Worth the Drive: Decatur
It’s just a quick jaunt down 565 (30 minutes roughly) but there’s a whole lot I bet you didn’t know about The River City. Did you know it’s home to one of the largest 4th of July celebrations in the Southeast? Did you know that Delano park, named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was dedicated in the 1930’s by FDR himself? Or that the city’s motto is “A Grand City on a Charming Scale.”
Decatur does in fact have many of the amenities that you’d expect of a bigger city and it certainly has plenty of charm. So whether you are interested in exploring the larger Tennessee Valley or just looking for something fun to do one weekend, put Decatur on your roadtrip list. We’ll get you started with a few key points of interest.
Old Decatur: This historic shopping district is filled with specialty shops, galleries and antiques. Most of the shopping can be found around Bank Street and 2nd Avenue and a perfect time to check them out is as part of the 3rd Friday Downtown Decatur events which occur each month.
Consignment: Sprouts Children’s and Maternity Consignment at 906A 6th Avenue SE is an upscale consignment store that claims to be “simply the best” and will “change the way you think about consignment.” With marketing like that, you kind of have to check them out don’t you? Better than Before Consignments is also an upscale consignment shop with locations in Cullman and Decatur and carries plenty of children’s clothes and shoes as well as clothing for mom! Located in the Gateway Shopping Center (1820 6th Ave SE # A2) they are open 10AM -6PM Monday through Friday and 10AM-5PM on Saturdays.
Princess Theatre: Located in downtown Decatur’s Historic District, this theatre is a gem inside and out. A great venue for shows like the recent Elvis Remembered (Gospel at 2PM, Vegas at 8 PM) it’s also a wonderful place to see a classic movie. My favorite is the FREE showing of It’s a Wonderful Life that’s sponsored by the Decatur Rotary club every year after the Christmas Parade. There’s also the Sound of Music Sing-A-Long (Dec. 8) which is guaranteed to provide a night of fun for the whole family.
Point Mallard: Until recently, everything I knew about Decatur I learned from Point Mallard. Host to both the Alabama Jubilee and the Spirit of America Festival, Point Mallard is much more than just a water park. In addition to hosting major regional events it also has tennis courts, batting cages, a 3-mile hiking/jogging/biking trail, and a driving range. Plus, the Golf Course, Campground and Ice Complex are open year round.
Cook’s Natural Science Museum: This is literally the museum that bugs built! There are also plenty of them inside but you’ll also find an extensive assortment of mounted birds, animals, minerals, sea shells and coral. Wildlife common to the Tennessee Valley is featured in one display and protected and endangered species are included in the museum’s vast collection. The facility also offers a 64-seat auditorium used to show natural science films. Admission is FREE.
Are you a history buff with an iPad or iPhone? Check out these free interactive walking and driving tours of historic Decatur. Just download the apps and you’re good to go. For even more outdooor fun check out the aforementioned Delano Park and it’s historic WPA Rose Garden. There’s also a splash pad at Delano as well as playground and picnic shelter. If fishing or birding is more your speed, check out Hospitality Park on the north end of town or enjoy free summer concerts on the banks of the Tennessee River at Rhodes Ferry Park.
What’s Your Favorite?
Do you have a favorite Decatur shopping destination, picnic spot or hidden gem we’ve missed? Don’t keep it to yourself, share your knowledge. Leave it in our comments.
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I moved to Decatur when my daughter was a month old and my son was under 2, and lived there 12 years. There are so many interesting places to visit. We always looked for free or inexpensive things to do, and the parks were tops on the list. You mentioned Delano Park, and I greatly agree. It’s undergone a major transformation the past couple of years, including a new playground and splash pad. My nephew loves it. Another special park is the one on the river, behind Riverside on Wilson Street. Cook’s Museum is a fun spot to visit too, and a great way for kids to learn about bugs.
There is also the Wheeler Wildlife Visitor Center which is free as well.
This festival is always on Memorial Day weekend, and is free to attend!