Explore the History of Huntsville And Northern Alabama
Huntsville and Northern Alabama offer a variety of attractions that reflect the city’s heritage, including the largest concentration of antebellum homes in the South. Established in 1805, Huntsville became the state’s first English-speaking city and hosted the delegation that was instrumental in forming the 22nd state of the Union.
Once an important center for cotton trading, Huntsville earned the nickname, Rocket City, for its crucial role in the success of NASA’s moon mission.
Visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and see over 1,500 artifacts on space exploration including a Saturn V moon rocket. Experience stunning views of the Tennessee Valley from Burritt on the Mountain, the city’s oldest museum, or tour the Weeden House Museum, once the home of poet and artist Maria Howard Weeden. See the largest collection of art created by American women at the Huntsville Museum of Art. Don’t miss the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house at Huntsville Botanical Garden, and enjoy over 100 miles of hiking and biking trails throughout Huntsville/Madison County. Play golf at Hampton Cove, relax at Big Spring International Park, or see a live theater production at Von Braun Center.
Downtown Huntsville, Alabama
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Top Things to Do
Museums & Historical Sights
Stroll around the Twickenham Historic District in downtown Huntsville to view gorgeous antebellum homes. Climb aboard locomotives and see artifacts from the Civil War at the historic Huntsville Depot. Helen Keller’s birthplace in Tuscumbia features exhibits on America’s First Lady of Courage. The 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Memorial at University Drive and Pulaski Pike in Huntsville honors African Americans who served in U.S. wars. Stop by Constitution Village for a reenactment of Alabama history.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville features a Saturn V moon rocket, displays on the Space Shuttle program, interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater. Try a space travel simulator and learn about new innovations developed by NASA. Cook Museum of Natural Science in downtown Decatur offers natural history exhibits, live animals, aquariums, and a museum store. The state-of-the-art facility explores everything from deserts and oceans to the arctic and hardwood forests.
See migrating sandhill cranes during the Festival of Cranes at Wheeler Nation Wildlife Refuge in Decatur. Buttahatchee River Fall Fest attracts hundreds to downtown Hamilton for live music, arts and crafts displays, a car show, and other events. Russellville’s Watermelon Festival in October features vendors, contests, and displays on all things watermelon to celebrate the annual harvest. Watch grill masters compete in the annual barbecue competition during Whistlestop Weekend at the Huntsville Depot in May.
Wineries & Breweries
Northern Alabama is home to a dozen wineries. It’s possible to visit several in a day or enjoy tastings and events over a weekend. Muscadine grapes are a specialty in the region and you’ll get to sample a variety of other flavors. Huntsville boasts more craft breweries than any other Alabama city. The Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail includes stops at 10 different breweries. Pick up a map at the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor Center.