Nestled in the valley of the Appalachian foothills, Anniston was founded as a planned community in 1833. Today, it is a thriving city, with a lot to offer any traveler coming through the area. Explore the historic downtown before visiting the areas outside the city. Known for its outstanding architecture, the Church of St. Michael and All Angels was built by one of the town's founding families. The Noble McCain Butler House, with its hand-carved mantels and jeweled-glass front doors, was the residence of a town founder. A drive through Tyler Historic Hill District offers a look at Victorian homes.
Next, visit the Anniston Museum of Natural History (phone 256-237-6766; http://www.annistonmuseum.org), which houses old diorama bird collections, and the Berman Museum of World History, which features private collections of arts and antiques—some more than 3,000 years old.
After driving through town, you'll start to notice the area's vast outdoors. The Talladega National Forest starts in Anniston and offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including camping and fishing. The scenic byway will take you to the Pinhoti Hiking Trail, which spans 110 mi/175 km into Georgia. Noccalua Falls Park in Gadsden (35 mi/55 km north of Anniston), has a 90-ft/27-m waterfall named after Native American Princess Noccalua, who jumped to her death from the falls. The park, which has a museum, pioneer village and hiking trails, also contains the starting point of Lookout Mountain Parkway—a scenic drive to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
For more scenic views, visit the highest point in the state (2,407 ft/734 m) at Mount Cheaha State Park in Delta (27 mi/43 km from Anniston). The 2,800-acre/1,130-hectare mountain retreat has two lodges, campgrounds, cabins and an observation tower. For something closer to ground, visit Coldwater Covered Bridge, one of the state's oldest remaining covered bridges in Oxford (4 mi/6 km south of Anniston).
Anniston is a great spot for a day trip to the Talladega Motor Speedway 15 mi/24 km west (phone 877-462-3342; http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com). The International Motorsports Hall of Fame (phone 256-362-5002; http://www.motorsportshalloffame.com) next door to the track is a must-see for any speed enthusiast, as it is home to the fastest boat in the world. Anniston is 57 mi/92 km east of Birmingham.
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