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14 Unmissable Things To Do In Huntsville AL

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If someone were to ask me a word to describe Huntsville, Alabama it would be “surprising”. As the most populated city in the state, I imagined it would be crowded, industrial, and not have many notable attractions.

As it turns out, there are plenty of things to do in Huntsville AL, and it turned out to be an incredible destination to spend a few days in.

As my time in Huntsville opened up, so did my appreciation of it. It’s a city with a culture rich with arts and tech, possibly the only place in America where those two worlds meet and thrive.

If you’re not sure what to do in Huntsville AL, then keep reading to see the attractions that amazed me the most!

Table Of Contents

Is Huntsville Alabama Worth Visiting?

girl standing above painting on floor
Home Sweet Home and other Suchness by Susan Luss

From the outside, Huntsville doesn’t look like it has much to offer the traveler. There’s a space camp here and a rocket museum, which is pretty awesome, yet at the same time wouldn’t inspire me to visit just on that alone.

In fact, the city is nicknamed “The Rocket City” for its close history with U.S. space missions, and it has been an important destination in developing space technology since the 1950s.

It’s home to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, which is the government’s civilian rocket and spacecraft research center.

Fun Fact: Huntsville, Alabama is where rockets were developed that put men on the moon

It also has the second largest research park in the country with over 300 companies of engineers, doctors, students or creatives, making Huntsville a pretty intelligent place to hang out. Huntsville local rocket engineer, Destin Sandlin is evidence of that.

If you think about it, there is a reason that all these innovative companies and artists are operating here. It’s a destination that embraces change and transformation, and for that reason alone, it’s definitely worth visiting.

Things To Do In Huntsville AL

1. Marvel At Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, The Largest Privately Owned Art Space in the US

interior of Lowe Mills Art and Entertainment Space Huntsville Alabama (2)
Photo Credit David Nuttel

Lowe Mill Art & Entertainment is a spacious warehouse turned into a private art space.

This huge historic factory building has been redeveloped into three levels of 148 working studios for over 200 artists and makers, including 6 fine art galleries, a multi-use theater, and performance venues.

verandah of Lowe Mills Art and Entertainment
Photo Credit David Nuttel

Lowe Mill is the largest privately owned arts facility in the United States. It serves as a space where the artists can create, learn and collaborate. I loved the vibrant, colorful, creative atmosphere.

We wandered the halls lined with studios, watching artists at work and looking at their amazing designers.

I grabbed these cool screen-printed T-Shirts for the girls. It’s a quote I want them growing up remembering so they can live a life reaching for the stars.

quote by astronaut Mae Jemison

As a visitor, you can visit at any time to see the artists at work, enjoy a coffee, perhaps some whiskey tasting, and enjoy some of the food on after.

It is the culinary arts after all!

2. Go Say Hello To David Nuttal (AKA The Maps Guy)

Okay, so maybe he leans more to the British side than American, but he is now a Huntsville local artisan with a fascinating career.

Meeting David Nuttall, the founder of Artimaps, showed me how a different world can be opened up to you just by engaging in curious conversation. It was also a reminder that anyone can create a thriving business around their passion.

David, Janet and Caz TBEX Huntsville
Learning about the art of map drawing With David and Janet from<a rel=noopener nofollow noreferrer target= blank href=out=WENCQEMPHRcMX0ETCAUNXEVEW1xBXQBKF1odAQxVFw3D3D> Journalist on the Run<a>

I heard rumblings of the Map Guy in the Lowe Mill Art and Entertainment space and was eager to visit him and see what his art is all about.

He draws fictional maps – visual representations of someone’s life, generally on their naked body, and then photographs them.

David Nuttel Artimaps drawing fictional maps on naked bodies (3)

I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do this, but after talking at length with David about this over the remainder of the conference, I offered up my arm one day for him to draw a map on me.

David says his subjects find it quite a cathartic experience.

They come to him with wounds, scars on the outside from car crashes, or ones on the inside that run much deeper.

In drawing the maps of their stories on them, and talking about it with him, it helps them let go.

Through the vulnerable experience, they find their strength and confidence.

map drawn on a black back

He doesn’t just draw maps on naked bodies. These maps can be created on a variety of mediums, including wood, board and canvas.

He was once commissioned to draw fictional islands on a piano and chairs that will be on display at one of the downtown bike stations in Huntsville for the Relax Play Ride event.

I told ya – fascinating!

When you visit Huntsville make sure you stop in at the Lowe Mill to say hi and learn more about his craft. You might even want to offer up a body part or two for some good storytelling.

You can also follow David’s current projects on his Instagram channel. 

3. Explore The US Space and Rocket Centre (The Largest Space Museum in the World)

rockets outside at the Huntsville Rocket and Space Center

The US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville has one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia on display anywhere in the world.

A visit here will take you through America’s Space Race, the space shuttle program and give you a glimpse into future space explorations. Hello, Mars!

In the main hall is an authentic Saturn V rocket – one of only three in the world.

Saturn 5 US Space and Rocket Center Hunstville Alabama

The Center is also famous for its annual Space Camps, drawing future rocket scientists from around the world to spend a week learning how to push the boundaries of human exploration.

The center is open to guests seven days a week.

4. Party at A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard

people smiling with their arms around each other
close up of a polaroid picture

What do you get when you combine a mismatched and ill cared collection of buildings with a bit of imagination and innovation?

One of the most eclectic and thriving entertainment districts you’ll ever see!

A.M Booth’s Lumberyard is an event space that has multiple personalities and it’s easy to find one that suits you no matter the time of day.

A.M Booth Lumberyard Huntsville Alabama (2)

If you have multiple personality syndrome, you can just bounce around all night and be very happy.

There are four stages, large patios, multiple bars with its own theme, a large 1924 Pullman train car decorated with unique treasures, and an outdoor games area in Booth’s Alley.

band on stage at the A.M Booth Lumberyard Huntsville Alabama (6)

Each bar had different beers and live music. We spent a good amount of time in the Tap Room, which is usually the dining room. The barman here were great at keeping the energy up with constant calls of Roll Tide and bar slapping.

Roll Tide is an Alabama football thing! The live music in The Tap Room was awesome. I could go back to Huntsville just for a night out here again!

5. Enjoy Craft Beers at Campus 805

corridors of old middle school building

Ring the bell, Saturday School’s in sesh, and it has never been so much fun! Campus 805 was once Stone Middle School until developer Randy Schrimsher purchased it in 2014, five years after it has shut down.

With a bit of vision and innovation, he transformed the school into a dynamic entertainment venue, while maintaining the middle school building structure and vibe.

Yes, those old classrooms are now bars, breweries, restaurants, and retail spaces!

It’s called 805 (the last three digits of the zip code) to pay homage to memories held by all that once studied in the classrooms and played in the halls.

It’s brilliant.

Lillie Marshall Fringe Salon Campus 805 Huntsville Alabama (800 x 800)

Take your pick from the East or West Wing or just roam from bar to bar. Make sure you find the Speakeasy – hint, it’s located somewhere near the lockers.

I had all intents of having a drink in there but got caught in the Yellowhammer Brewery bar having a fun time chatting with all my new friends.

And I totally missed the Fringe Salon. My only awareness of it was after it was closed and seeing friends walk in with 80’s fringe hairdos. Apparently, you can just pop in while you party for a makeover.

We did wander the halls at midnight to find the late night bar The Lone Goose Saloon by way of the games arcade.

people playing pinball Campus 805 Huntsville Alabama (1)
people inside bar

We rocked on to the live music until after 1.00am – way past the departure of the last school bus.

It’s the kinda place you always dreamed school would be like…

6. Have An Amazing Acai Bowl At Honest Coffee

acai bowl at Honest Coffee Huntsville Alabama (2)

I loved stumbling upon Honest Coffee in Downtown Huntsville. I visited more than once as I fell in love with their acai bowls and their coffee.

I eat a lot of acai bowls and make them myself, so I know how to judge a good-quality acai.

The acai bowls at Honest Café were outstanding.

family sitting at table at Huntsville Honest Coffee

The café has a roaring trade and their Cuban coffees seem to be flying off the machine. Every second person seemed to be ordering one.

I settled for my usual cappuccino and was not disappointed. I even ordered another to go as I knew it would be some time before I had one that good.

7. Step Back In Time at Weeden House Museum

The Weeden House Museum is a beautiful mansion and museum that once belonged to the American artist and poet, Maria Howard Weeden, who wrote under the pen-name, Howard Weeden.

The heritage building was built in 1819 by Henry C. Bradford, and has been lovingly preserved with its original Federal style architecture and furnishings of the era.

As you weave through the meticulously preserved rooms, you can learn about Alabama’s storied past, providing a window into the heritage and lifestyle of early 19th-century Alabama.

8. Support The Rocket City Trash Pandas

The Rocket City Trash Pandas are Huntsville’s beloved minor league baseball team, who regularly play at the Toyota Field during the Trash Pandas’ home games,.

Attending a Trash Pandas game is the perfect way to spend an evening, not only for the thrilling game of baseball but to experience the team’s passionate fan base who cheer with enthusiasm.

From the first crack of the bat to the post-game fireworks extravaganza, this is the best thing to do in Huntsville at night.

9. Relax in Monte Sano State Park

monte sano state park alabama

Although a bustling city, Huntsville is not short of outdoor attractions. Monte Sano State Park is one of the best examples of the region’s natural beauty.

This 2,140-acre expanse, shows off some of Alabama’s most beautiful scenes of nature, from mountain vistas to Fall foliage in the Autumn.

Geologically, Monte Sano is characterized by a mesa separated from the main Cumberland Plateau by the Flint River Valley, boasting a resilient sandstone caprock that adds to its allure.

The park’s name itself holds historical weight, translating to “Mountain of Health” in Spanish, a nod to the late 1800s when it drew visitors seeking rejuvenation.

Today, a visit to Monte Sano State Park offers a captivating blend of nature, history, and outdoor recreation. It boasts 20 miles of scenic hiking trails and of 14 miles of biking trails.

rv parked in the snow at Monte Sano state park huntsville (1)

We camped up here with our RV when I returned to visit with Craig and the girls during the winter.

10. Walk The Madison County Nature Trail (Green Mountain Nature Trail)

Nestled atop the serene expanse of Green Mountain in southeast Huntsville, is the Madison County Nature Trail, also known as the Green Mountain Nature Trail.

This is an easy hike for those who want a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Spanning 72 acres, this verdant oasis beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature while exploring its well-maintained pathways, 16-acre lake, picturesque covered bridge, and the authentic log cabins.

If you have time, meander across the Braille Trail, and soak in the tranquility of the chapel and picnic pavilion.

11. Watch a Havoc Hockey Game at Von Braun Center

exterior of probst arena huntsville

If you love sports, then you’re going to want to make sure you catch the Huntsville Havoc play at the Von Braun Center!

The electrifying atmosphere of a hockey game at the iconic Von Braun Center is an experience not to be missed. Witnessing top-tier professional ice hockey in action in a setting that pulsates with energy and excitement, there is nothing else quite like it.

The Von Braun Center’s Propst Arena can seat up to 9,000 spectators, which when full, is a palpable atmosphere!

Before a game, be sure to check out the Big Spring International Park across the road, as well as the Huntsville Museum of Art.

12. Hike In The Land Trust of North Alabama

Another beautiful nature spot that offers miles of hiking trails is the Land Trust of North Alabama, which features over 6,500 acres of land with an extensive network of trails that span more than 80 miles.

Witness the best of Alabama’s beauty, from caves, wetlands, forests, and flowing creeks, there is plenty of opportunity to connect with nature here.

Pack some snacks or a picnic and head to one of the picnic areas to fully appreciate this area.

13. Relax at Huntsville Botanical Garden

woman and kids walking through Huntsville Botanical Gardens

The Huntsville Botanical Gardens is a serene oasis, spanning 112 acres of lush greenery. It was born from the dreams of fourteen individuals in 1979, and officially opened its gates to the public in 1988.

Over the years, it has flourished into a beautiful recreation area made up of woodlands, flower gardens, ponds and tranquil water features.

14. Learn About Railroad History at the Historic Huntsville Depot Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the region’s rich railroad heritage, then be sure to check out the Huntsville Depot Museum.

Dating back to 1860, this three-story brick building served as the local passenger house and corporate offices for the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, playing a pivotal role in shaping the city’s early development.

Today, the Depot has been turned into a museum, showcasing a meticulously preserved collection of artifacts, including vintage locomotives, railcars, and an array of historical exhibits that vividly depict the evolution of rail transportation in Alabama.

Where to stay in Huntsville, Alabama

I stayed at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott which was comfortable and easy walking distance to downtown. Book your stay there here.
Check out other places to stay in Huntsville here.

Final Thoughts

lady popping out of suitcases

I LOVED Huntsville so much, I took Craig and the girls back in the second week of our RV trip across the USA to explore it some more.

I found it just as wonderful the second time I visited, and would definitely go back a third, fourth, fifth…you get the picture.

It’s one of the busiest and most populated cities in the state, and yet it doesn’t feel that way.

It’s a start-up hub for small businesses and innovative tech companies and has low cost of living, which makes for a high quality of life for the locals – and it shows. The air breathes happiness here, which is one of the reasons why I will be coming back again.

I hope this guide helped you plan some things to do in Huntsville Alabama and gave you some inspiration for some attractions to visit.

Relevant Reading:

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Are you planning to visit other parts of the South East USA? Here are some other helpful guides that may interest you…

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How has a destination surprised you before? Can you add any other tips for my next trip to Hunstville, Alabama? Let us know in the comments.

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