As a family always on the go, we've spent many Saturdays hiking in Decatur or driving in for a special occasion. Although we've visited several times, our exploration always began and ended with whatever destination that brought us to town.
The largest city in Morgan County and only 25 miles southwest of Huntsville, we recently spent a weekend eating, playing, adventuring, and we falling in love with all of Decatur's southern charm. Like many people right now, the rising gas prices are hitting us hard and will play a significant role in how much driving we'll do this summer. Thankfully Decatur is close enough to Huntsville that we can go as often as we please and offers enough activities to leave us feeling like we traveled far away from home.
If you're looking for a great weekend trip that your family will love, check out our weekend guide for Decatur, Alabama.
Your weekend travel guide to Decatur, Alabama, with Kids
Where to stay?
When looking for lodging for our family, we love to find places that offer exciting on-site activities to help keep our kids engaged when not out exploring. Decatur Wheeler Lake KOA Holiday is the perfect, family-friendly option offering multiple ways to stay and so many activities you do not need to leave the campground. Whether you prefer cabin camping, RVing, or tent camping, KOA has it. For our stay, we went with a luxury cabin rental. I love that towels and linens are furnished, cabins are temp controlled, and the nearby camp store had all the little things we forgot at home.
For those looking to take advantage of the amenities, you'll find plenty of nature trails, space for fishing, multiple playgrounds, watercraft rentals, movie nights, themed crafts, a beach, and a zipline course. Whether you're staying for a weekend or longer, this North Alabama hidden gem is sure to please.
Things to do in Decatur, Alabama
Decatur is home to several activities perfectly suited for families, couples, or singles. Cook's Museum of Natural Science is a state-of-the-art natural science museum in Downtown Decatur. Not only is the museum beautiful and extremely clean, but the interactive exhibits offer families a chance to become fully immersed in their experiences. They will have even the most non-interested person in your party engaged, learning, and having fun.
Check out the Little Larvae play area for those visiting with younger kids. It's a great space to take a break and let littles work out some of their energy before grabbing a bite to eat at the museum's cafe, Nature's Table. I love their acai bowls!
We love a good bookstore and couldn't get enough of the cozy vibes flowing from Brown books & more. This independent bookstore which focuses on multicultural and diverse books is a must-visit when stopping in Decatur. We were lucky to meet the owner during our visit, who gave us a store tour. They offer a carefully curated book selection and have meeting spaces, reading rooms, and a cafe with delicious iced coffee.
Check their calendar and social media outlets for special events; I hear they have great poetry nights!
A trip to a local park is a must in our travels, and I can't say enough about how gorgeous the park and rose garden in Decatur are. The beautiful flowers and plants make the perfect backdrop for an impromptu picnic and photo shoot, and the river wild playground and splash pad across the street will keep your family entertained for hours. Be sure to take a magical stroll through the 28-acre wonder while in the area.
Mural trails have taken off, and we love seeing local artists weave the city's culture into masterpieces for public viewing. The MoCo trail was a great way to help us explore and discover more things of interest in Decatur and helped keep us active.
What I enjoyed most about the MoCo trail was the free mobile passport, which kept us organized and allowed us to navigate to each mural easily, and many were near great restaurants.
Summer weather begins early in Alabama and lasts for a long time. Having planned days to cool off at point mallard will make any summer visits to the area more bearable. Point mallard has a great wave pool, kiddie area, lazy river, and Olympic pool with high dives and speed slides. To help further combat the heat, they have various-sized cabanas available for daily rental.
This is a great place to become one with nature while visiting Decatur. We enjoyed hiking the family-friendly Atkeson Cypress trail and reading the library's storyboards; they were very engaging and helped keep our kids moving! There are more than 2000 acres of swamp habitat and several opportunities to spot whooping cranes, among other wildlife, and get some fishing in. Kids can also earn a Jr Ranger badge at the refuge, which is perfect for those into collecting badges or eager to begin.
This is your stop for all things outdoor fun. The park has paintball guns, electric scooter rentals, hiking trails, ziplines for kids through adults, natural playground equipment, a petting zoo, rock climbing walls, and more. I wish I could say we have a favorite here, but my family enjoyed the whole park.
A visit to the park can easily be used as a filler activity between others or as a stand-alone full-day outing; either way, pack a lunch and prepare to have a ball!
This annual event held over memorial day weekend is the heart and soul of summertime Decatur. The Jubilee daily schedule is filled from sunrise to sunset with morning balloon flights, arts & crafts vendors, old school tractor shows and demonstrations, motorcycle shows, live music, and the mesmerizing evening balloon glow.
There are also plenty of food vendors and carnival-style activities for kids to help round out a fun and full day. Kicking off summer at this highly anticipated festival is a must-do for anyone visiting the area!
Where to eat
Tess Place Ice Cream- do not leave without trying the brown butter bourbon ice cream. It's delicious and sells out regularly. Don't forget to try their gourmet sodas, too; we enjoyed our treats so much that we visited two days in a row!
Big Bob Gibson's BBQ- known for serving some of the best BBQ in town; you can't come to Decatur without trying it for yourself. We loved the smoked wings and BBQ stuffed potatoes.
Donut Express- the maple donut is everything. Be sure to arrive early; they sold out of breakfast sandwiches by 10 am when we visited.
Whisk'd cafe- we love brunch, and whisk'd did not disappoint. We sampled the strawberry french toast, country boy, Decatur omelet, and breakfast burritos. Everything we ordered was great and paired well with their free coffee.
The Brick Deli- ended up being closed during our stay, but the wide selection of sandwiches and beer had our mouths watering reading the menu. We will be going back to try them out.
Have you ever spent a weekend in Decatur, Al? How would your itinerary look?