No matter the era, Huntsville has always seemed to be on the cutting edge. Leaders came together to sign the Constitution that made Alabama a state in 1819, scientists put a man on the moon and craft brewers launched Alabama's burgeoning brewing industry. It remains a city of ingenuity, particularly in the field of space exploration, since the U.S. Space & Rocket Center continues to be a key component of NASA's future as scientists are currently working on flights to Mars.
48-Hours in Huntsville
Day 1 - Afternoon
Start your Huntsville adventure at the state's no.1 tourism attraction - the U.S. Space & Rocket Ceter, which celebrates the history and the future of NASA. Witness the wonders that launched man into space at the largest and most comprehensive space-flight museum in the world. Marvel at an actual Saturn V rocket, suspended just a few feet above your head and named on of the Seven Wonders of America by the "Good Morning America" staff. For a truly hands-on experience, register for the centre's world-famous Space Camp, where you can build robots, design space suits and rockets and experience the weightlessness of a spacewalk or the adrenaline rush of piloting an F-18 Super Hornet and other craft using cockpit simulators. Space Camp offers programs for nine-year-olds to adults. Since it began in 1982, it has attracted more than 750,000 "trainees" from all 50 states and more than 60 countries.
Day 1 - Evening
Have dinner and attend a show at Monaco Pictures. This upscale movie house, outfitted with a stylish restaurant and bar is known for its sushi, state-of-the-art technology and reserved theatre seating. If you are an adult, pay a few more dollars more for the VIP Prive service and go upstairs to sip a wicked martini from the bar as you settle into an oversized, deluxe leather seat to watch the movie.
Day 2 - Morning
Literally stop and smell the roses, along with azaleas, daylilies, magnolias, camellias and hydrangeas that are blossoming to beautiful perfection at Huntsville Bontanical Garden. The 112-acre garden, about a one-mile drive from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, is open year-round and is full of winding nature trails, numerous specialty gardens - including an interactive children's garden and aquatic garden - and butterflies. The Purdy Butterfly House features 12 native species.
Day 2 - Afternoon
Head to Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, billed as the country's largest privately owned arts facility. The seemingly endless line of studios and stores (127 if you're counting!) in the three-story former cotton mill offers one clever, unique, traditional option after another, from learning how to draw comic books from a master comic book artist or having your pet's portrait painted to getting a custom-made cigar box guitar or stained glass work. The shopping couldn't be any more low-key and enjoyable and provides a great souvenir.
Day 2 - Evening
As the sun begins to set, visit Campus No. 805, one of the state's most dynamic entertainment venues. Nine craft breweries call Huntsville home, and this "campus" includes some of the best. The building takes its name from its previous life as S.R. Butler High School in the city's 35805 zip code. Pick up some Earth and Stone wood-fired pizza at Yellowhammer Brewing, or if you prefer Japanese, then sit down at Rock N Roll Sushi where the menus are made from classic album covers. Either way, try one of the adult desserts at Earth and Stone, such as the vanilla ice cream with bourbon and pecans. If you want to focus on the fine dining instead of the fine brews, Cotton Row features a menu that changes with the availability of fresh, local produce. Other dining options include Pane e Vino Pizzeria, known for rustic-chic Italian fare and pizzas named after famous artists; Grille 29, famous for its crabmeat-stuffed jumbo scallops and Connors Steak & Seafood, recognised for its prime cuts of steak.
Day 3 - Morning
Read y to work off those adult desserts? Start your morning by hiking or cycling against a gorgeous backdrop. Monte Sano State Park, located atop Monte Sano Mountain in the centre of the city, features camping, picnic areas and pavilions, hiking trails, playgrounds and flower gardens.
Day 3 - Afternoon
Celebrate the arts of earth and beyond at The Huntsville Museum of Art, located in Big Spring International Park in downtown Huntsville. The museum's 3,000 pieces include the prestigious Sellars Collection of Art by American Women, an assemblage of more than 400 pieces by female artists from 1850 to 1940. The museum's collection also includes space-inspired works, such as Andy Warhol's "Moonwalk".
Worth the time:
- Ride one of the new Zagster bike-share bikes, available from eight stations downtown. The high-tech program allows you to request and unlock a bike through an app on your smartphone.
- Admire the carefully selected antiques for sale at Willowbrook Shoppe.
- Tour the 1819 Weeden House Museum and Garden.
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