Down South Goes Upscale

Birmingham and Huntsville are breaking out of the predictable

By JT Long

Up is the direction associated with Huntsville, Alabama (AKA Rocket City), home of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, a Smithsonian affiliate museum where simulated missions, space shot G-force accelerators and the first American Satellite Explorer 1 are natural team-building attractions. Similarly, Birmingham, known as “The Dinner Table of the South,” is on the rise with new venues and turnkey CSR options. Join us as we round up what’s new and engaging in this centrally located gem of a state.

Local Expert Tip

“It is a great time to be in Birmingham, and as we look to the future, the momentum and excitement in our destination is palpable.”

—  Michael Gunn, senior vice president, Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau


5 Reasons Why Meeting Profs Love Alabama

  • man walking next to ice cream truck
    Huntsville, AL Vendors at Big Spring International Park, Photo: Katssoup/

    Convenient from the west or east, Alabama boasts easy lift and drive status. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) increased passenger traffic by 14% last year, with over 3 million moving through the terminal. Huntsville sits just south of the Tennessee border, and Huntsville International Airport (HSV) is easy to navigate and offers a Four Points by Sheraton Hotel built in.

  • Elevated arts scenes in both cities set the tone. In Birmingham’s Uptown District, an open-air amphitheater is under construction for planned opening in 2025. It will have capacity to host multiple events simultaneously. Huntsville is already home to the South’s largest privately owned arts center, Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, with 150 working studios for artists, makers and four performance venues.

Read MoreEssential List: Meet with Artistic Flair

  • Thriving food scenes. In Birmingham, the combination of established, award-winning chefs and the hottest up-and-coming talent continues to draw national attention. Favorites include new twists on southern classics and European-inspired creations to southern barbecue. Michael Gunn, senior vice president with Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau is a fan of La Fresca (Italian), known for its ravioli and risotto. Huntsville is home to craft beer, craft cocktail and craft coffee trails along with a robust food truck scene. In fact, seasonal food truck rallies organized by Downtown Huntsville shut down the streets and draw crowds of thousands.
  • Building the Team. In addition to personalized Corporate Space Camp activities, Huntsville companies such as TeamBonding bring performance-enhancing programs to improve leadership and decrease workplace friction based on behavioral research. In Birmingham, giving back to the community is easy with meaningful, turnkey team-building experiences that support Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, Jones Valley Teaching Farms, AMBUCS of Alabama, Cheeriodicals and the American Red Cross.
  • Good Sports. Birmingham was recently named one of the country’s best cities for sports events. Huntsville is home to professional, collegiate (four universities are in the metro area) and amateur soccer, baseball, hockey, racing and roller derby teams.

5 Fantastic Places to Meet

This article appears in the May 2024 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.