Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” The Shoals, Alabama? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in The Shoals, Alabama?”
Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Alabama, just miles from Tennessee and Mississippi, is a quartet of neighboring communities that together compose “The Shoals.” The lovely city of Florence is the largest and most well known of these communities, which include Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia. The Shoals does not get as much through traffic as the larger cities in Alabama because no major interstates run directly through it. It does, however, have the Tennessee River, which flows through the area and cuts the beautiful bluffs that line the river like towering rock walls. But it is music, not natural beauty, that The Shoals is known for. Music buffs, this is your paradise.
It all started back in 1873 with the birth of W.C. Handy, a man who has been given credit for popularizing the blues genre. In the 1960s and ’70s, two studios in this relatively small, isolated area of Alabama saw famous musical artists from numerous genres seek them out to capture the “Muscle Shoals sound.” Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Cher, Cat Stevens — they’ve all recorded here. Below, we give you the rundown on this little piece of Alabama that changed radio waves around the world.