Dothan is a small city in Alabama that is lovingly known as the “Peanut Capital of the World.” There are several family-friendly places, museums, natural parks, adventurous attractions, and restaurants that you can visit while you’re there, such as Landmark Park, the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens, Adventureland, and the George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.Dothan Area Botanical Gardens
5.Peanuts Around Town
6.Wiregrass Museum of Art
7.Murals of the Wiregrass
8.George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum
9.Dothan Civic Center
10.Taj Cafe and BBQ
12.Folklore Brewing & Meadery
13.Hunt's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
14.Conestoga Steak House
15.Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza and Grill
15 Best Things to Do in Dothan, Alabama
- Landmark Park, Photo: Courtesy of Nick Fox - Fotolia.com
- Dothan Area Botanical Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Frans - Fotolia.com
- Adventureland, Photo: Adventureland
- Water World, Photo: Water World
- Peanuts Around Town, Photo: Peanuts Around Town
- Wiregrass Museum of Art, Photo: Wiregrass Museum of Art
- Murals of the Wiregrass, Photo: Murals of the Wiregrass
- George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum, Photo: George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum
- Dothan Civic Center, Photo: Dothan Civic Center
- Taj Cafe and BBQ, Photo: Taj Cafe and BBQ
- Escape Dothan, Photo: Escape Dothan
- Folklore Brewing & Meadery, Photo: Folklore Brewing & Meadery
- Hunt's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Photo: Hunt's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
- Conestoga Steak House, Photo: Conestoga Steak House
- Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza and Grill, Photo: Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza and Grill
- Cover Photo: City of Dothan Government
Attraction Spotlight: Wiregrass Museum of Art
Southeastern Alabama’s Wiregrass Museum of Art is located in Dothan, Alabama. The museum’s mission is to inspire a lifelong appreciation for the arts in each visitor through educational programming, display of the permanent collection, and temporary exhibits.
The Wiregrass Museum of Art collects American fine art, decorative arts and design work from the 20th century to the present. Most of the items in the collection are works on paper. Over 1,100 items make up the permanent collection, which includes the largest public collection of prints by the American artist Frank Stella, known for his minimalist and abstract paintings and sculptures. Other highlighted artists among the collection include Victor Vasarely, Joseph Albers and Robert Indiana. A collection focused on contemporary Alabama art includes the work of Scott Stephens, Carolyn Sherer, Beverly Erdreich and John Kelly Fitzpatrick.
An exhibit of works from the museum’s collection is permanently on display. Pieces occasionally rotate, and works from the permanent collection often serve as inspiration for the museum’s temporary exhibits.
History: The Wiregrass Museum of Art was founded in 1987 in response to a national magazine article that referenced Dothan’s lack of a museum. The mayor at the time, Larry Register, quickly mobilized a panel of 13 citizens to study the feasibility of a public museum.
The Wiregrass Museum of Art is city managed and is housed in Dothan’s historic Water and Electric Building. Originally built in 1912, the building is listed on the register of National Historic Places. The building was renovated and converted to a museum by local architects Joseph L. Donofro and Associates after twenty-one architectural firms were asked to submit proposals. The 30,000 square foot museum took approximately $3 million to complete.
The original feasibility committee was appointed as the museum’s first board of directors, and a four-stage plan was hatched for fully readying the museum for the public. Three of the four phases are now complete including the completion of 18,000 square feet of gallery space, storage and preparation space and a conference center, plus the offering of educational programming, and the hosting of traveling exhibits.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Guided tours are offered daily by trained docents or museum educators. Group tours may be customized to meet the interests and needs of the group. Educator resources are available for teachers and other group leaders to supplement their group’s visit. Topics include Alabama Landscape, Art from Recycled Materials, and Habitat Design among others.
Classes and workshops offered by the Wiregrass Museum include studio art classes for both youth and adults. Special workshops are led by visiting artists and have included indigo dying, origami and printmaking. Additional youth programming includes summer and winter art camps. First Saturday Family Day offers free arts and crafts activities for families, such as weaving, fabric dying, painting and sculpture. Youth Art Month takes place each March and displays juried artwork made by local children in addition to offer a variety of free educational and hands-on programming in studio arts and writing.
Events at the museum include Art After Hours, a quarterly celebration of new exhibits. The Thursday evening art openings offer food and small bites, and often include artist’s talks. Screen on the Green is a quarterly film series. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets for the outdoor event, and food trucks provide snacks and dinner. Yoga in the Galleries takes place the first Friday of each month. Yard Party for Art is an annual art and live music festival that happens each August.
Past and Future Exhibits: Many of the museum’s temporary exhibits are inspired by works in the permanent collection. “Echoes” is on display through December 2018 and displays work made by members of the Alabama Caucus for Women’s Art in response to works in the permanent collection. Over 20 artists are featured in the exhibit, including Patty Driscoll, whose “Lydia’s Purple,” a 2015 oil on panel presents a traditional still life with a feminist theme.
“Walks in the South” will be on display from January through March 2019. The show will feature the 2016 photography of Sydney A. Foster. The Alabama artist captures stories of every day people on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama. Upcoming from April to June of 2019 is Beverly Erdreich’s “Continuum” series. Each work on paper incorporates a detail from Goya’s 1808 Disasters of War series, with contemporary elements that remind the viewer how little the world has changed.
126 Museum Avenue, Dothan, AL 36303, Phone: 334-794-3871
Attraction Spotlight: George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum
Dothan, Alabama’s George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum celebrates black history all year long with exhibits on the historic contributions of African Americans to progress in the United States, with a focus on scientists, inventors and innovators.
Permanent exhibits form a timeline of American history through two separate galleries. “Designing the World We Live In” and “Black Scientists, Inventors and Explorers” are the two main permanent galleries. A Social Progress Heroes Timeline is the culmination of these two galleries and displays a timeline of the experience of African Americans in the United States.
The Carver Room specifically highlights the achievements of Dr. George Washington Carver, the museum’s namesake, also known as “the peanut guy” for his groundbreaking research in the early 1900’s on improving soil conditions by alternating crops, specifically by alternating from cotton to peanuts.
History: The George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum itself is housed in a historic bus station in Dothan, Alabama that once had separate entrances for “whites” and “colored” people. On display are the separate restroom facilities from the segregated Greyhound terminal. The museum is the vision of Dr. Francina Williams, who founded the museum in the year 2000.
George Washington Carver was born in the 1860’s, his exact birth date unknown as was common for those born into slavery in the United States. After slavery was abolished, Carver had to travel 10 miles from his home to go to school, as blacks were not allowed to go to school in Diamond, Missouri where he grew up. Carver earned admissions at Kansas’ Highland University on the merit of his academic success, but was rejected for being black when he reported to school. He instead claimed a homestead near Beeler, Kansas and farmed for several years before attending the Iowa State Agricultural College to study botany. Carver was the college’s first black student in 1891.
Carver would go on to receive a Masters of Science in 1896 and soon after became Iowa State’s first black faculty member. He shortly thereafter invited by Booker T Washington to teach at the Tuskegee Institute, where he would remain on the faculty for another 47 years. While at Tuskegee, Carver’s work focused on best practices for crop rotation, a new theory at the time. He introduced several new cash crops to farmers in the south, mainly the peanut, as a means of rotating from cotton to improve soil conditions. Carver would take a mobile classroom of his design to the fields to teach farmers about the practice.
Rotating crops to restore nitrogen to soil drove Carver to fame. In the 1920’s he was invited to speak at a conference for the United Peanut Associations of America. He presented over 145 uses for the peanut as a way to encourage more peanut farming within the United States. His brochure on 105 peanut recipes was the most popular of 44 brochures he wrote over the years for farmers in the south.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Tours of the museum may be self guided or guided. Field Trip programs are available for homeschooled children, senior citizens, or any organized group. Field trip activities include hands-on science experiments designed to spur interest in science, invention and exploration.
Ongoing events at the George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum include art show openings for temporary art exhibits, lectures by visiting artists, historians and authors, and monthly meetings of Young People, a Christian organization. Other recent events have included Family Day, which invites parents to explore science and invention by doing crafts and Discovery Zone projects with their kids. Annual events include the museum’s Juneteenth celebration, honoring the 1865 abolition of slavery on June 19th. Celebrations involve art shows and outdoor concerts. The museum is available to be rented as an event venue.
Past and Future Exhibits: Renovations are currently under way for a future permanent exhibit titled “George Washington Carver’s Life, Lab, and Legacy.”
What’s Nearby: Dothan is a town of 68,000 in southeastern Alabama, the largest in Houston County. The area is known as the Wiregrass region for the wiregrass ecosystem on the Gulf coast. Things to do in Dothan include visiting the Wiregrass Museum of Art, the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens, and the Adventureland and Waterworld theme parks. Murals of the Wiregrass are a series of large-scale outdoor murals on local businesses in Dothan, each representing the history and community of Dothan.
305 North Foster Street, Dothan, AL, 36303, Phone: 334-712-0933