This lovely scene is at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge a great outdoor opportunity for visitors in Decatur, AL

A road trip to Decatur, Alabama was in order! My husband Keith and I headed out the last day of February. The Land Between the Lakes, with a stop at Fort Henry was on our minds. We had been to the Fort Donnelson but Keith, a Civil War buff, wanted to learn more about Fort Henry. There were only a few signs. 

Fort Henry 

It turns out most of Fort Henry is under Kentucky Lake! My cell phone alerted us to a Flash Flood watch. It started raining by the time we saw a sign for Paris, Tennessee, we were looking diligently for lodging. The Quality Inn was an oasis, literally in the storm.   

Paris Tennessee 

Dinner at Moustos Pasta & Grill we enjoyed authentic Italian food and celebrated an early anniversary meal since our anniversary was the next day. 

Learning Paris, Tennessee was home to a 60’ steel Eiffel Tower located in the Eiffel Tower Park, we stopped to take our picture and walk the ¾ mile walking path the next morning. 

Pasty Cline Memorial 

Being country music fans, we stopped at the Patsy Cline memorial near Camden, Tennessee. The crash occurred March 5, 1963 killing Pasty Cline, her manager Randy Hughes, Grand Ole Opry stars Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas. They were on their way home from a benefit concert in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Decatur, Alabama! 

The Decatur Alabama CVB hosted us to profile this historic city that Maryanne Floyd, Director of Communications called the Chicago of the South. With a population of a little over 54,000, even during COVID-19, industry is booming. Decatur has a new agri-tourism trail and many things to draw visitors. 

The bird on the right is a whooping crane which is endangered. This is on
display at the Cook Museum, an award-winning museum in Decatur. AL!

The new agri-tourism trail Step Out Agriventure Trail is a combination of agricultural stops and outdoor adventures. Manna House Hydroponic Gardens is in Lacyeville. Caroline Blanchard, the garden manager, offered us a tour of the 15,000 square foot indoor garden where they were growing green beans, lettuce, basil and cilantro. Ten percent of what they grow goes to charity!  

Pipe & Leaf Tea Company is also in Laceyville. This family business started eight years ago. Using fresh ingredients they either grew, purchased locally, or foraged, they offer what they call, “A taste of Alabama” in their amazing teas! 

In Falkville, Robert Summerford along with his son’s Alan and Ryan provide custom freezer beef and sire bulls. They served some of the best steak and biscuits I have ever tried! Alan Summerford said he is the 4th generation raising beef. “If my son Reid (six) goes into the business, he will be the 5th.” 

The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is also on the agri-tourism trail. David Young, the ranger, said the refuge consists of 35,000 acres. They have been emphasizing hiking, biking and birdwatching as outdoor activities that can be enjoyed. “November – December and parts of January and February are our biggest waterfall months,” David said. 

Water fowl observation is a great birdwatching activity at the
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

In January there is a Festival of the Cranes. 

Although not on the trail, Forrest and Erin Burleson of Hartselle are raising flowers and vegetables under the name of Sunwise Farms. They grow their produce at the family farm established in 1816! They sell their wares at the Hartselle Farmer’s Market.   

Decatur is filled with history. During a tour of the Old State Bank we learned it was one of only four buildings left standing after the Civil War. Judge Breland who gave us a tour, shared that after the war, the town was settled in part by a group of Northerners from Albany, New York so Decatur has two downtowns, Albany and New Decatur. 

Cultural aspects we enjoyed included shopping on Historic Bank Street, a tour of the Carnegie Visual Arts Center where they were getting ready for a cool art exhibit and one of The Princess Theatre. The train depot museum was great fun as well. 

We took a Civil War walk, but as far as beauty, we thoroughly enjoyed the Morgan County Mural trail. Pictures vary, though all tell a story. 

The Cook Museum of Natural Science offers interactive displays at this award-winning museum. 

Southern food is the best! Dining at Simp McGhee’sthe Railyardthe Brick, and Bob Gibson’s BBQ made our mouths water. I loved Morgan Price Candy, a company famous for their English toffee, Royalty Funnel Cakes & More, with funnel cakes that melted in my mouth! 

We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton, a convenient location with a great breakfast!  

We spent three nights in Decatur. It was a great road trip learning about art, history, agriculture, and the great outdoors.