This Spring has been great for traveling – I have gone to Gulf Shores, Memphis, Charleston, and Paducah, and I have learned a lot about those destinations. I like to take a little time to learn about a new destination to make the most of my trip. One thing that I am guilty of is not exploring more of North Alabama, a place that I call home. However, that changed this year when Huntsville, Alabama, was chosen as the 2017 location for the North America TBEX conference. (TBEX is the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and industry professionals.)
There were several pre-conference trips in Huntsville that were offered. I immediately jumped at the chance to learn more about Huntsville, a city that most people associate with the Space and Rocket Center. But there is so much more to Huntsville than rocket science.
Huntsville Ghost Walk
One of the excursions was for a ghost walk. It was lead by Jackie Reeves of Avalon Tours. In addition to being a tour guide, Jackie is the author of Wicked North Alabama (and several other books). She took us through Huntsville and told us stories about Huntsville’s past and pointed out homes and buildings that are reported to be haunted.
Did I see any ghosts? Not on this tour, but a couple of dogs that were on the tour with us did act peculiar at a couple of stops. Perhaps they were able to sense something supernatural.
Twickenham District Guided Walking Tour
The Huntsville CVB conducts walking tours of Huntsville, too. We TBEXers were taken on a guided tour of the Twickenham Historic District and learned a lot about Huntsville’s history and its early well-known residents. Did you know that Huntsville was founded in 1805 and named after John Hunt and that almost two decades later, the State of Alabama’s constitution was signed making Alabama the 22nd state in the United States?
Among the many beautiful antebellum homes in Huntsville is the Weeden House Museum. Built in 1819, it became the home to Maria Howard Weeden (1846 – 1905).
Howard, as she was known, was a gifted artist who cared deeply about the slaves in her life. Her paintings – often made with a paint brush with just a few bristles – are absolutely unbelievable and are on display in the house.
Admission to The Weeden House is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Public tours are Wednesday – Saturday from 10:30 – 11:30.
Getting Around In Style
We rode in style to the Alpha-Hudson Institute, thanks to Party Life Bus. We were kept cool inside the roomy cabin and entranced by the neon lights. Yes, that’s a pole in the middle and no – nobody used it for dancing. (Though you can rent the bus and use the pole for dancing if you’d like!)
It was at the Alpha-Hudson Institute that we were treated to a special taste of Huntsville sampling some of the “good eats” and beer. Huntsville enjoys a vibrant beer scene, thanks in large part to the organization, Free The Hops. The organization has worked hard over the past several years to bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama.
The Space and Rocket Center
While there is a lot to do in Huntsville aside from the Space and Rocket Center, the center takes center stage for good reasons. The center serves as the Official Visitor Center for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, a Visitor Center for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Visitors can experience the physics of astronaut training like in simulators like Space ShotTM and G-Force. It is also home to the Spacedome IMAX® Theater and our National Geographic Theater, Space Camp®, Aviation Challenge® Camp, and Robotics Camp. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is the largest spaceflight museum in the world. Its large rocket and space hardware collection is valued in the tens of millions of dollars.
In addition to all of that, the Space and Rocket Center knows how to host parties. Inside the Davidson Center for Exploration, we were treated to delicious German fare underneath the Saturn V rocket.
The Space and Rocket Center is open 9 am until 5 pm, 7 days a week. (It’s closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.) Click here for current admission rates.
Unfortunately, we had several rain showers during the conference so I didn’t bring my camera. I would have loved to have gotten some great shots at our dinner at AM Booth’s Lumberyard where we sampled some shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and other tasty dishes while some members of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians danced. I also missed out on some pictures at Redstone Arsenal enjoying activities put on by the MWR thanks to a nice deluge. That’s a good excuse to go back, don’t you think?