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Where to see the best holiday light shows in Alabama

2022-11-19T12:09:16-06:00By |Culture, Travel|

For those who bravely untangle last year's Christmas tree lights, imagine covering an entire zoo or botanical garden with the illuminating bulbs. All across Alabama, the custom of lighting up Christmas rises to the level of art with dancing elves, prancing reindeer, walking Gingerbread men, and in one case, a mooning Santa. The displays range from dramatic to whimsical, high in the tree tops to below ground, and from elegant to so tacky that the infamous Griswold house would not make the cut. From November through January, you can fill your senses with holiday cheer. Start early, and follow the lighted trail from north to south. Or, choose an old favorite to share with the whole family. These light displays are filled with joy, whimsy, motion, humor and the holidays at their best. 

Visit Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama

2022-11-15T15:46:32-06:00By |News, Outdoors, Travel|

Rising above the clouds, it earned the name, “Island in the Sky.” The Creek Nation labeled it “Chaha,” meaning “high place” in the Muskogee language. At 2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha State Park towers over the rest of the state as its highest point. Located in the town of Delta in North Alabama, this oasis stretches wide across the horizon in the midst of 2,799 acres of state park, plus the surrounding 392,567 acres of the Talladega National Forest, which in turn encompasses more than 7,000 acres of the Cheaha Wilderness. It affords a rare luxury in these crowded times—miles of vista oblivious to human touch.

7 questions with Birmingham’s boutique beverage expert

2022-08-06T15:31:39-05:00By |Food & Drink|

LeNell Camacho Santa Ana fell into the world of bartending by necessity, but discovered a passion instead. Her boutique liquor shop in Birmingham's Norwood neighborhood has gained a staunch following from those looking for small-production brands of wine and spirits. But more than that, they've found expertise, integrity, charm, and humor in the woman behind the bar. We sat down with LeNell herself to learn more about how she got into the buzzy biz.

Discover a world-renowned rare doll shop in Homewood

2022-07-29T16:09:38-05:00By |Living|

It all started with a 1930s Shirley Temple doll for Mary Charles Robbins. Living in a home with no radio, before television, dolls provided her main entertainment. Today, the Mary Charles Doll House is one of 10 repair shops world-wide that are approved by the Madame Alexander Doll Company. People seek out the tiny historic house in Homewood—formerly the location of Carriage House on Oxmoor Road—from all over the country. Part retail, part museum, the Mary Charles Doll House is crammed with antique and vintage dolls, teddy bears, doll clothes, doll houses and doll house furnishings. Very few things are new, except for the exquisite miniatures for tea sets and doll houses designed and painted by artists specializing in working small. 

Find more than books at Jim Reed Books in Birmingham

2022-07-20T14:34:18-05:00By |Culture|

A confessed hoarder, Jim Reed divides people into keepers and tossers, landing solidly in the keeper lane. His quirky collection resembles a combination of a college professor's office, a yard sale and an old bachelor who was never really housebroken. Spend an hour or two at Jim Reed Books and Museum of Fond Memories in downtown Birmingham, and your senses flood with memories and chuckles. It is serious, too. There is a feeling as you browse the shelves, that his shop holds a significant percentage of the world’s knowledge. Books range from new to five hundred years old. Items range from a giant porky pig head to movie posters, election buttons, vintage toys, and Amazing Spiderman comic books. You can find everything from a life-sized Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, hoisting a ruby slippers thought bubble, to a rare 150-year-old diary, perhaps complete with old love letters. 

Meet “The Southern Herbalist,” Darryl Patton

2022-06-24T15:05:43-05:00By |Outdoors|

On the trailhead at Cheaha State Park stands a large, red-stemmed pokeweed. Usually found in alleyways or roadsides, this ubiquitous weed is normally easy to pass by, but not when hiking with famed herbalist, Darryl Patton. Those of us hiking with him have learned to expect long stops, as he shares his prodigious knowledge of plants. The poke sallet, sometimes called poke salad, is generally considered poisonous. Patton sees it as deadly to viruses. According to him, “It will kill them graveyard dead.”

Go fossil hunting in Alabama at Union Chapel Mine

2022-06-11T16:49:15-05:00By |Outdoors|

She was only five years old when she tentatively toddled over to the paleontologist to show him her dinner-plate sized find. He leaned in with a smile of patience, assuming it was just a rock. He flipped up his sunglasses for a better look. The fossil hunt was 20 minutes in and the smallest child had picked up a museum-quality fossil. It was an Attenosaurus track, called a “coal lizard.”  These giant ancient reptiles spanned from six to eight-feet long and dominated swamps as the largest land animal before the dinosaurs emerged.

Opera Birmingham introduces the musical art to the city

2022-06-05T09:57:28-05:00By |Culture|

If a high note breaks your beer glass, it’s not the alcohol singing—it’s Opera Shots. Far from the stodgy image of the large woman in a Viking helmet, this progressive opera company takes opera to the street, the bar, and the brewery. Opera Birmingham showcases its singers before unsuspecting audiences who get a sip of culture along with their cocktail.

How an organ saved the Alabama Theatre

2022-05-30T10:44:11-05:00By |Uncategorized|

“We were just stupid enough or crazy enough to think we could actually do it,” says Gary Jones, president of the Alabama Theatre Organ Society. “We knew we had to do it.” To most of us, the Alabama Theater is a masterpiece of Moorish design, velvet seats, and a massive stage. It is where we go to see movies or bands, dance recitals, comedians, and weddings in the glamorous setting. Others see a beautiful organ rising up from the floor. An instrument of physical and musical beauty. An irreplaceable instrument. Something worth saving. 

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