Picturesque Alabama Lake Town perfect for a weekend getaway

Alabama is dotted with many beautiful lakes. Along the thousands of miles of shoreline there are countless quaint towns and villages that beckon you, but there is only one that is known as “Alabama’s Lake City” – Guntersville.

Situated on the shores and on a peninsula that juts out into the lake that bears its name, the residents of this scenic Alabama town invite and welcome visitors who flock to the town to experience nature and the incredible recreational activities of outdoors that the lake offers – hiking, kayaking, fishing, nature viewing.

With excellent shopping, restaurants, theaters, museums and wonderfully preserved historic homes, Guntersville offers much more than the activities the lake offers, making it the perfect weekend getaway.

Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

Lake Guntersville State Park

Nestled in the forested hills along the shores of the Tennessee River and Lake Guntersville, Lake Guntersville State Park is one of the most beautiful resort-style parks in the state. Within its 6,000 acres, you can tee off at the 18-hole championship golf course atop Taylor Mountain, hit the beach for fun in the sun while swimming in the lake, or perhaps take a horseback ride. on rolling hills.

The park’s main draw is its hiking and biking trails – over 36 miles that lead to spectacular views and historic sites.

Accommodations are in abundance at the park, which has everything from beautifully appointed lodge rooms with lake views to cozy cabins and tent and RV camping. Be sure to end your day with dinner in the park’s Pinecrest Dining Room, where delicious meals are served with a show – a beautiful sunset overlooking the lake.

Screaming Eagle Ziplines

Fly over the treetops of one of the state’s most beautiful state parks, Lake Guntersville, on the Screaming Eagle Ziplines.

There are two lines at the park that will take your breath away. There is a level one course that features 10 ziplines ranging in height above the ground from 25 to 75 feet with four sky bridges to cross.

Level two has 15 ziplines (it includes both courses) with the longest run over 2,000 feet long and reaching heights of 250 feet. Not for the delicate.

There are fees for each class and weight restrictions. Book your reservations by visiting the Screaming Eagle website.

A bald eagle in Guntersville
A bald eagle in Guntersville (Shirley Chambers / Shutterstock.com)

Eagle Awareness Weekend

You will never forget the first time you encounter an American Bald Eagle in the wild. It’s a majestic sight as they gracefully hover overhead, their scream piercing the stillness of the forest.

Guntersville celebrates the eagle each year during Eagle Awareness Weekends, a series of educational programs, viewing hikes and live bird demonstrations that span multiple weekends from mid- January to mid-February.

Each event during Eagle Awareness Weekends is free to the public and is based at Lake Guntersville State Park, which offers special accommodation packages so you can have a comfortable weekend at the park. in the lodge or its cabins, but be warned – accommodations in the area book up quickly during the event.

Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center

Perched atop a hill on Loveless Street, the beautiful and distinctive architecture of the castellated Old Arsenal stands out in the city. The building was constructed by the Works Progress Act (WPA) in 1936 and served as the headquarters of Company E.

Today, this magnificent building is known as the cornerstone of the Guntersville Cultural District and is home to the Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center.

Within its walls, the center tells the story of Guntersville’s rich history dating back to when Native Americans thrived here, the construction of the dam that made the town an economic success, and artworks by various artists, including nationally renowned local artist Frank Nelson. .

Free entry. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.

All the backstage theater

For nearly 50 years, the Whole Backstage Theater has been showcasing local talent and bringing Broadway to North Alabama.

The area’s oldest community theater is a non-profit volunteer theater that has encouraged local residents’ participation in the arts and theater since its founder, Dot Moore, opened in 1973. The focus is on the Marshall County Youth Talent Development.

The Whole Backstage Theater is located across from the Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center. It hosts five stellar mainline productions a year (in 2022, be on the lookout for their production of Guys and Dolls), two youth productions, theater workshops, year-round community events and nights out. open mic to showcase local talent.

You cannot say that they are not up to their mission. Visit their website for the latest schedule and plan on having an amazing evening. You will not regret it.

Harbor View Vineyard

It all started when four friends from Guntersville traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida and visited a tropical fruit vineyard. Immediately, the idea for Harbor View Winery was born.

The winery has perfected fruit wine viticulture and now bottles exquisite bananas, blueberries, coconuts, orange coffee, assorted sparkling wines, and more. You are sure to find a bottle to please your palate or as a gift for friends and family.

Harbor View Winery is located on Gunter Avenue and is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and closed Monday and on Tuesday.

The calm waters of Lake Guntersville await your paddle
Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

Kayaking on Lake Guntersville

Kayaking the calm waters of Lake Guntersville is so relaxing with stunning views and wildlife along the shores. One of the area’s favorite paddles is along Town Creek. Putting your boat in the fishing center of Town Creek, the creek starts out wide then starts to narrow with cliffs all around you. Your excursion can be as short as you like, or take a good, long 12-mile round-trip paddle.

If you don’t have a kayak, fear not. Town Creek Fishing Center offers canoes and kayaks for rent.

A fisherman on Lake Guntersville
Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

Guntersville Fishing Lake

The lake that bears the city’s name spans over 60,000 acres and is formed by the Guntersville Dam which blocks the flow of the Tennessee River. The lake is best known for its incredible bass fishing.

There are plenty of places along the lake to cast your line or drop off your boat. If you like to wet the line, your first stop should be Town Creek Fishing Center.

The Center can point you in the right direction for the hottest spots on the lake and give you pointers on the best way to fish for lake weeds. They also rent all kinds of boats, including Pontoons, Trackers, and Crestliner Bass Boats for half or full days, or you can bring your own and launch on site using one of Town’s two ramps. Creek.

The center also sells ethanol-free gas, fishing lures, camping necessities, snacks, and that all-important Alabama freshwater fishing license.

Small Cave Mountain Wilderness Area
Small Cave Mountain Wilderness Area (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

Small Cave Mountain Wilderness Area

A beautiful, moderately difficult and historic hike awaits you across the lake from Guntersville in the small Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Cave Mountain Wilderness Area.

This 1.4 mile loop hike takes about two hours and takes you to beautiful views of the lake, the town of Guntersville, a turtle-filled wetland, weeping rock cliffs, and the cave that gave it its name. the region.

The cave was once populated by bats which left behind tons of guano which was later mined during the Civil War. Bat droppings contain potassium nitrate which is a key ingredient in gunpowder – saltpeter.

The cave is closed to the public as there is a steep drop inside, but it is still an impressive sight to behold.

There is no charge to experience the Wild Area and it is open from sunrise to sunset.

Sunset over Lake Guntersville in Alabama
Sunset over Lake Guntersville (Peyton Uptain / Shutterstock.com)

Sunset Walking Trail

Winding for 3.66 miles (one way), the paved multi-use (walkers, cyclists) Sunset Walking Trail follows the shoreline of the lake that borders the town offering incredible views of the lake and, as the name suggests, beautiful sunsets over the lake.

As the trail begins north on Sunset Drive South, there are several parking areas along the route so you can shorten the length of the walk. Not only will you have a splendid view of the lake but also well-preserved historic houses.

The trail has two water fountains and restrooms along the way.

Pro tips

To help you plan your trip to Guntersville, visit the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce website. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about upcoming events, attractions and restaurants. To make planning your vacation easier, the Chamber has created a gastronomic and entertaining guide that you can download.

Accommodations range from camping (tent and RV) at Lake Guntersville State Park to beautiful cabins and bed and breakfasts by the creek and a wide selection of chain hotels.

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