School’s out and it’s summertime in the River City – probably my favorite time of year in my hometown. I know you’re thinking, “Yes, but we’ve been to Point Mallard.” I promise you Decatur has so much more to offer than what you think you know about the “Home of America’s First Wave Pool” (which by the way, is pretty fabulous itself).
As a full time working mom, sometimes I struggle with finding ways to keep my family entertained in the summer – not to mention on a budget. But not this year! This summer our calendar is packed with all the great activities the River City has to offer (many of them FREE!), tried and true places and things to do that I’ve slowly learned about with each passing summer. And now, I’m going to give you a glimpse into what’s in my planner to keep my family entertained for the month of June (and some of July).
Cook Natural Science Museum
Where: 133 Fourth Avenue NE, Decatur
www.cookmuseum.org | Read the RCM Review
This is the most important to-do penciled in my planner, because have you heard? The Cooks Museum is transforming the intersection of Lee Street and 4th Avenue downtown into one of the most spectacular children’s attractions North Alabama has ever seen. (Updated 2019) The NEW Cook Museum is now open to the public!
Concerts in the Park
Where: Rhodes Ferry Park
When: Mondays, 6PM – 8PM
Beginning the first Monday in June and running through July, enjoy live, FREE, family-friendly music on the banks of the Tennessee River. Bring your own lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics and sing, clap, and dance until the sun goes down. There’s a fun playground for the kids (with special swings for those with limited abilities) and you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a train crossing Decatur’s unique drawbridge built just for locomotives.
Summer Kids Series at Carmike Cinemas
Where: 1801 Beltline Road SW, Decatur
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10AM
www.carmike.com (select theater in Decatur, Alabama)
Every Tuesday and Thursday from May 31st until August 4th, Carmike Cinemas located in the Decatur Mall is offering admission into a featured family flick, popcorn, and a drink for $4. Seriously, it’s only $4 for kids and adults. For a full movie schedule, visit the Carmike Cinemas Decatur website.
Preschool Skate, Skate Castle (and Funland Park)
Where: 401 14th Street SE, Decatur
When: Wednesdays, 9:30AM – 11:30AM
Every Wednesday this summer, the Skate Castle opens its doors for preschoolers to run wild on the skate floor in their socks. They’ll hokey pokey until it’s time for lunch and a nap. You’re welcome in advance. Other places we enjoy in Funland Park are Funland Golf Putt-Putt (256-466-4653) and fresh cookies from Mel’s Sweet Treats (256-560-0910).
Book Babies, Decatur Public Library
Where: 504 Cherry Street NE, Decatur
When: Wednesdays, 10AM
Enjoy special readings and activities for children, infant to 3 years, and their adult caregivers, while building pre-literacy skills in your baby/toddler. Visit the library website to find out about events for older kids including additional story hours, a LEGO hour, an Angry Birds event, Kid Vote 2016, summer movies and coordinating activities, and so much more!
First Friday Family Flicks
Where: Daikin Amphitheater (Across from the Old State Bank on Bank Street)
When: First Friday of the month, 8PM
Join community partners for a FREE family movie in Decatur’s newly constructed outdoor amphitheater. June 3rd features the “Princess Bride” (rated PG), July 1st features “Inside Out” (rated PG), and August 5th features “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (rated PG-13).
Riverwild at Delano Park
Where: Between Gordon Drive and Prospect Drive, east of 6th Avenue
I’m a little partial to Delano Park because I grew up across the street, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much more the park has to offer now that I have my own family. Riverwild, a Signature Project of the Junior League of Morgan County, is the combination of three physically connected elements – a splashpad, playground, and a garden – and will accommodate children and adults of all abilities. The splashpad is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Pack a picnic and enjoy one of the many covered pavilions with tables and benches for you and all your friends.
Adventure Park at Wilson Morgan
Where: Intersections of Beltline Road SW and Central Parkway/Sandlin Road
Is it a castle or is it a ship? Let your child’s imagination run wild at this beautiful community park featuring one of the most amazing wooden playgrounds in the area. With walking paths and family-sized swings, there’s something for everyone. When you’re done playing, walk next door to Decatur Animal Services to check out adoptable pets or sign up to volunteer as a dog walker.
Morgan County-Decatur Farmer’s Market
Where: 211 First Ave SE, Decatur
When: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 7AM – 1PM
Shop for locally harvested goods in a covered pavilion while allowing your kids to interact with farmers and growers to learn more about the local food movement. Look forward to the Corn Festival on Saturday, July 9th and Tomato Sandwich Day on Saturday, July 30th.
Believe it or not, the art scene in the River City is incredible. Host to the Carnegie Visual Arts Center, as well as the expansive Alabama Center for the Arts, a collaboration between Athens State University, Calhoun Community College, the City of Decatur and Morgan County, downtown Decatur is the hub of a thriving arts community. Immerse your little artist in one of the many fantastic camps our community has to offer.
Ancient Art Camp at the Alabama Center for the Arts
Where: 133 2nd Avenue NE, Decatur
When: Sessions from June 13 – July 14
Ages 5 and up
Camp Carnegie at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center
Where: 207 Church Street NE, Decatur
When: July 18-22, 8AM – 5PM
For rising 1st – 6th graders
School of Fine Arts
Where: 123 Church Street NE, Decatur
When: Sessions from June 14 – July 28
Ages 3 months to rising high school seniors
Choose from Princess Ballerina Camp, Seuss-tastical Art Camp, MusikGarten, and so much more!
(The obvious choice when you’re in the city claiming the title of “Home of America’s FIRST Wave Pool”)
Where: 2600 Point Mallard Drive SE, Decatur
If you’ve been to Decatur in the summer, more than likely you’ve also been to Point Mallard. And if you love our water park, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Mark your calendar for March 17th every year. This is the day that water park season passes go on sale for half-price! If you missed this year’s sale, you can still purchase a season or family pass, or get a great deal by going Monday through Thursday during the week when admission is half-price, and by purchasing the unlimited refill beverage cup for $25 to stay hydrated all summer. Walking trails along the Tennessee River and an archery range are free and open to the public as well. Read our review before you go!
Don’t forget about The Market on Bank, each first Saturday of the month (June 4th and July 2nd, 10AM – 2PM) and Third Fridays on Second Avenue (June 17th and July 15th, beginning at 5PM).
And finally, just in case you are having withdrawals from the Alabama Jubilee and all the wonderful hot air balloons that invaded the River City in May…
Spirit of America Festival
Where: Point Mallard Park
When: July 1-4
This four day festival features a “Celebrate America” patriotic program, a children’s parade, singing competition with a Nashville recording contract on the line, a Veteran’s Honor Walk and Ceremony, and a fireworks display that will leave you in awe of this beautiful country in which we live.
Date Night in Decatur
Are you tired from all those kids’ activities? May I present three awesome opportunities for an adult date night in Decatur. Put your babysitter on speed dial!
Touch of Teal – Art for a Cure
Where: The Magnolia Room, 216 Moulton Street E, Decatur
When: June 11, 6PM (Cocktail attire)
Hosted by the Brooke Hill Ovarian Cancer Foundation
Benefitting the UAB Oncology Gynecology Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research
$50 per person includes catering and complimentary wine and beer; Music by A Mellow Tone, Live art and art auction
Farm to Table Dinner with Chef Jakob
Where: Morgan County – Decatur Farmer’s Market, 211 1st Avenue SE
When: June 18, 5:30PM
$75 per person includes hors d’oeuvres and dinner supporting the local food movement
Tickets available at Albany Bistro, the Farmer’s Market or www.eventbrite.com; Music by Chimney Branch Bluegrass Band, Cash bar
Spirit of America Black and White Theme Party
Where: Point Mallard Park
When: July 1, 6PM-10PM (Black and White attire)
Ticket packages available at www.SOA.MyEvent.com
Heavy hors d’oeuvres catered by Curry’s – DJ, dancing, and cash bar
Well, friends, I hope I’ve packed your planner with plenty to do! Have a great start to your summer vacation, River City-style!
Main photo courtesy of nousernameforme via Flickr Creative Commons.
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Andi Stewart is a Decatur-native, who spent over a decade living in Miami. She finally returned home, married a boy she’s known since childhood, and loves raising her family in the hometown she adores. She has two children, a son and a daughter. She’s a professional Environmental Engineer who balances a full-time career with motherhood. She’s run more marathons than she can count (mostly because she really enjoys eating) and she loves her daily barre class and traveling. She is passionate about her River City community and when she’s not volunteering, she’s enjoying all her city has to offer.