Phone: 205-525-5172 or 205-542-8040

Treasure Island Circle

Cropwell, Alabama View us on map

Nine Southern towns you’re forgetting about but shouldn’t

The South can be pretty damn charming, true, and there is certainly more to it than places like Nashville or Charleston (which are admittedly great).

There are some cute towns strewn across the region, each with their own unique vibes that make us want to visit stat.

Birmingham

Forget what you know about Birmingham and embrace the present: It’s increasingly becoming a foodie’s and culture-lovers destination. Sure while there you should check out the historic sites like the 16th Street Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Institute, but you should also go to the much-buzzed about Hot & Hot Fish Club or head to Homewood for a quaint town feel and great shopping.

For the entire list, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/21/9-southern-towns-you-nee_n_4985803.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

‘Happy’ song gets ahold of Birmingham in new viral video

A YouTube video of Birminghamians dancing to Pharrell Williams’ popular “Happy” song is starting to make the rounds online after being posted over the weekend.

The video was produced by Over Fork Over Films’ Ian J. Cunningham, a longtime staple in the Birmingham film community. Cunningham shot, directed and edited the video, and was assisted by camera operators T.J. Burks and Sarah Orr.

Birmingham residents of all shapes, sizes and colors can be seen throughout the video dancing to “Happy” in different areas of the city. Even The Vulcan breaks it down at several points during the video, a portion of which was filmed on The International Day of Happiness, which is celebrated around the world on March 20.

River boat Cruise near Treasure Island and Breakfast

All-aboard! Come and stay at Treasure Island Bed and Breakfast and enjoy a sunset dinner cruise on the Coosa Queen that offers different time schedules that will be perfect for that romantic week-end getaway. The Coosa Queen is a 16 x 58 boat powered by two motors, water paddle to add to riverboat experience. They have capacity for 50 cruisers, men and women’s restrooms, tiki bar, and tables for dinner cruises. They offer two daylight cruises with an evening, catered dinner cruise. It is a family-style environment, events for corporate charters, reunions, parties, weddings, church groups, school field trips, charity events and more.

Pricing is:

  • Daytime cruise (noon- 2 p.m., 3-5 p.m.): $20 p/adult, $12 children 12 and under
  • Sunset dinner cruise (6-8 p.m.): M-F (catered buffet style) $30 p/ person; Sat. (catered fine dining) $50 per person
  • Chartered events (*wedding package pricing available upon request): pricing same as above with $300 minimum/ $600 maximum; $100 each additional hour over first two hours Costs include cruise, captain and 1st mate.

Don and Janice Urso are the owners and operators, who took riverboat Coosa Queen from dream to reality and is something they want people to do more than talk about. They want people to experience it. Having lived on a houseboat on Lake Logan Martin since 1993 and in Hollywood, Florida, on a boat before that, Don said he has grown to appreciate what the Coosa River scene offers. “I love the people up here. To me, there’s nothing like this on the lake. I just want to support the community and offer it something unique and exciting.”

“I want to see a smile on people’s faces like mine every morning,” said Janice, beaming in the early morning hours aboard the couple’s houseboat in Riverside. “It’s like being on vacation every day.” The couple said they are incorporating the catered dinner, which will include fine dining on weekends, because they wanted to offer more than just a boat ride on the Coosa. “There are so many people who come out here who don’t have a boat. This gives them an option to enjoy the whole lake and river and have the whole experience out here that they normally couldn’t get,” Janice said. Don, who says he has lived at nearly all of the marinas around the Coosa River/Logan Martin area, was purposeful in wanting to launch from Riverside Landing, in order to support the city where it docks its boats.

Book your room at Treasure Island Bed and Breakfast and we will book your cruise. Experience the lake on and off the water.

Public invited to first hike of the Forever Wild Coosa WMA Trail

Treasure Island Bed and Breakfast is located on this hike.
The Alabama State Lands Division and the Alabama Hiking Trail Society (AHTS) will host a grand opening hike of the new Forever Wild Coosa Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Trail on Sat., March 22. The public is invited to join the hike, which kicks off at the west trailhead located on Coosa WMA Road 153 at 10 a.m. West trailhead GPS coordinates are: 32.894439, -86.417871.

AHTS members will lead the grand opening hike, which covers approximately 6.6 miles of the 11.4-mile trail. Refreshments will be provided for all hikers who attend. Those who wish to hike the entire trail may do so.

The Coosa WMA trail is predominately moderate with a few semi-strenuous climbs. The west end of the trail is not as steep, while the east section offers more climbs and switchbacks. The trail is free to use and open year-round. Trailheads and parking areas are conveniently located on either end of the trail. The east trailhead is located at the Hatchet Creek bridge (Double Bridges) on Highway 29. GPS coordinates are 32.862305, -86.339755.

For information about the grand opening hike, contact Doug Deaton, State Lands Natural Resources Planner, at 334-850-7158, or by email at doug.deaton@dcnr.alabama.gov.

For a complete list of Forever Wild tracts with recreational opportunities including hunting, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing and more, visit http://alabamaforeverwild.com/.

Birmingham makes list of top 10 best downtown areas

Some folks have taken notice of Birmingham’s downtown revitalization.
Livability.com has compiled a list of the top 10 best downtown areas for 2014, and Birmingham made it on the list by the skin of Vulcan’s teeth.

The site – which “explores what makes small to mid-sized cities great places to live, work, and visit” – named Fort Worth, Texas as the best downtown, with Providence, Rhode Island following behind. Birmingham was on the list with Indianapolis, Alexandria, Provo, Fort Lauderdale, and Eugene.

Birmingham was at the bottom of the list – right there in that number 10 spot. But the important thing is that The Magic City made it at all. It’s difficult to imagine Birmingham making that ranking 10 years ago — or even being in the ballpark.

Speaking of ballparks, many of the amenities that Livability.com cited in placing Birmingham on its list were not in existence ten years ago. Railroad Park and Regions Field are seen as drivers of Birmingham’s downtown revitalization, stirring interest in apartments and office space in the Parkside area.

“Projects like Railroad Park, which includes ponds, an amphitheater, a skatepark, a playground and pathways, and a recently completed 8,500-seat minor league baseball stadium (Regions Field) lure people downtown for events and activities,” the Livability write-up states. “They’ve also caught the eye of a group of investors who recently purchased a warehouse and several buildings near the ballpark. The investors plan to develop office and residential space, envisioning the rooftops of some living units overlooking Regions Field.”

The ongoing renovation of the Lyric Theatre gets a mention. Even Alabama’s state legislators get a shout out for doing something good: passing the historic renovation tax credits that are helping make the renovation of the Pizitz Building and the Thomas Jefferson Hotel a reality.

The Second Avenue district – where residents from out of the area “bustle in and out of funky new shops and restaurants that have sprouted up” – is also highlighted, as is the Uptown development anchored by the Westin Hotel.

The real highlights are the numbers – a drop in retail vacancy downtown, a 36 percent increase in population in the downtown area 2000-2010, income growth, and other indicators. Those were the criteria for the rankings, according to a release from Livability.

“Having a great downtown is about more than just having a great main street,” Matt Carmichael, Livability.com editor, said in a release. “A downtown should have a cultural and retail focal point, like a main street, but it has to expand beyond that, providing a solid core for the entire community.”

For the article online, and to see the complete list of the top 10, go to: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2014/03/birmingham_makes_list_of_top_1.html

Alabama’s BBQ joints compete for best BBQ

It’s March Madness time again. And in the state of Alabama that apparently doesn’t mean basketball. But it does mean barbecue.

And since there is no better argument than a good barbecue argument, the Alabama Tourism Department is stoking those fires again by bringing back its Alabama Barbecue Bracket, a social media contest pitting some of the state’s favorite pig palaces against each other to let voters decide whose ‘cue is Bama’s best.

Last year, as you may recall, Birmingham-based Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, which has multiple locations around the state, edged Montgomery’s Sam’s Bar-B-Q in the finals, sparking lots of heated debate about not only the worthiness of Jim ‘N Nick’s barbecue, but how unfair it was that little ol’ smoke shacks had to compete against the big, bad chains.

But that is another argument for another day.

Today, we are here to unveil the 2014 bracket that — unlike last year, which was divided into four geographic regions – is this year divided into four barbecue specialties: ribs, chicken, pork and sauce.

The participating restaurants were selected based on social media polling conducted this past fall, according to an Alabama Tourism Department press release, and many of the restaurants in this year’s field are represented in multiple categories.

Saw’s BBQ in Homewood, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Dreamland Bar-B-Que and Full Moon Bar-B-Q, for instance, are nominated in all four categories — pork, ribs, chicken and sauce.

Beginning March 17, voters will be able to go to the Facebook page Facebook.com/AlabamaFood to cast their online votes in each of those categories.

Here are the first-round matchups in each of the four categories:

Pork: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q vs. Top Hat Barbecue; Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q vs. Dreamland Bar-B-Que; Saw’s BBQ vs. Bunyan’s Bar-B-Q; Full Moon Bar-B-Q vs. Whitts Barbecue.

Ribs: Dreamland Bar-B-Que vs. Rusty’s Bar-B-Q; Archibald’s B.B.Q. vs Full Moon Bar-B-Q; Smokin’ On the Boulevard vs. Big Daddy Bar-B-Q; Saw’s BBQ vs. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.

Chicken: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q vs. Saw’s BBQ; Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q vs. Dreamland Bar-B-Que; Full Moon Bar-B-Q vs. Johnny’s Bar-B-Q; Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q vs. Greenbrier Bar-B-Q.

Sauce: Dreamland Bar-B-Que vs. Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q; Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q vs. Saw’s BBQ; Archibald’s B.B.Q. vs. Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q; Bob Sykes BarB-Q vs. Full Moon Bar-B-Q.

Voting in each head-to-head match-up will last for 48 hours, and those restaurants with the most votes will advance to the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite Eight and then the Final Four.

[RELATED: Alabama has two BBQ chains on list of America's 10 best]

The competition coincides with the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – aka, “March Madness” – that also starts next week and, unfortunately, is unlikely to include any school from the state of Alabama. But at least we can be proud of our barbecue.

“Barbecue is part of our heritage,” Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell says. “The culinary tradition and cultural impact of our world-class barbecue make this bracket a source of local pride for Alabamians. “We’re excited to see what the voters define as truly the best.”

“In the inaugural Alabama Barbecue Bracket, voters determined which restaurant has the best barbecue in the state, but now voters will determine what defines the most iconic Alabama barbecue dish,” Sentell adds.

“Whether that’s a rack of ribs, smoked chicken, pulled pork or white sauce, this year’s bracket will shed light on the dishes that make our state’s barbecue portfolio so diverse. We’re excited to see what the voters define as truly the best.”

Online voting for the Final Four competitors to determine the “Alabama’s Ultimate Barbecue Champion” will begin April 2, and the winner will be announced Mon., April 7, the same day of the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Championship.

While one restaurant will take home the overall title, each of the Final Four entries will be named winners in their respective barbecue categories. And it is a possibility that one restaurant could win in all four categories.
Find out more about the Alabama Barbecue Bracket at ILoveAlabamaFood.com.

Go to the barbeque bracket site at: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/03/alabama_barbecue_bracket_2014.html#incart_river_default

Cruise on the Coosa Queen near Treasure Island Bed and Breakfast

Board this boat for a scenic cruise just 10 miles from Treasure Island Bed and Breakfast.
Having lived on a houseboat on Lake Logan Martin since 1993 and in Hollywood, Florida, on a boat before that, Don said he has grown to appreciate what the Coosa River scene offers. “I love the people up here. To me, there’s nothing like this on the lake. I just want to support the community and offer it something unique and exciting.” The Coosa Queen is a 16 x 58 foot, 50-passenger riverboat that offers two-hour cruises for many events and social occasions, offering day and evening cruise options. Beginning May 12, the boat will also allow cruisers catered dinner while they enjoy the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the Coosa River. “I want to see a smile on people’s faces like mine every morning,” said Janice, beaming in the early morning hours aboard the couple’s houseboat in Riverside. “It’s like being on vacation every day.” The couple said they are incorporating the catered dinner, which will include fine dining on weekends, because they wanted to offer more than just a boat ride on the Coosa. “There are so many people who come out here who don’t have a boat. This gives them an option to enjoy the whole lake and river and have the whole experience out here that they normally couldn’t get,” Janice said. Don, who says he has lived at nearly all of the marinas around the Coosa River/Logan Martin area, was purposeful in wanting to launch from Riverside Landing, in order to support the city where it docks its boats. A family-style environment is what the couple’s riverboat dream is intending to offer. The Coosa Queen will also be featured at this year’s Lake Fest, May 11 and 12. Don said he and Janice had talked about wanting to offer what the Coosa Queen will have in store for cruisers for some time. While driving through Athens, Ala. one day, he spotted the vessel parked in a field, complete with a paddle wheel atatchement and all. – See more at: http://www.newsaegis.com/x474405216/All-aboard-for-a-Coosa-River-cruise#sthash.Kgeq2Tsk.L3lP4BiJ.dpuf

Largest Gathering of Leisure Professionals on the Planet

In 2014, the World Leisure Congress is coming to the U.S.A. for the first time ever. And Mobile, Alabama is honored to be the host. From September 6-12, 2014, the entire Bay region will welcome academics, educators, students, researchers, professionals, government officials, and representatives from non-governmental organizations in the fields of leisure, recreation, tourism and sports.

In sessions and exhibits held at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center and the University of South Alabama, international experts will explore academic, social, industrial, and political leisure issues through:
•Daily themes
•Daily Keynote Presentations
•Presentations on approximately 15 selected research papers
•Multiple interdisciplinary sessions
•A robust exhibit component
•Educational excursions in and around Mobile
•More opportunities to network with leisure leaders from around the globe

Hank Aaron, a Mobile native and baseball legend, has graciously agreed to serve as Honorary Chairman for the 2014 Mobile Bay World Leisure Congress. Having hit 755 home runs, Hammerin’ Hank has taken leisure to a legendary level and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Aaron serves as Senior Vice President with the Atlanta Braves, the team he played for professionally. Mobile’s baseball stadium is named after Aaron and his childhood home has been relocated to the stadium as a museum

Best kept secret at Barber Motorsports Park

One of the best kept secrets at Barber Motorsports Park is that a perfect lodging for any event is only minutes away at romantic Treasure Island Bed and Breakfast. If you want a break from the hotel routine. After all, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Why not experience hotel alternate lodging.
There is an Alabama Bed and Breakfast about 35 minutes from Barber Motorsports, close yet isolated from the crowds after an active day at the track. Treasure Island is located on the shore and main channel of the Coosa river on Logan Martin lake. Come relax, unwind and enjoy the spectacular view over-looking the lake while enjoying a country breakfast. You may make reservation by visiting their website at http://www.treasureislandbedandbreakfast.com or by calling 205-525-5172. The Anniversary Suite is ultimate accommodations that you can celebrate the memories while resting for the events the next day.

UK writer with daughter named Alabama visits the state

Telegraph writer Jessamy Calkin had never been to Alabama, but always loved the American South. The UK writer flew across the pond and landed in New Orleans, hoping to experience the south. On her docket – visiting Mobile first. Her daughter, Alabama, 17, wanted to experience the state she’s named for.

The writer recapped her trip and had pleasant things to write about Mobile.
“Mobile is an old-fashioned southern sea port that prospered from a booming shipbuilding economy during the Second World War. Nearby, the USS Alabama is stationed, a battleship commissioned in 1942 that became known as ‘the hero of the pacific’,” she said.

She said she wished she would have stayed in the Battlehouse Hotel, she wrote. “Many people asked, ‘are you on business or vaycaytion?’” poking fun at the southern accent.
Calkin ventured down Dauphin Street as well.

“There is a wonderful second-hand bookshop, Bienville Books, and next to a pool bar a large biker was boiling crawfish on an industrial-looking gas burner on the pavement. We ate supper in a tall-ceilinged old pizza place called Buck’s and Jonah (Calkin’s 12-yr-old son) fell asleep with his head on the table.”
She noticed the strange weather Mobile has, as well. “It rained all the time we were there, and for a few hours there was a freakish wind. The bellhop, Jeb, said he had never seen anything like it and he had lived in Mobile all his life.”

Calkin also ventured to Monroeville and visited the museum there, with favorable reviews.
To read the entire article, go to: http://blog.al.com/wire/2014/03/u.html

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