Spotlight on Autauga & Elmore: Culture & Recreation

Outdoor attractions, museums and historic places attract visitors to the area

Autauga County along the river.

Autauga County

Only in Autauga

Fill a plastic jug with free-flowing artesian well water at Heritage Park in Prattville, which once was dubbed “The Fountain City” because of its many artesian wells.

Visit History

Downtown Prattville is home to the Daniel Pratt Historic District, one of the original “master planned communities.” Designed by Daniel Pratt in the 1830s, the area was planned for manufacturing, retail, churches, schools and residences. The Autauga County Heritage Association conducts guided historic walking tours of downtown. Walk through the Daniel Pratt Gin Co., once among the largest in the world. Many of the industrial buildings have been repurposed as loft apartments. Prattaugan Museum/Heritage Center, in a circa 1840 Greek Revival house, displays artifacts from the Daniel Pratt family and other early Autauga County settlers. Old Prattvillage & Prattvillage Garden includes the relocated historic Mims Hotel and Slaton House. Buena Vista, built around 1830, was the county’s first on the National Register of Historic Places. Legend has it that Andrew Jackson patterned the staircase at The Hermitage after that at Buena Vista. Pratt Cemetery, off Gin Shop Hill Road, dates to 1849 and includes graves of Daniel Pratt and some of his family and noted artist John W. Gulick (1805-1847).

Float Your Boat

There are 13 miles of canoeing, kayaking and tubing on the Autauga Creek National Recreational Trail.

Relax at the Park

Pratt Park, with its pond, walking trail, amphitheater and more, won Coca-Cola Live Positively honors and a splash pad in 2012. Cooters Pond, on the banks of the Alabama River, has boat ramps, a riverwalk, picnic facilities, space for kite flying and other family activities, plus a dog park and a See, Pick and Eat Nut Grove. Giant bamboo forms a canopy in the sky at the Wilderness Park/Bamboo Forest, the first wilderness park dedicated inside the city limits in the U.S. It’s also home to the state’s second-largest beech tree. Heritage Park is a great place to check out the Autauga Creek dam, millpond and the Daniel Pratt industrial buildings.

See the Birds

The Autauga Bluebird Trail features more than 230 nesting boxes in Autauga and Elmore counties, offering a great chance to see bluebirds and other birds.

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Bask in the Sunflowers

Each July, the blossoms at the Autauga County Sunflower Field in Autaugaville offer a brilliant display.

Appreciate the Arts

Prattville Cultural Arts Center features a gallery of local artists, art classes and children’s programs in its home along Autauga Creek.

Catch a Show

Since 2002, the Prattville Way Off Broadway Theatre has presented productions, all with local talent.

Walk the Creek

Established in 2006, the Prattville Creekwalk runs along the Autauga Creek and features a small garden with picnic tables, a gazebo and an artesian well, with concerts along the creek each summer.

Appreciate the Agriculture

R.H. Kirkpatrick Agricultural Arena offers activities from rodeos to dog agility trials and motocross racing.

Flea Market Fun

Prattville Pickers showcases the wares of more than 300 vendors in a huge indoor market that once housed a sewing factory. Nearby Memories Flea Antique Mall and J&G’s offer the goods of even more vendors.

Tee It Up

Capitol Hill & Prattville Marriott at Capitol Hill is the area’s stop on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, with three 18-hole championship courses on 1,500 acres. The private Prattville Country Club also features an 18-hole golf course.

Concert at the Village Green in Millbrook.

Elmore County

Only in Elmore

See the transformation of Wetumpka’s downtown after a visit from HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover.” The city has added a coffee shop, retail shop and restaurant and boasts the six homes and business renovated during the show.

Make an Impact

The new Wetumpka Impact Crater Discovery and Visitor Center offers a glimpse of the five-mile-wide impact crater, one of the best preserved in the world, but located mostly on private land.

Famous Places

Jackson Lake Island, on the south side of Millbrook, was featured in the 2003 film “Big Fish.” It’s privately owned and offers hiking, canoeing, camping and fishing, along with a herd of resident goats.

Arts Abound

Stroll along the Coosa River and see outdoor sculptures, local art galleries, the works of John Kelly Fitzpatrick and more in Historic Downtown Wetumpka.  In Millbrook, city leaders and local artists collaborated to create the Millbrook Murals. Also in Millbrook, The Art Mill features work of local artists and offers a variety of classes.

Sports Resound

Wetumpka Sports Complex is ready for action with youth baseball and softball, college track and field, and more. The city also offers archery, catch-and-release fishing, tennis and pickleball — plus playgrounds just for fun. Newest are the tennis and pickleball facilities at 17 Springs in Millbrook, with other sports facilities in the works.

Drop a Line

The Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers join to form the Alabama here, and Lake Martin and Lake Jordan are considered two of Alabama’s cleanest lakes. Lake Jordan has hosted several B.A.S.S. tournaments.

Visit History

Elmore County Museum, once the community’s post office, preserves area artifacts and showcases Elmore County’s cultural heritage. Elmore County Black History Museum, once housed the only high school for African Americans in the area, tells the stories of Black residents. It also houses the “Thread My Needle” quilts made by local quilters. Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson National Historic Park showcases history from Creek Indian times to military forts and homesteads. Alabama Frontier Days at the Park features demonstrations of frontier crafts and trades.

Bet on It

Wind Creek Wetumpka, along the Coosa River, features an 85,000-square-foot gaming floor with more than 2,000 games, plus a hotel, restaurants, entertainment and more.

Take a Hike

The Wetumpka Riverwalk follows the Coosa River. The Swayback Bridge Trail is great for biking or running, with tight technical sections and steep climbs.

Float Your Boat

The Alabama Scenic River Trails accommodate small boats along the Coosa and Alabama Rivers extending from Northwest Georgia, through Wetumpka to Mobile and the Gulf. The stretch between Lake Jordan Dam and Wetumpka includes class II and III rapids — great for novice and experienced kayak and canoe enthusiasts. The Alabama Bass Trail features 11 of Alabama’s premiere bass-fishing lakes, including Lake Jordan and stretches from the mountains of North Alabama south to the Mobile Delta.

Catch a Show

Wetumpka Depot Theater, formed to save the city’s historic train depot, has evolved into a renowned community theater that performs original plays, moving dramas and Broadway favorites. Millbrook Community Players perform community theater in the refurbished Robinson Springs Elementary School, which was built in the 1920s.

Go to the Park

Gold Star Park on the banks of the Coosa River offers a walking trail, playground, boat landing and more. Village Green Park in Millbrook has a walking path, recreation areas and a gazebo.

See the Birds

Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail has 40 sites, from Alabama’s highest mountain to the shores of Lake Martin. The trail includes two viewing locations at Gold Star Park and Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson, with a variety of habitats and elevated sections.

Enjoy Nature

The Alabama Nature Center, on the Lanark Estate in Millbrook, is operated by the Alabama Wildlife Federation, with indoor and outdoor programs, plus 350 acres of forest, field and garden land.

Tee It Up

The 18-hole course at the Pines Golf Club in Millbrook is city-owned, featuring 6,318 yards of golf.

This article appears in the January 2024 issue of Business Alabama.

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