Alabama

US Space & Rocket Center

At the very top of our Alabama bucket list: visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. We have a space-obsessed four year old boy, after all.

Winter break was a perfect time to make the three-hour drive. Said four year old doesn’t do well cooped up at home. (Or, we parents don’t do well with a four year old on winter break. My heart goes out to you snowed-in Bostonians.) Thankfully the little people fell asleep on the way there and woke up to gawk at the Saturn V on display in the museum’s Rocket Park.

Space and Rocket Center

You can’t miss it. It’s taller than a football field is long!

We had a reservation at the Marriott next door, so we drove past the museum to spy the Blackbird and space shuttle replica, too. The little taster had us all quite excited for the next day.

Shuttle Discovery

Despite noisy neighbors keeping the kids up waaaaay past bed time, we launched into the museum in good spirits. We didn’t even know that active duty military and children under 4 receive free admission. Yay!

A temporary multimedia exhibit of the 101 greatest inventions was captivating, and we would have spent more time exploring the accompanying material if we weren’t racing the clock to avoid an overtired meltdown before we could see everything else.

100 Inventions

Most of the material inside the museum is engaging for school-age children, with a variety of hands-on activities and artifacts. Our biggest guy was too small for the climbing wall, though he enjoyed watching his daddy land a space shuttle in a simulator.

Shuttle Simulator

A note for your planning: a rainy day can put a damper on your visit! We weren’t able to enjoy the Space Shuttle or Rocket Parks, or the small children’s play area because of it. That said…

SaturnV

There is a separate building displaying a Saturn V rocket horizontally! With a small play area, and a thundering video display of a test of the rocket (so thrilling!), and a moon rock, and a lunar module, and a lunar rover… we even spoke with Craig Sumner, a developer of the rover who trained the astronauts who used it. It was all SO COOL!

Space and Rocket Center

Other attractions weren’t really appropriate for our tiny, exhausted entourage. IMAX, thrill rides. However. Space Camp in Huntsville already has a place on a little someone’s ninth birthday wish list.

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