Huntsville, Alabama – Top 10 things that make Huntsville a great place
The city of Huntsville has almost 200,000 people and is known as the rocket city located in Northern Alabama, set in the Appalachian region of Alabama. Huntsville is one of the fastest metros in the state. Because of its ties to NASA, there are high-paying jobs and low unemployment, and is continuously ranked as one of the best places to live. Combining that with excellent outdoor recreation, four seasons, and a vibrant art scene and it makes sense that more and more people choose to live and visit this city. So, let’s go ahead and take a look at the top 10 things that makes Huntsville a great place.
Madison County Nature Trail
The Madison County Nature Trail is situated on the top of green mountain and is 72 acres of scenic outdoor recreation. The views from up there are amazing and the park has a lot of things that you’d expect walking and hiking trails, picnic tables, restrooms, a covered bridge and even the state’s oldest and largest champion winged elm tree. It’s a great place to go fish, explore the forest and see the natural parts of Alabama. During the fall, you can expect great colors during the foliage season and the spring and summer brings the Azaleas and Dogwoods to life with colors of the forest deep green backdrop. You have a lot of choices for state parks and recreation, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another as nice and accessible as the Madison County Nature Trail.
Huntsville Museum of Art
The Huntsville Museum of Art is one of the best places you can visit if you’re interested in artwork and want to spend an afternoon studying unique pieces. There’s an extensive collection of 19th and 20th-century artworks on display including African, Asian, European, and American forms and styles. The permanent collection features works from famous artists like Sloan, Stella, and Warhol as well as local artists. Traveling and temporary exhibits keep the selections fresh and new for returning visitors. The quality and experience you’ll have at this museum is like something you’d expect from a larger city and is a great spot to visit while you’re in Huntsville.
Big Spring Park
Big spring park was named for the water source that Huntsville was built around and is now the center point of the city. It’s what you would picture a southern cities park to be. Tree-lined with ponds and a place that locals and tourists love to gather and visit. The park is home to numerous events throughout the year, like arts festivals and concerts. It’s also where you can go and just feed the ducks and take in the views of this city and take it as easy as you’d like.
Montesano State Park Mountains
Montesano State Park Mountains in Alabama might not seem to go hand in hand, but the landscape of the northern portion of the state can be very hilly, a lot different than Mobile Bay. Montesano State Park sits atop the Montesano mountain, which means the mountain of health in Spanish. Opened in 1938, there are a lot of amenities for those who love the outdoors here. Featuring over 340 acres, there are 14 rustic cottages, picnic areas, a country store, and an outdoor amphitheater. For those interested in camping, either for recreation or lodging, there are 89 sites as well as RV parking. Hiking is also available with numerous trails through the mountain. This park is an alternative for those who might not want to stay in a hotel and want to enjoy a rustic and natural environment, while being close to downtown Huntsville.
North Alabama Railroad Museum
This museum is located in Chase, just east of Huntsville, but is another great destination for railroad enthusiasts. It is dedicated to preserving the history of the railroad in the region and visiting will bring you back to the early days. The centerpiece of the museum is the Chase Depot, which is the smallest union depot in the countryside. There are exhibits that have pieces of train history and display artifacts from the conception through today. There are also cars and locomotives to view there and you can take a ride on a vintage train as well. This is another great railroad attraction in the Huntsville area, that’s great for people of all ages who love trains and the railroad.
Harmony Park Safari
This place is the best of both worlds. It’s like a zoo and safari mixed together. So many neat things you’ll experience from the comfort of your car, even on a hot day in Alabama. You can still have a good time in air conditioning, during your two mile drive. Through the park you’ll see many wild and exotic animals. Zebras, Buffalo, Camels, Rams and Alligators all roam free and may approach your vehicle. It is a rule in the park, that your feet and hands must remain in your car and you can’t have your window down more than eight inches for good reason. There are also waterfalls and antique buildings, that you’ll pass on the two-mile drive. Don’t drive to the zoo in Birmingham and spend all day walking outside, when this great option is right in Huntsville.
Huntsville Botanical Garden
This may be one of the most relaxing and beautiful places in Huntsville. The botanical garden is a 112 acre space that’s located right next door to the U.S Space and Rocket Center. So, it’s easy to get to and work into your travel plans. Open year-round, you’ll find the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house as well as numerous waterfalls, ponds, gardens, and floral displays. Over 300 000 visitors come here each year to see the different plants and flowers that are in the gardens and enjoy the scenic views. There are various special events throughout the year, the most popular being the Galaxy of Lights during the Christmas season. This attraction is nice to visit to just slow down while you’re making your way around Huntsville.
Historic Huntsville Depot
The Historic Huntsville Depot is located on the Norfolk Southern railway line in Huntsville and is the oldest surviving railroad depot in Alabama. It’s also one of the oldest in the united states. It was completed in 1860 and aside from being used as a railroad depot, was also used as a Union hospital, prison, and living quarters for union soldiers. Today, you can tour the Depot and see and feel the history there. There’s graffiti from confederate prisoners on the third floor that includes names, prayers, and messages. Outside there’s a trained turntable and various locomotives. The museum has exhibits with historic cars, Huntsville’s first ladder fire truck along with other train-related artifacts. Those interested in transportation or military history, will find the Huntsville depot a place of interest.
Hays Nature Preserve
Just outside of Huntsville and some of the best countryside that Alabama has to offer, the Hays Nature Preserve has over 10 miles of trails and greenways that follow the Flint river. It’s where you go when you want to hike mountain bike or horseback and enjoy the peace and quiet. There are a lot of different terrains there, everything from Parklands forests lakes and Swampland. Hays Nature Preserve is full of wildlife and is also very dog friendly too. The trails are well preserved, as this is an active hiking spot in the area. If you’re looking to spend some time outside in nature, put this on your list of places to check out.
U.S Space and Rocket Center
Huntsville is home to the U.S Space and Rocket center, the largest space museum in the world. A lot of people might not realize it, but Huntsville has been the center of space exploration for a long time. It was there that the rockets were developed that put men on the moon. Every year, millions of people visit this center to see artifacts and pieces of history. There are also simulators that let you experience what astronauts felt as they were traveling to space. There’s no better place to see and learn about the history of space exploration and learn about current missions and plans than this. You’ll leave knowing exactly why they call Huntsville rocket city.