Nestled in the Tennessee river valley in Alabama, Huntsville is a hidden gem that offers a variety of experiences for children and adults alike. This deceivingly laid-back Southern city has a hip yet family-friendly restaurant scene, dozens of parks and nature spaces, variety of concerts and a ginormous space and rocket museum your kids will never forget. This post is about fun things to do in Huntsville with kids.
We spent a weekend in Huntsville recently to see all it had to offer. You will be surprised by the range of activities that kids can do in Huntsville a.k.a. Rocket City. Here are our top picks for fun things to do in Huntsville with kids.
- Geek Out at the U.S Space & Rocket Center
- Enjoy Nature at the Botanical Gardens
- Feed Fishes at Big Spring Park
- Hike in Monte Sano State Park
- Attend a Concert at the Three Caves
- Stroll around Twickenham District
- Go Rock Climbing
- Hang out at The Camp
- Early Works Children’s Museum
- Picnic at Burritt Mountain
- Places to Eat
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Geek Out at the U.S Space & Rocket Center
Huntsville is nicknamed The Rocket City for its close association with space missions and army missile programs. In the 1960s, engineers brought in from Germany helped develop many rockets used in space missions like the Apollo Lunar Landing and International Space Station.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is spread among three main sections – an indoor Saturn V Hall which has a plethora of artifacts related to the Apollo mission, outdoor missile exhibit and a Space Shuttle park. It is home to several rockets like the Saturn V rocket, Pathfinder Orbiter, an A-12 Oxcart (which could fly from New York to London in an hour) and even a Chinook helicopter. The center also has other attractions like a G-Force Simulator, Space Camp, Scuba Training and a Planetarium.
The Space and Rocket Center is located at One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, Alabama 35805 and is open from Tuesday through Sunday.
Enjoy Nature at the Botanical Gardens
Just a short drive from the U.S Space & Rocket Center is the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. This 100-acre property has a variety of specialty gardens catering to all ages. The major highlight for kids is the Children’s garden which has a variety of play sections like the Storybook Garden, half acre woods, water rocket clock and many more.
Another attraction is the Purdy Butterfly Garden which houses almost 9000 different varieties of butterflies in an open-air garden. Apart from the butterflies, there is plenty of other fauna like turtles, quail and fish which kids can interact with.
The butterfly garden is open only from May to September. All other gardens are open year-round except during major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Feed Fishes at Big Spring Park
Built around a natural spring, the Big Spring International Park houses the Huntsville Museum of Art, Von Braun Center and a variety of other attractions all within walking distance of each other. If you’re lucky, you might also get to attend one of the many festivals hosted in the park like the Panoply Arts Festival.
The star attraction for kids is the hordes of koi fish that are residents of the spring. Fish feed is readily available at kiosks in various points surrounding the spring for just 25 cents. The fish are quite friendly and not as skittish when being fed.
Hike in Monte Sano State Park
Monte Sano or “Mountain of Health” in Spanish is a 2100-acre state park in Northeast Alabama. This State Park is at its best during Fall and early Spring when the weather is still cozy enough. It boasts around 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, a Lodge and 14 cabins for people who prefer overnight camping. Some other attractions that kids would enjoy are the Japanese Garden and the Planetarium.
The park is open 7 days a week from 8AM to sunset. Trails close 30 minutes before sunset.
Attend a Concert at the Three Caves
The Three Caves at the Land Trust of Alabama were originally limestone mines which were active until the early 1950s. Situated just a few miles from downtown, these Three Caves are an easy activity to engage in the late afternoons. In the summer, the Land Trust of Alabama hosts concerts outside the opening of the Three Caves, proceeds of which go towards preservation of natural resources in Alabama. Although not completely kid friendly, these concerts are open for kids 12 years and older.
Due to structural issues, tours at the caves are no longer provided. However, there are plenty of trails surrounding the caves which are open throughout the year.
Please wear closed toe shoes as trails have lots of sharp stones.
Stroll around Twickenham District
Named after the original Twickenham in England, this historic district is notable for its houses sporting Greek Revival, Late Victorian and Federal style architecture. It’s also houses Helion Lodge, one of the oldest lodges of Freemasons in Alabama.
If you have a dog, this historic district is a lovely place to enjoy a leisurely walk just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Go Rock Climbing
Kids as young as 3 years old can enjoy rock climbing at High Point Climbing and Fitness located in the MidCity District. The kids’ section offers more belays and also a kid’s boulder that is 10 feet high. They also have a wonderful outdoor climbing wall which older kids or adults can partake in.
Day Passes or memberships are available for purchase at this facility. Although a little pricier than other attractions, this is one experience I wouldn’t miss.
Hang out at The Camp
Located in the up and coming MidCity district of Huntsville is The Camp – an eclectic mix of food trucks, coffee shop, bar and restaurant all in one area. We had both breakfast and dinner at this place and both times were plenty of fun. Breakfast time is great for kids to explore the wacky décor and play foursquare or the piano. This same area transforms at dinner to a lively bar with live music.
The Camp is at 5909 University Dr NW, Huntsville, AL 35805.
Early Works Children’s Museum
The Early Works Children’s museum is a great destination especially when the weather is not great outside. Specially designed for kids between the ages of 4 and 9, this museum has several interactive exhibits which are built for your little one to touch and feel. In fact, this entire museum aims at developing kid’s motor skills and encouraging them to use their imagination. The star exhibit – Talking Tree tells stories of Alabama history and notable inventions. Other popular exhibits are the Biscuit’s Backyard, the life size keelboat and the Huntsville Historic Depot.
Entry price is $5 for toddlers, $10 for youth from ages 4 to 7 and $12 for adults.
Picnic at Burritt Mountain
Burritt Mountain is a 167-acre property on Round Top mountain which overlooks the city of Huntsville. Interpreters in genuine period attire give tours and showcase how life was spent farming in the early 1800s. The property houses the main Burritt mansion, several 19th Century barns and sheds, a blacksmith shop and even birding trails. The scenic view from atop the mountain is one of the main reasons for visiting this place.
Entry price is free for children 2 years and under, $8 for youth and $12 for adults.
Places to Eat
Although this post is about fun things to do in Huntsville with kids, I do want to mention downtown Huntsville has several kid friendly restaurants and dining options. Sections of main street are usually closed for special events but traffic is not exactly something you’d experience in this town. There are plenty of on and off-street parking options.
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