Thirty years ago Dothan was classed as one of the “Worst Places to Live in the United States,” since that day a lot has changed and the city now boasts a good economic structure and a lot of things to do whilst in the city.
Dothan is a small city in Alabama with only 70,000 residents living within it, but that has led to the real sense of community that you get when you arrive here. You will notice that everywhere you go you will see references to peanuts and Dothan has fondly accepted the title of “The Peanut Capital of the World”.
I’m an Alabama local and love traveling the state and see as much of it as I can. Dothan is one of the cities that has lots to see and do! I hope you will enjoy my list of the top 25 things to do in Dothan:
1. Spend The Day At Adventureland
For those looking to have a family day out with the children whilst in Dothan this is an excellent place to start, there are many fun things for the children to do and play with, including go carts, bumper boats and arcade games. There are also two miniature golf courses for the whole family to get involved with.
Family tickets can be purchased and the park is also open in the evenings during certain times of the year. I think its a real fun place for children of all ages.
2. Catch A Movie At Continental Drive-In
If you have never been to a drive-in cinema you really should! In my opinion the one in Dothan is really great and should definitely be on your list of things to do in the city. Owned by Jeff and Chase Taylor the cinema is THX certified and has four different screens to choose from.
When you arrive at the cinema you pay for the screen and it includes two films back to back with a ten minute interval between each one, just change your radio frequency to the chosen screen, sit back in your car, and relax.
3. A Night At The Opera With Dothan Opera House
The Dothan Opera house has been open for over a hundred years and entertained thousands and thousands of guests, the acoustics are so good inside the opera house that the Atlanta Symphony chose to travel over and record their music here. The building has undertaken various renovations over the year but has always stayed true to its roots.
The intimate venue has 590 seats and regularly puts on opera as well as beauty pageants and community theater. There is always a full calendar of events coming up across all genres so be sure to check it out when in town.
4. Make A Visit To Cherry Street AME Church
Cherry Street African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest of its type in the state of Alabama, The church celebrated its 135th anniversary in 2012 and is still going strong year after year. The church started with very humble beginnings in 1877 when it was just a wooden structure next to an existing graveyard.
As time went by local school children would pick up bricks that the local brickyards no longer wanted and started using them to build the church. The church is right at the heart of everything this community does and is warmly loved by the locals here.
5. Come To The National Peanut Festival
Each year in Dothan they hold the nations largest peanut festival, many may not know this but Dothan is known as the “Peanut Capital of the World”. Nearly all peanuts grown within the U.S. come from within a hundred miles of this city. The festival started off as a small event but now it lasts for ten days and see’s 150,000 people attend each year.
During the festival there are various attractions, concerts and events for the whole family and of course countless peanuts. The first festival was held in 1938 and has been held every year since with the only break being during World War II
6. Look Up At The Peanut King
Now that we know that Dothan is the “Peanut Capital of the World” you might want to go and take a look at the Dr. George Washington Carver Monument. The monument stands at over six feet and is in honor of the man who invented over 3oo different uses for a peanut.
He also opened the very first National Peanut Festival in 1938.
7. Admire The Plant Life At Dothan Area Botanical Gardens
The Dothan Area Botanical Gardens is a fifty acres piece of land that consists of nature trails, cultivated gardens and wooded landscape. The gardens are ran by a group of volunteers and have been open to the public for nearly twenty years.
There is so much to see and enjoy here that you will easily lose track of time as you are busy exploring. There is the vegetable garden that provides food to the local food bank, the gazebo and love gate which are often used for weddings and the outdoor classroom that is hidden away from all except nature.
8. Go For A Bowl At The Dothan Lanes
Sometimes you just get the need to go tenpin bowling with your family and friends, it is great for moral and always a lot of fun. There are always great offers to be had here including a regular promotion where kids get to bowl for free all summer.
The lanes were refurbished a couple of years ago so are in a good condition and the staff always friendly and willing to help.
9. Time For a Round At Dothan National Golf Club
If you’re into golf I highly recommend The Dothan National Golf Club, it was built in 1968 and has a full 18 holes. Designed as a championship course it has hosted the SEC Championship on numerous occasions. The course is 7500 yards long with a rating of 75.8. The course is set in the lower hills of Alabama and you will notice the beautiful pine trees that line many of the holes around the course.
There is a lot of wildlife in the area and particular attention should be paid to the white and black fox squirrels that run around the greens. The club is open to all and the green fees are competitive.
10. The United States Army Aviation Museum
The U.S. Army Aviation Museum houses the largest collection of helicopters and airplanes that have been used by the army over the years. The army would have used these vehicles for moving troops or cargo and for carrying out observations on enemy territories.
There are various permanent and changeable exhibitions at the museum including a tribute to the 4,347 personnel that lost their lives in Vietnam. The museum also houses an Army Aviation Hall of Fame that shows off the most decorated soldiers and their heroic deeds.
11. Take A Trip To Farley Nuclear Visitor Center
The Farley Nuclear Power Plant provides power to the people of Dothan and has a visitor center where you can learn all about the energy that is produced and how it is generated. Construction began in 1970 and the plant was finally opened in 1977 at a cost of 1.57 Billion dollars.
The Nuclear Plant plays an important role in the local community not just for the power it produces but the jobs that it provides as well.
More on Alabama: 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama
12. Learn African-American History At The G. W. Carver Interpretive Museum
Apart from the National Peanut Festival and the monument erected in his honor, there is also a George W. Carver Interpretive Museum. A museum that is focused on educating people about the rich historical contributions that African-Americans gave to the United States.
The museum has permanent exhibitions titled ‘Designing the World We Live In’ and ‘Black Scientists, Inventors and Explorers’, there is also the Carver Room that is dedicated to the works and achievements of the great man himself.
13. Take A Look At Joseph Monument
Sitting in the middle of Millennium Park is Joseph Monument, a ten foot tall sculpture that has been cast in bronze, the piece is the centerpiece of the park and it has a scripture from the bible at the base. “Let us go to Dothan” the scripture is taken from the book of Genesis, chapter 37 verse 17.
It is this verse that inspired the founders of the city to change the name from Poplar Head to Dothan.
14. Explore Landmark Park
Landmark Park is Alabama’s Official Museum of Agriculture and a place for you and your family to rest, relax and explore.
The park is 135 acres and sits just on the outskirts of Dothan, there is much to see and do when you arrive. There is an 1890’s living history farm, a one-room school, a planetarium, a drug store and much more. The park features nature trails, picnic areas, boardwalks and wildlife exhibits. There really is so much to do and a constant calendar of events to participate in.
If you are visiting Dothan I highly recommend the Dothan-Eufaula Area Multi-Attraction Pass, which includes admission to Landmark Park, as well as other attractions in the area.
15. Time For A Farmers Market
Every Saturday morning during the summer months the locals of Dothan head down to Poplar Head Farmers Market, An open air market that sells fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and locally produced specialties. The market is located in the historic part of the town and is a firm favorite of myself as well as the residents.
There are always activities for the children to get involved in and sometimes a spot of live music.
16. Anyone For Clay Pideon Shooting?
Set on forty three acres of woodland just a few minutes away from Dothan is Ravenwood Sporting Clays. The facility is an excellent place to practice your shooting or take part in local competitions. There is a new clubhouse that has big screen TV’s, a kitchen and an all important fire pit. There is also a three level practise facility where you can warm up before heading out to the course.
The facility has invested in digital technology to make the day run as seamless as possible and give you the maximum shooting time.
17. Play A Round At The Roundabout Golf Course
The Roundabout Plantation Golf Course is an excellent place to go for a mornings golfing when in town, the course if of championship standard and features beautiful tiff eagle greens.
There are five beautiful lakes to enjoy whilst you carry out you round and the whole course offers beautiful trees and greenery. The length of the course is 6769 yards and features a full 18 holes. It is open all year around to the public and a true delight to play. There are sometimes promotions on so it is worth checking with the course before you arrive.
18. Visit The World’s Smallest City Block
Dothan is home to a rather odd world record, the world’s smallest city block. A small triangular piece of land that now has a stop sign and a monument that states the facts. The record is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as well as the Believe It or Not! Museum.
The block is said to have consisted of one building that was 38 feet long and 27 feet wide.
19. Murals Of The Wiregrass
Historic downtown Dothan has many murals scattered around the city and it is worth taking a drive or a walk to see them all. The best place to start is in Museum Avenue and follow a guide of the local roads that will show off the artworks.
The murals are of local places and events that have occurred in the city, including some of early commerce activities in the city as well as the Fort Rucker Army Base. A relaxed tour of these sites will both educate you and show you some of the great scenes from the cities history.
20. Spend Time At The Wiregrass Museum
In 1986 Dothan was listed in a national magazine as one of the “Worst Places to Live in America” as a result of this article the mayor at the time appointed three of the local citizens to carry out a study on the feasibility of opening a museum. Two years later it was decided a museum showing visual arts would be built.
The museum showcases some local art and constantly renews its exhibitions so there is always something new to be seen. On my visit there were exhibitions on Blues music and American Folk Artists.
21. Go For A Skate At Fun Zone Center
Fun Zone Skate Center in Dothan offers 20,000 square foot of entertainment for kids of all ages, the center has laser tag, a rock wall, gyro chair, bumper cars and video games. The main attraction of the center though is of course the skating. The skating zone is huge and has something for all levels of ability including lessons for those that want to brush up their skills.
There are regular roller discos put on for the whole family to enjoy, complete with an in house DJ.
22. Make A Splash At Water World Water Park
Water World Water Park offers entertainment for the whole family, whether you decide to go in the pool as a group or sit at the side and watch, the choice is yours. The park houses a giant wave pool that is sure to get the kids excited as well as a triple flume water slide.
For the young children there is a kiddie splash pool to keep them safe. A new ride has just been put in called the Great White Slide that is sure to get your heart beating just that bit faster if you are brave enough to try it. When you are finished with getting wet head over to the video arcade to play with the latest games on offer.
Related reading: 11 Best Water Parks in Alabama
23. Time For Lunch At The Basketcase Café
The Basketcase Café has long been a favorite with the people of Dothan. Donna Blevins Balzaratti opened the café in 1989 and it has gone from strength to strength over that time. The Basketcase Café has been featured in countless magazines and Donna Balazaratti has even been on the TV as well.
When the menu arrives I always head straight to the sandwich section and check out the famous Chicken Salad and Soup, it is a chicken salad on a homemade bun with a cup of soup, the meal has gained notoriety among the people and they keep coming back for more.
24. Spend The Night In The Luxurious Hilton Garden Inn
If you are looking for somewhere to stay that offers a bit of luxury and is within close proximity of Dothan Airport, then the Hilton Garden Inn is a great choice. Featuring an outdoor pool and a fitness center, allowing you to have a workout before heading to the Great American Grill Restaurant for some dinner.
Take your pick of rooms from a small bedroom to a King suite. Nothing could relax you more after your long journey and leave you feeling ready for the sights of Dothan.