The Smith Lake Experience


When most people think of the lake, they think summertime fun. However, Smith Lake is open year-round! Fall is personally my favorite time of year on the lake - it’s peaceful, the temperature is much more comfortable, and the views are stunning with fall foliage. If you own a lake home, you should be using it year-round!

I encourage you to use this list as your Smith Lake Autumn Bucket List! Spend some time on the lake this fall and maybe you will fall in love with this time of year on the lake just like I have.

Pumpkin Patches

There are a variety of pumpkin patches in the North Alabama area. One of the closest ones to the lake is the 4D Family Farm. The 4D Farm is so much more than a pumpkin patch: a barnyard coaster, gem mine, tubing slide, zipline, corn maze, and so so much more! The farm opens September 24 - November 5 so be sure to mark your calendars!

Another great pumpkin patch in the area is (no pun intended) THE Great Pumpkin Patch! Located in Hayden, this pumpkin patch is open September 24-November 7. Activities include hayrides, inflatables, a petting zoo, pony rides, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and much more!

I also encourage you to drive around on your way to your lake house and shop at local produce stands and farms. Places like Sweatmon’s Produce, Heatherly Farms, Witt’s Produce, Gibbs Garden Center, and J Calvert Farms have pumpkins and other seasonal items that are ready to take home.

Thanksgiving at the Lake

The lake house is a place for families to gather - what better time to do that than at Thanksgiving! Imagine sitting round the dining table with the lake in the background, taking in the fall foliage with family and friends. I couldn’t imagine a better way to be reminded of all the things we have to be thankful for.

Check out this article from Lake Homes Lifestyles on how to host the best Thanksgiving at your lake house:

Go Leaf Looking - in the boat!

The only thing better than a fall foliage drive is a fall foliage drive in the boat! The contrast of the brightly colored leaves against the sparkling emerald green waters is sure to take your breath away. Fall foliage season starts in North Alabama at the beginning of October and slowly moves South. On average, the peak season is from late October to early November. Temperatures typically stay pretty comfortable on the lake this time of year so pack a blanket and a picnic and drive around the lake and take in the beautiful scenery.

Tailgate Parties on the Dock

Fall isn’t fall without football! With college football gearing up, how will you be spending your Saturdays? What’s better than tailgating on campus? Tailgating at the lake! Do you have a TV on your deck or dock? That’s the perfect place to set up your full gameday spread: wings, buffalo chicken dip, and whatever your family’s go-to game day food is. If you don’t feel like cooking, pick up some food at Trident Marina (they will be open year-round) or another local restaurant. Decorate your dock in your team’s colors and let the fun commence! Give it a try - you might have a new family game day tradition.

Have a Bonfire

Nothing screams fall on the lake quite like a bonfire. Gather round the campfire and tell scary stories - or recall happy memories made at the lake! Maybe try something new and spice up your s’mores. Have you ever heard of a s’mores charcuterie board? Check out this recipe from Hersheyland - my mouth is watering just looking at it!

Take Fall Family Photos

What better backdrop for family photos than the lake? There are many wonderful local photographers in the area. Here’s 5 just to name a few:

Lindsey Marie Photography

Scott Eric Day Photography and Videography

JWB Photography (Jennifer Beckman)

Tammy Wideman Photography

A Beautiful Life Photography

Go Apple Picking

Are you a pumpkin spice person or an apple spice person? Personally, I am a sucker for Apple Spice (if you haven’t had a Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks you are seriously missing out) so naturally I LOVE apple picking. Luckily, we have a great orchard right in our backyard:

Steele Orchard: Steele Orchard is the perfect fall day trip! The orchard is home to apple, peach, and plum trees and their baked goods are just to die for! You have to trySteele's famous Southern fried pies, homemade jam & jelly, apple butter, apple cakes, deep-dish apple/peach pies, fresh cider, candied & caramel apples, homemade ice cream, apple wood chips for BBQing, and much much more.

If you are willing to make a longer trip, Isom’s Orchard in Athens is a must-try. If you haven’t had an apple cider slush, you simply haven’t lived. They are already open for the year and are open 7 days a week. Stop by and get yourself a treat.

Participate in Spook The Lake

Trick or Treating is always fun, but have you ever been Trick or Treating by boat? Spook the Lake is one of the most fun activities we have on the lake. This year’s event will take place on October 15 from 1-4 PM. We already have our dock signed up so make plans to stop by! Online sign ups for spookers and docks will be live soon so check back at the following website:

Whether you are visiting Smith Lake for the first time, or you have lived here for years and are looking for a new experience, there are plenty of exciting attractions in the area. Looking for a way to spend a rainy afternoon off the water? Or how about how to spend your evenings after the sun goes down? I've got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the interesting attractions in our area.

WildWater Park

If a day at the lake isn’t enough water for you, you must try Cullman’s newest water park: WildWater! The water park features a 22,000 sq. ft. wave pool, a drift river, a kid’s splash area with 8 slides, and 10 thrill rides for the dare-devils out there! There is something for all ages at this attraction.

Palomino RV Resort at Burrow-Hamilton Farm and Slippery Summit

In addition to being a full-hookup short term RV resort, Palomino also boasts a brand new aqua park housed on site – the largest of its kind in the area! The Slippery Summit is open to the general public, as well as campers and can be booked for a 1 hour session. PLUS, did you know that Palomino RV Resort also offers glamping? Stay in a luxury campsite while enjoying all of the campground’s amenities.

Cullman Warehouse District

Some of the best shops in the entire area are all located in the Warehouse District! Start with a coffee from Karmas, then peruse the women’s boutiques: Platform, Taylor and Co., Lavish, Tre Bellezze, Monogram’s Plus, If The Shoe Fits, and more! While the ladies shop the boutiques, have the guys check out Riderz or get a fresh cut at Beards and Shears Barber Shop. Kernel Kullman is the cutest store that sells specialty popcorn and is a clever nod to the founder of Cullman, Colonel John Cullmann. Leldons has tons of unique pieces of art including lake-themed pieces as well. Ashley Mercantile has everything you need to make your lake house feel like home. You have to see their Smith Lake wooden maps! If you go on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday in April-October, pick up some fresh produce at the Festhalle Farmers Market. End the day with a pastry from Flavors Bakery or grab a Frios Pop for the kids.

German Axe Throwing

Ready for a unique experience? How about throwing an axe at a target! Or take advantage of all the other attractions at German Axe: mechanical bull riding, rage room, golf simulator, foosball, air hockey, darts, and even putterball! This is your one-stop-shop for a fun evening.

Valley Tavern and Grille

Bowling and Brews, what more could you want? Cullman’s bowling alley was recently updated into one of the hottest night-life spots in town. Grab a bite, sip a drink, listen to live music and go sing some karaoke!

City Mini Golf Park

Who doesn't love putt-putt golf? Spend your evening at Cullman's new Mini Golf venue. City Park is fun for the whole family. Relax, putt and win at City Park Mini Golf.

Smith Lake Zip Lines

Smith Lake’s newest adventure! Zip Lines and Aerial Adventures provide a birds eye view of nature in a way that can't be experienced in any other way! Exploring the tree canopy and mixing in some adrenaline fun is the perfect way to get out, explore, and make lasting memories! Book your zip line tour for your next trip to the lake.

Skydive Alabama

Looking for the thrill of a lifetime? How about jumping out of a plane! Skydive Cullman is located at the Cullman Regional Airport and allows beginners and experienced jumpers alike to experience the thrill of free-falling through the air.

AMC Theater

The best way to spend a rainy day off the water is to catch a movie with the family at the AMC Classic Marktplatz 10!

Jasper Main Street

Shop, dine, and play all in one place. The square in historic downtown Jasper will keep you entertained for hours. Grab lunch at one of the delicious restaurants then walk over to the many stores like Bernard’s Store for Men and shop until you drop. Grab a pick-me up- at Lavish Coffee Shop or Bailey’s Bakery. Enjoy a cigar at the Cigar Box then take a stroll down to the courthouse and check out some of the painted mule statues on your way. It is a Jasper tradition!

Bankhead National Forest

Calling all nature lovers! Bankhead National Forrest is located right in Smith Lake’s backyard. Hike, fish, bird watch, bike, horseback ride, camp, or simply take in the natural beauty of the park’s bluffs, canyons, waterfalls, and streams.

The Lewis Smith Lake Dam

You may have driven by the dam in your boat, but have you ever seen the OTHER side of the dam? Take a tour of the hydrogeneration plant and learn all about the history of Smith Lake. You may be shocked at the sheer size and magnitude of the dam itself! You can visit the dam by road at 640 Power House Rd Jasper, AL 35504.

The Jail at Houston

Did you know that the second oldest log jail in the nation is right here in our Smith Lake area? Go visit this slice of history and be sure to grab lunch right across the road at Chef Troy’s Talk of the Town.

Rickwood Caverns State Park

Ready for a taste of nature? This park features a massive cave that travels 175 ft. under the earth! Take a guided cave tour or have a picnic, go gemstone mining, take a hike up the Fossil Mountain trail, go camping, take the kids to the playground, or have a swim in the olympic sized pool that is fed by chilly waters from the cave. There is also a kiddie pool. They also have special seasonal events like Wonderland Under Warrior around the holidays where the entire cavern is decked out in lights. The cave is 62 degrees year round, so come enjoy it at any time of the year, especially during these hot Alabama summers!

Clarkson Covered Bridge

Clarkson Covered Bridge, originally built in 1904, and was once used regularly by farmers and travelers to cross Crooked Creek. The weatherworn bridge is now closed to traffic, and the centerpiece of a park built in period fashion to showcase the bridge and its historical significance. Located just off U.S. Highway 278 in Bethel, Clarkson Bridge is the site of numerous weddings, car shows and various other activities. This could be the site of some great family photos!

Sportsman Lake Park

This park overlooks a small pond and is packed with activities: train rides, Putt Putt Golf, walking trails, paddle boats, kayaks, fishing, a playground, an ice cream shop, splash pad, pavilion rentals for events, and so much more! This is a great way to spend an afternoon in Cullman – grab some food from one of Cullman’s many delicious restaurants and have a picnic!

Stony Lonesome OHV Park

Have you been looking for a place to ride your off-road vehicles? Look no further than Stony Lonesome! This park features trails for ATVs, rock crawlers, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, equestrians, hikers, pedestrians, and much more! You can also rent a cabin to stay in after a long day on the trails.

Goat Island Brewing

Inspired by the iconic Goat Island (located on Smith Lake near the Smith Lake park), Goat Island Brewery is a great place to enjoy unique beers of American and German influence. They regularly host live music. Their motto is “Life is too short to drink baaaad beer!” so go give it a try and see for yourself.

Twisted Barley Brewing

Located in Jasper, Twisted Barley is the place to go if you're looking for relaxing atmosphere and good beer. All beers are handcrafted in Jasper - how much more local can you get?

Tallulah Brewing Company

The Tallulah taproom is open six days a week for patrons to taste their house-made beer, hard seltzer cocktails, wine, and cider. They offer bingo, trivia, wine specials, and other events weekly. The venue boasts ample outdoor space with a pavilion and outdoor games. All ages are welcome. Give them a try next time you are in Jasper.

Cullman Historic District

Drive through Cullman’s Historic District and check out all the beautiful homes. Cullman is home to some historic homes and buildings that highlight its German heritage. The Historic District covers 89 acres and includes 77 properties! The best way to drive by and see all the historic homes (in my opinion) is by starting on 4th Avenue and weaving your way through all the roads around East Elementary School. Some of my favorite homes are located right on 4th Avenue.

The Duchess Bakery

A Cullman staple! If you haven’t tried a Duchess Donut, have you really even been to Cullman? I would argue that a Duchess Donut is the best donut out there. Go try it for yourself and let me know!

Cullman County Museum

If you didn’t already know, Cullman has a rich German heritage. The Cullman County Museum showcases some of this history and is located just around the corner from the Warehouse District.

Did I miss any of your favorite spots? Leave a comment and let me know! And be sure to tag us on social media @thelakeco if you try any of these spots!