Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center
- 3. Watch artists at work inside Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment
- 4. Share a tea party at Dragon’s Forge Café
- 5. Stroll through Big Spring International Park
- 6. Go on the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt
- 7. Participate in art activities inside the Huntsville Museum of Art
- 8. Go ice skating in Big Spring International Park
- 9. Eat at kid-themed cafes
- 10. Step back in time at the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum
- 11. Work off pent up energy at Ditto Landing
- 12. Head to Toyota Field to watch the Rocket City Trash Pandas
- 13. Share your love of golf and have some fun competition with your child at Top Golf
- 14. Hike or camp at Monte Sano State Park
- 15. See Huntsville from a lofty vantage point at Burritt on the Mountain
- 16. Attend an ice hockey game or other events at Von Braun Center
- 17. Stop and smell the flowers at Huntsville Botanical Garden
- 18. Spend a day having fun at Bridge Street Town Centre
- 19. Take a ghost walk that won’t give you nightmares
Huntsville, Alabama is in North Alabama, almost halfway between Birmingham and Nashville, Tennessee, and convenient to Interstate 65. Alabama often surprises visitors with its beautiful beaches along the Gulf of Mexico –. I believe Huntsville will provide many pleasant surprises as well.
Huntsville, which flourished when Redstone Arsenal was created, was recently named Alabama’s largest city according to the 2020 census. It is filled with cultural events and nightlife geared toward Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. In addition to those attractions and activities, however, Huntsville offers a full range of experiences for parents to share with their children. Here are my top 20 suggestions. Some are seasonal, but most of these top things and tourist attractions can be enjoyed any month of the year.
1. Visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is Alabama’s number one paid attraction. As was true with many such attractions, it floundered during the pandemic but is rebounding with gusto. The interactive displays, exhibits, and games beg to be touched and explored while rides such as G-Force Accelerator, the rocket simulators, and HyperShip call for a little extra bravery. An Intuitive Planetarium is the most recent feature at the Space Center providing state-of-the-art astronomy shows and theater experiences.
2. Take part in a parent-child Space Camp experience
When you visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, you are likely to see participants in the world-renowned Space Camp engaged in learning and wearing their distinctive blue flight suits. If your child is interested, this would be a great place to gather all the information and make plans for being a space camper in the future. Of course, your child may attend with children the same age, or parents can join the fun, too.
SheBuysTravel Tip: For more places to encourage future astronauts, read more here.
3. Watch artists at work inside Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment
A 171,000-square-foot former cotton mill, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment is now home to 200 artists and makers with 152 working studios, four entertainment venues, and appealing eateries offering candies, tea, popsicles, preserved goods, and full meals.
The best time to catch artists in their workshops is between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Parents and children can wander and watch ceramics, painting, drawing, glass, textiles, woodworking, and many more. The Cigar Box Guitar Store is especially fun for kids, and instructor Pat Nickel claims to be able to teach anyone a song in one minute.
4. Share a tea party at Dragon’s Forge Café
What could be more fun than a tea party, especially for mothers and daughters or grandmothers and granddaughters? Dragon’s Forge offers a tea service with all the proper goodies by making an appointment and choosing whether you want the Queen Tatianna service or Empress Luna. One has only sweets, while the other provides savories and sweets. It’s a guaranteed memory maker.
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5. Stroll through Big Spring International Park
Big Spring International Park is a large green space located around a lake a few blocks from the center of downtown Huntsville and is flanked by the Huntsville Museum of Art and the Von Braun Center. On an average day, the ducks provide plenty of entertainment while you sit in the picnic areas, and the walking trail past gurgling waterfalls is great for exercise. But this is also the setting for several special events throughout the year. Panoply Arts Festival takes place in the spring, and Tinsel Trail is a colorful collection of decorated Christmas trees encircling the lake in December. Murals and public art installations make great backdrops for selfies and Instagram posts.
6. Go on the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt
Downtown Huntsville offers a great way to take a close look with your child by participating in the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt. Stop by the Huntsville Visitors Center and pick up a clue card, then go back to collect your prize when you’ve found all 14 bronze ducks. You’ll burn off some calories, learn tidbits of history, and enjoy fun things while you walk the 2.5 miles involved with the hunt.
7. Participate in art activities inside the Huntsville Museum of Art
The Huntsville Museum of Art encompasses fourteen art galleries of stunning works, some of which are on permanent display while others come from traveling exhibits. My favorite permanent collection is the menagerie of exquisitely crafted silver animals by Buccellati. Children will find much to enjoy as they wander the galleries, but they will primarily be engaged in a section specifically devoted to them. The large, colorful place provides interactive opportunities for learning the basic elements of art: line, color, texture, shapes, space, and feelings. The museum is dedicated to education by offering after-school classes, summer camps, parent-child events, Artsy Tots, and more.
8. Go ice skating in Big Spring International Park
One of the museum’s biggest fundraisers is a temporary ice-skating rink set up between the museum and Big Spring International Park each year from mid-November to mid-January. Definitely a kid-friendly, holiday activity.
9. Eat at kid-themed cafes
Huntsville has dozens of chain restaurants with kids’ menus, but two go further (and are highly approved by my own grandchildren. Toybox Bistro on Jordan Lane is decorated with hundreds of vintage toys and provides buckets of Legos for encouraging creativity while you wait for your food order to arrive. Supper Heroes on Winchester Drive surrounds its visitors with Superhero comic book characters and memorabilia. The menu itself is a comic book, and the prices make parents and grandparents especially happy. At both places, the food is great.
10. Step back in time at the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum
EarlyWorks Children’s Museum is designed specifically for children ages 2 to 9 years old. There is much to touch, see, and climb, plus costumes for pretending. You can enjoy a one-time visit with your child or grandchild, or they offer Grandparents and Me memberships to allow more frequent visits. Children ages 10 or 11 can also find fun there if they are visiting with younger siblings or cousins, but this has the most appeal for little ones.
Other downtown Huntsville history museums include Huntsville Depot, Maria Howard Weeden house, Constitution Village, Weeden House Museum, and U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum. Some were closed during the pandemic and are still waiting to reopen.
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11. Work off pent up energy at Ditto Landing
Forget being cooped up inside. Pack a lunch or some bottled water and snacks and head to Ditto Landing. If you can throw your bikes in the back of a truck, the paved trails will be waiting. Rather come with your fishing gear and lures? The bass will be waiting. If the wind is right, take a kite. Other possibilities for exercise include hiking, volleyball, badminton, or kickball. Check out the pavilion rentals available for a future event while you’re there.
Many other places for hiking and biking are provided for Huntsville families through the Land Trust of North Alabama.
12. Head to Toyota Field to watch the Rocket City Trash Pandas
When the Trash Pandas (a Double A affiliate of the Los Angeles major league team) are in town, Toyota field pulls out all the stops to make a night at the ballpark memorable. From April to September, the Pandas play such teams as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Montgomery Biscuits, the Birmingham Barons, the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Biloxi Shuckers and others. Food vendors, parking, seat selection, and the overall atmosphere is exciting and new, having only begun with the 2021 season. From mid-November to early January, the complex is transformed into a drive-through wonderland of lights for Rocket City Christmas Light Shows. Cost is $30 per car, and you will love the way the lights are synchronized with holiday music.
13. Share your love of golf and have some fun competition with your child at Top Golf
Practicing golf skills might be best reserved for your older children, especially teenagers who like to do “cool things.” At Top Golf located in Huntsville’s Mid-City District, you don’t have to bring golf clubs unless you’re partial to your own. Otherwise, you may rent some free of charge. The idea is to reserve a bay and let the digital scoring system tally the results. The food options are great and can be delivered right to your playing area.
14. Hike or camp at Monte Sano State Park
Hike through 20 miles of trails, take your bikes for 14 miles of challenging exercise, rent one of the rustic cabins, or pitch your tent in the campground at Monte Sano State Park, a public recreation area on top of Monte Sano Mountain overlooking the city of Huntsville. From the blooming azaleas in the spring to the color explosion of leaves in the fall, this is a great place for families to enjoy nature and spend time together.
Hays Nature Preserve is another great place to hike and play.
15. See Huntsville from a lofty vantage point at Burritt on the Mountain
Burritt on the Mountain on Monte Sano Mountain encompasses a historic mansion, a park, and an open-air museum depicting farming life in Alabama as it was in the 19th century and pre-Civil War. There are also hiking trails and a gift shop to enjoy. This is a favorite field trip for school groups, but homeschoolers and individual families can visit also. When the weather is nice, it is a perfect place to take a picnic and soak up the views. Take note that it is closed on Mondays and be sure to check the website for available programming when you plan your visit.
16. Attend an ice hockey game or other events at Von Braun Center
Von Braun Center on Monroe Street is the epicenter of big events in Rocket City. From Monster Jams, Disney on Ice productions, live music concerts presented by big-name headliners, or Broadway Theater League performances, you’ll find a full calendar of possibilities. One that is gaining in popularity are Huntsville Havoc ice hockey games. Ice hockey and the Deep South might seem mutually incompatible, but Huntsville folks have discovered the excitement of the sport. The Havoc team hosts games inside Propst Arena from October to April. Themed nights are especially popular, so be sure to check the website.
17. Stop and smell the flowers at Huntsville Botanical Garden
The Huntsville Botanical Garden is a 112-acre space that is a delight for families to enjoy together. Parents will appreciate the smooth sidewalks for baby strollers and the freedom children have to run and explore the nature trails and children’s garden. There is something interesting to observe throughout the year. Spring, of course, is very popular, but also note Feathered February, Festifall, and the Galaxy of Lights. Don’t miss the Purdy Butterly House. Most butterfly houses are extremely humid. This one is pleasant and great for photos. As a matter of fact, allowing your child to practice his or her photography skills is one of my top suggested activities when visiting Huntsville Botanical Garden. Give them your cellphone and see what they’ll find as they experience these outdoor activities.
18. Spend a day having fun at Bridge Street Town Centre
In the summertime, you and your very young children will love the Pop Jet Fountains for cooling off. Take a change of clothes then head to the merry-go-round. Catch a G-rated movie at Monaco Pictures movie theater. Browse the children’s section at Barnes and Noble, then grab a sweet treat at Maggie Moo’s, IT’SUGAR, or Great American Cookies. During the holidays, you’re likely to find Santa and be able to gaze at the light show near the North Fountains.
19. Take a ghost walk that won’t give you nightmares
Huntsville Ghost Walks are full of entertaining stories told by adept storytellers, but they do not include creatures who will jump out and frighten children (or adults). These guided tours are very family-friendly. All walking tours last an hour and a half, and there are three different ones from which to choose. One goes through the Twickenham Historic District, while another stays downtown. They are offered on Fridays and Saturdays in September and October when Halloween decorations are on full display.
20. Feed the animals at Harmony Park Safari
Harmony Park Safari on Clouds Cove Road is open from March through November and is a drive-through zoo. The idea is to buy a bucket or two of feed at the entrance, then drive slowly through the grounds and let the animals come right to your window. Many will stick their heads in looking for that food. That, of course, will elicit squeals of delight from your children or grandchildren. You are destined to have very close encounters with zebras, peacocks, llamas, camels, and more. When the drive is over, there are other animal enclosures to visit as well. The admission price is $10 per person, but children two and under are free.
Bring your kids to Huntsville and have a blast. They will learn a lot and so will you.
SheBuysTravel Tip: While you’re in Alabama, there are many more fascinating places to visit. This article describes some of the state’s most interesting attractions.