The town of Athens, Alabama, has long been known for its history and natural beauty. With the Tennessee River running through it, this small town packs a lot of adventure into one unique and vibrant place.
Whether you live in Athens and have yet to explore the city more in-depth or are planning a visit, here are five must-do ways to spend time in Athens, Alabama:
Stop by Athens Saturday Market
Athens Saturday Market is a great place for Athens locals and visitors alike to come together and purchase all sorts of Athens market goodies. Here, farmers, small businesses, and artisans sell healthy local foods and goods such as fresh bread, locally grown vegetables, handmade soaps, and candles.
Athens Saturday Market is a state-certified farmer’s market where locals and visitors gather at the Athens Green Street pavilion every Saturday to enjoy arts and crafts and music. The Saturday Market is open each week from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. from early June through late August.
Enjoy a Picnic in Big Spring Park
Once you’ve got your fresh bread and veggies from the farmer’s market, head over to Big Spring Park to spend an afternoon in nature. If you’ve already had lunch and would rather feed the ducks and koi fish, you can get a handful of food from the park’s dispenser for 50 cents. This is a perfect way to keep younger ones entertained, but there’s also a playground in the park too.
The Big Spring Park is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon with family or walking around with your pup. There’s a pavilion with restrooms and plenty of benches, picnic tables, and shaded, grassy areas to relax and gaze across the pond with its two large fountains.
Visit the Alabama Veterans Museum
Athens, Alabama, offers guests many unique experiences due to its rich history. In addition to the Houston Memorial Library and other historical sites, Athens is home to the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives. As part of Alabama’s military history, this museum has a large exhibit center filled with artifacts like weapons and actual uniforms from the Revolutionary war. And if you prefer to look at photos and hear stories from someone who knows them best, local veterans provide guided tours here.
If you’re still in the mood for a little bit more history once you’re through touring the Veteran’s museum, Athens State College is just two blocks over. Take a stroll through the beautiful landscape surrounding Founders Hall, a contributing property to the historic district.
Pick Fruit at Isom’s Orchard
If you plan to visit Athens this fall, you’ll be in for a treat at Isom’s Orchard. Now in its fourth generation of growers, the first fruit stand was established here in 1957. This family business is the place to go for the freshest produce in Athen’s grown right on the farm.
Isom’s Orchard is most known for its peaches around Memorial Day and its apples near Thanksgiving. However, you can also come here to pick your own flowers and grapes. Anyone can enter their annual Scarecrow Contest, where three local judges select three lucky winners to win cash prizes each fall. Plus, Isom’s Orchard donates money to the Athen’s Veteran Museum for each scarecrow entry!
Explore Athens-Limestone County Nature and Heritage Trails
Athens-Limestone County in Alabama is home to various trails that residents and visitors can walk, hike, bike, and even drive through. From the Limestone Country Antebellum Trail that winds through select homes and structures from the post-Civil war era to the 10.3-mile Richard Martin trail, there is a trail in Alabama for history, nature, and exercise enthusiasts alike.
If you are looking for some beautiful sights this fall or planning an adventure for next summer or spring, the Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail is a great place to adventure. Here you can launch your canoe or kayak in Veto, Alabama (near the Tenessee state line) and travel along the scenic Elk River. It’s a class-1 stream that will take you through forests and meadows. When you’re ready to stop or break for lunch, there are five in-and-out points down this 21.9-mile stretch. Maples Bridge and Elk River Mills Park are two places to consider stopping for a picnic or local food with a view.
If you’re thirsty for more Athens adventures or still feeling lost on what you can do, visitors and residents alike flock to Historic Athens Welcome Center to help plan their ideal journey through Athens. It may be a small southern home, but it’s jam-packed with information and specialists to help you get on your way. And you can always swing back there once you’re through to pick up all your local Athens gifts and souvenirs.