For many, Cullman, Alabama is a great place to fill-up the tank and grab a snack before they hop back on I-65 towards bigger cities like Birmingham or Nashville. But beyond that Marathon station across from the Cracker Barrel is a hidden, historic downtown making major modern moves.
The birthplace of famous Southerners Holly Williams (granddaughter of Hank) and Chef Frank Stitt, Cullman now has a new generation of residents who are working to improve their small town. From a food hall to a restored warehouse district and the ultimate destination for antique lovers, here are five reasons you should make more than just a pit stop in Cullman.
1. Mae’s Food Hall
While food hall openings have been many across the South, they’ve been mainly in metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Birmingham, or Charleston. Mae’s might look like it belongs in one of those cities, but the small town charm is apparent once you sit down on a bar stool at cocktail stall Ruckus. Across the reclaimed wood tables and indoor swing set (that looks like it could also double as contemporary sculpture), Strada Di Napoli fires up pizzas in their wood-fired dome oven. Other vendors include Cantina, a Birmingham-born taqueria, and Mexican-style ice cream and popsicles by Lichita's. Big E’s Arcade in the back might be meant for the kids, but you’ll find plenty of grown-ups trying to beat their grade school Pacman record.
2. Southern Accents Architectural Antiques
Started by Cullman’s unofficial mayor (and official City Council President), Garlan Gudger, Southern Accents has been a bucket list spot for antique hunters, restoration enthusiasts, and history buffs alike. With a two-story building and barn downtown, Gudger and his team fill it with treasure from their expeditions to rescue materials from historic homes and buildings being torn down. You’ll find everything from vintage bathtub faucets, stained-glass doors, wood for flooring, farmhouse sinks, and mantelpieces.
3. Warehouse District
Once the headquarters for a building materials company, a potato washing factory, and many other businesses since it was built in the 1800s, the old brick warehouses in downtown Cullman have become a shopping and restaurant hub. Make sure to visit antique shop Littleville Blue and locally loved coffee shop Karma’s.
4. Festhalle Market Platz
Inside a massive timber pavilion, Cullman’s farmer’s market belies the size of the town. Local farmers set up tables ladened with produce down the length of the building while others sell put-ups and candles. It’s also the home of the city’s Strawberry Festival (any Alabamian will tell you Cullman’s are tops) and Oktoberfest.