Monday, April 17, 2023

Our 2023 Huntsville Trip

We visited Huntsville last week on spring break, and today I’m recapping the trip!

Thursday, April 6

Thursday morning, we were up early to get ready and hit the road for Huntsville.  My brother and sister-in-law live there, so we’d been wanting to take the kiddos to see them.  Since we decided not to take a “big” spring break trip this year, we thought it would be the perfect time to visit them. 

On the way, we stopped at Majestic Caverns (formerly known as DeSoto Caverns) to split up the drive a little bit, and I’m so glad we did because it was really neat!  We went to Cave of the Winds in Colorado when I was young, and I still remember it because it left such an impression.  So I was excited for the kiddos to have a similar experience.

We planned the drive so we could arrive at Majestic Caverns right when they opened, but we ended up getting there a little later than we wanted.  Turns out that the first cave tour was just about to start, so we’d accidentally planned the timing perfectly.  Each tour is an hour, so if you miss one, then you have to wait a whole hour for the next one.  We ended up being in there with a few other people + a school field trip, so it was a little louder/rowdier than we would have liked, but the kids on the field trip were mostly well-behaved, so it wasn’t too bad. 

To start, our tour guide took us down in the cave and told us to be seated on the benches in the middle of the cave, and once all of us were seated, he turned off all of the lights in there.  We were in total darkness for a few brief minutes, and during that time, our eyes never adjusted because there is literally zero light down there.  You could wave your hand right in front of your face and see literally nothing.  It was wild. 

After that, he turned on all of the pretty cave lights, and everyone oohed and ahhed and it was so beautiful in there.  We walked around the whole cave with the guide, and he told us some facts about the cave as well as some stories about it, and it was an interesting tour. 

At the end of the tour, we all sat back down on the benches, and they did a laser show inside.  This one was Easter-themed since it was Holy Week, and we all enjoyed it.  They played the movie score from Pearl Harbor (which is one of my favorites) and I recognized it immediately.  Gave me chills.  Haha. 

After our tour, we headed back to the gift shop to look around, and the kids each chose a souvenir.  I also grabbed some cherry cola sour gummies because I’m a sucker for sour gummy candy and I’m a SUPER sucker for anything cherry cola flavored!

Once that was done, we all headed back to the car and hit the road to find some lunch.  There was a little town just outside of Majestic Caverns, so we found a quaint little country restaurant where we ate lunch.

After that, we made the rest of the drive to Huntsville, and we got settled into our Airbnb.  Brian had found this nerd-themed place that’s decorated with video games, NASA, and Star Wars stuff, and it is just amazing inside.  The whole living room is filled with all things video games.  They had a retro box TV (and an actual flatscreen, too, so we weren’t stuck with just the box TV), six original arcade games (PacMan, Streetfighter 2, Mortal Combat, NBA Jam, and a couple of others), and every single video game console ever made (OG Atari, OG Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Play Station, etc.). 

The kids’ bedroom was Star Wars themed, Brian’s and my bedroom was NASA themed, and every single thing in that house was on theme including the plates, mugs, ice trays, towels, potholders, etc.  It was really cool, and the kids were amazed.  We hadn’t told them anything about it, so when they walked in, they were shocked. 

One thing we didn’t know about it when we booked it was that it was in a VERY questionable area of town.  It was only, like, five minutes from a good area of town, but the neighborhood it was in was very rundown.  Most of the houses were pretty ramshackle and the yards in the neighborhood were all overgrown and not well-kept.  That said, we never felt unsafe, and out of the tons of reviews that were on the Airbnb website, not a single person even mentioned that.  The place has great reviews.

We had plans to meet my brother and sister-in-law for dinner at 5, and we had some time to spare after we got settled in, so we all played arcade games until it was time to go.  The kids were in heaven.  I played PacMan (it’s the only one I was interested in – haha) and I made it to level four, which was farther than anyone else the whole time we were there.  Jacob ended up loving NBA Jam and he played that more than anything the whole trip. 

At 5, we met my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew at Straight to Ale, which is a gastropub that brews their own beer.  I opted for one of their IPAs, and B got a beer flight so he could try a few different options.  We also grabbed burgers, and they were delicious! 

During dinner, we chatted and caught up with my brother and sister-in-law while the kiddos all ate and played at the other end of the table, and it was a really good evening together.  The kiddos were so excited to be reunited!

After dinner, we decided to take a little tour of the building because the restaurant is in an old school that someone turned into an event center.  It now has an arcade, several bars, restaurants, an ax throwing place, a donut shop, a salon, and various other things to do.  It’s called Campus No. 805 if you’re ever in Huntsville and want to visit.  They still have lockers in the hallways and the building still has that “school” smell, which was really cool.  It’s just a really neat place!

We had considered going downtown after dinner, but it was freeeezing, so instead, we went our separate ways.  Our fam swung by Trader Joe’s on the way to our house because we wanted to load up on wine and other favorites, and while we were there, we grabbed a box of macarons to have for dessert. 

After we ate our dessert, Brian and the kids played arcade games, and I got in my PJs and had a cup of hot tea.  Then we got the kiddos in the bed, and B and I hit the hay, too.  The beds at the Airbnb had those memory foam mattresses that so many people are now putting in vacation rentals and I haaaate them so I didn’t sleep well the whole trip.  Another downside to the place.

Friday, April 7

Friday morning, we got up and got ready, and then we headed out in search of donuts for breakfast.  Y’all know us – we are going to find all of the best local donut shops when we travel!  Haha. 

We were torn between two different ones – Parlor Doughnuts and Bigfoot’s Little Donuts, and we ended up settling on Parlor because Bigfoot’s was one of those places where you have to buy a bunch of one flavor, and we knew we wouldn’t all agree on the same one. 

We were soooo glad that we settled on Parlor because they turned out to be AMAZINGGGG.  The inside of the shop is gorgeous with really high ceilings, black and white tiled flooring, and gorgeous fixtures, and their donuts are absolutely to die for.  They have so many amazing flavors, and the donuts are HUGE, but they’re not at all greasy, and therefore, one fills you up, but it doesn’t make you feel like death afterward.  Haha.  If you’re familiar with Five Daughters Bakery, Parlor’s donuts are very similar to those in that they’re very tall with lots of flaky layers, but in my opinion, Parlor is worlds better than Five Daughters!

The first day we went there (yes, they were so good we went back the next day, too!), Brian and I both got the French Toast donut, Olivia got Bourbon Caramel, and Jacob got Blueberry Buttercream.  Everyone loved their choices, and the kids deemed them the best donuts they’ve ever had!

After donuts, we had some time to kill before we had to meet my brother at NASA, so we ended up going to the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum.  We’d wanted to go to the art museum, but they opened too late in the morning.  The EarlyWorks Children’s Museum is really meant for smaller kids, but our kiddos ended up enjoying it, so it was time well-spent.

After that, we grabbed a quick lunch at Chipotle, and then we headed to NASA for our 12 PM check-in time.  My brother met us there to get us checked in, and then he gave us a private tour of Redstone Arsenal which is the area where NASA is located.  First up, he took us to see some rocket parts that were being built, then he showed us some old rockets and rocket engines. 

Next up, he took us to the International Space Station Payload Operations Center, which is where he works.  We were able to tour the International Space Station simulator where they train some of the astronauts, and that was really neat. 

Then, he took us to see Mission Control for the International Space Station.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures or videos in there for security reasons, but that was my favorite part of the whole tour. 

It really does look like what you see in all of the movies, although, it’s a little smaller than I imagined.  There is a huge wall of screens where you can see live feeds of the astronauts on the actual space station, where the ISS is currently in orbit, live feeds of space from the cameras on the ISS (we got to see the sun rising over earth when we were there), and many other things.  Just so, so neat. 

Brian and I had already seen all of that last May when we took a quick trip there for a concert, but it was the kids’ first time, and they both loved every single second.  Jacob especially loved it all.  He soaked up every single word that my brother said while we were touring around.  He was completely locked in. 

Once that was done, we made our way over to the Space & Rocket Center, which is the museum there, and my sister-in-law and the kids met us there.  We spent the next couple of hours touring around there, and we were able to see the Saturn V rocket.  In case you don’t know anything about Saturn V, it is MASSIVE.  It was taller than a 36-story building, and it was the largest rocket ever launched. 

They have it on display in the museum and it is just ridiculous.  Look at my brother, SIL, and all of the kids standing under the bottom of it in the picture below.  Mind-blowing. 


Once we’d exhausted ourselves at the museum, we headed out in search of dinner.  My brother recommended a local Mexican restaurant, and you know our family doesn’t turn down Mexican, so we headed there next.  After a round of margs and dinner, we headed to my brother and sister-in-law’s house to see it.  We’d never had the chance to visit, so it was nice to finally see where they live. 

We stayed there for about an hour, and then we headed out so they could get their kiddos in the bed.  Then our fam spent the rest of the evening hanging out and playing video games at our Airbnb, and then we all headed to bed.


Saturday, April 8

Saturday morning, we got ready and packed up the car, and then we headed back to Parlor Doughnuts for breakfast because we couldn’t resist.  That morning, we all decided to try new flavors, and again, they were all amazing.  Brian opted for the Turtle Cheesecake, I grabbed a Strawberry Shortcake, Jacob got the “Sandy Beach” which is cinnamon and sugar with vanilla frosting, and Olivia got a Cookies and Cream. 

After we were all nice and full, we hit the road to make our way down the state of Alabama to visit Brian’s sister and her family.  It rained the entire way there… like literally THE ENTIRE WAY without ceasing, so my anxiety was high.  It was a terrible day to be on the road, but thankfully, we made it to my SIL’s house safely.

We visited with her for a bit, and then we all headed out to lunch together.  They live in an area where there aren’t many local restaurants, just chains, so we opted for Cracker Barrel only to find that there was an hour-wait.  Since the wait there was too long, we ended up going to Chick-Fil-A instead since we knew it would be a little quicker. 

Well, the area where she lives is on a major highway that runs from Florida through Alabama, and I think the entire state of Alabama was traveling back home from Florida that day (seriously, the traffic going north was horrendous for nearly the entire drive there), so Chick-Fil-A was PACKED. 

When we got inside, we ordered our food only to find that there wasn’t a single table available, and there were already several parties waiting for tables to open up.  Sheesh.

Thankfully, just before our food arrived, a group was kind enough to get up and let us have theirs.  Otherwise, we were going to have to eat in separate cars and we wouldn’t have even been able to visit with my SIL and nephew.  It was still POURING outside, and it was windy and cold, so eating outside was definitely not an option.

Once lunch was over, we said our goodbyes and hit the road again, and it rained all the way home, so I was very grateful to pull into our driveway and be home safely.

The rest of the day was spent working out, unpacking, doing laundry, and prepping for Easter, and that was our trip!

Happy Monday, y’all!


  1. I think Brian gets dad of the year for finding the air bnb. Despite the location and mattresses, he scored big points for being a fun dad!

  2. Ok, the Parlor Dougnut place has me SO hungry. I could seriously each flavor! And, that AirBNB is INSANE! My hubby would love it!


  3. There is a cave like that somewhat near us in MO. It's so cool to see! I think my kids would like the NASA tour - lucky for you that your brother works there! And that Air BnB is very cool looking!

  4. Those doughnuts! That rocket! That rental!! This was so thrilling to read about! Okay, so...we soooo wanted to stop here because Jon and Henry also love space stuff. I think we definitely need to plan a trip back down that way!


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