Orbiting Huntsville: The City That Will Leave You Starry-Eyed

August 21, 2021
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Nestled in the midst of the Tennessee River Valley, Huntsville, Alabama, is an action-packed hub with tons of history, culture, and scenery. Called “Rocket City” for its prominent involvement in the country’s space missions, Huntsville is known for prioritizing technological advancement and education. 

Whether you’re just driving through Huntsville or planning to stay awhile, there are a few things in the city that you don’t want to miss. Keep reading for a run-down of Huntsville’s most popular landmarks, restaurants, and attractions! 

Huntsville’s Most Notable Landmarks 


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Burritt on the Mountain

Tour This Historic Site That Has Great Views of the City

3101 Burritt Drive SE | Round Top Mountain | www.burrittonthemountain.com
You know a place is going to be beautiful if people are frequently renting it out as a wedding venue! Image courtesy of @lizzypat.photos on Instagram

Once the retirement estate of a well-known Huntsville physician named William Burritt, this 167-acre site features ample green space, a historic mansion, and nature trails. Burritt on the Mountain offers visitors a bird’s eye view of Huntsville, along with a hearty dose of history and scenery. 

Burritt on the Mountain is more than just a landmark brimming with photo ops—it’s also an open-air museum. Whether you schedule a tour of the estate or just walk around yourself, this multifaceted piece of Alabama history is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. 

“What an awesome historical place to check out if you make the time. The drive up is scenic and pretty . . . Everything is so period and kept in great shape, a field trip destination for sure.” -Mariah R. on Yelp










Big Spring International Park 

See Gifts from All Over the World at This Park Downtown 

200 Church Street | Downtown | www.huntsville.org
Big Spring Park is built around the body of water that led American pioneers to settle in the area in the early 1800s—usurping the land from the Cherokee and Chickasaw peoples who lived there originally. Image courtesy of Livability

Big Spring Park might be situated in Downtown Huntsville, but it holds souvenirs from Norway, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. For this reason, taking a stroll through the park is almost like going on an international sightseeing adventure. 

Home to a variety of city events—including outdoor concerts, yoga classes, and the Panoply Arts Festival—Big Spring Park is a center point of Huntsville and one of the most ideal spots in the city to enjoy some fresh air. Look out for Norway’s fog bell and lighthouse and Japan’s Yoshino cherry trees and red Friendship Bridge. 

“Beautiful park; gorgeous landscape. Great for a date night or just to take the kids to pass the time. Machine dispensers to feed the ducks and fish and lights up at night. Breathtaking scenery.” -Jami L. on Yelp






Alabama Constitution Hall Historic Park & Museum

This Living History Museum Will Transport You into the Past

                                                                  109 Gates Avenue | Downtown | www.huntsville.org
Formerly called Alabama Constitution Village, this folk museum in Downtown Huntsville will make you think that you’ve traveled back in time to the 1800s. Image courtesy of Encyclopedia of Alabama

Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of all things old-timey, or just someone who’s looking to mix things up, Alabama Constitution Hall Historic Park & Museum is an immersive experience that takes a theatrical approach to learning about history. Instead of exhibits and tour guides, you’ll find Federalist-style architecture and costumed actors portraying life in nineteenth-century Alabama. 

Built on the original site of Alabama’s Constitutional Convention in 1819, Alabama Constitution Hall takes sightseeing to a whole new level with a collection of buildings and live demonstrations. Make sure to stop by the gift shop before you leave! 

“I opted for the guided tour, which was great to hear the local stories and the history of the Constitution Village and of the surrounding areas as well . . .  I do appreciate the painstaking, meticulous attention to detail when you want to make it look so authentic, it just felt like you kind of did time travel for a brief time.” -Ed L. on Yelp.



Top-Rated Restaurants in Rocket City

 

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1892 East Restaurant & Tavern 

Farm-Fresh New American Cuisine 

720 Pratt Avenue | Five Points | www.1892east.com
Whether you go for brunch, lunch, or dinner, 1892 East Restaurant & Tavern is guaranteed to be serving up inventive dishes with locally-sourced ingredients. Image courtesy of 1892 East Restaurant & Tavern

Who says that fine dining can’t feel like home? At 1892 East, you can indulge in colorful New American fare in a warm, cozy atmosphere with some rustic flair. The menu is seasonal, but the restaurant always has vegetarian and vegan options. 

Image courtesy of @1892east on Instagram

Image courtesy of @1892east on Instagram

Image courtesy of @1892east on Instagram

Even if you don’t want to stop for a full meal, 1892 East is a great spot to sample some local brews and maybe treat yourself to dessert or a cheese plate. 


“We were looking for a local, trendy dinner joint and came across 1892 East . . . We both said we'd visit again, as this is as close to a home-cooked meal you'll get while on travel.” -Kelly H. on Yelp


Blue Plate Cafe 

Just Good, Old Fashioned Diner Food 

3210 Governors Drive | West Huntsville | www.blueplatecafe.com
Dig into classic Southern eats at this family-owned diner that’s rumored to have the best breakfast in Huntsville. Image courtesy of @huntsfull on Instagram

Biscuits and gravy, berry pancakes, southern-fried catfish, BBQ pork, and freshly baked pie are just some of the things that you’ll find on Blue Plate Cafe’s menu. Open from 6 am to 8 pm almost every day, this local favorite serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—all with a side of Southern hospitality. 


Image courtesy of @eat.southeast on Instagram

Image courtesy @kellyeats on Instagram

Image courtesy of @wx_maggie on Instagram

Known for its loaded plates, home-cooked tastes, and homey feel, Blue Plate Cafe is frequented by visitors and locals alike. If you get the chance, try the cocoa biscuits—they’re an Alabama delicacy that can be hard to find, even within state lines. 

“Blue Plate Cafe is one of the best comfort food ‘meat and three’ places in the area. They season everything well and the flavor of their dishes is a testament to the talent behind the swinging doors.” -Rhonda C. on Yelp




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Commerce Kitchen 

Southern Cuisine with a Touch of Class

300 Franklin Street | Downtown Historic Huntsville | www.thecommercekitchen.com
Owned by Chef James Boyce, Commerce Kitchen is a chic restaurant in Downtown Huntsville that serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. Image courtesy of @stephyaghoubi on Instagram

Whether you’re in the mood for something casual like cheeseburgers and chicken tenders or looking for a more upscale dish like pan-seared ahi tuna and petite filets, you can find it at Commerce Kitchen. At this classic American eatery, common favorites and destination dining are both on the menu. 

Image courtesy of @commerce_kitchen on Instagram

Image courtesy of @commerce_kitchen on Instagram

Image courtesy of @commerce_kitchen on Instagram

Open most days from 11 am to 10 pm, Commerce Kitchen is a local hotspot that will win your heart (and your stomach) after the first bite. And if the weather’s nice, there’s even outdoor seating on the patio.


“Blue Plate Cafe is one of the best comfort food ‘meat and three’ places in the area. They season everything well and the flavor of their dishes is a testament to the talent behind the swinging doors.” -Rhonda C. on Yelp


The Huntsville Attractions You Have to Hit 

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

See for Yourself Why Huntsville Is Called Rocket City

1 Tranquility Base | Westlawn | www.rocketcenter.com
At $25 (for adults), the general admission fee might seem a little pricey—but it includes access to Shuttle Park, Rocket Park, the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, the main museum atrium, and all other indoor exhibits. Image courtesy of Destination 360

Boasting one of the world’s largest displays of space memorabilia and rockets, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is one of Huntsville’s best-known attractions. Every year, more than 650,000 students come to visit Huntsville’s Space & Rocket Center on school field trips, and since its opening in 1970, an estimated 17 million people have toured the Center. 

Stand in awe when you see an authentic Saturn V rocket in the Davidson Center for Space, then wander in wonder through the most complete chronology of launch vehicles in the country when you take a walk through Shuttle Park. This out-of-this-world museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, so make sure you schedule a visit during your stay in Huntsville! 


“There were a number of artifacts, visuals, models, and interactive activities, including a few indoor and outdoor rides. The museum meets the interests of all ages . . . The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is a MUST SEE for anyone traveling through Alabama and for anyone who lives in Alabama.” -Omar S. on Yelp


Harmony Park Safari 

See All Kinds of Wildlife When You Drive Through This Nature Preserve

431 Clouds Cove Road | Bell Grove Manor | www.harmonyparksafari.com
Harmony Park Safari is a two-mile stretch of free-ranging exotic and even endangered animals. Image courtesy of @haileepaulson on Instagram

Alabama isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind when people hear the word “safari.” But thanks to Harmony Park Safari in Huntsville, you can drive by zebras, buffalo, antelope, ostriches, giraffes, and more—right here in the Heart of Dixie. 

Open from March through November, Harmony Park Safari will give you the chance to come face-to-face (from the safety of your vehicle) with animals that roam this state-protected nature preserve just outside the city. Whether you rent a car in Huntsville or take your own, driving through Harmony Park Safari is a car ride that you’ll never forget.  


“There were so many cool animals. They don’t seem scared of the cars at all! An ostrich stuck its head in my window, and I didn’t even have food! I definitely plan to come back to this place.” -Amy O. on Yelp





Huntsville Botanical Garden

One of Alabama’s Top-Paid Tourist Attractions 

4747 Bob Wallace Avenue | Westlawn | www.hsvbg.org
This picturesque paradise spans over 100 acres—and cost more than $50 billion to build. Image courtesy of @vomoven on Instagram

Spend a few hours exploring the beauty and wonder of Mother Nature when you take a trip to the Huntsville Botanical Garden. In addition to a variety of gardens (including an aquatic garden) filled with an array of plants and flowers, the Huntsville Botanical Garden also has a scenic artificial lake, a hammock and picnic area, a butterfly house, and more. 

With both paved and unpaved walkways, nature trails, and an education center, the Huntsville Botanical Garden is a stunning place to take a walk and learn about nature. And if you get hungry, you can always stop at the Dogwood Cafe! 

“Can't go wrong with this place if you're in town for a few days and need something to do. My favorites include the water garden, the butterfly house, and the large model train setup . . . Look forward to coming again in the future.” -David F. on Yelp




Ready for Liftoff! 

Huntsville is a city where innovation thrives and adventure flourishes. And as Alabama’s third-largest city, you definitely won’t be short on things to do and places to see—you might even say that the possibilities are astronomical!

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