I’ve lived within a two-hour drive of Huntsville, Alabama all of my life but had never explored the area. Sure, we took the kids on the field trip to the Space Center when they were in elementary school, but as soon as the trip was over we packed up the kids and came back home. When I learned the North American TBEX conference would be held in Huntsville this year, I knew I’d be making a trip. But privately I wondered, “Why Huntsville?” “Why not a bigger, more well known city?” It turns out the TBEX team had done their research and learned a few things about Huntsville I didn’t know. Besides the techie space camp side, it has an up and coming art scene, foodie scene, and general hip vibe. I left wishing I could have spent more time exploring the area and knowing I would return soon. It turns out there is enough hauntings, history and happening in Huntsville, Alabama to keep the entire family happy.
4 Must-See Attractions In Huntsville, Alabama
1. Huntsville Ghost Walk – I’m a sucker for ghost tours so when I learned this was a Prebex Fam Tour option, I signed up immediately. Our host for the night was Jacque Reeves, a historian, and author of several books. She was inspired to start the tour to help preserve Huntsville historic past. This tour is different from other tours I had taken before. Ms. Reeves had asked a medium to help her with the stories. After her historical research, the medium joined their team to communicate with the spirits at each location to learn why they remained. The blend of historical data with the medium’s finding was an unusual touch.
There are three tours to choose from, Twickenham District, the Old Town District, or the Downtown District. Each tour begins at 6:00 PM in front of Harrison Brother’s Hardware Store. Ms. Reeves gave us a “Highlights of Huntsville” tour, showcasing some of the sites seen on each of the three tours. One of the most fascinating to me was the story behind the Helion Lodge. If you ever wondered why we think Friday the 13th is unlucky, it goes back to the Knights Templar, the original order of Masons. Arrested by the French king, Phillip IV, and Pope Clement for heresy, the leader of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, and 60 of his followers was burned at the stake on Friday the 13th, 1307. Before he died, Jacques de Molay uttered the chilling prophecy that the king and pope would be dead within the year. Later, his prophecy was fulfilled.
Today the Helion Lodge in Huntsville is said to be haunted by past Masonic members. Some patrons from Huntsville Ghost Walks claim to have seen a man wearing 19th-century clothing walk through the front door and tip his hat to them. Others claim to see orbs or hear voices arguing inside the building. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it’s a great way to get some exercise, be entertained and learn the history of Huntsville in a unique way.
2. Campus 805 -Ever heard the saying, “Too cool for school?” They were probably talking about Campus 805! Originally the S.R. Butler High School and later the Stone Middle School, Campus 805 has been converted into a trendy meeting spot. Advertised as “The South’s Premiere Brewery and Entertainment Venue,” they offer entertainment, dining and a fun place to spend an evening with friends. If you (like me) always hated gym class, you’ll be thrilled to see what Straight to Ale has done with the former gym. It’s now home to a brewhouse, a taproom, a patio, Ronnie Raygun’s Arcade, and a speakeasy, That’s right! Hidden somewhere in the hallowed halls is a SpeakEasy. I admit it turned out to be easy to find. As we wandered along the halls, someone jumped out at us from a hidden wall and said, “You looking for the SpeakEasy?”
If you’re ready to relive the past, check out Fringe Salon. Once a month they host theme nights, including ’80s night.’ We enjoyed 80s themed cocktails and snacks while listening to classic 80s music. After having our hair style and makeup revert to the 80s (including Aqua Net hairspray, banana clips, and blue eyeshadow), we were ready to party like it’s 1999! We finished off the evening with a Bistro Burger from Ale’s Kitchen, a huge concoction of thick sliced bacon, cheddar cheese, kosher pickles and their signature Bistro sauce. The burger was served with crispy buttermilk onion straws. Tip: This is a great location for a date night.
3. U.S. Space and Rocket Center – Have you ever wondered what goes on in space? You can find out here at the Marshall Space Flight Center’s official visitors center. The kids (and adults) will be fascinated to see rockets and space shuttles “up close,” plus there is a hands-on activity area for children. Want a more in-depth experience? There’s the option of Space Camp, a hands-on, immersive experience for kids and adults. A “family camp” is available, allowing parents and kids to live like an astronaut for several days, right down to the dorm experience. An optional add-on lunch with a real astronaut is available. I’ll be attending a family VIP day during the summer so look for a complete report on the U.S. Space and Rocket Center soon.
We spent an evening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Saturn V Hall in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration for their weekly Biergarten festivities. It’s available to the public from 4:30-7:30 and features authentic German cuisine, beer, and wine. Although admission is free, it does cost to purchase beverages and food. A portion of the proceeds is donated each week to different nonprofit organizations. If you’ve ever wanted to dine under a rocket, this is your chance!
4. A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard – Known as “Huntsville’s Backyard,” this is a 100-year-old lumberyard that has been converted into the place to be for fresh food, live music, and celebrations. The on-site restaurant features such goodies as When a Man Loves An Oven, an apple brined pork tenderloin, and The Flying Pig, their signature Pork Belly Sandwich. They try to follow the farm to table movement, sourcing locally as much as possible. Several of the options on the menu are gluten free! Live music is available several nights a week, with varying genres ranging from jam sessions to blues. We spent the evening dining in the lovely courtyard and listening to music and entertainment from the multiple stages.
I can’t wait to return to Huntsville to explore! Have you visited Huntsville? What’s your favorite activity?