Meeting venues and experiences take off in Rocket City Huntsville
Sweet home Huntsville, Alabama, where the skies are so blue—and the vibes are increasingly cosmopolitan. This Lynard Skynard remix is brought to you not only by the new and coming-soon hotels and restaurants making their way to Rocket City in 2021, but by a powerful blend of science, history, art and cuisine that has long existed in this northern Alabama destination. After all, Huntsville’s rocket scientists sent us to the moon. And anywhere that has soared to the heavens is going to attract a diverse array of tastes and experiences.
Huntsville International Airport (HSV) services nearly 1.2 million passengers a year, with nonstop service to 10 destinations. Not ready to fly? You’ll get here in two hours driving from Nashville and 3.5 hours from Atlanta.
Meet and Stay
Von Braun Center offers 579,098 sq. ft. of meeting space and has a $42 million expansion underway. The convention center will add a 35,000-square-foot ballroom, 14,000 sq. ft. of breakout space, a full-service kitchen and the 1,200-capacity Mars Music Hall (now open!).
As for hotels, 2021 is Huntsville’s year. The 292-room Huntsville Marriott at the Space & Rocket Center just underwent a full renovation, revamping guest rooms, lobby, fitness center, poolscape, 16 event rooms and more than 20,000 sq. ft. of event space.
Coming this summer: 106 Jefferson, a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel, which will bring 115 modern guest rooms, more than 2,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, a chef-driven restaurant and a rooftop lounge serving views of downtown.
Coming in late 2021: Hyatt House is heading to a new nine-story building featuring 145 guest rooms and a rooftop bar within a short walk to Von Braun Center. A 150-room Hampton Inn & Suites is anticipated by December, as is a 187-room Autograph Collection by Marriott with a rooftop bar, conference space and two restaurants.
Margaritaville at Town Madison will bring 150 guest rooms, 3,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a waterpark to the Huntsville’s master-planned suburb by 2022.
Do and Dine
Take to the stars at the top tourist attraction in the state—U.S. Space and Rocket Center. It houses the world’s largest collection of rockets, including the Saturn V that sent astronauts to the moon. Groups can bond and hang on to their lunch at the G-force accelerator or the rocket launch simulator, when Covid safety measures allow. The center is available for buyout, with 4,618 sq. ft. of event space.
For art, history and culture, take your group on the Rocket City Civil Rights Driving Tour, highlighting important sites in the fight for equality. Buy out Huntsville Museum of Art for an intimate setting for up to 350. Head to Von Braun Center to catch a Broadway play, Huntsville Ballet or Huntsville Symphony Orchestra—or head for to the South’s largest privately owned arts center, Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, for 148 artist studios in an old textile mill, plus galleries, restaurants, workshops and whiskey tastings.
From Southern soul food to ramen, Huntsville serves it all. Go to G’s Kitchen or Betty Maes for lip-smacking catfish, fried chicken, cornbread and collard greens or The Veggie for a vegan take on Southern comfort food.
Need to Know
- 40 Fortune 500 companies in Huntsville
- 3.7 Million visitors to Madison County (2019)
- 1969 Year Saturn V lifted off to the moon