If you love learning about plants, animals, space, and so much more, you need to visit the Cook Museum of Natural Science in downtown Decatur! This state of the art museum was opened in 2019, and it has quickly become a favorite attraction in the state and beyond.
One of the most popular features of the Museum is the 15,000 gallon aquarium that is home to several different types of fish. There’s also a Coral Tank with beautiful corals, fish, and some small crabs. You’ll be mesmerized by the Jelly Fish Tank, too.
In addition to the fish in the aquarium, there are baby alligators, a variety of turtles, snakes, a chuckwalla, an endangered hellbender, and an eastern collared lizard on display.
You can go inside a replica cave just like the ones you’ll find in north Alabama and see stalactites, stalagmites, bats, and other things you’re likely to find in a cave.
There are also exhibits dedicated to space, weather, rocks & minerals, and a Holo Sands Table that is incredibly popular with kids and adults!
The Museum also has fun and educational homeschool classes, events, programs, and camps that kids love to attend to learn more about natural science.
After your trip to the Museum, visit the awesome Museum Store for the perfect souvenir. The Museum Store is also a great place to go pick up a gift for friends and family or for yourself! And don’t forget to visit Nature’s Table for lunch, a delicious smoothie, or an acai bowl. The best part is that you don’t have to have a ticket to the Museum to enjoy the Museum Store or Nature’s Table; you can visit any time you want!
The Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, Alabama opened in 2003 and has provided educational and cultural opportunities to the community. The Carnegie was built in 1904 as the Carnegie Library of Decatur and was one of the 2,509 libraries built by millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, so the Carnegie has a rich, unique history.
Not only does the Carnegie have beautiful collections and exhibits that are on display throughout the center, but they also have numerous programs for adults and kids to encourage and inspire through the arts.
One fundraiser the Carnegie has each year is the Carnegie Carnival that takes place during the Mardi Gras season. They have several events leading up the the big event – the Mardi Gras parade along Second Avenue! You’ll see elaborate floats and get lots of beads.
Visit the Carnegie to see beautiful, unique, and inspiring art. Their exhibits change periodically, so it’s a new place every time you visit.
Our 10th Anniversary edition hit hotel rooms in Madison and Morgan Counties in December of 2021 and it’s been one of our most popular publications to date!
EXCURSIONS is chocked full of local information, places to visit, restaurants, night spots, local attractions, and shopping venues. This is the first in-depth and detailed introduction hotel guests get when they check into their rooms. Placed annually and maintained in more than 5,700 local hotel rooms. EXCURSIONS is a trusted and proven resource for Huntsville, Madison and Decatur travelers.
Enjoy the read and get out and explore Huntsville, Madison and Decatur, Alabama!
If you are like us, we are always craving a little something sweet. Whether it is chocolate, homemade candy, pie, or cake that is your favorite, we have a list of some of the best places to grab that sweet treat in Decatur!
Tennessee Valley Pecan Company
Tennessee Valley Pecan Company on historic Bank Street in downtown Decatur has delicious pecans, hands down, but they also offer those pecans as delectable treats covered in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, key lime pie, cinnamon sugar, and more. It’s really hard to choose a favorite, so they offer a variety tin with all the flavors! TVP also bakes the best pecan pies that are the perfect ending to any meal.
Morgan Price Candy Company
We had you at candy, right? Morgan Price Candy Company has been a fixture in Decatur for more than 20 years. What started out as a mail-order candy business in Mary Morgan’s home, quickly became a thriving store-front in 1991. You’ll find the best pralines, toffee, peanut brittle, cheese straws, and other delicious treats at Morgan Price.
Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que
Ok, so you know that Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que has delicious barbeque, but they also serve up an amazing banana pudding to finish off your meal. So the next time you’re at Moe’s make sure to save room for the banana pudding!
After you’ve dined at historic Simp McGhee’s on Bank Street and had you fill of their delicious Cajun recipes or a thick, juicy steak, their derby pie is the perfect sweet complement to your meal.
Since Josie’s Cafe specializes in Mediterranean and Italian inspired foods, you know their tiramisu is to die for! Pair it with a bold cup of coffee, and you’ve got yourself the perfect after dinner treat.
Think Mellow Mushroom just specializes in pizza? Think again. You’ll find several sweet treats on the menu at Mellow to cap off your meal, like Mary Jane’s Triple Chocolate Brownie, Time For A Sundae, and their Gourmet Cookie. They can even top it with all-natural vanilla bean ice cream, dark chocolate truffle sauce, house-made fresh whipped cream and an all-natural bing cherry.
Big Bob Gibson’s Bar B Q
Sure Big Bob Gibson’s is known for their award-winning barbecue, but they are equally known for their amazing homemade pies. Their pies are so sought-after that if you don’t get your order in early enough around a holiday, you’ll miss out! Their specialities are chocolate, peanut butter, lemon, pecan, and coconut. So, so, so good!
Ah, the weather is cooling down to below scorching hot, so eating outdoors is about to become pleasant again! Check out these fun and delicious restaurants and make it a date to dine al fresco.
Nestled into a corner of historic Bank Street, just a stone’s throw from the Tennessee River, lies the heart of fine dining in Decatur. Simp McGhee’s exudes old-fashioned charm while offering fresh Cajun seafood and beef selections sure to please all palates.
Enjoy live music and their rustic historical atmosphere while you dine or relax. You may also dine under the stars on their pet-friendly sidewalk café.
Josie’s is a café that serves dishes originating in America, Italy, France and Spain. This Mediterranean restaurant adds flavor and style to Second Avenue in downtown Decatur.
Moe’s Original Bar B Que
Moe’s Original Bar B Que serves up an award-winning, all things Southern, BBQ experience. Their fast casual eatery offers Moe’s award-winning Bama-style BBQ offerings including pulled pork, ribs, wings, chicken and turkey in addition to catfish and a shrimp Moe-Boy sandwich, not to mention an array of Southern Sides prepared fresh daily. The full premium bar serves frozen concoctions including the famous Bushwacker and Moonshine Margarita, Southern-style cocktails, wine and plenty of craft beers on tap and will even stay open until midnight on Thursdays through Saturdays. Located in the Downtown Decatur Arts & Entertainment District next to the historic Princess Theatre, there is occasional live music on the weekends that ranges from Southern rock and blues with an emphasis on the Muscle Shoals and North Alabama music scene.
Who doesn’t love to eat a good pizza outdoors?! Mellow Mushroom on Second Avenue in downtown Decatur has a large, covered patio that’s perfect hanging out with friends over pizza and drinks. Mellow Mushroom is the originator of hand tossed, stone baked classic southern pizza, and they use the freshest ingredients in their pizzas. You’ll also find lots of beers on tap as well as hand-crafted drinks daily.
Nature’s Table at the Cook Museum
Nature’s Table at the Cook Museum is a great place to grab lunch! There’s a large, covered and uncovered patio area that makes lunch fun and enjoyable. Sit around on the couches or grab a table! Nature’s Table uses the freshest ingredients, so it’s a great option if you’re into nutrition and watching those calories. You can choose from wraps, sandwiches, protein bowls, and salads that are refreshing and filling. Their smoothies and acai bowls are a dream! Nature’s Table also has a kid’s menu that’s perfect for the littles, and the best part is that you don’t have to have a ticket to the Museum to enjoy the restaurant.
The Alabama Center for the Arts is a new state of the art facility that has added a lot of art and culture to downtown Decatur! Located just across the street on Second Avenue from the Princess Theatre, this 44,000-square-foot facility is the region’s premiere arts center and degree program.
It represents an investment of more than $8 million dollars from Athens State University, Calhoun Community College, the City of Decatur and Morgan County.
College courses taught at the facility will lead to Associate of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees with class offerings that include art appreciation, painting, drawing, computer graphics, sculpture, ceramics, and pottery as well as a teaching major, leading to licensure for art instructors.
Non-credit, community education courses are available to the public. Classes are programmed to reflect the interests of local citizens. Instructors include local talent as well as renowned masters.
Your source for locally-curated fine art, home accessories and other treasures
Kathleen’s Fine Art & Interiors is one of the most unique spaces in Decatur, featuring original art and home accessories that complement the art. Visitors can find anything they are looking for and often find things they weren’t looking for but were meant to have.
“Art speaks to the right person,” Kathy Clay, owner of Kathleen’s Fine Art andInteriors, said. Because of that, visitors never know what will speak to them as they peruse Kathy’s collection.
For the last 1l years, Kathy has served Decatur as a little-known treasure, deal-ing in one-of-a-kind art and unique accessories for the home. Kathleen’s has also become known for its special occasion flowers and decorations that are unlike anything most florists could put together. Flower art is just another creative outlet for Kathy and her partner, who enjoy helping buyers connect with the artists that speak to them.
“Art speaks to the right person”
There is no one type, style or genre of art in the shop, which boasts 3,000 square feet of space filled with art from a variety of artists who create pieces as different as they all are. Each artist has their own story about how they create, what inspires them and how they view their work and Kathy knows each story as well as her own.
“I love my artists, and I love to sell for them,” Kathy said. “I always tell them it is so important to do what you love when they are looking at what type of art to create. The right person will find the painting that’s meant for them.”
KATHLEEN’S FINE ART& INTERIORS
211 2nd Avenue SE, Suite B, Decatur, Alabama 35601
Born from Love of Travel, Rock ‘n Roll, Good Food, Fine Wines, and Great People
John Wheat traveled the world as an audio and video expert for decades – including a trip to Turino, Italy for the Olympics in 2006. It was there that John found his love for wines and Mediterranean food. For years, that meant seeking out new or interesting food options on his travels.
Then, in 2018, John saw the opportunity to bring some of his favorite foods home when a restaurant space that had housed other restaurants went up for sale. After adding his own flair to the space, John opened Josie’s as a Mediterranean restaurant with live music on weekends and a unique menu. The name is as uniquely chosen as the decor, with John’s wife, Christy, suggesting it after she heard the Steely Dans’ song “Josie” on the radio. “I looked it up and found that it was a French name that meant “May Jehovah increase” or, in other words, “an addition to your family.”
Since Christy already owned Decatur’s legendary restaurant, Simp McGhee’s, the new restaurant would be an addition to the family for the couple. The name is also variation of the female version of John. So Josie’s was born.
An instant favorite in the city, Josie’s is the trendy little sister to Simp’s, with dinner crowds from the restaurant often joining Josie’s regulars for a nightcap. Josie’s has recently revamped the menu, with the help of a new chef. Original menu favorites like the French onion soup and “Josie’s Pasta” (a penne pasta with veggies in a garlic cream sauce and shrimp or chicken added will remain on the menu, along with the Blanco pizza and Chicken Carbonara pizza with garlic cream sauce that have become favorites and the herb roasted salmon with orzo.
Open from early afternoon to late in the evening (and sometimes until early in the morning) Josie’s is a must-visit. The Sunday brunch is also a delicious treat.
“I used to be the guy from out of town who went into the restaurants. Now, I’m the guy who owns the restaurant and people from out of town come into my place,” John said with a laugh.
Water slides, wave pool, lazy river, kid’s area…there’s so much fun to have at Alabama Splash Adventure this summer! Grab the kids and plan to spend the day beating the summer heat.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
Have you considered how exquisite a motorcycle is in its styling, mechanics, and capabilities? Their artistry is what Birmingham native George Barber saw when he began collecting motorcycles in 1988. Six years later, he established the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, it is home to the largest collection of motorcycles in the world.
Cook Museum of Natural Science
The Cook Museum of Natural Science, located in downtown Decatur, Alabama, is a hands-on, immersive experience where guests can explore, interact with, and learn about nature.
High Point Climbing
High Point Climbing and Fitness in Birmingham is located in the completely renovated Next Fitness facility on Highway 280. High Point Birmingham brings world class climbing to Alabama with 25,000 square feet of indoor climbing surface featuring up to 52+ feet of climbing. The facility is now completely open with the Kid Zone, Bouldering, Weight, Aerobic, Yoga Room, and Route Area! Climbing Clubs and Team can be joined at anytime. Yoga is now offered five nights a week and is included with any Membership or Day Pass.Come have fun and get fit at High Point!
McWane Science Center
Fun and learning never end at McWane Science Center, a nonprofit, hands-on museum and IMAX® Dome Theater. Four floors of interactive exhibits celebrate science and wonder — from an amazing collection of dinosaurs to innovative environmental showcases, imaginative early childhood playgrounds, and an awe-inspiring aquarium. The energy and excitement of discovery spring to life through an extensive lineup of science demonstrations performed daily by talented educators. The adventure intensifies in the IMAX® Dome Theater, where wide-eyed visitors experience the sights and sounds of breathtaking films on a 5-story-tall screen surrounded by 3 tons of high-intensity speakers.
Point Mallard Park
The Point Mallard Waterpark is home to America’s First Wave Pool and so much more! There’s also Point Mallard Golf Course, Point Mallard Ice Complex, Point Mallard Camp Ground, and Strike Zone Batting Cages.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Since opening its doors in 1970, nearly 16 million people have toured the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The vast majority of those visitors have been from out of state or from foreign nations. Many of the more than 550,000 annual visitors are school students on field trips to their future. Dozens of interactive exhibits encourage visitor participation, prompting one official to note: “Here, everyone can be an astronaut for the day!”
Home to Space Camp® and Aviation Challenge® Camp, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is the most comprehensive U.S. manned spaceflight hardware museum in the world. Its large rocket and space hardware collection is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. From America’s first satellite, Explorer I, to next generation space vehicles like Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, the museum showcases the past, present and future of human spaceflight.
The USSRC is more than just artifacts! Experience the physics of astronaut training like never before in simulators like Space Shot and G-Force. Our Spacedome IMAX® Theater transports you to different worlds with amazing documentary films like Hubble, and live demonstrations in the Discovery Theater will have you seeing space science in a whole new light. There’s always something happening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center!
Vulcan Park & Museum
What kind of city builds a huge statue of a burly, bearded, bare-bottomed man to tower over its entire population? One that never forgets its roots. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, watches over all of Birmingham as a symbol of the city’s iron origins–and the ever-present spark of its indomitable spirit at the Vulcan Park & Museum.
Out of This World Pizza, Wings and More in a Fun and Quirky “River City” Inspired Setting
When the Mellow Mushroom location in Decatur went up for sale in 2017, the new owner was just next door. Ryan Helsley owned the Moe’s Barbeque next door and was ready for a new challenge. While Ryan knew the Moe’s brand and barbeque, he was a newbie to the pizza game initially, but felt that both brand espoused similar values with a foundation in good food and good service in timely manner.
He called the foray into pizza making “‘intimidating” because there were more moving parts and almost three times more staff than the Moe’s location required. But, ultimately the idea of good food, cold drinks and a unique workforce.
While Mellow Mushroom is known for its pizza variety, Ryan says the most popular at this location seems to be Holy Shiitake, an olive oil and garlic base with shiitake, button and Portobelo mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and MontAmore. It’s finished with a garlic aioli swirl and spritz of black truffle oil and garnished with fresh chives and shaved Parmesan.
The wings are also a popular choice at the restaurant particularly the new “Cloud 9 Wings” which are double baked and coated in a rich garlic parmesan sauce with a hint if heat. They are garnished with grated aged parmesan and chives and served with the traditional wings sides of carrots, celery and ranch or bleu cheese.
Salads are a surprise favorite at the restaurant something Ryan attributes largely to the fact that the corporate office for Mellow Mushroom is always creating and testing new recipes. The salad menu, which ranges from a basic caesar or Greek salad to a bacon and bleu cheese wedge and an Enlightened Spinach Salad, also features exotic dressings like “Pomegranate Acai” that are sure to delight every dinner at the restaurant.
The location, like all Mellow Mushroom locations, is decorated in a unique style, with a nod to the surrounding area’s history, culture or population. For instance, here in the “River City,” the focal point of the funky interior design is a jon boat that hangs overhead and has been converted into a chandelier.