things to do in huntsville things to do in huntsville

From Lakes to Landmarks: A Guide to the 15 Most Interesting Things in Huntsville

Huntsville, a city at the base of a mountain, is renowned for its cutting-edge technology, and there are tons of things to do in Huntsville.

Although its railroad business and cotton commerce were formerly renowned, it is today renowned for its aeronautical and military technology. It’s the reason the town is known as Rocket City, after all! There are a lot of things to do in Huntsville as it is a very modern city, but it also has a rich history.

It was the first city in its state to speak English, and it played a significant role in the American Civil War. The city is now extraordinarily varied, with more than 100 dialects and languages spoken there, thanks in part to that illustrious past. In short, there are plenty of enjoyable activities in and around the city.

Its numerous diverse attractions include natural parks and preserves, space-related activities, magnificent museums, art institutions, and more.

There is something for everyone in Rocket City, thanks to its diversity and far-reaching legacies. Here are my top selections for the top 15 things to do in Huntsville, Alabama.

Things To Do In Huntsville

1. Muskoka Heritage Place

muskoka heritage place
by Gilberto Mesquita/Shutterstock 

One of Muskoka’s most historic attractions, Muskoka Heritage Place is sure to thrill the whole family, from the little ones to the grandparents. Take a deep dive into Muskoka’s fascinating history at the museum and pioneer town, which features real pioneer structures and live, costumed narrators who transport you to the 1800s.

The Portage Flyer Train, which will take you on an open-air, gorgeous excursion up the Muskoka River to a platform facing Fairy Lake, is one of Muskoka’s true hidden gems. The Portage Flyer Train was originally the world’s smallest commercial railroad. Bring the whole family along for a fun-filled day spent learning about Muskoka’s intriguing past.

2. Huntsville Botanical Garden

It is one of the best sites to visit in this city, and visiting this place is one of the top things to do in Huntsville. It is close to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

This is particularly true if you value nature. It is incredibly lovely, mostly operated by volunteers, and open all year long. One of the best things to do in Huntsville for nature lovers is to visit this location. The Huntsville Botanical Garden has a long history and is home to a plethora of events and attractions.

The Purdy Butterfly House, the largest in all of America and home to quails, turtles, tadpoles, and insects, is open for visitors. Visit the nature center to learn more about the ecology, animals, and plants. The Children’s Garden is open to visitors with children.

It has a dinosaur dig site, a bog splash pool, a kid-friendly maze, and even a node for a space station. It also has gardens like the Storybook Garden and Rainbow Garden. The botanical garden, of course, also features all the typical botanical cuisine. This contains plant collections, including ferns, azaleas, dogwoods, veggies, and herbs. Of course, there are several types of gardens as well, such as water gardens, Japanese gardens, nature trails, and model train gardens.

Along with all of that, this location serves as the venue for a wide range of regional events, including the Galaxy of Lights, the Scarecrow Trail, and the Huntsville Blooms.

3. Alabama Constitution Hall Park

You are taken back in time as you enter Alabama Constitution Village by a time machine. The state’s founding fathers drafted the Alabama Constitution in Huntsville, the state’s initial capital, in 1819.

The 90-minute guided tour includes the cabinet shop where delegates signed Alabama’s Constitution. See the woodworking demonstration and try operating the wheel lathe while you’re in the cabinet shop, as it is one of the most amazing things to do in Alabama Constitution Hall Park.

Learn how they made clothing using the spinning wheel at the Neal House, where you can learn more about the Neal’s family life and where they lived in 1819.

4. U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Burritt on the Mountain and

4.1. U.S. Space and Rocket Center

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining attractions in the entire city of Huntsville, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Huntsville.

It is the largest space museum in the world and offers a great variety of exhibits that are ideal for exploring this weekend. It was established in 1965 to showcase practically everything associated with space and its science.

photo by robert boston from unsplash

A variety of interactive and hands-on galleries may be found at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Traveling exhibits that are always changing, thrilling simulators, historical and educational relics, and a range of educational activities are available.

4.2. Burritt on the Mountain

The Monte Sano Mountain foothills are where Burritt on the Mountain is located. It enjoys a good view of most of Huntsville’s action. You will cherish your experience after visiting this place, as it is one of the top things to do in Huntsville.

Previously, the eccentric Dr. William Henry Burritt owned this estate. Even events like festivals, camps, and concerts are occasionally held there! Burritt on the Mountain comprises 167 acres of property, and it has a rich history.

Homeopathic physician Dr. Burritt desired to reside in a wooded area with cool air. Since 1955, his opulent home and gardens have been accessible as an outdoor museum. He left it to the city as part of his will, making it one of the most well-liked Huntsville attractions.

It currently has his original mansion, several 19th-century homes that have been renovated, an animal farm, and a nature walk. Even events like festivals, camps, and concerts are occasionally held there!

The Burritt Mansion will allow you to explore as comparable to the 1930s. The mansion is home to numerous items that belonged to Dr. Burritt, including his personal effects. Additionally, it offers several exhibits that include historical data on the local population.

You may discover all about 19th-century living at Burritt on the Mountain. The way that era is shown at the Historic Park feels lively and genuine. You’ll discover information on the manners of the day, agriculture, and many other things.

Even workshops in artwork, blacksmithing, glassblowing, paper quilling, knitting, jewelry-making, basket-making, and ceramics are examples of crafts. and other crafts are available for you to attend.

5. Big Spring International Park

It all commenced more than 200 years ago in Big Spring International Park, so begin your exploration of Huntsville there. Over 200 years ago, Big Spring Park drew pioneers to Huntsville, and the city has since embraced it by developing around it and protecting it for its people. Numerous events, such as the Panoply Arts Festival and Concerts in the Park, are held in the park.

John Hunt, Huntsville’s namesake, constructed his cottage there in the early 1800s, close to where an underground spring had previously given a water source.

photo by james brown from unsplash

To see the Big Spring as it is right now, go to the bluff behind the iconic First National Bank structure. Of all the things to do in Huntsville, visiting this place is one of the top things to do in Huntsville.

This park was frequently recommended to me by locals as a must-visit location when I was looking for things to do in the downtown area. With its running trails, footbridges, and koi ponds, this area has a lot to see. The best time to travel is in the spring when the cherry trees are covered in pink blooms.

Huntsville received the cherry trees and a Red Bridge for pedestrian traffic as gifts from Japan. Other intriguing international gifts are the park seat from Britain and the fog bell from Norway.

Kids will adore the well-known friendliness of the ducks, geese, and koi that live at Big Spring. Keep an eye out for the well-known red bridge and cherry trees that Japan gave to the city while you explore

6. The Huntsville Museum of Art

The Huntsville Museum of Art
by Carla Sloke/Shutterstock

American art from the 19th and 20th centuries, with a focus on the southeast, is the main focus of the Huntsville Museum of Art. There are more than 3,200 items in the permanent collection.

The art of Europe, Asia, and Africa that has impacted American art is a secondary topic. Works from 20th-century painters, including Andy Warhol and James McNeil Whistler, are included in the collection. Your trip to Huntsville is incomplete if you don’t pay a visit to this museum as it is one of the top things to do in Huntsville among tourists and locals.

Stephen Rolfe Powell, William Christenberry, and David Parrish are among the American artists whose works are included in the museum’s collection of artists with Alabama connections.

Additionally, there is a long-running exhibition there called American Glass Studio, which includes pieces by Dale Chihuly and Cam Langley.

7. Earlyworks Children’s Museum

The Earlyworks Children’s Museum should be on your must-do list if you are traveling with children between the ages of two and nine. The museum’s interactive, hands-on approach to history will appeal to them greatly. They are free to climb, touch, pull, and inspect anything; nothing is off-limits.

The Talking Tree will delight even the youngest children as they listen to a range of folktales about Alabama’s history and Native American culture. Preschoolers will adore Biscuit’s Backyard since it has a water table and bricks for fine motor skill development.

Who among children doesn’t enjoy playing in the water? It is one of the fun things to do in Huntsville. The 46-foot keelboat, in which school-aged children can go along the river and experience river navigation in the 19th century, will be a blast for them. These are some of the activities that the younger members of the family can take part in at this attraction.

8. Harmony Park Safari

For animal enthusiasts, Harmony Park Safari is one of the greatest attractions in the city, and visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Huntsville. In addition to being a public park, it also serves as a wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve.

The two-mile self-navigated safari allows you to get up and personal with a variety of creatures. This features a lot of rare or exotic wildlife!

zebras
photo by antoine plus from unsplash

At Harmony Park Safari, you may witness roaming creatures from all over the world and Alabama as well. Camels, tortoises, zebras, llamas,  kangaroos, ostriches, buffalo, and many other animals can be seen.

Additionally, you can purchase buckets of food to pack with you and give them to any animals that approach your car looking for rewards.

9. U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum and North Alabama Railroad Museum

9.1. U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum

One of the best military museums in the world is the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum, which is situated in Huntsville, Alabama. There are artifacts, antiquities, and weapons on exhibit from the American Revolutionary War to the present. Numerous interesting and rare objects are part of the collection, including the Ford Pygmy, which is the oldest surviving jeep.

The U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum is one of several interesting museums in Huntsville, but none of them can match its unique collection of Revolutionary War-era military hardware and relics. Over 30 antique vehicles used in conflicts from World War I to the present are on exhibit, together with uniforms, weaponry, and other memorabilia.

You can examine tanks, airplanes, boats, and even novelty items like a Ford Pygmy, the oldest “jeep” in the world. Additionally, there is a location outside where you may have a picnic or watch a certain event. You must visit this place as it is one of the best things to do in Huntsville.

9.2. North Alabama Railroad Museum

The mission of the North Alabama Railroad Museum is to preserve the fascinating history of the railroad and the significant role it played in the development of Alabama. One of the tiniest union depots in the nation, the historic Chase Depot building served as the foundation for the museum.

Visitors are welcome to pick up a map and take a self-guided tour of the museum, which is managed by a dedicated group of volunteers and is not always manned. You must visit on one of the designated Train Ride days to take a ride on a historic train.

10. Monte Sano State Park

Northeast Alabama’s Monte Sano State Park is close to Huntsville. Monte Sano translates to “Mountain of Health” in Spanish. Americans from all over the country traveled to Monte Sano in the late 1800s for “the season” to experience and take advantage of its clean air, breathtaking scenery, and natural springs. Visiting this place is a must, as it is one of the top things to do in Huntsville.

The 2,140-acre Monte Sano offers breathtaking views from its summit, especially in the fall when the leaves are at their most colorful. Local azaleas bloom in the spring throughout the 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 kilometers of bicycle trails.

11. Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

The largest privately owned art center in all of America is Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. It takes place in an old factory warehouse that was formerly a textile mill. Today, it serves as a hub for a vibrant artistic community that produces works in many different genres.

When it comes to tourist destinations, it’s hip and alive, with a mix of traditional and contemporary. Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment is a true haven for those with an interest in the arts, featuring six fine art galleries, more than 200 artists, and 148 studios.

To further enhance the facility, there are also workshops, classes, performance and theatrical spaces, and more. This is the best method to fully immerse oneself in Huntsville’s artistic community.

12. Bridge Street Town Centre and  Madison County Nature Trail

12.1. Bridge Street Town Centre

Spend the day dining out, shopping, or seeing a movie. All of that and more are available at Bridge Street Town Centre. Over 70 upscale shops and restaurants, a 14-screen movie theater, and the Westin Huntsville Hotel are located in a lovely park-like setting that also offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as strolling or jogging along the 5-acre lake, taking carousel or train rides, or watching musical performances.

The Pop Jet and Dancing Fountains are popular places to cool off in the summer as well as to play with remote-control boats. The area welcomes pets and is the recipient of numerous beautification honors.

12.2. Madison County Nature Trail

The Madison County Nature Trail, commonly known as the Green Mountain Nature Trail, covers 72 acres of land. It is among the top tourist attractions in Huntsville, Alabama, and is wonderfully serene. It is also one of the free activities in the area that doesn’t charge admission.

trail
photo by Lukasz Szmigiel from unsplash

The climate along the Madison County Nature Trail is consistently mild. The park’s 16-acre lake’s covered bridge provides the most attractive location for visitors seeking it. A 1.5-mile walking track studded with lush vegetation is available for hikers to explore. Along the trip, you’ll also see Alabama’s largest elm tree!

13. Weeden House Museum and Garden

The oldest house of its kind in Alabama that is accessible to the general public is the Weeden House Museum and Garden, built in 1819. It provides an interesting look at both Weeden’s universe and life in the 19th century.

Maria Howard Weeden, a well-known poet and painter, lived there. Her artwork, particularly that of Huntsville, Alabama, citizens of African descent, can be found throughout the entire house. If you’re interested, you must arrange a trip in advance. Justice John McKinley of the US Supreme Court moved there later on. Of course, numerous federal officials lived there throughout the American Civil War.

Visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Huntsville and is worth the extra effort.

14. Hays Nature Preserve

The Hays Nature Preserve is one of Huntsville’s largest expanses of unspoiled parkland, offering outdoor enthusiasts unadulterated leisure.

Ten kilometers of pathways, each brimming with the splendor of nature, can be traveled on foot, by bike, or on horseback. It’s among the most enjoyable spots to visit if you love the outdoors!

The Hays Nature Preserve is home to numerous wildlife species. The Flint River’s oxbow lakes, old fields, a low riparian ecosystem, and even a golf course can all be found through exploration.

Additionally, if you enjoy watching birds, you’re in luck because this location is a key stop on the North Alabama Birding Trail!

15. Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and Cotton Row Restaurant, Huntsville

15.1. Huntsville Symphony Orchestra

Want more enjoyable activities? Why not attend the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s performance tonight?

photo by kazua ota from unsplash

It is Alabama’s oldest continuously operating symphonic orchestra! The orchestra, which debuted in 1955, presents a blend of a variety of rock and classical music. welcomed many notable international guest performers.

The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra is of the highest caliber, and the sound and illumination setups are outstanding. It has become an inspirational and cultural pillar, and its concerts and educational initiatives have garnered honors. You must not miss their performances!

15.2.Cotton Row Restaurant, Huntsville

The cotton traders in Huntsville are the source of inspiration for Cotton Row Restaurant. This restaurant offers varied cuisine, and the kitchen takes advantage of seasonal, fresh ingredients supplied by nearby farmers. Utilizing fresh, regional ingredients that have been expertly matured and ripened, each dish is unique and meticulously prepared. Regardless of whether you come for brunch, lunch, or dinner, your taste buds will appreciate it.

James Boyce is a chef with more than 20 years of expertise and the owner of numerous award-winning eateries. A must-try restaurant is Cotton Row Restaurant, which serves delicious food in a charming Southern atmosphere.

Huntsville is a city with a wide variety of stories to share, and there are a lot of things to do in Huntsville. It’s a dynamic site with a significant historical impact, sections of untamed nature, and contributions to the advancement of space research. You should be able to create the ideal schedule for your trip to Rocket City with this list of nearby attractions!

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