Originally inhabited by Muscogee people, Ozark, Alabama has a rich history.
The town was once named Merricks after the first European settler to the area, but citizens decided to change its name in 1855 to Ozark.
The town has three sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the geographical Wiregrass Region – so-called because of its native wire-like grass.
Visitors to Ozark can enjoy abundant outdoor activities, lakes, parks and museums where they can learn more about this fascinating region of Alabama.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Ozark:
1. Ed Lisenby Lake
The 92-acre award-winning lake is surrounded by verdant parkland.
The banks of the fishing lake have archery ranges where you can perfect your bow and arrow skills, a park with pavilions and picnic areas, and a 3.1-mile-long hiking trail where you can discover native flora and fauna.
It’s possible to rent a boat and go fishing, or you can opt to relax on the shores and admire the scenery while devouring a tasty picnic.
2. United States Army Aviation Museum
Located by Fort Rucker, approximately 9 miles southwest of Ozark, the United States Army Aviation Museum boasts a collection of over 160 military aircraft.
Set in 70,000 square feet of interior space and outdoor parkland, the museum houses one of the largest displays of military helicopters in the world.
Visitors can view a multitude of machinery, ranging from World War I early combat aircraft to highly advanced UH-60 Blackhawks flown by military personnel today.
If you enjoy researching military history and aviation, don’t miss a trip to this fascinating museum.
3. Silver Wings Golf Course
Golf enthusiasts should head for Silver Wings Golf Course near Ozark.
You can practise your swing at the 300-yard driving range or play 27-holes on this championship course.
If you only have time to play 18 holes, the course is rated at par-72, and with challenging fairways and pristine greens, it’s great for beginners, intermediates and seasoned golfers.
There’s plenty of wildlife to see as you navigate your way around the course too, with deer and squirrels lurking in the woodland close by.
Afterwards, you can relax in the clubhouse and swap stories over a delicious lunch and drinks or browse the pro-shop for some state-of-the-art equipment.
4. Lake Tholocco
Tranquil Lake Tholocco is the perfect place to indulge in recreational activities.
This 640-acre facility boasts boating, hiking trails and even basketball and volleyball areas.
There are public beaches surrounding the lake, offering the ideal location for a family picnic, and shallow swimming, plus if you want to go fishing, the lake is well stocked with largemouth bass, bream and catfish.
During summer months, pavilions serve light snacks and beverages, and lifeguards are stationed on the shores to keep an eye on those taking a cooling dip in the lake.
5. Milky Moo’s
In the heart of Downtown Ozark is Milky Moo’s, a restaurant/diner which caters to those with both sweet and savoury tastes.
Their menu is a mix of tempting sandwiches, soups and desserts however, Milky Moo’s is best known for its deliciously creamy ice cream waffle cones and sundaes.
With yummy Banana Laffy Taffy, Mud Slide and Dutch Apple Pie flavoured home-made ice cream on offer, you’ll be sure to return for more!
6. Landmark Park
The 135-acre Landmark Park in Dothan is a great place to reconnect with nature.
From the moment you enter the park, you can see the 19th century living history farm, schoolhouse and general store where you can experience life as it used to be in old Alabama.
The park boasts several hiking and nature trails, and meadows where you can sit and enjoy a picnic in the sunshine.
Landmark Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, birds and indigenous plants which can be viewed from the elevated boardwalk.
If you time your visit right, you may also be able to visit Digitarium Planetarium, where you can learn all about the mysteries of the universe and watch 360-degree videos of the night sky in a domed auditorium.
7. Dothan Area Botanical Gardens
With 50-acres of cultivated gardens, nature trails and woodlands, this quiet retreat is a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and plant life.
There are 24 gardens to explore in total which are all interlinked by paved trails.
Visit the Coleman Tropical House with its pretty orchids and hibiscus flowers and enjoy the unkempt natural beauty of the old farmhouse and Southern Heirloom Garden, which are sprinkled with fragrant roses, Confederate Jasmines, Petunias and Poppies.
8. Water World
Summer days can be spent at Water World around 25 minutes’ drive from Ozark.
With a whole host of activities ranging from The Great White – a 4-storey tower high-velocity slide, to the Bonsai Pipeline Triple Flume Slide, you can race against friends in this thrilling water adventure.
There’s plenty for children to do too, with a play area, kid-friendly pools and slides, plus you can bring your own barbeque food and cook on the grills when you get hungry.
9. Boll Weevil Monument
In the early 1900s, the city of Enterprise was well known for its cotton production.
However, in 1915, the Boll Weevil – a Mexican beetle arrived in Alabama and began to destroy all its crops.
The farmers, realising that their cotton crops were being lost, began to diversify into peanut farming.
This brought much prosperity to the city and the Boll Weevil was hailed as a hero pest which changed the city’s fortunes for the better.
Citizens wanted to pay homage to the insect which transformed the city and erected a statue in its honour.
Today, you can view the world’s only monument dedicated to an insect pest in Downtown Enterprise.
10. Blue Springs State Park
The 103-acre park 20 miles northeast of Ozark is known for its crystal-clear natural spring.
The underground spring pumps 3,600 gallons of water every minute and remains at a constant temperature of 68 degrees, making it ideal for swimming, even in cooler weather.
This picturesque park, surrounded by lush trees and hiking trails is also perfect for a camping expedition, or you can simply spend an afternoon in the sunshine enjoying a picnic by the water’s edge.
If you wish to partake in outdoor activities, there’s a small fishing pond in the park stocked with bream and catfish, and a playground for younger children.
11. Our Place Diner
Our Place Diner in Downtown Ozark is home to the ‘Best Burger in Alabama’ as of 2018. The award-winning diner is laid-back with a family-friendly atmosphere and features Southern-style wholesome comfort food which visitors love.
Whether you wish to sample one of their succulent burgers, the Grouper Sandwich or a Chicken Fried Steak, you can do it all here.
There’s also a selection of sides and delicious desserts, so save some room after your generous main course.
12. Adventureland Dothan
If you want a break from sightseeing and are seeking a day of uncomplicated family fun, Adventureland Dothan is the place to be.
Challenge friends at go-karting and compete for the title as you speed around the circuit or try your hand at baseball in the theme park’s batting cages.
You can also navigate obstacles on the miniature golf course, or on cloudy days venture inside to beat your high score on retro arcade games.
13. Continental Drive-In Cinema
The first outdoor drive-in cinema was started in Camden, New Jersey back in 1933, and today, this fun tradition still continues all across America.
On balmy summer evenings, park your car, bring a picnic, some chairs or a blanket, and watch the latest Hollywood Blockbuster movies outdoors on the big screen.
Gates usually open just after 6pm, and if you visit on specific weekdays, discounts are available.
You can choose to sit inside your car if it’s chilly outside, just tune your radio to the given frequency to listen to the movie inside your vehicle.
Also, don’t worry if you get hungry half-way through the film, there’s an intermission so you can go and purchase snacks from the concession stand.
14. World’s Smallest City Block
If you enjoy discovering all things obscure, you would be wise to visit the World’s Smallest City Block in Dothan.
This small triangular patch of land boasts a granite monument to celebrate its achievement and has over the years became a popular tourist attraction.
This tiny plot of land first rose to fame when it was proclaimed the smallest in the world by ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ newspaper column and a local garden club.
The sides measure around the length of a car, and ‘believe it or not’ this modest patch of land was once home to a 1920s snack shop, and a two-storey building in 1931.
15. Wiregrass Museum of Art
While you’re visiting the World’s Smallest City Block you could also check out the Wiregrass Museum of Art down the road.
This museum located inside the city’s old power and water plant was built in response to a magazine article which proclaimed Dothan to be one of the worst places to live in America.
Today, the museum sits in the centre of a thriving, community-driven city and hosts a permanent collection of pop art and contemporary artworks, plus travelling exhibits.
The Wiregrass Museum of Art is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Alabama and is well worth a visit.