The travel hub of Alabama is Birmingham, the largest and most populous city in the state. It is here that visitors will find cultural attractions, theaters and museums, and shopping and dining, along with the Jazz Hall of Fame, The Hill Opera Center, The Civil Rights Heritage Trail, and much more.
However, fans of motorsports and outdoorsy activities should consider venturing 50 miles east to Talladega for an experience packed with Southern hospitality.
For starters, as seen in the lead photo, Talladega features a charming downtown district with an assortment of historic buildings, including the Talladega Ritz Theater. This landmark presents a combination of motion pictures, live entertainment, and special events.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Talladega National Forest is a great place for hiking, biking, horseback riding, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting amidst a diverse ecosystem covering 613 square miles. For more of the same activities but with different scenic views, there is Cheaha State Park featuring Cheaha Lake and a high point of 2,407 feet above sea level.
For a completely different outdoor experience, consider Majestic Caverns (formerly DeSoto Caverns), where visitors can explore caves of stalagmites and stalactites, pan for gemstones, play mini golf, attempt the Lost Trail Maze, and ride the Destiny Express Train. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to see and do at this family-friendly park that also features seasonal events.
History and photography buffs might be interested in visiting the 115-foot-long Waldo Covered Bridge, which is also known as Riddle Mill Covered Bridge. Constructed in the mid-1850s for the purpose of serving a nearby gold mine, the bridge was later used to help soldiers make their way through the area during the Civil War.
Also located in the city, just two miles from the speedway is CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park for firearms enthusiasts. This is a 500-acre facility with a series of rifle ranges equipped with electronic targets. It also includes 15 action pistol bays and a 15-station sporting clays field with automated trap machines.
For motorsports fans, specifically NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing), there is plenty in the area worth seeing. Visitors can look forward to the Walk of Fame, located in Davey Allison Memorial Park in downtown Talladega. This beautifully landscaped park pays homage to Talladega-winning drivers with a series of commemorative plaques. Unfortunately, annual induction ceremonies were shelved in 2013 but were revived in October 2022 with the induction of driver-turned-commentator Clint Bowyer.
And, of course, Talladega Superspeedway is located here, accommodating approximately 175,000 fans. The oval track contains a dog leg on the front stretch and is 2.66 miles long with 33-degree banking in the turns. NASCAR’s three series (Cup, Xfinity, and trucks) visit the track twice a year for restrictor plate races that produce intense door-to-door, nose-to-tail action at speeds higher than most other tracks. The track also provides informative tours of the facility. On select days, The Richard Petty Driving Experience can be found here for racing fans that want to experience the track with a ride-along in a car piloted by a professional driver. Or there’s an option to learn how to drive a stock car and test out the track for yourself. Check the website for schedules. To watch our video of the ride-along experience at Daytona, check out Go TrackHopper (our sister site) and their YouTube channel HERE.
Located adjacent to the speedway, fans will find the International Motorsports Hall of Fame honoring individuals that have helped shape the sport, including drivers, engineers, developers, and owners.
If you have a sweet tooth, consider a short 24-minute drive to Sylacauga for ice cream tastings and a tour of Blue Bell Creameries.
The best restaurants in Talladega include the infamous Shack BBQ for authentic southern BBQ including ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. There’s also La Posada Mexican Grill, and The Stampede Steakhouse & Catfish Corral. Pop the Top Soda Shop is well worth a visit, too.
For visitors wishing to stay in Talladega, accommodations are limited close to the track and fill up quickly on race weekends. Hotels include Holiday Inn Express, Budget Inn, and Super 8 by Wyndham. There are several more hotels on the outskirts. However, if you don’t mind driving 53 minutes back to Birmingham, you’ll find a pleasing mix of moderate and luxury accommodations spread across more than 109 hotels with a total of 12,205 guest rooms. Additionally, there are Airbnb and VRBO rentals in the region.
Lead – Historic Downtown – by Onasill – Bill Badzo – – 138 on Flikr – License CC 2.0
Cheaha State Park – Bald Rock – by Outdoor Alabama on Flikr – License CC 2.0
Waldo Covered Bridge – Mapquest
Talladega Superspeedway – Visit Alabama
Shack BBQ – Mapquest