27 Things To Know About Alabama Before MovingThings you should know about Alabama before you move there for some tasty food, good music, sports and happening events.
1. "Sweet Home Alabama" Isn't The Official State Song
Much as you think it would be, since it's a song everyone knows, is played and sung constantly in the state and seems to celebrate it. The phrase is even on Alabama's license plates. But it's also a widely misunderstood tune that wouldn't make a good official state song with its political references to a bygone era.
2. But Muscle Shoals Does Have The Swampers
That verse in "Sweet Home Alabama" about the Swampers doesn't have any ambiguity. The Swampers are a famous group of session musicians who have recorded with some of the biggest names in music, including Paul Simon, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, to name a few. Muscle Shoals is still a hotbed for the recording industry and many songs you know by heart have been recorded there, with the Swampers serving as the backing band.
3. Everyone Is Going To Ask You “Who Are You For?”
When your kids start at their new school one of the first questions classmates will ask of them is, "Who are you for?" You will be asked the same question at your new job. It means Auburn or Alabama -- do you cheer for Auburn University or the University of Alabama? Do you say "War Eagle" or "Roll Tide"? College football is a huge deal in Alabama and the Iron Bowl matchup is the biggest event of the year, by far.
4. Yes, Fried Green Tomatoes Are A Thing
The movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" may not have been filmed in Alabama, but the place that inspired the novel really does exist. The Irondale Cafe is the real Whistle Stop Cafe, and it's still in business by the railroad tracks in Irondale outside of Birmingham dishing out its most famous dish. You'll also find this fried Southern delicacy on the menu at any other meat-n-three soul food place worth its salt.
5. Alabama Barbecue Can't Be Beat
It's impossible to list all the great barbecue joints in Alabama, but some of the most well known are Dreamland, famous for its hickory smoked ribs and sauce, Big Bob Gibson's, home of white barbecue sauce, and newcomer Saw's, which has them lining up in Birmingham.
6. Alabama Grandmas' Know How To Cuss And Put You Down Without You Realizing It
Southerners may realize it, but newcomers may not. When you hear an old lady in Alabama say "Bless your heart," she's not concerned about your eternal well being. In fact, she MAY have just called you a moron. And when she says "Land sakes," it's her way of swearing without using any swear words.
7. And If You Hear Her Say "Ya Don't Say," It Means You Need To Keep Gossiping
8. Royal Reds Are Royally Delicious
The deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico are home to a rare, large lobster-tasting type of shrimp called Royal Reds and Gulf Shores is the place to try them, especially at King Neptune's, one of the best seafood joints in town.
9. Grits Are A Staple Food
You may have never eaten or even heard of grits, but in Alabama every kitchen has them. And most every restaurant serves them, from greasy spoon diners to fine dining establishments where the dish is dressed up and often served with shrimp.
10. Kids Are Raised To Say "Sir" And "Ma'am"
If you're born and raised in Alabama, you answer an adult's query with a "sir" or ma'am" after your "yes" or "no." It has nothing to do with race, class or creed. It's a matter of respecting your elders and Southern hospitality, which still exists in spades.
11. If You're Not From Around Here, Get Ready For Real Humidity
Summers are sweltering in Alabama, and humidity levels are commonly above 80%, making the heat even more oppressive and quite sticky. On the plus side, spring and fall are wonderful and the winters mild.
12. Forrest Gump Was Not A Real Person
And none of the movie was filmed in Alabama, even though much of the story takes place in the state. The town of Greenbow doesn't exist, either. Which leads me to another important point…
13. Hollywood Always Gets Alabama All Wrong
Anytime a major motion picture is set in Alabama, it's always an over-the-top portrayal of different stereotypes and unauthentic accents. Natives are used to it and can often be heard laughing or groaning out loud when they see a misrepresentation or hear a phony accent on screen. "Sweet Home Alabama" starring Resse Witherspoon, which wasn't even filmed in the state, is an especially egregious example.
14. The Beaches Here Are Just As Beautiful As Florida's
Silky white sand that squeaks beneath your feet, emerald Gulf waters... Florida doesn't have a monopoly on these things. Alabama's beaches -- Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Dauphin Island -- are just as spectacular. And Gulf Shores is where the Hangout Music Fest takes place each May.
15. Lake Life Is THE Life
If people aren't vacationing at the beach in Alabama, you'll find them at the lake. Alabama is filled with big lakes lined with cabins, cottages and second homes. Lakes Martin, Mitchell, Logan Martin and Smith are some of the most popular places for a quick weekend getaway on the water, but you'll find plenty of other spots as well.
16. You Don't Know Mardi Gras Until You've Been To Mobile
Sorry, New Orleans, but Mobile is the home of Mardi Gras celebrations in the New World dating back to 1703. It's also a more family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration compared to the Big Easy, with less drunken debauchery and more time-honored tradition to savor. Just sayin'.
17. Even The New York Times Says Birmingham Is A Happening Place
In early 2013 the New York Times ran a piece with the headline "Once dying, Birmingham is suddenly hot." The article cited the culinary scene, craft brewing scene, a revitalized downtown and the city's parks system as a few examples. Thanks, New York Times, but everyone in Alabama has known about this for years. No, seriously, thanks. It's nice to finally get some well-deserved and hard-earned positive national press.
18. Alabama Is Golfing Nirvana
This one surprises a lot of people, but golfers flock to Alabama. That's because it's home to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a series of public golf courses snaking throughout the state that has been called the best public golf experience in North America. The courses are expertly designed, well maintained and on par with some of the best private golf courses in the country.
19. Alabamians Have Moved Way Beyond And Above 1963
The likes of Bull Conner are long gone, so get those old images of fire hoses and German Shepherds out of your mind. In fact, the place in Birmingham where those infamous incidents occurred in 1963 is now the site of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, one of Alabama's must-see attractions.
20. Alabama’s Home To L.A.
Also known as "God's country," in the Heart of Dixie L.A. means Lower Alabama. It's pretty much anywhere below Montgomery and includes small towns, rolling farmland and the beaches.
21. Huntsville Helped The U.S. Win The Space Race In A Major Way
And you can find out all about it at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, where the rockets that sent men to the moon were developed. Your kids can go to Space Camp to learn how to be an astronaut. Huntsville is still considered a major tech hub in the U.S., and not only for the aerospace industry.
22. Get Your Shakespeare On In Montgomery
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is one of the largest in the world. And this ain't no summer-stock theater company. The ASF is permanently housed at the Carolyn Blount Theatre in Montgomery and stages world-class productions year round.
23. Writers And Artists Choose To Live Here For A Good Reason
The town of Fairhope on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is a haven for writers and artists of all stripes. Makes sense, since it was founded as a Utopian community in the 19th century and today is a welcoming place with an easygoing vibe. Rick Bragg, Jimmy Buffett, Fannie Flagg and Winston Groom are just a few notable personalities who have called Fairhope home.
24. Against All Odds, Alabama Has A Longstanding Ski Resort
Near Mentone you'll find Cloudmont, a small ski resort with two slopes covered in artificial snow, except on those rare occasions when it actually snows real snow in Alabama. Even then, they still crank up the snow machines. It's a great place to learn how to ski, and the slopes are lit for night skiing.
25. Alabama’s No Longer The Land Of Cotton. It’s The Land Of The Peanut.
Alabama was once known as "The Cotton State" in the 19th-century. The boll weevil infestation took care of that. Now, it could be called "The Peanut State." Dothan is "The Peanut Capital of the World" and home to the annual National Peanut Festival.
26. It's Where The Tuskegee Airmen First Took Flight
Tuskegee is home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at the airfield where the famous WWII flight squadron trained. It's also home to Tuskegee University, one of the more historic and prominent African-American schools in the nation.
27. Mountains? In Alabama? Yes.
The southern terminus of the Appalachian Mountain chain is in Alabama, where high ridges and foothills dip down as far as Birmingham and create some stunning natural scenery. You'll even find some real-deal mountain towns such as Mentone, which is perched on top of Lookout Mountain in the northeast corner of the state. What do you love about living in Alabama? Tell us in the comments below!