Spring Break Stay-cation

With the arrival of spring comes college and high school kids’ favorite: spring break. While many students opt for lavish trips to tropical destinations, not all of us are so lucky. If you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to enjoy your break, look no further.

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Day 1 – Tuscumbia

Spend time in Tuscumbia, AL, birthplace of Helen Keller. Begin by touring the grounds of Ivy Green at 300 North Commons Street any time Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, which includes a guided tour of the home and grounds, including the black well-pump where Keller first learned the fingertip alphabet.

Follow your history lesson with lunch at The Palace, where you step back in time to an old-fashioned soda shop and drugstore. After eating a chicken salad sandwich, hot dog, or hot ham and cheese, take your ice cream or famous Harvey’s old-fashioned milkshake and walk throughout the downtown area, browsing through boutiques like Nellie Mae’s and Blush.

Treat yo’self to a one-of-a-kind dinner spot at Rattlesnake Saloon. This spot opened in 2009, but since then has been featured in music videos, TV shows, and has become known as a must-visit spot. Choose from classics like burgers, nachos, and salads. End your day with a synchronized water light show at Spring Park before checking in to the Cold Water Inn, Tuscumbia’s only boutique hotel.

Day 2 – Florence

After enjoying your breakfast at Cold Water Inn, head into Florence, home of the University of North Alabama. Or, try another breakfast spot with Rivertown Coffee in downtown Florence, right across from the post office. If you’re kicking off spring break on Saturday March 24 or 25, stop by Mike D. Lane field to catch some sunshine and watch the Lions play baseball (double header beginning at 1 p.m.) or head to the UNA Softball Complex to watch the women’s softball team compete in a doubleheader at 2 p.m.

To cool off, take a short drive downtown to enjoy Trowbridge’s ice cream and sandwiches, a classic favorite.  If you’d rather have a different type of treat, try Miami Ice at their original Florence location, located on Clayborn Liles Road, where you can enjoy shaved ice and a variety of flavors, such as Bahama Mama, Strawberry Shortcake, or Iced Tea (can you say yum?).

Afterwards, if history’s your thing, visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum house on Riverview Drive. Architecture critic Peter Blake wrote in the 1960s that “during the ’30s, Wright built four structures of beauty unexcelled in America before or since, one of those being the Rosenbaum house.” Admission is $5 for students, $10 for adults and hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with tours lasting 45 minutes. Conclude your day in style with a visit to the 360 Grille, located at the top of Renaissance tower overlooking the Shoals.

For this evening’s stay, chec kout Airbnbs, specifically “Historic Downtown Florence McCorkle Lofts” located in the heart of historic downtown Florence (roughly $180 a night with 2 bedrooms) or “the Lelia House” with 1 bedroom for roughly $90 a night. These are in prime locations where you can still walk to downtown for more food or shopping.

Day 3 – Columbia, TN

Head north about an hour and a half and you’ll come across Mule Town USA, a nickname given from the area’s high involvement in the mule industry. You can’t miss the downtown square, a picturesque spot with booming business. Grab lunch at Square Market (the tomato bisque soup is to die for) along with their delicious fruit tea. Afterwards, walk around the square to Duck River books to peruse the shelves for literary treasures.

Because no trip is complete without a dose of history, be sure to stop by our 11th President James K. Polk’s home on West 7th Street. For $10, you can walk through the surviving residence of Polk and see relics from the Polk Presidential Hall.  If too much history has you yawning, head back to the square for Mule Town Coffee before heading to dinner at Puckett’s (live music performances on weekends and great menu selection of good eats!). If you want to stay the night while still being affordable ($42 a night!), check out the Airbnb titled “Charming room in historic downtown Columbia” within walking distance of the square. Stay in a beautifully furnished bedroom in a 1890s home.

Whatever you decide to do for your spring break staycation, take time to slow down and act like a tourist for a few days. You never know what hidden gems are right in front of you.