Looking for the best interesting things to do in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, then you’re at the right place. Located just south of the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama, the city is home to several renowned recording studios that have collaborated with numerous well-known performers over the years. Muscle Shoals is also home to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

The name itself conjures up images of soulful melodies, legendary recording studios, and the birthplace of musical giants like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and countless others. But Muscle Shoals is more than just a music mecca; it’s a vibrant community brimming with Southern charm, historical gems, and outdoor adventures waiting to be discovered.

So, whether you’re a die-hard music fan, a history buff, or simply seeking a unique, off-the-beaten-path escape, Muscle Shoals has something to offer everyone.

Fasten your seatbelts, adventure seekers, and fans of music, as we take you through some of the most entertaining activities in Muscle Shoals for a memorable vacation.

Fun Things to Do in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

1. WC Handy Home and Museum

Begin your list of things to do in Muscle Shoals by exploring the WC Handy Home Museum. This beautiful museum is located in the heart of Florence, Alabama.

Her nickname is “Alabama Renaissance City”. The W.C. Handy Cabin, Museum, and Library are dedicated to one of Florence’s most famous sons, known as the “Father of the Blues.” Handy was born in a log cabin at this site in 1873.

The cabin, museum, and library contain a collection of Handy’s personal papers, artifacts, and other items he donated before his death in 1958.

This museum might be small in size, but it is worth visiting.

2. Visit Fame Recording Studio

This small studio was responsible for capturing the iconic Muscle Shoals sound, which in turn had a significant impact on the development of American music.

It was one of the most sought-after recording studios for musicians in the 1960s and beyond, thanks to its acoustics and distinctive musical history. It was first established in Florence in 1959, across the river, and moved to its current location in 1961.

Here was where Wilson Pickett recorded “Mustang Sally,” and Aretha Franklin and Clarence Carter discovered their voices. Other more contemporary musicians, including Jason Isbell, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Demi Lovato have also recorded music at FAME. Mac Davis gained success with a country/pop crossover smash with “Texas in the Rearview Mirror.”

If you’re a fan of American music, this historical museum should be added to your list of things to do in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

3. Alabama Music Hall of Fame

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is a museum devoted to conserving Alabama’s musical heritage. The museum is housed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and tells the tale of the state’s musical past through a collection of relics and displays.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is the ideal destination to visit if you’d like to learn about the state’s musical heritage. In addition, the museum hosts a range of public educational events and programs.

4. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Barry Beckett, and Roger Hawkins founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969. Before splitting from producer Rick Hall and going alone, all four owners were studio musicians and former members of the FAME rhythm section.

Named after the studio’s address, Cher’s 1969 album “3614 Jackson Highway” was the first record recorded at this location. Cher is shown front and center on her album cover, with all of the record’s connected characters behind her. The studio came to be associated with the name, which is still shown on the sign outside the building. Whatever name you might give it, this studio is known for creating musical history.

5. LaGrange College Site Park

It is one of the oldest college campuses in the state of Alabama. The stunning LaGrange College Site Park is home to a two-story Greek revival-style edifice that served as a boarding school for girls between 1831 and 1856. In addition, there is a walking track, picnic tables, and a playground in the park.

Today, this location is home to a pioneer hamlet that includes several early 1800s log cabins. These cabins have been restored to their original state after being relocated here from their original locations.

Located at 900 Alabama Avenue, Muscle Shoals, AL, the LaGrange College Site Park is accessible every day from sunrise until nightfall.

6. Visit Helen Keller

Tourists from all over the world travel to Helen Keller’s birthplace and childhood home, also known as “Ivy Green,” to view the museum, gardens, and residence of the country’s first courageous woman. David Keller, her grandfather, constructed the house in 1820 on the family’s land.

After Helen was born on June 27, 1880, the family kept up their residence, ran a farm, and raised Helen. After a medical incident when she was 18 months old, Helen lost her hearing and became blind.

The seven-year-old was nearly feral when Anne Sullivan arrived to be her teacher. Following a challenging few months, Anne Sullivan eventually understood what Helen meant by sign language. Helen realized what the signals meant when Anne signed the word W-A-T-E-R as they were drawing water from the front yard water pump. Her first word was “water,” which she said.

After completing college, Helen Keller rose to prominence as one of the most well-known activists for the disabled.

If you visit on weekends from June through mid-July, you can see The Miracle Worker’s play, which tells this amazing story.

7. Visit Florence Indian Mound and Museum

Situated in Florence, Alabama, the Florence Indian Mound is both a museum and a National Historic Landmark. This ceremonial mound is the biggest of its kind in the Southeast, dating back to Mississippian culture.

Exhibits in the museum cover the history of the region, the builders of the mound, and their lives. To glimpse the Tennessee River, you can also trek to the top of the mound. The Florence Indian Mound and Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

8. Ritz Theatre

Built in the early 20th century, this performance theater has been brought back to its original state. Being one of the few remaining historic theaters in the region, it is well-liked by both locals and tourists.

This theater presents live performances such as plays, concerts, and other events. Notable performers who have played here include B.B. King, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson. The Ritz Theatre is a lovely and distinctive location for entertainment.

This is one of the famous theatres to catch up with the latest entertainment happening around Muscle Shoals.

9. Tom’s Wall

In northwest Alabama, Tom Hendrix has been building a stone wall for over 30 years in memory of his great-great-grandmother’s journey.

His great-great-grandmother Te-lah-nay was part of the Yuchi Indian tribe that lived near here along the Tennessee River in the 1800s.

Her journey began when she and her sister, Whana-le were sent to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma as part of the removal of native peoples from the southeast. But that was only the beginning of her journey. Her tribe called the Tennessee River the Singing River because they believed a woman who lived in the river sang to them.

Te-lah-nay claimed the rivers and streams of Oklahoma did not sing to her when she first came and that she missed home. She decides to return home after spending a winter in Oklahoma. Even though she is alone, the skills her grandmother instilled in her as a young child enable her to conquer every danger and challenge she faces. After experiencing enough adventure to fill a book, she goes back to her house beside the Singing River.

Fortunately, Tom’s grandmother (Teh-la-nay’s granddaughter) told him the stories about his great-great-grandmother when he was a little boy. Later in life, Tom knew he needed to do something to honor her memory. During a conversation with an elder of the Yuchi tribe, he was told, All things shall pass. Only the stones will remain. It was then that he knew what he needed to do.

Tom’s Wall is the largest unmortared stone wall in the country. It’s also the biggest Native American lady memorial in existence. In a book titled If the Legends Fade, Tom also discussed Te-lah-nay’s journey.

Trace, Tom’s son, continues the family legacy after he died in 2017. Seeing the wall is free.

10. Visit Pope’s Tavern

Pope’s Tavern is a must-see when in Florence, Alabama. Over the years, the historic structure has performed a variety of tasks as a stagecoach stop, post office, bar, and general shop.

Pope’s Tavern’s intriguing design and lengthy history make it one of Florence’s most visited destinations. Constructed in 1832, the structure is among the state’s finest examples of Federal-style architecture, according to Justgoplacesblog. Pope’s Tavern is now a museum that offers visits to the general public.

Visitors can see original artifacts on display and learn about the fascinating history of this important building.

11. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House

The American Institute of Architects declared Frank Lloyd Wright to be the best American architect of all time in 1991. He is the architect of renowned structures all around the world, including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

His sole known architectural design in Alabama is the Rosenbaum House. This single-family home was designed distinctively, integrating the structure with its natural setting rather than elevating it above it.

12. Visit McFarland Park

McFarland Park

McFarland Park is one of the crown jewels of the Florence Parks and Recreation Department and has been enjoyed by the citizens of the area for over 10,000 years!

This park, nestled between the Tennessee River and downtown Florence, is conveniently located near almost everything Florence has to offer. The park is host to numerous festivals and special events, such as the annual Trail of Tears motorcycle ride and the Bassmasters Fishing Tournament.

Families will feel right at home in this park. There are playgrounds, lighted walking trails, a floating restaurant, a lighthouse, and a beach area.

If you drive a motor home, tow a fifth wheel, or even tow a tent on your back, you will find no more accommodating and beautiful place to rest your bones than McFarland Park.

13. George’s Steak Pit

George’s Steak Pit was founded in the mid-1950s by George and Vangie Vafinis and has been in the same location for over thirty years.

An upscale steakhouse with white tablecloths that serves a great drink list and a variety of steak cuts from the South. Start with the Greek meatballs, and for dinner, choose between filet mignon or a T-bone.

The baked potato is also a great option, but the hand-cut steak fries are arguably the best side dish. Enjoy a dessert beverage to wash down your dinner; they make a great brandy Alexander.

14. Odette

This stylish café, which serves Southern cuisine basics and takes care to utilize foods that are farmed sustainably, is situated in Florence’s historic downtown. The atmosphere inside is best characterized as urban with a hint of Southern charm.

Soft lighting, an exposed brick wall, and modern, minimalist table sets are paired with lion-themed artwork that honors the mascot of the nearby university. Start with two different types of deviled eggs, then go on to the smoked chicken breast for your main meal. They serve a wonderful brunch on Saturdays, if you’re into it.

15. Garden Gate Café

The Garden Gate Café is a fantastic spot to sample southern cuisine. Situated in a charming old Victorian home, the restaurant offers a lovely garden to enjoy while dining.

The menu offers dishes like catfish, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken. The café also serves delicious glasses of wine and coffee. Florence, Alabama’s Garden Gate Café, can be found at 1005 N. Court Street. The business is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

16. 360-Grille Revolving Restaurant

If you’re searching for a genuinely exceptional eating experience, you have to check out 360 Grille Revolving Restaurant. Perched on the top of Florence’s Renaissance Tower, the restaurant provides stunning views of the Tennessee River and the city below.

There’s an amazing wine list to go along with the menu that offers a choice of sophisticated American fare. Due to its popularity, the restaurant requires reservations, so be sure to do so in advance.

17. Ricatoni Italian Grill

Since its opening in 1996, Ricatoni’s has served the public with several signature dishes, such as wood-burning oven-cooked pizzas, freshly baked bread flavored with olive oil and herbs, and entreés prepared in the “old country” way.

They also offer delicious takes on Italian standards, such as fettuccine Alfredo and veal marsala. Make sure to save room for their cannoli for dessert.

The man behind it all is owner Rick Elliott, also known as Ricatoni Valentino from his numerous TV commercials. With an emphasis on atmosphere and exceptional service, he has turned his restaurant into a popular choice for both locals and traveling visitors.

18. Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake

If you’re a beach lover, Pickwick Lake should be on your list of top things to do in Muscle Shoals.

Pickwick Lake is an exquisite piece of water ideal for boating, fishing, swimming, and other water sports. The lake is a portion of the Tennessee River and is situated in northwest Alabama. Around the lake, there are numerous parks and outdoor spaces where you can enjoy the great outdoors.

The lake is accessible from several public parks and beaches, and there are also a lot of boat rental businesses.

19. River Heritage Park

River Heritage Park is the ideal location if you’re seeking somewhere to enjoy the great outdoors. The park, which is situated on the Tennessee River, has beautiful vistas, playground equipment, bike and walking paths, and a riverfront pavilion.

It’s a wonderful spot to unwind, wander, and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty of Muscle Shoals. The park bursts with color in the spring and summer when the trees leaf out and the flowers blossom. Additionally, fishing, picnics, and bird viewing are popular activities in the area. The park is open every day from sunrise to dusk and does not charge an admission fee.

20. Tuscumbia Railroad Depot Museum

Discover the history of Muscle Shoals and the Tennessee Valley by visiting the Tuscumbia Railroad Depot Museum. The museum features a caboose and a model of the Tuscumbia Railroad Depot, among other exhibits that trace the history of the region’s railroads.

There is a playground, picnic spaces, and a walking track at the historic site. The Tuscumbia Railroad Depot Museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Frequently Asked Questions About Muscle Shoals, Alabama

What are Muscle Shoals known for?

Muscle Shoals is renowned for its influential music scene, often referred to as the “Hit Recording Capital of the World.” It gained fame in the recording studios where legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and many others recorded some of their biggest hits.

What are the must-visit attractions in Muscle Shoals?

Visitors often enjoy the FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Additionally, the Wilson Dam and the TVA Rockpile Recreation Area offer scenic views and outdoor activities.

Is Muscle Shoals a good place to visit for music enthusiasts?

Absolutely! Music lovers find Muscle Shoals fascinating due to its rich musical history. The recording studios and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame offer a glimpse into the area’s significant contributions to the music industry.

What outdoor activities can be enjoyed in Muscle Shoals?

The Tennessee River and nearby lakes provide opportunities for fishing, boating, and other water-related activities. There are also various parks and trails for hiking, biking, and picnicking.

Are there any annual events or festivals in Muscle Shoals?

Yes, there are events like the W.C. Handy Music Festival, celebrating the “Father of the Blues,” and other local music festivals that attract visitors interested in live performances and music history.

How far are Muscle Shoals from major cities like Birmingham and Nashville?

Muscle Shoals is roughly 125 miles from Birmingham, Alabama, and approximately 125 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, making it accessible for day trips from both cities.

What dining options are available at Muscle Shoals?

The area offers a variety of dining choices, from local Southern cuisine to international fare. Visitors can find restaurants, cafes, and diners offering a range of options to suit different tastes.

Is there accommodation available in Muscle Shoals?

Yes, there are hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals available in Muscle Shoals and the surrounding areas to accommodate visitors.

Are there any historical sites in Muscle Shoals?

Apart from the music-related historical sites, there are also historical markers, museums, and landmarks that highlight the region’s significance during various periods, including the Civil War.

What transportation options are available to get around Muscle Shoals?

Visitors often rely on cars or rental vehicles to explore the area, as public transportation options might be limited. Taxis and rideshare services are also available for shorter distances.


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