North Alabama is super easy to visit from the neighbouring states of Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. Not only are there beautiful outdoor things to do in North Alabama, but several cities in North Alabama that are worth your visit. Whether you are doing a road trip in Alabama or a road trip through the Southern States generally, you will want to check out at least some of these suggested places to visit in North Alabama. Northern Alabama cities are a diverse bunch ranging from small cities that feel like small towns to Metro Huntsville, undeniably a big city.
Cities in North Alabama
Some cities in Northern Alabama cluster together as they grow so that divisions between city lines are hard to delineate. Examples of this are the Metro Huntsville area or the Quad Cities Alabama. Nonetheless, you also have smaller cities like Scottsboro or Albertville.
The 2021 population of Huntsville was 205,472. It is the second largest city in Alabama after Birmingham.
Metro Huntsville, made up of Limestone County and Madison County, has swallowed up the neighbouring city of Madison, Alabama. The 2021 population of Metro Huntsville is 492,000.
Huntsville, AL is quickly turning into one of the hippest cities in the south with a slew of breweries, bars, and trendy eateries all over town. The city also has a rich historic district with plenty of museums and cultural places to explore.
Known as Rocket City, space and aeronautic enthusiasts travel from far to visit the Davidson Centre for Space Exploration (the number 1 visitor attraction in Alabama!).
In fact, the number 3 most visited attraction in Alabama is also in this city – the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. The Botanic Gardens are located near the NASA complex because they were repurposed from a US cavalry unit had been housed.
Kids come from far and wide for their summer camps at the Huntsville Space Center such as Space Camp and Aviation Challenge.
Towns near Huntsville AL that Metro Huntsville has swallowed up include New Market, formerly known as The Watercress Capital of the World. Random. But charming.
Athens Alabama is one of the smaller North Alabama cities with a 2021 population of 29,216.
Only 15 miles from the Tennessee border, Athens Alabama is an easy place to visit from Nashville, Tennessee. There’s a beautiful downton historic area as well as a driving tour of 24 antebellum mansions nearby to visit. Athens is home to Athens State College, Alabama’s oldest school of tertiary learning and founded in 1842. Thanks to all this history, there are a fair few antique shops to visit.
Athens is located near Alabama’s second largest lake (also a reservoir created to help manage the Tennessee River), Wheeler Lake. Wheeler Lake is home to a number of fishing tournaments like the Heartland Anglers Bass Tournament.
Quad Cities Alabama
The Florence Muscle Shoals area also includes the smaller cities of Tuscumbia and Sheffield. This larger metropolitan area known as the Quad Cities Alabama had a population in 2021 of nearly 200,000.
Florence is known as the birthplace of Helen Keller and her childhood home is now a museum, Ivy Green. The city also has a strikingly rich music history. FAME studios recorded legends like Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones and quickly garnered a reputation as one of the safest, most inclusive spaces in the country for artists to record at.
The city has breweries that carry on this welcoming atmosphere and there are also marvelous natural attractions in Northeast Alabama, like Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge and the Natchez Trace.
Among North Alabama cities, Decatur is widely known for Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ and Point Mallard Park. Although the population of Decatur in 2021 was 153,521, the city still feels like a small town.
The city is located on the banks of Wheeler Lake where one of the fun things to do is to hop aboard The Pickwick Belle riverboat to get a taste of old-timey travel.
There are plenty of other historic sites to visit, including the Blue and Gray Museum (aka North Alabama Civil War Museum) that has a wonderful collection of civil war artifacts. If you love trains, check out the Decatur Train Depot that is on the North Alabama depot trail and a part of the Trail of Tears as well.
Cities in Northern Alabama like Scottsboro were also made nationally famous during the Civil Rights Era. Despite the population of Scottsboro in 2021 being only 51,636, people still remember the case of the Scottsboro Boys in 1931.
Some of the greatest things to do in Northern Alabama include exploring unique and wonderful natural features. Spelunkers frequent Jackson county and Scottsboro for the spectacular limestone caves in the area, one of the most famous being Stephens Gap. Neversink Pit is another ultra-popular sinkhole that offers plenty of adventure.
Don’t forget to stop by the Unclaimed Baggage Center to pick up massive bargains that careless airline passengers have lost.
Although the 2021 population of Guntersville is a mere 8,685, the city is important in Northeast Alabama because of its connection with Guntersville State Park.
Guntersville is an outdoors lover’s paradise with plenty to do at Guntersville State Park and Lake Guntersville. Play golf on one of the most scenic courses in the south or get your blood pumping on a zipline ride. Activities in the town are centered around the expansive lake and fishing, boating, and relaxing by the waterside is all in a day’s work.
One of the smaller North Alabama cities, Albertville has a 2021 population of 22,637. It is still the largest city in Marshall County though!
The city is known as the fire hydrant capital of the world because of a local producer of fire hydrants. Makes sure to stop by and see the gleaming nickel fire hydrant near the famous Albertville Train Depot which commemorates the importance of fire hydrants to the local economy.
The Albertville Train Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places and is also part of the North Alabama Train Depots Trail.
Nearby, Sand Mountain Park in Albertville is a 130 acre recreational area with an amphitheater and many sports facilities. Families will love the new state of the art outdoor water park .The Sand Mountain water park features waterslides, a splash pad and a lazy river making for a fun day out.
If you are following the North Alabama wine trail, stop by the Albertville winery. The Jules J. Berta Vineyards and Pizzeria has been voted visitor’s favourite attraction in North Alabama. I mean, Huntsville may have rockets and botanical gardens, but nothing beats a gourmet pizza and wine slushy on a hot summer’s day!
Map of North Alabama Cities
Here’s a map of the cities in Northern Alabama which shows where they are located to help you plan your next trip to the area.
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