Discover the cultural heritage of the South by traveling the North Alabama Mural Trail
We’ve had plenty of opportunities over the past year to reacquaint ourselves with the wonder of the South, particularly its lush landscape, rustic charm, and cultural legacy. And few journeys have been as gratifying as the new North Alabama Mural Trail, which ticks all the boxes of our favorite characteristics, including the outdoors, tiny communities, and public art.
About the North Alabama Mural Trail
To connect its 16 counties, promote tourism in America’s most sought-after cities, and provide fun and safe activities for millennials, baby boomers, families and solo travelers, the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association Various pieces have been together, art by region and a path that will lead you through some of the most interesting topography of North Alabama.
What to expect on the North Alabama Mural Trail
What you’ll find along the North Alabama Mural Trail is a mix of initial murals, ghost signs, painted signs for century-old founding, graffiti-style artwork, feathers (lots of them). , many feathers!).
The path may be very a great deal in its infancy, having simply released this year, so new artwork is being delivered all of the time in cities throughout the region. In fact, the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association has been awarding presents to groups who need to participate, so if you’re a city in North Alabama who desires to do greater artwork, that is a tremendous funding avenue to pursue.
And if you’re a mural artist with-inside the South, that is an similarly compelling chance to check out a number of the cities involved and pitch your services. Murals are a key driver of tourism and valuable in keeping little towns alive and thriving. Despite my Alabama roots—my dad and his whole facet of the own circle of relatives are from the Yellowhammer State—I hadn’t visited lots of those rural regions in any respect till this path popped up, so a number of this terrain become new even to me.
How lengthy do I want to drive the North Alabama Mural Trail?
If you’re a visitor who desires to drive the path in its entirety, you’ll need to commit a strong week or extra for your Alabama travels as this location is sizeable and there’s loads to forestall and notice alongside the way. The biggest airport in North Alabama is Huntsville International Airport (HSV), so that you can fly into Madison County and plan a loop of the vicinity that starts and leads to Rocket City.
Because we stay simply over the Alabama border in Tennessee, a trifling hour from Huntsville, we break up up our ride alongside the North Alabama Mural Trail into 3 separate in a single day trips—western, central and eastern North Alabama—that delivered as much as a complete week of travels over the path of a month.
Features along the North Alabama Mural Trail
Large numbers of the towns along the North Alabama Mural Trail may just have a Mural or two — or, in all likelihood be on the way to a greater, maximum engaged destination—so if you are pressed for time and don’t have time to actually see all more than 140 Murals, I’m rounding up our popular highlights in the North Alabama region, maximum of them with very more than public art to offer
The Shoals—comprising Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia—has grow to be one in all our go-to weekend spots with inside the South way to the captivating Florence downtown, its wonderful outside and function alongside the Tennessee River, the abundance of high-quality tune studios and the general accessibility of the area. Most notably, the Shoals is domestic to studios that birthed the careers of such greats because the Swampers and additionally become in which artists like Cher, Lynyrd Skyward, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seeger, The Staple Singers and Rod Stewart all recorded hits.
If you’re driving the North Alabama Mural Trail from west to east, the Shoals is also a great location to start your art adventures an excellent hotel to make your base.
We have surpassed via the riverside town of Decatur no fewer than 3 instances with inside the beyond year, and whenever I’m drawn in via way of means of bold, lovely artwork that right now greets drivers as they’re coming into the downtown, first the tribute to Jimmy “Yellow horse” Webster, then different beauties like this Adam Stephenson mural memorializing his past due sister that reminds me of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
Downtown Decatur itself is thriving, and there are few things that draw me more than a well-designed Main Street. You know what they say: bring talent and industry will follow! Every time we’re in Decatur, we find your favorite store or restaurant, even if you can’t go to the Rail Yard. I’m looking forward to checking out Cross-Eyed Owl Brewing Company, but I’ve never been to Decatur on a day when the brewery is open.
Don’t miss: Bankhead National Forest. It is one of the four state forests in Alabama and you can easily drive to Decatur from the shoals. On a sunny day, there are also many waterfalls like Turkey Foot Falls and Mize Mill Falls in the forest to see!
I thought that Athens would be a quick stop on our way, but I was wrong – there is a lot to see and do in this city of 26,000 people, parks and 17 roads that will pass through famous buildings well before the war in the center of the city. and from the stores that line the well-kept court yard.
Huntsville and Madison County
My love for Huntsville isn’t any secret. While I changed into usually enthusiastic about occurring my annual faculty experience to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, it wasn’t till round 5 years in the past that I fell in love with Huntsville for extra reasons—particularly the aware increase and creative increase that’s taken location throughout industries.
Huntsville is the final innovative city, which given its big aerospace technology footprint isn’t that unexpected as creativity, engineering and problem-fixing frequently move hand in hand. It also without problems boasts a pair dozen murals—and we discover new additions on every occasion we take a weekend ride right all the way down to Huntsville.
While in Huntsville, be sure to check out downtown and Courthouse Square (all very dreamy) and give yourself plenty of time to tour the ultimate artists’ base camp, Lowe Mill Arts, where you not only will you find some great murals, but see where over 200 artists bring magic to life in their studios and window displays.
And while there are no murals (yet) in Madison, the other major city in Madison County just 10 minutes from Huntsville, the city that lays claim to the Rocket City Trash Panda is worth a stop just to to see the lovely train station and lunch in an old prison at the Main Street Cafe.
Approaching Cullman from the north, we were greeted by a charming park with interactive art, murals and a pretty little waterfall. I wish all cities had this because it was such a warm welcome for Cullman.
Don’t miss: Ave Maria Grotto. The masterful paintings of a monk from Germany, Brother Joseph Zoettl, this four-acre park simply 5 mins from downtown Cullman is a miniature wonderland that you’ll need to peer for yourself.
Don’t miss: the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. As if the grotto weren’t sufficient of a cool, surprising enchantment in rural Alabama, simply 15 miles south of there in a pastoral piece of heaven is that this Catholic region of prayer and religious renewal a chunk out of doors of Hanceville. It’s open the public, you simply need to get dressed as it should be in case you plan to go into into the premises.
I knew Gadsden changed into complete of existence and culture, however I didn’t understand how large of an inventive mecca this 35,000-resident Alabama town sincerely changed into till we pulled as much as its downtown core.
Our day in Gadsden changed into one in every of my favorite at the mural trail: We had burgers and Back Forty beers at The Rail Public House—subsequent time I desire to go to the real Back Forty brewery—we shopped the candy boutiques of downtown Gadsden and we located ourselves in one of the nicest cutting-edge artwork museums within side the rural South.
The Gadsden Arts Center & Museum is loose to go into and its famous rotate out each few months. I wasn’t awaiting such world-class artwork in a small town of Alabama, however I persevered to be amazed round each bend at the mural trail—for the duration of our go to closing month, the artwork middle featured 4 centuries of woman artists, together with a girls withinside the Sudan images exhibit.
Don’t miss: Noccalula Falls. This lovely waterfall cascades over ninety ft into the Black Creek ravine. It’s additionally the center-piece for Noccalula Falls Parks, which has campsites, trails, mini golfing and inexperienced area galore. It’s sincerely a marvelous and enviable piece of belongings proper smack within side the center of Gadsden proper.
Mentone is one of these mountain cities sitting at the western rim of Lookout Mountain, 1,000 ft from the valley floor, with tiny domestic holiday leases and cabins galore, and I’ve constantly desired to spend a weekend there. While I didn’t get a complete weekend (yet), I did get a flavor of simply how candy this out of doors oasis is.
Don’t miss: DeSoto Falls. Did I point out North Alabama is rife in waterfalls? They’re everywhere! But few (aside from perhaps Noccalula) are as brilliant as DeSoto Falls with its 104-foot fall right into a glimmering pool and limestone canyon.
North Alabama has an entire host of different trails, from waterfalls to craft beer, so if you’re making plans a trip, why now no longer integrate murals with different stuff you love? You can see a complete listing of North Alabama’s trails here.