Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Huntsville, for tourists

If you're an Alabama librarian, I hope I'll see you in two short weeks at our state association conference. It's in my hometown, and the conference hotel and meeting spaces are a mere stone's throw from my house, so I figured I'd type up the local 411 (shout out to Mary J. Blige!) on the 35801.

  • 1892 is a place we go regularly, maybe because lots of its food is vegetarian. It sort of reminds me of a tony cafeteria at a private college. A little bland, but definitely edible.
  • Sam & Greg's. The pizza is nothing special, but the gelato! And they make awesome steamers and coffee.
  • For the local coffeeshop afficiandos, there is also the Old Towne Coffee Shoppe. The fact they have no website it pretty indicative of the type of insider place it is...
  • Pane e Vino. Decent Italian, in the art museum (the white building with the green roof, closest to the foreground of that pic). If you can score a seat outside, you can watch the ducks and everyone will be jealous.
  • Emma's Tearoom. Great lunch and tea spot -- make your reservations ASAP. Definitely for the more feminine among us. 
  • Like Emma's, Clementine's is a lunch spot -- a half dozen types of chicken salad, and a range of sandwiches.
  • Cynshea's sells what I consider "catering food" to the masses. The quiche is incredible, and the desserts are massive.
  • The Sandwich Farm is in a cool space, and it's across from the big dog park, which is fun to watch.
  • A lot of people are into Below the Radar, a brew pub in the lobby of "the old Times building." Entre nous, it's loud, and I think it smells dirty.


Other stuff:
  • Huntsville is ridiculously safe. Seriously, I get the police reports sent to my inbox by our neighborhood association, and there is nothing to worry about with regard to parking or walking downtown at night, even by yourself.
  • There's free wifi in Big Spring Park.
  • HMCPL is right across the street from the Embassy Suites. It's a pretty vibrant place, so do be sure to check it out.
  • You know what I love around here? Maple Hill Cemetery. You can visit the graves of the unnamed Confederate dead at the north side, some of the statuary is great.
All of these places are downtown, save Bridge Street and the Space and Rocket Center, or in Five Points, which is sort of a cool neighborhood, one of three historic areas (Twickenham -- being Oldest, Old Town -- Older, Five Points -- Old) with lovingly restored homes which converge around there. It's a great walk.

I met a guy in library school who had spent a year in town, and he said "they might as well roll up the streets after dark." Locals might deride it as Huntspatch or Huntsvegas, but Huntsville is a pretty great place to live. I hope these suggestions are useful for those visiting, since I know it can seem a little sleepy, but that's just an illusion.

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