The city of Jasper, Alabama was once a top producer of coal in the world.
The city grew significantly in the late 1800s when railroads began to run through the city, and by 1891, there were six coal mines, a foundry, mills, hotels and banks.
Today, you can still catch a glimpse of old Jasper in its parks and museums, and in the Downtown Historic District you can see buildings which date to the Industrial era.
I’m from Alabama and love to traveling the state, exploring all is has to offer. Jasper really surprised me, and I will definitely return to this nice place in Alabama. Here is my list of the best things to do in Jasper:
1. Lewis-Smith Lake & Dam
When coal supplies were in high demand during the late 19th century, a series of dams and locks were added to lakes in the Alabama area to provide additional power and income to the region.
Lewis-Smith Lake & Dam was one of these places, but today, it’s used for recreational activities such as hiking, water skiing, bike riding, boating and fishing.
With over 500 miles of scenic shoreline, it’s known to be stocked with hundreds of fish, and it even hosts the Bassmaster Open Series Tournament.
Throughout the year concerts and events are held by the lake and on New Years Eve, locals bring in the New Year at a lively party by the water’s edge.
2. Walker County Lake
Another perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts, Walker County Lake spans 163-acres, with a children’s pond, boat launching dock and a country store.
The lake attracts keen anglers as it’s stocked with abundant bluegill and catfish, alternatively, if you fancy gliding along on the tranquil lake you can rent canoes by the hour.
For me it’s a great place to get back to nature. You can enjoy a picnic or BBQ, partake in some bird watching, or spend time hiking with friends and family.
Also see: 15 Best Lakes in Alabama
3. Jasper Downtown Historic District
Jasper Downtown Historic District is encompasses the streets surrounding the County Courthouse.
You can take a leisurely self-guided walk through the district, marveling at Queen Anne, Classic Revival, Art Deco and Beaux-Arts architecture.
Many of the commercial buildings date from the 1920s to 1940s including City Hall, the post office, Masonic Temple and several warehouses.
I think it’s a great place to discover the Jasper of old and learn about its industrial heritage and awe-inspiring architecture.
4. Twisted Barley Brewing
I had a great night out at Twisted Barley Brewing, a micro brewhouse located in Jasper, Alabama.
Set in a warm, friendly environment, it’s a great place to socialize, make new friends and try one (or several) of the 13 beers which they have on tap.
The Vanilla Joe Latte and Watermelon Gose are worth a sip, and you can even play board games like giant Jenga as you drink! It’s a fun night out for couples and friends, and if you get hungry you can have food delivered to you from local restaurants.
Live bands regularly play at the brewhouse too, so you’re always in for a foot-tapping evening.
5. Bankhead House & Heritage Center
Bankhead House & Heritage Center in Jasper, Alabama is a fascinating property showcasing historic artifacts, period furnishings and exhibits relating to the region’s history.
Walk around the Congressional Library and learn all about the Walker County men who served as part of the U.S. Congress.
One such man was William Brockman Bankhead, a locally-born politician who became 42nd speaker in the U.S House of Representatives.
Venture into the impressive gallery and dining room and explore the Tribute to our Military Room which honors servicemen and women from the region.
You can also learn about the life of William Bankhead’s daughter, Tallulah Bankhead, an American actress known for her husky voice and outrageous personality.
6. The First United Methodist Church
This church features on the National Register of Historic Places for Jasper Alabama.
The building dating to 1912, is known to be one of he finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the state.
Step inside to discover Georgia marble masonry, monolithic columns and stunning stained-glass arched windows.
I was impressed by the church’s art glass dome which measures 10 metres in diameter and 2.7 metres high.
The interior glass dome decorated with angels and cherubs, is made up of 109 different sections and was constructed with 30,000 pieces of glass, which with the help of clever lighting, illuminate the sanctuary beneath.
7. Bankhead National Forest
Reconnect with nature at William B. Bankhead National Forest near Jasper.
Home to the Sipsey Fork, which splits the Black Warrior River, and several stunning cascading waterfalls, there’s plenty to see and do.
Whether you wish to hike forest trails, go horse-back riding, fishing, canoeing or swimming, you can do it all here.
There’s an abundance of flora and fauna to discover, and if you venture to Kinlock Shelter on the western edge of the forest, you can also see prehistoric drawings, petroglyphs and rock carvings from Native Americans.
You might like: 15 Amazing Waterfalls in Alabama
8. Black Rock Bistro
This cozy bistro located opposite Jasper County Courthouse offers a creative menu featuring good ole’ fashioned Southern cooking.
Popular dishes include the fried green tomatoes, blackened catfish, scallops and oysters.
The portions are generous in this family-friendly establishment, but the desserts are also delicious, so don’t forget to leave some room.
9. Natural Bridge Park
If you’re a lover of the great outdoors like me, you will enjoy visiting Natural Bridge Park around 35 minutes’ northwest of Jasper.
The park is named after its 18-metre-high, 45-metre-long Natural Bridge carved from iron ore and sandstone.
Visitors can walk underneath the towering bridge admiring its form and beauty from below.
The park, which includes artesian wells, a craft shop and nature trails, is also home to some interesting rock formations. One rock near the bridge displays the image of an American Indian head covering just under 5 metres in height.
So, bring your walking shoes, a camera and a picnic and enjoy a fascinating day out at this scenic park.
10. Horse Creek Golf Course
In 1884, the land around the city of Dora, Alabama was named ‘Horse Creek’, hence the golf course name.
Situated on a reclaimed strip mine, this fun 18-hole golf course features water hazards and changes in elevation rendering it challenging to play for all skill levels.
The 72-par course is in excellent condition covering 6,883 yards, and will appeal to beginners, intermediate players and seasoned golfers.
11. Lake Tuscaloosa
For me, on hot summer days, a day out by the lake is always appealing, and beautiful Lake Tuscaloosa is one of the most popular recreational areas in the region.
Families, friends and groups venture here for swimming, boating and fishing, and you can even rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards if you fancy drifting leisurely across the water.
Anglers can catch bass, catfish, bluegill and more, but if you wish to remain on dry land, there are hiking trails around the perimeter which traverse forests and woodlands filled with flora and fauna.
Sit on the shores at sunset, bring your camera and swimming gear and I’m sure you’ll enjoy a fun-packed day at this picturesque lake.
Also see: 15 Best Lakes in Alabama
12. Children’s Hands-on Museum of Tuscaloosa
If you’re visiting Lake Tuscaloosa, you can also stop in at the Children’s Hands-on Museum in the same area.
This fun museum is a place where children can explore interactive exhibits over three floors.
With activities to suit ages from new-borns to teenagers, including planetariums, Harry Potter events and animal exhibits, there’s plenty to entertain all young children in this exciting hands-on museum.
13. Mercedes-Benz US Factory Tour
Automotive fans will relish a day out at the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center in Vance, Alabama.
This fascinating tour takes your through some of the car manufacturers greatest innovations and allows you to explore everything from the classic Mercedes, to race cars and concept vehicles.
It’s possible to book a 1.5-hour tour of the plant but remember to wear comfortable footwear as you will be covering a space of around 2 miles! This is the only factory of its kind outside Germany, so if you appreciate the craftsmanship, engineering and sleek design of a Mercedes Benz, make a pit stop while you are in Alabama.
14. The Cigar Box
It’s rare these days you can smoke in indoor public places, but in Jasper you can still go to The Cigar Box.
This shop/lounge sells pipes, tobacco and premium cigars, plus you can stay and sample them on a wing-back armchair in the luxurious smoking lounge.
Whether you’re after a box of Montecristo’s, Crowned Heads or Southern Draw, you can find them all at The Cigar Box in Downtown Jasper.
More on Alabama: 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama
15. Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken
The recognizable red and yellow building of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken in Jasper has been catering to locals and tourists to the city since 1987. If you’ve been craving some Southern fried chicken since you got here, then Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken in Jasper can sort you out.
Their pieces of succulent chicken are always honey-dipped, then freshly cooked with a unique blend of herbs and spices and hand-breaded to seal in mouth-watering flavors.
Whether you enjoy a leg and thigh, fancy a plate of wings, or a BBQ sandwich, you can try them all here.
The restaurant caters to families with meals containing 8,12 or 16 classic pieces or strip chicken along with sides and biscuits.
So, if you’ve been on the road all day and just fancy sampling some scrumptious fried chicken, I highly recommend to bring a visit too Lee’s.