Spotlight on Shelby County: Culture & Recreation

Oak Mountain State Park, a number of sporting facilities and more anchor outdoor recreational opportunities in Shelby County

Oak Mountain State Park dam.


The American Village offers a look at the power and drama of America’s journey for independence, liberty and self-government. The new West Wing of Independence Hall offers a multi-sensory experience “Choosing to be an American People.” Visitors travel from the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, to Paul Revere’s Ride and the Shot Heard ’Round the World, through the American Revolution and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The American Village campus also includes replicas of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, a Colonial Courthouse, the President’s Oval Office and East Room of the White House, a Colonial Chapel inspired by Bruton Parish Church of Williamsburg, Concord Bridge and a Liberty Bell.


The Alabama National Cemetery, located near The American Village, is a 479-acre cemetery designed to serve veterans’ burial needs for at least the next 50 years.


The Birmingham Bulls, a professional ice hockey team in the Southern Professional Hockey League, play at Pelham’s Ice Arena.


The Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena has facilities for skaters from beginners to seasoned professionals. It is home to the Birmingham Figure Skating Club and the Pelham Youth Hockey League and offers a skating school with classes. The arena also has a public skating schedule and hosts other events.

Calera is one of many cities attracting sporting events with facilities at parks.


Veterans Park Alabaster includes sports facilities, a dog park, butterfly garden and disc golf course on 90-acres off Highway 119. Pelham City Park Campus, located off Highway 31 in Pelham, features walking trails; athletic fields; courts for tennis, sand volleyball, basketball and pickleball; plus a dog park. Veterans Park & Hoover Sports Complex feature a challenging crushed gravel course and grass course around lakes and through the woods that can be set for several events, plus sand volleyball, playgrounds and more. Dunnavant Valley Fields, practice fields for the 1996 Olympics, offers soccer fields and more. Eagle Park Calera features baseball, softball, disc golf and soccer facilities, with tennis and pickleball in the works. Double Oak Park has 750 acres with trails for bikers, hikers and runners, plus vistas that rival Oak Mountain State Park’s famous King’s Chair. Cahaba River Park, located at the confluence of the Cahaba River and Shades Creek, offers 1,838 acres of trails and multiple river access points.

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Shelby County Arts Council Center at Old Mill Square Park features two performance venues, a gallery, on-site foundry, ceramic arts studios, digital production studio, music studios and more. University of Montevallo Center for the Arts, with multiple arts spaces, hosts theatre, music performances and art galleries for campus and community.


The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Calera, the official railroad museum of Alabama, features operating standard-gauge and narrow-gauge trains, two restored depots, an indoor collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia, and an outdoor collection of railroad cars and locomotives.


Lay Lake is a 12,000-plus acre lake on the Coosa River and best known for its spotted bass and largemouth bass fishing and recreational opportunities. Lay Lake has hosted four Bassmaster Classic Tournaments and other championships, with the 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament coming up.


Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest state park with 11,632 acres, features an 18-hole golf course, three lakes with beaches, hiking, mountain biking, backcountry horse trails, a BMX track with a national caliber racing surface and asphalt turns, RV parks, cabins and camping with optional backcountry campsites. The park is home to the Alabama Wildlife Center with raptors on daily display including a bald eagle and a Eurasian eagle owl in free-flight mews. The park also has the Aquapark at Flipside, an inflatable obstacle course over the water on Beaver Lake, demonstration farm, a fairy house trail in the Oak Mountain Interpretative Center, one of the longest linear cable wakeboarding and skiing courses in North America; an archery park with multiple distance and platform options; and outdoor basketball and pickleball courts and many picnic sites and pavilions.

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

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