Northern Alabama: 10 Great Things To See & Do

There are a lot of great things to see in Northern Alabama! From beautiful outdoor scenery to historic recording studios, northern Alabama is a wonderful region to explore on a road trip.

If you haven’t had the opportunity visit places like Muscle Shoals Sound Studio or the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, you should add northern Alabama to your list of spots for an upcoming getaway or family vacation!

Here are 10 of my favorite suggestions for great things to see when visiting Northern Alabama.

1. Bankhead National Forest

When looking for things to see in northern Alabama, Bankhead National Forest is a must-visit for anyone that loves the great outdoors, challenging hikes, and especially chasing waterfalls!

The National Forest is made up of more than 181,000 acres of protected land and includes more than 90 miles of hiking and ATV trails. It’s also referred to as the “land of 1,000 waterfalls”. (Just make sure you go after the area has had some decent rain!)

2. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

One of the most important recording studios in American music history is actually located right here in northern Alabama. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio cranked out nearly 100 hit songs during its heyday in the 1970s. Classic songs like “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger; “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon; and “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones just to name a few. Even the music for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic, “Freebird” was developed on the studio’s grand piano.

Tours of the studio are available throughout the year and last about 30 minutes. If you’re a music fan, you should definitely add this to your list of things to see in northern Alabama!

(Also, be sure to visit FAME studio, just a few miles away. FAME was the original recording studio in Muscle Shoals where the legendary Swampers became famous!)

3. See A Sunset at Blevins Gap Nature Preserve

Blevins Gap Nature Preserve is a great place to watch a sunset in Huntsville, Alabama. You can easily pull your car or RV into a large gravel parking lot and watch the sun fade over trees and the neighborhoods down below. The property is made up of 1,086-acres of protected land and divided into two sections. The main trailhead has 8 miles of hiking trails.

Another one of the great places to see sunsets in Huntsville is at Monte Sano State Park!

4. Unclaimed Baggage Store

Ever wonder where all of those lost or unclaimed suitcases at the airport wind up? Most likely, the contents from those bags end up at the Unclaimed Baggage Store in Scottsboro, Alabama.

The store has been around since 1970 and has grown into a popular tourist attraction where great deals can be found everyday! The owners have developed a relationship with most major airlines that results in a regular influx of new items each week. There’s even a museum that displays some of the most unique or bizarre items that were left behind or unclaimed!

5. Helen Keller’s Birthplace

Helen Keller was an author, a champion for disability rights, and a political activist. She lost her sight and hearing as a toddler but went on to become the first deaf blind person in America to earn a bachelors degree. She grew up in the town of West Tuscumbia, Alabama and the childhood home she lived in is open to the public for tours.

“Ivy Green” is made up of multiple gardens, fountains, and the living spaces that were once occupied by the Keller family. It’s located on 640-acres of land. The home has been open as a tourist spot since 1954.

6. Women’s Volleyball at University of Alabama

Of course you can watch quite a few college sports that take place at the University of Alabama – but the one that absolutely blew me away was women’s volleyball. I had the chance to watch a match on a recent visit to Tuscaloosa and couldn’t believe how talented these ladies are and how exciting it was to watch in person!

Tickets are super reasonable (though the concessions are ridiculously priced)! It’s really fun to see the families cheering on their kids and watching these young people compete.

fun things to do in northern Alabama

7. Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Any music lover, should have the Alabama Music Hall of Fame on their list of things to see in northern Alabama! It’s amazing to learn how many great artists came from this state and how they’ve contributed to American music. Everyone from Hank Williams to country music superstars, Alabama! (Speaking of which, you can actually tour one of Alabama’s tour buses which is located inside the museum!)

Admission is $12 for adults and the gift shop has some really neat stuff in it as well.

The Commodores at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame
A display of stage costumes worn by The Commodores

8. U.S. Space & Rocket Center

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center has been a popular attraction in Huntsville for a long time. It’s currently (2023) undergoing a massive renovation – so you may want to wait for all of the updates to check it out!

Huntsville is a hub for space and rocket technology with many NASA employees and contractors calling the city home. The Center has a large collection of actual rockets and NASA artifacts. It’s also home to Space Camp, where students learn about traveling to space and what it takes to pull off a mission.

9. Temptations (Eddie Kendrick) Memorial in Birmingham

Fans of the legendary musical group, The Temptations will want to make a quick stop in Birmingham to pose for a photo!

Eddie Kendrick, the member who famously sang lead on songs like The Way You Do The Things You Do and Just My Imagination was from Birmingham. Kendrick, who also had a solo career after leaving the group, is memorialized at Eddie Kendrick Memorial Park on 4th Avenue in downtown Birmingham.

northern alabama

10. Cherokee Rock Village

Native Americans used this area for ceremonies until 1838. Today, visitors can enjoy rock climbing, birding, hiking, camping, and simply enjoy beautiful views of Leesburg along Lookout Mountain. Cherokee Rock Village is known as one of the most beautiful lookouts in the entire state and one of the best things to see in Alabama.

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