Summer vacation is here for the kids–and hopefully you. If you’re looking for something fun, exciting, and maybe even a little adventurous to do with the kiddos look no farther than Huntsville. The Rocket City has plenty of options to keep your little ones (or not so little ones) active and away from the video games and TV.
These eight adventures are sure to please the youngest and oldest kids in your crowd and you may even have some fun yourself!
1. Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt
Think of the Amazing Race with all of the clues that contestants have to figure out. Well, the Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt is like that, but instead of a trip around the world, you’ll take a trip around Huntsville to experience all of its sights and history. Here’s how it works: The Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau has hidden 14 ducks around the city and, using clues, you have to go and find them. You can download a free clue card and start your hunt now. If you find all of the ducks, take your card to the visitor center and you win a special prize.
2. Tuesdays on the Trail
The Land Trust of North Alabama once again kicks off their Tuesdays on the Trail series, which offers a variety of educational and active outdoor activities for kids six-plus and their parents. Learn about archaeology, herpetology (snakes), water ecology, and tree identification, or you may just take a hike and see what you find along the way. Tuesdays on the Trail is free but only open to Land Trust members. But becoming a member is easy and a small price to pay to help the organization protect green spaces and the environment around Huntsville. Space is limited so pre-register to attend a program.
3. Play Day at Hays
Each summer, the Hays Nature Preserve plays host to the Huntsville Green Team’s Play Days at Hays, a series of events guaranteed to have your kids wanting to get away from the TV and video games and head outdoors to explore. Each week holds a different program, which may include exploring the preserve for reptiles and bugs or learning about their senses. The programs are free but registration is required and space is limited. Visit the Green Team’s Play Day Facebook page for the next scheduled program and call (251) 532-5326 to register.
4. River Kids
Summertime in the heat of the Alabama sun means a lot of time on the water–swimming, paddleboarding, and of course, kayaking. The volunteers and staff with Huntsville’s Green Team and Alabama 4H want your kids to be safe on the water when they wet the paddle by offering the River Kids program.
On select dates throughout the summer, kids between the ages of 9 and 18 can attend River Kids classes at the Hays Nature Preserve. The program starts with a one-hour land-based safety course then it’s off to learn the basics of kayaking on the Flint River. All participants must be able to swim and parents must be in attendance. All equipment is provided. Visit the River Kids Facebook page for dates and times. Contact the Green Team at (256) 564-8077 to register.
5. Point Mallard Park
Cross the Tennessee River to Decatur and visit the home of “America’s First Wave Pool” at Point Mallard Park. Point Mallard’s Water Park features truly awesome water rides for all ages: the Three Flume Tube Ride, Pro Bowl Slide, the Towering Sky Pond, and the Speed Slide. For the youngest in your family, there’s a kids’ area complete with Squirt Factory and Duck Pond. For added fun, bring your bike and ride along the scenic Bill Sims Bike Trail. And if you’re having too much fun to leave, spend the night at the Point Mallard Campground.
Admission to the Water Park is $20 adults, $15 children 5-11. The campground features 233 full-hookup RV sites and six primitive tent sites. Visit the Point Mallard Campground website for reservations and pricing.
6. Float the Flint
The adventure continues after dark with the North Alabama Canoe and Kayak (NACK) Tuesday Night Float the Flint. This is a beautiful way to end the day with a quiet sunset paddle down the Flint River. The trip begins at the NACK shop at 6:30 pm. From there, it’s a nice leisurely float under the stars with a break at sunset for some time around a campfire on a beach (don’t forget to bring the ingredients to make a S’more or two). Then it’s back on the river to float to the landing. The paddle usually ends around 9:30 pm.
The cost is $35 per person for rentals, $25 per person for a shuttle. Don’t forget to bring along the insect repellent and wear water shoes.
7. To the Moon and Beyond
Huntsville isn’t called the Rocket City for nothing! This is where the mighty Saturn V rocket that took the United States to the moon and back was designed and engineered, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is the place for all things out of this world. The Center offers a fantastic learning experience, with plenty of hands-on interaction that your kids–and you–will love.
The center is a great place to visit any time of year. The artifacts in the museum are fascinating, and the simulators and rides are awesome. You can feel what it’s like to be launched into space on the Moon Shot as it literally shoots you straight up 140-feet in 2.5-seconds giving you the feeling of four times the Earth’s gravity (4 G’s) followed by a three-second feeling of weightlessness. You can also experience what the astronauts feel when they train in centrifuges on the G-Force Accelerator, take a trip through a black hole on the Hypership Motion Simulator, and for very young children, there is the Kids Cosmos Energy Depletion Zone where they can crawl around the International Space Station and gently blast off in a lunar lander.
This year is even more special as the center celebrates the 50th anniversary of mankind’s first landing on the moon with Apollo: When We Went to the Moon. A special collection of Apollo program artifacts will be on display through December including actual moon rocks, Apollo capsules that flew to the moon and back, and showings of archival footage and documentaries about the big event.
Visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center website for hours of operation, event schedules, and admission.
8. Star Gaze Atop Monte Sano Mountain
Now that you have your head in the stars, how about seeing them first hand? Every Saturday night beginning at 7:30 pm, the Von Braun Astronomical Society (VBAS) opens its planetarium to the public to present a dazzling look at the heavens with a variety of guest speakers from astronomers to astronauts.
The planetarium and observatory, which was built by and named for the famed German rocket scientist, Werner von Braun, is located high atop Monte Sano Mountain directly next to the state park. After the show–weather permitting–step outside as the members of VBAS let you take a look at the night sky through their telescopes.
Admission is $5 for adults, students $3, children under 6 free. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes before the show starts to allow for finding a parking spot and getting a seat.
Written by Joe Cuhaj for Matcha in partnership with BCBS of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.