10 Reasons To Visit Huntsville, Alabama

8:13 PM Life in Between 6 Comments

June 14, 2016

Located in the northernmost area of Alabama, Huntsville is currently on the list of fastest-growing cities in the state. Every year, more people flock to "The Rocket City" to experience what it has to offer. After taking a good look at the town, it's clear that it's more than exquisite sweet tea; although, it definitely has that. Huntsville is constantly making strides to connect with its community, offer exciting cultural events and expand its list of fine dining.

Living in the city has given me a deeper understanding of what makes it special. I've been so busy writing about other places that I haven't gotten a chance to share my hometown. Here are my top picks for what makes Huntsville a wonderful travel destination.

1. You can travel to the moonor Mars, if you like. 
One of the most popular reasons people visit the city is the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Opened in 1970, the museum brings space exploration and discovery to life with elaborate displays, artifacts, history and traveling exhibits. I've spent several afternoons there, and I always find something I've never seen before. The center hosts the popular Space Camp program where kids can see if they have what it takes to be an astronaut. This is one thing I'll always regret missing out on when I was younger. At 27 years old, I might look a little out of place now. But if they would let me in for a day, I wouldn't hesitate to put on a space suit.

(Update: There IS an Adult Space Camp! Visit http://www.spacecamp.com/space/adult for more info. #YouAreNeverTooOld)

Huntsville is driven by scientific innovation and discovery. The Space and Rocket Center is a perfect place to look to the past and gaze at the future of mankind's journey in space.

2. The restaurant scene just keeps getting better. 
And now to one of my favorite parts of exploring a new destination: the food. I am very happy to report that Huntsville is kicking butt and taking names when it comes to delivering fresh, local, gotta-have-it-now cuisine. Best of all, the Rocket City keeps getting new and delicious restaurants as the city continues to grow in popularity. It's impossible to narrow it down to just one (or 10), so I will try to highlight just how diverse the culinary talents of this southern city really are.

New Orleans Lunchbox - Located at a Minit Man Marathon gas station on the corner of Holmes and Jordan, this cajun eatery serves up everything from red beans and rice to spicy jambalaya. It might be the only time you are begging for food from a gas station.

Grill 29 - Perhaps one of my favorite local places to eat, Grill 29 is located in the quaint Providence area of the city, and has some of the best shrimp I've ever eaten. But it's not limited to seafood. This place is a bit pricer than others, but it's worth every penny. They also have another location in Birmingham.

Cotton Row - If you believe the press about this place, and you should, you are in for a night of unforgettable dining. Located in the Downtown area, this restaurant was #1 on USA Today's Top-10 list for "Best Southern Fine Dining."

3. Downtown is always buzzing with fun events. 

Do food truck rallies, nighttime concerts, community events, shopping and award-winning restaurants sound good to you? Downtown Huntsville, Inc. "is committed to creating a vibrant, diverse and economically sustainable Downtown Huntsville," and they have been very successful in doing just that. The food trucks alone are a reason to check it out. Shout out to Rollin' Lobstah! I could eat your savory, lobster rolls every day of the week. And Bigfoot's Little Donuts? I am sure they serve your sugary goodness in heaven. 

Over the years, this area has grown into a bustling center for culture, business and entertainment. Be sure to visit downtownhuntsville.org to see what crowd-pleasing events are happening when you make your next trip to town. 

4. There are numerous stunning hikesand did I mention Monte Sano Mountain? 
When I was a child, my family would pack up the car with picnic goodies and take a trip to Monte Sano Mountain. The spot holds a lot of my favorite memories. Monte Sano State Park is located on Nolen Avenue and is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Campgrounds, cabins and an event lodge are available, but the best part is taking a walk through one of the many hiking trails. The views are marvelous and you can see the busy streets of Huntsville far below at one of its lookout points.

If you are the outdoorsy type, Huntsville has everything to keep your nature-loving self satisfied. Visit the Land Trust of North Alabama, Green Mountain Nature Trail or nearby Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge for more.

5. Local artists take center stage. 
When I first moved to town, I was amazed at how supportive the community is of local artists. One of the spots you will see creativity shine is Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment. Currently the largest privately owned arts facilities in the United States, the historic factory building is home to more than 200 artists that inspire, create and even teach classes to the community.

The building itself is a work of art. Visitors can walk about a maze of remarkable visuals before riding the 1899 Otis elevator to the next floorone of my favorite parts of a visit. The halls are dripping with crafty ribbons, paint, tiles, handmade jewelry, scarves and more. The space has expanded over the years to open up to small local businesses like Suzy's Pops, a gourmet popsicle shop. It's also home to Southern Living's 2015 Food Award winner, Piper & Leaf Tea - Artisan Tea Co. Its Front Porch Special tea has won the hearts of locals and visitors alike. It's a small family business that continues to create amazing teas, tisanes and even homemade pastries on special occasions. Trust me, if you are looking for the best southern tea, look no further! And I didn't even get a chance to describe how delectable the chocolates from Pizzelle's Confections taste after a blissful afternoon of admiring art.

Lowe Mill also hosts the Flying Monkey Arts Center, where people can do everything from swing dancing to poetry slams. And, if you visit on a Saturday, you can see the weekly Artist Market. All creative spirits should head over to Lowe Mill for a dose of inspiration.

6. The botanical gardens will give you some much-needed peace. 
Spend a few hours, or even a whole day, exploring the grounds of Huntsville Botanical Gardens. Of course, this excursion is perfect for groups and families. But I have always made it a solo trip so I can zen-out, read a book or write in my journal. I promise the beauty of the surrounding fauna and colorful butterflies will inspire you. As you stroll through the winding gardens you will feel your stress slip away.

The garden also hosts numerous events throughout the year, group tours and offers educational opportunities for children and adults. This is one spot you don't want to miss. Go ahead, stop and smell the flowers.

7. You'll drink awesome coffee.

I discovered Grounded Coffee a few years ago through a friend from Boston. Yes, Boston! She traveled to Huntsville often, and I asked her where the best coffee was. She didn't hesitate to tell me Grounded.

Since then, I have become a regular. I go for the coffee, and I stay for the amazing customer service and appreciation of patrons. There's something special about walking into a mom-and-pop shop where everyone knows my name. And the coffee is just sublime. You can get it brewed in a variety of ways, and every cup is made with care and attention. And guess what? The word is getting out. More and more locals are becoming regulars because the brew is just that good! Be sure to order one of its specialtiesa "Rocket City" (blend of coffee and espresso). It doesn't get more Huntsville than that!

Of course, there are other wonderful local shops where you can get your caffeine fix. Try Southbrew Angel's Island, Cafe 153, Olde Towne Coffee Shoppe, Wild Bean Coffee and A Cup of Everything to get your day started the right way.

8. It has a rich history.
The Twickenham Historic District is where Huntsville showcases its historically significant structures, sites and neighborhoods. One look at the embellished houses on the shady, tree-lined streets and you will instantly be reminded of simpler times. It's also the site of The Weeden House Museum and Garden, Alabama's oldest house open to the public. Visitors can take guided tours through Twickenham to get up close and personal with the beauty and spirit of the area. Visit Alabama Travel for more information on booking a tour.

(Pro-tip: Alabama Travel is the state's official travel website, and will help you discover everything you need to know about Sweet Home Alabama. It's a wonderful resource.)

Don't forget to climb aboard the Huntsville Historic Train Depot. This iconic site represents Huntsville advances in transportation and city growth. It's part of the EarlyWorks Family of Museums, another thing you should check out while you're here. It's family friendly and lots of fun.

9. There are plenty of options for beer connoisseurs. 
Stouts, pale ales, lagersHuntsville has it all. The city is home to several local breweries and, let me tell you, it's good. Straight to Ale offers tours of its brewing facilities every Saturday at 2 p.m., and it's followed by a beer sampling in the tasting room. Another great spot to grab a pint is Yellowhammer Brewing. Yellowhammer shares a space with the ever-so-amazing Earth and Stone Pizza. Fresh-from-the-oven pizza and local craft beer on a Friday night? Sounds perfect. (Pro-tip: Ask for the pizza with sweet potatoes on it. Believe me on this one.)

Here's a directory of Huntsville's Breweries, courtesy of Our Valley Events.

10. Entertainment isn't hard to find. 
The Von Braun Center is the city's mecca for broadway shows, major concerts, ballets, sporting events and much more. The facility is easy to reach and will surely offer something for the whole family to enjoy. Visit its official website, vonbrauncenter.com/, to purchase tickets for current featured events.

Have more to add to my Huntsville list? Join the discussion and comment below.

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  1. Loving this summary info on our very own Huntsville, Alabama. Also loving your energetic style, dreamer girl.

  2. Haley,
    Love this piece about our great town! I hope I'm about to make you super excited when I tell you that there is honest to goodness adult Space Camp. Yep, it's a thing. They even rock the hashtag - #YouAreNeverTooOld. You should definitely look into it. Keep up the great work!

    1. WHAT?! This must happen. I am looking this up right now! Thanks for the info! Yes!!!

    2. Pinch me, I'm dreaming! I think I found the link: http://www.spacecamp.com/space/adult

  3. Glad you found it. Enjoy! ❤️🚀