3-Day Huntsville Tour
Day 1 You'll See:
- U.S Space and Rocket Center
- Historic Huntsville Depot
- Huntsville Botanical Gardens
Day 2 You'll See:
- Alabama Constitution Village
- Unclaimed Baggage
Day 3 You’ll See:
- Twickenham Historic District
- Weeden House Museum
- Huntsville Museum of Art
- Burritt on the Mountain
Day 1 -
U.S Space and Rocket Center - Start your tour of Huntsville the right way at the birthplace of the American Space Program, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Known as the most comprehensive U.S. manned spaceflight hardware museum in the world, this learning facility is the location of the development of rockets that first put the United States satellite into orbit, and also developed power for the first shuttle. Inside, you can see firsthand their Rocket Park which houses 27 missiles and rockets. Since its opening in 1970, this center has seen over 16 million visitors who flocked here for the opportunity to ‘be an astronaut for a day.’ Multiple simulators, exhibits, artifacts, and films from the IMAX and National Geographic theater all work together to teach your group everything they need to know about our first mission to space, the innovations we have seen since then, as well as future plans for bigger and better space technology and missions. Be sure to check out the Saturn V Moon Rocket and Apollo 12 moon rock before you leave!
Historic Huntsville Depot - All aboard to this next stop on your Huntsville adventure, the Historic Huntsville Depot. Established in 1860 in the heart of downtown Huntsville, this historic depot museum used to house the Norfolk Southern Railway and is currently the oldest surviving depot in Alabama. The Huntsville Depot was used as a prominent gathering spot for Memphis and Charleston as the Eastern Railway Division Headquarters. During its heyday, this depot was an important merchant and passenger route, the passenger side of it impressively surviving until 1968. A visit to this historic landmark will allow your group to see graffiti on the walls put there by confederate soldiers and workmen after the depot was turned into a soldier prison during the Civil War. A walk through this complex will shed light on transportation history for this area and early America in general, as well as the city’s growth throughout history. In addition to this museum, your group will also be able to see the Alabama Constitution Village and Children’s History Museum, with the combination of the three of them making up the Huntsville Earlyworks Museum Village.
Huntsville Botanical Gardens - Make sure you all bring your camera with plenty of memory as you finish your day out at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. Within this 112 acre complex, you will see countless gardens and nature trails, including the largest butterfly house in the south as well as the location’s famous flowering dogwood tree path. In addition, your group can step back in time and stroll among the biblical garden, frolic through the sea of daylilies, or marvel at the different kinds of ferns in the fern grove. Voted 5th on the list of top attractions in Alabama, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens sees around 310,000 guests per year and hosts numerous events, classes, and school programs to help further local agriculture and sustainability methods. Your group can buy any horticulture souvenir on their way out or have dinner at the on-site cafe, or if happens to be the holiday season stay a while and catch the highly celebrated Galaxy of Lights show.
Day 2 -
Alabama Constitution Village - Head back to the charming downtown district of Huntsville for another stop in the Earlyworks Museum, the Alabama Constitution Village. This part of the Village is found on the National Register of Historic Landmarks and Heritage Sites and houses the vacant cabinetmaker’s shop in which 44 delegates gathered to make state history. On July 5th, 1819 Alabama was signed into the Union as the 22nd state, and your group can tour the exact spot where this happened, as well as the nearby working buildings at that time such as a law office, print shop, land surveyor’s office, and post office. Examples of woodworking, printing, and blacksmithing from the time are shown on tours, as well as the opportunity to go through the Earlyworks Museum again, which is considered the South’s largest hands-on history complexes. Again, if it happens to be the holiday season, you’re in for a treat as this village is turned into Santa’s Village, annually attracting tourists far and wide.
Unclaimed Baggage - Get ready for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience nearby in Scottsboro at one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions, the Unclaimed Baggage Center. This shopping center was created in 1970 after a member of the local Owen’s family decided to bring home unclaimed baggage after a trip to Washington D.C. and sell the merchandise off of card tables on the street. Now this establishment takes up an entire city block and attracts over 1 million shoppers per year. Inside, your group can shop a selection of lost luggage that includes clothes, shoes, formalwear electronics, sports gear, books, fine jewelry, and yes, even luggage! Shopping inside is quite the adventure, never knowing what you're going to find in those suitcases. You can even stop at the cafe for lunch, grab a coffee at Starbucks, or get some dessert from Dippin Dots while you’re shopping.
Day 3 -
Twickenham Historic District - Welcome to the Historic District of Twickenham, which, in case you didn’t know, was the original name of Huntsville! Named after a prominent city in England, this historic area is home to Alabama’s largest collection of Antebellum style homes and structures, including Federal, Italianate, and Classical styles. George Steele is the man behind all the architectural art, bringing these styles from Virginia around 1814. A walking tour of this district will allow your group to take in local history as well as many wonderful early American architectural facts. A full walking tour will take about an hour and a half, with the historic district making up what would have been ½ of the original town of Twickenham. This district is considered to be a living museum of American architecture for those who visit and also houses your next stop, the oldest home in Alabama, Weeden House!
Weeden House Museum - The last stop of your day will bring you to the beautiful and historic home of Maria Howard Weeden. This gorgeous estate will teach your group the wonders of the 19th century, show them fantastic examples of early American architecture, fill them in on regional history, and educate their ecological and literary sides. A sort of all-in-one unique learning experience is created in this home as you can tour the "seeker of beauty’s" family home including the famous rose garden and other more rustic flower species. Maria Weeden was known for capturing and recording the essence of beauty from the garden and individuals around her in paintings and poems published in her four books. Built-in 1819 and kept extremely well-preserved, the house itself sheds light on the Civil War-era type of living and how it affected Maria Weeden and her family during the time.
Huntsville Museum of Art - Your next stop will bring you to North Alabama’s leading visual arts center, located in Big Spring International Park. This museum will astound your group with 13 galleries full of amazing regional, national, and worldwide pieces of art. Considered to be a top 10 destination for travel in Alabama, the Huntsville Museum of Art is gaining more momentum every day as a leader in world art, attracting over 40,000 visitors last year to its Russian Imperial art display alone. With a goal of fostering understanding of visual arts and garnering appreciation for this achievement, the museum will allow your group to get involved in art classes, daily programs, various lectures, and live musical presentations.
Burritt on the Mountain - End your tour of Huntsville with a fun twist on a historic district at Burritt on the Mountain. Built-in the 1930s by a local ‘eclectic’ physician and inventor by the name of Dr. William Henry Burritt, this mansion on Round-Top Mountain is located on 167 acres of land and is surrounded by authentic 19th-century homes. This historic park holds countless festival-like activities throughout the year including various concerts, plays, and seasonal exhibits. Considered to be Alabama’s first museum (1955), there are plenty of opportunities for education regarding blacksmithing, spinning, cooking, and even agriculture as your group can tour the district in its original splendor and watch the way things used to be done. There are also fun opportunities such as the Time Travel Adventure hands-on blast into the past or Murder in the Mansion interactive murder mystery dinner!