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25 Best Things To Do in Huntsville, AL

Drone Shot of Downtown Huntsville, AL

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It’s no secret that I absolutely adore my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. And the change it has seen since I’ve been a kid has been remarkable. What once felt like a small Southern town has transformed into a mid-size city with tons to do. So here are the best things to do in Huntsville, AL!

Whether you are traveling to Huntsville with family or want a getaway with friends, I think you’ll find there are so many great things to do in Huntsville.

P.S. — Big shout out to my husband, Gerrit who runs Sparrow Digital Media and takes all kinds of Huntsville pictures and let me have the cover photo for this article, because guess what I don’t have? Actual skyline photos of my own hometown apparently.

Quick Version of the Best Things To Do in Huntsville, AL

Short on time? Here are the highlights you need to know if you’re visiting Huntsville.

Top 3 Things To Do in Huntsville

Where to Stay in Huntsville

Where to Eat in Huntsville

Best Things To Do in Huntsville, AL

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

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a landmark in Huntsville! You can’t miss it when you’re driving down I-565 because it’s marked by a giant Saturn V rocket!

This is the #1 thing to do in Huntsville, AL, and with good reason! It’s home to Space Camp, but there’s also tons for day visitors to do.

  • Exploring the Rocket Park
  • Walking underneath a Saturn V in the Davidson Center
  • Watching a show at the Intuitive Planetarium
  • Learning about the space program in the museum
  • Letting kids play in the Smithsonian Spark!Lab
  • Space Camp experiences like the Multi-Axis Trainer or a Flight Simulator Experience

Huntsville has such a long history with NASA, and this really is an essential stop for any Huntsville itinerary.

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Huntsville Botanical Garden

Aquatic Garden at Huntsville Botanical Garden

The Huntsville Botanical Garden is one of my favorite spots in Huntsville. (Plus it’s one of my favorite things to do with kids in Huntsville!)

The Botanical Garden is a 118-acre space dedicated to plants of all kinds. Some of my favorite spots include the Fern Glade, the Herb Garden, and the Damson Aquatic Garden. And of course, if I’m there with kids, I love the Children’s Garden.

It’s also home to the largest open-air butterfly house in the United States: The Purdy Butterfly House. It’s located next to the Children’s Garden near the front entrance, and it’s definitely a must-see.

My other favorite thing about the Garden is their events. They constantly have special events going on whether it’s special dog nights, kids’ classes, special garden exhibits, or their award-winning Galaxy of Lights.

Step Back in History at Burritt on the Mountain

Burritt on the Mountain is a history museum on top of Monte Sano Mountain that also has some of the best views of Huntsville!

Burritt is an open air history museum full of historic buildings from all over Alabama. The main historic building is the mansion, which was built by a prominent Huntsville citizen in the 1930s.

(Fun fact: It’s actually the second version of this mansion, because the first one burned down in 1936 before Dr. Burritt even had a chance to move in. And watching the fire from the base of the mountain was one of my grandmother’s earliest memories!)

The rest of the museum has log cabins in various styles that you can explore. Plus there is a barnyard, a blacksmith, and a Rosenwald schoolhouse. They also often have historical reenactors there to interpret history for you.

Plus, they have the BEST mountaintop views from their observation platform that is literally called The View because it’s so great. And there are several hiking and nature trails in the area you can enjoy, including a short trail down to the historic cross.

Which yes, I know, having a large cross that looks over the city from the mountain can definitely have some unwanted connotations in today’s society. But the history of this cross is pretty amazing, because it was actually erected in the 1960s as a symbol of racial unity and peace.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment

Lowe Mill is probably the coolest spot in Huntsville! It’s the largest privately owned art facility in the country, and it’s full of artists and creators making all kinds of things.

A few of my favorite highlights:

  • Cigar Box Guitar Store (you can even take a free lesson on Saturdays from 12-2)
  • Pizzelle’s Confections (my favorite chocolate in town!)
  • Vertical House Records
  • Piper & Leaf Tea
  • Pure Joy Plants
  • Calvin Hubbard Ceramics

You can truly spend a full day here wondering through the art galleries, seeing the artists are work, and enjoying various food vendors. They also have regular events, like Friday night Concerts on the Dock in the fall, and small shows at Tangled Strings Studio.

It really feels like there is always something going on at Lowe Mill, especially on the weekends, and it’s if you have a creative spirit (or even if you don’t!) you can’t miss this.

Hike at Monte Sano State Park

Monte Sano State Park on Monte Sano Mountain is one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Huntsville. There’s hiking, campsites, picnic areas, and amazing playground, and more.

There are tons of wooded trails you can choose from, but one of my favorites is the Stone Cuts Trail, because it takes you through some fun rock formations. You can find a full trail map here though. If you’re visiting Huntsville, this is the best place to go hiking!

And of course, because you’re up on top of the mountain, there are some great views from here as well! Just the other side of the mountain from what you see at Burritt.

Hike the Madison County Nature Trail on Green Mountain

Green Mountain Nature Trail at Fall with Lake and trees

If you want an easy and beautiful hike in Huntsville, then you need to head to the Madison County Nature Trail on Green Mountain (which is also often called the Green Mountain Nature Trail).

This outdoor area on top of Green Mountain has an easy 1.5 mile loop trail around a lake. And along the way there are some fun sights, like a historic covered bridge, a log cabin, and a beautiful little chapel.

There’s also a huge picnic area here right next to the parking lot that looks out over the small lake. So it’s the perfect place to pack a lunch for and then enjoy it before or after your hike.

If you want more easy hikes, here’s a list of kid-friendly Huntsville hikes!

Take a North Alabama Land Trust Hike

In addition to Monte Sano mountain and the Madison County Nature trail, there are actually TONS more beautiful hikes in the Huntsville area. The Land Trust of North Alabama has made a point of preserving beautiful spaces in North Alabama and offering them for public use.

Some of my favorite Land Trust Trails are:

  • Bethel Springs Nature Preserve
  • Blevins Gap Nature Preserve
  • Green Mountain Nature Preserve

Take a Mural Tour of Downtown Huntsville

The Chandelier by Jessie Andrews (Honey Blood Art)

Huntsville has a vibrant arts community, and you can see that on display in all the murals in downtown Huntsville. There are actually lots of murals all over the city, but especially love how you can take a walking tour of the murals in downtown Huntsville.

This is a great way to spend a morning in downtown Huntsville! Grab coffee or breakfast at a local spot, and then enjoy a stroll through downtown.

Big Spring International Park

Big Spring International Park is the main park in downtown Huntsville. It’s right across the street from the Von Braun Center (where lots of events take place, like concerts and Huntsville Havoc hockey games) and right next to the Huntsville Museum of Art.

The park is named Big Spring because John Hunt (who founded Huntsville) settled next to this spring. Now it’s a great place to enjoy some outdoor time, feed the ducks, and walk across the Japanese bridge (which was a gift to Huntsville from Japan!).

Pro Tip: There are actually two parts to Big Spring Park. The main part is by the art museum with the small lake. But across the street, there is another smaller part that is home to the spring.

Visit the Huntsville Museum of Art

Right next to Big Spring Park is the Huntsville Museum of Art. If you want a day full of art, pair a visit here with a downtown mural walk and a visit to Lowe Mill (listed below).

The Huntsville Museum of Art has 14 galleries and includes permanent exhibitions that include the Sellars Collection of Art by American Women, Buccellati: A Silver Managerie, and American Studio Glass (which includes works by Dale Chihuly).

Pro Tip: Before or after your museum visit, have lunch at Pan e Vino on the bottom floor of the museum! You can enter from Big Spring Park.

Visit the Weeden House Museum

Maria Howard Weeden (also known as Howard Weeden) was a notable Huntsville artist. She was especially known for her portraits of African Americans in the years following the Civil War.

Today, you can visit the house where she grew up in downtown Huntsville. They hold tours Tuesdays through Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The tours cost $10 per adult, and you’ll need to bring cash.

Shop at Harrison Brothers Hardware

Harrison Brothers Hardware is a historic general-type store in downtown Huntsville that is a must-visit! The store has been on the courthouse square since 1897 (which means it has seen many different iterations of the courthouse building….and when you visit and see our courthouse, you’ll know why.)

Harrison Brothers still has its historic feel, with original wood floors, shelves, and counters. But it sells all kinds of gift items, housewares, toys, and more. This is the perfect place to go to pick up a local souvenir!

Fun Fact: When you exit Harrison Brothers, look to the building catty-corner to your right. This was where actress Tallulah Bankhead was born!

Visit Alabama Constitution Hall Park

Alabama Constitution Park Courtyard Gardens

The Alabama Constitution was actually signed in Huntsville in 1819, and this historic block of downtown lets you step back in time.

You can visit the Alabama Constitution Hall Park (which used to be known as Constitution Village) and see the cabinet shop where the Alabama Constitution was signed (yes, a cabinet shop because it was the only building big enough to fit everyone.) You can also see other nearby buildings from the time like the post office, a law office, and a resident home.

You can book tours Wednesday through Saturday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. Otherwise though, you can still stroll through the beautiful grounds and see the exteriors of the buildings.

Visit the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum

Huntsville has a really strong military connection as the location of Redstone Arsenal. While we don’t tend to have a ton of active duty military members, SO many people in Huntsville work on the Arsenal in some capacity as a government employee or contractor.

So it makes sense that Huntsville has a U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum. If you are interested in military history, you can stop by here to see all kinds of military artifacts, including more than 30 vehicles. It’s actually has the oldest surviving jeep!

It’s a small museum, so it won’t take you much time to go through. But if you have an interest in the military, it’s a must-see. Note that it is open Wednesday through Saturday.

Spend an Evening at Campus 805

Campus 805 used to be a school. Stone Middle School to be exact. But now they’ve flipped the idea of what a school building can be around and it has become a super popular brewery and entertainment venue.

Campus 805 is the perfect place to spend an evening. You can visit Straight To Ale or Yellowhammer Brewing, two of Huntsville’s most notable breweries. You can play X-Golf, go axe throwing at Civil Axe Throwing, or play vintage arcade games at Pints & Pixels.

Plus there are some great restaurants here like Earth and Stone Pizza and Hops N Guac. OH and don’t miss The Speakeasy that is hidden behind a wall of lockers!

Eat & Drink at Stovehouse

Evening Entertainment at Stovehouse

Stovehouse is another great entertainment venue, and it’s actually just down the road from Campus 805. (You will need to drive though because it is along a road you probably don’t want to walk on.) And like Campus 805, it’s also a re-purposed building. Stovehouse used to be a stove factory.

While Campus 805 focuses more on breweries and activities, Stovehouse focuses more on dining and entertainment.

There are lots of restaurants to choose from here, so this is a great place to go with people who have different dining preferences. You can all go grab your own food and meet back in the center tables to eat, kind of like a super upscale mall food court.

And on the weekend there is almost always live music going on, and it’s almost always a free show either inside or outside in the courtyard area. The best time to visit Stovehouse is when the weather is nice and you can sit outside to enjoy food and music!

Travel the Craft Beer Trail

Huntsville has tons of local beers and breweries you can try! The brewing seen really exploded in Huntsville in the early 2010s, and these breweries have become favorites for visitors and residents.

You can stop by the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor Center and get Craft Beer Trail Card, or get one at stops on the trail. Then collect all the stamps and get a small prize.

Travel the Craft Coffee Trail

Craft coffee has also gotten more popular in Huntsville in recent years. And so the Visitor Center also has a Craft Coffee Trail you can enjoy. Get the Craft Coffee Trail Card, get all nine stamps, and then get a free mug!

Pro Tip: Some of these stops make for great breakfast spots too, like Canadian Bakin and The Moon Bakeshop!

Enjoy Cocktails Downtown

Huntsville has some great cocktail spots downtown that you can enjoy before or after dinner.

One of my favorites is Catacomb 435. This is a speakeasy-style lounge and you’ll need a reservation (and they can be hard to get!). After you make a reservation, they’ll give you the password you’ll need to enter the underground space. Which is cool in and of itself.

But my favorite part is how they make the drinks. They have you fill out a flavor profile of what you would like in a drink, and then make you a custom drink based the flavors you selected. It’s so cool!

Can’t get a reservation at Catacomb? Two other great spots to get cocktails downtown are SiP Fine Spirits and Stella’s Elixir Lounge.

Walk Through Maple Hill Cemetery

Maple Hill Cemetery is the historic cemetery in Huntsville. It’s special to me because of family connection (I have lots of family buried here), but it’s full of Huntsville and Alabama history too.

Several Alabama governors and representatives are buried here, as well as lots of prominent historic Huntsville figures. But besides its history, this huge cemetery is also just a beautiful part of the city.

It’s also home to what’s known as the Dead Children’s Playground, which is Alabama’s most haunted site. Supposedly people see mysterious things happen here and see ghosts of children who died in the 1918 Flu. I haven’t ever witnessed this but still…it’s creepy.

See Eggbeater Jesus

Eggbeater Jesus is definitely Huntsville’s weirdest landmark. And while this stop won’t take up a lot of your times, it’s definitely something you should see!

The giant mural on the front of Huntsville’s First Baptist Church is known as Eggbeater Jesus because….we’ll, you’ll know when you see it. Jesus’s bottom half looks like a whisk.

And while we can be a little cheeky about it, it’s actually an incredible mosaic recently revamped by an Italian mosaic artist. It’s definitely one of the most special and iconic places in Huntsville, so much so that it appears on t-shirts and mugs from local vendors.

Float the Flint River

Floating on the Flint River

During the summer in Huntsville you can take a trip in kayak or canoe down the Flint River. It’s a really lovely river float on gently moving water. It’s a perfect thing to do with the whole family!

You can float the flint with two different companies: North Alabama Canoe and Kayak (NACK) or Brown Bear Canoe and Kayak. Both will provide you with all the equipment you need and will provide transportation to pick up points.

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy Huntsville’s beautiful outdoors!

Go To a Minor League Sporting Event

Huntsville is VERY into their sports teams! And we’ve got three minor league teams that can give you a sporting event to attend for every season!

All three of these teams have great venues and offer fun entertainment during the games. My favorite is probably going to Trash Pandas games, but all three are a blast!

Go To a Concert at Orion Amphitheater

Orion Amphitheater is Huntsville’s new state-of-the-art music venue, and y’all. It is BEAUTIFUL! And there is truly not a bad seat in the house! If you can go to a concert here, I highly recommend it!

Not only is the concert venue itself a really cool space, but outside before the concert there are food trucks you can enjoy, picnic tables where you can eat, and some pretty cool large art pieces to see.

Explore MidCity Entertainment

Orion is actually located in the MidCity District. This area is a few miles from downtown Huntsville, and is another great area to visit for fun activities.

(Fun fact: It’s located where our city’s major mall, Madison Square Mall, used to be. And once the mall stopped operating, this is what they decided to do with the space!)

At MidCity you can play Top Golf, go climbing at High Point Climbing, eat and The Camp, or find indoor entertainment at Dave & Busters. Plus there are lots of restaurants here.

This area of the city is still in development and new things are being built all the time, so it’s sure to have even more to offer in coming years!

Shop at Bridgestreet Towne Center

Bridgestreet Towne Center is Huntsville’s outdoor shopping mall, styled after a European-style street. Here you’ll find clothing and department stores, specialty shops, restaurants, and a movie theater.

Plus if you are traveling with kids, they will love the carousel and train that runs during busy days!

Where to Eat in Huntsville, AL

There are SO many great restaurants in Huntsville! Here are a few of my favorites.

Breakfast and Bakeries

  • Honest Coffee — A super popular coffee spot in downtown Huntsville.
  • L’Etoile Patisserie — The spot to get the most amazing French pastries! One of my absolute favorite spots!
  • Moon Bakeshop — A delicious and fun bakery themed after space (because this is the Rocket City!).
  • Canadian Bakin — Known for their amazing breads, plus they have great breakfast options.
  • Edgar’s Bakery — An Alabama franchise with three locations in Huntsville. They’re known for their cakes, but have great breakfast too.
  • Blue Plate Cafe — The spot to go for a full Southern breakfast! Plus they have biscuits with chocolate gravy.

Lunch and Dinner

  • The Poppy & Parliament — British pub food in downtown Huntsville. It’s so good!
  • Jack Browns — Honestly my favorite burger in Huntsville. Delicious, the perfect size, and not greasy! They are often crowded, so we sometimes get it to go and then find a spot to have a picnic downtown!
  • Domaine South — Amazing food, but they are also known for their incredible charcuterie boards.
  • Phil Sandoval’s — My favorite Tex-Mex spot in Huntsville! Located a few miles from downtown.
  • Commerce Kitchen — Fine dining in downtown Huntsville. I’ve loved everything I’ve had here.
  • Cotton Row — One of the fanciest restaurants in Huntsville, by the same chef as Commerce Kitchen.
  • Grille on Main — Known for their oysters. But I also loved my chicken here and they have the best chocolate souffle I’ve ever had. Located in Providence (a few miles from downtown)
  • Pan e Vino — An upscale casual spot on the bottom floor of the art museum that serves pizza and pasta.
  • Purveyor — Another one of my favorite date-night restaurants in downtown Huntsville!
  • Char — A steakhouse that has amazing steaks and burgers, but also the BEST crab cakes.

Sweets

  • Pizzelle’s Confections — My favorite chocolates in town! Located in Lowe Mill.
  • Big Spoon Creamery — An artisan ice cream shop out of Birmingham that has now expanded to downtown Huntsville. It’s SO good!
  • The Moon Bakeshop — In addition to breakfast, they serve all kinds of great baked goods. I love getting their cookie cake for my birthday!
  • Handel’s Ice Cream — My other favorite spot for ice cream in Huntsville! It’s a ways from downtown, but SO worth it (and there are now 2 locations!).
Patio Dining in Downtown Huntsville

Where to Stay in Huntsville, AL

When you’re visiting Huntsville, staying downtown is going to be the most convenient. Here are some hotel recommendations:

  • 106 Jefferson Huntsville, Curio Collection by Hilton — Downtown Huntsville’s premiere hotel! I’ve stayed here and loved everything about it. The rooms are so nice, and it’s a convenient location. The only thing I’d skip is the restaurant (Revivalist). There is much better food elsewhere.
  • AC Hotel by Marriott Huntsville Downtown — This gorgeous hotel is located right across the street from Big Spring Park. You’ll find gorgeous, modern rooms here and it’s a great location.
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville — This is going to be your most budget-friendly yet still nice option downtown, mostly because it’s one of the older hotels downtown. It’s also right next to Big Spring Park though. And while the rooms need a refresh, it’s still a solid option.

We’ve also got a whole list of the best pet-friendly hotels in Huntsville!

More Huntsville Resources