The birthplace of such diverse entities as Helen Keller, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Civil Rights Movement, Alabama is a surprising mix of down home hospitality and intriguing innovation. Here you can explore the past at Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport, or blast into the future at Huntsville’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Alabama’s geography has it all, from the tree-covered mountains of the north, to the central River Heritage region and down south to the glistening beaches of the Gulf Coast. Shoppers can sate their acquisitive urges at the Wharf in Orange Beach, where a half-mile long boardwalk offers boutiques, restaurants and the Southeast’s largest Ferris wheel. Alabama has been sought after as a place to settle down since ancient times. Moundville Archaeological Park is proof of that, with 25 prehistoric platform mounds marking the site where North America’s largest city existed from 1000 to 1450 A.D. One of America’s largest academic medical centers, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System is consistently rated among the nation’s best medical centers and has received the National Research Corporation’s “Customer Choice Award” for ten consecutive years.