6 Rocket City Surprises

Coming to ImmunoGenomics 2014? We invite you to come early or stay a few extra days and explore all that Huntsville, Ala., has to offer.

The Rocket City – Huntsville is known around the world as the Rocket City, home to famed rocket genius Wernher von Braun and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who’s propulsion experts launched the U.S. into space and to the moon. NASA and the Redstone Arsenal are the area’s top two employers, creating in Huntsville the highest concentration of engineers in the country and one of the highest ratios of Ph.D.’s.
Each year thousands of people visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center where you get an up-close, hands-on view of the Saturn V rocket – one of only three in the nation – inside the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. Additionally, a full-size standing replica of the Saturn V towers 363 feet above the city’s main thoroughfare, greeting visitors at the edge of town and letting them know they are indeed in the Rocket City. The Saturn V replica is visible even from the air as planes arrive at the Huntsville International Airport.

Arts and Science – The Lowe Mill arts and entertainment center is the largest center for the arts in the Southeast with more than 100 working artists, small business, restaurants and live performance venues. Formerly a textile mill and a shoe factory during the Vietnam War era, today it is one of the nation’s most active art spaces. The Sci-Quest Hands-on Science Center features more than 150 interactive exhibits all pertaining to various principles of science.

Explore the outdoors – Uniquely located in the Tennessee River Valley, Huntsville is surrounded by mountains that are great for hiking and mountain biking, and nearby lakes and rivers are ripe for fishing or other water sports. The world-class Huntsville Botanical Garden blends traditional botanical garden elements with local flare. The garden is one of the top tourist attractions in the state and features a seasonal butterfly house, aquatic garden, Dogwood trail and fern glade with nearly 170 species of ferns.

Cave City – Before it was known as the “Rocket City,” Huntsville was known by some as “Cave City” because of its estimated 240 known caves within the city limits and more than 2,000 mapped caves in Madison County and neighboring Jackson County. Caving in Huntsville runs deep as it is also home to the National Speleological Society. Just a short drive into the countryside is Cathedral Caverns State Park, which boasts the widest entrance of any commercial cave in the world.

Downtown – When the sun goes down, downtown Huntsville comes alive, offering distinctive southern eating experiences, from meals prepared by award-winning chefs to casual dining in relaxed atmospheres. Downtown restaurants offer variety, whether you’re in the mood for steak or seafood with a southern kick, international flavor, or a unique food experience at one of more than a dozen food trucks serving savory Southern BBQ, Mexican or American fares, as well and cupcakes and Hawaiian shaved ice. A bustle of activities is usually going on at the Von Braun Center where visitors can experience concerts, plays and sporting events. The historic district surrounding downtown Huntsville overflows with southern charm, containing more antebellum homes than any other town in Alabama.

In the Lap of Luxury – Some of the area’s most unique shopping and dining experiences are found at Bridge Street Town Centre, an outdoor retail, restaurant and entertainment complex that features pedal boats and gondola rides, a carousel and a water play area for children, and a luxury movie theatre. The site of the Westin Huntsville, Bridge Street Town Centre is in close proximity to Cummings Research Park, Redstone Arsenal and NASA, and within walking distance to HudsonAlpha.