Huntsville was a base of Union operations during the Civil War. When the fighting subsided, several textile mills were constructed along with housing for factory employees. Although industry declined in Huntsville during the Depression, World War II brought rapid growth thanks to the construction of three U.S. Army munitions facilities.
The Ordnance Guided Missile Center was formed in Huntsville in 1950, bringing more than 1,000 personnel and their families to the city. The Redstone Rocket was developed here during the Korean War, so Huntsville eventually became nicknamed the Rocket City. Today, Huntsville is the site of far-ranging NASA activities as well as the second largest research and technology park in the U.S., making it one of the best places for defense and engineering jobs, as well as one of the top 25 most educated cities in the nation.
Spanning 210 square miles in the picturesque Tennessee Valley, Huntsville houses three universities and a community college, four historic districts, dozens of museums, and 57 parks, making it one of the most exciting small cities to visit in the nation.
When to Visit Huntsville, AL
With hot temperatures in the summer and chilly weather in the winter, spring and fall are the ideal seasons in which to visit Huntsville. July, October, and August are the busiest months for tourism, so expect to see a spike in hotel prices during those dates. If you want to save money, plan to travel to Huntsville during the slow December season.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Huntsville, AL:
Huntsville, AL: Prices by Star Rating Class
Below we've posted 3 graphs illustrating avg. price patterns by star rating class in Huntsville, AL. Browse these line graphs to evaluate the least expensive seasons to make a reservation in Huntsville for your upcoming travels.
Luxury Hotel Options in Huntsville, AL
If you want to splurge on your stay in Huntsville, choose the Westin Huntsville. This four-star hotel is affordably priced yet offers all the amenities you'd expect from a high-end property, including an air of sophisticated elegance infused with Southern charm. Walk directly to the city's best restaurants, shops, and dining at the adjacent Bridge Street Town Center. Every room and suite features Westin's signature Heavenly pillowtop bed, along with high thread-count sheets, down comforters, premium bath products, a flat-screen TV with 85 cable channels, high-speed wireless internet, and complimentary Starbucks coffee.
On-site, you'll have access to a 24-hour fitness studio as well as local jogging paths developed in conjunction with New Balance and an indoor/outdoor pool with whirlpool. You can also borrow New Balance fitness gear in your size to avoid packing workout clothes. The Sage Grille serves tasteful gourmet Mediterranean cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Affordable Hotels in Huntsville, AL
3 Star Average Prices: $77.67
Those seeking affordable lodging in Huntsville can select from several economical yet comfortable options. The Econo Lodge Inn & Suites on University Drive offers its guests free parking, free wireless internet, and complimentary continental breakfast. It's conveniently located near Alabama A&M University, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Madison County Executive Airport, and Oakwood College. Take advantage of free in-room coffee, copy and fax services at the on-site business center, and an outdoor pool.
Another low-priced Huntsville hotel with great amenities is the Extended Stay America - Huntsville - U.S. Space and Rocket Center. This recently renovated property now features upgraded bedding, new paint, new floors, and flat-screen TVs in every room. Every room is a studio suite with a fully equipped kitchenette, including refrigerator, stovetop, microwave, coffee maker, cooking utensils, dishes, and cutlery. You'll also enjoy wireless internet, on-site laundry, and free grab-and-go breakfast. This hotel is pet-friendly.
2 Star Average Prices: $65.42
Huntsville, AL Hotels with Discounts
Choice Hotels properties such as the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites and the Clarion Inn offer special rates for seniors, AARP members, AAA and CAA members, and federal and state government and military employees. Extended Stay America provides special rates for AAA members, senior citizens, and members of the military. The Westin offers a 20 percent discount for residents of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, as well as special pricing for AAA members. Marriott properties such as the Courtyard offer a 15 percent discount for senior citizens and special rates for AAA members and government and military employees.
The Best Hotel Values in Huntsville, AL
The best hotel values in Huntsville offer the ideal combination of desirable amenities and an affordable price. The Courtyard Huntsville University Drive ranks at the top of this list for its convenient location, which is just a stone's throw away from major attractions like the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Huntsville Botanical Garden. Every room and suite includes complimentary wireless internet and a flat-screen TV. Guests can also take advantage of the fitness center, outdoor pool, and Starbucks coffee at the on-site Bistro. This hotel also has a free shuttle service that will take you anywhere within a six-mile radius, including the airport.
Another great Huntsville hotel deal is available at the Clarion Inn, which provides clean, comfortable rooms at a budget-friendly rate. Amenities include free parking, an outdoor pool, free wireless internet, a fitness center, an on-site restaurant and bar, in-room microwave and refrigerator, dry cleaning and laundry service, and complimentary breakfast.
Fun Things to Do Near Huntsville, AL
It's not a visit to Huntsville without a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. As one of the world's largest space museums, it features an IMAX theater, an immense collection of space and rocket memorabilia, and permanent exhibits highlighting America's Space Race, NASA's plan to put man on the moon, the development of the space shuttle program, and the International Space Station. Rotating exhibits are also open to the public. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and offers special pricing for kids, seniors, students, NASA employees, and military members.
Another standout among Huntsville's many museums is the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum. It features one of the nation's largest collections of rare and significant military artifacts, memorabilia, and equipment dating all the way back to the American Revolution. Exhibits are divided by era and include an outdoor exhibit of more than 30 military vehicles. The U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum offers admission with a suggested donation of $5. It's open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
When you're done delving into Huntsville's history, explore its natural wonders with a visit to the Green Mountain Nature Trail. This 72-acre park features access to Sky Lake, a 1.5-mile walking trail, outdoor classroom, picnic tables, covered bridge, and restrooms. Enjoy the year-round foliage, including Alabama's oldest and largest champion winged elm tree, dogwoods, and azaleas in the spring; gorgeous wildflowers in the summer; and the vibrant colors of changing leaves in the fall. The Green Mountain Nature Trail is open from 7 a.m. to sunset every day.
Another beautiful outdoor attraction is the Huntsville Botanical Garden, featuring a wildflower and nature trail, dozens of specialty plant collections and gardens, an aquatic garden, the largest butterfly house in the U.S., eight special children's gardens, seasonal exhibits, and fun events throughout the year. Hours are seasonal and ticket discounts are available, so check the garden's official website for the most updated information.
From March through November, you can drive through the Harmony Park Safari to catch glimpses of dozens of exotic animals, including zebras, antelope, camels, buffalo, ostriches, kangaroos, giraffes, tortoises, and reptiles. The safari costs $10 per person and is open from 10 a.m. to sunset during the months of operation.
Huntsville is also home to Monte Sano State Park, which has been a natural respite since the the late 1800s. This serene mountain setting spans more than 2,000 acres and offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails, a disc golf course, a playground, and camping. Visit in the spring to see the splendor of the azaleas in bloom.
Big Spring International Park is a downtown green space that often holds community events and festivals, so be sure to check the calendar if you want to experience the true spirit of Huntsville. From free outdoor concerts to an annual art walk, you're sure to find something that appeals to your group. You can also stroll the grounds and commune with the local ducks and geese.
If you want to immerse yourself in local arts and culture, stop by the Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment Center, the largest privately owned art studio in the United States. It has 148 working studios, six galleries, and several performance venues including a theater. Public hours are held at Lowe Mill on Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday from noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Whether you're interested in space exploration or you want to create an itinerary that spans the variety of things to see and do in Huntsville, you won't be disappointed when you plan your visit to this historic American city.