Decatur Travel Guide

Discover the best things to do in Decatur, Alabama with our comprehensive travel guide. From outdoor adventures to cultural attractions, we've got you covered. Learn about where to stay, what to eat, and much more.

Introduction to Decatur

Located in the scenic Mountains of Alabama region, Decatur is an charming city that offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. With a rich historical and cultural heritage, a thriving art and music scene, and the great outdoors on its doorstep, Decatur truly has something for everyone.

List of Places to Visit in Decatur

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Cook Museum of Natural Science: This state-of-the-art museum showcases a stunning array of natural specimens and habitats from around the world.
  • Old State Bank: Built in 1833, this historic building is one of the oldest surviving bank buildings in Alabama and is now home to a museum.
  • Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge: A must-visit for nature lovers, this 35,000-acre refuge is home to a wide range of bird and wildlife species.
  • Princess Theatre: Once a vaudeville and movie palace, the Princess Theatre has been beautifully restored and now serves as a venue for live music, theatre, and film.
  • Alabama Veteran’s Museum and Archives: This fascinating museum pays tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the United States military.

Natural Attractions of Decatur: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Point Mallard Park: This family-friendly park is home to a water park, golf course, campground, and much more.
  • Biking and hiking trails: Decatur is surrounded by a range of beautiful trails suitable for all abilities, including the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and the Tennessee River Greenway.
  • Tennessee River: Take a beautiful sunset cruise or rent a canoe or kayak to explore the river at your own pace.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Decatur

Trail of Tears

Tracing the path taken by Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole Nations during their forced removal from their homelands, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is a sobering reminder of the hardships faced by Native Americans. Visitors can hike portions of the trail, which runs past a number of important cultural sites.

Joe Wheeler State Park

Home to over 2,500 acres of stunning natural beauty, Joe Wheeler State Park boasts a wide range of hiking and biking trails, each offering unparalleled views of the surrounding area.

Best Things to Do in Decatur: Activities and Tours

  • Decatur Ghost Tour: Enjoy a lantern-lit walking tour of some of Decatur’s most haunted sites, complete with spine-chilling stories and historical anecdotes.
  • Riverwalk Marina: Rent a boat or jet ski and explore the Tennessee River at your leisure.
  • Downtown Decatur: Stroll down Second Avenue and enjoy the charming architecture, boutique shops, and unique outdoor dining options.

Week-Long Itinerary for Decatur

Day 1 Visit the Cook Museum of Natural Science
Day 2 Hike the Trail of Tears
Day 3 Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Tennessee River
Day 4 Explore Joe Wheeler State Park
Day 5 Visit the Old State Bank and the Alabama Veteran’s Museum
Day 6 Rent a boat or jet ski at Riverwalk Marina
Day 7 Stroll through Downtown Decatur and enjoy the boutique shops and dining options

Food and Drink Scene of Decatur

Must-Try Dishes

  • Fried chicken: A southern staple, there are plenty of places to enjoy perfectly crispy yet juicy fried chicken in Decatur.
  • Barbecue: Decatur is renowned for its barbecue, with a range of restaurants offering everything from ribs to pulled pork.
  • Catfish: A local favorite, catfish is a must-try for seafood lovers.

Local Beverages

  • Beer: Founded in 2008, the award-winning Blue Pants Brewery offers a range of craft beers and welcomes visitors to sample their creations.
  • Moonshine: Decatur’s own historic distillery, John Emerald Distilling Company, offers a range of moonshine flavors for visitors to taste.

Where to Stay in Decatur: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Decatur offers a range of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets, including everything from traditional hotels to cozy guesthouses.

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront: Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, this hotel offers stunning views and luxurious rooms.
  • Garden Plaza Hotel & Suites: A family-friendly hotel with plenty of amenities, including an indoor pool, hot tub, and fitness center.
  • The Old State Bank Guest House: Located in the historic Old State Bank building, this charming guesthouse offers guests a unique experience.

What to Buy in Decatur: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Alabama-made art and crafts: Pick up a piece of locally-made pottery or handcrafted jewelry.
  • Vintage collectibles: Decatur is a treasure trove of antiques and vintage finds.
  • Locally-roasted coffee: Decatur is home to several specialty roasters, so be sure to bring home some freshly-roasted coffee beans as a souvenir.

Local Culture and Customs of Decatur

Southern hospitality is alive and well in Decatur, and visitors are sure to be charmed by the friendly locals. Be sure to try local specialties like sweet tea and grits, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger - you’re likely to make some new friends!

Best Time to Visit Decatur

The best time to visit Decatur is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and comfortable for outdoor activities and events. Summer can be hot and humid, while winter can be cold and damp.

Do’s and Don’ts of Decatur


  • Embrace southern hospitality and strike up a conversation with locals.
  • Take advantage of the outdoor activities and natural beauty that Decatur has to offer.
  • Explore the charming downtown area and try out the unique local dining options.


  • Ignore the local customs and traditions.
  • Visit during the peak summer months if you’re not fond of hot, humid weather.
  • Miss out on the chance to try some of Decatur’s famous barbecue and other southern specialties.

Safety and Health

Safety in Decatur

Decatur is a generally safe city, but as with any place, visitors should exercise common sense and take necessary precautions, such as locking doors and windows and being aware of their surroundings.

Health in Decatur

Decatur has several hospitals and medical facilities, so visitors can feel assured that quality healthcare is nearby if needed.

Getting to Decatur: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Decatur

  • Huntsville International Airport (20 miles)
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (90 miles)

Bus Stations Near Decatur

  • Greyhound Bus Station (3 miles)
  • Decatur Transit Inc (3 miles)

Other Options

  • Driving: Decatur is easily accessible from several major highways, including I-65 and I-565.
  • Train: Amtrak offers service to nearby Birmingham and from there it’s just a short drive to Decatur.

How to Get Around in Decatur

Decatur is a compact city that is easily navigable by car, bike, or foot. There are several car rental options available, as well as bike rental services.

Where to Go Next from Decatur: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Huntsville: Home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and a thriving arts and cultural scene, Huntsville is just a short drive from Decatur.
  • Birmingham: Alabama’s largest city offers plenty of attractions, including the Birmingham Museum of Art and the historic Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
  • Nashville: Just a few hours north of Decatur lies the vibrant city of Nashville, with its legendary music scene, excellent cuisine, and endless entertainment options.


Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, historical and cultural attractions, or simply a relaxing vacation spot, Decatur has it all. With its friendly locals, charming downtown area, and proximity to other exciting destinations, Decatur truly has something for everyone. Plan your trip today and discover the many wonders of this delightful southern city.