard the River Gorge Explorer. Enjoy the view from the topside observation deck during daily two-hour cruises into the Gorge. Each excursion is guided by an Aquarium naturalist who brings local history to life while helping you spot wildlife. Relax in the climate-controlled cabin and soak in the beautiful scenery from the observation deck.


Aquarium IMAX River Gorge  Explorer

Adult $29.95 Adult $11.95 Adult $32.00

Child $18.95 Child $9.95 Child $18.00 – $24.50

*Combo Discount Tickets available for all attractions

Learn More 


  1. Georgia Aquarium

Experience the new AT&T Dolphin Celebration experience at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. (included in Aquarium general admission)

Georgia Aquarium also offers a “Sleep Under The Sea” experience for children and adults!

Wake up next to an amazing animal habitats, before any other guests arrive. Plus, enjoy the aquarium free of charge for the day after your sleepover.

More Info 

General Admission Tickets:

Adult $31.95 – $39.95

Child $27.95 – $33.95

Senior $29.95 – $36.95

*Ticket prices subject to tax. Prices vary due to date of visit and online/walk up ticket purchases.

Learn More 


  1. Birmingham Zoo

Feed the giraffes, ride a camel, walk with the goats, and so much more at the Birmingham Zoo.

Check out the newest attraction Pirates! Most pirates set sail, but you’re invited to set rail on the all new Pirate Red Diamond Express Train Ride. Guests of all ages will enjoy the dozens of life-size, animatronic swashbucklers who are taking over the Zoo trains. Plus, tickets are on-sale now for the all-new Pirate Movie Night at the Birmingham Zoo! This event begins at 6:00 pm on July 15.


Adult: $16.00

Senior (65+): $14.00

Child (2-12): $11.00

Learn More 


  1. CNN Studio Tour

You’re invited to take a tour of what Ted Turner started – the world’s first 24-hour news network. Get exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the world headquarters of CNN, in Atlanta, with this tour experience. You will take a 50-minute walking tour with your very own guide through the halls of CNN Center and get an inside look at how a live broadcast is produced and sent to viewers all over the world.

Tour Price

Adult $15

Senior (65+) $14

Student (13–18 or College ID) $14

Child (4–12) $12

Toddlers (0–3 FREE

Learn More 


  1. The Downtown Market – Start Fresh in Anniston

Stock up on fresh veggies at the Farmer’s Market in Anniston every Saturday through September.

When:    7:00 am – Noon

Where:   176 West 12th Street

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  1. Explore the Iron City while Burning Calories

Zyp BikeShare sets you free to explore Birmingham on two wheels.

How It Works – In 4 Simple Steps

BUY A PASS Enjoy unlimited rides while your pass is active

Ride = 45 minutes or less

UNLOCK AND RIDE You can take multiple 0-45 minute trips from one station to another

RETURN Return bike to any Zyp station within 45 minutes

REPEAT Not done riding? Repeat Step 2 as many times as you wish while your pass is active


24 Hour Member $6.00

Learn More 


  1. Take Advantage of Alabama Restaurant Week

Alabama Restaurant Week is a marketing event that highlights Alabama restaurants. This culinary event unites Alabama’s diverse range of cuisine into a 10-day event. Alabama Restaurant Week is set for Friday August 11 through Sunday August 20, 2017.

Alabama Restaurant Week Pricing

Lunch: $10 and $15

Dinner: $10, $20, $30 and $40

*Price is per person and does not include tax, tip and drink.

Learn More 


  1. Relax at a Beach Cottage in Alabama’s Gulf

Gulf State Park’s two miles of beaches greet you with plenty of white sun-kissed sand, surging surf, seagulls and sea shells, but there is more than sand and surf to sink your toes into.

The park offers 20 modern cabins and 11 lakeside cottages all within walking distance of the golf course and short drive to the beaches.

Gulf State Park Campground offers 496 improved full- hookup campsites with paved pads and 11 primitive sites. Tents are welcome on all sites.

Learn More 


*Please note prices are subject to change, and many admission fees may be subject to sales tax. All information compiled for Calhoun County Insight 51 Things to do Before Going Back to School was collected using the most recent information available at the time of this writing.

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