U.S. Space & Rocket Center
This popular attraction is home to more than 1, 500 artifacts from America’s achievements in space exploration. It’s the world’s largest hands-on space technology museum and host of the Space Camp. It is the official visitor information center for the Marshall Space Flight Center and is the official museum for both NASA and the U.S. Army.
Huntsville Botanical Garden
The city’s botanical garden offers everything from festivals and events to educational programs and more than 100 acres of beautiful gardens. The site includes a nature center, the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house and a garden of hope for cancer patients.
Sci-Quest Hands-on Science Center
Sci-Quest features more than 100 permanent, interactive exhibits in seven different subject areas that are designed to engage, educate and entertain. Educational programs are available for children age 4 through ninth grade. Sci-Quest will move to its new permanent location in Madison this fall.
Huntsville Museum of Art
This museum was founded in 1970. Its permanent collection includes nearly 3, 000 objects, including the Sellars Collection, the largest collection of art by American women primarily focused on 19th and 20th century American art with an emphasis on art from the Southeast, African, Asian and European art. Its recent expansion, The Davidson Center for the Arts, includes seven new exhibition galleries, the Stender Family Education Galleries with interactive and hands-on exhibits, four new special event facilities and an adjacent parking lot.
Alabama Constitution Village
Step back into 1819 and explore Alabama’s rich history. Become a part of the 19th century as villagers dressed in period clothing take you through eight reconstructed Federal style buildings in downtown Huntsville. Visit the actual site where 44 delegates gathered to forge the way for Alabama’s statehood.
Huntsville Historic Depot
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the depot was the local passenger house and the corporate office for the eastern division of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. An active passenger station until 1968, it now is a symbol of Huntsville’s growth. The recent addition of Little Toot’s Imagination Station offers special activities for pre-school children.
Harrison Brothers Hardware Store
A living 19th century landmark, Harrison Brothers sits on the courthouse square in downtown Huntsville. It’s called a hardware store but it’s much more, stocked with old-fashioned tools and housewares, as well as modern items. Goods stocked high are retrieved with tall rolling ladders, a rope elevator is hand-operated and a real potbellied stove warms the store in winter.
Bridge Street Town Centre
One of the top shopping and entertainment destinations in the region is Bridge Street Town Centre, with dozens of retail establishments and restaurants. You can even watch a movie at Monaco Pictures while sipping on specialty wines by the glass.
Burritt on the Mountain
Described as a “jewel on the mountain, ” Burritt features Dr. William Henry Burritt’s eclectic mansion, a historic park with restored 19th century houses and a beautiful site for concerts, plays and exhibits. The Baron Bluff building is now open and can accommodate 400 for a reception or more than 250 for a meal. Burritt has created an exploration game for this spring and summer called The Whimsical Woods. The Whimsical Woods are filled with characters from nursery rhymes, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and other classic stories of the 1800s.
EarlyWorks Children’s History Museum
EarlyWorks is the South’s largest hands-on history museum, with exhibits ranging from a 46-foot keelboat to a general store and a talking tree. The museum features giant-sized instruments, a construction zone, and a touch-and-learn area for preschoolers.
North Alabama Railroad Museum
This museum, located east of Huntsville in Chase, reflects a love of trains and a desire to preserve railroad history. There are self-guided tours and guided tours, along with the Chase Depot, the smallest union depot in the country. Rides are offered in the museum’s vintage train. More than 30 pieces of major rolling stock have been preserved, including both freight and passenger equipment and three historic locomotives.
Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment
This center, located in historic Lowe Mill, supports a diverse creative community. It is home to more than 50 different artists and arts groups, with a goal of having a total of 100 such groups under one roof. It offers programs and classes, concerts and other entertainment events.
The Veterans Memorial Museum
This museum, operated by the Alabama Center of Military History Inc., is dedicated to promoting and disseminating the accomplishments of American military men and women. The emphasis is on World War I and subsequent conflicts. It is home to more than 30 military vehicles from World War I to the present, as well as tableaus, artifacts and other memorabilia dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – Hampton Cove
Hampton Cove is a 54-hole facility with terraine that drastically changes. It includes the recently renovated Highlands Course, the River Course and the Short Course.
A festival of the Arts Council, Panoply began 31 years ago as a “magnificent array of the arts.” More than 70 local performing groups and additional featured performers from across Alabama and the U.S. come to Huntsville for the event that costs festivalgoers only $10 for a weekend pass.
Monte Sano State Park
Spanish for “Mountain of Health, ” Monte Sano rises 1, 600 feet above sea level and has attracted visitors since the mid-1820s. The park’s lodge offers a variety of meeting space and cabins are available for rent, as well.
For more information on things to do in Madison County, visit huntsville.org.
Text by Lori Chandler Pruitt