For a small city, there are so many things to do in Huntsville Alabama that will not have any issue in keeping yourself amused. In fact, you may find that you run out of time to do all the myriad fun things to do in Huntsville Alabama. Among the Huntsville Alabama things to do include all the attractions in downtown Huntsville, the many Huntsville Alabama museums and the Huntsville Alabama malls. Moreover, in addition to the Huntsville AL space center, there are also many other Huntsville attractions for kids. It’s totally understandable why Huntsville Alabama came in 22nd in the 52 Places To Go in 2019 list set out by the New York Times
Here are our 50+ suggestions for things to do in Huntsville:
- 1 Downtown Huntsville
- 2 Huntsville Alabama Museums
- 3 Huntsville Alabama Arts
- 4 Things To Do in Huntsville AL Outdoors
- 5 Sporty Things To Do Huntsville
- 6 Huntsville Alabama Shopping
- 7 Things To Do in Huntsville AL: Food & Drink
- 8 5 Cool Road Trips from Huntsville Alabama
- 9 Where To Stay in Huntsville Alabama
- 10 Practical Information For Visiting Huntsville AL
Downtown Huntsville is full of history and charm while still being vibrant and trendy.
Historic Huntsville Downtown
A tour of the Huntsville Historic Districts covers three separate areas in downtown Huntsville.
Thanks to Huntsville housing the Union troops during the Civil War, the older houses in the city were spared being burnt to the ground by Northern troops. Twickenham Huntsville Alabama has the largest collection of antebellum houses in the state. The Old Town Historic District and nearby Five Points Historic District have smaller houses.
Harrison Brothers Hardware Store is the oldest continuously operating hardware store in Alabama. And, it is so much more than hardware! There are cool tee-shirts and souvenirs as well as artwork by local artists.
Maple Hill Cemetery Huntsville Alabama is a large historic cemetery dating from 1818. It is the site of Huntsville’s Fall Ghost Walks which tells the creepy story of some of the previous residents of the city.
The Historic Huntsville Depot has a small museum and lots of trains. A celebration of the liberation of African American enslaved peoples in Texas, Juneteenth, is celebrated in Huntsville at the Huntsville Depot.
Downtown Huntsville Kids Activities
Join the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt to find 14 ducks scattered outside throughout downtown over a 3 mile walk. Get the brochure which has clues to find the lucky ducks either a the Visitor Center or online. Collect your prize at the Visitor Centre – a cute little duck on a space shuttle!
The Downtown Open is a mini golf course set up by the businesses in downtown Huntsville. You can find the putters and golf balls located at certain sites including Harrison Brothers Hardware Store. They are a super fun thing for kids to do.
Huntsville Alabama Churches
Interested in religious institutions? The Foundations of Faith Trail allows you to explore Huntsville Alabama churches that are over a 100 years old. They include the First Presbyterian Church from 1818 and the Temple B’Nai Sholom from 1899, the oldest Presbyterian Church and Synagogue, respectively, in the state.
There is a Huntsville Alabama church that is a colorful landmark as well as being a historic venue. The Huntsville First Baptist Church is the oldest Baptist church in the state of Alabama. But the fame of the Huntsville First Baptist Church stems from its tall rocket-inspired spire and an Italian tile mosaic front known as Cosmic Christ. Less religious locals refer to the mosaic as Eggbeater Jesus.
Huntsville Alabama Museums
The most visited attraction in Alabama is the US Space and Rocket Center. Huntsville Alabama NASA is an amazing place to visit where you can easily spend the whole day.
If you have the required ID, you can even take a bus from the Huntsville Alabama NASA center to see the restricted locations at the NASA Marshal Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal.
Historic Lowry House is the fascinating home of former abolitionists and a stop on the Underground Railroad which would help runaway slaves from the South gain access to freedom in the Northern USA.
The hiding space for people passing through the Underground Railroad was in the master’s bedroom. By the standards of the day, any law enforcement men would have felt it inappropriate to examine such a room closely. Moreover, from the outside of the house, you could not tell the extra room was there.
The closet in which runaway slaves would hide is still there and currently in use as an ensuite bathroom. I was surprised by how big the space was – I had always imagined they were tiny cubbies sort of like you would get in priest’s holes in England.
Museums & Family Fun in Huntsville AL
Burritt on the Mountain is set on a mountain overlooking Huntsville. The centerpiece of the estate is the magnificent 1930’s mansion of Dr Burritt. Although Dr Burrit married three times, he had no heirs and left his estate to the city of Huntsville.
The estate now is now one of Huntsville Alabama wedding venues with great views over the city. It is also host to a set of original historic buildings from Alabama’s past which operates as a living history museum.
One of the most fascinating buildings is a Rosenwald School – one of the 5000 schools built between 1913 and 1932 to educate poor Black chldren. These schools were built with money from a Jewish philanthropist, Rosenwald, materials from Sears Roebucks and the ideas of African American educator, Booker T. Washington.
The Weeden House Museum is the oldest house open to the public in Alabama. The Weedens were cotton planters who used their Huntsville home as their winter town house. The house is exceptional because one of the 18th century Weedens did realistic life portraits of African-Americans of the time.
Alabama Constitution Village is where Alabama’s first constitution was signed in 1819. There’s a plaque in front of the furniture shop requisitioned for the constitutional conventional attendees.
Newly opened in 2019, this living history museum also has other buildings that show early Alabama governance, from the post office/surveyor’s office to the local sheriff.
Space Camp is a program for kids to learn about science in a fun environment along with fun activities that fosters leadership skills and teamwork. In addition, there is also Aviation Challenge, Robotics Camp and Cyber Camp. My son absolutely adored Space Camp and Aviation Challenge. He’s now signed up for Robotics Camp in 2020.
The Earlyworks Children’s Museum is a hands-on children’s museum that explores history. Small and interactive, this museum is probably best suited to children under the age of 10. For example, there are opportunities for dress up, instruments to play and a general store to run.
Huntsville Alabama Arts
The Huntsville Art Museum has a great collection of national and regional artworks with an emphasis on glass art. The Huntsville Art Museum also has an excellent children’s area. There are interactive exhibits which demonstrate principles of art.
The Walk Through Time is a series of small rooms that take you from cave drawings through the art of the Greeks and Romans to modern art. Thousands of years of art history made accessible and understandable in a limited space.
Check out the street art in Huntsville downtown. Clinton Row has several works. You can get a mural map at the Huntsville Visitor Center downtown.
Not to be left behind by the other Huntsville Alabama trails, there’s an art trail as well!
Follow the SPACES Sculpture Trail spread out over downtown Huntsville and the University of Alabama Huntsville campus. The sculpture trail is available on a free app and features 39 sculptures from various American artists.
Things To Do in Huntsville AL Outdoors
The Huntsville Botanical Gardens is located on 112 acres next door to Redstone Arsenal. In fact, the gardens used to be the exercise grounds of the Redstone Arsenal horses when the military used to have a cavalry. After the Huntsville AL Space center, these gardens are the most popular attraction in town.
The children’s garden is one of the best I have seen with several different play spaces that surround a communal circular center. You can rest assured your kids can run and play without leaving the area because there is only one exit and entrance.
The Huntsville Botanical Gardens also does seasonal events.
The Galaxy of Lights Huntsville Alabama is a Christmas lights spectacular at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. This event is one of the most popular Christmas events in the South. The Purdy Butterfly House is the country’s largest butterfly house. It’s open during the summer only.
Huntsville began at Big Spring International Park when John Hunt built his cabin near the underground spring. Big Spring Park has open air concerts ever week on an outdoor stage called Concerts in the Park. Another summer option at Big Spring Park is the annual Water Lantern Festival.
Sporty Things To Do Huntsville
Go Hiking! Monte Sano State Park set on 2140 acres has 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of being trails. The Green Mountain Nature Trail is a pretty hike on 16 acres and even includes a picturesque covered bridge!
Grab a Huntsville Pace bicycle and cycle around downtown. You can find them in bike racks at convenient locations including the Visitor Center downtown. Your first ride is free! Otherwise, they are only a dollar for each half-hour.
Did you know Axe Throwing is a popular sport? Neither did I. My son saw that axe throwing was permitted for children 13 as we walked by Rockaxe City Throwing Club and insisted on trying it. I agreed because Axe Throwing has not made it across the pond to London.
He loved it and was actually pretty good at axe throwing. I, on the other hand, was terrible. It’s readily apparent that only one of us will survive a zombie apocalypse.
The Rocket City Trash Pandas are the minor league baseball team coming to Huntsville (a franchise lured from Mobile Alabama about which Mobilians are only slightly resentful). A new stadium is being built for the Trash Pandas (aka racoons) in 2020. The logo actually even makes racoons look cute.
Huntsville Alabama Shopping
There are some great curated gift stores at the local museums. The Museum Store at the Huntsville Art Museum has a particularly great selection of gifts for children. Both the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Shoppe at the Garden and Josie’s on the Mountain (at Burritt on the Mountain) have unique gifts. The Huntsville Alabama NASA Store has a huge selection of tee-shirts as well as science related gifts.
Lowe Mill Huntsville Alabama is a huge warehouse filled with studios of local makers. Many of the studios are open to the public on the weekend for cool souvenirs to buy. Green Pea Press have tee-shirts and other screen print items that are unique and cool.
Huntsville Alabama Malls
In terms of Huntsville Alabama malls, our favourite was the Bridge Street Town Center. Like a lot of American places, there are a variety of large and strip malls in town.
The Bridge Street Town Center is a great upscale mall set up like a little outdoor town. This Huntsville mall is the Alabama location for the Huntsville Alabama Apple Store as well having a retail outlet for the Trash Pandas baseball gear.
Along with the stores, there are restaurants and hotels nearby. The Bridge Street restaurants in Huntsville AL are a nice mix of family-friendly upscale chain restaurants like P.F. Changs and local eateries like Connors. We went to Connors for steak and seafood to try their famous shrimp and grits. My son’s cravings for Mexican food were met by Cantina Laredo.
For children, there is a small floor fountain in which to play, a little train that goes around the stores and a carousel.
Antiques Huntsville Alabama
With a historic city, you are bound find antiques stores.
The Five Points Shopping District is small but has some unique outlets. I loved the Olde Towne Coffee Shop and there are some quirky vintage and antique stores nearby. My favourite of the Huntsville Alabama antique stores was a bright pink one with stuff spilling into the front lawn. My husband would break out in hives at the thought of even going there — so I got to browse in peace!
Railroad Station Antiques store is a huge treasure trove of vintage and antique items.
Huntsville Alabama Farmers Market
Mid City Market is a shopping center that is a work in progress. Currently it is also the site of a Huntsville Alabama farmers market with good options for the city’s vegans and vegetarians. It’s also got food trucks as well as a great coffee store. It’s also a great place to hear Huntsville Alabama live music where you can take your kids.
Things To Do in Huntsville AL: Food & Drink
You will have plenty of options for eating and drinking in Huntsville from fine dining to casual Southern barbecue and food trucks. The craft beer scene is also spiking in popularity. If you are feeling like a healthy takeaway meal, there is even a Whole Foods in Huntsville.
Huntsville Alabama Attractions for Foodies
You will find Huntsville (and nearby towns’) food trucks at local events. With a variety of food trucks, you have a wide choice from sweet options such as cupcakes and donuts to savoury food such as pizza and tacos. There are even food truck rallies where the food trucks are the main event!
My son loved Pints & Pixels which is a retro video game arcade and restaurant. You buy tokens to play the games. No children are allowed after 9pm on Friday and Saturday. The menu is kid-friendly with burgers and chilli.
Every August, Huntsville rolls out a 10 day festival called Restaurant Week which celebrates the diversity of restaurant options in the city.
Huntsville Alabama Attractions for Coffee & Tea Lovers
There’s a Downtown Coffee Trail where you can get a cool new mug if you stop by the 7 participating outlets.
I was completely in love with the Cuban Coffee (expresso with condensed milk) at Honest Coffee Roasters. A close second in my heart is the Olde Towne Coffee Shop which can do an expresso with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Note that the Piper & Leaf Artisan Tea company is on the coffee trail with a great new outlet at Alabama Constitutional Village. I thought their range of tea was exceptional.
Huntsville Alabama Attractions for Craft Beer Lovers
A former middle school has been turned into Campus No 805, a 15 acre venue with a whole lot of craft breweries including Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer Brewing. With restaurants and live music, the venues can be family friendly. Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza is a particular favourite among locals.
There’s a downtown Craft Beer Trail if you want to be sure to not miss all any great craft beer options. After 11 stops, present your stamped card at the Visitor Center and get a free bottle opener!
AM Booths Lumberyard is an entertainment complex with food, drinks and live music. It’s a family-friendly venue with games such as pool and shuffleboard.
5 Cool Road Trips from Huntsville Alabama
Huntsville Alabama is a good place to base yourself if you want to tour around Northern Alabama or even neighbouring states or the rest of Alabama as part of a larger road trip.
Visit the quad-cities of Northern Alabama which include historic Florence Alabama. Here you can visit cool places like Muscle Shoals Recording Studio where musical history was made, Ivy Green where Helen Keller was born and the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama.
One of the most unique and moving monuments I have ever seen is Tom’s Wall, one man’s homage to his Native American grandmother who was forcibly relocated to the Indian territories but made her way back to her ancestral lands.
A mere 4o minutes from Huntsville Alabama, the city of Decatur has a fascinating old historic downtown.
Mixed in with the grand houses are the train depot and warehouses which ushered Native Americans to the Indian territories when their native lands were needed for the Western expansion of white farmers.
My son loved the Point Mallard Water Park and the Cook Museum of Natural Science.
A little over an hour from Huntsville, you find the town of Scottsboro which is home to the Unclaimed Baggage Center – a vast expanse of stuff people have lost in flight at massively discounted prices.
The town also provides easy access to Lake Guntersberg, the largest lake in Alabama making it great for water sports.
Scottsboro is also the location for one of the worst civil rights tragedies in the nation’s history in 1931. There is a small museum dedicated to the Scottsboro Boys who where 9 teenage African American young men falsely accused of raping two white women.
Head north of the Alabama border to nearby Tennessee. Just an hour and a half drive through the countryside brings you to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. Take a tour of the factory where every bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey is made.
Head an hour and half south to Birmingham and learn about the story of the civil rights struggle of the mid-20h century. The city is home to such must-see sites as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Kelly Ingram Park.
Where To Stay in Huntsville Alabama
Rocket City Huntsville has an ever-expanding list of accommodation choices as the city burgeons in popularity and prospects. We’ve put together a list of our favourite places to stay in Huntsville Alabama depending on what it is you want to do in the city.
Practical Information For Visiting Huntsville AL
The Downtown Huntsville Visitor Information Centre is at 500 Church Street NW. The visitor center has coupons for discounted attractions.
For convenient parking, check out the parking lot at Clinton Street which is not only convenient for Huntsville downtown but also relatively cheap.
Huntsville International Airport has convenient flights to major US destinations. It is served by the major US airlines including American, Delta and United.
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We were hosted by the Huntsville CVB for a portion of this trip which included discounted rates at the Drury Inn and Suites and free admission to some of the visitor attractions. This has in no way affected our reviews and opinions contained herein.
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