Huntsville is the city located in the northernmost portion of the US state of Alabama, near the state border with Tennessee. If you know anything about the city, you will know that it is dubbed the Rocket City. That is given the fact that Huntsville has a reputation as a major hub for NASA’s rockets and space missions.
The rocket-loving city is also known to be a center of the US Army’s missile development, being home to the US Army Aviation and Missile Command. As a result, those who are fascinated with rockets and the US military will be pleased to know that there are things to do in Huntsville, AL that will appeal to them.
US Space & Rocket Center
The US Space & Rocket Center is located just to the southwest of the interchange of Madison Pike and Interstate 565 in Huntsville. It is the largest space flight museum in the world and one of the most comprehensive US manned space flight hardware museums. So, there is a lot for you to take in during your time there. The museum houses more than 1,5000 items in the rocket and space hardware collection.
When they are put together, they are worth tens of millions of dollars. When you arrive at the museum, you will notice an imposing rocket standing tall outdoors. This rocket is the Saturn V moon rocket. This was the rocket that was used by the US to put man on the moon for the first time ever in 1969. This rocket is about 36 stories tall, making it easy to spot from a certain distance.
You can explore aspects of the Saturn V moon rocket, including the Skylab engineering area, the Apollo 12 mobile quarantine facility, and the Apollo-era Gantry. You can learn about the planning that NASA undertook for America’s historic mission of landing man on the moon. There are also artifacts on display from the moon trip.
These include the Gemini and Project Mercury Astronaut trainer items, an Apollo 12 moon rock, the Saturn V Instrument Unit Ring, and the Apollo 16 command module. Another item that you will see at the museum is Explorer I. This was the first satellite that the United States launched into space. The satellite was launched in February of 1958 which is just over a decade earlier than the historic mission to the moon.
Pathfinder, which is the world’s only full-stack space shuttle to be on display, is also found at this museum. The prices for general admission to the US Space & Rocket Center varies just a little bit depending on the date you choose to visit. The prices for the July 1st to July 9th, 2020 slot are $20 for adults and $15 for children aged 5 to 12. Those who are aged under 5 will get free admission.
You can head here to buy your tickets for the museum. In addition to the museum, there is also a bus tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which is located about 12 minutes to the south from the museum. During the bus tour, you will get a glimpse into NASA’s operations in Huntsville. The bus tour is offered by the museum for $20 for those aged 5 and up. It will last for around two to two and a half hours.
US Veterans Memorial Museum
The US Veterans Memorial Museum is located on Airport Road Southwest near the interchange with US Route 231 in southern Huntsville. This is the museum where you can go and check out all kinds of cool things related to the US military. The items displayed at the museum date all the way back to the American Revolutionary War in the 18th century.
The museum houses more than thirty military vehicles. These include jeeps, tanks, watercraft, aircraft, and motorcycles. The crown jewel of these military vehicles is the Ford Pygmy. This is the oldest surviving jeep. It was produced in November of 1940 during the midst of World War II. You will be able to look inside at least some of these military vehicles at the museum.
A few examples include the UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, the Vietnam-era PBR river patrol boat, and the M-48 Patton tank. In addition to the military vehicles, there are military weapons and uniforms from a variety of periods on display at the museum. The museum is divided into nine exhibits.
They are Pre-Civil War (The Revolutionary War and The Mexican War), Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Present Day, 8th Airforce Briefing Room, and Outdoor Exhibit. During your time at the museum, you will get to hear unique first-hand accounts of some of the most significant conflicts that the US military had been involved in.
The admission to the US Veterans Memorial Museum is free to everybody. However, donations are encouraged. The suggested rates are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for students.
These are the things to do in Huntsville, AL. NASA and US military buffs will feel at home at these two attractions. So, you will want to make sure to visit them when you are in the rocket-friendly Alabama city.
Should you need a place to lay your head overnight during your time in Huntsville, I am here to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels that I would suggest for you.
Drury Inn & Suites Huntsville at the Space & Rocket Center
This hotel is located on Wynn Drive Northwest in Huntsville, right across Interstate 565 from the US Space & Rocket Center. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you feel hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Connors Steak & Seafood, Ol Heidelberg Cafe, and Grille 29. There is a hybrid indoor/outdoor swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel.
The hotel also houses a fitness center for you to use. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $117 to $181. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Huntsville-South
This hotel is located on US Route 231, just a five minutes drive south of the US Veterans Memorial Museum. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Bistro 6K. So, you can head there if you get hungry. There is an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center available at the hotel for you to use.
All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $118 to $217. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these two attractions in Huntsville in the past? Feel free to leave a comment below.