12 Things To Do with Family in Huntsville, Alabama

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Huntsville, Alabama is a wonderful city for families. With its rich history, beautiful landscape, and wealth of attractions and activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy. From educational museums and outdoor adventures to delicious restaurants and fun events, Huntsville has a wide variety of family-friendly things to see and do.

ActivityDescription
U.S. Space & Rocket CenterExplore space history, rockets, and simulators.
EarlyWorks Family MuseumInteractive 19th-century village experience.
Huntsville Botanical GardenBeautiful gardens and nature trails.
Lowe Mill ARTS & EntertainmentTreetop adventure and artist studios.
Monte Sano State ParkHiking, nature, and scenic views.
North Alabama Railroad MuseumHistoric train rides and exhibits.
Comedy Open Mic NightFamily-friendly comedy night.
Von Braun CenterPerforming arts and entertainment.
Panoply Arts FestivalAnnual arts festival with performances and activities.
Rocket City Summer FestCitywide summer events and activities.
Huntsville AquariumMarine life exploration and exhibits.

This article outlines 12 of the top things for families visiting Huntsville. It provides details on popular museums, nature activities, performing arts and entertainment venues, annual local events, and more. Whether you’re a local looking for a new adventure or a tourist exploring the area for the first time, this guide covers some of the best ways to spend time together as a family in Huntsville.

Explore Early Space History at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Name and Location: The U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum is located at One Tranquility Base in Huntsville, Alabama just off I-565.

History and Significance: Open since 1970, the museum shares the story of the U.S. space program’s origins and Alabama’s crucial role. As an official NASA visitor center, it offers rare artifacts, interactives and activities bringing history to life.

What to Expect: Get up close to authentic rockets, modules and spacecraft while trying simulators. See launch control, touch a moon rock, watch films in the IMAX theater and meet astronauts who made history across two campuses.

Visitor Information: Open daily with varying hours. General admission plus special attractions extra. Tickets start at $25 for adults. Combo discounts available. Special events occur annually.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is one of Huntsville’s most iconic attractions. As the Official Visitor Center for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, this massive complex has countless rockets, spacecraft, simulators, exhibits, shows, and hands-on activities to enjoy. Walk under a towering Saturn V rocket, join a Mission To Mars simulation, and even have an astronaut experience with space camp.

With one of the largest collections of space artifacts in the world, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center brings Huntsville’s crucial role in space exploration to life. Kids of all ages will love climbing through rockets, designing spacecraft, and watching IMAX movies about the wonders of space. Don’t miss out on the most immersive, educational look at space travel in Huntsville.

Venture Through History at EarlyWorks Family Museum

Name and Location: EarlyWorks Family Museum occupies a former 1950s cotton mill at 404 Madison Street in Huntsville’s historic Five Points district near downtown.

History and Significance: Open since 1993, this children’s museum uses interactive environments representing North Alabama history to engage families across three floors of hands-on discovery encouraging group play and problem solving.

What to Expect: Kids can explore a textile mill, bank, vet’s office, train, castle, farm, bubbles exhibit and more through imaginative role playing activities with sensory components promoting develop and fun.

Visitor Information: Open daily with varying hours. Admission around $10 per person ages 1+. Special programs extra. Appropriate for toddlers through elementary schoolers.

For a unique look at what life was like in Huntsville’s early days, visit the EarlyWorks Family Museum located in downtown Historic Huntsville. This museum features a recreated 19th century village with various shops, houses, and community buildings to wander through.

Costumed interpreters bring the history to life as you explore the cabinet shop, apothecary, one-room schoolhouse, printing office, and more. Kids can try grinding corn, using a washboard, writing with ink pens, and participating in other hands-on activities. Special events and programs like Civil War reenactments make this outdoor history museum even more vibrant and engaging.

Relax at the Huntsville Botanical Garden

Name and Location: The Huntsville Botanical Garden occupies a 112 acre open space at 4747 Bob Wallace Ave, just off Interstate 565 southwest of downtown Huntsville, Alabama.

History and Significance: Established in 1968, the expansive gardens feature cultivated specialty plots and native growths showcasing floral beauty across diverse ecosystems in a peaceful natural respite just minutes from city life.

What to Expect: Traverse pine and wildflower trails past aquatic plants, an interactive wetlands, bamboo forest, waterfall, Faye Giger Camellia Garden, children’s garden, aquatic center, butterfly house, outdoor art and seasonal plantings.

Visitor Information: Open daily with varying hours by season. Regular admission around $12 per person. Extra cost for some exhibits and tram tours. Leashed pets allowed on paths.

Exploring rockets and history is exciting, but sometimes you need a peaceful place to relax in nature’s beauty. That’s where the stunning Huntsville Botanical Garden comes in. Known for its gorgeous displays and lush landscapes, these 112 acres contain cultivated gardens, aquatic features, nature trails, a butterfly house, an open-air pavilion, and even a children’s garden designed just for kids.

Spend an afternoon wandering through beautiful flowers and plants from around the world, letting stress melt away. Bring a blanket and picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn. Huntsville Botanical Garden also hosts fun seasonal activities like insect encounters in summer and glittering galaxy light shows around the holidays, giving families more ways to make memories together.

Treetop Family Adventure at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

Name and Location: Lowe Mill A&E’s Treetop Family Adventure ropes course is located within the larger creative complex at 2211 Seminole Drive on the south end of Huntsville, Alabama.

History and Significance: Added in 2020, the three-story elevated ropes challenge provides active indoor recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities within a former textile mill supporting working artists and small businesses since 2001.

What to Expect: Over 30 elements like rolling logs, cargo nets and swinging rings challenge balance and coordination on color coded self-guided aerial courses built for confidence and teamwork circumnavigating the historic open-air atrium.

Visitor Information: Open weekly with varying days. Online waivers required. Rates start at $22 based on minimum heights. Family friendly visitor info available on site.

For adventurous families, a unique outing awaits at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. This former cotton mill now contains over 200 artist studios and shops to browse, but the main attraction is the treetop family adventure course. Strap on a harness and climb ropes, cross bridges, and navigate tightropes suspended 35 feet in the air right next to the outdoor arts venues and festivals.

With over 100 challenging elements, this course will get your adrenaline pumping as you work together to complete obstacles. Ranges for kids as young as 4 years old up through adults mean the whole family can take part in this unique adventure. If you want even more of a thrill, try the high ropes course or zipline after mastering the treetop trail.

Get Up Close to Nature at Monte Sano State Park

Name and Location: Monte Sano State Park occupies over 2,000 acres atop Monte Sano mountain east of downtown Huntsville accessible from Airport Road.

History and Significance: Created as a recreational respite by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, the rugged state park offers hiking trails, camping facilities and spectacular valley panoramas just minutes from metropolitan amenities.

What to Expect: Outdoor lovers enjoy over 15 miles of nature paths revealing lush forests, restoration plantings, wildlife overlooks, native species like fox and owls and interpretive programs through the diverse prehistoric plateau ecosystem.

Visitor Information: Park open daily from sunrise to sunset. No gate fees. Some usage charges for lodging rentals. Pets permitted on 6’ leash max. Visitor center on site.

The beautiful landscape around Huntsville offers many ways to enjoy the outdoors, with Monte Sano State Park providing gorgeous mountain scenery. Just minutes from downtown, this park contains over 2,000 acres of woodlands, multiple hiking trails, an interpretive center, camping sites, cabins, and the longest stone bridge east of the Mississippi River.

Spend a morning hiking through lush forests and meadows, learning about local flora and fauna at the nature center, or picnicking by the river. Cool off at the public swimming pool during hot summer months. With incredible overlooks and peaceful wilderness without being too remote, Monte Sano makes appreciating Huntsville’s natural beauty simple and fun for the whole family.

Ride the Rails at the North Alabama Railroad Museum

Name and Location: The North Alabama Railroad Museum operates from 694 Chase Road in Chase, Alabama – about 20 minutes north of downtown Huntsville.

History and Significance: Run by volunteers since 1967, the museum seeks to preserve regional railroad history including acquiring, displaying and providing passenger rides on authentic locomotives from America’s past along active demonstration track.

What to Expect: railroad buffs explore displays like a 1901 steam engine, 1950s wooden caboose, tools and artifacts via self or guided tour. Visitors can also ride mini trains or book seats on select scenic routes behind vintage engines monthly.

Visitor Information: Open Saturdays year round 10-4. Train rides offered spring through December for fees. Memberships available with added benefits. Event rentals hosted.

For a nostalgic journey into the past, all aboard the trains at the North Alabama Railroad Museum. Located in Chase, this museum displays historic railcars and locomotives while offering short train rides pulled by vintage diesel engines. Kids can explore passenger cars, cabooses, and more while learning about the critical role railroads played in Huntsville’s early history.

The ride lasts just 20 minutes as the train rolls through picturesque countryside to the quaint Keel Mountain Station before heading back. The museum also hosts special events like Easter rides on the Easter Bunny Express or fun seasonal excursions. Families who love trains or want to experience old-fashioned transportation will enjoy making memories together at the North Alabama Railroad Museum.

Laugh Out Loud at Comedy Open Mic Night

Name and Location: Stand Up Live Huntsville’s Comedy Open Mic nights are held inside the entertainment venue at 3208 Governors Drive SW near the Parkway Place shopping mall.

History and Significance: North Alabama’s premier comedy club has supported local comedic talent in a casual live performance setting for over a decade via weekly open mics allowing community members to test out material or just enjoy some free laughs.

What to Expect: Aspiring area comics try out 5-minute sets wedged between seasoned entertainers over three hours most Mondays. Performers and material vary widely from deadpan to slapstick attracting all types. Food/drinks available.

Visitor Information: Free. No tickets required. Sign up to try standup comedy. Kitchen and full bar serves throughout with two item minimum. Must be 19+ evenings unless dining.

Does your family love to laugh? Then check out Comedy Open Mic Night at the Brickhouse Comedy Club downtown. Every Tuesday night, this lively venue lets anyone try their hand at stand-up comedy with a real audience. The range of amateur comedians provides quirky, surprising humor the entire family can enjoy. Stick around for seasoned comics later on for an evening full of laughs.

Between the silly jokes and cheerful atmosphere, Comedy Open Mic Night makes for a fun shared experience. The laid-back setting means you don’t have to worry about kids getting restless or being too silly themselves. Grab some drinks and appetizers to make it an even more memorable family night out.

See a Show at the Von Braun Center

Name and Location: The Von Braun Center convention complex is located in downtown Huntsville spanning over 10 acres with multiple venues under one roof at 700 Monroe Street.

History and Significance: Originally opening in 1975 with just the arena, the campus has expanded over the decades as a community gathering place for major events. Today it hosts concerts, comedy shows, performances, conferences, trade shows and more through its facilities.

What to Expect: Patrons can enjoy favorite artists or productions within the arena, concert hall, theaters, ballrooms and meeting spaces year-round. Series subscriptions and single show tickets available by season.

Visitor Information: Individual venues have distinct capacities, formats, schedules and ticket prices depending on the performance or function. Garage parking on site. Rental spaces also available.

For world-class performing arts and entertainment options, look no further than the Von Braun Center in the heart of downtown Huntsville. This multi-purpose complex contains a concert hall, playhouse, music hall, exhibition hall, and conference center hosting all kinds of shows perfect for families.

Catch a Broadway musical or children’s theater production at the intimate 500-seat playhouse theater. Or check out a bigger touring show, comedian, or musician at the expansive Propst Arena concert venue that seats over 10,000 guests. With affordable tickets and amazing local talent, seeing a performance at the Von Braun Center makes for fantastic family memories.

Celebrate at Panoply Arts Festival

Name and Location: Panoply Arts Festival is an annual event held in May spanning Big Spring Park and the Von Braun Center downtown Huntsville centered around Monroe and Gates streets.

History and Significance: Established in 1982, Panoply celebrates the arts by transforming city blocks into vibrant performance stages featuring diverse music acts, theater troupes, dance ensembles, literary readings and hands-on creative activities uniting community.

What to Expect: For four days, observers can freely roam indoor and outdoor venues to experience local and national talents while enjoying food trucks and craft vendors scattered across 14 walkable acres of creativity aimed to delight, inspire and bring people together.

Visitor Information: Free public event held annually Thursday through Sunday. Some demonstrations or craft workshops may have nominal supply fees. Hours and schedules vary.

One of Huntsville’s most beloved annual traditions is Panoply Arts Festival held each April in Big Spring Park. This lively three-day event celebrates the arts with incredible live performances, hands-on demonstrations, delicious food, and fun activities. Local dance academies, theater troupes, bands, orchestras, and other artists take over four outdoor stages scattered throughout the park.

Let the kids run around on the large green space while you sample dishes from local restaurants at Taste of Huntsville. Hundreds of vibrant maker booths offer arts and crafts fun for families too. Whether you love music, food, or culture, Panoply Arts Festival entertains people of all ages with the best of Huntsville.

Blast Off During Rocket City Summer Fest

Name and Location: Rocket City Summer Fest is an annual music festival held in June as a ticketed event within the open grounds surrounding the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama off I-565.

History and Significance: Launched in 2019, the Rocket City Summer Fest builds off the region’s aerospace legacy as the premier outdoor alternative music event for the Tennessee Valley delivering chart-topping bands not typically found elsewhere locally.

What to Expect: Revel with thousands swaying and singing along to rock, indie, pop and hip hop artists performing live on multiple themed stages flanked by LED screens, light shows, amusement rides, games, food trucks and craft beer over a long summer weekend.

Visitor Information: Three day passes start around $80. Individual day tickets also available. ATMs on site. Reentry allowed. Chairs and blankets permitted. Shuttles from parking lots offered.

What better way to enjoy long sunny days than Rocket City Summer Fest? Stretching over two months in June and July, this citywide series of events and activities keeps families having fun all summer long. Local museums like the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and EarlyWorks Museum extend hours and host special programming. Downtown Huntsville comes alive with moonlight concerts, art walks, street food festivals, and more.

Don’t miss the dazzling Rocket City Fireworks Display along the Tennessee River or the delicious Taco Tango Taco Trail Competition. With so many cool events packed into Rocket City Summer Fest, you’ll want to stay in Huntsville all season long making vibrant memories with the people you love.

Explore Marine Life at the Huntsville Aquarium

Name and Location: The Huntsville Aquarium occupies the third floor at 315 Church Street in downtown Huntsville above Stovehouse food hall.

History and Significance: Billed as North Alabama’s first aquarium, this educational attraction opened in 2021 showcasing regional ecosystems and conservation in an interactive exhibit within a restored longtime stove manufacturer stemming from when “Watercress Capital” was known for its springs.

What to Expect: Observe giant catfish, alligator snapping turtles, jellyfish, stingrays and other species native to Gulf Coast, Tennessee and Mississippi River waters via tanks and touch pools accompanied by information on their changing habitats.

Visitor Information: Open daily with varying hours. Tickets $10 ages 13+, $8 kids under 12. Behind-the-scenes animal encounters available at added cost. Free parking garage on site.

For year-round family fun, a visit to the Huntsville Aquarium allows you to explore underwater ecosystems and marine life. The aquarium’s most popular residents are the playful North American river otters, along with a variety of fish species populating the numerous tanks. Sharks, rays, sea turtles, seahorses, and reptiles round out the aquatic attractions.

Kids love getting up close to see the creatures swim and play while learning cool facts during daily feedings and keeper chats. Special weekends bring extra opportunities like meeting Santa divers for a Christmas wonderland in winter or underwater pumpkin carvers during Halloween season. With indoor and outdoor exhibits, Huntsville Aquarium makes rainy days shine.

Conclusion

Offering everything from thrilling museums and historic sites to outdoor adventures and vibrant performing arts, Huntsville overflows with family-friendly things to experience. Rocket launches, 19th century villages, beautiful botanical gardens, funny comedy shows, and so much more — Huntsville truly has it all.

Whether you want to discover new educational attractions or enjoy annual events like Panoply Arts Festival and Rocket City Summer Fest, there are endless ways to bond with your family. Huntsville’s blend of rich culture and scenic landscapes means you’re guaranteed to make special memories together that will last a lifetime.

So next time you’re looking for great things to do in North Alabama, consider this guide your go-to reference. With awesome options for visitors of all ages and interests, Huntsville is the perfect playground for unforgettable adventures with your loved ones by your side.

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