When summer beckons – with sunny skies and a relaxed pace, the mind wanders to getting away.

While far-off locales may be on your travel agenda, Huntsville and its regional surroundings offer such intriguing things to do and places to see that day and weekend road trips are a must. We’ve compiled a directory of destinations here at home and within a day’s drive. Pack light, load up, and set off with The Weekender.

Photos by: Steve Babin, Doug Lighton, Monica Martin, Kadie Pangburn, Patty Satterly, Marty Sellers


Burritt on the Mountain

3101 Burritt Drive SE | Huntsville, AL 35801

256.536.2882 |

Situated on a magnificent 167-acre site overlooking the city, Burritt is a place to explore the natural beauty of Round Top Mountain, learn about its ecology, revisit the lives of farmers from the 1800s, and tour Dr. William Henry Burritt’s unique 1938 mansion. Burritt’s nature trails are perfect for hiking, and they are connected to the LandTrust of Madison County and Monte Sano State Park.

The EarlyWorks Family of Museums

256.564.8100 |

The EarlyWorks Family of Museums features loads of adventure with three museums:

The EarlyWorks Children’s Museum is the South’s largest hands-on history museum. Kids can hear stories from the Talking Tree, play a tune on the giant-sized instruments at the Alabama bandstand, explore a 46-foot Keelboat, trade wares at the General Store and try on 1800’s clothing in the federal house. Pre-schoolers will enjoy exploring a touch-and-learn area which includes a garden, grocery store, water-table tree house and even a cow to milk.

At the Historic Huntsville Depot, visitors hear the rattle of the tracks and the engineer’s whistle as they experience life on the rails in 1860. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Depot served as the local passenger house and the corporate offices for the eastern division of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. An active passenger station until 1968, the original depot building stands as a symbol of Huntsville’s transportation history and city growth.

Huntsville Museum of Art

300 Church St. SW | Huntsville, AL 35801

256.535.4350 |

The Huntsville Museum of Art sits in Big Spring Park, the epicenter of Downtown Huntsville, and works as a magnet for cultural activities. The mission of the Museum is to bring people and art together through acquiring, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the highest quality works of art.

Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail

Huntsville is a city known for rocket science, what about the science of brewing beer? With eleven locations to sip local craft suds all in one area, Downtown Huntsville, Inc. has conveniently laid out a trail to help you easily experience the breweries, taprooms, and beverage shops in the heart of the city.

U.S. Space and Rocket Center

One Tranquility Base | Huntsville, AL 35805


The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the largest spaceflight museum in the world. Its large rocket and space hardware collection contains more than 1,500 items. The museum showcases the past, present and future of human spaceflight. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center serves as the Official Visitor Center for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; a Visitor Center for the Tennessee Valley Authority; is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution; and is home to Space Camp®, Aviation Challenge® Camp and Space Camp® Robotics.

Don’t miss the events this summer held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Apollo Moon Landing.

Land Trust of North Alabama | 256.534.5263

The Land Trust offers more than 70 miles of free public trails for relaxing, exercising, and connecting with nature. Seven Public Preserves in Madison County open dawn to dusk daily for hiking, biking, and outdoor recreation. Featuring guided hikes and outdoor adventures each spring and fall; summer environmental educational series for kids; concerts and events at the picturesque Three Caves; The Land Trust provides a variety of ways to get involved in its mission for preservation.

Alabama Constitution Hall Historic Park & Museum transports guests back to 1819, when forty-four delegates of the constitutional convention gathered in a vacant cabinet shop to organize Alabama as the 22nd state. John Boardman’s print shop, Clement Comer Clay’s law office, the Federal Land Surveyor’s office, a post office and sheriff Stephen Neal’s residence surround that cabinet shop. Today, the shade trees watch over a proud living village that captures Alabama’s history and spirit.

Monte Sano State Park

5105 Nolen Ave. | Huntsville, AL 35801

256.534.3757 |

In Spanish, Monte Sano means “Mountain of Health.” In the late 1800s, visitors from across the United States came for “the season” to experience and enjoy Monte Sano’s fresh air, views and mineral springs. Monte Sano sits on 2,140 acres with spectacular vistas from atop the mountain, especially when the fall leaves show off their colors. In the spring, native azaleas bloom along the 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails. For overnight and longer adventures, the park features cabins, improved campsites, a primitive campground and a camp store.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

4747 Bob Wallace Ave. SW | Huntsville, AL 35805

256.830.4447 |

The 112-acre Huntsville Botanical Garden is open year-round and boasts an aquatic garden, wildflower and nature trail, numerous specialty gardens and plant collections. The 9,000-square foot Anderson Education Center contains the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house and is home to many other species of wildlife. The Children’s Garden is made of eight themed areas that include dinosaur, story book and pollywog gardens. With seasonal festivals and exhibits galore, there’s always something “growing” on at The Garden. Don’t miss the Chinese Lantern Festival through May 19.

Photo courtesy of the Huntsville Botanical Garden


Carnegie Visual Arts Center

207 Church St NE | Decatur, AL 35601

256-341-0562 |

The Carnegie Visual Arts Center provides educational and cultural opportunities to the community. Through its programs, collections, and events, the museum encourages a greater involvement in art at all levels and ages.

The Cook Museum of Natural Science

133 Fourth Ave NE | Decatur, AL 35601

256.351.4505 |

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is a state-of- the-art natural science museum in downtown Decatur. It provides a hands-on, immersive experience where kids can explore, interact with, and learn about nature. Featured exhibits include Oceans, Cave and Forests. The museum’s grand opening is June 7.

Point Mallard Park

2901 Point Mallard Drive | Decatur, AL 35602

256.341.4900 |

Point Mallard Park is probably best known for its waterpark, home to America’s first wave pool. But the park complex also offers a 3-mile hiking/biking trail, sand volleyball, extensive picnic and campgrounds, an open-air prayer chapel, and bank-fishing along the Tennessee River. Plus, the park is home to a year-round golf course, an ice complex and batting cages. Visit the website for information about the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic – Memorial Day Weekend 2019 – as well as a Civil War Reenactment.


Ave Maria Grotto

1600 St. Bernard Dr. SE | Cullman, Alabama 35055

256.734.4110 |

The Ave Maria Grotto is home to the humble labor of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Originally from Bavaria-Germany, the young Zoettl traveled America to pursue monastic life at Alabama’s only Benedictine Abbey – and eventually left the abbey its greatest legacy. Since 1934, people from around the world visit to see famous parts of the world in miniature, from Monteserrat to St. Peter’s Basilica. The former abbey quarry is now the 4-acre park that the Grotto and surrounding miniatures rest upon.

Wild Water

1636 Field of Miracles Dr SW | Cullman, AL 35055

256.775.7946 |

Wild Water is the water park at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center. The park is home to a variety of slides including the Torque, Side-Swipe and Blitz plus Drift River, and Splash Station for kids; along with high and low diving boards at an eight-lane competition pool. Wild Water offers twilight hours as well as special movie nights dubbed Dive-In Movies.

All Steak Restaurant

323 3rd Ave SE | Cullman, AL 35055

256.734.4322 |

Considered a cornerstone of the Cullman community, All Steak restaurant has been touted as one of Food Network’s top places to eat. Its origin dates back to 1934 when it was founded in Tennessee by Millard Buchhmann. In 1938, he moved the business to Cullman. Since then, the restaurant has changed owners and locations a few more times. People from far and near enjoy the prime rib, seafood and other culinary delights, but it’s their signature orange rolls that keep them coming back.


Lake Guntersville State Park

1155 Lodge Drive | Guntersville, AL 35976

256.517.5440 |

Lake Guntersville Resort State Park promises to satisfy, whether visitors are looking for a resort style retreat or an outdoor adventure in the park’s 6,000 acres of natural woodlands. During the winter, the park is the nesting ground of the American bald eagle and offers eagle awareness programs. Among other offerings are an 18-hole championship golf course, a beach complex, an outdoor nature center, fishing in Alabama’s largest lake, 36 miles of hiking and biking trails, extensive campgrounds, weekly guided hikes and a day-use area.

The Guntersville Dam

3780 Guntersville Dam Rd | Grant, AL 35747 |

When TVA established the stairway of dams and locks that turned the Tennessee into a 652-mile-long river highway, the rural town of Guntersville was transformed into a major port – with the dam completed in 1939. There is a visitor center installation on site where you can learn more about the history of TVA and Guntersville Dam, and about TVA’s current activities.

Fort Payne

(The Band) Alabama Fan Club & Museum

101 Glenn Boulevard SW | Fort Payne, AL 35967

256.845.1646 |

It’s been 40 years since a trio of young cousins left Fort Payne, Alabama, to spend the summer playing in a Myrtle Beach bar called The Bowery. It took Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook six long years to earn the major label deal they’d been dreaming of, but then seemingly no time at all to change the face of country music. Visit the newly remodeled, state-of- the-art museum, featuring over 50 years of music memorabilia.

Desoto State Park

7104 DeSoto Parkway NE | Fort Payne, AL 35967

256.845.5380 |

Desoto State Park is nestled atop beautiful Lookout Mountain and accented by many rushing waterfalls — including Desoto Falls near Mentone; sandstone outcroppings; and fragrant wildflowers. Developed in the late 1930s, the hard-working and dedicated men of the Civilian Conservation Corps made many natural enhancements to the park that have withstood the test of time and will last for future generations. Lodging facilities include mountain chalets, log and rustic cabins, motel rooms and an improved campground with tent and RV sites.

Little River Canyon

4328 Little River Canyon Pkwy | Fort Payne, AL 35967

256.845.9605 |

Located on the boundary of DeKalb and Cherokee Counties in northeast Alabama, Little River Canyon National Preserve was established to protect the landscapes of the Little River Canyon. Protected within the preserve boundary are the spectacular Little River Canyon, the pristine Little River, and a number of rare and threatened plant and animal species. Together with the adjacent Desoto State Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve provides abundant scenic views and varied recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Florence/Muscle Shoals/ Tuscumbia

Pope’s Tavern & Museum

203 Hermitage Drive | Florence, AL 35630

256.760.6439 |

Though Florence was hard-hit by the Civil War, many historic places still stand, preserved for tour, like Pope’s Tavern & Museum. One of the area’s oldest buildings – once a stagecoach stop, tavern and inn, hospital and command center for both armies – the museum houses a wealth of local and Civil War history. The tavern is on Jackson’s Military Road carved out by Andrew Jackson himself as a shortcut to move supplies and artillery from Nashville to New Orleans.

W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library

620 West College Street | Florence, Alabama 35630

256.760.6434 |

W.C. Handy, the Father of the Blues, was born in Florence in 1873 in a simple cabin that today houses a large collection of his personal papers, memorabilia and artifacts. The museum invites visitors to, “Feel the blues down to your toes standing next to the very piano that shook with St. Louis Blues for the first time; see his hand-written sheets of music-originals of many of his tunes.”

Fame Recording Studio

603 East Avalon Avenue | Muscle Shoals, AL 35661


Tour the first successful music studio in Alabama, established in 1959 by Rick Hall. His FAME Rhythm Section cut hits with Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Arthur Conley and Clarence Carter. Among the “FAMED” artist who have recorded there are Duane Allman, The Osmonds, Bobbie Gentry, Wet Willie and Otis Redding. FAME is still cranking out the hits. Nashville Star winner Angela Hacker and runner-up Zac Hacker are regulars at the studio along with James LeBlanc, Gary Nichols and Jason Isbell.

Alabama Music Hall of Fame

617 Hwy 72 W | Tuscumbia, AL 35674

256.381.4417 |

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame was created with a mandate to honor Alabama’s great music achievers and to build a facility in which to showcase these talented individuals and their accomplishments. Inductees include Nat King Cole, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette and Lionel Richie. Since its inception and construction, thousands of tourists, school children, historians and music fans have toured the facility to see, hear and learn of the many contributions Alabamians made to music.

Rattlesnake Saloon/Seven Springs Lodge

1292 Mount Mills Road | Tuscumbia, AL 35674

256.370.7218 |

The land (bought for 25 cents an acre in 1916) where the Lodge and Saloon sit began as a hog pen. Later, the family created Seven Springs Lodge that includes a main lodge, cabins and campgrounds. During construction, workers found a rattlesnake den a distance from the shelter, giving the saloon its name. The restaurant features southern hospitality, food and cold brews (after 5 p.m.) for those old enough to enjoy. Call for reservations.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House

601 Riverview Drive | Florence, AL 35630

256.718.5050 |

Built in 1939, the same year Wright delivered his treatise on organic architecture, this significant structure is cypress, glass, and brick and still has original hardware and furnishings designed by Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright revolutionized art and architecture and is considered to be America’s greatest architect. Originally built for $12,000 as an affordable, middle-class home, the Rosenbaum House is the only Wright design open to the public in the southeastern United States.

Helen Keller Birthplace – Ivy Green

300 North Commons St W | Tuscumbia, AL 35674

256.383.4066 |

Ivy Green is white clapboard home built in 1820 by Helen Keller’s grandparents. The estate contains the cottage where Keller was born. The home and museum room are decorated with much of the original furniture of the Keller family. Each is highlighted by hundreds of Miss Keller’s personal mementos, books and gifts from her lifetime of travel and lectures for the betterment of the world’s blind and deaf-blind. Of particular note is her complete library of Braille books and her original Braille typewriter. Thousands gather for the week-long Helen Keller Festival each June, and for the epic drama The Miracle Worker, that’s performed each June and July

Photos courtesy of The Jack Daniel Distillery

Lynchburg, Tennessee

The Jack Daniel Distillery – Home of

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

133 Lynchburg Hwy | Lynchburg, TN 37352

931.759.6357 |

At the world-famous distillery, their claim is, “We love entertaining our guests just about as much as we love making Tennessee Whiskey here at the Jack Daniel Distillery. And like any good host, we’re always more than happy to show you around the place. We offer a variety of distillery tours to fit your visit and help you get better acquainted with the home of Jack Daniel’s.”

Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and Restaurant

295 Main Street | Lynchburg, TN 37352


No Lynchburg visit is complete until you’ve enjoyed a meal at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and Restaurant (now in its 110th year,) where every dish is served with a warm Tennessee welcome and a heaping side of friendly conversation. With a family-style dining experience unlike any other, visitors enjoy the down-home cooking just like Mr. Jack Daniel did a century ago.

Other notable spots to visit during Weekender Roadtrips

Cathedral Caverns State Park

637 Cave Road | Woodville, AL 35769

256.728.8193 |

Originally called Bat Cave, Cathedral Caverns was opened to the public the 1950’s and later renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance. It was opened as a State Park in the summer of 2000. The cavern’s massive entrance holds the distinction as a possible world record for commercial caves. Inside the cavern are beautiful formations including Goliath, one of the largest stalagmites in the world; a “frozen” waterfall; and a large stalagmite forest.

North Alabama Wine Trail

The North Alabama Wine Trail is comprised of six wineries nestled in the mountains and valleys, near rivers

and streams with a breathtaking drive through the area. A combination of geology, soils and climate is what gives the wine growers the opportunity to grow all sorts of fruits. Although the trail can be completed in one day, it is recommended to spend two days on the trail. Visit the website for locations, specific seasonal trail events and open houses.

Unclaimed Baggage Center

509 West Willow Street | Scottsboro, Alabama 35768

256.259.1525 |

Since the doors first opened in 1970, Unclaimed Baggage Center has grown to become one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions. It’s the only store in America that buys and sells unclaimed baggage from airlines. The store was the recipient of the Retailer of the Year Gold Award in 2016. The 40,000-square-foot store is organized by departments and boasts Cups Cafe serving Barry’s Backcountry BBQ, Starbucks Coffee, and Dippin Dots.

Noccalula Falls

1500 Noccalula Road | Gadsden, AL 35904

256.543.7412 |

Noccalula Falls cascades over 90 feet into the Black Creek ravine. The park features a pioneer village, petting

zoo, an authentic Huntingdon miniature train, playground, mini golf course, plus more than five miles of walking and biking trails. The campground offers sites from tent camping to pull-through with complete hook-ups.

A swimming pool, rec room and rental cabins are available. The park even boasts a rustic wedding chapel.

-The Legend of Noccalula, as written by Mathilde Bilbro, holds that Noccalula, a Native-American princess, was to be forced into an arranged marriage by her father, despite her love for another. It is said that on her wedding day she slipped away and made the leap that ended her life. Heartbroken, the remorseful father gave the great cascade his daughter’s name. Since that day the waterfall has been called Noccalula. 

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