The city of Sylacauga has many nicknames, including “The Marble City” and “Alabama’s Best-Kept Secret”. It has been known for its marble industry for the past couple of centuries, but more recently, and more bizarrely, it was also the first documented site where an object from outer space – Hodges Meteorite – fell from the skies and bruised a citizen! If its fascinating heritage wasn’t enough to tempt you to the city, Sylacauga is also surrounded by historical sites, lush forests, caves, vineyards and lakes.
The perfect base for adrenaline sports enthusiasts too, as it’s near the famous Talladega Superspeedway where you can watch your favourite race teams in action, or even drive around the track yourself.
1. Talladega National Forest
With scenic hikes, picturesque forests and cascading waterfalls, Talladega National Forest is the perfect place to get back to nature.
It’s hard to believe it used to be one of the most eroded wastelands in Alabama, as it was logged frequently by local companies.
Today, it hosts a thriving, eco-system, home to a variety of flora and fauna species, horseback riding trails, nature walks and peaks to climb.
If you’re lucky during your visit, you may catch a glimpse of the rare endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the gopher tortoise and the flattened musk turtle.
Bring some comfortable shoes for walking, a picnic, perhaps some camping gear and a camera, and enjoy a fun day or two in this enchanting emerald forest.
2. DeSoto Caverns
Just 13 miles northwest of Sylacauga on the outer fringes of Childersburg lie DeSoto Caverns.
The hidden caverns were once home to prehistoric Indians, early Indian traders, and Confederate soldiers would mine gunpowder here during the Civil War.
You can venture into this subterranean wonderland and tour the “Healing All Cathedral”, so called by Native Americans for its calming and healing properties.
The room is 120 feet tall and 100 yards long with slim passageways and a spectacular array of stalagmites, stalactites and rock formations.
Don’t miss the impressive light, water and sound display while you’re in the caves.
Above ground, there’s also much to see and do for all the family.
With over 20 attractions which include water golf, archery, crystal finding, gem panning and a maze, you will be entertained all day.
3. Blue Bell Creamery Tour
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a factory tour of the Blue Bell Creamery in Sylacauga.
Blue Bell Creamery opened its doors in 1996, and now hosts plant tours by appointment for interested visitors to the city.
Each tour takes you through the manufacturing and production process of their delicious, mouth-watering ice creams, and after the 45-minute tour is over, you get the opportunity to sample some flavours too! General admission is very reasonable, around the cost of an ice-cream serving, making it great value for a family afternoon out in the city.
4. Kymulga Covered Bridge & Grist Mill
If you wish to delve deep into the history of this region of Alabama, take a short drive to Kymulga Covered Bridge and Grist Mill.
Set in a pretty woodland park, the Grist Mill dates to around 1860 and was constructed from timber from the local forest.
The mill was used by locals to grind corn and wheat, and today, you can still take a guided tour to view its interior and see the type of machinery used.
When you’ve visited the Grist Mill, head for Kymulga Covered Bridge.
This quaint bridge was once a main access route for settlers and pioneers relocating to the area from other regions of the U.S. Today, you can walk the bridge, which spans the creek, continuing into woodlands to hike scenic walking trails.
The woodlands are filled with rare Alabama Paw Paw trees which were once used by Native Americans for medicine and food, and its setting is a wonderful place for creatives, with superb photo and sketching opportunities.
5. Sylacauga Farmers Market
Sylacauga Farmer’s Market is a seasonal, outdoor market located in Blue Bell Park (also known as Central Park) across the street from Blue Bell Creamery in Sylacauga.
It is open each Friday morning between June and September, with stalls offering organic farm-fresh produce from vendors who have their businesses and farms within 50 miles of Sylacauga.
If you are seeking delicious picnic food, home-made jams and jellies, fruits, vegetables and more, head to the local Farmer’s Market and you’ll find it all.
6. Comer Museum & Arts Centre
The mission of this museum is to provide access to arts and humanities through a selection of exhibits and collections to both locals and visitors.
The museum showcases a wide range of memorabilia, historical artefacts and photographs from the local area.
There are sculptures carved from locally quarried marble for which the city is famous, plus several displays on early settlers and Native Americans who lived in the area.
It’s a fascinating place to spend an hour or two learning about the city’s history and shouldn’t be overlooked if you are staying in or passing through Sylacauga.
7. Buttermilk Hill Restaurant
Nestled in a charming Victorian framed house in Downtown Sylacauga is Buttermilk Hill Restaurant.
The house is steeped in history, dating back to 1904, which just adds to the old-world charm of this Southern-style fine dining restaurant.
If you dream of dining on Shrimp and Grits with roasted asparagus, or Char-crusted Angus New York Strip steak with buttermilk mashed potatoes, look no further.
It’s a wonderful restaurant for a romantic dinner for two, or a special occasion, but try to leave room for their desserts.
These include delights such as sweet cornbread and fresh strawberries, drizzled with Sorghum Syrup and bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and chef’s topping.
8. FarmLinks Golf Course
Sculpted from farmland which lies beneath rolling scenic hills is the impressive FarmLinks Golf Course.
Designed by Hurdzan-Fry Environmental Golf Design Inc.
the course features manicured fairways, pristine greens and challenging elevation changes.
Each hole has its own story, and there are even historic signs dotted around the golf course, so you can learn fascinating facts as you play.
The course hosts several golfing contests throughout the year, so check before you play, and you may be able to enter too.
9. Lake Howard
Bordering Talladega National Forest, around 5 miles northeast of Sylacauga is picturesque Lake Howard.
The lake encompasses 180-acres and offers some of the best fishing, hiking and mountain biking in the state.
Keen anglers will find the lake stocked with an abundance of bass, crappie and bream, and mountain bikers can cycle the 14-mile long dirt track through woodland on the Sylaward Trail.
If you are seeking a day of relaxation in amongst nature, you can bring a picnic and hike the trails too.
Whatever you decide to do, Lake Howard is a place to kick back, unwind and be captivated by stunning Alabama scenery.
10. Morgan Creek Vineyards
If you’re all about sampling new flavours of wine during your travels, make a stop at Morgan Creek Vineyards.
This vineyard specialises in Muscadine and fruit wines which are sweet wines, perfect to pair with red meat, game, a spicy jambalaya or desserts.
You can purchase a bottle of NV Blush – a semi-sweet blend of muscadines with a spicy nose and pear nectar, or sample the delicious NV Red Mountain Red, a full-bodied semi-sweet wine with flavours of cherry and mocha, perfect to complement a rich chocolate dessert! If you’re still not sure which wine to purchase, you can sample a few at the tasting room or enlist the help of a wine expert from the vineyards.
11. Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is based in the small town of Lincoln, Alabama, around 40 minutes’ drive from Sylacauga.
The motorsports track was built in 1969, on the former site of Anniston Air Force Base, and each year the 2.66-mile-long track attracts tens of thousands of motor racing fans who come to watch their favourite teams compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Events are held throughout the year, so check before you arrive and don’t miss out on an adrenaline-pumping race day.
You can camp out by the race track pre-race, and possibly meet like-minded new friends in the process.
12. International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Next to Talladega Superspeedway is the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
The exhibition centre pays homage to all the greats involved in the motorsport industry, ranging from the drivers, to the race car designers, engineers and team managers.
You can see dedications to racing greats such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell to car designers, developers and team owners such as Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford.
It’s a must-see if you are visiting the race track, or if you are interested in all thing’s motorsports related.
13. August’s Barbeque
If you’ve been craving sticky barbeque ribs or a succulent grilled steak with jacket potato and salad, seek out August’s Barbeque Restaurant on Highway 280 just outside Sylacauga.
The restaurant serves mouth-watering comfort food for all the family, and features live music on Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s.
Whether you fancy a plate of tender baby back ribs, smoked chicken, sausage or steak, you’ll find it all here.
Their Roadside Platter and Family Combos serve 2 or more, plus if you are cooking for friends, you can take your smoked meats to go! It’s the ideal place for dinner after a fun day of sightseeing where you can relax over great food and music.
14. Bryant Vineyard
Another great vineyard to explore in the area is Bryant Vineyard, Alabama’s oldest continuously operating winery.
Their vines were planted on land which has been passed down through their family since the mid-1800s, and today, overlooking a beautiful lake in Alabama, they produce aromatic, flavoursome award-winning Muscadine wines.
Try the Dixie Gold – a blend of Magnolia, Carlos and Muscadine grapes, or perhaps sample a glass of Festive Red, a fruity semi-dry little number which makes for an excellent dinner wine.
15. Noble Park
If all the wine-tasting, ice cream sampling, hiking, fishing and mountain biking has tired you out, spend a relaxing day in Noble Park in Downtown Sylacauga.
This tranquil city park features a playground for the little ones, a quarter mile walking trail and a skate boarding park.
You can bring a picnic, enjoy an outdoor celebration with family and friends, or simply lie back on the grass and soak up the Alabama sunshine.