The vibrant city of Cullman is equidistant between Birmingham and Huntsville in the state of Alabama.
It was originally Cherokee territory, with a famous trail known as the Black Warrior’s Path which traversed along the river’s edge.
The city was founded by European settler Colonel John G. Cullman, an immigrant from Bavaria, Germany in 1873, and even today, its German heritage is displayed in Cullman’s museums, abbey, parks and local landmarks.
There’s an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy in and around the city, and Cullman was named as one of the ’50 Best Places to Raise Your Kids’ in America in 2012.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Cullman:
1. Ave Maria Grotto
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Cullman is Ave Maria Grotto.
The lush 4-acre park provides a superb setting for 125 miniature reproductions of the most famous religious structures in the world.
The incredible stone works were created by Brother Joseph Zoetle, a Benedictine monk who used to reside at nearby St. Bernard’s Abbey.
The grotto sculptures are carved with great attention to detail and decorated with coloured glass, marble and tiles.
You can expect to see replicas of St.
Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Old Jerusalem and myriad religious structures from around the world.
Even if you aren’t religious, this is an awe-inspiring attraction you don’t want to miss when in Cullman.
2. Sportsman Lake Park
Sportsman Lake Park is a family-friendly recreational site in the heart of Cullman.
The scenic lakeside park offers fun activities for all ages which range from paddle boat rides and picnicking, to bike riding and hiking.
If the weather is hot, there’s a Splash Pad for the kid’s, and a small train which transports you around the lake.
There’s also an 18-hole pitch-n-putt golf course, so you can challenge friends to a fun game during your visit.
3. Clarkson Covered Bridge
Built in 1904, Clarkson Covered Bridge is one of Cullman’s best-known sites.
The bridge was initially used by travellers and farmers to cross the creek, until it was torn in half by a storm in 1921. The bridge was repaired to its original form, and once restored, it became a centrepiece of the park.
Hiking trails, picnic areas, a Dogtrot log cabin and a working grist mill have since been added, to showcase the historical significance of the area.
Although the bridge is now closed to traffic, you can still walk around and photograph this fascinating Cullman attraction.
4. Cullman County Museum
The city of Cullman was founded in 1873 by Colonel John G. Cullman, an immigrant from Bavaria, Germany.
You can learn about the early days of the city as a German colony, its involvement during the Civil War, and see exhibits pertaining to the region’s Native American heritage.
A stroll along the museum’s ‘Main Street’ offers insight into life in Cullman during the 1800s, with decorated shop windows and houses to explore.
There’s also a Music Room where you can hear harmonic sounds of Americana music created by Cullman’s earliest residents.
If you wish to delve deeper into the fascinating history of Cullman, this is a great place to spend a few hours.
5. St. Bernard Abbey
St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman has a rich history.
In the 1840s monks arrived from Germany to plant the seeds of monastic life in America.
Today, this Benedictine community is still going strong, and is home to monks who gave up the trappings of the modern world to serve God.
The monastery is open for tours, and is also home to Ave Maria Grotto, a model park with 125 sculptures of cities and religious buildings from around the world.
6. Smith Farms
In 1955, Smith Farms was a small road-side stall which would sell cured bacon, ham and seasonal produce.
Today, Ed Smith’s brainchild is known throughout America for producing delicious ‘Southern tasting’ products using traditional family recipes and techniques.
Their pork is perfectly cured, and their ham, sausages and bacon are smoked with real hickory wood.
They don’t just sell meat either, you can pick up grits, muffins, porridge, cheeses and honey at this farm store.
So, if you are in or around Cullman, forget the local supermarket, this place is a must-visit for your picnic items and self-catering food during your stay.
7. Goat Island Brewing
At Goat Island Brewing, their tagline is ‘Life is too short to drink baaad beer’! Fortunately, this brewhouse only sells refreshingly good beer, and you can sample a glass or two when you stay in Cullman.
Try their award-winning Richter’s Pils – a German/American light golden pilsner based on William Frederick Richter’s recipe from the late 1800’s.
Alternatively, try Sipsey River Red, a fragrant, flavourful amber to red ale with a perfect balance of malt and European hops.
8. Hurricane Creek Park
Hidden amongst a deep canyon in the Appalachian foothills is Hurricane Creek Park.
With over 60-acres of nature trails, hiking, rock climbing and birdwatching areas, it’s the perfect place for a day of recreation and relaxation.
The park winds through a deep gorge with spectacular rock formations, cliffsides and waterfalls, making it a superb place to stop for a picnic or take photographs.
9. Steele Orchard
Steele Orchard is located just outside Cullman in North Central Alabama.
With a gift shop and bakery, it’s the perfect place to buy fresh, hand-picked apples, peaches and plums.
The bakery is home to the deliciously famous Southern fried pie, caramel apples and homemade jellies and jam.
Tours of the orchard are available, and if you want to learn more about the fruit picking process, talks range from planting and pollination to harvesting and production.
You can see demonstrations on how to make cider using 20 types of apple grown on the farm, meanwhile the kids are occupied in the orchard’s fun maze.
11. Smith Lake Park
On the banks of 21-acre Lewis Smith Lake, with over 500 glorious miles of scenic shoreline, is Smith Lake Park.
The park is the perfect place for an overnight stay, plus it hosts festivals and events throughout the year.
There are cabins, campsites and pavilions for grilling and picnicking, and recreation revolves around children’s playgrounds, boating, a fishing pier and pool.
The park is located just 12 miles southwest of Cullman, therefore, easily reached for a day or afternoon trip.
12. Alabama Flyboard
Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies will relish the opportunity to learn how to Flyboard.
You can soar into the air like a superhero, suspended 40 feet above water, and even film it to show friends. Choose from a GoPro Video Package, where you can film and post your flight on social media or enjoy a 30 minute or 1-hour Flyboard training experience.
This is an exciting day out for families with older children, and couples and friends seeking a new, challenging pastime.
13. Johnny’s BBQ
Johnny’s BBQ has been serving citizens of Cullman since 1949. This laid-back family Bar-B-Que restaurant dishes out delicious catfish, chicken, pork and ribs which will make your mouth water! The portions are generous, and service is fast and friendly.
Whether you’re after a filling breakfast to set you up for a day’s sightseeing, a light lunch or a hearty dinner, you can find it all at Johnny’s BBQ.
14. Bankhead National Forest
Beautiful Bankhead National Forest is one of four Alabama forests and home to the National Wild and Scenic River, the Sipsey Fork.
The park was named in honour of William B. Bankhead a U.S state representative and was established in 1918. The national forest is popular for horseback riding, fishing, swimming, canoeing and boating, and is known as the “land of a thousand waterfalls” due to abundant steams and cascading falls scattered throughout the park.
There’s a wealth of history to discover in the forest, including Native American petroglyphs, rock carvings and pre-historic drawings, making this a fascinating place to visit.
15. Weiss Cottage
If you’re taking a self-guided walking tour through Downtown Cullman, don’t forget to check out Weiss Cottage.
This is the city’s oldest house – a quaint white wood-panelled dwelling with a traditional porch and decorative posts.
The cottage is typical of early-style homes in Cullman and displays its German roots with European chalet-style features.
The tiny details make this house fascinating to visit.
During the restoration, several layers of wallpaper were removed to show the original pattern, there’s old medical equipment which belonged to Doctor Weiss displayed inside the property, and there’s an historic quilt made by the local community draped over the bed.
Visitors interested in viewing Weiss Cottage can do so by appointment through Cullman County Museum.