Huntsville, Alabama in March

Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 06:15 AM
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Huntsville, Alabama in March

My group of about 15-20 young adults with parents will be in Huntsville, Alabama in late March for a robotics tournament.We are traveling from South Florida. I'm looking into activities and 'don't miss' sites to work into our schedule.

We might arrive a day early and have more free time, but most of our free time will come after the full day of competition at the Von Braun Center.

So far, I found the Shakalaka indoor activity center open until 9pm and a Lunar Mini Golf open until 9pm.
Personally, I would LOVE to fit in a State Park and hike. I see Monte Sano State Park is close by and Joe Wheeler State Park looks close enough too.

I see Cathedral Caverns and Lake Guntersville State Park near too.

Does anyone have advice on other evening attractions for things I should look further into? Someone mentioned a casino near our hotel, I didn't find that either.

Thank you for your input.
Kristine
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 07:08 AM
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I would focus on the exhibits/activities at the Space Center. They are great and a lot of fun. Check to see if there are open nights for competitors. It would be a shame to go to Huntsville and not enjoy the interactive exhibits.
http://rocketcenter.com/

March will still be winter with chance of cold weather and possibly ice/snow.

On the way in/out you may want to stop at Scottsboro for the deals at the Unclaimed Baggage Center -
http://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/

A hike at Monte Sano would be good IF there's enough time after the robot activities and before dark.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 12:08 PM
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Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller in Tuscumbia

Muscle Shoals Sound Historic Museum in Sheffield

March is likely to feel a bit chilly in Northern Alabama for some of your Florida group. Make sure they pack accordingly.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 04:31 PM
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I thought about Muscle Shoals but it's an hour and half further west.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2015, 02:59 AM
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Yes, Starrs, too far for a day trip, but I just thought if they came a day early they might put it in the loop.

I am glad we both gave them the cool weather warning, though is admit to missing yours. It won't be cold cold but it is unlikely to be T-shirt and shorts weather.
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Old Dec 7th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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Thank you for your replies. You make a good point about the weather and I did go check out average temps in the end of March. Good idea, we will NOT be wearing sorts and tees

I looked at the Space Center and it looks good. We live 120 miles from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (My family spent Thanksgiving weekend there for the new Atlantis exhibit.) So, most, if not all of us have been fortunate enough to see amazing NASA exhibits there. I love all that, but want to know about what else we should see.

The parks are very appealing to me and we would have to arrive a day early to see those in daylight. So, I am still interested in more must sees, especially for the evening.

We are staying at the Holiday Inn on University Blvd.

I appreciate all the feedback. Any suggestions for eating out?
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Old Dec 7th, 2015, 05:40 PM
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I've been to KSC. Huntsville is very different. Very.
They offer space camps at Huntsville with interactive exhibits. Make sure there's time for that while you are there.

March may be sunny and warm...but it could be chilly. Check the weather and plan accordingly.

I really like Historic Westville in west GA and there's also Callaway Gardens if you are looking for places to visit on the way up. Also Providence Canyon State Park - a baby Grand Canyon created by erosion. Those are all in Georgia but you could stop along the way. I hope folks post for more evening activities to do in Huntsville. You may be disappointed with the mini-golf, etc. coming from Florida.
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Old Dec 8th, 2015, 04:56 AM
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Starrs............thank you.
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 05:08 PM
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I live in Huntsville. Here is what we enjoy:

The Space Center will be fun, but only for a day (maybe less). It is also very expensive! They do offer some really great traveling exhibits, so look ahead to see what will be here when you come. They have an iMax too.

Our botanical garden is awesome. I am not sure what traveling exhibit will be there in March, but you will want to find out. Recently we have had a life sized Lego exhibit (it is hard to describe but one of the most incredible things I have seen), a re-creation of Alice in Wonderland (everything larger than life) and a treehouse exhibit (12 giant treehouse, ready to climb). Not sure what ages you are traveling with, but the Garden aims to please anyone of all ages. The Spring is usually when these exhibits are opened. Also a huge butterfly house.

Shakalaka is awesome. And very close.

The Escape Room experience would be fun too, and they can accommodate groups.

Monte Sano is beautiful and if you like the outdoors you should go there. Rainbow Mountain, closer to your hotel, also offers beautiful views and hikes, but it is much smaller than Monte Sano.

You will be very disappointed by the Lunar Mini Golf, sorry.

We have a great ice rink if you don't usually get to do that, might be fun.

For eating - your hotel is in a busy, retail atmosphere, but not really nice places. You might see a lot of Huntsville's finest rift raft hanging around. (Sorry!) Lots of chain restaurants around there, but nothing special. There is a Dreamland BBQ which is pretty famous as far as Alabama BBQ goes. Just a short drive away, and much nicer surroundings, The Village of Providence is a good place to go to eat -several restaurants there spanning a wide variety of options and price ranges. Bridge Street is a lovely shopping center with many restaurant choices (and a VIP movie experience). You need reservations at Bridge Street restaurants. Also in downtown Huntsville try Pane y Vino at the Art Museum overlooking Big Spring Park. Service is so-so but food is delicious. This is a little farther from hotel, but is across the street from Von Braun. Commerce Kitchen is amazing Southern gourmet cuisine in downtown Huntsville, a little pricier but lunch would be reasonable. Cool, casual atmosphere.


If you are willing to drive 30 minutes, Cathedral Caverns is a great half-day trip. I would skip Florence. Guntersville is beautiful but is about 45 minutes. Joe Wheeler is large and pretty and is about 45 minutes. Beware the traffic coming in and out of Huntsville at rush hour. It is daunting, unless you are going against the flow (people come IN to the city to work and OUT in the evening).

March is the month when the weather changes. I think you will find pleasant temps and we will all be in shorts by the 2nd week. You might bring a light layer for evenings, or for restaurants. We like to use the air conditioner here.

Welcome to Huntsville!
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Old Feb 18th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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Sanibella................THANK YOU!!!
Shackalaka sounds like a contender since we have a tournament in the daytime and I need something for the evening.
All you info is very helpful
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:41 AM
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Glad you saw this! One more thing I thought of - we have several "Escape Room" places that could be really fun, even if you had to divide your group into two parts to try it. Have a great trip!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:44 AM
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Whoops! Just saw I already mentioned the escape room above. Sorry!
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 05:47 AM
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Elijah, we do have beautiful beaches in far SOUTH Alabama, but they are 6ish hours away from Huntsville, which is as far north as you can get in Alabama!
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Old Mar 4th, 2016, 12:30 PM
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So, our itinerary is coming together.

Wednesday we go to the Space Center.
*Need a dinner recommendation near by. (Group of 25 people)

Thursday we practice rounds. (I need to go out and pick up lunch for 25 people, where? I will have a vehicle.)
Shakalaka for fun and then dinner near Shakalaka or hotel.

Friday is competition day.(I need to go out to pick up lunches again and bring back to the US Space and Rocket Center. Where to order from?)
Friday night: where to get dinner take out to bring back to hotel.(Holiday Inn Research Park on University Drive)

As you can see.................I down to planning the food and need to be able to take out lunch for 25 people AND have a take out dinner AND still need a dinner spot between Shakalaka and Holiday Inn. (BarBQsounds good!!)

Thanks for your great input.
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Old Mar 13th, 2016, 06:50 PM
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Moe's BBQ (the one at Providence) or Dreamland BBQ (very near your hotel) or Ted's BBQ (also on Hwy 72) could handle any of these take out requests.

Dreamland BBQ could handle your whole party for a sit down meal. Of the three places, it's the least casual, kind of a dive, but it has great BBQ.

For Weds, you might try somewhere at Bridge Street - Cantina Laredo is high end Mexican, and there are many other restaurants there - Red Robin, PF Changs, Bravo is delicious but might be out of price range.

Rosie's Cantina and Phil Sandoval's are great cheap Mexican places. They are right across the street from each other on Hwy 72. Both could handle your crowd for a dinner at the restaurant. In the same shopping center is a Nothing but Noodles, which could accommodate all of you too, but they would want you to sit at smaller tables, not one long table. And if you are good with that, you could maybe try Zaxby's or Five Guys, although you'd be taking up the whole place in either one. All of those are right there together.

Jason's Deli is on Hwy 72 and might be good for a call in option. Any of the BBQ places could handle that too. Also there is a Panera at Bridge Street. I do not suggest McAlisters. They are SO SLOW even with call in orders.

If your group likes Asian, there is an amazing drive through called Hibachi Express very close to your hotel. It looks like a complete hole in the wall but they serve cheap and GOOD Hibachi. It is almost as good as an actual Japanese Steakhouse. (There is also a Japanese Steakhouse next door to dreamland and they can handle a crowd.)

Every one of these places is within a 10 minute drive from both the hotel and the S&RC, and Shakalaka is close to all of these too. I've included a wide range of price points.

Remember that you are not frequenting the most beautiful parts of Huntsville. You are not in an unsafe area, but it is an area where I would lock my doors and just be aware of people around me. Mostly you might see a couple people asking for money or food, not so much crime, but better safe than sorry.

I will be out of town March 18-26. If you are here after the 26th, I would be glad to help you with any logistics! I only live a couple miles from the Rocket Center.
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Old Mar 13th, 2016, 06:51 PM
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Oh! And be sure to buy tickets ahead for Shakalaka!
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Old Mar 14th, 2016, 08:46 AM
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Sanibella,

You ARE awesome!!!
Yes, for the Shakalaka night, we have a group reservation and have electronically submitted our waivers.

And, the new plan for Friday night is to attend the Rocket Center's private party for the Robotics Teams
Kristine
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 12:56 PM
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Glad to help! And - that dinner at the Rocket Center is likely to be in the Davidson Center. If so, you are in for a treat!
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