Hundreds of miles from Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, lies Huntsville, Alabama. Just an unassuming cotton town it has turned into a hub of rocketry and innovation. Huntsville was nicknamed the Rocket City because of its role in designing, building, and testing the Saturn V rocket that carried man to the moon.
As of 2019, the Saturn V rocket, classified as a super heavy-lift launch vehicle, remains the heaviest, tallest, and most powerful rocket ever commercially used. The Saturn V is also the only vehicle to carry humans beyond Low Earth Orbit, defined as an altitude of 1,200 miles or less, approximately the same distance as driving from New York City to Miami.
Huntsville loves to pay tribute to its spacey past, present, and future. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind weekend getaway, this is the place. Here is all you need to know about the space nerdy things to see and do around town.
Huntsville Visitor’s Center
Start your trip by stopping by the visitor’s center. You’ll find local information, a selfie station that can transport you to another galaxy, space suits, and even astronaut shaped stress toys.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center
Alabama’s most visited attraction is a must see. Thrill-seekers get to experience weightlessness on Space Shot and the force of a rocket launch on G-Force. Adventurers can walk on the moon, climb a rock wall on Mars, and ride a Martian roller coaster. You can stand under one of only three Saturn V rockets in the world and peer into the cockpit of the Apollo 16 command module.
The Intuitive Planetarium and National Geographic Theater offer movies all day, while planetarium shows are available each Friday night.
Marshall Space Flight Center
As an add-on to your USSRC ticket, you can take a 2-hour bus tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The tour will take you through facilities used for testing along with historic test stands and bunkers.
On an unassuming piece of sidewalk off the square in downtown Huntsville, you’ll find the impression of the boots Alan Shepard wore on the moon embedded in the concrete.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space and the fifth and oldest to walk on the moon during Apollo 14. He was also the only one of the Mercury 7 to also walk on the moon.
To remember your stay in the Rocket City, head to Lowe Mill, the largest privately owned artist collective in the country, and pick up a hand painted piece of art, jewelry, or a screen printed tee or poster.
BONUS: Stop into Pizzelle’s Confections for a truffle that looks like it was plucked from the Milky Way.
One of the newest haunts to join the Huntsville craft beer scene, the walls are painted to resemble the Saturn V. Photographs from the moon and the live feed from the International Space Station adorn the walls. Innerspace is a very special place, indeed.
- Welcome to Huntsville – On the side of the parking garage facing Big Spring Park, you’ll find the red, white, and blue mural with our famed Saturn V.
- Clinton Row Color Walk – An alley on Clinton Avenue downtown has several framed murals all painted by local artists. Here you’ll find Mae Jemison, the first African American woman, and Jan Davis, a Huntsville native who spent over 650 hours in space during three Space Shuttle missions. BONUS: find the door to another galaxy.
- Space Invader – On the back of 113 Clinton Ave, you’ll find a mural painted by @dazetn, featuring a jetpack wearing, laser gun wielding astronaut.
- Straight to Ale – Painted in the hallway near the speakeasy, several astronauts float around the brewery logo.
- I Love You to the Moon and Back – This mural can be found on the side of a car wash on Whitesburg Drive. Ample parking is available at Interiors by Consign, the wonderful South Huntsville shop that commissioned this mural.
BONUS: Space is the Place – Painted on the exterior of Campus 805, this mural can be found at Straight to Ale.
Huntsville Escape Room – The Hexadron
The Hexadron are an alien race who searched the galaxy looking for unique genetic code to integrate into their species. Without any feeling or emotion of their own, they are fascinated with human senses, emotions, and connections. They’ve taken over our planet and in 60 minutes will begin a mass exodus back to their world, taking everyone they’ve captured with them. You’ve been captured and to avoid unknown testing, probing, and the harvesting of your genetic code, you must escape the transport station before it’s too late.
Straight to Ale
Located at Campus 805, Straight to Ale names most of their tasty brews after the space program. These include Laika Bourbon Barrel, Unobtanium, Gorillanaut, Boldly Gose, and their ever popular Monkeynaut.
Von Braun Astronomical Society
Every Saturday night at 7:30, there is a public planetarium show for only $5. Following the show, weather permitting, you can look through the VBAS telescopes and view the wonders of the universe.
On the outskirts of Madison County is Rocket Republic, a brewery housed inside what looks like an airplane hangar. Snag a flight of Apollo Amber Ale, AstroNut Brown Ale, Solar Sour, Terrestri-Ale Belgian Tripel, Vapor Trail Cream Ale, and of the many seasonals.