Spotlight on Limestone & Morgan: Culture & Recreation

Museums, historic places, trails and wildlife attract visitors to the area

Point Mallard Park offers golfing, a water park, campground and more.


Cook Museum of Natural Science in downtown Decatur invites kids to connect with nature, viewing fish, turtles, snakes, baby alligators and insects and engaging in interactive exhibits.


Mooresville, often referred to as “Alabama’s Williamsburg,” was the first town incorporated by the Alabama Territorial Legislature in 1818, and the entire town of Mooresville is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Historical records, old newspapers and more are available at the Morgan County Archives in Decatur and the Houston Memorial Library & Museum in Athens.


Head outdoors for concerts and events at Daikin Amphitheater in Decatur. Merchants Alley, in the heart of Athens, is a place for people to gather, listen to live music and admire murals that celebrate local music and art.


Decatur’s Princess Theatre was built as a horse stable, converted to a vaudeville playhouse and now hosts music and theater performances. Carnegie Visual Arts Center, in the historic Old Decatur neighborhood, used to be the Carnegie Library, built in 1904, and now offers art exhibits and events throughout the year. In Athens, High Cotton Arts and The Scout House offers studio spaces where artists can work, exhibit and sell their art. And the Athens Arts League is restoring the 1930s-era Scout House as a music venue with a student music lab.

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Built in 1905 by the Southern Railway, the Historic Depot & Railroad Museum was fully restored in 2015-2016 to show off original railroad artifacts, model trains and graphic panels depicting the city’s railroad history. Old State Bank in Decatur, built in 1833, now features exhibits on the history of banking in Alabama, plus displays of period furniture. In Athens, Donnell House, completed in 1851, was originally built by Presbyterian minister Robert Donnell and later used by the Athens public school system as a residence for principals. Today it is a museum and event space. Newby Gulf Station, built in 1933, was one of the first full-service stations in Alabama, and offers a glimpse of the Prairie style architecture, associated with Frank Lloyd Wright. Fort Henderson Historic Site and Trinity High School chronicle the history of race relations in Athens. Fort Henderson was built in 1836 and staffed mainly by Black soldiers who were later captured and returned to slavery. Trinity Congregational Church played a significant role in promoting racial harmony. Later, Trinity High School educated Black students from the 1930s through the 1970s and was the first school in North Alabama to provide kindergarten for Black students. In Athens, the Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives features displays of military artifacts from the Revolutionary War to the present day, with tours guided by local veterans.


Point Mallard Park in Decatur offers everything from 18 holes of golf to a water park, hiking and biking and a campground. Also in Decatur, Delano Park is known for its landscape design, including WPA-era buildings. The Trail of History walks visitors through the city’s heritage, while the Riverwild playground and splashpad, trails, tennis and basketball courts offer outdoor play. GoFAR USA Park features trails, ziplines, a climbing wall, a paintball range and all you need for electric trail boarding — plus a petting zoo.


Limestone County has trails and walks for hiking, biking, horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking. The Richard Martin Rails to Trails greenway takes hikers more than 10 miles through cotton fields and past Civil War battle sites and historic homesteads. The Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail on the Elk River lazily winds 21.9 miles through bluffs, forests and meadows. Noah Bike Trail’s 89-mile circular route is perfect for avid cyclists, and the wooded Swan Creek Greenway Trail runs parallel to Swan Creek for approximately 2.3 miles and offers scenic views. Mooresville is the headquarters for the Singing River Trail, stretching more than 200 miles throughout the Tennessee Valley.


Outings for history buffs include the architectural Antebellum Trail, the Civil War Trail and the African-American Heritage Trail. Birdwatching is great on the ADA-accessible Marbut Bend loop trail along the Elk River. Beaverdam Swamp Boardwalk near Belle Mina is open year-round and is also a great spot for birding. Or you can enjoy Morgan County’s outdoor artwork on the MoCo Mural Trail.


Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, on 35,000 acres along the Tennessee River, is great for birdwatchers, and offers fishing, boating and trails.

This article appears in the August 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

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