North Alabama has a wealth of places to go if you are new to the area or you have lived here all of your life.  I will define North Alabama by anything north of Jefferson County.

It’s not exactly correct but it works for the purposes of this post. So here is how this post will work: I’ll list a county and include what we’ve done in that county.

(Since Alabama is our home state, the Alabama posts will be more detailed.  I will need to break them down into three parts – northern, central and southern regions.)

Also you’ll notice an ‘Educational value’ star rating system.  Here’s a breakdown of how I rate a location in terms of educational value:

★ – Very little educational value. No signage, museums, plaques, explanation of visual interests.

★★ – Some information is provided or readily available online.  It could also mean the item or location has a deep history worth researching however information is not provided at the scene.

★★★ – The location or attraction offers educational talking points, signs, displays but is low on quantity of information provided.

★★★★ – Great quality of information, worth stopping by and offers informative and educational experiences throughout the facility.

★★★★★ – A must see attraction or experience with an abundance of resources, educational scavenger hunts, worksheets or books.  Plaques, displays are interactive and thorough.



Blount County Memorial Museum

Educational value: ★★★☆☆

Description: This museum is tiny but full of information.  They do have strange hours but it’s worth visiting. You can swing by Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Displays include fossils, military uniforms, early settler artifacts and more.

Admission: Free

Go here for their Facebook page. Go here for their website.

Address: 204 2nd St N, Oneonta, AL 35121
Phone:(205) 625-6905

Covered Bridge Trail 
Educational value: ★★☆☆☆

Description: Covered bridges are rare. Blount County is known as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital’ of the state. If you want to make this a more educational adventure, look to the internet for topics related to country transportation, covered bridge architecture etc.
Go here for a PDF map of covered bridges in Blount County.

Admission: Free

Palisades Park

Educational value: ★☆☆☆☆

Description: This park does have a number of old cabins, a school house and rock formations. You will need to be creative in your research about topics related to early settlers, rock outcroppings etc. nothing is provided in the park.
Hiking, two playgrounds, rock climbing and rappelling are options. There are numerous spots for picnics, swings for adults and pavilions.

Admission: Free

Go here for directions and more details.

Rickwood Caverns 
Educational value: ★★★★☆
Description: This state park is worth a visit.  There is a playground, a pool, picnic tables, panning for minerals and best of all a cool cave. Here’s a quick description of the cave: 360 something steps round-trip, 175 feet down, a few bats and salamanders. The park ranger will explain how the cave has been utilized by man over the years, weather phenomena and more. This is a great geology and historical stop.


$15 for ages 12 and up

$6 for ages 5 to 11

Free for ages under 5

Cave tours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily – Exclusions: Cave tours are closed November to February.

From March to Memorial Day tours are available Saturdays and Sundays only. (Spring break hours will vary)

Go here for directions and more information.


Little River Canyon National Preserve

Educational value: ★★★★☆

Description: This is a beautiful part of Alabama.  A must stop if you’re in the northeast corner of the state.  The falls are gorgeous, the hiking is intense in some areas and the educational programs are plenty.  Stop by the park’s new lodge and sign your child up for the free Junior Ranger program.  The children will complete a workbook and some tasks to earn the badge.

Admission is free.

Go here to learn more about the park and get directions.



Helen Keller’s Birthplace Ivy Green – Tuscumbia

Educational value: ★★★★☆

Description: If you’re an Alabama resident you need to hit this tiny home in Tuscumbia before you leave.  Home of one of our most famous residents, Helen Keller, Ivy Green is full of historical artifacts, the well where she learned the word water, the home she shared with her teacher and more.  It’s small and younger children may not be as interested in the lessons to learn but I highly recommend making the trip.  Go here to read a full review I wrote for the Bargain Mom blog.

Admission: AAA discounts are available

Regular price: Adults $6, students $3



Ava Maria Grotto

Educational value: ★★☆☆☆

Description: This is more a roadside oddity than it is an attraction or educational stop. However, you could turn it into a geography lesson.  Before you go, visit their site and learn more about the priest who created the miniature scenes.  There are beautiful creations mixed with some that aren’t so pretty.  If you are in Alabama this is a visit-at-least-once spot.

Admission: $7 for adults

Children 6 to 12 $4.50

They do offer a AAA & senior rate of $5.


Stoney Lonesome OHV Park

Educational value: None, however if you love to go off road, this is a cool park to visit.

Description: It’s a 4×4, off road vehicle and ATV owner’s dream. This is a Cullman County outdoor recreational spot and it is a blast. Go here to check them out online.

Hikers $3
Mountain Bikes $5
Dirt Bikes $10
ATVs $10
4×4 Side By Side,
Rock Crawlers $10
Ages 6-12 $5
Ages 5 & under ride FREE

Nocccalula Falls
Educational value: ★★☆☆☆

Description: There’s a playground, for three age groups up to 12 years old, picnic areas, viewing paths, hiking and of course the falls. There are some duck feed dispensers. The falls and Noccalula statue area are free. There is a plaque with the story about the Native American princess. In addition to the Native American connection, the falls offer a great geology and Earth science element worth sharing with your kids.

Admission: Free to view the falls.  There are some areas of the park that require admission, adults $6, children $4.

Go here to get directions and hours.

Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts & Imagination Place 
Educational value: ★★★☆☆
Description: This center is a pretty cool stop in downtown Gadsden.  Children will love Imagination Place which is basically an indoor playground for the mind. Centers like grocery stores, banks, construction sites and more fill the two story area.  There’s a large slide and several mini-playground areas. It’s possible to sit and watch your child play in almost all of the stations.

There is a cool train display as well. Take the escalator up stairs to view a to-scale model of Gadsden.


If you are an ASTC member, you could get in free.

$8 for everyone ages 2 and up.

Go here for current exhibits, directions and hours.


Russell Cave National Monument

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: If you’re looking for an educational day trip add Russell Cave to your list.  It is rich in history and frequent educational programs.  Kids can learn about the atlatl, take an easy stroll to the cave, tour the onsite museum, watch a quick film and earn a National Park Service Junior Ranger badge.  My kids really loved this park.

Admission: Free

Go here to get directions and more.


Wilson Lock & Dam 

Educational value: ★★☆☆☆

Description: You can drive across this dam that spans the Tennessee River in the Muscle Shoals area.  The dam was built in the early 1920s.  It’s educational to see and talk about a dam and how they work.  Go here to learn more.   The dam is owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Side note – There’s an Indian mound in downtown Florence.  Go here to learn more. Admission is free. Frank Lloyd Wright’s home is nearby too. Go here for admission and hours.

Admission: Free

Side note – The Shoals Childrens Museum is located nearby to all of the above attractions. Admission is $5 for everyone ages 2 and up.  I have not visited this museum so I can’t provide a review.



US Space & Rocket Center

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: This is one of the best attractions in the state of Alabama.  If you are near Huntsville you must stop.  I can’t list all of the wonderful attributes of this place but I will say I’ve taken the kids here more than 100 times and they are not tired of visiting. You can get behind the scenes tours of Space Camp, free. There are so many possibilities, plus you can take advantage of their countless free programs that are included with admission.  Which brings me to this tip.  Join any ASTC location across the nation and use the reciprocal membership to get in free.

Admission:  Ages 13 and up $20

Children 5 to 12 $15, kids 4 and under free

Go here for directions and more.


EarlyWorks Children’s Museum (Constitution Village & Hunstville Depot Museum)

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: This hands on museum has visual eye-candy for all ages.  There are numerous interactive displays, learning centers with a focus on Alabama history and science.  There is a little tikes play area as well.

Admission: There is a bundle option for all three locations. Go here for details.

Go here for information and directions.

Huntsville Botanical Gardens 

Educational value: ★★★☆☆

Description: This is a beautiful gem in Huntsville however I think it’s a bit pricey.  Especially since the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are free. They do have special events, including a LEGO sculpture event coming this spring.

Admission: Adults $12 Children $8

Go here for directions and more information.


Sci-Quest Science Center

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: This hands-on center if full of science displays that are both interactive and educational.  My kids could play here for hours.  Take hand soap with you because it’s very hands-on.  Did I say it’s hands-on?

Admission: If you’re an ASTC member you will get in free.  Children $9 Adults $10

Go here for directions and more information.


Monte Sano State Park

Educational value: ★★★☆☆

Description: This is a state park with all of the standard recreation options, excluding water sports.  There is also a Von Braun Planetarium in the park. Hiking is great and the views are beautiful.

Admission: $3 for adults, children up to 12 are $1

Go here for directions and information.




Lake Guntersville State Park

Educational value: ★★☆☆☆

Description: This is a state park, obviously.  Hiking, water activities, bike riding and more. There’s a lodge and often park rangers offer animal or nature programs.  It’s a beautiful park but limited on historical markers and facts.  There is a museum in downtown Guntersville that has more history and culture of the area.  Go here to check it out – we have not visited the museum, but it is on our list.

Admission: Free

Go here to get information and directions about the park.

Buck’s Pocket State Park (spans three counties)

Educational value: ★★☆☆☆

Description: The usual state park options.  Go here to get directions and information.  We took the kids here for some light hiking and mainly leaf looking one fall.  There are several options to enjoy the park, we just didn’t too much during that visit.

Admission: Free



Cook’s Natural Science Museum 

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description:  This is a phenomenal museum however it’s closed right now for a large scale upgrade.  The plan is to reopen late 2015.  The owners are Christians and offer a Creationist perspective on natural science.

Admission: Free

Go here to learn more.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: Beautiful birding and wildlife viewing spot.  There is an informative nature center.  If you stop by on the weekends ask a ranger for a Junior Wildlife Management badge book.  The kids can work on the book and earn a free badge.  There’s also a cool birding observation house a short walk from the nature center.

Admission: Free

Go here to get directions and information.


Jesse Owens Memorial Museum

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: I wrote a post about our visit for the Bargain Mom blog, which you can read here. This museum is a gem in the middle of the country.  It’s free and worth a stop.  The museum is full of great information about the star athlete.  Ask a docent to give you a tour.  Also check out the long jump course and a model of his childhood home.

Admission: Free

Go here for information and directions.

Oakville Indian Mounds

Educational value: ★★★★★

Description: This free historical spot in Danville, AL is a little known treasure.  The Native American mounds are easily accessible, there is an incredible museum on site.  It’s also across the street from the Jesse Owens Museum.  Go here to see my travel post about the mounds here.

Go here for directions and more information.