A city on the border of Tennessee and Alabama, Huntsville is famed for its space-related attractions and military technology. However, there is more to this northern Alabama city than its popular U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp. Whether you wish to explore the city’s beautiful countryside, take your kids to the Early Works Children’s Museum where they can play with hands-on exhibits, or visit lush botanical gardens, there is something for everyone here in Huntsville AL. To make the most out of your stay, check out our list of the best things to do in Huntsville.
1. U.S. Space & Rocket Center
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville’s number one attraction. Home to one of the largest space collections on planet Earth, this incredible space and rocket center offers plenty of attractions such as the Shuttle Park, Rocket Park, and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. From space memorabilia to missiles and rockets, this place has it all. Make sure to check out the IMAX Space Dome Theater, as well as the Intuitive Planetarium. Guided tours of the center are available throughout the year. Keep in mind that the tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center is only available to United States citizens due to security precautions.
2. Monte Sano State Park
Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers can spend an afternoon at the Monte Sano State Park. Perched atop Monte Sano Mountain, this fascinating state park is an ideal place to enjoy activities like stargazing, hiking, and biking. If you wish to spend the night here, you’ll be happy to hear that the park is home to nearly 100 campsites. Apart from enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery, visitors can pay a visit to Von Braun Astronomical Society’s planetarium.
3. Huntsville Botanical Garden
If you are looking for things to do in Huntsville AL, we recommend visiting the Huntsville Botanical Garden which is located just a short drive from the Space and Rocket Center. This lovely garden features educational programs, seasonal festivals, and seasonal botanical displays. The best time to see a variety of flowers and plants in this garden is in May and October. Admire the Galaxy of Lights installation and see the Purdy Butterfly House which is home to hundreds of butterflies. There is also the amazing Garden Railway worth checking out.
4. Space Camp
A tour of the Space Camp is one of the must-visit attractions, especially if you are visiting Huntsville for the first time. Located on the same location as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Space Camp offers plenty of hands-on experiences ranging from simulations to aviation-focused programs. All of these hands-on exhibits are quite similar to training for astronauts and offer a fun and unforgettable experience for visitors. Keep in mind that participating in various programs need to be booked well in advance.
5. Burritt on the Mountain
An open-air museum that focuses on the history of the Tennessee Valley, Burritt on the Mountain is one of Huntsville’s finest attractions. Expect to see everything from a 19th-century log cabin, barn, and even a church. It will take you a couple of hours to explore all of the buildings and mansions. Many of the museum’s guides are dressed in period costumes and demonstrate 19th-century activities like farming chores and weaving. Also, you can sign up for a workshop and learn how to make leather luggage tags. In addition to being one of the most visited attractions in the city, the museum also organizes events like weddings, parties, and other celebrations.
6. Big Spring International Park
The most popular park in downtown Huntsville, Big Spring International Park used to be a huge water source and there were canals built here. The area served as the main water supply for the city 60 years ago. Nowadays, Big Spring International Park is a popular gathering spot for both tourists and locals who come here to enjoy nature. The park hosts several events each year ranging from holiday events to concerts and theatre performances.
7. Madison County Nature Trail
Escape from the busy streets of the city center and enjoy tranquility at the Madison County Nature Trail. It’s a perfect place for a picnic in a gorgeous natural setting. Apart from many picnic areas, visitors can look forward to a relaxing 1 mile-long walking trail. Along the trail, you will pass by the largest elm tree in the region where you can snap some cool photos.
8. Harmony Park Safari
How about enjoying close encounters with exotic animals such as buffalo, zebra, and ostrich? Head out to the Harmony Park Safari, an incredible nature preserve that offers self-navigated tours. Hop inside your car and see a variety of animals, as well as antique buildings and magnificent waterfalls. Keep in mind that it’s necessary to stay inside your car while exploring the nature preserve. You can also purchase a bucket of food to leave for the animals.
9. Veterans Memorial Museum
One of the country’s best military museums, the Veterans Memorial Museum is dedicated to the accomplishments of US veterans and showcases a vast collection of artifacts and military equipment that dates back to the Revolutionary War. From 30 historical vehicles from WW1 to modern aircraft and tanks, there is plenty to look forward to when visiting this fascinating memorial museum. Memorabilia like weaponry from wars and uniforms can also be found within the complex.
10. Bridge Street Town Centre
Looking for things to do in north Alabama this weekend? Visit the Bridge Street Town Centre where you can enjoy shopping, try the local cuisine, and even catch a movie. With more than 70 restaurants and shops and a lovely park-like setting, the Bridge Street Town Centre offers plenty of outdoor activities ranging from listening to musical performances and jogging to train and carousel rides. The space is pet-friendly, so you can bring your dog on a leash.
11. Von Braun Center
Welcome to the Von Braun Center, a place where travelers will find two modern observatories, a library, and a planetarium. This non-profit volunteer organization was formed by students who wished to study astronomy back in the 1950s. Today, Von Braun Center is a popular tourist attraction where visitors can check out astronomy-related literature at the Ann Sanford Memorial Library, see the observatories which offer regular viewing and listen to lectures at the on-site planetarium.
12. Huntsville Visitor Center
For a complete list of events, things to do, and local maps, check out the Huntsville Visitor Center. They offer cool themed itineraries for your stay in Huntsville, with themes like “Girls Getaway”, “Space Geek”, and “Art Lovers”, they have some great ideas that are sure to make your visit memorable. It’s always a great idea to start at the local visitors center if you want to make the most of your trip, and we’d suggest kicking off your trip by swinging by the Huntsville Visitor Center.
13. Hays Nature Preserve
With several miles of paved trails along the Flint River, the Hays Nature Preserve is a lovely park where you can enjoy many activities suitable for both kids and adults. Whether you wish to go hiking, rent a bicycle and explore equestrian trails, take your kids to a well-maintained playground, or go paddling, there is plenty to see and do at the Hays Nature Preserve.
14. Rocket City Arcade
Want to relive your childhood days? Head out to the Rocket City Arcade where you will come across more than 70 old-school arcade and pinball games. This authentic 80s & 90s styled game arcade in Alabama features some of your favorite games such as Galaga, Froger, and Pac Man. Want to hear more good news? No quarters are needed and inserting a coin inside the machines is not necessary! All you have to do is pay an $11 fee and you can play all day long.
15. Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment
Travelers who enjoy arts and crafts should not miss the Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. Housed in an ex former cotton mill, this art facility is spread across 171,000 square feet and houses everything from art galleries and performance venues to dining establishments. If you wish to meet local artists who make everything from bronze sculptures to paintings, you’ve definitely come to the right place. The venue is also home to a variety of stores that sell records, vintage clothing, and jewelry. If you get hungry, the on-site Happy Tummy eatery serves the most delicious wraps and sandwiches.
16. Alabama Constitution Village
No trip to Huntsville is complete without spending a day at the Alabama Constitution Village where you will find attractions like the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, Historic Huntsville Depot, and the Humphrey-Rodgers House. A tour of this working village includes a visit to the library, post office, print shop, and a cabinetmaker’s shop. If you wish to hear the sound of the spinning wheel and see how bread is baked over an open fire, Alabama Constitution Village is the place to go.
Twickenham is the largest antebellum district in Alabama and showcases some of the finest examples of Classical and Federate architecture. Visitors can go on a guided tour and visit attractions such as the Weeden House Museum which is the oldest house in the country. Apart from Twickenham, the Historic District includes Five Points and the Old Town.
18. Firehouse Antiques and Collectibles
The biggest antique store in the country, Firehouse Antiques and Collectibles is home to vintage fire trucks and a variety of antiques that change daily. Step inside more than 40,000 square feet of amazing inventory and admire a wide selection of valuables. If you have some antiques to sell, Firehouse Antiques and Collectibles hosts auctions and is always looking for special pieces of antiques.
19. Huntsville Museum of Art
Art lovers visiting Alabama can make their way to the amazing Huntsville Museum of Art which is home to works from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Expect to see excellent 19th and 20th-century art and works by artists such as John Sloan, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. Apart from the museum’s permanent collection, there are plenty of temporary exhibits at the Huntsville Museum of Art. See the Moonwalk by Andy Warhol or admire a collection of watercolors by Renato Moncini. There are also nearly 100 objects like lamps and floral vases designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
20. Ditto Landing
Alabama’s gateway to the Tennessee River, Ditto Landing marina is located at the southern edge of the city and offers a peaceful escape from the busy streets of downtown Huntsville. Nestled in lush greenery with several walking and biking trails, the marina is an excellent place to reconnect with nature and offers plenty of outdoor and water activities. Travelers who wish to spend the night hear will be glad to heart that campgrounds can be found on-site.
21. Parkway Place
The city’s upscale shopping mall, Parkway Place is home to nearly 200 specialty stores and restaurants including names such as Motherhood Maternity, Victoria’s Secret, Sleep Number, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Chico’s, Yankee Candle, and many others. Shopaholics can look forward to retail prices and a variety of food and drink options. There is also a children’s play area which can be found on the upper level.