Two days will give you plenty of time to see all of the Shoals attractions, as well as a little spare time to relax or shop. The best days to visit are Thursday and Friday; as the Indian Mound and Museum, Pope's Tavern, W.C.Handy Birthplace and Museum, and the Rosenbaum Home are all closed on Sunday and Monday. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is closed on Sunday. Dismals Canyon is open year round on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and seasonally for 7 days a week; the water show at Spring Park is also Friday through Sunday. The Kennedy Douglass Center for the Arts is open Monday through Friday. The Tennessee Valley Art Center is closed on Saturday.
Given the various openings and closings of the attractions, you will have to plan your trip accordingly. Assuming you arrive on Thursday and stay through Friday night, you can follow this outline.
Begin your tour at the Coondog Cemetery (free). Located about 20 minutes outside of town, if you leave your hotel at sunrise, you will be able to see the site and return to the city before any of the other attractions open.
Next drive into Florence to the Indian Mound and Museum ($2). This attraction opens at 10am, so if you leave your hotel at 9am, you can see the coon dog cemetery and be at the Indian Mounds when it opens. Watching the video, talking to the attendant, viewing the exhibits, and walking up the mound will take about an hour.
Next, drive to the W.C.Handy Home and Museum ($2). The guided tour takes about 30 minutes; to smooth out some drive time, you can count on this attraction taking an hour.
It is only a short drive to the Rosenbaum House ($8). The guided tour takes about an hour.
Then, drive across town to the Kennedy Douglass Center for the Arts (free). Depending on the exhibits, you will spend about an hour at this attraction.
Next, drive to Pope's Tavern ($2).The last tour here begins at 3pm. You will probably be here well before that.
To end the day, move to the Wilson Dam (free) to see the sunset. This is a great place to have a river side picnic supper before going to sleep for the night.
On day two, begin at the LaGrange College Site (free). Spend an hour relaxing in the park or looking at the cemetery before you drive back to the city.
Next drive to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame ($8). The hall of fame opens at 9am, so as long as you leave the LaGrange Site by 8am, you'll be able to make it here for the opening. The self guided tour here will take about an hour and a half.
It's about a 30 minute drive away, but next you should go to Dismals Canyon ($8). You should bring a packed lunch and plan on spending about an hour and a half at this attraction. With a 30 minute drive back to town, you should be back by 1pm.
Proceed to Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller ($6). With a tour that takes 30 minutes and another 30 minutes to see the grounds, you should allocate an hour to see this site.
Right across the street from Ivy Green is the Tennessee Valley Arts Center ($5). Depending on your interest and the subject matter provided, you should plan on an hour at this attraction.
Drive just down the hill to Spring Park (free). From here you can catch a trolley to the historic downtown Tuscumbia, where you can see the stage coach stop and the courthouse, you can stop by the ice-cream parlor for a sundae, or you can spend the afternoon shopping at the many antique shops in the district. Take the trolley back to Spring park at the end of the afternoon to spend a relaxing hour or so in the park. At 7pm, the water show starts. After the show you can retire for the night.
You should be complete with all these attractions by sundown and can head back to your hotel for the night. It is only a short drive to Decatur or Cullman, depending on your next destination.
Total cost of the trip is $41, plus food, gas, and lodging.
I recommend a weekend trip to Florence for anyone interested in a variety of history topics and for families with children. Also, this trip is a nice getaway weekend for those who have never been here before.