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6 Things to Do on a Budget in North Alabama: Huntsville & Decatur

There are tons of cheap things to do all throughout North Alabama! For this post, I’m focusing on Huntsville and Decatur, two major North AL cities. Check out these top things to do on a budget in North Alabama that are perfect for a weekend trip.

North Alabama is an exciting destination with plenty of history, arts and culture, and picture-perfect waterfalls. Explore these budget-friendly things to do in the Huntsville and Decatur region of North Alabama.

This post is sponsored by Visit North Alabama. As always, all opinions are my own.

Rhodes Ferry Park, Decatur, Alabama

Cheap North Alabama Activities

1. Historic Depot & Railroad Museum

Decatur, Alabama

The Historic Depot & Railroad Museum is a small museum dedicated to Decatur’s railroad history. The museum is packed with railroad memorabilia, history, and model trains that run through recreations of Decatur landmarks.

This historic passenger depot was built by the Southern Railway in 1905. Trains still use the tracks behind the museum today, though they’re no longer passenger trains, and you may be lucky enough to see one come by while you’re at the museum!

If you want more train museums, be sure to check out Visit North AL’s Train Depot Trail.

Cost: Free

2. Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Decatur, Alabama

Carnegie Visual Arts Center displays local artists and touring exhibits throughout the year. They feature all different mediums of art, resulting in a unique mix of art forms.

The center is housed in the historic Carnegie Library building, which was constructed in 1904 and was funded by the Carnegie Foundation. This was the public library for nearly 70 years, then the children’s library, then a youth center for First Baptist Church, and finally the art museum.

Cost: Free

3. Downtown Turtle Trail

Decatur, Alabama

The Downtown Decatur Turtle Trail is an interactive scavenger hunt where you get to search for tiny turtle statues while learning all about Decatur’s history.

The trail runs along Second Avenue where 10 turtles are hidden by important downtown landmarks. Using the clues provided, you’ll be able find the turtles. The clues are little rhymes, along with the turtles’ names, that describe where to look and the history it relates to. For instance, the first turtle Mikey is hidden by the Princess Theatre, and he’s singing into a microphone.

Once you’ve found all 10 turtles, you can post them to social media using the hashtags #TurtleTrail and #DecaturDowntown, then visit the Cook Museum store or the Decatur Morgan County Tourism office to receive a special prize.

Cost: Free

4. Secret Artemis Trail

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is Rocket City for good reason! In celebration of the Space Launch System named Artemis, they’ve introduced a fun Downtown scavenger hunt where you can find 12 tiny rockets hidden around.

The Secret Artemis Trail comes with a map and a general location to help you search out the 1-foot-tall Artemis statues. Here’s a couple hints: They’re located by murals and artworks, and you’ll usually have to look up to find them.

This trail is a great way to get to know Downtown Huntsville! Some of the locations also overlap with the Downtown Huntsville Secret Art Walk and are near locations from the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt, so you could definitely combine those for a day full of scavenger hunting. Plus, be sure to check-in to different sites on the North Alabama Mural Trail while you’re at it.

Cost: Free

5. Downtown Huntsville & Twickenham Audio Tour

Huntsville, Alabama

Get to know the history of Downtown Huntsville and the historic Twickenham neighborhood with a self-guided audio tour from Huntsville History Tours.

The Downtown Huntsville & Twickenham tour takes you through Alabama Constitution Hall Park, around the Downtown Square, and through the neighborhood of Twickenham’s antebellum homes.

The tour is designed as a walking tour, and it does require a good bit of walking. But with a total of 42 sites, this is one of the best ways to learn about Huntsville’s history, and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

Cost: Free

6. Keel Mountain Preserve Lost Sink Trail

Gurley, Alabama

Waterfall on the Lost Sink Trail, Keel Mountain Preserve, Gurley, Alabama

The Lost Sink at Keel Mountain Preserve is a waterfall that flows into a sinkhole and disappears underground. The Lost Sink Trail is a moderately challenging 3.9 miles out-and-back hike.

Keel Mountain Preserve is located just outside of Huntsville in Gurley. The 310 acre preserve was selected to protect the federally endangered Morefield’s leatherflower, a rare plant that has only been found in North Alabama and Tennessee.

The Lost Sink Trail winds through a lush forest with a rocky terrain and some steep inclines. The waterfall is best after a heavy rainfall. It can be a challenging hike to get to, but the waterfall is well worth it. Be sure to check out other waterfalls on the Magic Waterfalls of North Alabama Trail.

Cost: Free

More North Alabama Tips

Want to explore even more of North Alabama? Check out these itineraries and travel tips:

Ready to visit North Alabama? Plan your trip with these tips.

  • Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
  • Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Huntsville and Decatur using
  • Get Packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.



6 Things to Do on a Budget in North Alabama: Huntsville & Decatur

What are your favorite things to do on a budget in North Alabama? Let me know in the comments!

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