Visitors and locals enjoy a leisurely stroll in Downtown Wetumpka. Photo by Erin Shockey
Wetumpka, AL & The Coosa River
Nestled along the Coosa River is a charming, southern town that is making national headlines. To the world, Wetumpka, AL is HGTV’s largest renovation project to date, but to the residents of the small town and its visitors — it is so much more.
Wetumpka is connected to seven different statewide trail systems. Two of those trail systems are the Alabama Scenic River Trail and the Alabama Bass Fishing Trail. The Alabama River is among the most popular areas to fish in the county and is less than an hour drive from Downtown Wetumpka.
“Trail running, cycling, fishing, and kayaking are an important part of our downtown identity,” says Jenny Stubbs, Main Street Wetumpka Executive Director (2016 – 2021). “Our town is wedged between the Appalachian foothills, the impact crater and the beautiful winding river — recreation is a very important, vibrant part of what Wetumpka is!”
When fishermen and their families want to take a break from the water, Downtown Wetumpka is a must-visit destination. The downtown area offers shopping, delicious eateries, art galleries, a museum, and unique attractions tied to Wetumpka’s rich history. Recently, Main Street Wetumpka launched The Tourist Trap which is the best place for visitors to stop in for information about the area and local events. The Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Wetumpka Office also offer resources to guide a successful visit of the historical area.
As early as the 19th century, scientists noticed topographical inconsistencies within the area that led to Wetumpka being identified as one of six above-ground impact crater locations in the world. Recently, the Wetumpka Impact Crater Commission launched a new brochure that outlines a self-guided tour of the impact crater. Visitors who choose to participate in this tour will enjoy visiting educational viewpoints that provide unique information about the crater in various locations. Another self-guided tour that is favored among Wetumpka’s visitors is the Tulotoma Snail Trail. The trail includes stops at The Alleyway, Elmore County Museum, Merchants Alley and two associated stops at Hotel Landcaster and Lock 31 — all in Downtown Wetumpka. On rainy or especially warm days, visitors can enjoy indoor, historical exhibits at The Elmore County Museum. The museum’s enthusiastic curators are able to share riveting stories for the entire family to enjoy.
From bookstores to boutiques, Wetumpka has something for everyone. As visitors stroll along the sidewalks of downtown, they can stop into local shops like The Yellow Daffodil Boutique and The Coosa Belle Boutique. TheTAPP18 is a boutique featured on HGTV’s Home Town Takeover with Ben and Erin Napier. TheTAPP18 carries well-known boutique brands in a variety of styles. Not far from Tapp18 is a quaint, local bookstore called Sweet Home Books Bookstore. Sweet Home Books celebrated its grand opening in June. Their selection of books features local authors and beloved classics.
Local artists are also celebrated through Wetumpka’s eight different art galleries – one of the most popular being The Kelly. The Kelly recently reopened in a new location downtown. The gallery pays tribute to Kelly Fitzpatrick — a Wetumpka resident who dedicated his life to promoting the arts in the early 1900’s. Visitors will also enjoy murals throughout downtown and art installments along the Coosa River leading to Gold Star Park – home to a public playground for kids.
After spending a day touring the area, visitors can choose from a variety of local eateries. The Copper House Deli is central to downtown and known for its delicious sandwiches. Whether ordering sandwiches to eat on the water, or enjoying a sit-down lunch in the historical café, The Copper House Deli’s food is always fresh and delicious. A beloved dinner restaurant only a few minutes from downtown is Our Place Café. The Café’s crab cakes are included in 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die and the building itself holds rich history of the area.
“Our Place Cafe is in a very historic building that was once a gas station and grocery store. The Café has housed a lot of people from the area for a long time,” says Stubbs.
Another historic building nearby is Coaches Corner Bar and Grill — a business featured on HGTV’s Home Town Takeover. This building has been a part of the fabric of the community for many years as various retail stores and grocery stores. Now, it is a delicious lunch spot with a menu complete with American classics. Visitors can also enjoy live music every Tuesday and Friday night. For a sweet treat, Frios Gourmet Popsicles is central to downtown offering a variety of flavored pops made in Alabama. River Perk also serves ice cream, smoothies, coffee, and its famous pie milkshake.
Wetumpka is a small town with so much to offer. Over the past year, Downtown has transformed into a destination for visitors near and far. As many plan fishing trips to the Alabama River or surrounding waterways in Elmore County, a visit or stay in Downtown Wetumpka must be part of any trip!
Downtown Visitor Guides outline a map of downtown locating various retail stores, restaurants, and more. Visitor Guides can be acquired at the Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Wetumpka Office or the Tourist Trap.
(Erin Shockey is a marketing professional and lover of all things outdoors. As an Alabama native, Erin grew up backpacking and hiking with her family and has since developed a love for fishing Alabama’s beautiful waterways.)