Huntsville for Kids – Huntsville, Alabama

Generally, it’s pretty easy to find things to do for adults. After all, we’re the ones building the shopping centers, creating the works of art and noshing on the best grub. However, activities get a little harder to find when there are kids involved. Luckily, if you’re heading South, Huntsville, Alabama has plenty of things to keep both the children – and their minders – happy. To avoid backtracking, follow this route but note that you’d be hard pressed to do this whole itinerary in less than three full days!

Stop Number One: Burritt on the Mountain
When to Visit: April-October, Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m., November-March, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-4 pm.
Wallet Pinch: $6 for adults, $4 for children aged 2-12
Time to Block Off: Two hours for wandering and hiking

With a mansion built by an oddball doctor in the 1936, 167 acres of wilderness and hiking trails and a historic park with animals and demonstrations, Burritt on the Mountain is an unusual place. The site hosts dozens of camps and events – inquire about the latest ones before you make the trip. The view from above Huntsville is fantastic.

Cleaning Wool at the EarlyWorks Museum
Cleaning Wool at the EarlyWorks Museum
Stop Number Two: EarlyWorks Children’s History Museum
When to Visit: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wallet Pinch: $10 for adults, $8 for children aged 4-17, $4 for children aged 1-3
Time to Block Off: Three hours gives plenty of time to explore

EarlyWorks was designed with ‘amuse me NOW’ kids in mind. There are dozens of activities, from listen to history from a talking tree, to cleaning wool, to dressing up in 1800s clothing. This modern museum also has a area specifically catering to younger tots.

Just because you’re avoiding the weekend rush, don’t think you’ll have the place to yourselves – this is a popular stop for school field trips, and summer camps. Note: Ask about combined tickets to also visit the Constitution Village and Huntsville Depot and Museum, owned by the group.

Stop Number Three: Constitution Village
When to Visit: March-October, Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., November-Dec enquire for adjusted Santa’s Village hours
Wallet Pinch: $7 for adults, $6 for children aged 4-17
Time to Block Off: One and a half hours

This small village inside of modern Hunstville contains eleven preserved and restored buildings that recreate life in the 1800s. Visitors can learn about trade, watch craftsmen at their work and shop in the general store. All educators, actors and craftsmen are in appropriate costume.

Stop Number Four: Huntsville Depot and Museum
When to Visit: March-December, Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wallet Pinch: $7 for adults, $6 for children aged 4-17
Time to Block Off: One hour

Clamor over locomotives, listen to narration by robotic ticket agents and try on costumes at this circa 1860 railroad, one of hte oldest still remaining. Older children might be more impressed by the Civil War exhibit with graffiti left behind by naughty soldiers.

Stop Number Five: Sci-Quest
When to Visit: Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Wallet Pinch: $7 for adults, $6 for children aged 3-18, $11.75/10.75 including the theatre
Time to Block Off: Two-three hours should be enough excitement for the kiddies without pushing the parent’s patience

This science center opened five years ago, with 40,000 square feet of space. It appears to be housed inside an old store, so it’s easy to see across the room and probably gets pretty loud when the kids and experiments get cranking.

Cool things include the 3D and surround-sound Immersive Theatre with touch-screen monitors, bubble blowers and experiments. Until January 2007, the Magic School Bus exhibit will be on display.

Butterfly at the Botanical Gardens
Butterfly at the Botanical Gardens
Stop Number Six: Huntsville Botanical Gardens
When to Visit: Memorial Day-Labor Day, Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday 1-8 p.m., Open until 5 p.m. other days of the year
Wallet Pinch: $10 for adults, $5 for children aged 3-18
Time to Block Off: Two hours for the butterflies and children’s garden, more time if you want to explore other grounds

In June, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens opened the country’s largest open-air butterfly house with more than 2000 butterflies, frogs, turtles, hummingbirds, quail, waterfalls and ponds. Both spectacularly beautiful and entertaining, the center also contains detailed exhibits with information on the life cycles of butterflies and frogs.

Children will also enjoy the new Children’s Garden, featuring 8 themed gardens over two acres. It includes a Space Garden, Dinosaur Garden, Rainbow Garden and Maze Garden, among others. Even if you’re children aren’t nature nuts, interactive displays include areas where the children can play, climb and explore.

On the Multi-Axis Training Simulator at the Space Camp
Stop Number Seven: U.S Space and Rocket Center
When to Visit: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wallet Pinch: $18.95 for adults for the combination ticket (including museum, IMAX, and Rocket Park), $12.95 for children aged 6-12
Time to Block Off: Five hours – more if you’re raising the next Buzz Aldrin

The biggest draw in Huntsville, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is best known for its extensive Space Camp programs and birthplace of the American space program.

An extensive museum features knowledgeable docents for tours, thousands of artifacts and a full-scale space shuttle exhibit weighing 222 tons. Popular camp programs allow students of all ages to be astronauts for the day – or even two weeks – and include simulators and extensive training. Cub, Boy and Girl Scout merit badge programs are also available.

For younger children, the Kid’s Cosmos in the Rocket Park is a play area for children eight and under.