/ Road Trips
Road Trips — By Apryl Chapman Thomas on October 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Exploring the Gems of Rural Southwest Alabama

At first glance, the 10 county region known as the Black Belt in rural Southwest Alabama might not come across as a destination for a weekend getaway. edmundpettusbridgeSelma

Yet, it should.

You see, if you don’t visit, you’re missing out on many gems like Conecuh Sausage Factory, Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge and Old St. Stephens that are unique to this area.

“(Alabama’s) Black Belt is a fascinating place to visit,” comments Joe Watts, administrator of Alabama’s Front Porches.

“There’s small attractions in all of the communities,” he points out. “Separately they might not convince you to travel here, but once you piece together an itinerary with different attractions in three to four communities, you have a great reason to visit.”

scenefromgeesbendferry One of Watt’s favorite trips offer what he says is a “good taste of the Black Belt” begins with exploring  and spending the night in Selma. Next morning or mid-afternoon, take the Gee’s Bend Ferry to historic Gee’s Bend (perhaps best known as the home of the famous quilters.) Watts says the 20-25 minute ride offers a look at some great nature scenery. In fact, during January and February, you can see large group of white pelicans as they migrate.

Once in Gee’s Bend (Watts recommends making arrangement to see certain sites in advance), be sure to explore the Quilt Mural Trail. From there, you can head to Camden and pgainesridgeick up something from Black Belt Treasures. Consider eating at Gaines Ridge Dinner Club and be sure to leave room for a piece of their Black Bottom pie.

After Camden, take highway 5 to Marion. Watts says that this town was the heart  of the Civil Rights Movement as much as Selma. From here, you have the option of either returning to Selma or heading to Birmingham.

Rural Southwest Alabama or the Black Belt region appeals to travelers of all interest. Whether you take to the road to explore history, arts, outdoors or food – you’ll find it all here.

photo credit: All photos are courtesy of Joe Watts/Alabama’s Front Porches. (top) Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; (middle) Scene  from the Gee’s Bend Ferry; (bottom) Gaines Ridge restaurant

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