HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — It’s officially summer in the Rocket City! There are plenty of fun, and most important, free opportunities in Huntsville to celebrate our sunniest season.
News 19 compiled a list of free things to do in the Rocket City for both families and individuals. They include opportunities to spend time outdoors, visit historic parts of the city, and even art museums!
Big Spring Park
- Located at 200 Church Street, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
According to huntsville.org, Big Spring International Park brought settlers into the Rocket City more than 200 years ago and still draws folks into town nowadays. The park hosts several major Huntsville events, including Panoply Arts Festival, Concerts in the Park, and more!
The park is also home to ducks, geese, and koi – as well as its famous red bridge and cherry trees.
Bicentennial Park Splash Pad
- Located at 315 Fountain Circle SW, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
- Open Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Bicentennial Park Splash Pad is located behind the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum. The park has benches, a gazebo, and picnic tables. There are no public restrooms.
Brahan Spring Park
- 2920 1st Street SW, Huntsville, Ala. 35805
- Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays
Brahan Spring Park houses a multi-use facility with six sand volleyball courts, four soccer fields, a disc golf course, softball fields, a playground, and a splash pad.
The park also has a recreation center for basketball, pickleball, table tennis, and volleyball.
Lydia Gold Skate Park
- Located at 200 Cleveland Street, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
- Open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
The 7,500 square foot skateboard park has a street section, banks, quarter pipes, boxes, pads, hubbas, and stairs with rails. Helmets are required, and both knee and elbow pads are recommended.
The facility is not supervised. It is only open for skateboards and in-line skates.
Mill Creek Dog Park
- Located at 38 Balch Road, Madison, Ala. 35758
- Open from 8 a.m. too 8 p.m. every day
This 1.43 acre park is fenced in and divided into three areas. The first is a staging area at the entrance for owners to unleash their pets before letting them into the other two play areas. The play areas are divided into two sections, one for small dogs weighing less than 25 pounds, and another for large dogs over 25 pounds.
Veterans Memorial Park
- Located at 200 Monroe Street NW, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
This half-mile park pays tribute to Huntsville and Madison County veterans. It has greenway connections to downtown Huntsville, Bud Cramer Park, Big Spring Park, and the Huntsville Depot Museum.
Murals & Art
Clinton Row Color Walk
- Located between Downtown Storage and UG White
The Clinton Row Color Walk is an alley filled with art! Take in murals painted by local artists in a space that connects Clinton Avenue East and Holmes Avenue Northwest. The Color Walk is now paved and bike-friendly for all pedestrians.
Concerts in the Park
- Located in Big Spring Park, 200 Church Street, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
Every Monday night from June 6 through August 8, the annual Concerts in the Park series will be held at Big Spring Park from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The weekly summer event is performed at the Huntsville Museum of Art’s outdoor stage. The event is free to attend, but concertgoers should bring their own seating and pets are required to be on leashes.
To see more about Concerts in the Park and this year’s lineup, click here.
Downtown Huntsville Secret Art Trail
- Located in downtown Huntsville’s Arts & Entertainment district
This secret art walk spans all throughout Downtown Huntsville and serves as a creative step off the beaten path. The walk features public art like “Welcome to Huntsville”, “Koi Mural,” and “Refuge of Change.”
To see a full list of murals on the art trail, visit downtownhuntsville.org or pick up a map at the Downtown Huntsville Visitor Information Center.
Downtown Huntsville Night Light Trail
- Located in downtown Huntsville
The night light trail spans throughout downtown Huntsville. This creative, lit-up trail includes the Clinton Row Color Walk, Clinton Avenue String Lights, 200 West Side Square Lights, Big Spring Grotto Lights, and Big Spring Park West.
Note: This trail is only available after the sun goes down!
Lowe Mill A&E
- Located at 2211 Seminole Drive SW, Huntsville, Ala. 35805
- Open on Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
With more than 150 working studios and 200 artists, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment truly has something for everyone. This creative space first opened as a textile mill in 1901 before being transformed into a gallery and local art area 100 years later in 2001.
Lowe Mill offers looks at seven art galleries, four performance venues, several art studios, and classes. There is also an event space.
Learn more about Lowe Mill at lowemill.art.
SPACES Sculpture Trail
- Located across the Rocket City
This series of public art installations are less of a trail and more of a scavenger hunt across the Rocket City, providing residents with plenty of color and culture as they travel through town.
The project was developed by Arts Huntsville, Alabama A&M University, Huntsville Museum of Art, Lowe Mill, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The trail can be explored through GPS and by using the SPACES & Place mobile app.
The app can be downloaded here.
Civil Rights Driving Tour
- Located across Huntsville
The Rocket City Civil Rights Driving Tour and free opportunity to learn about the history behind Huntsville during the civil rights era.
The tour includes sites like Oakwood University and Fifth Avenue School, the first integrated public school in the state of Alabama, along with other points of interest. The tour is available via Clio.
The tour was created through a partnership with the Alabama Humanities Foundation and Historic Huntsville Foundation.
Foundations of Faith Trail
- Trail begins at 500 Church Street, Suite 1, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
Madison County has 16 churches over a century old, and the “Foundations of Faith Trail” gives them their due and showcases the spiritual heritage of the Huntsville area. According to huntsville.org, some of the churches are still holding services on their original sites to this day.
Some of the churches on the tour include the First Presbyterian Church of Huntsville, Temple B-Nai Sholom, and the Randolph Church of Christ.
To see a full list of stops on the Foundations of Faith Trail, click here.
The Huntsville History Tour
- Digital tour
This digital, audio tour provides 40 different parts of Huntsville’s history. According to huntsville.org, this tour is completely online and is accessible anywhere and anytime.
The tour also includes maps and directions to guide you as you listen! Learn more about the tour here.
Maple Hill Cemetery
- Located at 202 Maple Hill Drive, Huntsville, Ala. 35801
- Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Maple Hill Cemetery is the oldest and largest cemetery in the Rocket City. It encompasses almost 100 acres and has just over 80,000 burial plots. Among its occupants are five Alabama governors, five U.S. senators, and other local, state, and national figures.
The cemetery was added to the Alabama Historical Commission’s Historic Cemetery Register in 2008, and the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
Trails & Hiking
Dallas W. Fanning Nature Preserve
- Located at 258 Old Jim Williams Road SW, Huntsville, Ala. 35824
- Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The 58-acre Dallas W. Fanning Nature Preserve has more than 1.5 miles of trails. To see a full map of the preserve, click here.
- Located at 293 Ditto Landing Road SE, Huntsville, Ala. 35803
- Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
According to huntsville.org, Ditto Landing is the Rocket City’s “gateway to the majestic Tennessee River.”
The docks of Ditto Landing are covered with boats equipped for plenty of water sports like skiing, swimming and fishing during the summer months. When the weather cools down, the greenway provides residents with a great view.
Ditto Landing also doubles as a location for company events, weddings, and camping with more than 20 sites over its 560 acres.
Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary
- Located at Taylor & Terry Drake Road, Owens Cross Roads, Ala. 35763
- Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day
The Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary is located along the Flint River in southeast Huntsville, and is the home to many bird species and other animals. It’s even a part of the North Alabama Birding Trail.
The sanctuary spans around 375 acres and has habitats mixed in with fields and farmland.
No pets are allowed at the sanctuary except for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) service animals.
Hays Nature Preserve
- Located at 7153 Highway 431 South, Owens Cross Roads, Huntsville, Ala. 35763
- Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day
The Hays Nature Preserve has more than 10 miles of trails and greenways along the Flint River.
Horses are welcome at the preserve on specifically labeled horse trails. Dogs are also welcome as long as they’re on a leash that is six feet or shorter.
Donations for the preserve are accepted to “further educational and preservation programs.” Donations should be made out to the Green Team, or call 256-532-5326 for more information.
Green Mountain Nature Trail
- Located at 5000 Nature Trail Road SE, Huntsville, Ala. 35803
- Open from 7 a.m. until 30 minutes before sunset
This 72-acre park is located on Green Mountain in southeast Huntsville. It is open to the public for free from 7 a.m. until 30 minutes before sunset.
The park features Sky Lake, a 1.5 mile walking trail, pavilion, chapel, outside classrooms, a picnic area, and a covered bridge. The state’s oldest and largest Champion Winged Elm Tree also stands along the trail.
Greene Street Market
- Located at the corner of Eustis and Greene streets in Huntsville
- Open every Thursday afternoon from May to October
The Greene Street Market is open every Thursday afternoon in 2022 from May 5 through October 27. The market hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from May to August, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in September, and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in October.
The outdoor market is open rain or shine! It features fresh, locally grown veggies, fruits, meat and flowers. The event also has fresh meals, relishes, cheeses, preserves, bread, and work from local artisans.
Market at MidCity
- Located at The Camp, 5909 University Drive NW, Huntsville, Ala. 35805
- Open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons between March and November
The Market at MidCity is open every Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. beginning on March 13 and lasting until November 13.
The market features farmers, artisans, makers, musicians, growers, and more! According to explorethecamp.com, all products sold are grown, created, baked or produced within a 150-mile radius of the MidCity district.
Learn more about the Market at MidCity here.
Huntsville-Madison County Public Library
- Located across Huntsville & Madison County with 10 branches
- Open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday
The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) system was founded in 1818, making it the oldest public library system in the state of Alabama. There are 10 branches across the county, including locations in downtown Huntsville, Jones Valley, and more!
HMCPL offers online services, a digital collection, public-use computers, free Wi-Fi, meeting spaces, and of course, plenty of great books!
Learn more about the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library here.
North Alabama Railroad Museum
- Located at 694 Chase Road NE, Huntsville, Ala. 35811
- Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday
Located just east of Huntsville in Chase, Ala., the North Alabama Railroad Museum offers a free self-guided tour and assisted tours on certain days.
The museum features the Chase Depot, the smallest union depot in the country, a vintage train, preserved rolling stock, and a group of hardworking volunteers who keep the museum both “attractive and functional” according to northalabamarailroadmuseum.com.
The museum occasionally closes for private events.
For more opportunities for free fun in the Rocket City, visit the City of Huntsville’s website here.