ALABAMA VISITOR GUIDE
A Publication a of
Welcome to the Shoals! We are so glad you are here! Whether you’re here for a meeting, on a group tour, a sporting event, business or just to relax and unwind, we truly want your visit to be inspirational and memorable. The Shoals, as we call it around here, is made up of four cities including Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals. Each community offers something unique and different including history, culture, great food and friendly people! You are visiting what has been coined the “Hit Recording Capital of the World”. We are very proud of our music heritage and the great music that is performed and recorded here! Some of the greatest hits of all time were created in our legendary studios and well-known artists still make the journey to produce their music. We’re quite sure that your playlist probably includes a few songs made right here in the Shoals! Don’t worry about finding enough to do — some of our unique attractions and landmarks include the birthplaces of W.C. Handy and Helen Keller. Right here in Florence, you can see Alabama's only Frank Lloyd Wright home too. Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, FAME Studios, Cypress Moon Studios and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame will satisfy any music junkie’s bucket list. We’re not done yet! Our quad-city area has great eateries, shopping, golfing, fishing, hiking, antiquing, or even taking a stroll through one of our area's seven parks. We’ve heard it from others that we’re pretty special. In fact, Garden and Gun magazine called us the “Best Art & Design Town in the South.” Internationally known clothiers, Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin make Florence their home along with other Alabama makers. So, it’s time to get started — you can find more at your fingertips by downloading our free app, VISIT FLORENCE AL in your app store. We would also like to welcome you, so come by and visit us at the Florence-Lauderdale Visitor Center located in McFarland Park right on the Tennessee River! Have fun in The Shoals!
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HISTORY OF FLORENCE
THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND
10 FREE FAMILY THINGS TO DO
THE QUAD CITIES
ARTS & CULTURE
“Wawmanona” was the name given by Native Americans to the impressive mound which they built on the bank of the Tennessee River on land that would eventually be part of Florence, Alabama. At 42 feet high and a maximum base of 180 feet, this grand structure has stood for hundreds of years as a visual reminder of Florence’s rich Native American heritage. In 1818, a group of visionaries known as the Cypress land Company invested $85,000 to purchase approximately 5,000 acres of land that began at the river and stretched inland for some distance. Three men, John Coffee, Hunter Peel and a young Italian named Ferdinand Sannoner worked diligently to survey the acreage and to create a grid of streets recognized today as downtown Florence. Following land auctions, the sale of the lots that resulted from the survey work totaled approximately $355,000. So, the town of Florence was up and running a full year before Alabama became a state!
Education was a priority from the beginning: John Coffee opened a school on the Coffee plantation in 1820 and invited children from other families to enroll as well. Through the ensuing years, private homes and public buildings housed schools of various types until the Florence City School System was established in 1890. Very early, too, the faith community established a strong presence in Florence. As a result, beautiful houses of worship have been a part of the townâ€™s religious and architectural heritage all through the years. The eastern section of Florence quickly became the industrial part of the city. Buildings that housed all types of manufacturing could be found there. Astute local businessmen and others from outside the region were attracted to the welcoming atmosphere and joined the industrial base in east Florence. Strategically located in the northwest corner of Alabama, Florence was a dream come true for the early citizens of this grand city.
If you’re traveling by car, Lauderdale County and the Shoals are served by major fourlane highways in each direction. From Memphis and the west, Highway 72 comes into the southern part of the Shoals; from Huntsville and the east, Highway 72 and Alternate Highway 72 both offer quick and easy access. From Nashville and the north, travel south on I-65 to Athens, Alabama, and come west on Highway 72, or take a more scenic route on Highway 43 to see some beautiful rolling hills and interesting small towns. And if you’re coming from Birmingham, travel north on I-65 to Exit 310 in Cullman, and take Highway 157 into the Shoals. Our region is right in the center of everything, between Nashville, Birmingham, Memphis and Huntsville. It’s also possible to visit here by boat. The Tennessee River is beautiful. Spectacular homes and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course are built on its banks. Be prepared to lock through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s series of hydroelectric powerproducing dams, and dock at Florence Harbor and Marina for a meal at the River Bottom Grille and a visit to the FlorenceLauderdale Visitor Center. The fastest and most convenient way is by air. The Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL) is conveniently located in the center of everything, and is served by Boutique Airlines, with daily flights to and from Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. The comfortable Pilatus PC-12 planes offer lots of legroom and quiet comfort for your trip—in fact, it’s sort of like having your own corporate plane. Prices are affordable and parking at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport is free. For flight schedules and more information, visit flytheshoals. com. If you’re flying a private plane, this is a friendly and accommodating airport for you, too.
Located in McFarland Park, the Visitor Center is the one stop-shop for local, regional and state information including brochures, maps and whatâ€™s happening in Florence and the Shoals. The gift shop offers a large variety of items made in Florence and from around Alabama. Special tours and presentations can be arranged for larger groups.
200 Jim Spain Drive Florence, AL 35630 www.visitflorenceal.com 256-740-4141
March GEORGE LINDSEY UNA FILM FESTIVAL
This festival started in 1998 by University of North Alabama Alumnus George Lindsey. He was most famous for his role as Goober Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show. The competitive film festival welcomes local, national and international entries. The event features a variety of movie screenings, as well as panel discussions led by film industry professionals. lindseyfilmfest.com
FIRST FRIDAYS This event takes place on the first Friday evening of each March â€” December. Historic Downtown Florence is bustling as the sidewalks of Court Street are filled with artists featuring their homemade wares such as photography, paintings, ceramics, jewelry and folk art. Restaurants, cafes and gift shops stay open late while live music can be heard from every corner. firstfridaysflorence.org
FLORENCE WINE FESTIVAL Explore 100+ fantastic wines from around the globe and local food pairings from some of the Shoalsâ€™ best chefs all while soaking in the electric atmosphere of cobblestoned Mobile Plaza in the heart of historic downtown Florence. florencewinefest.com
April HISTORIC WALKING TOURS OF FLORENCE Florence/Lauderdale Tourism hosts a series of walking tours each April. Each tour is guided by a local historian and features a different historic location each Saturday. The tours are free to the public. VisitFlorenceAL.com
SHOALS EARTH DAY FEST Florence and the Shoals celebrate Earth Month with a variety of special events taking place throughout the area. The communities unite at the annual Shoals Earth
Day Fest with green vendors, speakers, presentations, kids’ activities and live music. shoalsearthmonth.com
May ARTS ALIVE Wilson Park, in Historic Downtown Florence, is the location where Arts Alive is held the third weekend of May. The celebration of local and national art includes a juried art show featuring artists from around the United States. Artists also set up booths to sell and display their works including paintings, sculptures, jewelry and hand-crafted furniture. alabamaartsalive.com
SHOALS FRONT PORCH STORYTELLING FESTIVAL This event promotes the art of storytelling and provides entertainment, education and inspiration. Attendees will be entertained as they listen to nationally renowned storytellers and their tall tales. Activities are held at various locations in Historic Downtown Florence.
June HELEN KELLER FESTIVAL & THE MIRACLE WORKER PLAY Celebrating the legacy of “America’s First Lady of Courage” and Tuscumbia born Helen Keller, this festival includes arts and crafts vendors and live music held in Spring Park. Performances of William Gibson’s award-winning play, “The Miracle Worker,” are held weekends in June and July on the grounds of the Helen Keller Birthplace Ivy Green. helenkellerfestival.com
July FLORENCE 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION The City of Florence hosts the July 4th event in McFarland Park to celebrate Independence Day. The Tennessee River is the perfect backdrop to enjoy picnics, live music and a spectacular firework show. All festivals and events are subject to change or cancellation. Please check the event website for updates.
W.C. HANDY MUSIC FESTIVAL The last full week of July hosts an impressive 10-day festival honoring “the Father of the Blues” and Florence native, W.C. Handy. World Class jazz and blues music can be heard at over 300 events taking place across the Shoals. WCHandyMusicFestival.org
August BILLY REID SHINDIG Every summer we gather our friends from the communities of music, food and art in The Shoals, Alabama to celebrate fashion, craft and the power of creativity.
this event features Native Americans demonstrating authentic dance, drumming, Indian flute, art, crafts, storytelling and life skills. okakapassa.org
TRAIL OF TEARS COMMEMORATIVE MOTORCYCLE RIDE Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the county gather in the Shoals to honor the legacy of Native Americans and the Trail of Tears the third weekend in September. The ride begins in Bridgeport, AL and ends in Waterloo with a Native American Pow Wow, vendors and live music. al-tn-trailoftears.net
ROCKIN’ THE RIVER AT JOE ALABAMA CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL WHEELER STATE PARK Craft beer brewers from all
The state park hosts this event alongside beautiful Wheeler Lake with a line-up of great live music, food and children’s activities. alapark.com/joewheelerstatepark
September OKA KAPASSA: RETURN TO COLD WATER Native American Festival held the second Saturday of September in Tuscumbia,
over Alabama participate in this event to be named Best Beer in Alabama. Ticket holders get access to the “The Penny Beer” Garden in downtown Florence on Mobile Plaza! There will be a large variety of beers available for tasting. alabamacraftbeerfestival.com
October ST. FLORIAN OKTOBERFEST The town of St. Florian celebrates its German heritage the first Saturday of October.
ANNUAL EVENTS The community located north of Florence has an antique car show, vintage tractor parade, arts and crafts vendors, live music and a wide selection of domestic and German beer.
ALABAMA RENAISSANCE FAIRE Florence is known as the “Renaissance City,” and appropriately hosts the Alabama Renaissance Faire the fourth weekend of October. The Faire, held in Wilson Park, features authentic Renaissance food, costumes and music. alrenfaire.org
HAUNTED EVENTS/ ATTRACTIONS Arx Mortis in Killen, the largest haunted attraction in Alabama is open selected dates in September and October. Theatrical animatronic props and live actors carry out the legend of the Covington Clinic and the ancient story of the Arx Mortis — Death Fortress. arxmortis.com Haunted History of the Shoals Ghost Walks are hosted by local author Debra Glass. The tours take you through historic downtown Florence while you hear the spine chilling stories of haunted buildings and houses. florenceghostwalk.com
SHOALSFEST Jason Isbell's gift to the Shoals and one of the largest concerts in our area. This music festival transformed McFarland Park into a music mecca and boasts top of the line food and drink vendors and an entertainment lineup you don't want to miss! www.shoalsfest.net
November W.C. HANDY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION Crowds gather November 16 at the W.C. Handy Birthplace and Museum to celebrate the birthday of the Florence native and “Father of the Blues”. Take a tour of the museum and be treated to cake and live music.
December CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY EVENTS Many Christmas activities, including parades, tree lightings, special art exhibits, boat parade of lights, downtown open houses, plays and Christmas music events. VisitFlorenceAL.com
All festivals and events are subject to change or cancellation. Please check the event website for updates.
The Shoals is the home to the songs you’ve heard thousands of times and know every lyric to. This area is well accustomed to success in the music industry. Thanks to the documentary titled “Muscle Shoals,” these songs and titles bring a much more evocative meaning to us. Come join us for this full day tour as we dive into the “Singing River” and discover how an Alabama town is the foundation of some of the greatest hits of the ‘60s to recordings being made now!
THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND
9:00 am FAME RECORDING STUDIOS FAME is the best place to start a tour that created the Muscle Shoals Sound. The studio is located on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. Still a working studio, this is where the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section got its start. FAME was host to artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Paul Anka and many others. In the last 50 years, FAME Studios has recorded or published music that sold over 350 million copies. Tours: Mondayâ€”Friday 9 AM & 4 PM Saturday 10 AM to 2 PM 603 E. Avalon Avenue Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 256-381-0801 www.fame2.com
THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND
10:15 am MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND STUDIOS The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Cher and others recorded some of their biggest hits in the Shoals, and much of that happened in a little nondescript building at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield. Recently renovated by Apple/Beats, the facility has become a recording studio once again, in addition to conducting tours of the studio where iconic hits like “Wild Horses” and “Brown Sugar” were made. The Muscle Shoals rhythm section, also known as the “Swampers”, created Muscle Shoals Sound Studios here, and later moved to a location on the river in Sheffield. Tours: Monday—Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM (November—May) Every Day 10 AM to 5 PM (June—October) 3614 Jackson Highway Sheffield, AL 35660 256-978-5151 www.msmusicfoundation.org
THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND
11:30 am CYPRESS MOON STUDIOS The second Muscle Shoals Sound brought in acts like Bob Dylan, Julian Lennon, Bob Seger, Steve Winwood and more. Concerts are held periodically in the historic studios where many music icons once recorded their hits. Tours: Monday—Saturday 11 AM to 3 PM 1000 Alabama Avenue Sheffield, AL 35660 256-335-6961 cypressmoonproduction.com
1:00 pm ALABAMA MUSIC HALL OF FAME After lunch, to see more on both music achievers in the Shoals area and other parts of the state, visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia. You’ll be amazed at the number of talented people from Alabama who changed the course of musical history, including Tommy Shaw of Styx, Lionel Richie, Bobby Goldsboro, Jim Nabors, Emmylou Harris and many, many more. Climb aboard a tour bus used by the super group “Alabama” or make your own kind of music in an actual recording booth. Tours: Tuesday—Friday 9 AM to 5 PM, Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM 617 U.S. 72 West Tuscumbia, AL 35674 256-381-4417 www.alamhof.org
THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND
3:00 pm W.C. HANDY MUSEUM & BIRTHPLACE Last but not least, head to Florence to see the cabin where in 1873 William Christopher Handy (W.C.), known as “The Father of the Blues”, was born. Today the W.C. Handy Museum & Birthplace houses a museum of memorabilia, sheet music and the personal papers of the composer of “St. Louis Blues,” among many others. Tours: Tuesday—Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM 620 West College Street Florence, AL 35630 256-760-6434 www.florenceal.org
TAKE A STROLL ON ONE OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY RECREATION (TVA) TRAILS Get a great view of Wilson Dam. This is a nice nature trail that loops around part of the TVA reservation. The trail is easily followed and has some pretty views of the Tennessee River with the main highlight being the old Railroad Bridge that extends halfway across the river. BRING A CAMERA!
FIND INSPIRATION AT TE-LAH-NAY’S WALL Tom Hendrix constructed this wall in memory of his great, great grandmother, a Yuchi Indian forced to walk the Trail of Tears. After being forcibly removed to Oklahoma, Te-lah-nay spent five years finding her way back to the Shoals. In the 1980’s, Hendrix learned of his great, great grandmother’s harrowing journey, and has now built the largest un-mortared rock wall in the United States. It is also the largest memorial to a Native American woman. Each rock represents a different step in Te-lah-nay’s journey and is truly inspirational. Located at 13890 County Road 8, Florence, Al 35633.
BROWSE THE ART AROUND THE SHOALS The Shoals is no stranger to the art world. The Kennedy-Douglass Center of the Arts located at 217 E. Tuscaloosa Street, Florence, AL and the Tennessee Valley Art Association located at 511 N. Water Street, Tuscumbia, AL both display local and national artistsâ€™ work year-round. Every spring, downtown Florence plays host to the Arts Alive festival in May, a fun event for all ages! Also, donâ€™t miss the first Friday of the month when Florence closes Court Street to allow local artisans to display and sell their work while local musicians play music.
10 FREE FAMILY FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO
SAY HELLO TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH ALABAMA’S MASCOTS UNA, the oldest four-year State supported institution in Alabama, is also one of the only colleges in the state to have live mascots located on campus. The lions, Leo III and Una, can be seen at the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat located in Harrison Plaza. While you’re on campus, check out Wesleyan, Rogers and Colby Halls all of which are registered as historic landmarks in the national registry. Designed by the Olmstead Brothers, the same firm that designed New York’s Central Park.
CHECK OUT OUR FAMOUS COON DOG CEMETERY The Coon Dog Cemetery started in 1937 after Key Underwood decided to bury his beloved coon dog, Troop at his favorite hunting site. Over time, the site became a popular place for hunters to say goodbye to their faithful hounds and lay them to rest. This is the only cemetery of its kind and makes for a fun day of exploring. From US Hwy 72 turn on Hwy 247 — follow signs for 12 miles.
WALK AND EXPLORE ONE OF THE SHOALS SEVERAL COMMUNITY PARKS The Shoals is fortunate to have many public parks including McFarland Park, Diebert Park, Veteran’s Park, Gattman Park and Spring Park to name a few. Views of the river, waterfalls or man-made lakes are just part of the beauty at these locations which have walking trails, playgrounds for the kids, gardens and some with disc golf as well.
10 FREE FAMILY FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO
10 FREE FAMILY FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO
TAKE IN SOME LIVE MUSIC There’s something musical in the water of the Shoals and this area seems to have a plethora of local talent. Visitors can stop in Swampers Lounge in the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa where live music is performed every night of the week. www.visitflorenceal.com/music/live-music
VISIT THE LAGRANGE COLLEGE SITE LaGrange College was founded in 1830 and was known as “The West Point of the South”. However, Union forces, led by Colonel Florence M. Cornyn, destroyed the college. Now the original college site is a park open to visitors. On the grounds is a welcome center and museum featuring antebellum era artifacts. Be sure to visit LaGrange Cemetery, an antebellum cemetery and the oldest in the Shoals area. www.lagrangehistoricsite.com
10 FREE FAMILY FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO
WALK DOWN THE OLD RAILROAD BRIDGE AT SUNSET The Old Railroad Bridge was one of the original bridges connecting Colbert and Lauderdale Counties and was used by trains, wagons and cars. The bridge, which has not been used for transportation in decades, is now a pedestrian walk overlooking Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River. Stop by the bridge to watch the sunset for one of the most scenic sights in the Shoals.
YOUR FAMILY TO THE SPLASH #10 TAKE PAD AT RIVER HERITAGE PARK
If itâ€™s hot, expect to see local kids playing in the water play fountain! And while there you will be able to see the Florence/Lauderdale County Walk of Fame, honoring locals who have made significant contributions to the community. Located beside the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa, 10 Hightower Place, Florence, AL 35630.
W.C. HANDY HOME, MUSEUM & LIBRARY William Christopher Handy, “The Father of Blues”, was born in Florence in 1873 in a small log cabin that today houses a large collection of his personal papers and artifacts. He is world famous for his compositions such as “St. Louis Blues,” and “Beale Street Blues.” The 10-day W.C. Handy Music Festival is held each July in his honor. 620 West College Street Florence, AL 35630 256-760-6434
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT ROSENBAUM HOUSE Designed in 1939 for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum for a mere $14,000, The Rosenbaum House has been called one of the purest examples of Wright’s Usonian design. The house was deeded to the City of Florence in 1999 and restored to its original condition. The house contains the original Wright designed furnishings and is the only Wright building that is open to the public in the Southeast. 601 Riverview Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-718-5050 wrightinalabama.com
FLORENCE INDIAN MOUND & MUSEUM The Florence Indian Mound is the largest domiciliary mound in the Tennessee Valley Region. Built during the Woodland Period, the mound stands 42 feet tall with a summit that measures 145 by 95 feet. The impressive museum houses Native American artifacts dating back thousands of years and are arranged from the Paleo to Historic periods. 1028 South Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-766-6427
POPEâ€™S TAVERN & MUSEUM Popeâ€™s is one of the oldest structures in Florence. It has operated as an inn, stage coach stop and Civil War hospital for both Confederate and Union troops. Today the museum houses many local, historic artifacts, furniture and items used in the 18th and 19th centuries. The annual Frontier Days event is held the first Saturday in June on the grounds surrounding the house. 203 Hermitage Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-760-6439
MUSEUMS & OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
EDITH NEWMAN CULVER MEMORIAL MUSEUM The 1800’s historic home features Native American artifacts, Civil Wars relics and the unique heritage of Waterloo. The town was a stop along the Trail of Tears and the largest Cavalry ever amassed in the Western Hemisphere. Call for Hours. 501 Main Street Waterloo, AL 35677 256-760-6439
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE SHOALS The educational and interactive exhibits represent many of our famous faces and places. The hands-on learning experience teaches children to learn and discover in fun and creative ways about science, technology and our local history. 2810 Darby Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-248-7107 www.cmshoals.org
VETERAN’S MEMORIAL PARK The memorial grounds hold monuments honoring all who served in WWI, WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam War. The outside and museum exhibits feature an assortment of wartime memorabilia, including actual guns, ammunition, missiles, guns, planes and a Huey Cobra helicopter used in battle. Outside Area Open Daily. Museum Hours: Saturday — Sunday 1 PM to 5 PM. 256-762-1971
HELEN KELLER BIRTHPLACE: IVY GREEN Helen Keller was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, AL and at a young age was left blind and deaf by an illness. Her silence was broken, and she went on to dedicate her life to improving the conditions of people with disabilities around the world. Ivy Green has become a shrine to “America’s First Lady of Courage.” 300 North Commons Street West Tuscumbia, AL 35674 256-383-4066 HelenKellerBirthplace.org
MUSEUMS & OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
MUSEUMS & OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
ALABAMA MUSIC HALL OF FAME Sounds of the Southern soul come alive at this museum that honors talented Alabamians who have influenced the course of music history. Exhibits feature costumes, instruments, recordings and personal effects from music legends including Tommy Shaw of Styx, Lionel Richie, Bobby Goldsboro, Jim Nabors, Emmylou Harris and many, many more. Climb aboard a tour bus used by the super group “Alabama” or make your own kind of music in an actual recording booth. 617 U.S. 72 West Tuscumbia, AL 35674 256-381-4417 www.alamhof.org
FAME RECORDING STUDIO This was the first successful professional recording studio in Alabama. Established in 1959 by Rick Hall, he put together a group of talented musicians known as the “Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.” Recording artists include Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Paul Anka and many others. In the last 50 years, FAME Studios recorded or published music that sold over 350 million copies. Tours: Monday—Friday 9 AM & 4 PM; Saturday 10 AM to 2 PM 603 E. Avalon Avenue Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 256-381-0801 www.fame2.com
MUSEUMS & OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND STUDIO: 3614 JACKSON HWY The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Cher and others recorded some of their biggest hits at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield. Recently renovated by Apple/Beats, the facility has become a recording studio and open for tours. This is the place the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as the â€œSwampersâ€?, created the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. 3614 Jackson Highway Sheffield, AL 35660 256-978-5151 msmusicfoundation.org
BELLE MONT MANSION Located in Colbert County just outside Tuscumbia, Belle Mont Mansion serves as a prime example of the Palladian style architecture that swept the nation under the influence of Thomas Jefferson. Donated in the 1980s to the Alabama Historical Commission, the mansion has been undergoing phased restorations to preserve its historical significance. 1569 Cook Lane Tuscumbia, AL 35674 256-381-5052
SACRED WAY SANCTUARY A research education, and preservation facility that is home to a foundation herd of between 80 and 90 Indigenous Native American horses. The origin of these horses can be traced to Native Peoples across North America. Their mission is to educate the world regarding the true history of the horse in the Americas and its relationship with the Indigenous Peoples. This historical reconstruction has been compiled by combining traditional knowledge from a number of native nations with cutting edge academic research. 4409 County Road 200 Florence, AL 35633 www.sacredwaysanctuary.org
If youâ€™re a foodie or a shopper, downtown Florence is the place to be! While you stroll down Court Street or Tennessee Street, check out the architecture as much of it dates back to the mid1800s. If you happen to visit on the first Friday of the month between March and December, check out First Fridays, where artists and musicians line the street and peddle their wares. Two spectacular May events are Arts Alive in Wilson Park and the Shoals Front Porch Storytelling Festival happening at the Shoals Theatre and at other locations in the Shoals. Each October, Vikings, Pirates and Buccaneers lay siege around Wilson park during The Alabama Renaissance Faire. The Kennedy Douglass Center for the Arts faces the park where you can browse the latest collections. Downtown is surrounded by historic districts and beautiful homes where you could easily spend a day (or more) exploring.
The oldest of all of the Shoals cities, Tuscumbia has a thriving downtown retail district and beautiful, large Victorian homes. The restored railroad station is now a community gathering place, and during warmer months the town holds events at Spring Park. Native American culture has a strong influence on Tuscumbia, and Spring Park is host to the Oka Kapassa Festival each September. Helen Keller was born in this town, and her birthplace, Ivy Green, hosts performances of â€œThe Miracle Workerâ€? during summer months. Check out the Tennessee Valley Art Museum and see the petroglyph, with carvings made before history was even recorded. For a directory of shopping, restaurants and attractions in Tuscumbia, please visit our site at www.theshoalsal.com.
Sheffield bills itself as the Center of the Shoals, and itâ€™s one of the oldest of the four towns, second only to Tuscumbia. Sheffieldâ€™s main street downtown, Montgomery Avenue offers many treasures for the shopper. North Montgomery Avenue is home to beautiful old homes, many being restored, and the wide avenue ends at the Tennessee River and the StandPipe, a Sheffield landmark. Take some time to explore this part of the Shoals; if you like river views and beautiful homes, this is the city that has them! For a directory of shopping, restaurants and attractions in Sheffield, please visit our site at www.theshoalsal.com.
Muscle Shoals is the youngest of the four cities. Born in the 1920s when Wilson Dam was under construction, the city boomed when Henry Ford decided to make this area “Detroit South” by offering to purchase Wilson Dam to power an automotive industry. That didn’t happen, but what did was the birth of this city! Muscle Shoals is legendary for the music that has come from this area. Be sure to check out FAME Recording Studio, one of the many recording studios that created the legend of the Muscle Shoals Sound. For a directory of shopping, restaurants and attractions in Muscle Shoals, please visit our site at www.theshoalsal.com.
The Shoals, known as the “Smallmouth Bass Capital of the World”, is one of the best freshwater fishing destinations anywhere. With three of the best stocked lakes surrounding the Shoals area, fishing enthusiasts won’t be disappointed. The Shoals area hosts fishing tournaments throughout the year and these lakes reel in more line class records certified by the International Game Fish Association than anywhere else in the USA.
ANGLING FOR ADVENTURE Three cobalt-blue lakes, Pickwick, Wilson and Wheeler make for some of the best sport and tournament fishing in the nation. Dam tail waters create miles of run-of-the-river lakes with numerous gravel islands, shallow slough, grass-filled backwater, feeder streams, standing timber, rocky points, deep ledges and underwater structure. That means trophy fish for you! Lakes feature lunker bass and huge blue cats. Tournament anglers routinely report catches of 100 plus fish a day from bream, crappie, catfish, sauger to bass. They’re biting and we’re hauling them in. Come and earn your bragging rights, and have some downright good fish fry’s. Other bass species abound as well including largemouth, spotted and striped bass.
GOOD FISHING YEAR-ROUND SPRING (MARCH—JUNE) Concentrate on deep ledges, gravel points and bluffs. As water temperatures increase in April, head for weed beds and shallow stumps. Fill your tackle box with plastic worms, jigs, spinnerbaits and big crankbaits.
SUMMER (JUNE—SEPTEMBER) Now is the time for blue and channel catfish. For all your fish, your best luck is to follow the shell mounds, and underwater humps. Keep an eye out for large schools of largemouth and smallmouth on ledges. Local fishermen say to use a jig, big crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Carolina Rig Lizard and live shiners to lure in the big ones.
FALL (SEPTEMBER—DECEMBER) Trophy fish are abundant along the riverbanks, wood structures, rocks and anywhere baitfish can be found. Smallmouth bass congregate in the tail waters of Wilson and Wheeler Dams. Many anglers have success drifting live threadfin shad in the swift current for trophy smallmouth bass.
FISHING WINTER (DECEMBER—MARCH) Tail waters of Wilson and Wheeler Dams provide excellent opportunities to catch sauger (we call them jack salmon) when they migrate upstream to spawn. Winter also is an excellent time for smallmouth bass fishing on the Tennessee River. Use small jigs, worms and willow leaf spinnerbaits in white or white/chartreuse. For your best chance at reeling in the catch of your life, hire a local fishing guide to take you to the best spots. Alabama Freshwater Fishing Licenses can be purchased online: www.outdooralabama.com/alabama-license-information
PICKWICK LAKE Pickwick Lake runs 50 miles from Wilson Dam in Florence, AL to Pickwick Dam in Tennessee. When the Lake is full during the summer, Pickwick provides 490 miles of winding shoreline and about 47,500 acres of water surface. Largemouth bass are one of the most sought-after species by anglers. However, Pickwick Lake’s greatest reputation is its superb smallmouth bass fishing. A 15-inch minimum size restriction limits harvest of smallmouth bass. One of the most popular smallmouth fishing areas is the “Shoals” section directly downstream of Wilson Dam to the end of Seven-Mile Island. Swift moving waters from the Dam create a strong current in this area that smallmouth’s love. The middle to lower reaches of Pickwick provide excellent habitat for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Due to its stellar reputation, Pickwick Lake hosts a number of big-name tournaments each year including FLW and B.A.S.S. events. Crappie is another favorite fish species sought by anglers. The majority of the crappie angling in Alabama occurs during the spring on Bear Creek and Second Creek embankments. Anglers drift jigs and minnows along the creek channels to find large schools of crappie. Crappie must be longer than nine inches to be keepers from Pickwick Lake. Blue catfish and channel catfish are also found in high numbers during the summer. Bank access is available on the south side of the lake at Sheffield and Muscle Shoals, and on the north side of the lake at McFarland Park in Florence and in Waterloo. Boat anglers can use Wilson Lock to travel back and forth from Pickwick Lake to Wilson Lake.
FISHING MCFARLAND PARK & MARINA McFarland Park, located at the base of Oâ€™Neal Bridge crossing the Tennessee River, provides access to Pickwick Lake. The park includes two extra wide boat ramps, fishing piers, boat slips, fuel, marine store, 60 campsites, driving range for golfers, soccer field, picnic shelters with fireplaces, playgrounds, individual picnic tables, baseball field and paved and lighted jogging trail that surrounds the harbor and restaurant.
WILSON DAM FACTS Construction of Wilson Dam began in 1918 and was completed in 1924. It is 137 feet high and stretches 4,541 feet across the Tennessee River. The main lock at Wilson is 110 x 600 feet. With a maximum lift of 100 feet, it is the highest single lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains. An auxiliary lock has two 60 x 300-foot chambers that operate in tandem. On average, 3,700 vessels pass through Wilson Lock each year.
FISHING TIPS ON PICKWICK LAKE Anglers should concentrate on dam tail waters, deep ledges and deep structures for best results. Milfoil beds have become established in the lower end of the lake, providing great cover for lunker largemouth bass. Traditional baits remain good for catching bass on Pickwick Lake, but anglers are encouraged to throw shad colored grubs, fish head spin rigs, shaky head finesse rigs and 5-inch swimbaits for added success. Live bait angling remains popular and is one of the most successful methods of catching smallmouth bass. Current is the key to catching bass on Pickwick, so visit TVA.gov for daily water release schedules.
WILSON AND WHEELER LAKES Wilson Lake is located in Northern Alabama in the City of Florence and extends upstream for 15 miles to Wheeler Dam covering 15,500 acres. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and catfish are targeted most often by anglers on Wilson Lake. Minimum length for all bass on Wilson Lake is 15 inches. Wheeler Lake is located in North Central Alabama, halfway between Birmingham and Nashville. This TVA Lake is Alabamaâ€™s 2nd largest lake and stretches 60 miles from Guntersville Dam to Wheeler Dam near Rogersville. The upper end of Wheeler Lake has shallow waters and strong currents but the lake widens and
FISHING slows near Decatur. Stump flats, weed beds and creek channels are popular locations in the middle section, while the lower end features many steep banks and long points.
FISHING TIPS ON WILSON LAKE During the spring and fall, smallmouth bass congregate in the tail waters of Wheeler Dam. Many anglers drift live threadfin shad in the swift current for trophy smallmouth bass. Other species that live below Wheeler Dam are hybrid and saltwater striped bass in the spring, sauger in the winter and blue catfish and channel catfish during the summer. This area is very popular with both boat and bank anglers. Tie on crankbaits or soft plastics that mimic shad or crawfish. Other common bait for bass includes Carolina rigs, plastic worms, spinnerbait and shaky head rigged finesse worms.
FISHING TIPS ON WHEELER LAKE Common baits for bass include crankbaits, Carolina or Texas rigged plastics, spinnerbaits and shaky head rigged finesse worms. If you are fishing the Decatur flats, you better try throwing a frog/rat type in the milfoil. Dark jigs cast on points and along bluff walls at night are good for smallmouth bass in the lower reservoir. Bream are found in shallow, gravelly areas during the spawn season. Look for bream along the bluffs and banks during the occasional willow fly hatches in the summer.
DAM REGULATIONS Alabama law requires that life jackets be worn when within 800 feet of the downstream side of a hydroelectric dam or navigation lock. The current is swift and itâ€™s very rocky and shallow at Wilson Dam.
FISHING Moving from one TVA-managed reservoir to another by water requires using the navigation lock, or “locking through”. A free service which is used by thousands of recreational boaters every year.
LOCKING THROUGH Let the Lock Operator know that you wish to lock through by: 1. Using marine radio channel 16 to identify yourself and your intentions. 2. Using your cell phone to call the lock operator: Wheeler Lock: (256)-247-3311 Wilson Lock: (256)-764-5226 For more information on Locking through the Dams, visit tva.gov/environment/recreation From there, type in “locking” in the search box.
The Shoals area is known as one of the premiere golfing locations in the Southeast. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at the Shoals offers 36-holes of golf and is nationally recognized as one of the best golf courses in the United States. Also located in Muscle Shoals is Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club (donâ€™t worry; itâ€™s a public course and facility). Another great golf course in Florence is Blackberry Trail Golf Course, which opened in 2001. In Tuscumbia, Spring Creek Golf Course offers another challenge for novices and experienced golfers alike. Only a short drive away from the Shoals, but still in Lauderdale County, Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville has a premiere golf course as well.
FIVE AREA GOLF COURSES The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at the Shoals 900 Sunbelt Parkway, Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 Blackberry Trail Golf Course 112 Clubhouse Drive, Florence, AL 35630 Joe Wheeler State Park 2670 Joe Wheeler State Park Road, Rogersville, AL 35652 Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club 1311 East Sixth Street, Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 Spring Creek Golf Course 800 Woodmont Drive, Tuscumbia, AL 35674
OUTDOOR RECREATION If venturing into the great outdoors and sleeping under the stars is your type of adventure, the Shoals area offers plenty of campsites, hiking trails and places to canoe, kayak, mountain bike and bird watch. A great way for visitors to experience southern culture and the outdoors is by taking a drive or bike trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile road that connects Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. Along the trail there are wilderness areas as well as areas that take you to unique and quaint little towns throughout Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. For more information visit www.scenictrace.com. For shorter, more manageable day hikes try one of the Shoals’ great wilderness preserves and trails. Just off of County Road 47, outside of Florence’s city limits, is Shoal Creek Preserve, an area consisting of hiking trails, horse trails and mountain bike trails. Wildwood Park is just five minutes from downtown Florence and has 3–5 miles of beginner to advanced mountain bike trails, as well as picnic areas next to Cypress Creek. Just off Muscle Shoals’ River Road are the Tennessee Valley Recreation Trails that feature the Old Railroad Bridge, a natural waterfall, campsites and over 11 miles of different trails and terrain. Cane Creek Nature Preserve in Colbert County has over 400 acres of privately protected land. The Preserve was opened as a sanctuary for local wildlife and plants and the Preserve is open to the public year-round at no charge. There are also access roads to most areas of the Preserve so elderly or those with disabilities can enjoy the area. Located at 251 Loop Road, Tuscumbia, AL. Located on Wheeler Lake, Joe Wheeler State Park offers guests many different types of lodging, activities and dining. Try one of the lake cottages or rent a good old fashioned campsite under the stars. The park also offers boat rentals including fishing boats, pontoon boats and paddleboats. The park has hiking and biking trails as well.
THE RITZ THEATRE
Located in the heart of downtown Florence, this recently restored movie theater now serves as home to several of Florence’s community theatre groups.
The Ritz Theatre was built in 1927 and originally played all the silent picture shows that were popular “back in the day.” In 1985 the theatre was restored and is now used for a variety of cultural events. Located in Sheffield, the theatre offers a variety of plays, concerts, seminars and lectures throughout the year.
123 N. Seminary Street Florence, AL 35630 256-764-1700 TheShoalsTheatre.org
NORTON AUDITORIUM Located on the University of North Alabama’s campus, Arts & Culture Norton Auditorium hosts a plethora of events open to the community. Norton frequently has classical symphonic concerts, as well as theatre productions by the university. Pine Steet Florence, AL 35630 256-765-4649 una.edu/events/nortonauditorium
111 W 3rd Street Sheffield, AL 35660 256-381-8370 tvaa.net
SHOALS SYMPHONY AT UNA You’ll be amazed that a community this size can have a symphony this good! The Shoals Symphony has regular performances throughout the year. una.edu/shoals-symphony
HISTORIC ROXY THEATRE The Historic Roxy Theatre has been a beloved fixture of downtown Russellville
since 1949. It first served as a movie theatre and today as a venue for concerts, recitals, and talent shows. www.historicroxytheatre.org
Visual Arts THE KENNEDY-DOUGLASS CENTER FOR THE ARTS Located in downtown Florence, the Kennedy-Douglass Center resides in three different historic houses, which are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. They host ever-changing exhibits, frequent juried art shows and learning programs. 217 E Tuscaloosa Street Florence, AL 35630 256-760-6379
TENNESSEE VALLEY ART CENTER An art museum with rotating exhibits of national and regionally recognized artists and workshops for all ages. Includes the Helen Keller Art
Show of Alabama throughout the month of June, which is an exhibition of works by Alabama students who are visually impaired, blind, and/or deaf; The Martin Petroglyph, a permanent installation of a pre-Columbian rock carving found in Colbert Country with symbols carved by northwest Alabama natives 800 to 1500 years ago; The Trees of Christmas, an annual display of live Christmas trees decorated by various community groups, families and local artists every December; plus numerous other fine arts exhibitions throughout the year. 511 N Water Street Tuscumbia, AL 35674 256-383-0533
THE Z The historic Zodiac Theatre features plays, concerts, improv acts and other artistic performances. 416 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-768-5586
Start your evening in Downtown Florence with a glass of wine at The Carriage on Mobile Street. If a fine cigar and bourbon are more to your liking, visit The Cigar Room on Cox Creek Parkway, where the selection is one of the best in the region. Test your billiard savvy at Tennessee Street Billiards & Grill in downtown Florence, an old-fashioned pool hall straight from days gone by. When you’re finished, walk down the street to On the Rocks, a classic sports bar that has live music almost every night of the week, making it a favorite of UNA students, as is FloBama, also on Court Street. Take a tour of the taproom and taste the hearty flavors of our local brew like Handy’s Gold and Swampers Porter at the Singin’ River Brewing Co. located at 526 E. College Street in Florence. Also check out the Distillery-High Ridge Spirits located at 1401 Huntsville Road in Florence. If you really want to boogie, in a truly one-of-a-kind environment, check out Rattlesnake Saloon, located in a cave outside of Tuscumbia. The Shoals is known for its live music, so check some out while you’re here. visitflorenceal.com/live-music
Good Morning! Big Bad Breakfast and Swampers at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa both serve a great breakfast every day, or choose Rivertown Coffee or Turbo Coffee in downtown Florence if you want something a little lighter but just as delicious. Also, check out Staggs Grocery for breakfast.
Ready for Lunch? If you’re hungry for a little nostalgia, visit Trowbridge’s in downtown Florence for handmade shakes and great sandwiches in a relaxed, old-fashioned atmosphere. Barbeque rules in the Shoals, and we have a variety of choices. Smokin’ on the Boulevard is a great stop on Highway 72 or 306 BBQ in Downtown Florence is another great stop. If you’re looking for the best hamburger in town, you have to try Staggs Grocery in East Florence.
Fuel up for a Night on the Town. Dinner offers even more choices, and Downtown Florence is a great starting line. City Hardware serves upscale food without
upscale prices, and if you just want a great selection of pizzas and brews, The Pie Factory is your choice. Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond has fabulous fresh Asian food and cocktails. Try drinks, dinner and great entertainment at On The Rocks in downtown Florence, Ricatoni’s Italian Grill serves Italian food in a great atmosphere, with pizza made in a wood-fired oven; its location in downtown Florence makes it convenient for locals and students. If you’re looking to close the night on a sweet note, be sure to check out Stanfield’s River Bottom Grille for fresh seafood, homemade pies, chocolate cobbler and other treats!
Feeling Fine? 360 Grille at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa offers a revolving view of the beautiful Tennessee River and gourmet dishes. Odette is a great fine dining choice, in a more relaxed setting, and they have the only certified mixologist in the state of Alabama serving up outstanding craft cocktails. George’s Steak Pit in Sheffield was nominated as one of Alabama’s Best Steakhouses by AL.com. If you’re not hungry by now, something’s wrong! For more listings, visit our website: visitflorenceal.com. Bon appétit!
SPAS Retreat Day Spa 502 East Tuscaloosa Street Florence, AL 35630 256-284-7167
Buffalo Wild Wings 2870 Florence Blvd Florence, AL 35630 256-740-8464
AIRBNB & RENTALS
St. Florian Fiber Farm www.airbnb.com/rooms/17461012
FloBama Downtown 311 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-764-2225
The Elliott House www.airbnb.com/ rooms/28930830
Rosie’s Mexican Cantina 302 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-766-5599 306 BBQ 322 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-766-5665 Taziki’s Mediterranean Café 261 Cox Creek Parkway Florence, AL 35630 256-367-2391 Big Bad Breakfast 315 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-248-9982 The Carriage Wine & Market: Florence 121 E. Mobile Street Florence, AL 35630 256-810-3752 The Carriage Wine & Market: Sheffield 320 N. Montgomery Avenue Sheffield, AL 35660 256-627-9067 Back Alley Sports Bar 322 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-766-5665 Singin’ River Brewing Company 526 E. College Street Florence, AL 35630 256-349-2294 Taco Mama 121 S Cherry St Florence, AL 35630 256-712-4434
Shoal Creek Gibbons www.shoalcrekkgibbons.com 256-760-0764
MUSEUMS The Children’s Museum 218 Darby Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-284-7107
HOTELS & LODGES Joe Wheeler State Park 4401 McLean Drive Rogersville, AL 35652 256-247-5466 Waterloo Lodge 550 Main Street Waterloo, AL 35677 256-394-6339 Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa 10 Hightower Place Florence, AL 35630 256-246-3600 Stricklin Hotel 316 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-248-9982
FAMILY FUN The Boiler Room 313 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-693-0074
EVENT VENUES Stricklin Social 316 N. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-248-9982
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES TRAVEL RESOURCES St Joseph Catholic School 115 Plum Street Florence, AL 35630 256-766-1923 Florence City Schools 102 S. Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-768-3000 University of North Alabama 1 Harrison Plaza Florence, AL 35632 256-765-4100
GOLF Robert Trent Jones Golf Course 990 Sunbelt Parkway Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 256-446-5111
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area 468 S Court Street Florence, AL 35630 256-765-5028 NW Alabama Airport 1729 T Ed Campbell Drive Muscle Shoals, AL 35661 256-381-2869 Alabama Mountain Lakes 402 Sherman Street SE Decatur, AL 35602 256-350-3500 Florence Harbor Marina 1050 Clayborn Liles Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-768-1299
For more business listings in The Shoals, visit www.visitflorenceal.com
Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
800 S. Cox Creek Pkwy • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 246-3600 www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mslmc-marriott-shoals-hotel-and-spa
Residence Inn by Marriott
1000 Sweetwater Ave • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 764-9966 www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mslri-residence-inn-florence
Hampton Inn & Suites
505 S. Court St • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 767-8282 www.hilton.com/en/hotels/flchshx-hampton-suites-florence-downtown
Hampton Inn Midtown
2285 Florence Blvd • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 764-8888 www.florencemidtown.hamptoninn.com
Holiday Inn Express
180 Etta Gray St • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 246-2200 www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/florence/shefl/hoteldetail
140 Matthew Paul Ct • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 246-2300 www.choicehotels.com/alabama/florence/comfort-suites-hotels/al333
Joe Wheeler Resort
Hwy 72 • Florence, AL 35652 • (256) 247-5461 www.alapark.com/joe-wheeler-state-park
# of Rooms
115 Ana Dr • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 764-5326 www.wyndhamhotels.com/baymont/florence-alabama/baymont-inn-florencemuscle-shoals/overview
150 Etta Gray Dr • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 740-0444 www.choicehotels.com/alabama/florence/quality-inn-hotels/al175
Florence Inn & Suites
1915 Florence Blvd • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 766-2620 www.florenceinnsuites.com/
Economy Inn of Rogersville
15936 Hwy 72 • Rogersville, AL 35652 • (256) 247-5416 www.economyinnrogersville.com/
The Great American Hotel
400 S. Court St • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 760-8888 www.greatamericanhotel.net
America's Best Value Inn & Suites
Hwy 72 & 43 East • Florence, AL 35645 • (256) 757-2167 • www.redlion.com/killen
1238 Florence Blvd • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 764-7621 www.budgetinnflorence.com
The Sticklin Boutique Hotel
315 N. Court Street • Florence, AL 35630 • (256) 248-9982 www.thestricklin.com
The GunRunner Boutique Hotel
301 E Tennessee St. • Florence, AL 35630 • (855) 269-4724 www.gunrunnerhotel.com
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Retaurant within Walking Distance Continental Breakfast