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Southern outing profile: Gadsden, Alabama

What visitors need to know before they go

Gadsden is a good destination for outdoor activities such as canoeing/kayaking, fishing, skiing, outdoor photography, bird watching, mountain biking, jogging/running.

known for being home to one of Alabama’s grandest waterfalls and for having the Coosa River flowing near the eastern edge of the historic downtown. Those and other outdoor-recreation resources are responsible for drawing many tourists to the area.

As a regional hub for shopping and health care, the northeast Alabama city also brings a large number of visitors from surrounding areas to its shopping centers and its medical facilities each week.

Below, please find some insight that should be helpful for anyone who is planning to visit the city.

Noccalula Falls has something for almost everybody

Its easy-to-get-to location at the southern tip of the 80-mile-long Lookout Mountain helps make this Gadsden’s top tourist attraction. Noccalula Falls Park & Campground features both free and paid portions. The free admission portion includes the waterfall, the Noccalula statue, a playground, the Black Creek Gorge hiking and biking trails. The paid admission portion includes an animal habitat, a botanical garden, a miniature train ride and some historic log buildings. In addition, admission to a miniature golf course can be purchased separately or as part of a combo.

There’s lots of shade. Parking is free. Simply enjoying a creek-side stroll or picnic can make your day.

Each year, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Christmas at the Falls draws thousands of visitors to Noccalula Falls. Other events, such as art shows and BBQ contests, are also held at the park each year.

Gadsden’s other waterfront parks

With the Coosa River and its impoundment — the H. Neely Henry Lake, always nearby. Places like The Riverwalk at Coosa Landing, the Gadsden Boardwalk and splash pad park and the James D. Martin Wildlife Park make it easy to find a place to enjoy the water.

For details, go to Where to enjoy some waterside fun on your next trip to Gadsden.

Enjoy three historic downtowns within a 5-mile radius

Historic places fans will want to check out the historic downtown Gadsden, the Alabama City historic downtown and the Attalla historic downtown.

Broad Street and Chesnut Street

Coosa River; Etowah Memorial Bridge


Imagination Place Children’s Museum, The Mary G. Hardin Center for the Cultural Arts; The Gadsden Museum of Art; The Etowah Heritage Museum; Mort Glosser Amphitheater,

Civil War history


neighboring cities making up metro

Regional staycation (not attracting visitors from big distances)

Who will like it

quick look


Top attractions

Other things to do

Most underated attraction: other water-related places

Historic places

Must-see rating

Budget visit rating

Outdoor adventure rating (trails, golf, parks, water)

Best hotels in Gadsden area

A good number of national chains known for their high comfort and cleanliness standards are scattered around the area including the following:

Fairfield Inn & Suites

Holiday Inn Express Gadsden West

Hampton Inn Gadsden

Hampton Inn Gadsden/Attalla I-59

Best Western Plus Gadsden Hotel & Suites

Comfort Suites Gadsden Attalla

Also worth considering are the Gadsden Inn & Suites and the Red Roof Inn. The Gadsden Inn is a 1970s-era property, but it’s currently in very good condition. The Red Roof Inn is near the shores of the Gadsden portion of Neely Henry Lake.

Downtown stay rating

3/10. None of the hotels listed above are in the city’s downtown. Joggers or people who enjoy city hiking could enjoy going places on foot from the riverfront Gadsden Inn & Suites. It’s only two blocks from the historic downtown found on Broad Street. Some of the riverside parks, such as The Riverwalk at Coosa Landing, are also within sidewalk hiking or jogging distance of that hotel.

The nearest vacation rentals on are 1.6 miles south of the historic downtown.


Other lodging options

Restaurants (#)



Pro sports


Traffic (terrible meter)

Overall rating

A good basecamp for a vacation that includes visiting Lookout Mountain and Coosa Valley outdoor attractions

Best visitor resource websites

The Etowah County Tourism Board promotes travel to the Gadsden area. Their efforts are branded as Greater Gadsden Area Tourism. Their website,, provides a good deal of information about outdoor activities, the arts, shopping, dining, lodging and more.

The city government’s website,, has a visitor’s section.

The website for Downtown Gadsden Inc provides information and links about their members. Their "Explore Downtown," "Eat Downtown" and "Visit Downtown" resources, which are mostly links to member Facebook pages, can help you get to know the businesses in the historic downtown before your visit. The non-profit organization is part of the Main Street Alabama network.

The entertainment section of the Gadsden Times’ website features articles about events, entertainers and related topics.


Top historic places

Most significant people, events, corporations, etc.

History in a nutshell

Gadsden articles


T.R. Eberhart

T.R. Eberhart

I spend most of my weekends enjoying outdoor adventures in the heart of the South in a region filled with beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Whether I’m hiking in a state park, cycling on a remote country road or taking in the streetscapes at a historic downtown courthouse square or Main Street, I’m always on a mission to capture photos to share, and provide helpful information about some of the places I have visited.