Huntsville (Alabama)

Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Alabama Huntsville

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Introduction

Huntsville is a city centrally located in the northernmost part of Alabama USA. It is located in Madison County and extends west into neighboring Limestone county. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County, and the fourth-largest city in Alabama. Population estimates of July 2014 put the population at 188,226 people in the Huntsville Metropolitan Area. Today, Huntsville, Alabama is one of the most recognized cities in the Southeast - consistently named as one of the best places to live and work by a variety of national publications. The city is regularly named as a premier location for both business and quality of life. Technology, aviation, space, and defense industries have a major presence here with the Army's Redstone Arsenal, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, and Cummings Research Park. Home to several Fortune 500 companies, Huntsville also offers a broad base of manufacturing, retail and service industries. Our quality of life is second to none - with a variety of educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities.

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Sights and Activities

  • U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum - One Tranquility Base (I-565 Exit 15), ☎ +1 256 837-3400, Email: guestservices@spacecamp.com. Open daily 9:00am - 5:00pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Years Eve and Day. Alabama's number one for-fee tourist attraction, this museum is especially of interest to space-amazed kids and kids at heart. In 2008 the aging museum was revitalized with the opening of the $23 million Davidson Center, which features a Saturn V rocket that was never launched and also includes numerous exhibits on program that led up to the moon visits. Outside of the museum are replicas and test units for numerous other space vehicles, including life-size replicas of the space shuttle and a vertical Saturn V. The museum charges $20 for adults, $15 for children, kids under 6 free. Additional charges may be present for IMAX or traveling exhibitions
  • The US Space Camp is also based here and has hosted over 500,000 visitors since its inception in 1982. Space Camp has activities for ages 9-18 that include: model rocket launches, simulated missions to the ISS (including a full-scale mock up of the station) or the moon, ropes course and leaders reaction course, and SCUBA experience in their underwater astronaut trainer.
  • The USSRC is also home to Aviation Challenge, a program for children aged 9-18 which focuses on a more aviation and military themed curriculum and includes basic wilderness survival skills, water confidence, tactical theory and military diplomacy, and flight physiology.
  • Space Camp Robotics is a new program which allows youth the experience of building, programming, and competing with robot systems on land, in the air, and even on and underwater.
  • Von Braun Center 700 Monroe Street, ☎ +1 256-533-1953, Email: vbcinfo@vonbrauncenter.com. The Von Braun Center is Huntsville's multi-purpose indoor arena, meeting, and performing arts complex, with a maximum arena seating capacity of 10,000. The VBC, in addition to Propst Arena, features multiple exhibit halls, the Mark C. Smith concert hall, a playhouse and many other facilities, for meetings and exhibits.
  • Huntsville is the ice hockey capitol of the south with youth, collegiate, and professional teams. Propst Arena at the VBC is home to UAH Charger Hockey as well as Huntsville Havoc hockey. The arena also hosts several other events including circuses, Monster Jam, graduations, and more.
  • The Mark C. Smith Concert Hall is home to Broadway Theater League, a group which brings in travelling Broadway shows, acts, and childrens shows from across the country. A few of the recent shows performed have been Mamma Mia, Beauty and the Beast, and The Illusionists.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Panoply Arts Festival - This three-day outdoor festival features presentations, demonstrations, performances, and workshops. Panoply is one of the region’s largest festivals, with activities such as the “Global Village” – a gateway to the area’s diverse cultures – to free hands-on children’s activities to the “Official Alabama State Fiddling Championship,” “Homegrown Talent Contest,” “Ten-Minute Playwright Competition,” choreography and photography competitions, and the Art Marketplace. Held the last weekend in April each year in downtown's Big Spring International Park, Von Braun Center, and Huntsville Museum of Art.
  • Downtown Food Truck Rallies - From April to May, Downtown Huntsville Inc. hosts food truck rallies held on the third Friday of every month. These events include many of the 35 food truck which call the city home as well as other craft vendors, and live music. These events are usually held in a couple different locations so it is best to check Downtown Huntsville Inc's Facebook page for location information. Hours: 5-9 pm every third Friday of the month

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Weather

Summers are hot and humid, but the thermometer rarely goes above 38 °C. Strong thunderstorms do come out of nowhere in the afternoons but often blow over quickly. Autumn is quite comfortable in Huntsville. First frost normally happens around Halloween. In winter, snow is a possibility, but never a guarantee. Most snow in Huntsville is on the light side (less than 5 cm). Spring brings moderate temperatures and, unfortunately for many, seasonal allergies. Being in the southeast, Huntsville gets an average of 21 tornado warnings yearly, most in March-May, but occasionally a second tornado season in early November.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max9 °C11.9 °C17.1 °C22.5 °C26.3 °C30.3 °C31.7 °C31.6 °C28.2 °C22.8 °C16.9 °C11.4 °C
Avg Min-1.6 °C0.3 °C4.9 °C9.4 °C14.1 °C18.3 °C20.5 °C19.9 °C16.4 °C9.6 °C4.7 °C0.6 °C
Rainfall131.3 mm123.7 mm168.1 mm125.2 mm129 mm104.9 mm123.2 mm88.1 mm103.6 mm82.6 mm123.4 mm149.1 mm
Rain Days9.38.59.68.28.47.68.76.86.95.58.39.2

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Getting There

By Plane

Huntsville International Airport (HSV) is a short 17-minute drive from the City Centre and has services to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington National, Washington Dulles, Denver, and Houston Intercontinental.

Huntsville Executive Airport (MDQ) is a 20 minute drive from the City Centre.

By Car

  • 1 hour 45 minutes south of Nashville on I-65
  • 3 hours northwest of Atlanta on I-75/US-72
  • 1 hour 30 minutes north of Birmingham on I-65

By Bus

Greyhound operates a bus station downtown.

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Getting Around

By Car

Driving through the city is easy but you may encounter traffic entering or exiting the city during rush hour. Downtown, driving is almost always an easy option but parking may be limited if there are major events going on at the Von Braun Center or Big Spring Park.

By Public Transport

Public transportation is not popular in Huntsville, but does exist. The city offers 13 different bus routes, including a Tourist Trolley, which loops past most of the city's attractions and shopping areas. Turnovers between buses can be between fifteen minutes in downtown and one hour in outlying areas. There are also two free weekend evening routes that serve Downtown, Five Points, and the Medical District. In early 2016 the taxi service Uber started operations in Huntsville and offers fair prices for anywhere in the city.

By Foot

Downtown is easy to walk through with the addition of new signs and maps. Greenways are a popular option for those who enjoy a casual walk or run in Huntsville that is away from traffic.

By Bike

There is a growing cycling culture in Huntsville that makes use of the many bike paths that wind through the city and downtown. Here is a link to information on biking in Huntsville as well as a list of greenways and bike routes.

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Eat

Like many cities, the highlight of Huntsville food is its local restaurants. There are local restaurants for all tastes and price levels. Some local favorites include Lumberyard Kitchen (American; breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner) on Cleveland Ave, Below the Radar (Brewpub; lunch, dinner) on Holmes Ave, Commerce Kitchen (American; lunch, dinner) on Franklin Street, Mango's Caribbean Restaurant (Caribbean; lunch, dinner) in the Target shopping plaza on University Drive, Viet Huong (Vietnamese; lunch, dinner) on Old Monrovia Road, and Pane e Vino (Pizza; lunch, dinner) on Church Street. Ethnic restaurants are also a popular favorite with foods from nations such as Korea, India, Thailand, the Middle East and more. Almost all of the restaurants in Huntsville have placed their menus online which can be found with a quick Google search of the restaurant.

In the past three years, the food truck culture has grown exponentially with over 35 food trucks serving anything you can think of. Food highlights from the variety of trucks include authentic Mexican, cupcakes and desserts, New England lobster rolls, a bacon themed menu, BBQ, and pizza. Monthly in the summer and fall, Downtown Huntsville Inc. hosts food truck rallies which gather the many truck on one street downtown. These events usually have live music and other vendors such as the ever popular Piper & Leaf Tea Company. See the events section for more information.

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Sleep

Huntsville offers many hotel options for visitors to choose from. The most popular hotels are downtown and have the convenience of being able to walk to restaurants and venues.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Work

Huntsville has had the honor of repeatedly being named best place to live and work in the US.

The five main industries in the city are: Aerospace & Defense, Information Technology, Research and & Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, and Life Sciences.

We are also home to Cummings Research Park, the largest research park in the nation.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Huntsville (Alabama)

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This is version 39. Last edited at 13:28 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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