Hartselle is located approximately 10 miles south of Decatur, Alabama.
The city was founded when the North and South Alabama railroads came to the region in around 1870, and it is named after one of the railroad owners, George Hartselle.
Its charming downtown district is home to antique stores, BBQ diners and quaint Bed & Breakfasts, while outside the city, there are parks, wildlife refuges and Tennessee River walks to explore.
I’m an Alabama local and have visited many places in the state, Hartselle is a quiet and peaceful place with lots of things to do nearby. Let’s explore the best things to do in Hartselle, Alabama:
1. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, 10 miles north of Hartselle is a habitat for Alabama’s migrating birds.
With snow geese, ducks and over 220 other varieties of birdlife, the refuge attracts bird watchers from miles around.
The refuge has five hiking trails too, which cover up to four miles, and if you walk along the paths you may also discover squirrels, deer and even a few American alligators which were introduced into the reserve.
The visitor center has several observation platforms where you can photograph or spot birds and wildlife, and it’s also possible to fish for sunfish, catfish and bass out on the water.
2. Point Mallard Water Park
Bordering Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is picturesque Point Mallard Park.
This family recreational facility offers unlimited family fun with batting cages, golf driving ranges and 3 miles of hiking and cycling trails.
If you time your visit right, you can experience the Battle for Decatur, a realistic Civil War re-enactment featuring live battles, camps and craft stalls.
Alternatively, during summer months, visit the fun water park, home of America’s first wave pool, a Lazy River and thrilling chutes and slides.
3. Quail Creek Golf Course
Quail Creek is nestled in the foothills between the cities of Falkville and Hartselle, Alabama.
This scenic golf course is family-friendly and caters to beginners, intermediates and skilled golf professionals.
In addition to the stunning golf course, the club also hosts disc golf, a driving range and a pro shop where you can purchase clothing and equipment.
If you fancy a leisurely day out with friends or family and wish to improve your golf skills without driving too far, I’m sure you will have fun at Quail Creek Golf Course.
4. The Beehive Bathhouse
If you’re after the perfect souvenir of your stay, I highly recommend The Beehive Bathhouse in the heart of Downtown Hartselle.
They specialize in fragrant, natural products such as luxurious shea butter for your skin, or hand-crafted soaps.
Producing and selling everything from room sprays and lip products, to footcare and men’s shaving oils, there’s gifts to suit all your family and friends.
5. Hartselle Aquatic Center
Hartselle Aquatic Center on the edge of Sparkman Park is a fun, seasonal outdoor recreational center for all the family to enjoy.
With huge lagoon-style swimming pools, water slides and diving boards, you can spend hours basking in the Alabama sunshine, or swimming a few laps to cool off.
It hosts a range of activities throughout the year, and you can even take swimming lessons if you book in advance.
6. Reeve’s Peach Farm
Just 4 miles east of Hartselle is the famous Reeve’s Peach Farm.
The farm incorporates land which was settled by Thomas Jack Reeves back in 1835. The land was originally used to grow corn, vegetables and cotton, but during the 1950s, they expanded to grow juicy watermelons which were sold on the roadside to travelers.
However, by 1959, Reeves’ great grandson decided that peaches were the way to go.
It was the right decision, and today, they are still well-known for their high-quality, tree-ripened peaches.
You can now head to their dedicated on-site farm shop to purchase succulent peaches, plums, tomatoes, squash and other vegetables throughout the season.
7. Morgan County Veteran’s Memorial
Morgan County Veteran’s Memorial located in Priceville, pays tribute to local Alabama soldiers who fought for their country in the USA and overseas.
The park showcases monuments and old military equipment, statues, helicopters and tanks which each tell their own stories.
If you time your visit well, there are ceremonies and parades held in the park throughout the year, so remember to check before you visit.
8. Cook Museum of Natural Science
This relatively new state-of-the-art museum in nearby Decatur offers an immersive, hands-on experience for all the family, where you can interact, explore and learn about nature. I visited the museum for about 2 hours and really enjoyed it.
With live animals such as baby alligators, turtles, bees and snakes, a walk-in cave, and exhibits showcasing our diverse planet and the universe beyond, this is an educational and fun day out not to be missed.
Related reading: 15 Best Things to Do in Decatur, Alabama
9. Delano Park
If you’re planning a day out in Decatur, visit the city’s oldest recreational area – Delano Park.
The park dates to 1887, when it was created to improve and re-invent the city after a spate of yellow fever and following the American Civil War.
You can spend time exploring pretty trails, cool off in the Splash Pad with its sprays and jets, enjoy a picnic, or take a leisurely stroll through the fragrant Delano Park Rose Garden.
10. Canoe or Fish on Flint Creek
Flint Creek flows past Hartselle into the Tennessee River, offering superb opportunities for scenic paddling, canoeing and fishing.
You can get back to nature, take your canoe out and drift along the water past bald Cypress trees, sycamores and water oaks.
Picturesque shorelines offer ample opportunities for hiking, photography, fishing and wildlife observation, and you may even see some snakes, alligators and cranes on your travels.
If you’re a keen angler try to hook some bream, crappie, and bass, or relax with a picnic by the shores and soak up the sun.
11. Bankhead National Forest
Bankhead National Forest is known as the “Land of a Thousand Waterfalls”, all of which can be viewed as you traverse verdant woodland trails.
With over 180-acres of lush national forest, limestone bluffs and abundant wildlife, it’s a place to get back to nature and away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Whether you wish to hike, fish, swim, canoe or go horseback riding, you can do it all here.
If you’re interested in local history, you can see Native American relics on your travels too, and even visit petroglyphs, rock carvings and incredible pre-historic drawings.
Most of the ancient carvings can be seen at Kinlock Shelter, a cave first used by the Yuchi Tribe. The tribe would use their drawings to predict solar cycles and induce trances to achieve an altered state of consciousness.
Also see: 15 Amazing Waterfalls in Alabama
12. The Freight House
The Freight House restaurant is named after its location – in an historic L & N freight terminal in Downtown Hartselle. With its old-world atmosphere, vintage décor and delicious homemade cuisine, I think it’s the perfect place to enjoy a romantic dinner for two, or a meal with family and friends.
Try the L & N Chef salad, or Grilled Shrimp Chef to start, then complete your meal with steak, chicken, seafood or a mouth-watering half pound Depot Burger! In addition to scrumptious savory dishes, The Freight House also serves homemade cake, whole or by the slice, so, don’t forget to sample the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake or the tantalizing Italian Crème Cake before you leave.
13. Ave Maria Grotto
The awe-inspiring grotto is set in the grounds of a beautiful Benedictine Monastery in the charming town of Cullman, Alabama.
The miniature religious buildings and cities were carved by hand by Brother Joseph Zoetle, a monk who spent most of his life at the abbey.
He spent years collecting old materials such as tiles, glass bottles and face cream jars to create these magnificent miniature sculptures for all to see.
I was impressed by the intricate details and attention to detail in every building, from St. Peter’s Square and Basilica in Rome, to the old city of Jerusalem.
More on Alabama: 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama
14. Visit the Dancy-Polk House
When I was spending the day in nearby Decatur, I visited the oldest building in the city.
The impressive Dancy-Polk House on Railroad Street was constructed in 1829 for Colonel William Francis Dancy, who arrived from Virginia and became an early settler to the area.
The unique architecture of the property showcases Doric columns on each floor with a double-height portico and Georgian design.
The house is one of a few in the city to survive the American Civil War, along with the Old State Bank in Decatur’s historic district.
15. El-Marie’s Antique and Art Marketplace
If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience in Hartselle, then visit El-Marie’s Antique and Art Marketplace.
This is a great stop if you’re seeking a gift for a loved one, or a souvenir of your Alabama stay.
It’s really a one-stop-shop with over 40 stalls and booths displaying a host of antiques and collectibles.
It’s blend of old and new items attracts collectors, locals and tourists who all come to shop for artwork, vintage clothing, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and textiles.
Afterwards, take a coffee to E.A.R.T.H. Park across the road, where you can sit by the bandstand gazebo and admire your purchases, or head for lunch at nearby Freight House Restaurant.