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Visit Huntsville, Alabama, for history, nature and architecture

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If you’re close to Alabama or will be traveling through the state this summer, put Huntsville on your itinerary (http://www.huntsville.org). Huntsville prides itself on its early 19th-century architecture and its Civil War history.

History, nature, and a beautiful downtown combine to heighten the city’s appeal. Many of the buildings date back to the early 1800s and feature Federalist architecture. The old Harrison Brothers Hardware store on the square is in its 113th year. Owned today by the Historic Huntsville Foundation and operated by volunteers, the store will take you back to a time when businesses sold home-grown and home-made products. Take the whole family for a shopping spree. Whether looking for a unique piece of pottery, old nails or tools, crafts, toys or homemade salsa, you’ll find something to take home. Challenge your kids to learn how to make electricity using potatoes, nails and copper wire (the Potato Clock). More information is available at http://www.harrisonbrothershardware.com/.

Take a walking tour of Twickenham, home to Alabama’s largest antebellum district. The Weeden House (now a museum) is the oldest house in the state. Twickenham was the original name for the city which was changed to Huntsville during the War of 1812. For information on tours, visit www.huntsville.org.

The Huntsville Museum of Art has been named as one of the state’s “Top 10 Attractions” by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel. In 2008, the museum acquired the Sellars Collection of Art by American Women. This collection includes more than 400 paintings, drawings and sculptures by 250 women artists between 1850 and 1940. Check out www.hsvmuseum.org/.

While you’re there, check out a couple of restaurants. The Blue Plate Cafe, at 3210 Governors Drive Southwest, is known for its breakfasts. The Happy Tummy, located on the 1st Floor at the Historic Lowe Mill specializes in sandwiches, wraps and quesadillas. For fine dining, try Cotton Row at 100 South Side Square.

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