When planning a vacation, Huntsville isn’t at the top of many lists, but maybe it should be. For a 200,000 population, the city has a home town, relaxed feel. And the city has the highest per capita of Ph.D’s, a huge art scene, and friendly population so it’s a great place to mingle with the locals. There are so many fun things to do in Huntsville.
Be an astronaut for a day at NASA’s Marshall Space Center
Whether you can afford the time and money to do Space Camp, or go to the visitor center to see the Saturn V, or get a behind the scenes tour, NASA is an interesting place to visit. As part of my blogger convention, I got a free behind the scenes tour. We even got greeted by Todd May, the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Center. Then we traveled around the base and visited many labs, the testing site, and the control center for the International Space Station. We even had a female astrophysicist tell us about the 2017 eclipse and gave us NASA swag.
AM Booth’s Lumberyard
This super cool multi-venue entertainment center has several different bars, stages, and restaurants. There’s even a whole train car in the courtyard.
Go Back to School at Campus 805
This old middle school now houses two microbreweries, multiple bars and restaurants, a small theater in the gym (open mic comedy the night I visited), a pinball room, and more. Search for the Speakeasy and have a drink in the windowless bar. Hint to finding the secret entrance: there is no lock on the door, but there might be a locker (check out the picture above).
Feed the Fish and Ducks in Big Spring Park
Just on the edge of downtown is the Big Spring Park. There actually is a big spring, the feeds the canal system that used to bring cotton and watercress to downtown Huntsville by boat. Now there are loads of Koi fish and Ducks that live in the canals and pond.
Check out the 1800’s Architecture
There are loads of old houses and churches to see as you walk around Downtown and the Twickenham Historic District. I found an inexpensive stay in a 1837 house on AirBnB.
See a Show at the Von Braun Center
The Von Braun Center hosts many shows throughout the year. I didn’t have time to see them, but Boston was playing one of the nights of my visit.
Scare your britches off on a Ghost Tour
Avalon Tours have been running ghost tours for several years. Not only did the owners thoroughly research each home and historical person, but they also utilized a medium to confirm stories and talk directly to some ghosts. The scariest story is about the ghost of a lynched murderer that now haunts the courthouse. There were two service dogs on our tour and they both went crazy in front of two of the houses. The walking tours cost only $10.
Eat a Taco at Taco Mama’s
Get huge servings at this very busy eatery, which is one of 5 locations in Alabama. The platters come with a mountain of Nacho chips and a side, such as Mexican Mac and Cheese.
Buy some Veggies or Baked Goods at Greene St. Farmer’s Market
Every Thursday night in the summer you can sample and buy foods and chat with the locals.
Meet the Locals
Huntsville might have some of the friendliest locals I’ve ever encountered. Whether you start a chat at a bar, invite people to sit down with you at a busy restaurant, or just smile to someone on the street, the locals are happy to chat with a solo traveler. I met a plethora of folks including a graphic artist, barista, a music teacher, and even a rocket scientist! Another female blogger and I were joking around with a meteorologist that we met and he shared his favorite weather phenomenon was “two chicks at the same time”… what a pick up line?
There are a number of other museums and botanical gardens that I ran out of time to see, so I’ll just have to keep that for another trip to add to my list of fun things to do in Huntsville.
I loved every minute of the travel blogger conference and the city but there’s just one thing that cracks me up. Huntsville seriously needs to fire its ad agency. Their city slogan is “I heart HSV” or #ihearthsv. HSV is the three digit code for the Huntsville airport. This slogan is found around town, on their twitter, and even on a T-shirt. But did you know what you get if you google “What is HSV?” Herpes Simples Virus!!! Now who wants to walk around with a T-shirt that says “I heart HSV”?
Where to Stay
The Embassy Suites is located right on the edge of Big Spring Park and is a great location for walking to downtown, and local museums and restaurants. It’s the best of the hotels near the Von Braun center. Book it now at booking.com. If not already registered at booking.com, get $25 off your first stay by registering here.