A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Southeast Tourism Society’s Domestic Showcase conference in Huntsville, Alabama. It was my second visit to the Rocket City and I fell even more in love with the city that is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Located in Northeast Alabama, most of my time in Huntsville was spent at the conference, but I did get to town early to explore on my own, the conference had a day tour arranged for us and I attended conference events out in the community at night.
What did I learn while visiting Huntsville? I learned that it is a beautiful city, filled with passionate residents … and nerds. But hear me out, I mean it with love.
A Town of Nerds – Their Words, Not Mine!
Huntsville is the home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, NASA, Space Camp (!!!) and the FBI is moving a majority of employees to the area – yes, really – which is also leading many technology companies to also make Huntsville their new home too. What I loved is that every person I talked to in Huntsville *loved* mentioning they were proudly a town of nerds.
Because of this, Huntsville seemed to be a town of a younger generation of families and residents – all thanks to these bustling companies arriving in town.
And speaking of nerds, when you visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center they have current and retired NASA employees on hand to answer questions and interact with visitors. Self-proclaimed nerds with tons of inside knowledge on the space program, rockets and more! It made me wish my kids were with me – so many things to talk about with them!
Craft Breweries and Nerds!
During our time in Huntsville, we had the opportunity to visit a few of the local craft breweries – always a favorite stop for me – and I was fascinated to learn that many of the craft breweries in town started because of nerds! Many of the employees from NASA and other technology companies started making beer as homebrewers and their hobbies turned into full-fledged tap rooms across the city!
One great example is The Brewers Cooperative taproom, at the Stovehouse, (an old stove factory!) where there are over 40 beers on tap and fantastic food too. What started as a group of friends that enjoyed brewing as a hobby quickly turned into a partnership of five different breweries serving beer from across the state.
Another favorite spot during my time in Huntsville was Campus No. 805 – an old high school converted into an event space and individual breweries, restaurants and nightlife. Straight to Ale’s taproom included a speakeasy hidden behind school lockers just down the hall from the taproom. So. Much. Fun!
Our group pushed the lockers and discovered a huge bar with great food, mixed drinks and local beer. Drinking inside a school and we weren’t even breaking the rules. It was a great night!
Baseball with a Sense of Humor
I’m a sports girl and I love a good play on words, so you know that the Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball team was a big hit for me. (Pun intended!) While the team wasn’t playing the day we visited the ballpark, we got a special tour of Toyota Field – home to the AA minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. (Another name of a raccoon is a trash panda, ICYMI.)
The team name was decided by public vote and it has allowed them to do so many creative things with the stadium and merchandising. The large pro shop at the stadium is named The Junkyard, one of the many places to grab food at the stadium was called the Trash Pile. There were tons of great merchandise available for purchase with their fun logo and I couldn’t resist a picture with their ginormous Trash Panda bobblehead.
During our tour, I learned that their promotions director won the Golden Glove award for all of minor league baseball – and she’s a female! Woohoo! It sounds like they have a ton of fun between innings with games and giveaways.
Adding a Trash Panda game to my “to do” list for my next visit!
Ready to Visit Huntsville, Alabama?
For all of my JAX readers, you’ll be happy to know that I flew to Huntsville with a short layover in Atlanta and I was in Rocket City in three hours – easy! I have so many more stories I want to share about Huntsville – including their beautiful Downtown area – so walkable!
If you are interested in visiting Huntsville, I promise you won’t be disappointed! Go to www.Huntsville.org for the scoop on more breweries, accommodations (more on mine soon!) and attractions around the area.
Also, follow along on the Huntsville-Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau Facebook page and check out the official Huntsville Instagram page too!
** My trip to Huntsville was part of the Southeast Tourism Society Domestic Showcase. My meals, accommodations and conference pass were provided. I paid my own airfare. Thoughts here are 100% my own. **