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The Huntsville Destination is found in the northernmost part of Alabama. To the south, the destination borders Georgia—a neighboring state—while the east is bounded by central Alabama, the west encompasses Alabama’s northwestern corner, and the north is surrounded by southern Tennessee. Plateaus and large hills dominate the destination’s topography in the north, and many of these higher elevated areas are adjacent to the perimeters of Huntsville.[2] Due to the city’s extensive history with aerospace, Huntsville is often referred to as “the Rocket City.” A prominent attraction in Huntsville, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, involves the city’s astronomic historical background as the museum features exhibits on the first landing on the moon and other significant events.[3] Outdoor recreation is another activity that a fair amount of tourists come to engage in at Huntsville as numerous golf courses and over 60 parks can be found throughout the city.[2] To the east of Huntsville, a 2,140-acre park called Monte Sano State Park allows hikers and bikers to utilize the trails that wind through the acreage.[3] Those who have visited Huntsville in the past recommend future visitors come to the city any time between May and June for warm-weather activities as weather conditions are fairly moderate during these months. Temperatures generally vary between 33 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year in the city.[5]

What Huntsville is known for

Situated in northern Alabama, the Huntsville Destination covers the entirety of Alabama’s northeastern corner. Towns such as Decatur, Scottsboro, Guntersville, Albertville, Fort Payne, and Huntsville are established throughout the destination. Aside from being the namesake of the destination, Huntsville is additionally the largest city in the territory by area and population, as the city covers a total area of 220.83 square miles. Moreover, Huntsville is the most populous city in the state of Alabama.[2] According to the statistics of World Population Review, as of the most recent census in 2020, Huntsville is home to a total population of 215,006 residents. Currently, the population is growing at a rate of 1.6%. With regard to the racial demographic of the city, the majority of residents are white at 59.74% with the second most common race being black or African American individuals at 31.77%. The remaining percentage is constituted by Asian residents (2.58%), Native American individuals (0.41%), and those who are classified as two or more races (3.02%).[1]

Huntsville is notably the county seat of Madison County.[2] In terms of attractions, the city is “home to the largest space museum in the world,” the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. This space museum is acknowledged for being the site where rockets that put men on the moon were developed. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is also reportedly Alabama’s top-paid tourist attraction. As a result of Huntsville’s background in aerospace, the city is nicknamed “the Rocket City.”[3] Specific places that can be found within Huntsville—namely the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center—indicate that technology, space, and defense industries have a significant presence in the city. Huntsville’s official website claims that the city “offers a broad base of manufacturing, retail, and service industries.”[4]

In addition to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville contains or is in close proximity to several outdoor attractions such as Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville Botanical Garden, and an abundance of hiking/biking trails. Over 60 parks can be found within the city’s limits.[2] Monte Sano State Park, in particular, is comprised of nearly 2,140 acres that enable visitors to go hiking, biking, or camping. Approximately 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails wind through the park.[3]


Occupying land in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the city of Huntsville is located in the northern region of the Huntsville Destination. Flowing from the destination’s northwestern corner is the Tennessee River which runs southeast for several miles before shifting direction toward the northeastern corner of the destination. The Coosa River also runs through a portion of the Huntsville Destination in the southeastern region, protruding from Weiss Lake in the east. Huntsville can be found about 100 miles north of Birmingham, a prominent city in Alabama that is located outside the borders of the destination.[6] Several plateaus and hills partially encompass the city and many locals refer to these plateaus as “mountains” as the majority of them are associated with the Cumberland Plateau. Monte Sano Mountain, Round Top, Chapman, and the Green Mountains are a few particularly notable geographic features that characterize the surrounding topography of Huntsville. Unincorporated land and communities can be found outside the city boundaries, including Madison, Athens, Decatur, Triana, and Owens Cross Roads.[2]

Summers in Huntsville have been described as “hot and muggy” by people who have previously visited the city, while the winter season is considered by many to be “cold” and “wet.” Those who have visited Huntsville have rated early May to late June as the “best time of year” to visit. Temperatures generally range between 33 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year. Visitors can expect an average daily high of over 81 degrees Fahrenheit during the hot season which lasts from May to September. July tends to be the hottest month of the year as temperatures reach around 88 degrees Fahrenheit on average. As for the cool season from November to February, the average high temperature typically drops to about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest month of the year in Huntsville is usually January as temperatures vary between 33 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.[5]


Huntsville was the first incorporated town in Alabama, initially settled in 1805. English-speaking pioneers migrated near the Mississippi River as they were drawn to the “fertile lands” of what is presently known as Huntsville. Throughout the city’s early history, the cotton industry arose in northern Alabama and attracted pioneer families, merchants, traders, speculators, and wealthy planters. This, in turn, led to Huntsville becoming the center of early state politics. Following the approval for Alabama to gain statehood, Huntsville was designated as the site for the first Constitutional Convention of Alabama. From 1819 to 1820, Huntsville served as the temporary capital of Alabama until the seat of state government was moved to Cahaba in Dallas County. The transportation system played a major role in the city’s history and development as Huntsville became the headquarters of the Memphis and Charleston railroad in 1854. This event entailed the construction of the first railroad that connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Mississippi River. After the outbreak of World War II, Huntsville’s economic conditions were altered drastically. In an effort to support the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army missile research program at Redstone Ordnance Plant was established in 1941. Two years later, the facility was renamed the Redstone Arsenal.[7]

The National Aeronautics and Space Administrative (NASA) first became a presence in Alabama in 1960, prior to its founding in 1958. Its presence was acknowledged when the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) was established at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. NASA’s rocketry program was led by Wernher von Braun, a German researcher who was the U.S. Army’s lead rocket engineer at Redstone. He directed the program from 1960 to 1970. As NASA began to expand the scope of its research, outreach programs were developed through its U.S. Space and Rocket Center, such as Space Camp.[8] 

One of the MSFC’s major missions during the 1960s was developing the Saturn boosters used by NASA in the Apollo Lunar Landing Program. A relatively high quantity of employees was recruited for this project and several other new companies joined the Huntsville industrial community. With the intent to accommodate this industrial growth, the Cummings Research Park was developed north of Redstone Arsenal. The Cummings Research Park has become the second-largest research park of its kind in the United States.[2]