Selma on state’s Top 50 list

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Walks across the Edmund Pettus Bridge or photographs in front of Brown Chapel AME Church have long given special memories to countless tourists.

Now they’re considered among the best sites to take in during a vacation.

The Alabama Tourism Department listed three Selma experiences among the top 50 things to do for free this summer.

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The “Gone, but not Forgotten” Walking Tour, Martin Luther King Jr. Street Historic Walking Tour and Scavenger Hunt in Old Liveoak Cemetery earned the status of family-friendly attractions that are easy on the budget.

National Voting Rights Museum director Angela Brown said during peak times in the summer, the museum will see about 200 people per week.

The Museum facilitates tours that include several historic sites in the city, and people’s interests run the gamut.

“It really varies, particularly based on gender, race and the region of the country or if they’re international” Brown said. “We got a lot of international visitors. Surprisingly, we get very few Southern visitors. We got a lot of people from the West coast or the Northeast and some people from the Midwest.”

The “Gone, but not Forgotten” Tour is a one-mile walk through the heart of downtown Selma that features sites from both the Civil Rights and Civil War eras.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Street Historic Walking Tour includes Brown Chapel, the starting point of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. A monument to King and the voting rights movement’s freedom fighters sits front of the church.

Draped under the protective cover of burgeoning Spanish moss, Old Live Oak’s Scavenger Hunt tests the wits of participants with trivia about Alabama’s history.

Selma’s devotion to honoring its history earned it the designation as a Preserve America community in May, along with just four other sites around the state.

Only Dothan, The Shoals and the Gulf Coast had more events or sites on the list.

Monroeville has three walking tours, including one that features sites made famous by Harper Lee’s book “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Dauphin Island in Mobile and the beaches in Gulf Shores are fun, inexpensive ways to spend vacation time, according to the state tourism bureau.

The list also mentions art museums in Birmingham, Montgomery and Dothan; goldfish races in Tuscaloosa and Little River Canyon in DeKalb County, one of the deepest canyons east of the Mississippi River.