Dothan is a city in southeastern Alabama, serving as the county seat of Houston County, and the chief city of the western Wiregrass region, an area encompassing portions of southeastern Alabama, southwestern Georgia, and the panhandle of Florida. Its population in 2018 was about 68,000, making it the largest metropolitan area in southeastern Alabama.
Dothan began as "Poplar Head", a stop along the main trail that ran through this portion of the state during the early 19th century. It was incorporated in 1885, and renamed after the village mentioned in Genesis 37:17, which reads "let us go to Dothan". The city quickly became a hub for local agriculture and industry, especially the peanut business, and its annual National Peanut Festival (since 1938) reflects this heritage. Dothan has long proclaimed itself the "Peanut Capital of the World", as approximately one-quarter of the peanuts grown in the U.S. are grown within 75 miles of the city. Movie Gallery, a national movie rental chain, has its national headquarters here.
Dothan has a humid subtropical climate, with hot, sticky summers and generally mild winters. Snowfall is rare, and when it does come, it seldom accumulates to any great degree or remains for very long. Summer temperatures easily reach 90 °F (32 °C) or more, while the average winter temperature is 59 °F (15 °C).
Dothan has one commercial airport, northwest of the city in the tiny village of Napier Field. It is served by ExpressJet, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, flying to and from Atlanta International Airport. Dothan Regional Airport offers a full range of airport services and amenities; for further information, visit their website at Dothan Regional Airport.
There is no passenger rail service to Dothan. The nearest Amtrak station is in Birmingham. Chipley, Florida had an Amtrak station prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, but damage to the tracks in northwestern Florida forced its closure. Amtrak has proposed restoring the line, but there is no plan to do so as of March 2019.
Dothan is served by Greyhound Bus Lines. The station is at 285 S. Foster St., +1 334-792-1191. Further information and hours of operation may be found at Dothan Greyhound Station.
U.S. Highways 231, 431 and 84 all intersect in Dothan, as do several state highways. There is no interstate service in this part of Alabama, but the three highways named above are all four-laned for several miles beyond the Dothan city limits. U.S. 231 is four-laned all the way north to Montgomery, and all the way south to Panama City. The city is encircled by a four-lane bypass, known as the "Ross-Clark Circle."
There is no public transit system in Dothan, so getting around will require a car or bicycle, or walking. Traffic on the Ross-Clark Circle can be quite heavy, especially during "rush hour" and around lunchtime.
- US Army Aviation Museum. Located on Ft. Rucker, which lies just north of the town of Daleville about 20 miles north and west of Dothan. Many people do not realize that military aviation existed long before the creation of the Air Force in 1949; all military aircraft used in World War II, for instance, were either Army, Navy or Marine Corps aircraft, with the majority being Army airplanes. This museum pays tribute to the history of Army aviation, with sizable displays of Army aircraft--fixed-wing and rotary--from the earliest twentieth century to today. A variety of life-sized dioramas, films and interpretive material are available. Admission is free. Ft. Rucker is a "closed post"; guards at the post gates will require identification to enter, even for museum visitors.
- Dr. George Washington Carver Monument (at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds). This monument honors the African-American genius whose creative work resulted in hundreds of new products created from peanuts, sweet potatoes and other plants native to the South. Most of these were derived from peanuts, which are the principal agricultural product of the Wiregrass region--of which Dothan is the principal city.
- Dothan Area Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the old Southern-style of gardening, and see what works in the Wiregrass. A tranquil, paved nature trail meanders through a beautiful rose garden, through herbs, daylilies, camellias, azaleas, past a peaceful pond, Victorian gazebo and a demonstration garden.
- Dothan Opera House. Built in 1915, represents the elegance of turn-of-the-century southern life. Theatre performances, spectacular concerts, symphonies, ballet performances, and many other cultural events are regularly held in this landmark. Tours are available upon request.
- Joseph statue (in Millennium Park). The status is a ten-feet tall cast bronze sculpture, located in the historic downtown area. It depicts the Bible verse, "For I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan" (Genesis 37:17), which inspired city founders in 1885 to change the name of the town from Poplar Head to Dothan.
- Landmark Park Agricultural Museum and Starlab Planetarium. The official agriculture museum of the State of Alabama. Visit a 1900s farmstead, complete with farmhouse, outhouses, and farm animals. Stroll the boardwalk and nature trail, see a planetarium show, have a picnic, tour Phase I of the Alabama Agricultural Museum, or catch one of the park's many special events. In the Planetarium, night skies are shown as they appear in season. Constellations are displayed as they relate to mythology. The park also has a new playground. A pavilion near the playground is available for park visitors and children's parties.
- Houston-Love Memorial Library, 212 W. Burdeshaw Street (downtown Dothan across from the main post office).
- Maria's Vineyard. Nestled in a grove of oak and pecan trees, the Vineyard offers a casual place to host an event either outside or inside in the Vineyard House.
- Peanut Monument. At the Visitor Information Center helps to proclaim Dothan as the "Peanut Capital of the World".
- Peanuts Around Town. A public art project organized by The Downtown Group consisting of 5-ft-tall peanut sculptures that are decorated in various fashions and displayed around Dothan.
- Wiregrass Museum of Art. Includes five galleries feature changing exhibitions of visual and decorative arts in the historic building. Also features ARTventures, a hands-on exhibit for children and a gift gallery for shopping.
- World's Smallest City Block (at the intersection of North Appletree, Museum, and Troy streets). This land triangle features a stop sign, a yield sign, a street sign, and a granite marker placed by the Camellia Garden Club on May 1, 1964 stating that the block is the world's smallest city block.
- Adventureland Theme Park. An elaborate mini-theme park that is family-oriented. It includes two 18-hole miniature golf courses with waterfalls, lagoons and elaborate landscaping, a figure-eight go-cart track with a double underpass bridge and Indy-style karts, bumper boats, batting cages, a Max Flight roller coaster simulator, a large arcade and snack bar.
- Eastgate Park. A country estate, complete with lodge and meeting facilities. It includes fishing lakes, a two-mile (3 km) walking trail, sand volley ball, swimming pool (for private parties only), picnic area and lighted tennis courts. Additional amenities are under development.
- Featured Players Theatre, 137 N. Saint Andrews St.. Founded in 2005, the Featured Players Theatre is Dothan's home for live entertainment. Featured Players has live plays for adults five times a year and a Children's Theatre, which produces plays four times a year. When not performing plays, Featured Players has a "coffee-house" style set-up with open mic nights and acoustic folk rock artists. Featured Players is open every Friday and Saturday night.
- Press Thornton Future Masters Golf Tournament. Has been held annually since 1950 in early July. More than 600 junior golfers participate in this part of the Junior Grand Slam of Golf hosted by the Dothan Country Club.
- Highland Oaks Golf Course. Part of Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and was proclaimed by Golf Digest as the 7th best public course in the US. This world-class 36-hole facility offers three championship 9-hole courses, plus a 9-hole Par 3 course. The Clubhouse includes a pro shop, dining room, lounge and meeting room.
- Water World. Includes ocean-size waves in the giant wave pool and twisting water slides.
- Dothan's Westgate Tennis Center. Promises the highest standards of play and the greatest comfort for spectators. Amenities include 16 lighted full-size clay tennis courts, a control center, observation deck, shade shelters and large courtyard.
- Kiwanis Park, on Westgate Park land fronting Whatley at the intersection with Deerpath, has playgrounds and a picnic pavilion with a water fountain and restrooms. There are also walking trails.
- Solomon Park, in the Garden District at the corner of Choctaw and Redwood streets, has the shadiest playground in Dothan, a real godsend in hot weather.
- Patti Rutland Jazz. A professional contemporary jazz and hip-hop dance company located in Dothan. This company produces two full-length jazz and hip-hop theatrical dance productions yearly (one in late February and one in early June) at their home in the Cultural Arts Center, as well as at Dothan's historical landmark theatre, the Dothan Opera House. Patti Rutland Jazz operates as a non-profit organization whose core mission is to offer the dancers in its company to the Wiregrass Region as teachers so that under-served kids might take dance classes for free. This program hopes to make Dothan a destination for, and a source of, future professional dance talent in the United States.
- Wiregrass BMX. A BMX racing track that is near the Westgate Park. It hosts local state and national races between February to November.
- Wiregrass Festival of Murals. An ongoing project of historic murals painted by nationally and internationally acclaimed muralists on the walls of buildings in the downtown historic district. Guided tours are available upon request.
- National Peanut Festival. Occurs annually in November. The festival hosts competitions in different areas for all ages. A large midway, entertainment by nationally known recording artists, and the largest parade in the area are featured attractions.
- Wiregrass Commons Mall. The only mall in the SE Alabama region. It has over of shopping and over 50 retail stores. The mall also has a food court. Anchors for the mall are JC Penney, Belk and Dillards.
- Clarion Inn and Suites, 2195 Ross Clark Circle, ☏ . In addition to normal hotel rooms, they offer rooms for events, along with catering of food and beverages. Guests have complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi and weekday newspapers.
The summertime heat from June through September can be oppressive. It is not unusual for highs to be in the 90s or even the low 100s °F (32-40 °C). Combined with very high humidity levels, it is nearly impossible to stay outdoors for very long. Make sure you have plenty of water!
One by-product of the heat and humidity is near-daily thunderstorms in the summer that can turn severe in an instant. Southeastern Alabama, like other areas of the South, is extremely prone to tornadic activity when weather conditions are right. In the event of severe weather, tune in to local radio or television, and be aware of the appropriate tornado shelter for the particular place you are staying (very few cellars or basements exist in this area, due to its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the corresponding high water table).
Water Moccasins, a poisonous land snake found throughout the southeastern United States, are common in the Dothan area. While your chances of encountering one are rare, you should nevertheless be aware of your surroundings if walking through any wet or low-lying area, or near any streams, lakes or other water sources. Rattlesnakes, Copperheads and Coral Snakes are also found in this region. Should you be bitten by any of these species, seek medical attention immediately.