Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, Decatur is a tranquil town in northern Alabama. The area is popular with campers and birdwatchers and offers many free family activities to help you have a cheap family vacation.

1. Decatur Volksmarch  This new walking trail through the Old Decatur and New Albany Historic Districts takes visitors on a fitness walk through one of the largest collections of Victorian and earlier 20th century craftsman and bungalow homes in Alabama. The Decatur Volksmarch offers both a 5K and a 10K route. Volksmarch is German for “the people’s march.”

2. Cook’s Natural Science Museum  Home to an extensive assortment of exotic insects, mounted birds, animals, minerals, sea shells and coral in more than 2,000 exhibits. Wildlife common to the northern Alabama region along with protected and endangered species are housed within the museum, including displays of a bald eagle and golden eagle.


3. Civil War Walking Tour  This 13-block self-guided tour through the Old Decatur Historic District features 11 historic markers that trace the 1864 clash between Confederate forces and garrisoned Union troops at this key railroad and river transportation point.

4. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge  This refuge includes 34,500 acres of naturally preserved woodlands. The Givens Wildlife Interpretive Center, which serves as the welcome center for the refuge, is one of the South’s largest educational centers for waterfowl and wildlife study.

5. Spirit of America Festival  One of the largest free Independence Day celebrations in Alabama. Family games, summertime field competitions, live entertainment, sports tournaments, food and craft vendors, talent shows, presentation of patriotism awards, beauty pageant, and fireworks. Fourth of July weekend.

6. The Battle for Decatur This Civil War reenactment commemorates Decatur’s four-day battle in October 1864. The event features more than 200 reenactors representing northern and southern forces engaging in two battles. A Civil War camp is open to the public with displays of authentic equipment, dress and drills. Labor Day weekend.

7. Hartselle Depot Days Celebrate the history of the railroad and its contribution to the area with a Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show, 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run, Craft Show, Art Show and Children’s Art Show, Children’s rides and games, live entertainment on two stages, Antique Tractor & Gasoline Engine Show, and food and vendors covering four blocks in the downtown area. Third Saturday in September.