Our visit to Huntsville and Monte Sano State Park has been on the 'to do' list for a very long time. We kept running into conflicts with our planning and had to cancel our reservation. When we called to cancel our reservations this spring, the park office encouraged us to reschedule for a weekend later in the year. We agreed and are happy we made the trip.
Monte Sano State Park sits atop the Alabama stretch of the Appalachian Mountains. Monte Sano, the 'mountain of health', rises 900 feet above the Tennessee Valley and Huntsville. We know these numbers are unimpressive in comparison to other mountain ranges and other sections of the Appalachian. However, Monte Sano is still beautiful. The park is only 2100 acres, but is surrounded by The Land Trust of Alabama, which adds 110 acres and 22 miles of trail adjacent to the park. The campground at Monte Sano State park offers 89 sites, either water and electric or full hookup, and a primitive campground. There are two bathhouses, two playgrounds, and a camp store in the campground. The campground is surrounded by a hiking trail that makes a very nice 1.2 mike loop around the core of the park with stops at multiple scenic overlooks, the observatory, playground, and the lodge. We enjoyed walking directly from our site, we were lucky and got a ridge-view site, and onto the trail a couple times.
Our site did have direct access to the North Plateau Hike, a 1.2 mile ‘more difficult’ hike. We’d classify the hike as easy to moderate and enjoyed that it was relatively flat for a mountain hike, and offered a great overview of the park. Our tip would be to find a site on the north outside edge of the campground and you should have great views and direct trail access.
We basically spent an entire day at the US Space and Rocket Center. The museum boosts 1500 artifacts and may be best know for the two Saturn V rockets on display - one vertically and one horizontally and on display indoors. One of the museum employees we met had worked on the original US Rocket program with Dr von Braun, the former Nazi and then US rocket scientist. There is a lot to see and explore at the US Space and Rocket Center. The US Space and Rocket Center is an ASTC participant - join your local science center to visit great sites like this for free!
We started our day Saturday with breakfast at Mason Dixon Bakery. The food and coffee were outstanding. We also shared a cinnamon roll, which was amazing. The next time we find ourselves in Huntsville, we will be visiting Mason Dixon again. We also had a lot of fun at Pints and Pixels. Pints and Pixels features over 50 vintage arcade and pinball games, plus craft beer and a full bar. Most of the games are only a quarter, so we played for hours on $20. It was a blast introducing the kids to Off-Road, Outrun, Pac-Man, and pinball.
Huntsville is innovative at repurposing buildings. We walked through Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment. This is a 171.000 square foot former cotton mill that is now home to 148 artist studios, galleries, vendors, and event space. Also also ate at Taqueria El Cazador, and outstanding taco shop inside a converted school bus. Finally we visited Campus No. 805, a former public school and present entertainment district with breweries, axe throwing, and bars.
Huntsville is a great city with a lot to see and do. We are a little disappointed it took us so long to make our first visit.
Shane and Jessica
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