Huntsville was founded in 1805 by a Virginia man named John Hunt. For the first 140 years of its history, the city was a sleepy cotton town. In 1950, the US Army transferred Dr. Werner von Braun and his team of German rocket scientists to Redstone Arsenal. Within a decade, the city became a center for rocket design and construction. In 1960, NASA opened the Marshall Space Flight Center, which has played a significant role in the Redstone (named after Redstone Arsenal), Gemini, and Apollo manned space programs.
Today, the city continues to be a center for missile defense and aerospace technologies, with companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman having major operations here. Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in the country, is home to many of these companies.
According to the Census Bureau 2005 estimates, Huntsville is home to 166,313 residents. The Huntsville metro area, with 517,006 residents, is the third largest in Alabama, after Birmingham and Mobile. Madison, Athens, Decatur, and a number of smaller cities are generally considered part of the Huntsville metro area.
Northwest Airlink , with service to Memphis and Detroit.
US Airways Express , with service to Charlotte and Washington, D.C-Reagan.
United Airlines , with service to Denver and Washington-Dulles.
There is no passenger train service to Huntsville.
Huntsville is accessible from nearby Interstate 65, approximately 20 miles west of downtown. An interstate spur, Interstate 565, runs from I-65 eastward for 21 miles, to and through downtown Huntsville.
Greyhound has a depot at the corner of Holmes Ave. and Monroe St. in downtown Huntsville.
Huntsville is very car-oriented. 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.
One way: $1.00
Seniors, students, children under 6, one way: $.50
Tourist Loop: $2 (all day pass)
Downtown Weekend Trolley: Free
F: 6AM-2AM (Downtown Trolley only after 6PM)
Sa: 7PM-2AM (Downtown Trolley only)
Su: No service
Saturn V Rocket
an A-12 Oxcart Blackbird
While not widely known as a tourist destination, Huntsville does have a number of attractions of interest.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum, One Tranquility Base, Huntsville (I-565 Exit 15), +1 256-837-3400 (email@example.com), . Daily 9AM-5PM except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Years Eve and Day. A number of attractions, especially of interest to space-amazed kids and kids at heart, are available at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum. Although the museum is aging a bit, there is still something for everyone, and a good mix of education and entertainment. Additional details available at the web link. $18.95 for both IMAX and the museum (Kids 3-12 $12.95). Museum only or movie only tickets available.
Huntsville Museum of Art, 300 Church Street, 1-800-786-9095, . Open daily until 5PM (except Thursday). The Museum of Art is located in Big Spring Park. It features seven exhibit halls which host many regional and national art exhibits every year and the museum's own 2,500 piece collection. There is a large gift shop and a coffee shop with a patio that overlooks the park. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, military, and students, $3 for children 6-11, and free for members and children under 6.
Alabama Constitution Village, 109 Gates Avenue, +1 256-564-8100. See where the state of Alabama was born in 1819. Village includes a cabinet shop, law office, and a post office. During the Holidays, "Santa's Village" is held here. Open Wednesday through Saturday, March through October, and special hours in November and December. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for children and seniors.
Historic Huntsville Depot, 320 Church Street, +1 256-564-8100. Mid-1800's era railroad depot used as a prison for Civil War soldiers. Various festivals are held here throughout the year, including the Rocket City BBQ Festival in May. Open Wednesday through Saturday, March through October. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for children and seniors.
EarlyWorks Children's History Museum, 404 Madison Street, +1 256-564-8100. Tu-Sa 9AM-4PM. The South's largest hands-on children's history museum. See a 46-foot keelboat, play on giant instruments, and listen to stories told by the "Talking Tree." Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for children, and $4 for toddlers.
Burritt on the Mountain, 3101 Burritt Drive, +1 256-536-2882, . Located on Round Top Mountain off of US 431 and Monte Sano Boulevard. Features a large early 20th Century mansion, a late 19th Century farm and a petting zoo. There are also nature trails, including one that is handicapped-accessible. Open Tues-Sun year-round, though hours vary between winter and summer months.
Clay House Museum, 16 Main Street, Madison, +1 256-325-1018, . We-Sa. A 1850s Antebellum home and art museum in downtown Madison.
Harrison Brothers Hardware, 124 South Side Square, 1-866-533-3631, . M-Sa. Founded in 1879, it is the oldest continuously-running hardware store in Alabama. Located on the Courthouse Square downtown.
North Alabama Railroad Museum, 694 Chase Road, +1 256-851-6276, . Located in the Chase community in Northeast Huntsville. Features the smallest union station in the country and 90-minute train rides on select Saturdays. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays, April to December. Ticket prices for the train excursion are $12 for adults, $8 for children 12 and under. Prices may vary for special events.
State Black Archives and Museum, Wilson Bldg, Alabama A&M University, +1 256-851-5846. M-F. Located on the campus of Alabama A&M University in North Huntsville/Normal. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and free for toddlers and A&M faculty and students.
Sci-Quest, 102-D Wynn Drive, +1 256-837-0606, . Tu-Su. North Alabama's only hands-on science museum. Features more than 125 exhibits and an Immersive Theater. To get there, take I-565 Exit 15 to Old Madison Pike. Take a right on Wynn Drive. Sci-Quest is on the left, behind Calhoun Community College. $9 adults, $8.50 seniors, $8 children.
Veterans Memorial Museum, 2060-A Airport Road, +1 256-883-3737, . Open W-Sa 10AM-4PM. Features military exhibits, memorabilia, and vehicles dating back to the Revolutionary War. To get there, take Memorial Parkway South to Airport Road. Take a right; museum is on the right. $5 adult, $4 seniors, $3 students under 18.
Weeden House Museum, 300 Gates Avenue, +1 256-536-7718, . M-F 11AM-4PM. A house built in 1819, the same year Alabama became a state. Located in the Twickenham Historic District. $5 adults, $2.50 children.
Big Spring International Park Huntsville's signature park, located downtown. This is where Huntsville was founded more than 200 years ago. Features various gifts given to the city by countries like Japan (the Red Bridge) and Norway (the lighthouse). Restaurants, hotels, and the Von Braun Center are nearby. Recently underwent an expansion near the Embassy Suites hotel.
Huntsville Land Trust Trails, 907 Franklin Street, +1 256-534-5263, . A 3,400 acre network of nature preserves around the city. One of the most popular attractions is the Three Caves quarry on Monte Sano.
Huntsville Greenways, . A network of bikeways, trails, and bike-friendly roads across the metro area. Currently only 18 miles have been completed, but will eventually grow to over 200 miles. Aldridge Creek Greenway in Southeast Huntsville is the most popular bikeway, but it becomes impassable after heavy rains.
Ditto Landing, 1-800-552-8769, . M-F 8AM-10PM, Sa-Su 6AM-10PM. Public park along the Tennessee River, with boathouses, greenways, and a campground.
Green Mountain Nature Trail, South Shawdee Road, +1 256-883-9501. Open daily. A mile-long nature trail that wraps around a 16-acre lake. Features a covered bridge, picnic area, and a "Braille trail." Located off Green Mountain Road in Southeast Huntsville.
Monte Sano State Park, 5105 Nolen Avenue, +1 256-534-3757, . Large state park located on Monte Sano. Features 14 miles of hiking and biking trails, a large picnic area, cabins, a Japanese garden, and a campground. Take US 431 to Monte Sano Boulevard and follow the signs.
Huntsville Botanical Garden, 4747 Bob Wallace Avenue, +1 256-830-4447, . A 110-acre garden with woodlands, meadows and ponds. Features the nation's largest Butterfly House, which is open from May to September. In 2006, a Nature Center and Children's Garden opened. In November and December, the Botanical Garden is home to the Galaxy of Lights. Open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 children under 18. Hours and admission vary between summer and fall/winter/spring months.
Hays Nature Preserve and Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary, . The largest city-owned park and preserve, with ten miles of trails through swamps and wooded areas. Horses and bikes are allowed on some trails. Located off US 431 south of Hampton Cove.
Twickenham Historic District. The Twickenham and Old Town historic districts, located just east of downtown, feature large homes that were built as early as 1814. In June and July, free guided walking tours of the area start at 10AM each Saturday.
Five Points Historic District, . Five Points is an early 20th Century neighborhood featuring several architectural styles, including California Bungalow, Queen Anne and other modest Victorian styles. In recent years, it has become one of Huntsville's trendiest neighborhoods, with small shops, art galleries, and restaurants lining the streets in the area.
Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex, 3185 Leeman Ferry Road, +1 256-883-3774, . Year-round public ice skating rink. Open most afternoons to the public, but check website for hours. Admission is $6.50 per person. Located behind Joe Davis Stadium.
Canoeing on the Flint River. Several canoing expeditions are available. The Flint River is located in East Madison County, about 7 miles from downtown.
Robert Trent Jones-Hampton Cove Golf Course, 450 Old Highway 431, Owens Crossroads, +1 256-551-1818, . This 54-hole golf course is part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which has nine world-renowned golf courses across Alabama. Located in Hampton Cove off US 431.
Space Camp/Aviation Challenge, . Space Camp is a week-long astronaut training program for kids and teenagers. Shorter programs are available. It is celebrating its 25th anniaversary in 2007. Located at the US Space and Rocket Center.
Theatre Huntsville is a non-profit, all-volunteer arts organization that presents six plays each season in downtown Huntsville's Von Braun Center Playhouse, and also produces the annual "Shakespeare on the Mountain" in an outdoor venue, such as Burritt on the Mountain. Presentations range from such popular favorites as "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Noises Off" to cutting-edge productions like "The Laramie Project" and "Angels in America," and even a few Alabama premieres, such as "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge." Information on tickets, group rates, special rates for touring and student groups, workshops, auditions, and more at +1 (256) 536-0807; please note that office hours are by appointment only.
Renaissance Theatre was established in 1997 and has made a tremendous impact on the renewed interest in the Lincoln Mill neighborhood in Northeast Huntsville. The theatre is located in the historically important Lincoln Mill Village Commissary Building, which was built in 1927 to accommodate the needs of the Lincoln Mill workers. The productions often contain strong language and are recommended for adult audiences only.
Huntsville Stars, +1 256-882-2562, . Minor-league (AA) affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Plays from April-September at Joe Davis Stadium off of South Memorial Parkway.
Huntsville Havoc, +1 256-518-6160, . Minor-league hockey team. Plays from October-March at the Von Braun Center Arena. Buy tickets early- games sell out frequently.
Tennessee Valley Vipers, +1 256-518-6160, . Minor-league arena football team. Plays from March-July at the Von Braun Center Arena.
Huntsville Speedway, 357 Hegia Burrow Road, +1 256-882-9191, . Stock-car racetrack located off Hobbs Island Road in South Huntsville. Races are held on Friday nights from March to October. Admission is $10, $8 for military and seniors, and $5 for students.
Huntsville Dragway, 502 Quarter Mountain Road, +1 256-859-0807, . Small dragway located in Harvest. Open Fridays and Saturdays from March to October.
Panoply Arts Festival, +1 256-519-ARTS, . 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.
Summer Sidewalk Arts Strolls, the third Thursday of each month throughout the summer of 2007, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and continuing until 8:30 p.m. Featuring artisan crafts and musical and cultural performances.
Big Spring Jam, +1 256-551-2359, . Every year, over 250,000 people attend this music festival that attracts big-name bands in country, rock, blues, and jazz. Held the last weekend in September.
Whistle Stop BBQ Festival. Held the second weekend in May at the Huntsville Depot. Features music and a Barbecue cookoff.
WEUP Black Arts Festival, +1 256-837-9387, . Held in June near the Lewis Crews Football Stadium on the campus of Alabama A&M University (off Meridian Street in the Northeast Huntsville/Normal area). Features local black musicians and artists.
Galaxy of Lights. A drive-through Christmas lights show held at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Open from 5:30PM-9PM nightly from mid-November to New Year's Eve.
Santa's Village. Held at Alabama Constitution Village. See Santa, the elves, and the reindeer. Open from 5PM-9PM nightly from Thanksgiving to December 23rd.
Con*Stellation. Annual science fiction/fantasy convention  held over a 3-day (Friday-Sunday) weekend each fall.
University of Alabama in Huntsville, . A mid-sized university that specializes in engineering and science. Part of the University of Alabama system. Located off Sparkman Drive near Research Park.
Alabama A&M University, . A historically black college located in Normal in Northeast Huntsville.
Oakwood College, . A small Seventh Day Adventist school located in Northwest Huntsville.
JF Drake State Technical College,. A small public technical school in Northeast Huntsville.
Calhoun Community College, . The largest community college in Alabama, with campuses in Huntsville, Decatur, and Redstone Arsenal.
Athens State University, . The state's only 2-year upper-level university. Located in Athens, which is about 20 miles west of Huntsville.
Florida Institute of Technology, . Campus located on Redstone Arsenal serving the local high tech community.
Madison Square Mall, . An enclosed mall with 140 shops and restaurants. Tenants include Sears, JC Penney, Dillard's, Belk, and Parisian. Located on University Drive (US 72) near Research Park.
Parkway Place, . An enclosed mall with 70 upscale shops and restaurants. Tenants include Parisian, Dillard's, Abercrombie, Banana Republic, and Carrabba's Italian Grill. Located off of Memorial Parkway at the Drake Avenue exit.
Bridge Street Town Centre, . An open-air upscale lifestyle center with 60 shops and restaurants and a 12-story Westin hotel. Tenants include Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, DSW, and PF Chang's. Located at the Research Park Boulevard (AL 255)/Old Madison Pike interchange.
Like most cities, Huntsville does have its fair share of fast-food restaurants, but there are many local eateries as well that serve every budget and taste. Because of Huntsville's diverse population, a number of ethnic restaurants have opened in recent years with restaurants specializing in Greek, Indian, and Thai, among many other ethnicities.
Brewbakers, 8000 Madison Boulevard, +1 256-772-1901. Bakery.
Bison's Cafe, 8020 Madison Boulevard, +1 256-772-4477. Wings and sandwiches. Located in front of Publix.
Tony’s Italian Deli, 119 James Madison Drive, +1 256-772-4448.
Bruegger's Bagels, 100 Church Street, 539-7455, . A small deli/bakery overlooking Big Spring Park. Great for lunch downtown.
Country Vittles, 7121 University Drive, +1 256-837-9935. Famous for its breakfast.
Mullins Drive In, 607 Andrew Jackson Way, 539-2826. Traditional Five Points breakfast/lunch spot
Po-Boy Factory, 815 Andrew Jackson Way, +1 256-539-3616.
Tenders, 800 Holmes Avenue, +1 256-533-7599, . The original location of a local chain known for its chicken fingers.
Nothing but Noodles, 6125 University Drive, +1 256-922-1650, . Really, its nothing but noodles. Located in the Burlington Coat Factory shopping center.
Sitar Indian Cuisine, 420 Jordan Lane, +1 256-536-3360, . The best Indian food in town, and reasonably priced. The lunch buffet (all days but Saturday) at this family-owned chain changes items often, remaining fresh and very popular.
Thai Garden, 800 Wellman Avenue (near Five Points), +1 256-534-0122, . Excellent, moderately priced Thai food in a comfortable atmosphere resulting largely from its family-run, family-friendly ambience. The longest-running Thai restaurant in the area.
Rosie’s Mexican Cantina, 6125 University Drive, +1 256-922-1001. Probably the most famous restaurant to come out of Huntsville since Steak-Out. Currently in the University Place shopping center, but moving soon across the street next to Logan's.
Viet Huong, 930 Old Monrovia Road, NW; #1 (near Madison Square Mall), +1 256-890-0104. Delicious Vietnamese cuisine, ranging from the familiar pho – the national dish – to clay pots, fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese coffees, and more. Condiments allow you to “doctor” your dishes to your liking.
Tim's Cajun Kitchen, 114 Jordan Lane, +1 256-533-7589. Local cajun restaurant.
Furniture Factory Bar & Grill, 619 Meridian Sreet, +1 256-539-8001, . Restaurant with a large patio and live music. Artwork and (of course) furniture are for sale. Located between Downtown and Five Points.
Café Berlin, 964 Airport Road, +1 256-880-9920. Upscale German restaurant.
Kaffeeklatsch, 103 Jefferson Street, +1 256-539-1636, . This coffee shop is a downtown tradition.
A list of Huntsville-area hotels and motels is available on the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau Website .
Days Inn and Suites Research Park, 1145 McMurtrie Drive, +1 256-971-0208, . Located just west of the Target shopping center on University Drive. Convenient to Research Park and West Huntsville. Rates start at $59 nightly.
Econolodge, 10013 South Memorial Parkway, +1 256-881-7620, . Convenient to Redstone Arsenal and South Huntsville.
East, 3141 University Drive, 533-0756. Located on University Drive near Jordan Lane. Nearby restaurants. Rooms start at $60 nightly.
West, 4870 University Drive, 830-2070. Convenient to Research Park and Madison Square Mall. Denny's restaurant on site. Rooms start at $60 nightly.
Best Western Rocket City Inn and Suites, , 6200 Torok Circle, +1 256-837-7412. Just off University Drive, across from the Target shopping center.
Microtel Inns & Suites Huntsville,1820 Chase Creek Row, 859-6655. Offers on-site fitness room, deluxe continental breakfast, free high speed wired and wireless internet and more. 
Comfort Suites, 6224 Torok Circle, +1 256-562-2400. Huntsville's newest hotel, located next to the Best Western.
Fairfield Inn, 1385 Enterprise Way, +1 256-971-0921. Located just off University Drive between Burlington Coat Factory and Target. Convenient to West Huntsville and Research Park. 
Hampton Inn South Huntsville, 501 Boulevard South, +1 256-882-2228, . Convenient to South Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal. Just off Memorial Parkway on the right.
Hilton Garden Inn, 4801 Governors House Drive, +1 256-430-1778, . Convenient to Space Center. Located off I-565 at Exit 15.
Holiday Inn Research Park, 5903 University Drive, +1 256-830-0600. Located next to Madison Square. Restaurants and shopping nearby. Convenient to Research Park.
Embassy Suites Huntsville, 800 Monroe Street, +1 256-539-7373, . This 10-story hotel opened in October 2006. Great views of the city, downtown, and the skyline. Connected by a "skybridge" to the Von Braun Center. A Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is inside the hotel.
Holiday Inn Downtown, 401 Williams Avenue, +1 256-533-1400, . Located next to Big Spring Park and the Von Braun Center. Upscale restaurant and a Starbucks inside.
Marriott Huntsville, 5 Tranquility Base, +1 256-830-2222. Located next to Space Center.
Radisson Suites Huntsville South, 6000 S Memorial Parkway, +1 256-882-9400, . South Huntsville's most upscale hotel. Convenient to Redstone Arsenal. Restaurant onsite. Rooms start at $70 nightly.
Four Points Sheraton Huntsville Airport, 1000 Glen Hearn Blvd, +1 256-772-9661, . Located inside Huntsville International Airport, I-565 Exit 7. Rooms start at $59 per night.
Candlewood Suites, 201 Exchange Place, +1 256-830-8222, . Convenient to Space Center and Research Park. Rates start at $60 per night.
Extended Stay America, 4751 Governors House Drive, +1 256-830-9110, . Located off 565 at Exit 15. Convenient to Redstone Arsenal and Space Center.
Homewood Suites, 15 Town Center Drive, +1 256-895-9511. Located in the Village of Providence in West Huntsville. Convenient to Research Park. 
Residence Inn, 6305 Residence Inn Road, +1 256-895-0444. Located behind the Target shopping center off University Drive. Convenient to Research Park, restaurants, and shopping. Rooms start at $70 nightly.
Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, 1565 The Boardwalk, +1 256-830-2500, . Located off University Drive near Madison Square. Convenient to restaurants and shopping.
The area code for Huntsville and North Alabama is 256.
Free WiFi is available at these places:
Big Spring Park
Krystal- Five locations in Madison County.
Stanlieo's Sub Villa- Jordan Lane and Governors Drive locations.
Atlanta Bread Co.- in the Target shopping center on University Drive.
West End Grill- on Old Madison Pike near the Research Park Blvd. interchange.
Huntsville International Airport
The Huntsville Times. Huntsville's only daily newspaper. Includes Go Magazine every Thursday, which includes info on restaurants, concerts, movies, and more.
Valley Planet. A monthly alternative newspaper.
WLRH 89.3 FM, . NPR/Classical station located on the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
WJAB 90.3 FM, . Public jazz station run by Alabama A&M University.
There are two major hospitals in Huntsville.
Huntsville Hospital, 101 Sivley Road, +1 256-265-1000, . A public hospital located downtown on Governors Drive.
Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children, . Located just east of the main hospital.
Crestwood Medical Center, 1 Hospital Drive, +1 256-882-3100, . A private hospital located off of Airport Road in South Huntsville.
Other hospitals in the Huntsville region:
Athens-Limestone Hospital, 902 Washington St, Athens, +1 256-233-9292, .
Parkway Medical Center, 1874 Beltline Road, Decatur, +1 256-350-2211, .
Decatur General Hospital, 1201 Seventh Street, Decatur, .
Highlands Medical Center, 380 Woods Cove Road, Scottsboro, +1 256-259-2444, .
Marshall Medical Center North, 8000 Alabama 69, Guntersville, +1 256-571-8000, .
Lincoln Medical Center, 106 Medical Center Blvd., Fayetteville, TN, +1 931-438-1100, .
In an emergency, dial 911.
Huntsville Police Department. For non emergencies inside city limits, use 256-722-7100. The main precinct is located north of downtown off of North Memorial Parkway.
Madison County Sheriff's Department. For non-emergencies outside of Madison or Huntsville, use 256-532-3416.
Madison Police Department. For non emergencies in Madison city limits, use 256-722-7190.
Alabama State Troopers. For highway emergencies anywhere in Alabama, dial *HP (*47).
Summer- Average high: 89F (32C); Average low: 67F (19C). Summers are hot and humid, but the thermometer rarely goes above 100F. Strong thunderstorms do come out of nowhere in the afternoons.
Fall- Average high: 73F (23C); Average low: 51F (10C). Autumn is quite comfortable in Huntsville. First frost normally happens around Halloween. Strong tornadoes do occur in November.
Winter- Average high: 52F (11C); Average low: 32F (0C). Snow is a possibility, but never a guarantee. Most snow in Huntsville is on the light side (less than 2 inches). However, any snow amounts more than 1/3" can close roads and schools.
Spring- Average High: 72F (22C); Average low: 49F (9C). Being in a "tornado alley", Huntsville gets many tornado warnings in the spring, so be careful.
Lynchburg, TN. Home of Jack Daniel's Distillery. Only a 45 minute drive from Huntsville.
Guntersville, AL.This town on Lake Guntersville is a popular weekend retreat for Huntsvillians. About a 40 minute drive from Huntsville on US 431 South.
Decatur, AL. Home of "America's First Wave Pool" at Point Mallard Park.
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