Huntsville at a Glance
Location: North Alabama
Access: Huntsville International Airport (HSV), interstates 65 and 565, U.S. Highway 72
Hotel rooms: 7,700
Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Von Braun Center
Built: 1975, renovated 2019
Exhibit Space: 100,800 square feet
Total Space: 170,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 12 breakout rooms
Jackson Center at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Largest Exhibit Space: 7,584 square feet
Total Space: 9,144 square feet
Guest rooms: 382 (232 Westin rooms and 150 Element rooms in one high-rise building)
Meeting Space: 12,741 square feet
Huntsville Marriott at the Space and Rocket Center
Guest rooms: 282
Meeting Space: 11,289 square feet
Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville
Guest rooms: 295 rooms
Meeting Space: 12,350 square feet
Huntsville’s well-known nickname, “The Rocket City,” aptly characterizes it as an innovator.
Alabama’s largest city served as the state’s first capital and birthplace of the nation’s space program. Among its varied and numerous attractions, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center bills itself as the planet’s largest spaceflight museum. Pairing a high-tech community with the picturesque rolling Appalachian foothills, Huntsville delivers world-class meeting facilities and offers intriguing opportunities for your next conference.
Huntsville can easily be considered Alabama’s hub for technology, the arts and entertainment. Technical expertise booms at the headquarters of several Fortune 500 companies; the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, which includes NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; and Cummings Research Park. Since the 1950s, the city’s history has been intertwined with the nation’s space missions.
“At the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, groups can hold a reception or dinner under one of only three Saturn V rockets in existence,” said Jamie Koshofer, vice president of conventions for Huntsville/Madison County. “The center hosts after-hours special events and unique activities.”
Each with a unique vibe, the city’s arts and entertainment districts range from Quigley downtown to Mid-City, Village of Providence, Town Madison and Bridge Street Town Centre. According to Koshofer, all are within a 10-15 minute drive, making it convenient to visit several in one evening. In addition, Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment venue boasts more than 200 artists in 150 studios.
On the doorstep of the Appalachians, outdoor recreation abounds. Burritt on the Mountain, a historic mansion and living history museum on 167 acres, affords panoramic views of the Tennessee Valley plus seasonal events, craft classes and Wednesday night cocktails at The View. The Land Trust of North Alabama contains nine nature preserves in and around Huntsville. Greenways and trails offer hiking, walking and biking.
“Groups are impressed with the scenic beauty of our community,” said Koshofer. “As the centerpiece of our downtown, Big Spring International Park is surrounded by local shops, entertainment and restaurants.”
Downtown’s Huntsville Museum of Art holds an extensive collection of works by American women. Thirteen galleries and special event spaces are ideal for receptions, meals or activities accommodating several hundred attendees. In addition to top-name performers, such as Stevie Nicks and Dave Matthews, the 8,000-seat Orion Amphitheater hosts receptions, performances and special events.
Toyota Field in Town Madison and Joe Davis Stadium in John Hunt Park offer unique event space. At Campus No. 805, a refurbished school turned event space, groups can reserve the former football field, where gatherings can include food trucks and live music. The 7,500-square-foot Roundhouse at the Huntsville Depot dates to 1860 and makes the perfect location for receptions.
Outdoors, Burritt on the Mountain boasts an impressive glass and metal deck adjacent to the Baron Bluff Building, one of its many event and activity spaces. The Huntsville Botanical Garden features more than 15,000 square feet of space offering numerous options for activities, both indoor and open air. The garden also boasts the largest open-air butterfly house in the nation.
“The Grand Hall overlooks the gardens,” said Koshofer. “Groups can also enjoy rotating exhibits in the springtime, Festifall in autumn that includes the Scarecrow Trail, and the drive- or walk-through Galaxy of Lights at the holidays.”
Major Meeting Spaces
The Von Braun Center (VBC) ranks as the region’s largest meeting and tradeshow facility, housing more than 170,000 square feet of space with full catering and event services. Under its roof are the 8,500-seat Propst Arena, the 1,950-seat Mark C. Smith Concert Hall and the 1,200-person-capacity Mars Music Hall. The VBC’s South Hall boasts 100,800 square feet of flexible space. In addition, Rhythm on Monroe, an on-site restaurant with rooftop bar, welcomes attendees.
Five downtown hotels include the Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville, which offers Spa Botanica and an indoor saltwater pool. Connected to VBC via a climate-controlled walkway, it’s across the street from Big Spring Park. Dual-branded, the Westin/Element Huntsville combines 382 guest rooms with the Bridge Street Town Centre outdoor mall featuring shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment. Recently renovated, the Huntsville Marriott at the Space and Rocket Center has a beautiful outdoor patio and pool with museum views. In the works, a Trilogy Hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, will open with 290 rooms in late 2024.
“Our convention center is across the street from Big Spring Park, so attendees can walk in its green space during breaks or relax by the lake surrounded by art installations and the Huntsville Museum of Art,” said Koshofer.
The Jackson Center at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology provides more than 13,000 square feet in five rooms, the largest at just over 7,500 square feet. On-site catering and setup make it a favorite for technical meetings and conferences. Stovehouse, a reimagined stove factory converted to a multi-use facility, lies minutes from downtown and offers more than 13,000 square feet of rental space.
After the Meeting
The Rocket City Trash Pandas, the city’s double-A minor league baseball team, plays home games at Toyota Field. The Huntsville City Football Club, affiliated with the MLS Next Pro soccer league, takes the field at Joe Davis Stadium. And Huntsville Havoc, the city’s professional ice hockey team, plays at the Von Braun Center.
Both Huntsville and Madison, which is essentially a suburb, have charming historic neighborhoods with locally owned restaurants. In the Twickenham Historic District, the 1819 Weeden House Museum and Garden offers tours and event space as the oldest home open to the public in Alabama. Harrison Brothers Hardware, in business since 1897, sells vintage toys, pottery, housewares, books and gourmet food that make excellent souvenirs.
Attendees can explore local establishments and culture on downtown’s craft beer, cocktail or coffee trails. Stovehouse’s numerous on-site restaurants, plus The Brewers Cooperative and the Pourhouse’s rooftop seating, are popular choices. One block away and connected by a pedestrian walkway, Campus No. 805 houses more breweries, restaurants, a pinball arcade and axe throwing for the after-hours crowd.
“At Campus No. 805, the old cafeteria is now an event center,” said Koshofer. “It still has the original school bathrooms and lockers. Hidden behind a row of lockers in the former band room, the speakeasy is definitely worth finding.”