Parents' Guide to Visiting Huntsville while Your Kids are in Space Camp

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Advisor - Katie Stuhr
Curated By

Katie Stuhr

  • USA

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rocket points to the blue sky covered by tree branches
Curator’s statement

Are your kids ready to bask in cosmic realms for a week? Are you getting bags ready, checking travel lists, and anticipating the moment the family vehicle rolls into 1 Tranquility base in Huntsville, AL, the audible satisfaction when GPS recites the three magical words, "You have arrived!” when it’s finally time to drop the kids off at camp for a week? Whether you’re planning to telework with a side of sightseeing or a full plate week immersed in Huntsville, we’ve got a travel guide for you.

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Day 1: Arrive in Huntsville

skyscraper with a bright blue sky behind

Drop the kids off and head to the hotel to check-in. See the accommodations section for hotel options that offer restaurant ideas. If you want to venture out, Huntsville has a penchant for industrial revitalization. Stovehouse - always a hit with newcomers - is a perfect example. Built on the grounds of a once-busy facility, Stovehouse is now home to leisure, food, drinks, and shopping. The common space provides camaraderie; you might even catch a band playing!

Day 2: Work from Huntsville

trees over a sidewalk with benches

Wake up and order room service, and grab a seat at any of the listed co-working spaces below.

  • South Huntsville Library - free private two-hour room reservations with windows, desk, chair, and wifi. Newly renovated with a cafe and coffee shop.

  • Huntsville Hub - daily desk rentals from $40-$160.

  • Spaces (on Redstone Arsenal) - daily desk rental available for those with security clearance.

  • Huntsville West (in the heart of Lowe Mill) - day trial is available.

Grab a soup and a sandwich at Good Company Cafe, a local favorite, on your way South to Ditto Landing. A water treasure in South Huntsville, Ditto serves as the front porch of the majestic Tennessee River.

Whether you schedule a sunset paddle boarding session through Forest Paddleboarding, walk along the greenway trail, or sit on the docks, the backdrop of the tranquil mountain foothills mirrored over the river waters creates a visually stunning outdoor experience.

Day 3: Hiking and working (remotely!)

pond surrounded by foliage and evergreen trees in a mountain region

Work virtually at any of the coffee shops below:

Grab lunch at locally owned Commerce Kitchen, a charming downtown gem and if there is a wait, step next door to immerse yourself in history at Harrison Brothers, the oldest hardware store in Huntsville! Established in 1894, this historic business is a step back in time. Still featuring its original fixtures, it is stocked with artistic relics and unique gifts.

Suppose it's a good weather day, and you want to experience North Alabama hiking on the breathtaking foothills of North Alabama. In that case, we recommend Monte Sano Nature Preserve, 1,100+ acres of public trails - over 25 miles of trailheads make it the largest urban preserve in the US. Offering varying levels of difficulty, Monte Sano's trails showcase native wildflowers, historical sites, waterfalls, and more. The park has bathrooms and picnic tables and a per-car fee to access the park. That said, several trailheads are accessible outside the park, and parking is available in spades without entering the park. If you need to pick up any hiking paraphernalia, we recommend Mountain High Outfitters. If it's a relatively low-impact scenic hiking experience you're looking for, visit Madison Nature Trail on Green Mountain.

Day 4: The Shoals

sunset over a big bridge leading into a city

Let's take a day trip to the Shoals; some call it Alabama's best-kept secret. So, what are the Shoals? On the banks of the Tennessee River, positioned on the farthest corner of northwest Alabama, are four cities collectively referred to as "the Shoals." Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield overflow with history, music, and iconic style. These cities overflow with musicians, fashion designers, and film stars.

Florence is home to the University of North Alabama, the state's oldest public university, established in 1830. Their tiger mascots, Leo and Una, live in a habitat central to the university. Their roars permeate the atmosphere!

When in Florence, it's always a good idea to eat at Odette, my favorite restaurant in North Alabama - a quaint find in a historic building. To understand the full gamut of culture in the Shoals, one must visit the Billy Reid flagship store and learn the story of the man behind the southern-designed clothes that blended artisanship with sustainability. Enjoy southern hospitality; they'll offer you a drink while you shop!

Lastly, if historical architecture interests you, include a stop at the Frank Lloyd Wright home, The Rosenbaum House, now a museum showcasing his unique Usonian design. Attempting to change society through architecture, Wright designed his Unonian homes to feel organic, as though it had sprung from the Earth itself. It's worth a visit!

Muscle Shoals is best known for the "Historic Shoals Sound" and both FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. This is where noted artists such as Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, the Allman Brothers, and even the Rolling Stones made some of their most famous recordings.

Next, head over to Tuscambia to visit Ivy Glenn, the birthplace of Helen Keller. Visit her life's three main periods: the cottage, the main house, and the water pump. Best known for advocating for people with disabilities, Helen Kellen also campaigned for women's rights.

Driving through Sheffield, go over the Old Railroad Bridge, check out the Earl Peanutt Music museum and Cypress Moon Studios, and get some of the best barbecue around at Brooks Barbeque.

Lastly, you could stay a night in Florence at the Gunrunner Hotel. The ten-suite hotel and spa are tailored to commemorate the fashion, art, world-famous music, and history of the Shoals area.

Day 5: Shopping and breweries

yellow umbrella and red stools at round tables on a bar patio

Back in Huntsville, let's start the day at the Bakingtist. Imagine a science lab for baked delicacies and brunch; trust me, the scientist has some secrets that go into these mouthwatering edible masterpieces.

Instead of working at a coffee shop today, try one of the lovely three Piper and Leaf locations. An artisanal tea company started by siblings, Piper and Leaf has become a Huntsville specialty.

Next, experience a unique shopping experience: Travel Patterns. Travel Patterns is an eclectic lifestyle shop showcasing handcrafted goods from around the world and a unique collection of vintage & found items. Along with its home goods and gift selections, the shop is also home to The Brim Bar, a curated hat experience, and leads cultural immersion travel experiences overseas.

For lunch, visit Oshi, a unique sushi bowl experience. If you want woman-owned restaurants, check out Domaine South for customized charcuterie boards and an extensive wine list. Stay downtown and meander along the streets to view the murals. Visit the Green Street Market in the parking lot of Nativity church, an open-air market filled with locally grown vegetables, fruits, herbs, and more.

Let's talk about the Huntsville brewing scene: rocket city is known for its mastery of rocket science, but craft brewing would come in at a close second. Many engineers in town have found a talent for home brewing beer which grew into a genuine skill, then venturing out to open a few local breweries in post-retirement. Many award-winning brews have been birthed right here in Huntsville! We recommend Yellow Hammer Brewing at Campus 805 while grabbing a pizza at Earth and Stone next door. Their Midnight Special dark lager and the T-Minus Tangerine Kolsch are stand-outs. Straight to Ale, also in Campus 805, is best known for its Stout at the Devil and Monkeynaut IPAs and offers excellent food options. Or you could venture out to historic Main Street in Madison to Old Black Bear Brewing, home of the award-winning Cave City Lager and possibly the best burgers you'll ever eat.

Lastly, the Co-op at Stovehouse has a selection of beers from many local breweries and a menu that will please anyone in the family.

Day 6: Art and music

Parents' Guide to Visiting Huntsville while Your Kids are in Space Camp - Day 6: Art and music

If you haven't already, visit the Lowe Mill arts district, a former shoe factory turned art facility with over 200 artists, 152 redeveloped working studios, 7 galleries, a theatre, community gardens, and an additional performance venue. The quirky Dragon's Forge Cafe soups taste like grandma used to make them, served in an environment that's like stepping into a Tolkien novel. While there, grab the extravagant chocolates at Pizzelle's Confections and peruse the vinyl at Vertical House Records.

Since I've mentioned music, catching a show always makes for a good evening! The Orion Amphitheatre is a brand new, 8000-seat, state-of-the-art live music venue drawing some of the greatest artists on Earth to perform! If live music isn't your thing, sit down for the best Mexican dinner in town at La Esquina Cocina. I won't make suggestions - you can't go wrong there. All of the food is fantastic!

Day 7: Space camp

white and navy space jets

Grab one last coffee at Honest and something sweet at Moon Bakeshop, but get there early because once their Saturday offerings are gone, they are gone!

As a child, I attended Space Camp and moved to Huntsville as an adult. While I didn’t become an astronaut, I do get to live in a city filled with brilliant people working on groundbreaking projects. That spirit impacts everyone in this community. You are in a city full of people excited about what is to come, from breakthroughs in space exploration to ever-expanding food, drink, entertainment, shopping, and arts options locally. Voted the number one place to live in the USA for 2022 by US News and World Report, Huntsville is abloom with great expectation, exploration, and opportunity! It’s not unusual to be sitting in a coffee shop next to a superstar female NASA astronaut or Blue Origin rocket scientist; this is our Rocket City, Huntsville, AL!

Enjoy your week, moms and dads!

Advisor - Katie Stuhr

Travel Advisor

Katie Stuhr

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