Wetumpka, Alabama might not be at the top of your vacation spot list, but the quaint town of Elmore County is worth a visit.
Nestled along the Coosa River, Wetumpka has a welcoming spirit and charm galore – especially now, as it is featured in the HGTV ‘Home Town Takeover’ series. Ben and Erin Napier from “Hometown” are helping put the often-neglected city back on the map, framing 12 renovation projects that include restaurants, shops, homes, public spaces, a farmer’s market and a downtown street.
Wetumpka was selected for “Home Town Takeover” from thousands of photo and video submissions featuring more than 2,600 US cities, according to HGTV. The series launched on May 2 and will run for six weeks, drawing a lot of attention to the city and its people.
Wetumpka is easy to find, simple to navigate, and can be explored in just one day. Or you can choose to stay for a charm, taking in the local attractions at a more leisurely pace.
Ready to hit the road? Here are some things to see and do in Wetumpka.
Or: West Bridge Street, off Alabama 14.
Why should you see it: The Rainbow Bridge is the city’s most recognizable landmark, crossing the Coosa River and dividing Wetumpka in half. It was built in the early 1930s, is reinforced concrete, and is named after former Alabama Governor Bibb Graves. The bridge has been featured in films such as “Big Fish”, “The Grass Harp”, “Son of the South” and “The Rosa Parks Story”.
Or: 215 Orline Street
Why should you go: The new tourist hub – in a brightly colored shipping container – offers information, maps, souvenirs and friendly advice on the town of Wetumpka. It is a project of Main Street Wetumpka, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing the downtown business district. Think of it as a comfortable gateway to the city.
Or: 401 E. Bridge St.
Why should you see it: The Great Victorian House was a key location for “Big Fish”, a 2003 film that was shot in and around Wetumpka. After the Bibb Graves Bridge, it is probably the most famous landmark in the city. The White House is located on a hill overlooking the city center and even has a sign outside, so you can’t miss it. The “Big Fish” house, now owned by Shellie and Wade Whitfield, will be featured in the May 9 episode of “Home Town Takeover.” It’s a private residence, so you can’t visit the interior, but the Whitfields are used to people taking photos of the street.
Or: 203 Orline Street
Why should you go: The restaurant owned by John and Karen Maddaloni is a pillar in Wetumpka, serve wings, sandwiches, salads, nachos and other casual dishes. It’s also featured on ‘Home Town Takeover,’ which highlights a new exterior paint job, interior refresh, and renovations to a pleasant patio overlooking the Coosa River. Beware, Crimson Tide fans: a statue of Paul “Bear” Bryant has a place of honor inside the restaurant, with a sign reading “Roll Tide”.
Or: On a long wall near Coaches Corner, 203 Orline St.
Why should you see it: The colorful mural, which reads, “Together Wetumpka Can Do A Lot,” was designed by the Napiers to inspire the community and kick off the renovations featured on “Home Town Takeover”. Mural painting, painted by a group of students from Wetumpka High School, is based on a quote from Helen Keller, originally from Alabama. As an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Keller would have said, “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do a lot ”during his public speeches.
Or: A main street reserved by Bridge and Orline streets, in the heart of downtown.
Why should you go: Company Street is the center of the downtown shopping district, lined with shops, restaurants, galleries and other local businesses. It features prominently on Home Town Takeover, as the Napiers see the entire street as a renovation project. It’s here you’ll find Scent Wizards (a shop that sells soaps, candles, and other aromatic items), Coosa Cleaver Restaurant, City Barber Shop, Jasmine Hill Art Gallery, Pet Groomer The Furry Kid and more. again. It’s a good start for an afternoon walk. Other places to browse and shop – on East Bridge Street, Orline Street, Hill Street, and Main Street – are within easy walking distance.
Or: 227 Hill Street
Why should you go: Viewers quickly fell in love with Tabatha Powe, owner of Tapp18, when the renovation of her store was featured in the first episode of “Home Town Takeover”. You can make a pilgrimage to her clothing store as a TV fan, or shop for dresses, skirts, pants, tops, and accessories. There is a social media area at the back of the store with a ring light perfect for selfies.
Or: 106 Company Street.
Why should you go: Hunger? This Restaurant serves “American pub fare with a strong Southern twist”, emphasizing local produce and dishes made from scratch. The menu options range from healthy to sinful, offering a nice variety for diners. Offers include a chicken and greens sandwich ($ 13), a lobster and crab mac and cheese ($ 14), a spinach and beet salad ($ 8), a tater tot nachos ($ 9 ) and a fried MoonPie ($ 6). The upstairs bar focuses on draft beer, wine, and craft cocktails with hand-made syrups.
Or: 200 E. Bridge St.
Why should you go: If your belly is growling, that hot dog joint is ready to satisfy. Grumpy Dog’s menu is a junk food lover’s dream, with hot dogs boasting of fixings like chili, chili, coleslaw, onions, potato sticks and the sauerkraut. There’s even a Conecuh Link dog, with caramelized onions, spicy mustard and chili. For dessert, choose from banana pudding, key lime pie dipped in chocolate, whoopie pie, and cheesecake dipped in dark chocolate. Prices range from $ 2.89 to $ 5.79 for most items.
Or: 100 E. Bridge St.
Why should you go: Sandwiches! The charcuterie has a vast and enticing menu which ranges from a Sassy Savannah (Philly cheesesteak with bacon on a toasted ciabatta) to Broo’s Moo and ‘Que (pulled pork topped with American cheese and barbecue sauce over toasted sourdough) to Sunrise Over the Coosa (bacon, fried egg and bell pepper) ) cheese served with pepper jelly on a toasted ciabatta bread). Prices range from $ 4.50 to $ 9.99. You will also find salads, wraps, side dishes, desserts, breadless dishes and a children’s menu.
Or: 109 St.
Why should you go: Sometimes you just need a java jerk. Or a latte. Or a milkshake. Or an ice cream cone. Or an iced mocha. You will find all this on River perk, a coffee that wants to please. Johnny Oates, who opened the cafe in 2015, said people used to go to Montgomery or Prattville if they wanted a good cup of coffee. Not anymore. River Perk also sells brittle peanuts, Alabama clay artwork, and pie shakes in flavors ranging from sweet potato to lemon meringue.
Or: Off Orline Street, near the historic prison known as Old Calaboose.
Why should you go: The pleasant promenade runs along the Coosa River and offers natural beauty, metal sculptures, a pedestrian bridge and a route to Gold Star Park. When it’s time to relax and take a break from your trip to Wetumpka, Gold Star Park does the trick. Bird watchers love the park, too, saying, “The trail encompasses a surprising variety of habitats – forest, riverbank, and several elevated sections that lead through excellent bird habitat.”
Or: 100 E. Commerce St.
Why should you see it: The courthouse is another filming location for “Big Fish,” used in a scene where the main character, a young Edward Bloom, is given a key to the fictional town of Ashton, Alabama. The courthouse was built in the early 1930s in a neoclassical style, using limestone and concrete. The Society of Architectural Historians considers the courthouse to be worth describing and analyzing; you can read these comments here. It is an impressive building, even for an inexperienced observer.
Or: Everything is around you in Wetumpka. But don’t expect to find an observatory or official vantage point that overlooks the crater. Evidence can be seen throughout the cityscape – in the rocks jutting out of the Coosa River, for example, or in the hills east of the city center. People concerned with geology can take a self-guided driving tour and stop at seven educational point of view panels this point to the crater terrain. You will find that much of the city is located inside the crater, which is about five miles in diameter.
Why you should see it (well, in part): The crater was caused by a meteor that hit Earth around 80 million years ago. It’s a bit mind-boggling.
Or: 100 River Oaks Drive, off the United States 231.
Why should you go: Some people really like to play electronic bingo. If this is your thing, you will find plenty of opportunities at Wind creek. There are over 2000 slot machines in the casino, which is open 24 hours a day. The hotel (which has 283 rooms) and the casino (which covers 85,000 square feet) belong to the Poarch Creek Indians. There are five restaurants on-site, including a steak house and a Starbucks. Wind Creek’s 20-story main building lacks the small-town vibe highlighted in Home Town Takeover. But it is a major destination for visitors to Wetumpka.
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