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A Parent’s Guide to Madison, AL

A Parent’s Guide to Madison, AL

I love Madison, AL. I drank the Kool-Aid and am a proud Madisonian.

Does this describe you? Or do you just want to venture over to see what this little city has to offer? Then come with me as I take you on a quick tour of my favorite places in this lovely town. If you’ve just moved to the Madison, AL neighborhood consider me your virtual neighbor down the street!

Outdoor Play in the City of Madison


Final kids_kingdom620.jpgKid’s Kingdom Playground at Dublin Park: In the back of Dublin Park, off of Hughes Road, lies Kid’s Kingdom. This large playground offers plenty of shade and has a pavilion with picnic tables located just outside the gate. Additional picnic tables are located around the perimeter of the playground area. There are restrooms located within the playground fence which is also a huge plus. Much of the equipment is geared towards kids 4+, but I was able to take my littles when they were younger, I just went with them on most of the equipment. View Website

Plenty of fun for little ones.
Plenty of fun for little ones.

Palmer Park Playground: In the middle of Palmer Park (keep going, it will seem near the back of the park), nestled in between the myriad baseball and soccer fields, lies a wonderful playground that is ADA friendly. The restrooms are bit of a hike (in back of the concession stands which are located on either side of the playground), so don’t wait too long to begin the journey for a potty break. There is not much shade, but there are a few covered pavilions nearby. View Website

Insanity Skate Park: Insanity Complex Skate Park is an outdoor 38,000 sq. ft. extreme skatepark for skateboarding and aggressive inline skating featuring Skatelite Pro. They host several regional and national skateboard competitions, and boast a half pipe and several vertical ramps. View Website

millcreek_park_mainNeighborhood Parks: Not a fan of the big playgrounds? Want something close to you? Many of the neighborhoods have playgrounds sprinkled in among them. The City of Madison maintains a database of those playgrounds here. On the go? All the Madison Parks can also be found in the free Rocket City Mom smartphone app. To download the free app visit iTunes or Google Play.

Outdoor Recreation

Rocket City Trash Pandas at Toyota Field: Take them out to the ballgame at Madison, AL newest attraction! Slated to open Spring of 2020, the Trash Pandas are sure to be fun for the whole family. View Website

Dublin Memorial Park: Before you get to Kid’s kingdom in Dublin Memorial Park, you will pass numerous soccer fields, tennis courts, and an outdoor pool. The park offers paved walking trails, a nine hole disc gold course (no, not kidding!!), seven tennis courts, and an outdoor pool with a diving well and kiddie pool. View Website

Palmer Sports Park: This is THE place to be on Saturdays during ball season. Soccer, T-ball, baseball, softball, and football will all be played in this city facility by Madison kids during their seasons. If you’re an athletic family, you might think of this as your home away from home. View Website

Hogan YMCA Outdoor Pool & Ball Fields: Also known as the Madison YMCA, this facility boasts a huge outdoor pool with two water slides and a shallow toddler play area with dump buckets and water features. You can also join the summer Soggy Seals swim team! View Website


Did you know there are about 6 miles of Greenway trails in Madison? There are even more planned, but right now three greenways exist.

  • Bradford Creek Greenway – This is accessed either at Palmer Park or at Heritage Elementary School off of County Line Road. The trail is 2.75 miles long and has 12 foot wide paths. It offers nice shade and many of my friends love it. Please be careful at Mill Road as you have to navigate traffic to cross over Mill Road to continue on the path. There is a plan to build a bridge in the future to avoid this, but for now please be careful!
  • Mill Creek Greenway – Can be accessed via Mill Road between the Millstone subdivision and Mill Creek Elementary. This path is 0.5 miles long but has a playground and a dog park. Great for a quick bit of exercise and then playtime for the kiddos or the furry kiddos.
  • Rainbow Mountain Preserve – Located off of Stoneway Trail, 1.5 mile long Loop Trail follows a generally rocky path along the cliff ridge and east side of Rainbow Mountain. It features beautiful rock formations, excellent views of Madison to the west, fossils, caves, and a waterfall. Other trails along the Loop Trail include Wild Trail (0.4 miles), JaMooKo Loop Trail (0.9 miles) and Spring Trail.

Indoor Play in Madison, AL

Dublin Memorial Park: (I know it shows up on the list three times, but bare with me… totally worth it!) While most people know Kid’s Kingdom, the playground at Dublin, or the soccer fields, there is also swimming, an indoor walking track, and basketball offered. Just go up to the main building in the center of the park. There are fees associated with these activities but they are nominal. View Website

Insanity Skate Park Complex: They just expanded in July, and in addition to their outdoor skateboard park & mini golf, Insanity now also offers indoor roller skating, rock wall climbing, an arcade, air hockey rink, and even laser tag! View Website

Madison Public Library: this state-of-the-art library is a beloved community hotspot for kids and adults. They offer free storytimes almost every day of the week, craft sessions, family movie nights in the summertime, and a fantastic book & materials collection. View Website

Hogan Family YMCA: There are multiple basketball courts, an indoor pool and indoor toddler pool, a climbing wall, racquetball courts, and much more families will love. View Website

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Dining in Madison, AL

Date Night Dining

Stem and Stein: Off of County Line Road, close to Palmer Road, sits this little unassuming jewel. It offers simple but delicious food (think charcuterie platters, cheese boards, paninis, etc.) and combines it with a HUGE offering of both craft beer and wine. Their mission is to offer inexpensive quality libations, and I have never been disappointed. Also, if you find a bottle or wine or a kind of beer that you like, they have a package store located on the other side where you may purchase and take home the bottle/six-pack with many delicious wines $15 and under! With wine tastings every Thursday and beer tastings the first Friday of every month, this is a great place for a date night or some quality time with the girls/guys. View Website

Rocket Republic Brewery: This brewery and tap room is open six nights a week starting at 3PM. It is located off of Production Avenue (close to the Fed-Ex hub). It features whole warehouse of indoor space and offers live music, family trivia nights, and even yoga on Sundays. What’s offered on tap constantly rotates, there were 10 offerings when I checked out the place this week and ranged from light to dark, so something for every palette. Food offerings come from that of food trucks parked outside of the taproom, but that helps to keep the spontaneity alive! View Website

Cork and Crust: Also located off of County Line Road, in the forward portion of the strip center that houses Publix, it is an experience not to be missed. While I am including this in the date night section, I can certainly take my kiddos (on a good day) when we want a nice family dinner out. The food here is great. It mainly offers Italian fare with delicious pizza, but don’t ignore the non-pizza offerings. The risotto is my favorite, and the burratta—completely decadent. On a bad day, they offer take-out. What’s not to love about that? View Website

Family-Friendly Dining

Greenbrier RestaurantGreenbrier Restaurant: Known by the locals as “the old Greenbrier”, it is located off of old Hwy 20 in Madison, I can’t say enough good things about this place. I love taking my family here, especially when we have visitors who want a taste of what this area is known for. This place has good bbq including ribs, pork (including ham slice), and chicken, but my favorite is the fried catfish (I get the filet, but my dad LOVES the whole catfish), and the hushpuppies that you nibble on while you wait for your food. This is one of those places that invoke memories of times gone by and there is even a cotton gin across the street. The staff is wonderful and friendly, but don’t expect to find anything harder to drink than soft drinks and the house wine of the South, iced tea. Kiddos have a good menu to pick from including grilled cheese and chicken fingers. View Website

Sady's Bistro

Main Street Café: This little restaurant is open Monday-Saturday for lunch only 11AM-2PM. To me, although only opened in 2000, it feels like a part of the tapestry of this town. Located in the city’s third town hall (you can eat in two of the old jail cells if you want), this lovely restaurant offers a varied menu, but I recommend the Southern offerings – the punch tea, crunchy chicken casserole, chicken poullet, and strawberry pretzel salad for dessert. I mean, I always feel a connection to my Southern roots when I am here, and I love reconnecting to it. The food kind of invokes the feeling of a family reunion or church “dinner on the ground” you know? Just be forewarned about the trains – it sits RIGHT NEXT to the train tracks and the train whistle can be deafening, especially if you are sitting on the patio. It has never stopped me from enjoying a lunch here with my girlfriends! View Website

Where to Grab Coffee: There are a few places to get your caffeine fix in Madison, AL. Grounded Coffee off of County Line Road is a small-biz favorite. Piper & Leaf serves up Rooster Crow coffee in their Madison location, and you can grab a unique chicory cup of joe at Beignet Cafe. Fresh Starts Cafe serves light breakfast items with their coffee beverages.

There’s also Starbucks on Highway 72 and another one in the Target store.


Old Black Bear Brewery Review

Goodland Pourhouse

Metro Diner Parent Review

Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria & Gelato

Parent Review: The Cuban Cafe

The Hunt Club: A Big Appetite for Wild Game 

Mia’s Cafe: Meat & 3 or Big Breakfast

Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza

Another Broken Egg Cafe

Beignet Cafe in Madison

Sunny Street Breakfast & Lunch Cafe

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

Chuck Wagon BBQ – coming soon!

Champy’s Chicken

Birthday Party Ideas

NEW for 2020! Trash Panda Baseball Birthday Club: Coming Spring of 2020, Madison is the new home to the Rocket City Trash Pandas Baseball team, and they will be offering some stellar birthday packages!

Insanity Skate Park: In truth, I haven’t had a chance to visit the indoor portion of this venue yet as it just recently had its grand opening. We have been taking the kiddos to mini-golf and the batting cages here for a few years, and they are now offering birthday party packages. Something I am definitely considering for my boys!

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Kids Kingdom at Dublin Park: Some of the best birthday parties I have been to have been at Kid’s Kingdom. The picnic tables/pavilion are first come, first serve so you will need to get there early to grab your spot, but it is a lovely location for a birthday party. From a 4-year-old’s party which included a piñata to a Minecraft-themed bash for a 9-year-old, this is a great place to host a party – and you can’t beat the price – FREE! View Website

Miscellaneous Tips

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Whistle Stop Sweets: Located on Main Street, this wonderful sweet shop offers a throwback to a simpler time. Whether you grab an ice cream and eat it outside at the bistro tables and people/train watch or select something decadent from the candy counter – think different types of fudge, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate turtles – or let the kiddos get a mixed assortment of candy from the jars. Their assortment includes super sour things, gummy everything, giant jawbreakers, Pez, and more. I love this place and really enjoy taking my boys here – it can make for a lovely end to a day. View Website

Whistle Stop Sweet Shop

Rita’s Italian Ice

Bruster’s Ice Cream Parlor

The Dessert Fork

Tropical Smoothie Cafe


Find a Special Gift: If you want that perfect gift, I can recommend two places: Doodles, off of County Line Road and Gillespie, and Daisy Lane Gifts, also off County Line Road and Mill Road. These two shops are close together but surprisingly offer very different items. I love to go to Daisy Lane for the perfect baby gift. They will monogram anything, they did a stocking for me that I got off of eBay, or you can buy one of their precious items and have it monogrammed. For that special older girl in your life, head to Doodles. They had great backpacks and lunch boxes in the windows if you are back-to-school shopping and want that “little extra something” and also offered a few clothing items. I love these two shops – check them out!

Fresh Produce: Madison Farmers Market is a great way to get super fresh produce and flowers along with homemade yumminess like cakes, cookies, jams, jellies, and local honey. It is every Saturday until November 11th from 8-noon (but go early for the good stuff) and is being held in the parking lot of Trinity Baptist Church off of Hughes Road. Sprouts grocery store also just opened on Highway 72 and it also offers great produce specials – try to shop on Wednesdays and you’ll get the double sale prices!

Places to Work Out in Madison, AL

Hogan Family YMCA
Madison Hospital Wellness Center
Planet Fitness
Anytime Fitness
Irontribe Fitness
LEANwell Health Coaching & Fitness
Empire Fitness
Pure Barre
Pilates of Madison
Hot Yoga of Madison
Phaze 3 Fitness
9 Round of Madison

Living & Learning in Madison, AL

Here for the Schools

Madison City Schools are the jewel in this city’s crown. The public school system consistently ranks among the best in the state of Alabama as well as the nation, and attracts many newcomers to the city each year. Our schools are the top priority in this community, which makes it a great place for families to move to Madison, AL!

The City of Madison is its own municipality and has a seven members on the City Council and the Mayor’s Office at City Hall. The Madison Police Department is also adjacent to City Hall, and there are two Fire Stations in the city. The Madison City Chamber of Commerce is located right off downtown. The Madison Arts Council and Madison Historical Society come together to help the community and host the annual Madison Street Festival every October.

Thinking of moving to North Alabama or Madison, AL? Check out our North AL/Huntsville Neighborhood Guide with reviews like this of several area neighborhoods.


View Comment (1)
  • LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these picks…..and I too love Madison. Raised in northeast Madison County and then being a 5 POINTS college kid, my hubby moved me to Madison after we wed 16 years ago. My only additions would be La Placita for Mexican grub and play at the YMCA!! I love our little corner of the world (although, I admit, I like to have fun in the other corners sometimes too!) Now I want Whistelstop Maple Pecan Fudge (since I just finished off a big chunk last night).

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