There are many fun things to do in Huntsville, Alabama! Everyone will enjoy the contrast between historic and modern Huntsville attractions.
*A big thank you to the Huntsville/Madison County CVB for hosting our trip and providing us with admission to museums and some of our meals.*
Fun Things To Do In Huntsville
Huntsville is a diverse and international city where technology lives well along with art and culture. In Huntsville, you can easily spend a day walking among giant rockets or beautiful historic homes. We’ve been to Huntsville multiple times now and we love the juxtaposition of it and feel the city has something for everyone.
We’ve gone ahead and put together some Huntsville attractions that we think you’ll really enjoy. Whether you’re visiting Huntsville with kids, looking for a romantic date night spot, or you’re a history nerd, you’ll find something of interest in Huntsville.
We’ve also created a video that highlights some of our favorite Huntsville attractions. It’s towards the bottom of this article.
Make sure to also check out our other Huntsville articles:
– Huntsville Restaurants: A Guide To The Best Places To Eat In Huntsville, Alabama
– Huntsville Trails: Beer, Cocktails, Coffee, and Hikes!
Formerly a school, Campus 805 is now THE place to hang out in Huntsville. With multiple breweries, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, it’s the perfect place to unwind and have some fun. They’ve also kept the school theme, which we really love.
Like the idea of repurposed schools? Check out this Grinnell, Iowa hotel!
Our favorite places inside the campus are the secret speakeasy (hidden behind sliding lockers), Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza, and Civil Axe Throwing. The axe throwing is particularly thrilling, and although it took a few tries, we eventually got a bulls eye. If you have time, though, we recommend making multiple visits to Campus 805 because it truly has so many awesome places to visit.
Lowe Mill Arts And Entertainment
Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment is an old mill that has been turned into one of the largest private arts facilities in the southeast. While visiting you might see artists painting, sculpting, and even creating jewelry. There are also many cafes and restaurants.
You can find another unique transformation happening at Stovehouse. Once an old factory, Stovehouse is now being converted into a village-like complex with restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and plenty of outdoor space to chill and relax. During our visit, we had tacos and sat by the Food & Leisure Garden.
Catacomb 435 Speakeasy
Downtown Huntsville has gotten even cooler now that it has a new secret speakeasy! You’ll truly feel like you’ve gone back in time to the 1920s when you step into this underground space. The décor is Art Deco, it’s dimly lit, there’s jazz music playing in the background, and silent black and white films are playing on a screen over a piano.
To get in, you need to make a reservation. You’ll then get a password that changes daily. Catacomb 435 is located at 100 Jefferson Street and there you will find a bright red firebox on the left of the door. Press the call button, say the password, and someone will let you in. Then you head down stairs and walk through an unmarked black door.
It’s a small space that doesn’t fit more than 30 people. When we visited, we sat in a small nook that was once an old coal chute from the 1800s. To make your handcrafted cocktail, the bartender will ask you to pick an alcohol and up to two flavors. Soon after you’ll get your delicious cocktail surprise.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Of course, any time you ask about Huntsville attractions, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will undoubtedly be mentioned. The rocket center is made up of the main museum, the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, historic Shuttle Park, and Rocket Park. Everyone of all ages will enjoy learning about the space race and the development of the space shuttle program.
During one of our visits, the featured exhibit was “Apollo: When We Went to the Moon” and it celebrated the 50 year anniversary of when we landed on the moon. There were artifacts and memorabilia that chronicled the competitiveness between the U.S. and Russia, and highlighted the extraordinary efforts of U.S. engineers and astronauts.
On our most recent visit, we absolutely had to go back to the Rocket Center. It’s such a cool place and their exhibits are always changing.
What made this visit extra special, though, was that when we went to their new planetarium experience we had an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter there for Mark. Frances from Deaf Access. Inc. did a great job and for the first time ever, Mark was able to fully experience a planetarium show. Thank you Frances for making this experience one of the highlights of our most recent trip to Huntsville!
Harrison Brothers Hardware
Harrison Brothers Hardware was established in 1897 and was passed down from generation to generation until 1983. The store was then purchased by the Historic Huntsville Foundation; they wanted to preserve the store and it’s traditions. Although they no longer sell hardware, there are still a variety of things you can purchase like housewares, snacks, toys, and other knickknacks. It’s one of the most popular Huntsville attractions.
We loved how much of the original store is still intact. The wooden floors, the shelves and fixtures; everything is as it was a century ago! There’s also a display with many mementos, photos, and original ledgers and receipts. The highlight for us was seeing the 1907 National Cash Register that is still in use. It’s so big and beautiful and we loved the sound it made when the drawer opened. You can see the register in action in our video below!
Huntsville Revisited History Museum
Curated by William Hampton, a 6th generation Huntsvillian, the Huntsville Revisited History Museum at the H.C. Blake Art & History Center has incredible pieces and artifacts. Some that date back hundreds of years! We were able to talk to William and his passion and love for Huntsville is obvious and contagious.
As we walked through the space, we saw photos, old records, film reels, and even small pieces of materials from buildings that are no longer standing. It really is a special place.
Burritt On The Mountain
Over looking Huntsville, on Round Top Mountain, is Burritt on the Mountain. This property has over 160 acres and is made up of Dr. Burritt’s mansion, a historic park that has six authentic 19th century homes, a replica of a 1918 Rosenwald School, nature trails, and more.
Dr. Burritt built his retirement home in 1938. It’s a bit eccentric, as there are a few different architectural styles blended together. And although Dr. Burritt was married three times, he had no heirs. So when he passed away in 1955, he left the property to the city of Huntsville to become the city’s first museum.
Behind the mansion, visitors step back in time and see what it was like to live in the area as a farmer during the 19th century. There are living history interpreters dressed in period clothing that can tell you all about their homes and the tools they used on the farm. There are also plenty of animals and livestock. If you’re looking for fun Huntsville activities, make sure to check out their events calendar; there’s always something going on!
Also on the property is a replica of a Rosenwald School. In the early 1900’s, there weren’t many schools for African-American children in the South. Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck & Company, and black educator Booker T. Washington got together and with local support built nearly 5,000 schools in 15 states between 1913 and 1932. Known as Rosenwald schools, they helped thousands of children get an education and learn valuable skills.
Currently, there is a program where 4th grade Huntsville students get to spend the day at the school and experience what it was like to be a student in 1918. They put on period clothing, write with a nib pen and ink, do their lessons on slates, and more. We would have loved to spend a day doing some of the activities they do as part of the program!
Huntsville Free Walking Tour
If you’re visiting Huntsville in April or October, we definitely recommend taking one of their free guided walking tours. It’s a great way to learn about Huntsville’s historic districts and see some great architecture.
Huntsville Museum Of Art
The Huntsville Museum of Art, located along side Big Spring International Park, has excellent permanent and traveling exhibits. Its seven galleries are filled with world class paintings and sculptures and they also offer cultural events throughout the year. We especially recommend visiting on Thursday evenings after 5pm, when admission is only $5 and you can also get a glass of wine for $5.
Secret Art Trail
We love finding street art and murals. While in Huntsville, we were very happy to discover their Secret Art Trail. But I guess it’s not a secret anymore LOL! There are almost 20 amazing pieces around the downtown area.
Some are interactive and fun to pose in front of, but our favorite is one of the newest Huntsville murals. Titled “This Girl Can,” and painted by Kimberly Radford, the mural marks 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment which gave women the legal right to vote.
Clinton Row Colorwalk
Be on the lookout for this colorful alley as you explore downtown Huntsville. Located between two buildings, the Clinton Row Colorwalk stretches from Clinton Avenue East to Holmes Avenue Northwest and is filled with murals painted by local artists.
Big Spring International Park
After visiting the art museum, take a stroll around Big Spring International Park. A Huntsville must-see, this iconic park is beautifully manicured and a perfect spot to take photos, walk along its many paths, feed ducks and fish, or just sit and people watch. Make sure to head up to the northeast corner where there is a shaded path that leads to a waterfall.
Do you know what a pocket park is? Well, it’s basically a mini park and Huntsville has the cutest pocket park downtown. It is officially called “Washington Street Park With a Purpose” and it has plenty of space to sit and relax. If we worked or lived downtown we’d be there all the time!
Huntsville Botanical Garden
No matter what time of year it is, we think one of the best things to do in Huntsville is visiting the Huntsville Botanical Garden. The 112 acre garden is even listed as one of the top things to do in Alabama! There are so many specialty gardens, trails, and exhibits that you can easily spend hours wandering around and taking it all in.
One of our favorite areas of the botanical gardens was the pavilion inside Damson Aquatic Garden. Of course, the butterfly house inside the nature center is amazing as well. Besides hundreds of butterflies, you’ll also see turtles, frogs, and quails. And did we mention it’s also the largest open-aired butterfly house in the country?
We thought their Children’s Garden was really awesome too, so if you’re looking for things to do in Huntsville with kids, we definitely recommend visiting. It’s actually divided into eight sections and has playgrounds, splash areas, a maze, and plenty of space for the kiddos to run around. They’ll even be able to see dinosaurs!
U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum
The U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum is probably the best veterans museum we’ve ever been to and definitely one of the best things to do in Huntsville. Some of you may remember that Vicky was in the Army, so any chance we get we try to visit memorials and museums dedicated to military veterans. And this museum truly was spectacular.
It’s crazy to think that it all began with someone’s personal collection. And then people heard about the museum and started donating their own memorabilia. They still receive donations constantly and its amazing to see what they have amassed. Artifacts go all the way back to the Revolutionary War and they include uniforms, weapons, jeeps, tanks, and even aircraft! They also have a replica of the briefing room of the 385th Bomb Group, USAAF in Great Ashfield, England during 1943-45.
Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial Park
Aside from visiting the veterans museum, we also recommend visiting the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial Park. It’s a really well laid out memorial with touching sculptures and plaques. It was dedicated on Veterans Day, 11/11/11.
There are eight polished black granite markers with the names of local service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The granite for the markers came from the same quarry that supplied the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. There are also small white headstones in the Defender Fountain that are replicas of the headstones in Arlington National Cemetery that represent all fallen warriors.
Trash Panda Game
A really fun thing to do in Huntsville is go to a Trash Panda baseball game. The Rocket City Trash Pandas are a Double-A Affiliate of the Angels in the Double-A South. They play at Toyota Field, which is about 15 minutes southwest of Downtown Huntsville.
Going to a game would be perfect for date night or a fun activity for the whole family. When we went to a game, we sat on the grass in the designated Berm seating. It was a beautiful night for baseball!
Monte Sano Stone Cuts Trail
Monte Sano State Park is absolutely gorgeous and has miles of hiking and biking trails. What it is most famous for, however, is its Stone Cuts Trail. It was a bit of a hike to get to these rock formations, but it was totally worth it. We enjoyed climbing up and around them.
Our Video About Huntsville
In this video, we showcase some of our favorite Huntsville attractions.
Where To Stay In Huntsville
We think a great place to stay while visiting Huntsville is the Hampton Inn Huntsville/Village of Providence just outside of the US Space and Rocket Center. It’s in the area known as the Village of Providence. There are restaurants and shops within walking distance and the US Space and Rocket Center is a short drive away.
The hotel offers free breakfast and free parking. It also has a gym and a beautiful pool. Oh, and the beds are super comfy too! We really enjoyed our stay and highly recommend it.
Final Thoughts On Huntsville, Alabama
We loved our trips to Huntsville! It’s already such a fun city and we know it’s only going to continue to grow. We can’t wait to visit again!