If you’re looking for things to do in North Alabama, this area is immersed in history, culture, technology, and entertainment.
The majority of North Alabama is situated in what’s known as the Tennessee Valley. From highlands to gently rolling lowlands, it’s a wonderfully diverse landscape. A lot of which sits conveniently close to lakes, rivers, rich farmland, and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re looking for things to do in North Alabama, this area is immersed in history, culture, technology, and entertainment.
OUTDOOR THINGS TO DO IN NORTH ALABAMA
As the heat begins to roll back into cooler days, getting outside is high on a lot of folks’ list. The hardwoods are settling in for their long sleep and in turn their leaves are showcasing rich hues of yellow, orange, and red. With all the outdoor opportunities, including the Scenic River Trail, Cathedral Caverns, and Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, a day in North Alabama’s fresh air can be wonderfully serene and restorative.
Alabama Scenic River Trail – Madison
Did you know that a river trail is also referred to as a Blue Way? North Alabama’s diverse landscape has created a river system that has it all. Floating through steep canyons or rolling farmland, experience the best parts of the Tennessee, Elk, and Flint Rivers from the vantage point of a canoe or kayak. The Alabama Scenic River trail has made it possible to explore this part of North Alabama not accessible by any other means of transportation. Just don’t forget to pack a lunch and lots of snacks!
Cathedral Caverns – Woodville
Cathedral Caverns is what’s known as a karst cave, one that typically forms in soluble rock limestone though it’s possible for them to occur in chalk, dolomite, marble, and gypsum. Located just outside of Woodville, there is a large stalagmite forest within the cave that covers nearly three acres. The cave’s entrance, which is 25 feet tall and 128 feet wide, is believed to be the world’s widest entrance for commercial caves. If you love natural history, you’ll find yourself in awe from the time you enter Cathedral Caverns until long after you leave.
Wheeler Wildlife Refuge – Decatur
Wheeler Wildlife Refuge is an absolutely incredible place to watch wildlife, especially migrating ducks, geese, cranes, and swans. With a sprawling 35,000 acres, there’s no shortage of areas to roam. The Tennessee River runs through the refuge, adding to the wide spectrum of landscapes and wildlife that thrive there. With all the agriculture in and around the refuge, it is home to nearly 300 bird species. And this is the perfect time of year to join friends and family to watch the waterfowl make their yearly migration south.
Athens-Limestone County, Alabama Civil War Trail – Athens
This could be a hybrid outdoor/indoor activity since some of it will be spent in your vehicle. The trail will take you back through time as you follow the troops of Company F, Alabama’s 9th Infantry Division, as they leave Athens on June 6, 1861. War-ravaged structures are still visible. There are areas to park and get out of your car where you can stand in the silence and try to put yourself in the shoes of those young soldiers who took part in the Civil War.
After you’re done, there are some great restaurants in Athens where you can sit down and rehash the experience. And, if you’re wondering, Athens is annually voted as one of the best places to live in Alabama. So don’t be shy about hopping back in your car and taking a lap around town.
INDOOR THINGS TO DO IN NORTH ALABAMA
Of course, a lot of North Alabama’s attractions take place inside too. And they are too good to miss. Experience the rich history and culture of places like the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville or FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville
If you or your children have an affinity for space, well, the “Earth’s largest space museum” is a historical attraction you do not want to miss. The museum houses more than 1,500 space exploration artifacts, including rockets, engines, spacecraft, and hardware from the Apollo program. There are rides and simulators and let’s not forget space ice cream. The Space & Rocket Center is a place to behold and a must-visit attraction in North Alabama.
Space is a dark place. So once you reemerge into the sunshine, consider making a jaunt over to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens to smell the flowers and reawaken some of your senses.
FAME Recording Studios – Muscle Shoals
FAME Recording Studios has created pure musical magic over the course of its history. Many people know Nashville, Tennessee, as Music City. But the little town of Muscle Shoals is a powerhouse of musical prowess. Classic artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Otis Redding, and the Allman Brothers cut records there, as well as contemporaries like Jason Isbell, Alicia Keys, and The Revivalists. If walking through FAME doesn’t make the hair on your neck stand up, you may need to check yourself for a pulse. As a bonus, just down the road in Tuscumbia (literally 10 minutes away) is the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. A visit there is a great way to cap off a day of music history.
Unclaimed Baggage – Scottsboro
Ever heard of this place? Or better yet, ever wondered where luggage goes when it’s lost by an airline and never recovered by the owner. The answer: Unclaimed Baggage is Scottsboro, Alabama. In actual fact, this place might be the most incredible thrift store on the planet. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that have turned up there over the years at this 50,000-square-foot store.