5 lake + river activities in North Alabama for the ultimate summer—all under 3 hours from Birmingham


North Alabama
Kayaking in North Alabama. (Terrapin Outdoor Center / Facebook)

Summer’s in full swing with sizzling heat outdoors. Happily, you won’t have to go far to find a body of water in Alabama. For the ultimate cool down under three hours from Birmingham, here’s where to go and what to do in North Alabama for lake and river fun. 

1. Enjoy a boat ride + tours at Lake Guntersville

North Alabama
Take a boat ride on Lake Guntersville. (Lake and River Fun / Facebook)

From public fishing piers to designated swimming areas, there are countless reasons people are living their best lake life at Lake Guntersville. 

One lake activity to put on your summer bucket list is boating. Whether you choose a slow and steady ride via pontoon boat or opt for a fast, hair-flying ride via speedboat, it’s a great way to reconnect with your friends and nature.

Fun tip: You can take a chartered cruise or tour along Lake Guntersville with Lake and River Fun. One must-experience tour they offer is the Bat Cave Tour. Taking place at sunset, you’ll witness thousands of bats soar and swoop across the sky above you. Believe me when I say that this wondrous sight is one you’ll never forget!

2. Cast your line at Wilson Lake

Bait your hook and cast your line. (Brady Rogers / Unsplash)

Love to fish? We have just the spot for all you anglers out there—Wilson Lake. Located in Northern Alabama, the lake stretches from the city of Florence to the Wheeler Dam. With an abundance of catfish, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, you’re sure to make a catch.

Ready for the ultimate summer cool down? Visit North Alabama Tourism’s website and plan your trip.

3. Kayak or canoe down the Elk River

All you need this summer is a kayak. (North Alabama Canoe and Kayak / Facebook)

For an exciting summer adventure, prepare to paddle with a journey down the Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail. The trail starts just north of Elkmont, Alabama on Veto Road—a short drive from I-65 at Exit 361. Stretching 21.9 miles long with five easy in and out points, the year-round trail lazily winds through towering bluffs, untouched forest and rolling meadows.

4. Take a swim at Hippie Hole in Fort Payne

Hippie Hole
Take a swim at Hippie Hole at Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne, Alabama. (Huntsville Adventurer / Facebook)

Swimming has always been my favorite summer activity. Not only is it fun, it’s the easiest way to stay cool during those long hot days. Where should you go for a refreshing dip? Hippie Hole at Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne. 

5. Go tubing down the Flint River

Grab your crew for a day of tubing. (Vicky Lewis / Bham Now)

For one of the best tubing spots in North Alabama, grab your favorite float and visit the Flint River. Just a stone’s throw from Huntsville, it’s a beautiful place to spend the day drifting along a gorgeous scenic backdrop.

For more lake and river fun this summer, visit North Alabama Tourism’s website for all you need to know.

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