It’s an unfortunate consequence of air travel. Somewhere along their journeys, suitcases get lost in transit and sometimes they’re never reunited with their owners. If you’ve ever wondered what becomes of all those long-lost bags, you need only to look to Scottsboro, Alabama. This tiny town in northeast Alabama is home to Unclaimed Baggage, the country’s only retailer of lost luggage, where you can buy everything from designer clothing and jewelry to brand-new electronics, beauty products, and even art.
While Scottsboro is best–known for Unclaimed Baggage, the community of 14,000 has plenty more to offer by way of gorgeous outdoor attractions and delicious eateries. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Scottsboro, Alabama.
(Paynes Soda Fountain/Facebook)
Lunch at Payne’s Sandwich Shop & Soda Fountain
At under two hours from Birmingham and just 45 minutes from Huntsville, Scottsboro is an easy drive for many Alabamians. Leave home with enough time to make it into town by lunchtime, so Payne’s Sandwich Shop & Soda Fountain can be your first stop. Alabama’s oldest soda shop has been around since 1869 and has remained in the same location since 1891. Inside, find retro digs including a black-and-white checkered floor, chalkboard menu, vintage jukebox, and red vinyl seats. Order a classic sandwich or hot dog, then finish your meal with a banana split or sundae. On Thursday, seniors can get a scoop of ice cream for just 5 cents.
Shop at Unclaimed Baggage
At the main attraction, be sure to build in plenty of time to peruse the aisles in the 50,000-square-foot complex—you’re going to want to see them all. The huge retailer sorts more than 7,000 products each day to be sold, donated, or recycled, and if you’re smart about your shopping you can find some incredible deals. Get a jumpstart on your Christmas shopping for everyone in your family. After all, where else can you find a bear pelt, Egyptian burial mask, Chanel purse, and brand-new Xbox all under one roof?
(Goose Pond Colony/Facebook)
Check into Goose Pond Colony Resort
If your dogs are barking from hours of shopping, check into a relaxing lakeside cottage at Goose Pond Colony Resort. The resort is located on Lake Guntersville and in the Cumberland Mountains, giving a gorgeous backdrop to its two 18-hole golf courses, full-service marina, pool, restaurant, and more. Spend some time enjoying the great outdoors on your cottage’s screened-in porch, then when you’ve rested up, mosey around the two-mile walking trail.
Dinner at KC’s Bar-B-Q
Cap off a great day in Scottsboro with some certified delicious Southern barbecue at KC’s Bar-B-Q, a local favorite for smoked meats, cold beer, and all the beloved Southern sides you can stomach. At KC’s, you’ll have your pick of the smokehouse, from pulled pork and chicken to ribs, wings, and brisket. Order a pound of each, then stock up on the sides, and your entire table will be set for the night. We recommend the vinegar slaw, hashbrown casserole, and mac and cheese. Don’t forget a slice of peanut butter or coconut cream pie to sweeten the experience.
Breakfast at Variety Bake Shop
In the morning, head back to downtown Scottsboro for breakfast on the Square at Variety Bakeshop. Choose from a huge selection of treats like homemade donuts, Danishes, apple fritters, and more. If you prefer a savory start to your day, order a homemade biscuit with your choice of meat. Coffee is also available.
(The Scottsboro Boys Museum/Facebook)
Visit the Scottsboro Boys Museum
Get a crash course in Scottsboro’s Civil Rights history at the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center. The center commemorates the lives and infamous trial of nine Black teens and young adults who were falsely accused of rape by two white women in Scottsboro in 1931. Known as the Scottsboro Boys, their persistence of innocence and the ensuing court proceedings that followed represented a major turning point in U.S. legal, political, and racial policies. At the center, located in the historic Joyce Chapel, you can learn all about the case and see memorabilia related to the trial.
Have Lunch at McCutchen’s Magnolia House
This historic 1890 Victorian home is home to one of the best restaurants in Scottsboro. The home passed through several families before becoming a restaurant in 1977, and today
McCutchen’s honors the last family to have lived there. Inside the sky-blue, two-story home, you’ll find several dining rooms where you can dine on Southern classics and comfort food. Menu items range from hamburger steak and popcorn shrimp to BLTs and fried chicken sandwiches. The restaurant also features a daily meat-and-three selection with a rotating menu of entrees like fried pork chops and chicken and dumplings, plus sides like turnip greens, mac and cheese, creamed corn, butter peas, fried okra, and more.
Explore Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge
Close out a wonderful weekend in Scottsboro by taking advantage of the town’s gorgeous natural surroundings. Sauta Cave is a 254-acre refuge that protects the federally endangered Gray and Indiana bats. Spend some time hiking around the grounds, and be sure to bring a flashlight if you want to catch a glimpse of the rare species. For the best chance, visit from June through August and stop by at dusk. That’s when 200,000 to 400,000 bats leave Sauta Cave to begin their nightly forage.