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Autumn Attractions: Try some of these family friendly (and low cost!) activities around the state

By By Special to the Enquirer
Autumn brings along with it a host of activities throughout the state, highlighted by Hartselle’s own Depot Days. But there are other things you can do this fall, too, and most won’t break the family bank.
To help with this, the Alabama Tourism Department has come up with its own list of family friendly activities that won’t cost you much more than the gasoline to get there.
From the mountains to the north all the way to the Gulf Coast and all places in between you will find something for everyone to enjoy.
Birmingham
Museum of Art – Sept. 28 – Nov. 9 the museum will have on exhibit, Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings from the Biblioteca Real in Turin. The museum is also home to the largest Wedgwood collection in the world outside of England.205-254-2565, http://www.artsbma.org
Birmingham Botanical Gardens – Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens is 67-acres of nature in the heart of the city. See rhododendrons, camellias, wildflowers, ferns, delicate bonsai plants, roses, desert flowers, outdoor sculpture collection, and a Japanese Garden complete with a Japanese Teahouse and Zen-like sense of peacefulness. 205-414-3900/ www.bbgardens.org
Sloss Furnaces –
Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark is a 32-acre blast furnace plant where iron was made for nearly 100 years. The industrial collection of buildings, structures and machinery typify the first 100 years of Birmingham’s history that drove America’s rise to world industrial dominance. Sloss is the only 20th-century blast furnace in the country that is being preserved and interpreted as a museum. Sloss even has a ghost -Theopholus Calvin Jowers, who swore that as long as there was a furnace in Jefferson County, he’d be there. 205-324-1911, www.slossfurnaces.com
Tuscaloosa
Artrageous Riverfront Arts Tour – Sept. 4, Oct. 2, Nov. 6 Celebrate the visual arts in downtown Northport and Tuscaloosa. The trolley will run with various stops along the way, providing patrons of both areas with transportation. www.tcvb.org
Free Family Fun Day – Sept. 27 Tour a number of local museums for free: Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art, Murphy African American Museum, Old Tavern, Battle Friedman House, Alabama Museum of Natural History, Gorgas House, Moundville Archeological Park, Paul “Bear”Bryant Museum, Children’s Hands-On Museum, University of Alabama Arboretum and the Kentuck Art Center. www.tcvb.org
Gulf Coast
Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour – Sept. 12-14
Hundreds of anglers will compete to win cash, prizes and advance to the championship tournament. Boats launch from Fishtales each morning at 6 a.m. and return 3 p.m. for daily weigh-ins. See who landed the biggest fish at Sunday’s final weigh-in. Wharf in Orange Beach, 877-942-7325, www.flwoutdoors.com
IFA Redfish Tour’s Gulf Division Fishing Tournament – Sept. 13 The top 100 teams from the Eastern and Western divisions compete for $100,000 cash. Lulu’s at the Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, 877-942-7325, www.redfishtour.com
37th Annual National Shrimp Festival – Oct. 9-12 Savor the “fresh from the gulf” seafood at the 37th Annual National Shrimp Festival. This four-day event attracts more than 300,000 people. Peruse through the wares of 300-plus vendors showcasing arts and crafts, a children’s activity village, two musical stages will feature major national recording artists and local favorites. Main Public Beach, Gulf Shores, 251-968-4237, www.nationalshrimpfestival.com.
Bird &Conservation Expo – Oct. 18 The expo is a free event during the fifth Alabama Coastal BirdFest. The birdfest occurs annually during the fall migration of many birds from North America to Central and South America. Enjoy displays, workshops, films, speakers, and hands-on activities. 251-990-0420,, www.alabamacoastalbirdfest.com/freeevents.htm
Huntsville
Old Fashioned Trade Day on the Square – Sept. 6
Just like the old days, Huntsville residents gather to trade, barter, sell, eat, have fun and share fellowship. Music and dancing are also part of the festivities. 256-536-3631, www.huntsville.org
Art on Main Street – Sept. 6
Stroll along historic Main Street to view and buy art, dine in the local restaurants and visit the city’s shops. 256-536-3631, www.huntsville.org
Madison Street Festival – Oct. 4
Beginning with a parade in Madison the event includes entertainment throughout the day, a children’s area, games, craft booths, demonstrations of traditional trades and a variety of food vendors.
Contact: 256-536-3631, www.huntsville.org or www.madisonstreetfestival.org
Old Town Walking Tour – Oct. 11
Tour the only predominately Victorian neighborhood remaining in Huntsville. The homes in this vicinity were built between 1870 and 1930. 256-536-3631, www.huntsville.org
Guntersville:
Lake Guntersville State Park –
The entire family will enjoy the 6,000 acre park that overlooks Lake Guntersville. Play the 18-hole championship golf course, enjoy the beach complex, fishing center, hiking trails, nature programs and a day-use area. Modern campground, lake view cottages, a resort lodge on Taylor Mountain and chalets on the ridge-tops provide a selection of overnight accommodations. 256-571-5440, www.alapark.com
Arab Historic Village –
Enjoy the Old Hunt School, Rice Mill Church, Elvin Light Museum, blacksmith shop, country store and grist mill. The village was developed as a tribute to the pioneering people who settled and built this area into the prosperous, community-spirited place it is today. Development of the Complex started in 1991 as a Centennial project of the Historical Society. They buildings are furnished with items from 1880 through the 1940s. 256-586-4225, www.alabamamountainlakes.org
Athens
Alabama Veterans Museum &Archives – ongoing
The museum houses memorabilia from all the wars in the United States history. A library and archives are open to the public. 100 Pryor St., Athens, www.alabamaveteransmuseum.com
Decatur
The Amen Trail –
Located in Decatur and throughout Morgan County many of the churches along the trail are at least 100 years old and still hold services today. A self-guided tour recognizes churches that define the heart of the region’s rich and diverse cultural and spiritual heritage. 256-350-2028, www.decaturcvb.org
Cook’s Natural Science Museum –
Extensive displays of mounted wildlife, birds, rocks, minerals and sea shells. The museum is rated as one of the best of its kind in the Deep South. www.decaturcvb.org
Hartselle
Hartselle Depots Days – Sept. 20
Celebrates the town’s founding in 1870 along a key North Alabama railroad line with a 5K run and fun run, a classic car and truck show, antique tractor and steam engines show, arts and crafts show. 256-773-4370, www.hartsellechamber.com
Cullman County
Clarkson Covered Bridge –
Visit one of Alabama’s largest covered bridges. It has recently undergone renovations and offers a serene setting for picnic along with walking trails and new antique shop. www.cullmancountyparks.com
Lawrence County
Jesse Owens Memorial Park – The 20-acre park in Danville, near Jesse Owens’ birthplace, honors the track great who captured four golf medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The park educates and entertains with a museum, broad jump pit, life size bronze statue and 1926 Olympic torch replica. 256-974-3636, www.jesseowensmuseum.org
Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum –
Park features the largest 2,000 year old Woodland Indian Mound in Alabama, an early settler’s cemetery with false crypts, a Copena Indian Burial Mound, Black Warriors Path, and an 8,000 square foot Cherokee Council House containing a 12-foot statue of Sequoyah. 256-905-2494, 256-905-2499; e-mail: indian@lawrenceal.org
Dekalb County
DeSoto State Park Campfire Talks: Constellations from Lookout Mountain – Sept. 5
An out of this world experience! Astronomer Dr. Laura Weinkauf will explore the science and myths of the constellations visible from Lookout Mountain. 256-782-5697, www.discoverlookoutmountain.com
The 26th Annual Mentone Colorfest Oct. 17-19 –
This event kicks off with its traditional bonfire and storytelling in the heart of downtown Mentone. Arts, crafts, great food and live entertainment fills Mentone Brow Park Saturday and Sunday. 256-634-9031, www.discoverlookoutmountain.com

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