Fort Payne is named after the fort where Cherokees were held prior to their forced march along the Trail of Tears. If you can, time your visit to coincide with an evening performance at the Fort Payne Opera House, the oldest theater in Alabama still in use. (Daytime tours are available by appointment; phone 256-845-6888.)
Any time of year, be sure to see the Fort Payne Depot Museum, an impressive neo-Romanesque building that houses Native American artifacts and exhibits on rural life in the 1800s. Phone 256-845-5714. http://www.fortpaynedepotmuseum.org.
When you're in Fort Payne, you're not far from one of Alabama's loveliest natural settings. DeSoto State Park contains a 110-ft/35-m waterfall and places to swim, fish, hike and camp. Also within the park is Little River Canyon National Preserve, the deepest canyon in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. The waterfalls along Little River Canyon are a tranquil place to spend an afternoon (phone 256-845-9605; http://www.nps.gov/liri). In nearby Valley Head, take a tour of the Sequoyah Caverns, famous for their underground waterfall. Phone 256-635-0024. http://www.sequoyahcaverns.com.
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