100 free things to do this summer

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - If you're looking to stretch your vacation dollar this summer, Alabama offers a wide variety of events and attractions that don't cost a dime!

The state tourism department composed this list of 100 free things to do this summer.


June Walking Tours - Jun 6, 13, 20, 27

More than thirty towns across the state will lead one-hour guided tours through historic districts every Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. in June. Community leaders will guide visitors and share personal memories of growing up in their hometowns. The Alabama Tourism Department has been coordinating the tours for the past six years. For a list of the participating towns, log on to www.alabama.travel  or call 1.800.ALABAMA (242.2262).


Singing on the Square - Third Friday of each month

Enjoy live entertainment at the Limestone County Courthouse square the third Friday of each month through September. Bring lawn chairs, enjoy live music and fellowship with family and friends.  6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., 256.232.5411, jeanette@tourathens.com, www.tourathens.com.

Cruise In Antique Car Show - First Saturday of each month

The first Saturday night of each month through summer, more than 150 antique, classic and custom cars and trucks will circle the Athens courthouse and line the downtown street. 3-9 p.m. 256.278.6436, tblack@athensal.us, 256.603.1227, www.spiritofathens.com.

Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives - ongoing

The museum houses memorabilia from all the wars in the United States history. Archives and library are open to the public. 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. 256.771.7578, www.alabamaveteransmuseum.com

Elkmont Pickin' & Grinnin' - Monday nights

This event offers live music and great dancing at the Elkmont Depot. Starts at 6 p.m.  256.732.4211. www.tourathens.com.

Indian Artifact Show - Jun 14

Indian artifacts and relics are available for viewing, buying, selling and trading at Athens State University. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.  John Hammons, 256-232-0698, www.athens.edu.

Fire Cracker Festival - Jul 4

Each July, as darkness falls over the Tennessee Valley, a familiar tradition gets underway at Athens High School. Bring the family early for games, live music and concessions. Fireworks begin at dusk. 256.232.1944, jeanette@tourathens.com.

CASA Mud Volleyball Tournament - Jul 18

Volleyball teams from several states converge at Swan Creek Park for the annual volleyball tournament.  9 a.m. 256.232.5751, www.tourathens.com.

Crape Myrtle Festival - Aug 29

This festival in Ardmore offers live entertainment, vendors selling handmade items, children's activities and more. Aug 29, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. 256.423.7588.

Harpersville Morgan Creek Vineyards -  ongoing

Enjoy a complimentary winery tour and tasting or walk the beautiful vineyard grounds. Learn about the Southern tradition of muscadine and fruit wines. Mon-Sat 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Closed Sundays. 877.672.2053 or 205.672.2053, www.morgancreekwinery.com.


Pepper Place Market - Saturdays

Visit the Pepper Place Saturday Market Saturdays from 7 a.m.-12 p.m. through October 10. A myriad of locally grown vegetables and flowers, baked breads, cookies, cakes and pies are available for purchase. Also enjoy local musicians on two stages for free while sipping a fresh cup of coffee or enjoying a light breakfast. There is a cooking demonstration at 9 a.m. every Saturday morning by Birmingham's finest chefs. www.pepperplace.com.

Museum of Art - ongoing

The Birmingham Museum of Art is the largest municipal museum in the Southeast. The Museum has a nationally recognized permanent collection of over 21,000 works of art dating from ancient to modern times, from cultures across the globe. 205.254.2565, http://www.artsbama.org.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens - ongoing

Stroll the 67-acre botanical gardens to see rhododendron, camellias, wildflowers, ferns, bonsai plants, roses, desert flowers, outdoor sculpture collection, and a Japanese Garden, complete with a Japanese Teahouse and Zen-like sense of peacefulness. 205.414.3900, http://www.bbgardens.org.

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark - ongoing

This National Historic Landmark is a 32-acre blast furnace plant where iron was made for nearly 100 years. Now a museum of history and industry, the site preserves an extraordinary collection of buildings, industrial structures, and machinery. Sloss is also said to be haunted had have its own ghost. http://www.slossfurnaces.com.


Decatur Volksmarch - ongoing

The trail winds through the Old Decatur and New Albany Historic Districts. The Volksmarch offers both a 5K and a 10K route. Combined, the two historic districts represent one of the finest and largest collections of Victorian and earlier 20th century craftsman and bungalow homes in Alabama. For a map call 800.524.6181 or log on to www.decaturcvb.org.

Decatur-Morgan County Amen Trail - ongoing

The trail is composed of 19 churches that are integral to the heritage of the Decatur and Morgan County area. Each stands on its original site, still holds services today and are accessible to the public. The architectural styles presented along the Trail include Gothic, Romanesque, Classical and Renaissance. For a map call 800.524.6181 or log on to www.decaturcvb.org.

Geo-caching Passport - ongoing

The Geo-caching Passport is a modern day treasure hunt. The caches are located at some of the city's favorite attractions including the Civil War Walking Tour, the historic Princess Theatre and the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Download a copy of the passport, or pick one up at the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) at 719 6th Avenue SE. Find all of the caches and receive a stamp for each location, then bring the completed passport to the CVB to receive a prize. 800.524.6181, www.decaturcvb.org.

Civil War Walking Tour - ongoing

Stroll 13 blocks on a self-guided tour through the Old Decatur Historic District. The tour features 11 historic markers that trace the 1864 clash between Confederate forces and garrisoned Union troops at this key railroad and river transportation point. 800.524.6181, www.decaturcvb.org.

Carnegie Visual Arts Center - ongoing

The center is housed in one of Decatur's most significant historical buildings, the former Carnegie Library. The building was constructed in 1904 by millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The arts center hosts local, regional, national and international art exhibits and offers art classes for all ages. Wed- Fri 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.; every third Thurs until 8 p.m., and Sat 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. 256.341.0562, www.carnegiearts.org.

Cook's Natural Science Museum - ongoing

The museum provides an extensive assortment of exotic insects, mounted birds, animals, minerals, sea shells and coral in over 2,000 exhibits and artifacts. Wildlife common to the northern Alabama region is featured in one display with over 50 species of insects, animals and water life from the region. The vast collection includes rare displays of a bald eagle and golden eagle. Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m., Sun 2-5 p.m.  256.350.9347.

Old State Bank - ongoing

The bank first opened in 1833 as part of the original state-wide bank system designed by Andrew Jackson. It is one of only four structures remaining after the departure of Union troops and its columns still bare the evidence of musket fire and miniballs. Free tours of the museum include a walk through the first floor banking lobby complete with its original walk-in vault and a replica of a period teller's cage. Additional sites around the main building include a detached kitchen, period herb garden, "Pedestrian Mall" and a two-acre "Founders Park". The Mon- Fri 9:30 a.m.-noon; 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., 256.350.5060.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge - ongoing

The refuge encompasses 34,500 acres of naturally preserved woodlands offering a unique opportunity to experience wildlife in its natural habitat. Serving as the welcome center for the Refuge, the Givens Wildlife Interpretive Center is one of the South's largest educational centers for waterfowl and wildlife study. Tues-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 256.350.6639, www.wheeler.fws.gov.

Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic - May 23

Held annually over the Memorial Day weekend in Point Mallard Park, the classic is a gathering of more than 60 pilots from across the U.S. for three days of competition. Visitors can mingle with the pilots as they inflate and launch their balloons. Races are held early mornings and evenings along with ongoing live music, arts and crafts, and a "balloomination" at dark.  May 23, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., May 24, 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m. 800.524.6181, www.alabamajubilee.net.

Spirit of America Festival - Jul 3-4

One of the largest free Independence Day celebrations in Alabama held annually in Point Mallard Park. Enjoy family games, summertime field competitions, live entertainment, sports tournaments, food and craft vendors, talent shows, patriotism awards, beauty pageant and spectacular fireworks show. July 3, 4 at 7 p.m., July 4, from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.  800.232.5449 or 800.524.6181, www.spiritofamericafestival.com.

The Battle for Decatur - Sept 5-6

Commemorating Decatur's four-day battle in October 1864, this Civil War reenactment is held on Labor Day weekend at Point Mallard Park. The event features more than 200 reenactors engaging in two battles. A Civil War camp is open to the public with displays of authentic equipment, dress and drills. 800.524.6181, www.decaturcvb.org.

Free Summer Movies and Concerts - Jun 8; Jul 17, 25; Aug 8

Bring a lawn chair or blanket along with a picnic dinner and enjoy free movies and a concert.

  • June 8:  Free concert and movie by the river; showing "Music Man"; concert starts at 6 p.m., movie at 8 p.m.; Rhodes Ferry Park; 256.341.4818 or 256.341.4904
  • July 17: "Herbie the Lovebug"; starts at dark; Point Mallard Expo Center; movie in connection with the Buggin' in July VW Car Show; 256.341.4904
  • July 25:  "Madagascar Escape 2 Africa"; starts at dark; Rhodes Ferry Park; 256.341.4904
  • Aug. 8:  "Hotel for Dogs"; starts at dark; Delano Park; 256.341.4904


Wiregrass Museum of Art - ongoing

Six galleries feature changing exhibitions of visual and decorative arts in 100-year-old warehouse in the heart of Dothan's historic district. Also features a Youth Art Gallery with a hands-on exhibit for children and a gift gallery for shopping. Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-5p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays and holidays. 334.794.3871, www.wiregrassmuseum.org.

Wiregrass Festival of Murals - ongoing

Ongoing project of historic murals painted by nationally and internationally acclaimed muralists on the walls of buildings in the downtown historic district. This is a free, self-guided walking tour. 334.793.3097, www.thedowntowngroup.com.

Army Aviation Museum - ongoing

See the largest collection of U.S. Army Aviation memorabilia.  Museum exhibits, military airplanes, helicopters, and gift shop. Mon-Sat: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun: 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Contact: 888.276.9286, 334.598.2508, www.armyavnmuseum.org.

Dothan Area Botanical Gardens - ongoing

A tranquil, paved nature trail meanders through a beautiful rose garden, herbs, daylilies, camellias, azaleas, past a peaceful pond, Victorian gazebo, demonstration garden, koi ponds and a wedding pavilion. Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Contact: 334.793.3224, www.dabg.com.

Farley Nuclear Visitors Center - ongoing

Explore energy at the Farley Nuclear Visitors Center in Columbia.  Scheduled tours are available Tuesday through Friday upon request. Daily 7 a.m.-4 p.m., 334.814.4899.

Porter Hardware - ongoing

Step inside one of the oldest operating hardware stores in Alabama to find a large inventory of hardware and hard to find items. The interior and exterior remain virtually unaltered since it opened in 1889. Mon-Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 334.792.3158.


Gulf Shores Out & In Concert Series - May 28; Jun 18; Jul 9, 16; Aug 13, 20; Sept 10.

Enjoy live, free concerts at the Erie H. Meyer Civic Center in Gulf Shores. Hear today's hits, music from the 40s, 50s, 60s, and Elvis songs. Also enjoy Island music and more. Check out the Web site for scheduled performers www.cityofgulfshores.org or call 251.968.1172

The 5th Annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival - Jun 19-21

Foley Soccer Fields-Forty brightly colored hot air balloons are the stars of the festival, and, weather permitting, visitors can enjoy seeing them in the air at sunrise and sunset. In addition to the balloons, the festival includes great music throughout the weekend, arts and crafts, a children's village, and fireworks on Saturday evening. So make your plans to celebrate Father's Day in Foley. Free admission, parking and shuttle service. 251-943-3291, www.gulfcoastballoonfestival.com.

Gulf Shores Annual Fireworks Extravaganza - Jul 4

See a spectacular show of fireworks visible from any Gulf Shores area beach. Tune your radio to Sunny 105.7 for simultaneous patriotic music during the show. Show starts at 9 p.m. Rain date Jul 5.


Guntersville Dam - ongoing

The area below the dam offers unique opportunities for bird watching, day hiking and caving. A one-mile loop trail leads by a cave used during the Civil War to mine saltpeter, a basic ingredient of gunpowder. 866.494.7186

Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center - ongoing

See a permanent collection that includes a wide selection of Indian artifacts, tools and arrowheads; a TVA room that traces the building of Guntersville Dam; a Gem Room containing specimens of rocks, minerals and gems from around the world; and items from Guntersville's history. Hours: Tue-Fri 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat-Sun 1-4 p.m. Closed Mondays.  256.571.7597.

Guntersville Skate Park - ongoing

Kids can enjoy skating for free at the Guntersville skate park next to Civitan Park. Call ahead for a pass to enter the park. 256.571.7591.

Swimming on Lake Guntersville - ongoing

Enjoy swimming at three designated swimming areas on Lake Guntersville. 256.582.3612 www.alapark.com.

North Alabama Birding Trail - ongoing

The North Alabama Birding Trail consists of 41 birding sites located in northern Alabama, with 11 sites in Guntersville/Marshall County.  256.582.7015

Hiking Trails - ongoing

Hike varied terrain on the many trails in Marshall County. Enjoy 33.5 miles of hiking trails in Lake Guntersville State Park alone. 256.582.7015

Albertville Skate Park - ongoing

Kids can enjoy skating for free, 9 a.m.-dusk at the Albertville Recreation Department. Call ahead to sign up for a pass. 256.891.8240.

Arab Historic Village - ongoing

The Arab Historical Society developed the Historic Village in the City Park as a tribute to the pioneering people who settled and built the area. Development of the Complex began in 1991 as a centennial project of the Historical Society. Six of the 8-10 buildings are completed and are
and furnished with items from 1880 through the 1940s.


Cotton Row Run - May 25,

Runners and walkers can take part in a 5K, 10K or one-mile fun run/walk in downtown Huntsville. Event starts at 7 a.m. 256.650.7063.

Evening Movies at the Library - Jun 1, 15; Jul 16

Enjoy free movies at the Huntsville Public Library. Jun 1 - "Gattaca", 6 p.m.; Jun 15 - The Orphanage, 6 p.m.; "Harry Potter" movie night, 5:30 p.m. 256.532.5984, www.hpl.lib.al.us.

Free Concerts in the Park - Jun 1, 8, 22, 29; Jul 6, 13, 20, 27; Aug 3, 10, 17, 24, 30; Sept 7

Bring the family, lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy free summer concerts at Big Spring Park. 6:30-8p.m. 256.519.2789. www.artshuntsville.org. On June 15 the concert will be held at Joe Davis Stadium on Leeman Ferry Road.

Free Concerts in Madison - Jun 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; Jul 6, 13, 20, 27; Aug 3, 17, 24, 30; Sept 7

Enjoy free music on Monday nights in historic downtown Madison at the Gazebo. 6:30-8 p.m. 256.461.8938, www.madisonartscouncil.net.

Art on Main - Jun 6, Jul 4, Aug 4, Sept 5

See and buy art as the creators display their works during the Art on Main in historic downtown Madison on the first Saturdays. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 256.461.8938, www.madisonartscouncil.net.

Sidewalk Summer Arts Stroll - Jun 18, Jul 16, Aug 20

Alabama Constitution Village becomes the center stage for the arts. Artists exhibit and sell their work. Families will also enjoy live music, home grown produce, hand-crafted items and baked goods. 4:30-8:30 p.m. 256.534.8376, www.sidewalkartsstroll.com.


Bellingrath Gardens and Home - Theodore - Aug 6

Celebrate Mr.Walter Bellingrath's birthday with cake at the Café during the afternoon. Residents of Mobile and Baldwin County are admitted free with valid ID.  8 a.m.-5 p.m.  251.973.2217, www.bellingrath.org.

Market in the Square - Saturdays through Jul 25

Wander through the market and check out locally grown produce, seafood, beef, honeys, breads, pastas, cheeses, plants, handcrafted goods for kitchen and home. Listen to live music and take part in games and other activities. 7:30-11 a.m., Cathedral Square downtown.  251. 208.7443, www.ncsmobile.org.

LODA Artwalk - 2nd Friday of each month - Jun 12, Jul 10, Aug 14

Join downtown art galleries, institutions, studios and unique shops as they open their doors and welcome you inside to see beautiful artwork, sample delicious foods and hear the musical sounds of the LoDa Artwalk. 6-9 p.m. Cathedral Square Arts District 251.208.7443, www.ncsmobile.org.

Kids Days in Bienville Square - Thursdays Jun 4 - Jul 9

Bring the kids to Bienville Square for summertime fun each Thursday. Enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, and visits from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the Mobile Police and Fire Departments.  Also on Saturdays on July 18th and July 25, it's kids' days in Langan Park. Children can enjoy face painters, clowns, hands-on art activities, petting zoos and live entertainment. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 251.470.7730, www.ncsmobile.org.

Fourth of July Celebration - Jul 4

Check out the fireworks and patriotic music at the Fourth of July Celebration taking place at the USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park. 251.470.7730, www.cityofmobile.org.

The Results of the 77th Annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo - Jul 17-19

Held on Dauphin Island, this is the nation's largest saltwater fishing rodeo with more than 3000 fishermen competing for prizes, large jackpots, boats and other items. It is free to watch the fisherman unload their catch at the landing. Also enjoy music, food and kids marine educational tank. 251.471.0025, www.adsfr.com.

Gulf Coast Ethnic & Heritage Jazz Fest - Jul 30-Aug 2

The 11th Gulf Coast Ethnic & Heritage Jazz Festival is a four-day schedule of events at multiple venues in the Mobile metro area. A key highlight is a spectacular jazz festival held in beautiful Bienville Square, featuring local, regional and internationally renowned jazz artists. Most of the events are free and open to the public. 251.473.5020, www.gcehjazzfest.com.


Montgomery Symphony Concert - May 23

Enjoy a free concert on the steps of Alabama Archives and History Building. 7 p.m. 334.353.4712, www.archives.alabama.gov.   

Alfred Conteh Exhibit - Jun 4-Aug 29

See mixed media and paintings at the Rosa Parks Museum and Exhibit Hall. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 334.241.8615.

Saturday Jam Sessions - Jul/Aug

Boogie down at Old Alabama Town, 9 a.m. - noon, at the Rose-Morris House. Musicians are encouraged to bring their acoustic instruments and take part in the fun. Jun 6, 20; Jul 4, 18; Aug 1, 15, 29. 334.240.4500, www.oldalabamatown.com.

Movie Mondays - Mondays in July

Enjoy a free movie every Monday in July at the Riverwalk Amphitheater. Shows begin at dusk. Jul 6, 13, 20, 27. 334.241.2100, www.funontheriver.net.

World Wide Knit in Public Day - June 13

Knit, crochet, spin and create other items with hundreds of fiber artists around the world on the same day 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.  Vendors will be on site with yarn, roving, and accessories. 334.240.4500 or www.oldalabamatown.com.

SAC Gallery's 30th Anniversary Celebration and Student Show - Jun 13-14

Enjoy open house all weekend to celebrate SAC's 30th anniversary and reception for the students of Donnave Lindsey and Cam Walker. Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., 2-4 p.m. 334.265.9931, www.sacsgallery.org.

Architreats: Food for Thought: "Reconstruction Alabama" - June 18

Alabama Department of Archives and History presents a Year of Alabama History lecture presented by Independent Scholar Richard Bailey. Presentation begins at noon. 334.353.4712, www.archives.alabama.gov.   

TGIT (Thank Goodness It's Thursday) - Jun 25, Jul 30

Enjoy a free concert at the Union station Trainshed the last Thursday of the month - June and July - Gates open 6 p.m. Show begins 6:30 p.m. 334.241.2100, www.funontheriver.net.

State Farmers Market Day - Jul 11

Enjoy watermelon eatin' and corn shuckin' contests, hot-air balloon, pony rides and auction at the State Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.  334.242.5350.

Capitol City Shape Note Singing - Jul 16

Performers sing from shape-note hymn books published in Alabama including The Sacred Harp (Cooper Revision), The Christian Harmony, and The Colored Sacred Harp at the Loeb Center in Old Alabama Town. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 334.242.4076, ext. 225.

Alabama Dance Theatre's Stars on the Riverfront - Aug 2-3

Enjoy this free annual performance by the Alabama Dance Theatre. Aug 2, 2:30 p.m.; Aug 3, 7:30 p.m. 334.241.2590, www.alabamadancetheatre.com.

America's Freedom Ride - Aug 1

Follow the 54-mile route on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail that the voting rights marchers took during the 1960s. Bicycle ride begins at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma and ends at the State Capitol in Montgomery. 334.877.1984.

Architreats: Food for Thought: "The New South-Political" - Aug 20

This is a Year of History lecture presented by Samuel L. Webb at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. 12 p.m. 334.353.4712, www.archives.alabama.gov.

Prattville Center for the Creative Arts - ongoing

The early 20th century house is home to the Prattauga Art Guild and a gallery featuring local and regional artists. Art Guild members and guest artists exhibit their artwork, including original paintings and drawings and clay sculpture and functional pieces. Shop for gift items such as note cards, fine art prints and small clay pieces. 334.358.0297, www.prattville.com.

Alabama Cattleman's Association Mooseum - ongoing

Kids will enjoy this hands-on educational center with a unique agricultural theme that includes displays and exhibits on nutrition. www.bamabeef.org.

Alabama Department of Archives and History - ongoing

The oldest state-funded archives in the nation is housed in a beautiful marble building completed in 1940.  Featured are museum galleries and a genealogical research facility.  Exhibits include Alabama Indians, military and 19th century galleries along with a hands-on gallery for kids, "Grandma's Attic." www.archives.state.al.us.

Alabama Judicial Building - ongoing

The building is home of the Alabama Supreme Court, Courts of Criminal and Civil Appeals, the State Law Library, and the Administrative Office of Courts. Tour and learn about the history of the legal profession and judicial branch of government in Alabama. www.judicial.state.al.us.

Alabama State Capitol - ongoing

One of the only state capitols designated a National Historic Landmark, the Alabama State Capitol is where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America and where the Selma to Montgomery March ended with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering a stirring speech from the top of its steps. www.preserveala.org/capitoltour.htm.

Blount Cultural Park - ongoing

The park is a lush oasis in the city reminiscent of the English countryside. It is home to beautiful trees, flowers, sculptures, a wood and stone bridge, and the unique architectural designs of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. www.blountculturalpark.org.

Governor's Mansion - ongoing

Built in 1906, this graceful mansion has been home to the Governor of Alabama since its purchase in 1950.  It blends Colonial-style architecture with Greek Revival influences, and is a stately executive mansion. www.firstlady.alabama.gov.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama - ongoing

Step onto a tram for an hour tour of the 2 million square-foot manufacturing plant. The tour includes a stamping facility, paint shop, vehicle assembly shop, a two-mile test track and an engine shop, where the Hyundai 3.3-literVG engine is produced. Tours of the facility are Mon, Wed and Fri 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. and Thurs 6:30 p.m. www.hmmausa.com.

Ice Palace - ongoing

Ice skate year-round in a climate-controlled enclosed rink inside Eastdale Mall. The Ice Palace is Alabama's only ice rink in a mall. www.shopmalls.com.

Historic Union Station - ongoing

This former train station is the centerpiece of the city's riverfront and home to the Montgomery Area Visitor Center. Completed in 1898, the three-story building and magnificent train shed reflect the way travel was conducted in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Stop in for a wide variety of services for visitors from an informational video on the region to a gift shop. www.visitingmontgomery.com.

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts - ongoing

A permanent collection includes examples of 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculpture, southern regional art, Old Master prints and decorative art. This magnificent building also houses Alabama's first interactive fine arts gallery for children, ARTWORKS. www.mmfa.org.

Shakespeare Gardens & Amphitheater - ongoing

Located within the Blount Cultural Park, visit one of seven such gardens in the USA, which features plants and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. www.blountculturalpark.org.

THE SHOALS: (Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Sheffield)

Water, Light and Music Show - Thurs, Fri, Sat nights during summer

Enjoy the spectacular "dancing waters," choreographed to lights and music, featuring the "Muscle Shoals Sound."  Water is propelled 150 feet into the air, dancing to lights and music at Spring Park. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

Cane Creek Canyon - ongoing

Hike in more than over 400 acres of forests with waterfalls, bluffs, wildflowers and canyons.  Easy trials make for great walks for all ages. Primitive campsites are available for free as well as trail maps. Guided hikes are available in the Canyon all year. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

Coon Dog Cemetery - ongoing

Visit the world's only cemetery of its kind where you'll have fun reading the epitaphs on many stones that mark the graves of more than 200 coon hounds. The cemetery is located in a Wildlife Management Area, Freedom Hills, near the small town of Cherokee, 20 miles southwest of Tuscumbia. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

North Alabama Birding Trail - ongoing

Visit a dozen sites with several on the Natchez Trace Parkway to see interesting birds and flowers. It is suggested to plan a trip in early August when the hummingbirds gather at sites throughout the Natchez Trace Parkway. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

LaGrange College Park - ongoing

LaGrange is the site of Alabama's first college burned by Gen. Corn during the Civil War. It has been recreated with a pioneer village. It is open year round with the museum open only on Sundays 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. and for special events. A Civil War reenactment is held annually during "Recall LaGrange" the first Saturday and Sunday in May. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

TVA Walking Trails - ongoing

Take an afternoon walk or hike on these walking trails in Sheffield. Walk out onto the Railroad Bridge and enjoy the beautiful waters of Pickwick Lake. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

Pathways to Muscle Shoals History exhibit - ongoing

Enjoy the history of Muscle Shoals, Wilson Dam, and the area's music history by visiting this exhibit located in City Hall in Muscle Shoals. Open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 256.383.2080, www.colbertcountytourism.org.

Visit the Lions at UNA - ongoing

The University of North Alabama in Florence is home to a multi-million dollar lion habitat that includes the school's live lion mascots-Leo III and Una. Watch the lions splash in their waterfall or lounge around for a mid-afternoon nap. You can even hear Leo's roar across campus in the morning. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Climb the steps of History at the Florence Indian Mound - ongoing

Visitors are encouraged to climb the 43 foot high mound just as the Indian priests and chiefs did 10,000 years ago. Also see artifacts such as arrowheads and other tools in the museum. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

First Fridays  

On the first Friday of every month, the streets of downtown Florence are lined with local and regional artists displaying and selling their wares.  www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Fish with the pros on Pickwick & Wilson Lakes - ongoing

These lakes on the Tennessee River system are home to some of bass fishing's top professional anglers, and chances are if you're enjoying an afternoon reeling in the big one, one of the pros could be in the boat next to you.  Anglers from around the world travel to Pickwick and Wilson Lakes to catch trophy smallmouth and largemouth, and the rivers are open to anyone with a fishing pole. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Be a part of the Interactive Fountain & Light Show - ongoing

River Heritage Park, located along the Tennessee River, is home to lighted walking trails and a giant playground.  Kids can splish and splash all day long in the interactive fountain and the entire family will enjoy the fountain and light show set to music that takes place each night at dusk. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts - ongoing

This community-based art museum features monthly art exhibits showcasing a variety of local, regional and national artists.  Kennedy-Douglass is open year round Mon.-Fri. each week. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Spirit of Freedom Celebration - Jul 4

The Shoals Spirit of Freedom Celebration is home to one of the Southeast's largest fireworks shows. It features two large stages with continuous live music throughout the day, the celebration encompasses a half-dozen music genres and features big-name artists every year.  www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Live music every night at Swamper's - ongoing

The Shoals area is known for its rich musical heritage and visitors can tap their feet to live music every night of the week, year-round at Swamper's in Florence.  www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Music in the Park - Thursdays in July

Enjoy performances by local artists on stage at Wilson Park in downtown Florence Thursdays from 6-8p.m. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

W.C. Handy Festival Events - Jul 17-25

The week-long festival honoring Florence native, "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy features dozens of live music performances, various music-themed children's activities, educational programs and sporting events. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Play Frisbee Golf at Veterans Park - ongoing

There are few sports that one can learn to play in a single afternoon-and even fewer that will keep the entire family engaged for hours-but one afternoon of Frisbee golf at Veterans Park is a great way to spend quality time. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Bird Watching - ongoing

Follow the North Alabama Birding trail throughout Florence and Lauderdale County. Spot everything from waterfalls to seasonal hummingbirds and bald eagles. www.VisitFlorenceAL.com.

Source: Alabama Tourism Department