The sun glows in autumn leaves in this view, from Lookout Mountain toward the southern end of Fort Payne.
People have been coming to walk the streets of Scottsboro for more than 100 years, not necessarily to look at architecture or even take in the sites, but to hunt for bargains.
Centered around the courthouse square, and conceived as a way to bring people into town, First Monday Trade Day began as Horse Swappers Day and has progressed through the years to become a monthly flea market/antiques/yard sale/crafts show extravaganza that attracts as many 40,000 people during each three-day weekend. Folks often drift over to the Unclaimed Baggage Center – 33,000 square feet of merchandising space that lets you pick through the personal belongings of airline passengers that somehow were never reunited with their rightful owners.
Not all of your wanderings have to be in search of material goods. Self-guided tours of the Scottsboro/ Jackson Heritage Center take visitors through the 1880 Brown-Proctor House and to Sagetown, a pioneer village of buildings from 1820 to 1880 that have been moved here from other sites.
You may work up a thirst after strolling around, so head to Payne’s Sandwich Shop and Soda Fountain, dispensing liquid refreshment since 1869.
- FORT PAYNE 256-845-2741, tourdekalb.com
- Eat: Bar-B-Q Place for all things barbecue; Box Office Grill & Strand for its hotdogs, cheeseburgers and Peanut Butter and Hershey Bar Sandwich
- Stay: Fort Payne Inn
- See: Fort Payne Opera House, Alabama Fan Club & Museum1
- HUNTSVILLE 256-551-2230, huntsville.org
- Eat: At Sam & Liva's for pizza and salads, Humphrey's for American Cuisine and nightly live music
- Stay: Holiday Inn Select
- See: The Huntsville Museum of Art; the Jazz Factory's martini bar, Sammy T's dance floor
- MENTONE 888-805-4740, tourdekalb.com
- Eat: Log Cabin Restaurant & Deli in a renovated Indian trading post; themed dining rooms at Wildwood Farms Restaurant
- Stay: The Mentone Inn
- See: Shop at the White Elephant; enjoy seasonal downtown festivals
KEY TRAVEL INFO
- State travel information. 800-ALABAMA (252-2262), touralabama.org
- Alabama Travel Council. 334-271-0050, alabamatravel.org
- Little River Canyon National Preserve, Fort Payne. Encompasses DeSoto State Park, DeSoto Falls and Little River Falls. 256-845-9605, nps.gov/liri
- North Alabama Tourism Council. 800-648-5381, alabamamountainlakes.org
- Russell Cave National Monument, Bridgeport. 256-495-2672,nps.gov/ruca
- State parks. 800-ALAPARK, (252-7275), alapark.com
- Talladega National Forest (Talladega Ranger District). 256-362-2909, fs.fed.us/r8/alabama
- Mountain weather. 256-890-8503, http://www.ghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/wxstn/
Best Ways to Find Out More About Alabama
State Travel Information: 1-800-ALABAMA (1-800/252-2262).
Bureau of Tourism & Travel. Visit Website.
What They Send You: Vacation guide, highway map, calendar of events, railroad guide.
State Parks: 1-800-ALAPARK (1-800/252-7275). Visit Website.
National Forests: Talladega National Forest. Visit Website.
Key Travel Numbers: Alabama
- Travel Council. 334/271-0050. Visit Website.
- Fort Payne/DeKalb County Tourist Association. 1-888-805-4740. Visit Website.
- Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce. 1-800-869-5253. Visit Website.
- Mentone. Visit Website.
- North Alabama Tourism Council. 1-800-648-5381. Visit Website.
- Scottsboro-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. 1-800-259-5508. Visit Website.
- Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce. 256/845-2741. Visit Website
- Scottsboro, Alabama. 256/574-3100. Visit Website.
Best Limestone Caves and Karst: Alabama
- Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge. Paint Rock. Protected habitat for three threatened or endangered species: gray bat, Indiana bat, and American Hart's-tongue fern. Visit Website.
- Cathedral Caverns State Park. Grant. 256/728-8193.
- World's largest stalagmite, stalagmite forest and frozen waterfall. Evidence of human habitation traced back 8,000 years. Visit Website.
- Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge. Scottsboro. Maternity cave housing up to 200,000 endangered gray and Indiana bats annually. Visit Website.
- Sequoyah Caverns. Valley Head. 1-800-843-5098. Named for the Cherokee Indian Chief Sequoyah, the caverns extend into the base of Sand Mountain. This attraction is known for its subterranean reflecting pools. Visit Website.
Best Museums and Historic Sites: Alabama
- Alabama Fan Club and Museum. Fort Payne. 256/845-1646. Home of the Country Music Group of the Century, this museum spotlights the band's awards and achievements. Visit Website.
- Hosiery Museum. Fort Payne. Memorabilia and antique equipment used in "the sock capital of the world." Visit Website.
- Russell Cave National Monument. Bridgeport. 256/495-2672. Stone shelter used by pre-historic Indians for more than 8,000 years. Interpretive exhibits.Visit Website.
- Scottsboro-Jackson Heritage Center. Scottsboro. Focuses on history of Jackson County from 8,000 B.C. to the 1930s. Museum consists of the 1881 neo-classical Brown-Proctor house, Sagetown pioneer village and the 1868 Jackson County Courthouse. 256/259-2122.
- Stevenson Railroad Depot Museum. 256/437-3012. Visit Website.
- Gorham's Bluff Institute. 256/451-2787. Visit Website
Best Parks, Preserves and Resorts: Alabama
- Bucks Pocket State Park. Grove Oak. Perhaps Alabama's best kept outdoor recreation secret. 2,000-acre canyon gouged into the Appalachian range. Facilities for boating, swimming, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking, picnicking and camping. 256/659-2000. Visit Website.
- Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort. Mentone. Southernmost ski resort in the nation. Rests amidst 1,000 acres of forest trails, streams and waterfalls atop Lookout Mountain. Includes the Shady Grove Dude Ranch and the Saddle Rock Executive Golf Course. 256/634-4344. Visit Website.
- DeSoto State Park. Fort Payne. Named top 10 state park in America. Lodging, campground, nature center, trails, boating and fishing areas. The Little River flows through the park and over DeSoto Falls, plunging 104 feet to the canyon below. The park, falls and canyon are located atop Lookout Mountain within Little River Canyon National Preserve. 1-800-760-4089. Visit Website.
- Goose Pond Colony. Scottsboro. This municipally owned resort on Lake Guntersville boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses, lakeside cottages, lodge, campground, full-service marina and beach area. 1-800-268-2884 or 256/259-2884. Visit Website.
- Little River Canyon National Preserve. Fort Payne. A 23-mile drive along the canyon's rim offers spectacular vistas of the canyon. The 700-foot-deep gorge is one of the deepest east of the Mississippi. Whitewater kayaking and canoeing, horseback riding, hiking and rappelling are allowed, but no outfitters serve the area. The preserve encompasses DeSoto State Park, DeSoto Falls and Little River Falls. 256/845-9605. Visit Website.
- Noccalula Falls Park. Gadsden. Ninety-foot waterfall with canyon and nature trails highlight this facility. Features include a botanical garden with more than 25,000 azaleas, pioneer village, war memorial, children's playground and campground. 256/549-4663.
- Cathedral Caverns State Park. 256/728-8193. Visit Website
- Sequoyah Caverns. 256/635-0024, 1-800-843-5098. Visit Website.
Best Scenic and Historic Roadways: Alabama
- Lookout Mountain Parkway. Begins at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden and winds 100 miles north atop Lookout Mountain. Scenic drive passes through Mentone en route to Chattanooga. Home of "The World's Longest Yard Sale" held every August. Visit Website.
- Trail of Tears Corridor. U.S. 72 follows the Tennessee Valley from Ross's Landing in Chattanooga to Waterloo in West Alabama. Retraces the route of the Cherokee people during their forced removal from their ancestral lands (1838-'39). The Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride follows this route each September. Visit Website.
Best Friend of the Alabama Environment: Alabama
- Environmental Policy & Information Center (EPIC). This service of Jacksonville State University has been a driving force behind the preservation of significant North Alabama habitats. The center's work has led to federal designations of the Little River Canyon National Preserve, the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge and the Dugger Mountain Wilderness. 256/782-5681. Visit Website.