A perfect day in Decatur should definitely begin with a hot cup of coffee from High Point Market on Second Avenue. This quirky coffee shop has many delish drinks as well as super friendly service. Relax on the big couch, sipping on your coffee before you head out to explore the town.

Your first stop in exploring Decatur has to be the Cook Museum of Natural Science. This new museum is absolutely amazing! It features different exhibits that allow you to explore all different kinds of nature, such as space, rivers and streams, caves, and all sorts of critters. Adults and kids will love how hands-on this museum is. And my favorite part is the 15K gallon aquarium that features many different types of colorful fish. I could stand there for hours!

While you’re at the Cook Museum, you have to eat at Nature’s Table Café. The café has lots of healthy choices from salads to wraps to sandwiches to choose from. A smoothie is also a must, and if you love berries you have to try the Purple Rain smoothie.

Before you leave the Museum, visit the gift shop for a souvenir or an Alabama-made gift.

After visiting the Cook Museum, take a little drive to the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge to take in nature in person. The visitor’s center has many exhibits that teach you about the wildlife you might encounter while at the Refuge, like hawks, cranes, geese, and bald eagles. There’s also an observatory that looks out into the Refuge where the sandhill cranes make their home each winter. During January and February, this is quite the sight to see. Take a stroll along the trail through the swampy area at the refuge where you can hear the frogs croaking and birds chirping.

Because at this point in your day, you’ve earned a snack so make a trip to Morgan Price Candy Company to pick up a chocolatey treat. They’re famous for their homemade toffee, but you really can’t go wrong with any treat from Morgan Price. Their fudge and cheese straws are faves as well.

Once you’ve had your snack, check out the Historic Decatur Train Depot. This depot has been recently renovated to house many different artifacts relating to Decatur’s train history as well as a working replica of a train and many famous Decatur landmarks such as the Princess Theatre, the Farmer’s Market, and more. You can also walk out onto the platform behind the train station and wait for the real train to come through.

You have surely worked up an appetite after this fun-packed day, and you simply cannot spend a day in Decatur without having dinner at Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue. Big Bob’s has been a fixture in Decatur since 1925, and when you eat there you’ll know why. Their pulled pork, stuffed potatoes, and ribs (oh my gosh, their ribs!) are so delicious! You might not associate chicken wings with a barbecue restaurant, but their smoked wings are the best I’ve ever tasted. And pies…oh, you just have to order a pie. They make all their pies in-house, and they are sinfully delicious, too. You can also grab a bottle of their famous white and red sauces to take home with you. You’re welcome.

Ok, so if you do order that piece of pie, don’t worry because the best place to walk off those extra calories is at Delano Park. Take a stroll through the fragrant Rose Garden, sit a spell on a bench under the pergola, and reminisce about your perfect day in Decatur.

Thank you to Melea Hames for this exciting itinerary.

A 1995 Auburn University graduate, Melea is the Social Media Manager for Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. She started at AMLA in 2010 after teaching middle school English for three years. Prior to that she worked in public relations for an advertising agency in Atlanta, a minor league baseball team in Columbus, Georgia, and for Auburn University. She loves to travel, go to Auburn games, and she just became a foster mom.