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So delicious! You must try the ice cream at Trowbridge's!

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Explore North Alabama!

Hit the Tri-Cities this summer

I recently explored the Tri-Cities of North Alabama – Florence, Muscle Shoals and Sheffield – with my family. The area means a lot to me because my grandparents were born and raised there and we still have family there. We headed north to celebrate my Mom’s birthday and to tour the cities.

My summers growing up were spent visiting my large family – swimming at Uncle Jackie and Aunt Debbie’s, riding 4-wheelers with cousins.  Memories of my great-grandmother’s well for drinking water and a potbelly stove. Cotton fields in Uncle Charlie’s yard and hearing the sounds of the Tennessee River. These were the tastes, sights and sounds of summer.

Speaking of the Tennessee River, this region has not only shaped the sound of American music, but also holds a rich history that extends far beyond its musical legacy.

Florence, the largest city in the trio, serves as the cultural epicenter. Founded in the early 19th century, it played a pivotal role in the Civil War, serving as a strategic location for both Union and Confederate forces. Post-war, Florence flourished, becoming a hub for commerce and industry, setting the stage for its later musical prominence.

Muscle Shoals, just south of Florence, owes its name to the shallow rapids that once posed a challenge to river navigation. However, it is perhaps best known for its groundbreaking contributions to music. FAME Recording Studios, established in 1959 by Rick Hall, became a breeding ground for Southern soul and R&B. Icons like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding recorded timeless classics within its walls, forever cementing Muscle Shoals' place in music history.

Adjacent to Muscle Shoals lies Sheffield, a city with its own unique heritage. Once a bustling center for iron and steel production, Sheffield witnessed rapid industrial growth during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, it too found its place in the musical spotlight, hosting studios like Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where legends like The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon crafted their hits.

I really wanted to visit the historic Trowbridge's. It is a beloved institution in Florence. Founded in 1918, this iconic soda fountain and sandwich shop has been serving up delectable treats to locals and visitors alike for over a century. Its nostalgic charm and mouthwatering fare continue to draw crowds, offering a taste of bygone days. My grandmother, Violet, worked here in the 40s scooping delicious ice cream.  It is here that she met my grandfather, J.L. So Trowbridge’s was a must!

Along our many stops, we toured FAME Recording Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. We visited the University of North Alabama’s campus for the Shoals Scholars Dollars concert. We stopped by the Singin’ River Brewing Co. and also had a delicious meal at Big Bad Breakfast.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the Tri-Cities! Why not get out of town and explore this area yourself this summer?

"The famous sign above the entryway into FAME’s studios reads: 'Through these doors walk the finest Musicians, Songwriters, Artists, and Producers in the World.' This is as true today as it was in 1961. Since it first opened its doors, FAME has welcomed a literal who’s who of music royalty from Etta James, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato, and Jason Isbell. They have all come searching for the beautiful, soulful, sonic footprint that defines FAME Recording Studios.

"...It’s the room where Aretha Franklin found her sound. It’s the room where Wilson Pickett whaled on “Mustang Sally”. It’s where Clarence Carter has recorded for five decades."

Read the full history of this legendary location at famestudios.com/our-history.

  • Big Bad Breakfast with my sister and mom
  • Trowbridge’s - A MUST!
  • FAME Recording Studios
  • Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
  • Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
  • Brews at Singin’ River Brewing Co.
  • The sweet ladies of Trowbridge’s
  • The owner of Trowbridge’s
  • So delicious! You must try the ice cream at Trowbridge's!
  • A quick bite to eat at BBQ360 with my parents and sister
  • Violet and J.L. Neal, my grandparents, walking through downtown Florence in 1946.

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