According to Biotionary, the city of Tuskegee is located on the edge of the picturesque Tuskegee National Forest, 39 miles east of Montgomery , Alabama . The name “Tuskegee” comes from a Muskogee word “Taskeke” meaning “warriors.” Founded in 1833 by General Thomas Simpson Woodward, the city is today one of the largest cities in Macon County. Tuskegee was also home to the Tuskegee Airmen – the first squadron of African-American pilots who fought in World War II.
13 Best Things to Do in Tuskegee Alabama
1. Tuskegee National Forest
Just north of town is Tuskegee National Forest, the smallest national forest in America at 11,252 acres.
This forest is ideal for hiking. A good starting point for a trip through the forest is the Bartram National Recreation Trail. The 8.5-mile route can be hiked in one day. The trail is open all year round, but spring and autumn offer the most pleasant weather conditions. Hikers can see a wide variety of wildflowers and flowering trees, including dogwoods and magnolias. The Tuskegee also offers Pleasant Hill Trail, a shorter 4-mile route open to hikers, campers, and cyclists. It winds through mixed pine and hardwood forests, so expect to see woodland songbirds.
2. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
This site commemorates the contributions of African American pilots in World War II.
Before the first African American military pilots became known as the “Red Tails”, they wore striped tails when they began their flight training in the Army’s PT-17 Stearman biplane. Their flying adventure began at Moton Field, in Tuskegee, Alabama, where the Army Air Corps conducted a military test to determine whether African Americans could be trained to fly combat aircraft. The Airmen weren’t just pilots. They were technicians, radio operators, medical personnel, quartermasters, paratroopers, mechanics, bombardiers, navigators, meteorologists, control tower operators, dispatchers, cooks and others. Also included were white officers, Native Americans, Caribbean Islanders, Latinos, and people of mixed race.
Lake Tuskegee is a recreational area of about 92 acres of water where you can fish, sail and water ski. Lake Tuskegee is a short distance from two other major parks, Abbott Park and Henderson Park, with swimming and recreational opportunities including tennis, basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer.
4. Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center
The city of Tuskegee and Macon County Alabama has always attracted a diverse mix of cultures and races, from Native American and European Americans to African American citizens. This museum covers the city’s history in detail, with timelines that span civil rights victories and pioneering education systems, to one of the most horrific medical travesties in world history. Spanning two centuries and three cultures, the museum gives all visitors a fascinating insight into the heritage of the region.
5. Motorcycle Field
Moton Field in Tuskegee was home to an “experiment” to find out if African Americans could be trained as fighter pilots. In addition to pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen consisted of bombers, navigators, dispatchers, and technicians. Women were also part of this group, working alongside the men as secretaries, mechanics, control tower operators and paratroopers. Forming the 332nd Fighter Group and 477th Bombardment Group of the US Army Air Corps, the Tuskegee Airmen fought in World War II as the first African-American military aviators in the nation’s history.
6. Tuskegee University Alabama
Lewis Adams, a former slave and successful Reconstruction-era trader, envisioned an educational institution for African Americans in Tuskegee. On July 4, 1881, Adams’ dream became a reality after legislation was passed to establish the Negro Normal School at Tuskegee—later known as Tuskegee University. Today, the university is a diverse institution of higher learning, committed to academic excellence and developing students who are both intelligent and morally committed to public service. The campus has been designated a National Historic Site by the National Park Service.
7. The Oaks – Home of Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington was known as an inspirational leader in the African American community. His base was at Tuskegee Institute where he acted as the director of the school advocating education for African American children. His home was at The Oaks in Tuskegee .The 15-room home tells the story of Booker T. Washington, the author, orator, and presidential adviser in detail and is well worth a visit if you’re in Tuskegee.
8. Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
A national park dedicated to educating the public about the importance and achievements of the Tuskegee Institute. There is a special emphasis on Booker T. Washington’s home (The Oaks) and the George Washington Carver Museum.
9. Commodore museum
Former rehearsal and recording studio for the group The Commodores with Lionel Richie as lead singer. Songs like Three Times a Lady, Still, Sail On, Brickhouse, Easy, Zoom, Jesus Is Love, Fancy Dancer, Too Hot to Trot, Sweet Love and countless others were cherished and brought to life in the studio.
10. Whippoorwill Vineyards
Near Tuskegee you will find the family-owned Whippoorwill Vineyards. Here, every operation is still done by hand. From harvesting to bottling, corking and sealing to putting the bottle in the box, everyone helps. Tastings and tours are available.
11.George Washington Carver Museum
The Carver Museum was developed with substantial support from admirer and industrialist Henry Ford. Carver wanted to display the fruits of his life’s work in the museum. He hoped the exhibits would inspire children to live better lives. The original museum was housed in a renovated building and was filled with Carver’s geological and mycological (fungus) specimens made over a lifetime.
12. The museum of East Alabama
A regional museum with approximately 4,000 artifacts offers a fascinating glimpse into East Alabama over the past century. The remarkable collection includes memorabilia from Camp Opelika (a World War II POW camp), Roanoke dolls, and early recording technology, in addition to scheduled special exhibits.
13. John Emerald Distilling Company
John Emerald Distilling is a small craft distillery about 30 miles from Tuskegee in beautiful downtown Opelika. Their mission is to honor their ancestors by making the best Spirits available. Stop by for a taste test, take a tour of the facility, or try one of their craft cocktails! Experience light, crisp and refreshing Hugh Wesley’s Gin – made with handpicked Alabama juniper berries. Do you prefer vodka? The Elizabeth Vodka is the first of its kind in Alabama – a corn-based vodka that is triple-filtered to smooth out its behavior. John Emerald Distillery features more spirits, including John’s Alabama Single Malt, Spurgeon’s Barrel Aged Rum, and Gene’s Spiced Rum.