Calera, Alabama was named after the Spanish word for “limestone” as the surrounding area was rich with the sedimentary rocks.
Located within Shelby and Chilton counties it’s the fastest growing city in the state. There’s much to see and do in the vicinity.
You can visit wineries, picnic in pretty parks, play a round of golf or delve deep into local history in city museums.
If you wish to explore further afield, the world-class attractions of Birmingham are around half an hours’ drive away.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Calera:
1. Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum
A great place to begin your exploration of Calera is at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum.
This fascinating museum features two restored depots, railroad memorabilia, artifacts and standard and narrow-gauge train lines.
There’s an interesting outdoor collection of steam locomotives, freight equipment and cabooses dating from the late 1800s to 2005, plus children are catered for with Thomas the Tank Engine train rides and activities of the Imagination Station.
You can take a fun-filled ride on the Calera and Shelby Railroad, enjoy themed journey’s, or browse the museum to learn more about the city’s locomotive history.
2. Orr Park
Located a few miles from Calera in Montevallo is beautiful Orr Park.
This picturesque hidden gem sits on the edge of Shoal Creek and features playgrounds, walking and cycling trails and picnic pavilions.
One of the parks’ highlights are the mystical tree carvings etched onto cedar trees along the walkway.
The trees were transformed by a local artist Tim Tingle, a former coalminer who wanted to revitalise storm ravaged trees into works of art.
The area became so popular with locals and visitors it soon became known as “Tinglewood”. If you are planning a leisurely day, bring some food, drinks, games and enjoy this magical, natural space close to Calera.
3. Calera Downtown Historic District
If you are staying in or around Calera, take some time to wander around its historic district.
There are 33 buildings set over two blocks which date to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Highlights include the Cowart Drug Company building which was erected in 1885, Calera Presbyterian Church constructed in the same year, Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum and Calera City Hall.
The district is a must-see for lovers of history and architecture.
4. Ozan Winery & Vineyard
Those who enjoy sampling new, flavoursome wines on their travels will relish a day trip to award-winning Ozan Winery and Vineyard in Calera.
Whether you wish to take a cellar tour, travel by steam train along Heart of Dixie Railroad, or enjoy a wine tasting tour, you can do it all.
There’s a gift shop where you can purchase a few bottles to take away with you too.
The vineyard’s Reisling is a popular pick.
With elegant hints of fruit, this dry white wine is perfect to pair with chicken dishes and mild cheese platters.
Alternatively, try a popular Alabama Peach wine, a semi-sweet fruity little number made from ripe 100% Alabama Chilton County peaches.
5. Timberline Golf Club
If you fancy a day free from sightseeing in Alabama, indulge yourself in a relaxing game of golf.
Timberline Golf Club in Calera is the perfect place to improve your swing and putt on a picturesque course flanked by gentle rolling hills, fragrant pines and towering oak trees.
The impressive par-71 course which plays at almost 7,000 yards from the tips was designed by Jerry Pate and offers a fun golfing experience for all levels of expertise.
After you’ve completed your 18 holes, head for the clubhouse bar and grill and enjoy a spot of lunch and drinks with new-found golf buddies.
6. American Village Citizenship Trust
History lovers should try to visit American Village Citizenship Trust in nearby Montevallo.
This superb replica American village showcases buildings and structures where ground-breaking decisions or events took place throughout history.
These include Washington Hall, the Capitol, President’s House and the Freedom Trail.
Throughout the year the trust hosts re-enactments and historical events where everyone is dressed in character and costume.
It’s a fun day out and a superb experience for anyone interested in discovering more about American history.
7. Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington
A great place to follow on from your American village experience is at the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington in Columbiana.
The museum displays artifacts and artwork from the Colonial period to 1865, featuring unique items such as George Washington’s writing instruments, Martha’s prayer book and original sketches of Mount Vernon.
There are several preserved pieces which were acquired from the Washington estate including vases, porcelain and a beautiful one-of-a-kind walnut games table.
If you are interested in learning more about George Washington and his descendants, it’s a great place to spend an hour or two.
8. Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve
Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve is a haven for bird-watchers, offering amazing opportunities to see Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas, Wood Thrushes and Red-headed Woodpeckers.
In addition, you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of Barred Owls and the rare Glossy Ibis during your visit.
The area is abundant with wetland plants, with Sweetbay Magnolia and several species of orchid in presence.
Bring your waterproofs, binoculars or camera and enjoy a day surrounded by beauty and nature.
9. Golly Hole
Golly Hole (also known as the December Giant) is possibly one of the largest sinkholes in America.
It appeared along the Shelby County Road intersection in 1972 and has been there ever since.
The hole was discovered by a group of neighbours who were out hunting, and they named the hole “Golly” as it was the first word they used when they reached the scene.
The size of the hole measures approximately 425 in diameter and around 150-200 feet deep.
It may not be a run-of-the-mill tourist attraction, but it is an unusual phenomenon worth looking at if you are in or around Calera.
10. Tin Top BBQ
Tin Top BBQ is the place to try good ole’ fashioned Southern cooking and succulent BBQ food.
Their sauce is sweet and sticky, their wings delicious, and desserts mouth-watering.
The diner has a laid-back atmosphere where you can bring all the family for a good feed after a day of sightseeing.
Whether you fancy trying the pulled pork, loaded BBQ nachos, sandwiches or a decadent dessert, there’s something to suit all tastes.
11. Oliver Park
The 58-acre park and sports complex in Calera plays host to baseball and football fields and basketball courts.
You can watch a game or enjoy recreational facilities such as playgrounds, nature trails and walking tracks.
It’s a great place for a picnic with family and friends or to simply relax, take in a local event and make new friends.
So, if you are seeking a day of leisure and don’t wish to venture too far, head for Oliver Park in Calera.
12. Big Peach Water Tower
Chilton County in Alabama is well-known for its juicy, ripe peaches, and what better way to celebrate this achievement than to construct a Big Peach Water Tower.
Located in Clanton, 17 miles south of Calera, this gigantic 120-foot-tall tower can be seen from the I-65. It’s a great spot to stop at to stretch your legs after a long drive, or to take a selfie to post on your social media page which will really get everyone talking.
13. Peach Park
While you’re in Clanton, you could venture a little further along the road to Peach Park.
The park is family-owned and caters to travellers journeying along the I-65. Peach Park began in 1984 as a roadside stand selling ripe, juicy Alabama peaches, and today it includes a bakery, barbeque restaurant, candy kitchen and giftshop.
The theme is of course, peaches, so don’t forget to try the delicious fried peach pies, cobblers and scrumptious peach ice cream.
After you’ve browsed the shops, visit nearby 7-acre Peach Park with its beautiful floral displays, lighthouse fountain and play areas.
14. Corbin Farms Winery
You can continue your Alabama wine trail experience at Corbin Farms Winery in Calera.
Owned by Gary and Donna Corbin, the charming winery produces vinifera wines including Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a range of Alabama fruit wines.
You can sample and purchase bottles of “Support our Troops” wine, a semi-sweet red with notes of black raspberry which donates $1 for every bottle sold.
Alternatively, try the “Southern Blend” made from sweet Muscadines with a blend of forest fruits.
You can pair your delicious wines with dinner at the on-site bistro which serves a selection of mouth-watering starters, mains and desserts.
15. Shelby County Museum and Archives
If you’re in Alabama to trace your ancestry, or simply wish to learn more about the American state, visit Shelby County Museum and Archives in Columbiana.
Built in 1854, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and displays numerous artifacts and photographs from throughout the region’s history.
With information, exhibits and displays dating from the Indian era through to the Second World War, there’s much to learn and explore at this fascinating museum.