12 Attractions in Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama is a vibrant city with a rich history and plenty of things to see and do. Nicknamed “Rocket City” for its close association with the U.S. space program, Huntsville offers visitors an intriguing mix of high-tech attractions and down-home Southern charm.

U.S. Space and Rocket CenterOfficial Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, with exhibits on space flight and a real moon rock.
Monte Sano State ParkOffers hiking trails, Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, and panoramic views of Huntsville.
Huntsville Botanical GardenFeatures floral displays, a butterfly house, and a children’s garden.
Huntsville Museum of ArtThe largest art museum in Alabama, showcasing American and contemporary art.
Weeden House Museum and GardenA 19th-century Greek Revival architecture home museum displaying antebellum life.
EarlyWorks MuseumAn open-air museum representing life in Huntsville from 1805 to 1840.
Burritt on the MountainA living history museum offering a glimpse into 19th-century Appalachian life.
Harrison Brothers HardwareAlabama’s oldest hardware store, part museum with historical displays.
Huntsville Depot and MuseumA restored railway depot with exhibits on Huntsville’s railroad history.
Huntsville Ghost WalkA haunted walking tour through downtown Huntsville featuring local legends and folklore.
Huntsville’s Craft BreweriesShowcases local craft breweries offering unique Southern flavors.
U.S. Veterans Memorial MuseumHonors military heroes with artifacts spanning from Native American weaponry to modern warfare equipment.

From exploring the city’s role in space exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to taking in panoramic views from Monte Sano State Park, there is something for everyone in Huntsville. History buffs will enjoy wandering through historic downtown and antebellum homes, while families will love the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s interactive children’s garden.

Foodies can sample the local flavour at craft breweries and restaurants, and outdoor enthusiasts have their pick of activities like hiking and kayaking. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended stay, here are 12 of the top attractions that make Huntsville a can’t-miss Alabama destination.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center

Name and Location: The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a museum operated by the government of Alabama, showcasing rockets, achievements, and artifacts from the U.S. space program. It is located in Huntsville, Alabama.

History and Significance: The museum opened in 1970 to showcase Huntsville’s pivotal role in the development of rocket technology. It features one of the largest collections of space memorabilia in the world, including rockets and spacecraft flown in actual space missions. The Center continues to inform people about space exploration and inspire new generations.

What to Expect: Visitors can view iconic rockets and spacecraft, like the Saturn V moon rocket. There are simulators to experience rocket launches and landings. The museum also features hands-on exhibits and educational programs to engage people of all ages. An IMAX theater shows space-themed films on a giant screen.

Visitor Information: The Rocket Center is open daily. General admission, exhibits, and shows require a paid ticket. Combo passes are available to maximize the experience. Advance purchase is recommended for busy periods.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is one of Huntsville’s most popular attractions. As the Official Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, this massive complex documents Huntsville’s crucial role in the development of rocketry and space travel.

Exhibits trace the history of space flight, with memorabilia, hardware and replicas from major milestones like the Apollo moon missions. Visitors can tour the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, see rockets up close, and even touch an actual moon rock.

Don’t miss the Space Shuttle exhibit where you can walk right under the real Pathfinder shuttle. The most iconic part of any visit is a stop at Shuttle Park, where massive test vehicles like Saturn V rocket replicas tower overhead.

Kids and kids-at-heart will enjoy hands-on experiences like simulators, Mars Base camping, and the GRAVITY accelerator. With an IMAX theatre and exciting special events year-round, this attraction merits a full day for any space enthusiast.

Monte Sano State Park

Name and Location: Monte Sano State Park is an over 2,000 acre park located on top of Monte Sano mountain east of downtown Huntsville, Alabama.

History and Significance: Monte Sano mountain has long been a retreat from Huntsville’s summer heat. The state park was opened in the 1930s, taking advantage of the mountain’s cooler temperatures and fine views. Its Civilian Conservation Corps-built lodge and cabins are still popular today.

What to Expect: Hiking is a major Monte Sano activity with over 20 miles of trails, ranging from easy to rugged. The park also features campgrounds, picnic areas, an interpretive center, restaurant, and museum with local history exhibits. Seasonal naturalist programs are also available.

Visitor Information: Monte Sano State Park is open year-round for day use and camping. No entrance fees are charged to the park itself, but there are fees for camping, programs, and the restaurant/museum.

For gorgeous bird’s-eye views of Huntsville, head to Monte Sano State Park atop Monte Sano mountain. The 2,140-acre park features rustic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, over 20 miles of hiking trails, a military memorial and an interpretive center.

Outdoor lovers flock here year-round to hike, bike, picnic and camp. But the biggest draw is the vista point offering panoramic vistas of the city below and 365-degree views of the surrounding Tennessee River valley.

Don’t miss the Monte Sano Air Show each May, when model aircraft enthusiasts gather for a weekend of races and stunt flying. The striking vista of Huntsville against the backdrop of planes soaring by makes Monte Sano a bucket-list vista for any visit.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Name and Location: Huntsville Botanical Garden is a 112 acre garden open to the public, located on Bob Wallace Avenue in northwest Huntsville, Alabama.

History and Significance: Established in 1955 on the former property of local nursery operators, the early gardens focused on azaleas, camellias, iris, and roses. It has grown into one of Alabama’s foremost botanical institutions with diverse gardens and conservation initiatives.

What to Expect: Visitors can wander through creatively designed landscapes like an aquatic garden, nature center, fern glade, and view field trials of hydrangeas and other plants. Seasonal festivals, classes, and the Galaxy of Lights holiday lights event are also major attractions.

Visitor Information: The Huntsville Botanical Garden is open year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission is charged. Annual passes, special events, and group rates are available.

Huntsville’s diverse ecosystem is showcased at this stunning 112-acre garden which boasts gorgeous floral displays, delicate orchids, carnivorous plants and tranquil Asian-inspired spaces. A signature attraction is the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house, where hundreds of native butterflies flutter freely among exotic flowering plants.

Families especially love the Children’s Garden with over 100 interactive exhibits like climbing structures, tunnels and a treehouse. Nature-lovers appreciate the park’s focus on preserving the region’s natural heritage through dedicated gardens like the Alabama A&M University Medicinal Plant Garden and the Anderson Education Center displaying native plants.

With guided garden walks, summer concerts and holiday light shows, the opportunities to enjoy natural beauty are endless here. No wonder Huntsville Botanical Garden is known as one of the Gulf Coast’s must-see botanical attractions.

Huntsville Museum of Art

Name and Location: The Huntsville Museum of Art is located in downtown Huntsville, Alabama neighboring the Von Braun Civic Center and Big Spring Park.

History and Significance: Founded in 1970 by local arts patron Marie Kendrick, this museum seeks to foster understanding of art and culture in Huntsville and the surrounding region through exhibitions and educational programs. Its permanent collection includes over 3,300 works.

What to Expect: Visitors can view regional and national traveling exhibitions featuring diverse artists and mediums. Public programs, classes, concerts, and lectures related to featured works are regularly hosted as well. The museum also manages two historic homes in Huntsville open for guided tours.

Visitor Information: The Huntsville Museum of Art is open 6 days a week year-round, closed Mondays and major holidays. Special member hours are on Sundays. Admission fees apply for all non-member adults.

As the largest art museum in Alabama, the Huntsville Museum of Art is the city’s premier venue for world-class art exhibitions and cultural events. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 3,500 objects focusing on 19th and 20th century American artworks.

Visitors enjoy iconic paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Gilbert Stuart and Winslow Homer alongside contemporary works, dinnerware and stunning glass sculptures. Touring exhibits have included masterpieces from Monet, Matisse and Renoir too.

Hands-on art discovery happens daily in the interactive Art Cart and Studio spaces. With concerts, lectures and family activities happening year-round, the museum anchors Huntsville as a regional arts hub. The museum expands kids’ creativity through accessible art experiences among its world-renowned collection.

Weeden House Museum and Garden

Name and Location: The Weeden House Museum and Garden, a historic home museum, is located at 300 Gates Street in the Twickenham National Historic District of downtown Huntsville, Alabama.

History and Significance: The Weeden House is a fully-restored 1819 residence showcasing the life of the prominent Weeden family in early 19th century Huntsville through preserved period furnishings, clothing, and other artifacts. The house interprets the Federal style of architecture.

What to Expect: Tours guide visitors through the historic home’s rooms furnished with Weeden family pieces while describing life in early Alabama. Outside, costumed interpreters occasionally demonstrate activities of the era. The museum also hosts special seasonal events and educational programs.

Visitor Information: The Weeden House offers guided tours throughout the week and on Saturdays. Tours require paid admission which also includes accompanying Harrison Brothers Hardware museum. Reduced group rates available.

History aficionados will love this beautifully-preserved example of 19th century Greek Revival architecture. Weeden House Museum is a fully restored historic home museum displaying life in the antebellum Deep South through guided tours showcasing original furnishings, decorations and possessions of the Weeden family.

Costumed re-enactors and interactive exhibits like washing laundry on an antique washboard provide immersive glimpses into the past. The adjacent Poole Reese Fleming gardens demonstrate intricate English-style garden design with tranquil ponds, stone structures and perfectly trimmed hedges accented with native azaleas and ornamental flowers.

Both architectural and garden enthusiasts will find a trip here well worthwhile for the region’s best example of historic Alabama domestic life and landscape architecture.

EarlyWorks Museum

Name and Location: EarlyWorks Museum, formerly known as EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, is located in downtown Huntsville, Alabama, next to the Huntsville Depot and Museum.

History and Significance: Founded in 1996 as North Alabama’s first interactive history museum for children, EarlyWorks highlights the stories of the Tennessee Valley’s cultural heritage through preserved artifacts and hands-on exhibits. It promotes history education.

What to Expect: Immersive exhibits allow kids to play shopkeeper, print newspapers as a young apprentice, build structures, and dress up in period costumes as they learn about Alabama life in the early 19th century. Special events and programs occur monthly.

Visitor Information: EarlyWorks is open Tuesdays through Saturdays with an admission fee charged. Memberships offering free admission and other benefits are available, as are group discounts.

Experience the frontier era in Alabama’s first capital at this 8-acre open-air museum presenting life in Huntsville from 1805 to 1840. Authentically costumed interpreters populate the property’s 12 restored buildings to mimic an early 19th century Southern town.

Kids can try grinding corn, printing at the newspaper office, writing with quill pens and more hands-on historic trades. Special events like Military TimelineEncampments, Cotton Gin Festivals and seasonal celebrations reveal deeper insights on antebellum culture with soldiers, statesmen, townsfolk and artisans.

EarlyWorks creates an immersive world of Alabama’s formative era including Native American life, the cotton economy, slavery, medical practices and the state’s political history. It’s the perfect place to walk in the footsteps of Huntsville’s fascinating past.

Burritt on the Mountain


Name and Location: Burritt on the Mountain is a park featuring preserved 19th century farm buildings, located on Round Top Mountain overlooking north Huntsville and the Tennessee River valley.

History and Significance: Dr. William Burritt established his mountaintop farm in the 1870s to experiment with agricultural and educational initiatives. Many of his original buildings remain preserved as a window into rural Tennessee Valley life after the Civil War. Historic programming is emphasized.

What to Expect: Guests can explore restored farm structures, meet heritage breed farm animals, view folk art exhibits, and enjoy onsite eateries. Festivals, classes, livestock shows, music programs, and seasonal events like candlelight tours occur regularly.

Visitor Information: Burritt on the Mountain is open daily year-round except for major holidays. Admission fees required for park entry, with annual pass options. Facility rentals available.

One of Huntsville’s most unique attractions, Burritt on the Mountain transports visitors back to rural Appalachian life in the 19th century. This living history museum centered on Dr. William Burritt’s estate includes restored cabins, barns, churches and buildings demonstrating traditional folk life and practices.

Among animal exhibits like donkeys, sheep and ponies, costumed demonstrators showcase crafts, skills and foodways of the era including blacksmithing, soap-making, quilting and open-hearth cooking. The property’s medieval tower inspired by Dr. Burritt’s travels also provides panoramic mountain-top views showcasing the beauty of North Alabama.

Special events spotlight 19th century holidays and customs to delight visitors on any visit. The blend of history, scenery, hospitality and old-fashioned activities makes Burritt an engaging journey to the past.

Harrison Brothers Hardware

Name and Location: Harrison Brothers Hardware is a preserved 19th century hardware store located in downtown Huntsville, Alabama adjacent to the Weeden House Museum.

History and Significance: Founded in 1879, Harrison Brothers Hardware supplied general hardware needs to north Alabama residents for over 90 years before closing. The three-story brick building has since been restored as an interpretive merchant shop representing late 19th/early 20th century commerce.

What to Expect: Those touring the hardware store will find shelves lined with vintage merchandise that could have been purchased there long ago. Many items feature descriptions illuminating past functions. Educational programs and exhibits related to the store’s history often occur.

Visitor Information: Harrison Brothers Hardware tours are included with admission to the neighboring Weeden House Museum, open regularly throughout the week and on Saturdays. Reduced group rates available.

Established in 1879, Harrison Brothers Hardware holds the record for Alabama’s oldest hardware store. They’ve operated continuously from their Clinton Row site in downtown Huntsville since 1894. Part old-fashioned store, part museum, a visit here allows shoppers and history fans to view untouched displays chalked with 100-year-old price tags as inhibitions of nuts, bolts and bricks.

Around every corner are vintage treasures ranging from early American flags to delicate ostrich eggs and mounted big game like moose and bear heads from the store’s early 20th century inventory. Harrison Brothers exemplifies the old-school Southern hardware with warm hospitality, folksy charm and products to fulfill most any DIY, home repair or craft need.

It’s the ultimate place to take home both hardware and memories showcasing Huntsville’s long legacy as the ‘Hardware Capital of the South’.

Huntsville Depot and Museum

Name and Location: The Huntsville Depot and Museum complex is located in downtown Huntsville, Alabama adjacent to Church Street.

History and Significance: Dating from 1860, the depot is among Huntsville’s oldest surviving railroad structures and now houses the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society’s museum. It interprets local transportation history, showcasing locomotives, rail cars, artifacts, and exhibits.

What to Expect: Those visiting the museum can explore vintage rail cars, like the presidential car known as the Huntsville, and see exhibits detailing the key role of railroad transportation in developing north Alabama. Lectures and educational events also occur.

Visitor Information: The Huntsville Depot Museum complex is free and open to visitors Fridays-Sundays. Weekday group tours may be scheduled in advance for a fee. The museum is closed on major holidays.

Railway enthusiasts and history fans must stop by the beautifully restored Huntsville Depot centrally located beside the active Norfolk Southern railway tracks. Saved from demolishment in the 1970s, this classic freight and passenger terminal now houses the Heart of Huntsville Museum.

View gorgeous exhibits detailing the vital role of railroads in connecting Huntsville to national trade networks essential for cotton and textile industries between 1860 and 1970. Don’t miss the Prime Meridian marker located just outside to offer a tangible glimpse at the logistics of early transit route planning our development.

With antique dining cars, vintage photographs and lingering smells of locomotive engines, the Depot tangibly conveys Huntsville’s transportation heritage and fire economic prosperity.

Huntsville Ghost Walk

Name and Location: The Huntsville Ghost Walk is a guided walking tour of allegedly haunted sites and buildings clustered in downtown Huntsville, Alabama’s Twickenham and Old Town historic districts.

History and Significance: Local businessman and storyteller Pat Bielen leads tours spotlighting Huntsville’s spiritual side by recounting stories of tragedy, mysteries, and paranormal occurrences tied to the area’s early history as Alabama’s first incorporated city.

What to Expect: Approximately 90-minute tours visit stops like the Harrison Brothers Hardware building and Huntsville’s oldest cemeteries. Pat provides an overview of hauntings associated with each site while encouraging participants to use provided EMF detectors to test supernatural energy.

Visitor Information: The Huntsville Ghost Walk operates from March-November, with tours Friday and Saturday nights. Reservations are recommended. Ticket purchase required, private group rates available. Meet at Harrison Hardware 10 minutes before tour. Flash photography not allowed.

For chills and thrills with a side of history, join a nightly haunted walking tour through downtown Huntsville. Local storytellers weave haunted tales, paranormal sightings, folklore, vampires, ghosts and more macabre legends on 90-minute gambols to the city’s most misunderstood places and spooky spaces for a frightfully good time.

Stops include 19th century cemeteries, former slave trading sites said to still echo agonized screams, haunted music halls and secret rooms concealed within antebellum mansions and historic hotels like the 1814 Donahue House.

Suspense builds with shadows flickering against these eerie edifices still reportedly home to their original ghostly inhabitants. It’s spine-tingling entertainment providing a unique perspective on Huntsville’s harrowing history.

Huntsville’s Craft Breweries

Name and Location: Huntsville, Alabama is home to multiple locally owned craft breweries producing specialty beers, primarily clustered downtown and in the West Huntsville area.

History and Significance: Straight to Ale, founded in 2009, pioneered Huntsville’s craft beer scene. The brewery’s success spurred growth of upstarts like Yellowhammer (2010) Salty Nut (2012) and others, creating new tourism and economic opportunities while promoting redevelopment.

What to Expect: Breweries like Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer, and Salty Nut all operate tasting rooms where visitors can sample specialty beers on draft, enjoy food trucks, attend events like trivia and yoga with beer, or take brewery tours. Many distribute beer locally.

Visitor Information: Huntsville breweries are typically open weekly for lunch/dinner hours with seasonal variations. They have differing tours and events schedules. Most don’t charge admission but ID is required for tastings and purchases.

Huntsville’s nickname, ‘Rocket City’, hints at its dynamic mix of high-tech and down-home charm. Nowhere is that fusion better captured than among the craft breweries which have put Huntsville on the map for beer lovers.

Sample unique local pours at places like Yellowhammer Brewing known for drinks with quintessential Southern flavors like sweet tea vodka and satsumawitte ales. Meanwhile Straight to Ale offers hop-forward crafts like Brother Joseph Belgian dubbel beside creative options like hot Sriracha stout and coffee oatmeal draughts.

The sleek modern taproom at Mad Malts packs 12 constantly rotating brews showcasing honey basil kölsch, blackberry bramble sours and more fruity, spice-infused or chocolate-y experimental drafts.

With a half-dozen independent breweries now operating across Huntsville, visitors can easily fill an afternoon with craft beer tasting discovering the boutique breeding innovation that’s helping brand the city as Alabama’s capital for beer connoisseurs.

U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum

Name and Location: The U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum is located off Memorial Parkway at 2060 Airport Road in Huntsville, Alabama, near the Huntsville International Airport.

History and Significance: Established in 1996 by veterans advocating to showcase military history, this non-profit museum presents rotating exhibits interpreting the experiences of American veterans from World War II to current Middle East conflicts using uniforms, equipment, oral histories and more.

What to Expect: Visitors can view thematic displays honoring different divisions and campaigns, like the Tuskegee Airmen or Vietnam’s Tet Offensive. The museum offers veterans support resources. Guest speakers, ceremonies, and genealogy assistance are also available.

Visitor Information: The U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum has free admission and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, closed Sundays, Mondays and major holidays. Groups should schedule visits in advance. Exhibit donations welcomed.

Honoring North Alabama’s remarkable military heroes, this museum just off the town square occupies Huntsville’s former Lincoln School building, an African American high school during segregation now listed on the National Historic Registry.

Thousands of artifacts convey local Armed Forces history spanning early Native American weaponry through modern warfare equipment including a refurbished Huey helicopter displayed on the front lawn. Authentic uniforms, firearms, medals and crisis memorabilia provide meaningful insights on the experience of war across two centuries.

Most touching is the extensive gallery honouring hometown veterans through photographs, diaries, discharge papers and other personal effects commemorating their courageous sacrifice in defense of American freedoms. For visceral perspectives on conflicts from World Mn through the War on Terror, it’s the ideal patriotic pit stop.

Final Thoughts

Offering an intriguing blend of high-tech innovation and old regional charm, Huntsville provides visitors plenty to see and do. Learn about the city’s pivotal contributions to space exploration or delve into its antebellum past walking in the footsteps of history.

Outdoor lovers have endless options for hiking, biking, paddling and exploring area waterfalls or unique ecosystems. Families find hands-on adventures tailored just for kids across this surprisingly dynamic Alabama destination.

Whether reliving the old South through living history museums or pub-crawling the local craft brewery scene, Huntsville delivers 12 can’t-miss attractions sure to make your Alabama trip truly memorable.

Leave a Comment