Spread across 120 acres, the picturesque grounds of Huntsville Botanical Garden sprout trails that meander in and out of 10 themed gardens. Enlivened by the technicolor bursts of blooming perennials and the squeal of plesiosaur hatchlings from the aquatic pavilion, the gardens surround visitors in seasonal splendor. Avid gardeners can gawk at the verdant 5-acre central corridor garden—whose flowering shrubs and trees offer an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color throughout the year—while the children's garden presents youngsters with an interactive playpen, where they can learn the science behind photosynthesis and how prisms work. The Huntsville Botanical Garden gift shop is filled with a variety of unique gifts, knick-knacks, and curios such as wine-bottle-shaped tote bags ($11) and the Huntsville Sketchbook ($24.95), a coffee-table book of paintings by local artists.
A broad front porch stretches across the main residence at Hidden Meadow Vineyard, inviting visitors to kick up their feet, tip back a glass of fruit wine, and admire the verdant view. Owners Bill and Janette Bailey manage the small, family-run winery, which specializes in bottles made from muscadine, concord, niagara, and cynthiana grapes. Their roster of wines includes blackberry and blueberry wines as well as scuppernong, a sweet, old-fashioned white wine.
Corn stalks rustle mysteriously around guests as they tiptoe warily through Stalk!, Deadwood Hollow’s haunted corn maze, setting an ominous scene straight out of a horror film. As an oscillating spotlight sends its rays sweeping across the 4.2-acre cornfield, casting angular shadows on the ground, a procession of dark-eyed, blood-splattered zombies pursues passersby in an effort to dine on their gray matter or read position papers on the unflattering ways in which their brethren are portrayed in popular culture.
This demon-possessed setting is complemented by Deadwood Hollow’s Haunted Trail, a spine-tingling path through the woods. As guests creep further into the ever-darkening forest, they’re greeted by the ghastly symptoms of a coming apocalypse, presenting them with a landscape more psychologically fearsome than a Rorschach test conducted by Dr. Frankenstein.
Run by the adventurers at Wild Native, City Safaris' urban expeditions invite participants to discover the unlikely thrills hidden within some of Mobile's stateliest settings. Whether they're recreating the festive fun of Mardi Gras, exploring downtown's historical haunts, or snooping through the inside of the U.S.S. Alabama and the surrounding grounds at Battleship Park, participants compete with one another while flexing their problem-solving muscles. Since friendly competition often brings out a participant's true nature, Wild Native's adventurers also schedule singles hunts that pair up prospective dates for an evening of strategizing.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
The Daedalus welcomes travelers aboard its decks to drink in the scenic Gulf Coast landscape and admire marine animals in their natural environment. With more than two decades of sailing experience, the ship's captain inspires patrons to swap their land limbs for sea legs on cruises that set sail every day, weather permitting. Dolphin-watching expeditions allow customers the chance to scope pods of the only mammals capable of acing the SAT underwater. Soothing two-hour sunset cruises feature a star-making performance by our solar system's sun, which is enriched by complimentary beer, wine, champagne, and soda.
Under the shadowy cover of nightfall, and by the flickering glow of a lantern, the Birmingham Ghost Walk weaves gaggles of ghost seekers through the city's spirit-populated historical sites. Tour leader Wolfgang Poe leads each march through time, beginning with a group-bonding ritual that tunes minds into the vibrations of Wolfgang's spirit guides. Winding toward the Alabama and Lyric Theaters, walks stop to discuss brothels, taverns, and townhouses long since gone, but not vacated by their former inhabitants. As the moon slinks behind clouds and shadows move into the shapes of embarrassing childhood nicknames, tour-takers shake off spine-tingling chills to finish the adventure at the Tutwiler Hotel. Cameras are allowed and, due to its dark themes and subject matter, the Ghost Walk gives itself a PG-13 rating.