Huntsville Journals

Huntsville: Space City, Alabama

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A November 2006 trip to Huntsville by ssullivan

Space Shuttle Pathfinder Photo, Huntsville, Alabama More Photos
Quote: This northern Alabama city holds many surprises, from the famous NASA space center and Space Camp to great restaurants, scenic mountains, and more.

Overview

Huntsville: Space City, Alabama

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Overview

Space Shuttle Pathfinder Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Located just north of the Tennessee River between Birmingham and Nashville lies Huntsville, Alabama. This city of approximately 170,000 residents offers many attractions on par with much larger metropolitan areas, largely due to the presence of NASA'S Marshall Space Flight Center, the Cummings Research Park, and the US Army's Redstone Arsenal. These facilities have helped transform Huntsville from a quiet town of fewer than 15,000 residents in the early 1950s to the city it is ...Read More

Restaurants

Phil Sandoval's Mexican Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Phil Sandoval's Mexican Restaurante"

Phil Sandoval's Mexican Restaurant Photo,
Quote:
Phil Sandoval’s Mexican Restaurante is part of the same family of restaurants that owns the Rosie’s locations. In fact, Phil Sandoval’s is located in the former location of the University Drive Rosie’s (Rosie’s has moved up the street a couple of blocks to a newer, much larger space). As part of the Rosie’s family, the menus at both restaurants have a lot of similarity, even offering some of the exact same entrées and drinks. However, Phil Sandoval’s does have some differences from Rosie’s, with a few items that are a bit more traditional and authentic in their preparation than the straight-up Tex Mex fare at Rosie’s. Regular diners at both restaurants will notice some of these differences, including ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 19, 2012

Phil Sandoval's Mexican Restaurant
6125 University Drive
Huntsville, Alabama 35806
(256) 489-5711

Ding How Chinese Restaurant

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Restaurant

Ding How Chinese Restaurant Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Ding How is one of Huntsville’s better Chinese restaurants. It is located on the south side of town, in a strip center, and while much of their business is take-out, the restaurant does have a rather large, and nice, dining room for dine-in customers.The menu at Ding How is divided into two sections. Most of the menu is standard Chinese-American fare, but there is a fairly large section of the menu that’s more authentic Chinese cuisine. On the night I dined at Ding How, I was not feeling particularly adventurous, so I opted for the Americanized food, but I would like to return and try some of their more traditional, less Westernized, food.The selections at Ding How are rather e...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 19, 2012

Ding How Chinese Restaurant
4800 Whitesburg Drive South
Huntsville, Alabama 35802
(256) 880-8883

Surin of Thailand

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Restaurant

Surin of Thailand Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Northern Alabama is probably not a place you'd expect to find truly outstanding Thai food. After all, it's not one of those places that automatically pops in your mind as a place to enjoy great Asian cuisine. Yet Huntsville is home to a very fine Thai restaurant.Surin of Thailand is a small regional chain of Thai restaurants, with locations in Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia. The Huntsville location, on Airport Road, about a mile east of South Memorial Drive, is similar to many Huntsville restaurants in that it's located in a large strip center. While the cookie-cutter exterior of the center makes Surin blend in with the rest of the surroundings, once guests step i...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 11, 2008

Surin of Thailand
975 Airport Rd SW
Huntsville
(256) 213-9866

Whitt's Barbecue

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Restaurant

Whitt's Barbecue Photo, Decatur, Alabama
Quote:
Northern Alabama is known for barbecue, and Whitt's stands out as one of the top choices in the area. Started in a backyard in Decatur, Alabama, Whitt's is a family owned operation that has expanded to several locations in Alabama, and several franchised location in nearby states. But Whitt's started in Decatur, and the original locations in this city are considered its best.Whitt's is a takeout only place, although there are a few outdoor picnic tables at some locations. None of their Decatur area locations look like much; a run-down shack would be an appropriate description, and one might think that the place was abandoned if it were not for the line of a dozen cars waiting in the parkin...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 19, 2012

Whitt's Barbecue
918 6th Avenue Southwest
Decatur, Alabama 35601
(256) 351-6294

Cafe Berlin

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Restaurant

Cafe Berlin Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Thanks to the arrival of Werner von Braun and other German and European physicists in Huntsville in the 1950s, the city is home to several outstanding German and European-influenced restaurants. Cafe Berlin is one of these.Cafe Berlin features a predominately traditional German menu, centered around schnitzels and sausages. There are also a number of continental entrées that are more French-influenced. Most entrées are served with a fresh salad and choice of potatoes, including Cafe Berlin's outstanding warm German potato salad. A basket of freshly baked breads accompanies the meal. Favorites of mine include the chicken schnitzel and gypsy schnitzel, both of which are perfectly prepared, a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 12, 2006

Cafe Berlin
964 Airport Rd SW
Huntsville, Alabama 35802
(256) 880-9920

Big Bob Gibson BBQ

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Restaurant | "Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue"

Big Bob Gibson BBQ Photo, Decatur, Alabama
Quote:
After a nearly six year absence, work returned me to Northern Alabama in October, 2012. On my first day at my client in Decatur, AL, I headed out at lunch to find a good place to eat. As I was heading down Sixth Avenue, Decatur's main highway through town, I could not help but notice the sign of a local barbecue restaurant with its large neon pig and tagline that said "BBQ: Bringing Friends and Family Together for Centuries." It was at a place called Big Bob Gibson's, and I knew I had to eat there. While I did not make it there for lunch that first day, I vowed to return later during the week.Two days later, I decided it was time to check out this Big Bob Gibson and his barbecue. By this p...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 18, 2012

Big Bob Gibson BBQ
1715 6th Avenue SE
Decatur, Alabama 35601
(256) 350-6969

Rosie's Mexican Cantina

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Restaurant

Rosie's Mexican Cantina Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Being from Texas, I've always been a fan of good Mexican, and Tex-Mex, cooking. After all, it's something us Texans can be guilty of having several times a week. So I was thrilled to discover Rosie's in Huntsville, and made it one of my regular dinner choices during the year I was frequently traveling to Huntsville for work.Rosie's Mexican Cantina has two several locations in Huntsville, making it a convenient place to eat dinner no matter where you're staying in the city. The University Drive location is in a large shopping center near many of the city's hotels. On the south side of Huntsville, there is another Rosie's located at 7540 Memorial Parkway SW. And for faster service, there's t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 11, 2008

Rosie's Mexican Cantina
6196 University Dr NW
Huntsville 35806
(256) 922-1001

Ol' Heidelberg

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Restaurant

Ol' Heidelberg Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Of the German/Austrian restaurants in Huntsville, Ol' Heidelberg is my favorite. The restaurant is one of several great choices for this type of cuisine, but I've found the atmosphere, food, service, and consistency at Ol' Heidelberg to be a slight cut above other similar restaurants in Huntsville.Ol' Heidelberg is located in a shopping center along the busy University Drive strip. The restaurant's bland strip mall façade hides the quaint European charm that awaits diners inside. Due to several expansions of the original space, the dining room is separated into several areas, each of which is decorated like what you'd expect if you walked into someone's German grandmother's living room. Wa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 12, 2006

Ol' Heidelberg
6125 University Drive
Huntsville, AL 35806
(256) 922-0556

Hotels

Four Points by Sheraton Huntsville Airport Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Huntsville's airport is a bit unusual in that it has a full service hotel in the terminal building. The Four Points by Sheraton Huntsville Airport is located on several floors directly above the ticketing and baggage claim areas of the airport, with its reception desk and restaurant located directly on a concourse that leads from the ticket counters to the airport's security checkpoint. Since I had a flight leaving early on a Friday morning, I opted to try out this airport hotel, something you almost never see at an airport this small, and save myself some time in the morning. I returned my rental car the night before my flight, walked inside the terminal building, and stopped at the hotel's front des...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 19, 2012

Four Points by Sheraton Huntsville Airport
1000 Glenn Hearn Blvd
Huntsville, Alabama 35824
256-772-9661

The Westin Huntsville

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Hotel

The Westin Huntsville Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
The Westin Huntsville is the city's newest full-service hotel. This AAA Four Diamond property opened in 2008, and is the only full-service Starwood hotel in the city. The hotel is located in the moderately upscale Bridge Street Town Centre shopping and dining development, just off Research Park Blvd. in the Cummings Research Park.I stayed at this Westin location in October, 2012. Overall, it's a pretty standard Westin hotel. The rooms are furnished with Westin's standard furniture, including the brand's signature Heavenly Bed. These beds do live up to their name, as they really are quite wonderful, and the one in my room at the Huntsville Westin was no exception. I slept quite well on the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 18, 2012

The Westin Huntsville
6800 Governors West NW
Huntsville, Alabama 35806
866-539-8117

Bevill Conference Center and Hotel

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Hotel

Bevill Conference Center and Hotel Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
The Bevill Conference Center and Hotel is located on the campus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The 100-room hotel was built in the mid-1980s, and provides quiet, clean, basic accommodations at a very reasonable price. A variety of room types are available, including rooms with a single twin bed, two double beds, and a king-size bed. Three junior suite rooms are also available. Slightly over half of the rooms are equipped with two double beds. All rooms feature refrigerators, microwaves, an iron and ironing board, clock radios, and cable television with remote. Wireless high-speed access is also available. Additionally, a complimentary continental breakfast is provided for hotel guests in ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Bevill Conference Center and Hotel
550 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL

Hampton Inn Huntsville

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Hotel

Hampton Inn Huntsville Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
The Hampton Inn Huntsville is located along the busy strip of hotels and restaurants on University Drive (US 72). This is an older Hampton Inn location, and unlike most Hamptons, has exterior corridors and most rooms open directly to the outdoors. However, despite this obvious older design, the hotel's rooms have benefited from a recent major renovation and the overall excellent management of this property. The furnishings of the rooms go above and beyond what is offered at most Hampton Inns, with attractive dark wood furniture, bronze finished designer lamps, wood plantation shutters on the windows, and attractive artwork. All rooms at this Hampton Inn feature Hampton's new "Cloud 9" bed, with a pill...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 12, 2006

Hampton Inn Huntsville
4815 UNIVERSITY DR
Huntsville, Alabama 35816
256 830-9400

Hampton Inn Huntsville-Arsenal

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Hotel | "Hampton Inn Huntsvle Arsn"

Quote:
On one of my many trips to Huntsville, my usual hotel, the Hampton Inn Huntsville on University Drive, was fully booked. So, instead I chose the other Hampton Inn in town, located on the south side of the city just off South Memorial Parkway (US 231). While this hotel offers the standard Hampton Inn amenities such as a complimentary breakfast with both hot and cold foods, complimentary high speed Internet access, irons and ironing boards, and in-room coffee service, this Hampton is a poor example of the brand compared to the excellent Hampton location across town on University Drive. Probably the only advantage this Hampton has over the University Drive location is that it has interior corridors....Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 12, 2006

Hampton Inn Huntsville-Arsenal
501 Boulevard South SW
Huntsville, Alabama 35802
(256) 882-2228

Embassy Suites Huntsville Hotel & Spa

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Hotel | "Embassy Suites Hotel"

Embassy Suites Huntsville Hotel & Spa Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
The Embassy Suites Hotel is the latest addition to Huntsville's hotel line up. Located downtown and connected to the city's Von Braun Civic and Convention Center, the Embassy Suites opened for business in late October 2006. This is Huntsville's premier full-service hotel property, and it brings big city, first class accommodations to this small city.I stayed in the Embassy Suites Huntsville for five nights about one week after the hotel's opening. I was immediately impressed by this hotel from the moment I walked in. The beautifully decorated lobby and 10-story atrium is very impressive. In the center of the lobby a large, square fountain separates the breakfast area from sitting areas, th...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 12, 2006

Embassy Suites Huntsville Hotel & Spa
800 Monroe Street
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
(256) 539-7373

Courtyard By Marriott Huntsville

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Hotel

Courtyard By Marriott Huntsville Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
The Courtyard By Marriott Huntsville is located along the busy strip of hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers on Huntsville's University Drive. This is an older Courtyard location, built to the original Courtyard design, with several wings surrounding a courtyard area in the center of the hotel. However, inside and out the property looks almost brand new, thanks to a complete renovation in early 2005.Rooms at the Huntsville Courtyard have been completely updated to Marriott's new Courtyard room design. The old beds have been replaced with new, thicker and more comfortable mattresses, topped with new sheets and comforters, and plenty of plush pillows. Behind the bed is a new, larger woo...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 12, 2006

Courtyard By Marriott Huntsville
4804 UNIVERSITY DR
Huntsville, Alabama 35816
256-837-1400

Attractions

Big Spring Jam

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Attraction

Big Spring Jam Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Since 1993, each September Huntsville residents join visitors from all over the country for this large outdoor festival. Big Spring Jam is held in the city's Big Spring Park and spans an entire weekend. The festival is primarily a series of concerts held at numerous outdoor stages for musical performers of all genres, including some very well-known acts. In addition to the music, there are a variety carnival games and small rides, a huge selection of food vendors selling everything from Asian foods to festival favorites like corn dogs and funnel cakes, to barbecue and Greek gyros.I experienced Big Spring Jam quite by accident. Due to the approach of Hurricane Rita in September 2005, I was ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 11, 2008

Big Spring Jam
700 Monroe Street
Huntsville 35801
(256) 533-1953

Green Mountain Nature Trail

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Attraction

Green Mountain Nature Trail Photo, Huntsville, Alabama
Quote:
Huntsville sits in a valley at the southern base of the Appalachian Mountains. Along the city's western edge are several mountains that rise 1,000-1,500 feet above the rest of the city. The mountains provide a wealth of parks, nature preserves, and hiking trails that often provide scenic views of the surrounding terrain. One of these parks is the Green Mountain Nature Trail, located near the city's southern border, at the top of Green Mountain.The 2.25 mile walking trail surrounds Skye Lake and features a covered bridge, the log cabin built in the early 1800s by Charles Green (whom the mountain is named for), a picnic area and restroom facilities, an outdoor wedding chapel, and several lan...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 11, 2008

Green Mountain Nature Trail
Shawdee Road
Huntsville

About the Writer

ssullivan

ssullivan
District of Columbia County, District of Columbia