Huntsville: Blast off to adventure

Huntsville: Blast off to adventure

August 31st, 2016 by Gene Henley in Glimpse 2016

Clear blue skies behind the Saturn 5 rocket.

Photo by Getty Images/iStockphoto/Jeffrey Schreier

Huntsville was founded in 1805 by John Hunt. Since then, it's been best known for its space museum, and the city is considered by some to be the space capital of the world. That's not all the town offers, though.

Be it military museums, botanical gardens, festivals or drive-thru safaris, there's enough variety that anybody passing through town can have a good time regardless of age.

EXOTIC LOCALE

You don't even have to get out of your car to enjoy one of Huntsville's most exciting attractions: Harmony Park Safari. For a mere $5 more than the price of admission, you get the opportunity to feed a variety of exotic and endangered animals throughout the trip. And considering most reviewers call this Huntsville's best-kept secret, the $9 admission is a bargain. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (431 Clouds Cove Road; 256-723-3880.)

BLAST OFF

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is known as one of the best space flight hardware museums in the world. It takes multiple trips to take in and appreciate everything the museum has to offer, as the exhibits are changed a lot. Exhibits range from black holes to Earth's atmosphere and are sure to fascinate all ages. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for ages 5-12, $20 for ages 13 and up, and free for ages 5 and under. (1 Tranquility Base; 256-837-3400; rocketcenter.com.)

THE SWEET TASTE OF VARIETY

Sweet potato doughnuts. Chicken rotini. Fried cheese balls with jalapenos. The unique and varied menu alone is enough to make 1892 East a must-visit when you arrive in town. But trust us, the feast won't only be for your eyes. The farm-fresh ingredients and focus on quality guarantee not only an eclectic meal, but a tasty one. Hours are Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., Saturday from 5-10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (720 Pratt Ave. NE; 256-489-1242; 1892east.com.)

ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES

WhistleStop Weekend is a two-day festival on the grounds of the Huntsville Depot that offers live entertainment, a children's play zone, and professional and amateur barbecue cooking competitions.

* It happens the first weekend of May, starting Friday afternoon and proceeding all day Saturday, with the proceeds supporting the EarlyWorks Family of Museums.

The tickets will range from $15-35, and more information can be found at rocketcitybbq.com.

ELITE STATUS

Huntsville is one of the most well-educated cities in the world, with a vast number of engineers, scientists and doctors in the city. What else does that mean? Huntsville has one of the highest ownership rates of BMWs per capita in the United States.