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Tours Will Highlight Huntsville at 

At this year’s Small Market Meetings Conference (SMMC), October 2-4, Huntsville, Alabama, will have a lot to show off.

This Alabama city is known as one of the smartest destinations in the South, and conference attendees can experience Huntsville’s innovative history and energetic culture during their visit. Sightseeing and familiarization tours will give delegates opportunities to explore various aspects of the host city.

Into Space

Huntsville is nicknamed Rocket City because of its long association with the U.S. space program and for its history of developing rockets used by our military. It is where America’s space program was born in the late 1950s.

“We will have some behind-the-scenes opportunities over at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center,” said Bob Rogers, vice president of conventions for the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Huntsville is where the rockets that put men on the moon were developed, and the center is the largest space museum in the world. Visitors will get a new perspective when they stand beneath and around some of the mammoth space hardware on the property. They can see a real Saturn rocket, a space shuttle, space capsules, satellites and some interesting space gadgets.

Remembering the Past

History lovers will enjoy Huntsville’s offerings. “As far as history goes, we have the largest group of antebellum homes in Alabama,” said Rogers. The Twickenham Historic District and Old Town Historic District, both located a few blocks from downtown, are where these beautiful homes can be found. “That will be a fun time for an afternoon for some of the people coming here,” said Rogers.

Another interesting historic district in Huntsville is Five Points. The houses there date back to the middle-class expansion of the city in the 1890s and well into the 20th century. Also nearby is Consti-tution Village, where Alabama’s first constitution was signed, which led to Alabama’s becoming our nation’s 22nd state. Visitors can tour some of the buildings on the site.

Art Lovers Unite

The arts are important to a lot of the SMMC delegates, and Rogers hasn’t forgotten them. Another tour option in Huntsville is Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment, said to be the largest privately owned arts facility in the nation. It is located on the site of an old factory and is being transformed into a hip, quirky place where you can visit some of the 200 working artists. Visitors may tour the six fine-art galleries, engage in making art themselves, enjoy a tasty meal or listen to live music. Events include Concerts on the Dock, meaning performances from the factory’s old loading dock that now overlooks a large audience area, or the popular Cigar Box Guitar Festival.

The Huntsville Museum of Art is also an option. Located in beautiful Big Spring International Park, the museum has a collection of 3,000 pieces and creates several exhibitions in its galleries each year.

Old School, New Life

The fourth tour option at the SMMC will be Campus 805, the site of a former high school, then a middle school. A local businessman has converted the property into a dynamic entertainment venue for the community. Several craft beer joints like Straight to Ale Brewery and Yellowhammer Brewery have set up business on the campus and have drawn many thirsty visitors. “It is a nice fun place to try some craft beers at two of Huntsville’s best craft breweries,” said Rogers.

Architects were charged with creating a new complex of breweries, restaurants, and entertainment and retail spaces while maintaining some of the feel of the old school campus. Many say they have succeeded. The old school building has been rechristened Stone Event Center and has become an entertainment center with rental space available for events and functions. A park has opened on the property, and there is a band and dance stand, and grassy areas for listeners and dancers to enjoy.

For more information or to register for the 2016 Small Market Meetings Conference go to

Dan Dickson

Dan has been a communicator all his professional life, first as an award-winning radio and TV news reporter for two decades and then as a communications director for several non-profits for another decade. He has contributed to The Group Travel Leader Inc. publications since 2007.