12 Attractions in Decatur, Alabama

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Decatur is a vibrant city located along the Tennessee River in northern Alabama. With its rich history, natural beauty, and array of cultural attractions, Decatur offers visitors plenty to see and do. From exploring its historic districts and museums to taking in the outdoors along the riverfront, there are activities sure to appeal to all interests.

AttractionDescription
The Old State BankHistoric 1833 bank with Greek Revival architecture, now hosting exhibits and self-guided tours.
Alabama Center for the ArtsRegional cultural hub offering arts education, exhibits, and performances.
Historic DistrictsAreas showcasing architecture from the 1820s to 1940s, reflecting Decatur’s rich history.
Point Mallard ParkA 750-acre park providing a variety of recreational activities, including a water park.
Delano ParkThe city’s oldest park, known for its community events and historical significance.
Ingalls Harbor PiersA scenic spot offering hiking, dining, and views of the Tennessee River.
Rhodes Ferry ParkWaterfront park with historical sites, nature trails, and recreational facilities.
Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon ClassicAnnual event featuring hot air balloon displays, activities, and entertainment.
Carnegie Visual Arts CenterArt center in a historic Carnegie library, hosting diverse visual arts exhibits.
Alabama Center for the BookLocated in the Old State Bank, showcasing exhibits on the art of bookmaking.
Saints Harbor MarinaMarina providing boating services, rentals, and dining with scenic views.
Fort Decatur ParkHistorical park displaying life in 19th-century Alabama with period buildings and exhibits.

This article highlights 12 top attractions that showcase some of the best Decatur has to offer.

The Old State Bank

Name and Location: The Old State Bank building is located at 113 Greene Street in downtown Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Constructed in 1833, this former bank is one of Alabama’s oldest commercial structures. The Federal style architecture once housed the first bank in northern Alabama before becoming an office space and restaurant, preserving original interior details.

What to Expect: Patrons can dine at the Old State Bank restaurant set inside high ceiling rooms showcasing antique counters, an iron walk-in vault and decorative finishings true to the early 19th century style.

Visitor Information: Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday-Monday. Reservations recommended as seating capacity limited.


The Old State Bank building is one of Decatur’s most iconic and historically significant structures. Built in 1833, it originally housed the Bank of the State of Alabama and features imposing Greek Revival architecture.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the bank building contains the Alabama Center for the Book, which hosts exhibits related to writing, papermaking, bookbinding, and printing. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour to view the preserved mid-19th century bank interior and learn about Decatur’s early economic history.

Alabama Center for the Arts

Name and Location: The Alabama Center for the Arts is located at 133 2nd Avenue Northeast in downtown Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Established in 1993, this performing arts complex houses two premier venues, the Dexter Theater and Princess Theatre, hosting concerts, theater productions, movies, comedians and other entertainment in a restored historic movie house.

What to Expect: The public can view a full calendar of ticketed shows and events held onsite annually typically focused on music, drama, dance and comedy acts, both local and touring professionals.

Visitor Information: Box office hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Performance times vary by program. Tours possible if arranged in advance.


As one of the premier arts centers in the region, the Alabama Center for the Arts is a hub for culture and entertainment in Decatur. The flexible performance hall hosts concerts, theater productions, and more on its state-of-the-art stage.

The center also houses classrooms, exhibit space for visual arts, and arts education programming. Aspiring creatives can enroll in workshops and classes, while visitors can check the calendar for special events and performances that celebrate artistic talents from around the region.

Historic Districts

Name and Location: Decatur, Alabama contains two residential historic districts featuring architecturally significant 19th century homes – the Old Decatur District and Albany Historic District.

History and Significance: With structures dating from 1820s onwards, these central neighborhoods provide a glimpse into Decatur’s early days with preserved examples of Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Neoclassical and Victorian style houses from the cotton trade era.

What to Expect: Visitors driving or strolling these green tree-lined districts can view the charming historic residences many of which have plaques detailing key facts and background on the homes.

Visitor Information: Public right-of-way allows outdoor access. Contact local historical society for maps.


Decatur has several historic districts that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. The Old Decatur Historic District transports visitors back to the early 19th century with its tree-lined streets and homes dating from 1820 to 1920. The Harbor View Historic District encompasses some of Alabama’s first garden-style apartments from the 1940s, overlooking the lush bay of the Tennessee River.

Strolling these neighborhoods lets visitors admire preserved period architecture spanning Federal, Queen Anne, and Art Deco styles. For an in-depth experience, stops at the Old State Bank and Carnegie Visual Arts Center museums provide exhibits on Decatur’s history.

Point Mallard Park

Name and Location: Point Mallard Park is a 750 acre multi-use recreation complex located at 2901 Point Mallard Drive Southeast in Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Opened in 1978, facilities have expanded from original Wave Pool water park rides to miles of trails, picnic grounds, athletics, aquatics center, concert amphitheater, ice complex, 18 hole golf course and more over 30+ years.

What to Expect: Guests can enjoy water slides, lazy river, Jacuzzi, fitness classes, hiking routes, concerts, festivals, mini golf, batting cages, weddings and corporate events across varied landscapes from wetlands to open meadows.

Visitor Information: Park zones have individual operating seasons and fees. Some areas can be privately rented.


For recreation and adventure, Point Mallard Park provides plenty of options across 750 acres along the Tennessee River. The Wave Family Aquatic Center is a prime summer destination, with water slides, pools, and lazy rivers. Golfers can play the 18-hole championship course surrounded by wooded creeks.

For camping beneath the pines, Pines RV Park has full hookup sites and amenities. Hikers and mountain bikers can challenge themselves on over 10 miles of wooded trails. In winter, an ice skating rink opens for public sessions. With year-round activities, Point Mallard Park is a getaway for outdoor fun just minutes from downtown Decatur.

Delano Park

Name and Location: Delano Park comprises 140 acres in downtown Decatur, Alabama stretching about two miles along the Tennessee River shoreline.

History and Significance: Deeded in 1922 by the Delano family who stipulated it must remain public park land, amenities like athletic courts, playground and picnic spots have been added over the years while preserving its natural tranquility and river vistas.

What to Expect: Peaceful pastoral settings for walking, fishing, reading, relaxing or letting kids play. Structures onsite include gazebos, fountain and Veterans Memorial Monument. Open green space for games, events.

Visitor Information: Free access daily dawn to dusk. River center building available to rent for functions.

As Decatur’s first city park, Delano Park holds historic significance while offering a scenic green space in the heart of downtown. Its landscaping and walking paths below shady trees lend peaceful atmosphere for taking in the surrounding sights. As an important cultural center, Delano Park often hosts festivals, arts markets, and summer concert series that attract visitors.

Sports including softball, volleyball, bocce ball, and disc golf are popular at its recreational facilities. For war history, the park’s Walk of Honor memorializes Morgan County veterans across wars. Whether seeking downtown nature trails or cultural events, Delano Park brings community life to the center of the city.

Ingalls Harbor Piers

Name and Location: Historic Ingalls Harbor Piers situated on Market Street Northeast overlook the Tennessee River at the main bridge crossing in Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Part of one of Alabama’s busiest 19th century river ports from 1832 onward, remnants of the former commercial docks have become an urban waterfront park commemorating the city’s originaltransportation lifeline and economic beginnings.

What to Expect: Remaining wharf structure serves fishermen and pedestrian outlooks to view scenery, informative signage and decorative sculpture conveying the location’s nautical heritage, once filled with steamboats carrying cotton and materials in a bustling early port.

Visitor Information: Park is publicly accessible without fees daily but hours limited overnight.


Resting on the edge of Wilson Lake at the Tennessee River, Ingalls Harbor Piers provides pleasant hiking and some of the best views of Decatur. Visitors can stroll almost three miles along its scenic wooden boardwalk overlooking the water. From the Marina Plaza, you can dine outdoors while witnessing beautiful sunsets.

The Wetlands environmental area features educational displays illuminating native ecosystems and wildlife. Paddle sports and fishing are also popular around the harbor. And the backdrop of river, woodlands, and distant bridges makes this vibrant waterfront district the perfect place for taking memorable photos. For fresh air and gorgeous scenery, Ingalls Harbor Piers shouldn’t be missed.

Rhodes Ferry Park

Name and Location: Rhodes Ferry Park located at 2122 Rhodes Ferry Road features a major boat launch site on the Tennessee River near Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Named after early settler Joseph Rhodes who operated a river crossing, today’s modern park supports recreation on the historic waterway. Anglers and boaters utilize improved ramps while curated trails and greenway celebrate native environments.

What to Expect: Visitors can access well equipped 4-lane concrete boat launch, courtesy floats and docks along with family and ADA- compliant fishing spots. Nature paths wind through restored wetlands, wildflower meadows, outdoor classrooms and picnic grounds.

Visitor Information: Park open daily 5am-10:30pm. Some areas can be reserved online for events. Usage fees may apply.


As a favorite among waterfront parks in Decatur, Rhodes Ferry invites visitors to relax along the banks of the Tennessee River. Its grounds hold historical sites like the 1818 Rhodes Ferry House and the Old Toll Bridge over the river. Guests can fish from the pier or launch kayaks to explore the waters.

Wooded nature trails and a butterfly garden provide scenic areas to spot wildlife or simply take a leisurely stroll by the wading pool. The park also accommodates picnics and cookouts with shaded pavilions and outdoor grills for family gatherings. As one of the most picture-perfect locations in the city, Rhodes Ferry Park charms with riverfront views and a glimpse into Decatur’s past.

Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic

Name and Location: Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama hosts the annual Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic event each Memorial Day weekend.

History and Significance: Running since 1978, it stands as Alabama’s oldest hot air balloon festival featuring colorful mass ascensions filling the sky, balloon glows, fireworks, live entertainment and more family-fun activities celebrating the sport.

What to Expect: For three days visitors can watch skillfully choreographed launches and meet pilots, enjoy rides, music, arts, kids’ zone, food vendors and club gatherings in a lively outdoor setting surrounded by spectacular balloon showcases floating overhead.

Visitor Information: Free general admission. Open early morning and late afternoon when daily flyings occur.


Each Memorial Day weekend, Decatur plays host to a spectacular showcase of hot air balloons at Point Mallard Park. The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic draws pilots from around the country to dazzle spectators with dozens of colorful balloons lifting off into the sky.

Visitors can wander through the launch field for up-close views of balloons being inflated and prepared for flight. And as darkness falls, the balloons glow from their burners in a dramatic Balloon Glow spectacle. Guests can also enjoy live music, kids’ activities, balloon-themed arts and crafts, and fireworks displays at this beloved local tradition spanning over 30 years.

Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Name and Location: The Carnegie Visual Arts Center occupies a 1908 building at 207 Church Street Northeast in Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Originally funded by Andrew Carnegie’s library philanthropic foundation, the elegant Beaux-Arts architecture later served as City Hall before its present incarnation as an arts education hub and gallery hosting exhibits, events and classes.

What to Expect: Rotating visual arts shows in the main gallery representing selected regional artists across mediums. Onsite classes and programs offered in drawing, painting, pottery, jewelry and more for all ages and abilities.

Visitor Information: Free admission. Open Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 10am-2pm. Facility rentals available.

Housed in an early 20th-century library funded by Andrew Carnegie, this vibrant arts center now hosts rotating exhibits and interactive art education. Visitors can tour the galleries to discover an array of media from regional artists and students. Featured works include painting, sculpture, fiber art, pottery, glasswork, and photography spotlighting diverse talent and creativity.

As part of its mission to enrich the community through visual arts, the center also provides classes in mediums like painting, drawing, and mixed media for all skill levels. Through dynamic galleries and programming, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center celebrates the continued artistic spirit of Decatur.

Alabama Center for the Book

Name and Location: The Alabama Center for the Book is housed inside the main branch of the Decatur Public Library at 701 4th Avenue Northeast.

History and Significance: Founded in 1987, this affiliate of the Library of Congress promotes literacy, reading, books, libraries and writing across Alabama through educational initiatives like author talks, writing contests and reading lists that encourage discovery of regional writings.

What to Expect: Patrons can browse displays highlighting Alabama authors while participating in specialized programs, book club meetings, signings, workshops and lectures inspired by the state’s rich literary heritage.

Visitor Information: Library open Monday-Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm. Most center activities free but some may have cost.


Dedicated to writing, printing, and book arts, the Alabama Center for the Book inside the historic Old State Bank building illuminates literary culture with its rotating exhibits. Displays on the role of writing throughout history feature rare manuscripts, vintage printing presses, and Civil War-era documents.

Visitors can also watch artisan demonstrations of papermaking, binding, typesetting, and printing to see traditional book creation techniques come to life. And the Center hosts various author talks, writing workshops, children’s programs, and readings. For book lovers, this intimate museum provides one-of-a-kind opportunities to delve into the written word and its lasting impact.

Saints Harbor Marina

Name and Location: Saints Harbor Marina spans both banks of the Tennessee River off Market Street near the US-31 bridge crossing in Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Founded in 1959, one of the south’s oldest and largest marinas provides crucial harbor anchorage and service hub for commercial and recreational watercraft utilizing the bustling Tennessee River crossing near Decatur.

What to Expect: Boaters can access protected inlet with fueling facilities, repairs, transient and long term slips while visitors may dine at riverfront grill, launch small vessels or book water sport rentals like pontoons, ski boats, jet skis guided fishing tours.

Visitor Information: Open daily, hours vary seasonally. Certain services require advanced reservations or appointments.


On the shores of beautiful Ingalls Harbor stands Saints Harbor Marina, offering first-class amenities for boaters along the Tennessee River. Guests can fuel up at the gas docks or have full-service repairs and maintenance performed on their vessels. For superb views, the Captain’s Table restaurant provides outdoor patio seating overlooking the water.

Charter fishing expeditions launch from the marina in pursuit of bass, catfish, bream and more. For visitors without boats, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available to explore the harbor’s sights. And helpful staff can assist with securing overnight slips or fixing mechanical issues, making Saints Harbor Marina the boating hub of Decatur.

Fort Decatur Park

Name and Location: Fort Decatur Park sits along the banks of the Tennessee River off Wilson Street Southwest in Decatur, Alabama.

History and Significance: Occupying the strategic riverbend site of a former 1814 frontier fortification, the park commemorates this early 19th century U.S. outpost during conflicts with Native American tribes before modern Decatur developed into a thriving port hub.

What to Expect: Remaining earthwork ruins and plaques describing the unjust Indian Wars campaigns convey history while visitors can enjoy walking trails, fishing access and scenic views across the waters where steamboats once transported cotton long ago.

Visitor Information: Park open daily without fee. Unstaffed but well maintained as passive greenspace.


History comes alive at Fort Decatur Park with exhibits showcasing 19th century life in Alabama. Restored buildings across the grounds include the original1824 fort commandant’s quarters, a courthouse, and a schoolhouse. Costumed historical interpreters talk to guests about various periods in the settlement era before Alabama achieved statehood.

Special events like Civil War reenactments transport visitors back in time to seminal conflicts. And in the Morgan County History and Heritage Museum, exhibits feature centuries of regional artifacts from Native American tools through the industrial revolution. Whether seeking historical context or lively demonstrations, Fort Decatur Park provides an educational journey to Alabama’s past.

Conclusion


With cultural museums, historic sites, a vibrant arts scene, outdoor recreation, and beautiful waterfront scenery, Decatur’s attractions offer experiences to suit any interest.

From honoring military history at the Alabama Veterans Museum to enjoying family fun at the Cook Museum of Natural Science, visitors of all kinds will find places to explore, make memories, and gain insight into Alabama heritage in the “River City.” So on your next trip through northern Alabama, make sure to take in the unique sights and southern hospitality of picturesque Decatur along the Tennessee River.

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