If you’re planning a trip to Alabama, make sure to put the Shoals region on your must-visit list. Located in Northwest Alabama, this area encompasses four cities – Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Florence – and offers an array of attractions, historical sites, and delicious dining options that cater to all types of travelers. Here are 15 reasons why you should visit the Shoals, including the iconic Ivy Green, the funky FAME Recording Studio, and the culinary delight Rosie’s Mexican Cantina.
Ivy Green: Helen Keller’s Birthplace
Step back in time and visit the birthplace of one of America’s most beloved writers, Helen Keller, at Ivy Green in Tuscumbia. Explore the grounds and learn about her inspiring life story. From her first moments on this earth to the day Anne Sullivan walked into her life and changed it forever. The entire story unfolds through the rooms in the house and the grounds, making it an educational and historic location that everyone needs to visit!
FAME Recording Studio
Music enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the chance to visit FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, where legendary artists like Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding recorded their hits. Take a tour and soak in the rich musical history while reliving the first time you heard those hit songs that were recorded directly where you are standing. This should definitely be the first stop of music history in The Shoals.
Rosie’s Mexican Cantina
Indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina in Florence. This lively restaurant offers delicious dishes and a vibrant atmosphere. From speciality tacos to nachos and everything in between, their food is fresh and filling. Make sure to wash it all down with a margarita on the rocks!
Florence’s First Friday
oin the locals at the First Friday event in Downtown Florence, held on the first Friday of each month. Enjoy live music, art exhibitions, food vendors, and activities for the whole family. Even though it was a rainy night while we were in town, we still got to experience the fun and cant wait to see it in full swing next time.
The Gunrunner Hotel
Experience luxury and elegance at the GunRunner Hotel in Florence. This boutique hotel offers a unique blend of history and modern comfort, making it a perfect place to stay. With a spectacular bar, spa, and individualized rooms, a stay here is not only refreshing and relaxing but also one of the most comfortable nights you will ever experience!
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
Another iconic music landmark, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, was the birthplace of numerous famous recordings. Take a guided tour and hear the stories behind the hits. See the place where The Rolling Stones cut several of their top hits over just a few days and find out why Lynyrd Skynyrd thought The Swampers were the best things about music at the time. The story of music history in Muscle Shoals continues here.
YUMM Thai: Sushi and Beyond
Satisfy your taste buds with a fusion of Thai and Japanese flavors at YUMM Thai Sushi in Florence. Their creative menu and inviting ambiance will leave you craving for more. We started out with edamame and capped off our meal with a tuna stack and fresh sushi. The large menu will make it hard to settle on a choice but you will not be disappointed!
Cypress Moon Studios
Once serving as Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, this massive venue has music history around every corner. Today, the location serves as a recording studio, play venue, and a meeting place for the arts. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, it is hard not to be inspired here. This studio will tell you the rest of the story and round out a huge portion of the music history from the area.
Big Bad Breakfast
There’s not a better place to fuel up for a day of adventures in The Shoals than with a hearty breakfast at Big Bad Breakfast in Florence. Known for their Southern-style breakfast favorites, this spot is a local favorite and it is not hard to see why. From full breakfast places, to sandwiches, and chicken and waffles, if you leave here hungry its your own fault!
Enjoy a delicious homemade meal at Esther’s Eatery in Sheffield. This cozy restaurant offers comfort food with a twist, served with warm Southern favorites and some of the freshest ingredients. We has the fresh steak with corn and tomatoes with mozzarella. They strongly believe in clean eating and the wine and craft beer on hand is made with only the best! The menu changes regularly but we can guarantee you will love everything you eat and drink here!
The Rosenbaum House
Architecture enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Rosenbaum House, designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Explore this beautifully preserved Usonian home in Florence and discover the brilliant mind of the famous architect. As we roamed though the home, exploring every nook and cranny, it was easy to see that Wright was well ahead of his years in terms of space management. This stunning relic will amaze and inspire you.
The Florence Indian Mound Museum
While you are driving around Florence, it is hard to tell that a large Indian mound in in your mist. But, Native American history abounds here and you can learn all about it at the Florence Indian Mound Museum. Discover artifacts and fascinating exhibits that showcase the rich Native heritage of the region.
The Miracle Worker Play at Ivy Green
For a few nights during the summer you can catch a live performance of “The Miracle Worker.” This play tells the inspirational story of Helen Keller and her remarkable teacher, Annie Sullivan and it was performed on the grounds of Helen’s childhood home. We were stunned by the performance and found ourselves laughing and crying from one minute to the next.
The Alabama Music Hall of Fame
We did not realize so many people from Alabama had such a huge impact on all genres of music until we explored the Alabama Music Hall of Fame! From interactive exhibits to Webb Pierce’s famous Nudie car, were were star struck! Not to mention totally fan-girding over Alabama’s tour bus!
Rigatoni’s Italian Grill
Treat yourself to mouthwatering Italian cuisine at Ricatoni’s Italian Grill in Downtown Florence. From traditional pasta dishes to wood-fired pizzas, the flavors will transport you out of this world! The atmosphere is incredible and their wait staff will have everything you need in just a few minutes. Save room for desert!
The Shoals is an absolute must-visit destination. With its rich musical heritage, vibrant local scene, delicious dining options, and historical landmarks, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, music lover, history buff, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, the Shoals won’t disappoint. Plan your visit to Muscle Shoals, Florence, and the surrounding areas and immerse yourself in the culture and charm of North Alabama.