Category Archives: Things to do and see:

2014 Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll

Don’t miss the pilgrimage to this year’s
Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll

On Sunday, October 12th, from 2 to 4:30 pm, you too can take the journey back in time to this sacred place. The Stroll is a North Alabama tradition, and for 18 years it has been bringing history alive in the oldest and largest municipal cemetery in continuous operation in the South.

Once again, there will be over 70 costumed actors depicting historic characters, as well as special exhibits and traditional music. Most of your favorite characters are returning, while others will be making their first appearance. Many of the exhibits will enhance some of the living history presentations, while others will highlight some of our recent restoration projects, including the beautiful wrought and cast iron fencing surrounding many of the burial plots. Again, old time melodies will fill the air as you stroll …

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Huntsville ranks among top last-minute summer getaways

Food Trucks

Thousands come out for food trucks on Church Street by Big Spring International Park in Huntsville, AL on Thursday July 17, 2014. (Bob Gathany/bgathany@AL.com)

A new list of last-minute vacation hotspots by Florida-based Global Vacation Ventures might make you consider taking a “staycation” in the Rocket City.

Huntsville was among four cities included in GVV’s best U.S. summer getaway destination list released Friday afternoon. The country club concierge travel agency in West Palm Beach touted Huntsville’s craft beer scene and “quality family entertainment.”

“Those who are intrigued by the nation’s space program will find Huntsville to be the perfect vacation spot,” GVV said. “That’s not all this southern town has to offer, though. There are festivals, shopping spots and unique dining experiences to enjoy.”

Here is the full list from GVV:

  1. Asheville, N.C.
  2. Deadwood, S.D.
  3. Huntsville
  4. Portland, Ore.

Click here to check out the ranking.

Considering a ‘staycation’? Huntsville ranks among top last-minute summer getaways | AL.com.

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Officials expect economic boom with Stone Middle project featuring 2 breweries, outdoor venue near downtown Huntsville

Since the late 1980’s when Sharp Communication moved from Jordan Lane to Governors Drive, the two-way radio company has watched downtown revitalization pick up momentum “like an airplane running down the runway.”

With the announcement that the nearby Stone Middle School will soon be home to two well-known Huntsville breweries and an outdoor concert amphitheater, Sharp CEO Trey Sharp believes downtown growth has taken off.

“Between this and the rumors surrounding the Coca-Cola bottling property, it’s becoming much more clear how cool the whole downtown area could soon become,” he said. “I would just say ‘great job’ to the area leaders behind this move.”

Officials gathered this afternoon in the old Stone Middle gymnasium to officially announce the redevelopment project, which includes a 40,000-square-foot brewery and taproom for Straight to Ale, a new 6,000-square-foot facility, bier garten and tasting room for Yellowhammer and a large amphitheater for concerts and outdoor events.

[Related: With Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer expanding, Huntsville poised to become ‘the Napa Valley of craft beer]

Chad Emerson, CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc., said the development will be a game-changer for downtown and the state of Alabama when it opens in 12 to 18 months. He believes it will bring young, creative professionals from competing cities and provide a major tourism boost to North Alabama.

“This will cement us – the city of Huntsville and Madison County – as the largest destination for breweries in the state of Alabama – the absolute largest – and one of the largest per capita in the entire Southeast, so it is a significant manufacturing and economic development project,” he said.

Straight to Ale, which operates in a 10,000-square-foot brewhouse on Leeman Ferry Road, made the jump into the Atlanta market in May after doubling its fermentation capacity last year.

“This will cement us – the city and Madison County – as the largest destination for breweries in the state of Alabama.”

Founder Dan Perry said the Stone Middle property will allow him to grow his workforce from 14 employees to 40 or 50 in the next 1 ½ years.

“This area needed some life put into it, and I think this project is the start of that happening,” Perry said. “We’re big fans of old buildings and revitalizing stuff. We tried to do it when we first started at Lincoln Mill. It didn’t work out over there so now we’re really excited to be able to get back to what we wanted to do when we first started up.”

[Related: Market crash, longterm vacancy caused Stone Middle School property value to plummet from $5.8 million to $1.1 million]

Yellowhammer will double its workforce and increase its output significantly at the larger space on the Stone Middle campus, which was originally home to Butler High School. Head brewer Keith Yager also hopes to reach craft beer markets in Tennessee and Georgia once Yellowhammer is operating on the corner of Governors Drive and Clinton Avenue.

By beautifying the area and making it attractive for visitors, Yager believes more restaurants will move into west Huntsville because of the breweries and the public draw.

“I think Huntsville is doing something really special here,” he said. “It’s going to be a big draw to people all over the state and Southeast. I think you’ll get people to come here to Huntsville just because of the craft beer scene we have.”

Lucia Cape, director of workforce development for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, said the project does nothing but “magnetize” the city. Flucy Lucy Antique Market employee Kathy Clark, who works across the street from the campus, agrees.

The customers and surrounding businesses near Flucy Lucy and Bandito Burrito have also expressed excitement about the development since the news came to light late last week after a Huntsville school board meeting.

“I think it will really do good for the area and maybe for Flucy Lucy’s,” she said. “I think it will really help our business and maybe everyone else’s around here, too.”

Officials expect economic boom with Stone Middle project featuring 2 breweries, outdoor venue near downtown Huntsville | AL.com.

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Fall Home & Garden Show – Huntsville, Alabama

HGS

Fall Home & Garden Show? – Huntsville, Alabama.

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The one, must-do thing in Alabama? U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville

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You know those “if you have this much time in a city, here’s what you should do” lists? Well, Huffington Post has come up with a list of the “one thing” that must be done in each of the 50 states. For Alabama, that’s U.S. Space Camp at Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

“Space Camp” is a place for “aspiring astronauts ages 9 to 99″ to come “for a chance to sleep in bunks, spin in the Multi-Axis Trainer, and handle a crisis on simulated intergalactic missions.”

More than 27,000 kids from 83 countries attended the week-long Space Camp in 2013 alone, Tim Hall, the center’s spokesman said.

The site makes the HuffPost list along with a drive along California’s coastal highway, visiting the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair, and sandboarding at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Listening to the blues at The Lyric in Oxford, Miss., and spending the night on the floor of the Grand Canyon in Arizona also made the list.

HuffPost editors came up with list by talking among themselves and asking friends to come up with what they call “the ultimate American travel guide.” It’s not a comprehensive list, the site assures, just one that’s a good place to start for those who want to “travel back to your American roots.”

The folks at Huffington Post aren’t the only ones who think the Space & Rocket Center is a pretty cool place to go. The center was the most visited paid tourism destination with more than 584,000 visitors in 2013, according to Alabama’s Tourism Departmen

The one, must-do thing in Alabama? U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville | AL.com.

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Cedar Park Open House – This Weekend

Cedar Park Open House

Stop by this weekend to see most of the 12 floor plans offered on the ground in different stages of construction. Plans and pricing for all 12 designs will be available in the model home on Belltown Drive. We build these homes all over Madison County so if you like a plan but want a different location we can do that as well. Any move-in-ready home purchased this weekend in Cedar Park or Bell Grove Manor will receive a FREE wood fence for the back yard (a $3000 value)!

Directions – South on Memorial Parkway. Right on Hobbs Rd. (At Chick-fil-A). Left on Bell Rd. Cedar Park will be ½ mile on the right

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U.S. Space & Rocket Center, other destinations among top Huntsville attractions on TripAdvisor

Fireworks with the Saturn V at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. (file photo by Dave Dieter | The Huntsville Times)

Fireworks with the Saturn V at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. (file photo by Dave Dieter | The Huntsville Times)

Recently ranked the No. 1 attraction in Huntsville, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is among destinations to be featured on a list of 29 recommended Huntsville hot spots on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website.

Following closely behind the U.S. Space & Rocket Center are second-place Monaco Pictures at Bridge Street Town Centre and third-place Harmony Park Safari, located on 431 Clouds Cove Road S.E. The rankings are based on online reviews on Trip Advisor, which sees more than 200 million unique monthly visitors and over 100 million reviews and opinions.

To see the list of all 29 recommended attractions and where they stand, visit TripAdvisor’s website. Listed below are the top 10 Huntsville attractions, according to TripAdvisor.

1. U.S. Space & Rocket Center; One Tranquility Base, Huntsville; 389 TripAdvisor reviews. The well-known aviation destination has 210 excellent and five terrible visitor ratings.

2. Monaco Pictures; 370 The Bridge Street, Huntsville; 95 TripAdvisor reviews. The upscale movie theater, restaurant and Prive’ VIP Experience have 60 excellent and zero terrible visitor ratings.

3. Harmony Park Safari; 431 Clouds Cove Road, Huntsville; 50 TripAdvisor reviews. The nature preserve has 31 excellent and zero terrible visitor ratings.

4. Huntsville Botanical Garden; 4747 Bob Wallace Ave., Huntsville; 109 TripAdvisor reviews. The botanical, woodland, wildflower and flower gardens have 67 excellent and only two terrible visitor ratings.

5. Madison County Nature Trail-Green Mountain; South Shawdee Road, Green Mountain, Huntsville; 17 TripAdvisor reviews. The trail has 13 excellent and zero terrible visitor ratings.

6. Von Braun Center; 700 Monroe St. S.W., Huntsville; 43 TripAdvisor reviews. The multi-purpose facility and event center has 22 excellent and zero terrible visitor ratings.

7. Monte Sano State Park; 5105 Nolen Ave., Huntsville; 31 TripAdvisor reviews. The park has 18 excellent and zero terrible visitor ratings.

8. Sci-Quest; 102 Wynn Drive, Huntsville; 35 reviews. The hands-on science center has 12 excellent and one terrible visitor ratings.

9. Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St., Huntsville; 29 TripAdvisor reviews. The art museum has 14 excellent and one terrible visitor ratings.

10. Burritt on the Mountain; 3101 Burritt Drive, Huntsville; 35 TripAdvisor reviews. The public, mountain-top facility has 17 excellent and zero terrible visitor ratings.

Follow me on Twitter at @lsberry1 or send me an email at lberry@al.com.

via U.S. Space & Rocket Center, other destinations among top Huntsville attractions on TripAdvisor (poll) | al.com.

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