Hint: They don't involve rocket ships.
While Huntsville has been and will remain a destination for middle schoolers with a proclivity for aeroscience, Rocket City has become a new launching pad for craft breweries, restaurants, and creative entrepreneurs, which has created a boom of new places to see beyond the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (even though we also think aero science is rad too).
Here’s our list of new spots and old favorites to see in Huntsville.
Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment
Once a cotton gin opened in 1901, this 171,000-square-foot building has been turned into the largest privately owned arts facility in the country. Walk through the beehive of more than 132 working artist studios and 6 galleries, then head downstairs to Piper and Leaf Tea to pick up a cup of Front Porch Special, quite possibly the best glass of iced tea we’ve ever found with subtle hints of spearmint, bergamot, and blue cornflower. Chef Will the Palate’s vegetarian food truck serves up dishes like a Portobello mushroom steak with charred kale and quinoa pilaf. Don’t leave without a visit to Vertical House Records on the south side of the dock where you’ll find an expertly curated collection and vinyl by North Alabama artists like Jason Isbell, Alabama Shakes, Donnie Fritts, and the Secret Sisters.
Monte Sano Park
While Alabama may not be known as a hiking state compared to states like North Carolina, Hunstville’s position in the lower region of the Appalachians Mountains makes Monte Sano State Park a prime spot with spectacular views, 20 miles of trails, and 14 miles of biking paths all with varying degrees of difficulty.
Tangled String Studios
Although this performance venue is located in Lowe Mill, it deserves its own mention for being one of the better places to actually listen to a show if you’re used to bumping elbows with amateur smartphone videographers or straining to hear over people more focused on their own conversation. By day, the space is a luthier shop where Danny Davis creates custom guitars and mandolins, but by night turns into a cozy listening room where you can see artists like Parker Milsap, John Paul White, and Amanda Shires.
Campus No. 805
NASA may have brought high-tech engineers to the city, but its also helped foster a scene of beer engineers who take a scientific approach to creating craft brews. Two of the city’s more popular breweries (although it has 9 if anyone is counting), Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer Brewing, recently made the move into Campus 805, a multi-use space that was once the old Stone Middle School. We recommend grabbing a pizza at Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza and pairing it with Straight to Ale’s IPA Monkeynaut, which features a delightfully freaked-out monkey in an astronaut suit on the can.
Taqueria El Cazador (Governor’s Drive location)
There are not many places in this world where you can eat inside a school bus, let alone authentic Mexican tacos, but in Huntsville, those two dreams become one. Grab a taco trio (Birria, Cabesa, and Pollo are our picks) made with two corn tortillas and topped with onion and cilantro.