Explore 7 Hidden Gems in Huntsville

Explore 7 Hidden Gems in Huntsville

Huntsville is the Rocket City for a reason.  I mean, you can’t miss the 363-foot Saturn V rocket towering over I-565!   The Huntsville landmark commemorates our first historic steps on the moon in 1969 and is a true monument to human ingenuity.

It’s also a really big welcome to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville’s hallmark attraction.

Huntsville US Space & Rocket Center

But there’s more to Huntsville than just rocket science.  There are lots of great things to see and do here.  Let’s explore 7 hidden gems in Huntsville!

1. Burritt on the Mountain

High atop Round Top Mountain sits a uniquely stunning mansion.  Dr. William Henry Burritt began building the Maltese cross-shaped structure in 1934 as a retirement home.

One day from moving in, the house (insulated with wheat straw) caught fire and burned.  Burritt rebuilt and finally took up residence in 1938, staying until his death in 1955.

Huntsville Burritt Mansion
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

Burritt donated the house to the city, and it became Huntsville’s first museum in 1955.  Today it sits on the sprawling grounds along with a Historic Park.  Carefully restored buildings, authentic artifacts, and interactive characters give you a sneak peek at life on a 19th-century farm.

Huntsville Burritt
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

Tour the mansion, walk the grounds, pack a picnic, and enjoy a day on the mountain!

hidden gems in Huntsville

2. Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic

If you want to be a part of something spectacular, plan your trip over Memorial Day weekend.  The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic is in full swing and is SO much fun!

Just a quick drive on I-565 takes you to a world of colorful wonder and whimsy.  Hot air balloon pilots from across the county converge on Decatur (the ‘Ballooning Capital of Alabama) to race across the skies.

The festival is packed with live entertainment, international foods, arts and crafts, and antique cars and tractors.  Stick around until Sunday night for the breathtaking balloon glow and fireworks!

3. The Grave of Miss Baker

Miss Baker was something of a celebrity in 1959.  She appeared on network television, posed at press conferences, hung out with the political elite in Washington D.C., and married a hairy guy named Big George in 1962.  She was even featured on the cover of Life magazine wearing only a shirt.

Scandalous?  Not really.  Miss Baker and her partner Miss Able were the first space monkeys to be successfully recovered from a U.S. mission to space.  Unfortunately, Miss Able died in surgery four days late.

Huntsville Miss Baker
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

But Miss Baker continued to live the high life at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center until her passing in 1984.  She is buried on the grounds and a memorial marker sits at the Center’s entrance.

You’ll recognize it from the pile of bananas visitors leave behind!

4. Adult Space Academy

Perhaps not so hidden, but definitely a gem!  Adult Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a childhood dream come true.  Spend 3 days living and training like an astronaut while you build rockets, engineer a heat shield, and take part in team-building exercises.

Your final mission?  A simulated trip to space!  To infinity….

Huntsville Adult Space Academy
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

5. Downtown Huntsville Craft Cocktail Trail

Time to kick back and savor the flavors of the south.   While you can have a drink anywhere downtown, try the Craft Cocktail Trail for a fun twist.  Collect stamps at each of the participating venues along with your drinks and redeem them for a free specialty cocktail strainer.

Huntsville Craft Cocktail Tour
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB


6. Harrison Brothers Hardware Store

Harrison Brothers Hardware has been a Huntsville staple since 1894 – and it looks nearly the same today with original fixtures, counters, shelves, and its 1907 National Cash Register still ringing up sales.

Huntsville Harrison
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

However, hammers and nails have been replaced with high tea demonstrations, vintage toys, gourmet foods, fine arts and crafts, and other merchandise proudly made in America.

Huntsville Hidden Gem Harrison Brothers Hardware
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

Stopping at Harrison Brothers Hardware at 124 Southside Square is both a tradition and an experience!

7. Monte Sano State Park

Another Huntsville hidden gem is beautifully pristine Monte Sano State Park.  Monte Sano means ‘mountain of health’ – and that’s exactly what you get when you visit.  At 1600 feet, it’s an outdoor oasis of fresh air fun standing watch over Rocket City.

Huntsville Monte Sano
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

While you’re there, dig in and do a little geocaching to uncover some truly hidden gems!

Then check out amazing park perks like hiking and biking trails, rock climbing, a Japanese garden, rustic cottages, a planetarium, an outdoor amphitheater, camping, and a country store.

Huntsville Monte Sano
Photo credit to Huntsville/Madison County CVB

You’re only about 6 miles out of Huntsville, but it feels like another world.

Uncover More Hidden Gems in Huntsville

If you want to find out what other hidden gems Huntsville might be hiding, check out the latest episode of Destination Dispatch.

Pam Williams from the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau dishes on the city’s secret spots and great, group-friendly itineraries.

If you’re planning a group trip, Huntsville is a hidden gem that’s out of this world! (easy, Eyerollers… you knew it was coming!)

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