Prattville, Alabama was founded in 1839 by Daniel Pratt, an industrialist and architect who came with big ideas for the area. He discovered the land, close to Autauga Creek would supply power to his manufacturing plants and set about building a cotton gin.
Today, the well-preserved building can still be viewed alongside Autauga Creek Dam, as can several historic buildings and artisan wells throughout the city. The city attracts visitors from far and wide eager to explore Prattville’s Native American and industrial past, towering bamboo forest, scenic nature parks and championship golf courses.
I’m an Alabama local and love to travel across the state, Prattville is not too big, which gives the city it’s nice small town feel.
Here is my list of the best things to do in Prattville:
1. Wilderness Park/Bamboo Forest
One of Prattville’s hidden jewels is its towering Bamboo Forest hidden in Wilderness Park, around 2 miles from the city center.
If you love the great outdoors it’s a wonderful place for a hike, offering myriad pathways and trails flanked by ever-changing shades of bamboo. With over 1000 species of plant, a picturesque creek and abundant wildlife including turtles, frogs and butterflies, there’s much to captivate nature lovers.
2. Cooter’s Pond Park
If your vision of Alabama conjures up woodland trails draped with Spanish moss, lakes and riverside walks, you will adore Cooter’s Pond Park.
Set in the heart of historic Prattville, a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, the park hosts a huge fishing lake, pavilions, woodland walks and a selection of family activities. Take your dog, a frisbee, baseball gear and a picnic, and enjoy the lakeside vistas.
If you’re a keen angler like me, you can rent a boat and spend a day fishing for largemouth or Alabama spotted bass and catfish, then compare catches with friends over drinks in the pavilion.
3. Town of Spectre Movie Set
If you remember the Tim Burton fantasy/drama ‘Big Fish’ starring Ewan McGregor, you will surely remember the Town of Spectre. Located 20 minutes from Prattville on Jackson Lake Island, this 2003 movie set was built for filming but never removed afterwards.
The film set, now covered in moss may not be as pristine as it was in the movie, but the poles at the entrance still have shoes hanging from them, and houses can still be explored. You’ll also encounter a few friendly goats on the island and if you wish to camp overnight or fish, it’s also possible.
For movie buffs, Town of Spectre is a must see, so I suggest to bring your camera so you can recreate your own version.
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4. Jackson Lake Island
If you’re going to pay a visit to the Town of Spectre fictional movie set, I highly recommend to take some time to explore the rest of Jackson Lake Island. With lush woodlands, oak trees draped in Spanish moss, fields and calm waters, it’s a great place to fish, canoe, kayak or even camp overnight.
If you want to experience the tranquillity of the island yourself, opt for a mid-week stay so you can embrace nature and camp with little disturbance – it’ll be like your own little private island. Don’t forget your binoculars either, the island and river are hunting grounds for eagles and ospreys seeking a tasty fish dinner.
5. The Prattaugan Museum
The Prattaugan Museum is a beautiful traditional house-turned-museum where you can learn all about the fascinating history of Autauga county. Stacked with artifacts, Civil War archives, exhibits and newspaper articles, the museum covers time periods from when city founder Daniel Pratt established the cotton gin industry to the present day.
There’s an informative guide to answer any of your questions, so you don’t overlook any important historic information too.
6. Buena Vista Mansion
No visit to Alabama would be complete without a visit to a traditional Antebellum style home. Buena Vista Mansion, formerly known as the Montgomery-Janes-Whittaker House is an historic plantation located just outside Prattville.
This impressive house dating to the mid-1800s offers a wonderful insight into pre-Civil War life in Alabama. The interior features a sweeping spiral staircase straight out of ‘Gone with the Wind’ and the façade is typical of the Colonial Revival period.
It hosts a variety of events throughout the year, and can be hired for weddings, anniversaries and special occasions.
7. Pratt Cotton Gin Mill
Pratt Cotton Gin Mill was built by architect, industrialist and city founder Daniel Pratt in the 1840s. A cotton gin was an effective machine which separated the seeds from cotton fibres quickly without the need for much manual labour. The fibres were then processed in such a way they could be made into cotton clothing, textiles and linens. Any additional seeds would be replanted or used to produce cottonseed oils.
Although interior access to the mill is not permitted, the tall, several story red-brick buildings are still worth viewing, even from the exterior.
This, one of Prattville’s most iconic historic structures offers amazing photo opportunities from across the dam and river.
8. Capitol Hill Golf Club
Capitol Hill Golf Club in Prattville is a legendary golf course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. It’s been ranked as one of America’s top 50 courses, making it a must play for golf connoisseurs visiting the region.
With over 1500 acres of greens and fairways, surrounded by abundant nature, Capitol Hill features three 18-hole championship golf courses – The Senator links course, The Legislator, and The Judge. The latter runs alongside the sparkling waters of Alabama River, providing a beautiful, scenic backdrop as you traverse the fairways.
9. Autauga Creek Craft House
Sample some delicious local brew at Autauga Creek Craft House in Downtown Prattville.
This relaxed ale house is friendly and welcoming, and with over 15 locally-brewed beers on tap you are sure to find one to suit your taste. They don’t serve food in-house, but you can bring your tacos from Uncle Mick’s Cajun Market and Café next door.
On my visit, I really enjoyed the experience of trying new flavors, such as Kentucky Bourbon beer or Transmigration of Souls, while listening to live music.
10. Autauga Creek Canoe Trail
Prattville was built upon historic waterways, so it is fitting to view the city from the water. The Autauga Creek Canoe Trail runs for 13 miles beginning at Bridge Creek, Autauga County, and flowing to Canoe Trail Park where there are BBQ grills, restrooms and picnic tables.
You can travel via boat, kayak or raft, viewing historic buildings such as Pratt Cotton Gin Mill, the old dam, and City Hall from the river. Alternatively, head downstream to a gentle segment of the river near Doster Well Park to enjoy swimming and tube floating.
11. Fat Boy’s BBQ Ranch
On the banks of Autauga Creek lies Fat Boy’s Bar-B-Que Ranch, a popular laid-back grill restaurant in Prattville. At Fat Boy’s, they slow cook all their meat over natural hickory hardwood to get that authentic southern BBQ flavour, and their sauce is cooked on the stove in-house.
If you’ve had a busy day sightseeing or been canoeing along the creek, this is the place for lively chatter, great food and refuelling. Choose from melt-in-the-mouth smoked chicken, ribs, beef brisket or smoked sausage and a range of puddings and desserts.
If you are visiting with a group, they also serve meals for 8 or 12 people, so you can all enjoy sampling different dishes.
12. Heritage Park
Nestled on the banks of Autauga Creek in Downtown Prattville is Heritage Park. The picturesque park offers exceptional views across Autauga Creek Dam, to Pratt Cotton Gin Mill, and the city’s historic industrial buildings, making for superb photo opportunities.
An artesian fountain sits center-stage surrounded by verdant shrubs, plants and floral displays, and there are several walking trails alongside the river’s edge to enjoy. Bring a picnic and your camera and imagine life in the Prattville of old as you gaze across the creek to the Daniel Pratt Historic District.
13. Downtown Prattville
Downtown Prattville hosts a range of historical buildings, shopping, dining, and artesian fountains which gave the town the nickname ‘The Fountain City’. Whether you wish to explore local churches, shop independent boutiques, walk the riverside trails, or sample delicious southern dining, you can do it all here.
Highlights include Creekwalk Garden, a petite and charming green space with plants and trees constructed from donations from local businesses, Heritage Park and The Prattaugan Museum.
14. Pratt Park
Prattville is home to several beautiful parks, but I think Pratt Park is the most family-friendly. It’s been voted America’s Favourite Park, containing a Splash Pad which is open from spring through autumn.
There’s a duck pond with fishing, walking trails, a large children’s playground and even access to a local creek swimming hole. With lots of green space, picnic areas, and even an Olympic-sized swimming pool, there’s something to occupy all visitors.
15. Artesian Wells
Prattville was once known as ‘The Fountain City’ courtesy of several artesian wells which were dotted around the city. Today, many of these old-fashioned wells still remain, dispensing clear, fresh water to tourists and locals.
Enjoy a refreshing glass of water as you wander through Downtown, or take a break underneath the well shed on Doster Road. Follow the artesian well trail to find unique and intricately designed wells behind The Prattaugan Museum, in Heritage Park and throughout Autauga County.