Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

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akhilsam
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 10, 2015 4:47 pm

Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by akhilsam » Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:25 pm

Gurus,

I know it might be bit early but I want to ensure camp is not sold out for my 9 year 11 year old sons next summer (2020).
We will be driving from Northern VA to Huntsville. When kids are in camp we plan to spend 5 days in nearby areas.
Also while coming back to we plan to spend a couple nights in Myrtle Beach , SC.

I am reesting some suggestions on enroute options or nearby options(near to Huntsville). They will have 5 night+ 6 day camp on on top of that we will add about 2-3 nights while going and coming back.

Also I heard that space camp is good but still appreciate any feedback
Appreciate inputs!
Thanks!

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wageoghe
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Location: Northern Alabama

Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by wageoghe » Sun Oct 27, 2019 5:56 pm

I live in HSV.

As far as nearby areas, we really enjoy Chattanooga. Plenty of attractions and restaurants in a very walkable area downtown (aquarium, Walnut Street bridge, restaurants, Lookout Mountain, ...).

Locally, https://campus805.com/ has restaurants, fun activities, and a microbrewery. Several other microbreweries in town, including Fractal, InnerSpace, Salty Nut.

If you like art galleries, check out Lowe Mill http://www.lowemill.net/

I could give more info if I had some idea of the kind of activities you would like to do.

Kennedy
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Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by Kennedy » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:38 pm

You can save some money if purchased during their Black Friday sale. I think the discount was much larger several years ago, but it still will provide a nice discount.

I purchased Space Camp sessions for my kids when they were early teenagers. I surprised them with it. They weren't happy, and I requested (and received) a refund. Too bad. I think they would have had fun, but they weren't interested.


https://www.spacecamp.com/blackfriday

What about visiting the Unclaimed Baggage store in (?near) Huntsville? Supposedly, the store purchases "lost" bags and their contents from airlines and resells them.

mw1739
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Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by mw1739 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:32 am

Following for ideas. Heading to Huntsville in January for a youth sports tournament. Campus 805 looks like a great option.

22twain
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Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by 22twain » Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:21 am

Google Maps shows 10+ hours from the DC area to Huntsville via the most direct route (I-81). Are you planning to do it in a single day? If so, you won't have time to do anything en route except to stop for lunch and potty breaks. And IMHO I-81 through VA and TN is pure hell, chock full of trucks.

I'd split it up into two days and take a more relaxing route. Perhaps US-29 to Greensboro NC, then I-40 to Asheville. Optionally include part of the Blue Ridge Parkway in VA or the last stretch approaching Asheville. Overnight in or near Asheville. Then the second day, either go through Smoky Mountains National Park (maybe use the BRP part or all of the way from Asheville to the park), then skirt south of Knoxville to I-75 to Chattanooga, and from there to Huntsville. Or take US-19 and US-74 through the western end of NC to Chattanooga.

I live in SC and have used all of these routes at one time or another, either heading northwards towards DC or westwards to Chattanooga and beyond.

For the 5-6 days during the camp, Chattanooga and Nashville are the two places that come first to my mind. Maybe do both? You could head down to the Gulf coast if you want to drive that far, either near Mobile AL, or in the Florida panhandle. But if you're going to Myrtle Beach anyway, that might be redundant unless you're really into beaches.
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wolf359
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Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by wolf359 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:38 am

Wow, this sure brings up some happy memories. We've done exactly this trip.

We went from Northern Virginia to Huntsville via I-81. On the way back, we drove to Atlanta, GA, then returned to Northern Virginia by coming up I-95 through South Carolina and North Carolina.

The drive down I-81 feels more like driving in the country. The drive up I-95 has more traffic volume.

When going down I-81:

- Stop by the Natural Bridge. It's different and slower paced than other tourist attractions.

- I know what they're saying about the truck traffic, but I didn't notice it if going at the same speed as the rest of the traffic. I-81 is great for cruise control and sticking to the right lane. I play a game of trying to maximize my gas mileage down this highway stretch.

- Your route will take you past Knoxville, which was the site of a World's Fair. You will also pass Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We spent a few days here. Pick your flavor -- Pigeon Forge has amusement parks, tourist attractions, music shows, outlet stores, etc. Pigeon Forge has Dollywood, Indoor Sky Diving, and synchronized fountains. It's definitely fun for kids. Gatlinburg is more compact and pedestrian friendly, slower paced, but almost in a national park. If you like camping, hiking, fishing, horse-back riding, etc. Gatlinburg is more your speed. Caution: Both towns are practically next to each other and very popular. If you go there at the same time as everyone else, you will get stuck in traffic. If your trip has you going on a Friday or leaving on a Sunday, skip this unless you allow time for the traffic. If you just drive by on the highway, you won't get the traffic jams.

- Chattanooga is a neat little town. You can see the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, as well as the beginning of the Trail of Tears. It is very walkable, with lots of shops that younger kids like.

- If you're into it, plan your route with Food Network. This route sends you past multiple restaurants that have been featured on different shows. In particular, there are barbeque and country drive-ins and dives that have been featured . The kids may enjoy visiting a place they've seen on tv.

- Other cities you can check out while the kids are in camp include Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA. They're around 3 hours drive away. If you want to stay in Alabama, there are famous bass lakes nearby. You might route through Atlanta on the way to Myrtle Beach. The Atlanta Aquarium is great for kids. So is the Coca Cola tour (and they get free soda samples at the end!)

Topic Author
akhilsam
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 10, 2015 4:47 pm

Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by akhilsam » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:34 pm

22twain wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:21 am
Google Maps shows 10+ hours from the DC area to Huntsville via the most direct route (I-81). Are you planning to do it in a single day? If so, you won't have time to do anything en route except to stop for lunch and potty breaks. And IMHO I-81 through VA and TN is pure hell, chock full of trucks.

I'd split it up into two days and take a more relaxing route. Perhaps US-29 to Greensboro NC, then I-40 to Asheville. Optionally include part of the Blue Ridge Parkway in VA or the last stretch approaching Asheville. Overnight in or near Asheville. Then the second day, either go through Smoky Mountains National Park (maybe use the BRP part or all of the way from Asheville to the park), then skirt south of Knoxville to I-75 to Chattanooga, and from there to Huntsville. Or take US-19 and US-74 through the western end of NC to Chattanooga.

I live in SC and have used all of these routes at one time or another, either heading northwards towards DC or westwards to Chattanooga and beyond.

For the 5-6 days during the camp, Chattanooga and Nashville are the two places that come first to my mind. Maybe do both? You could head down to the Gulf coast if you want to drive that far, either near Mobile AL, or in the Florida panhandle. But if you're going to Myrtle Beach anyway, that might be redundant unless you're really into beaches.
True.I won't be covering all distance in 1 day and plan to stop on the way.
Thank you so much! So many ideas!

Topic Author
akhilsam
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 10, 2015 4:47 pm

Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by akhilsam » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:34 pm

wolf359 wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:38 am
Wow, this sure brings up some happy memories. We've done exactly this trip.

We went from Northern Virginia to Huntsville via I-81. On the way back, we drove to Atlanta, GA, then returned to Northern Virginia by coming up I-95 through South Carolina and North Carolina.

The drive down I-81 feels more like driving in the country. The drive up I-95 has more traffic volume.

When going down I-81:

- Stop by the Natural Bridge. It's different and slower paced than other tourist attractions.

- I know what they're saying about the truck traffic, but I didn't notice it if going at the same speed as the rest of the traffic. I-81 is great for cruise control and sticking to the right lane. I play a game of trying to maximize my gas mileage down this highway stretch.

- Your route will take you past Knoxville, which was the site of a World's Fair. You will also pass Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We spent a few days here. Pick your flavor -- Pigeon Forge has amusement parks, tourist attractions, music shows, outlet stores, etc. Pigeon Forge has Dollywood, Indoor Sky Diving, and synchronized fountains. It's definitely fun for kids. Gatlinburg is more compact and pedestrian friendly, slower paced, but almost in a national park. If you like camping, hiking, fishing, horse-back riding, etc. Gatlinburg is more your speed. Caution: Both towns are practically next to each other and very popular. If you go there at the same time as everyone else, you will get stuck in traffic. If your trip has you going on a Friday or leaving on a Sunday, skip this unless you allow time for the traffic. If you just drive by on the highway, you won't get the traffic jams.

- Chattanooga is a neat little town. You can see the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, as well as the beginning of the Trail of Tears. It is very walkable, with lots of shops that younger kids like.

- If you're into it, plan your route with Food Network. This route sends you past multiple restaurants that have been featured on different shows. In particular, there are barbeque and country drive-ins and dives that have been featured . The kids may enjoy visiting a place they've seen on tv.

- Other cities you can check out while the kids are in camp include Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA. They're around 3 hours drive away. If you want to stay in Alabama, there are famous bass lakes nearby. You might route through Atlanta on the way to Myrtle Beach. The Atlanta Aquarium is great for kids. So is the Coca Cola tour (and they get free soda samples at the end!)
Thank you very much for the wonderful ideas!!

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Watty
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Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by Watty » Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:18 pm

If you get by Chattanooga there is a glass studio where they will walk you through blowing a glass ornament which we found to be well worth the cost of around $50 for the experience.

https://www.ignisglass.com/

You will need to pick it up the next day after it has annelled and cooled down overnight, or they can ship it to you.

researcher
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Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:05 pm

Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by researcher » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:27 am

akhilsam wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:34 pm
wolf359 wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:38 am
- You will also pass Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Pick your flavor -- Pigeon Forge has amusement parks, tourist attractions, music shows, outlet stores, etc. Pigeon Forge has Dollywood, Indoor Sky Diving, and synchronized fountains.Gatlinburg is more compact and pedestrian friendly, slower paced, but almost in a national park. If you like camping, hiking, fishing, horse-back riding, etc. Gatlinburg is more your speed. If you go there at the same time as everyone else, you will get stuck in traffic. If your trip has you going on a Friday or leaving on a Sunday, skip this unless you allow time for the traffic. If you just drive by on the highway, you won't get the traffic jams.
Thank you very much for the wonderful ideas!!
Do yourself a favor and avoid both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Just Google "Avoid Gatlinburg" or "Gatlinburg tourist trap" and you will understand why.

If you want to see the national park, I suggest you stay near a place like Townsend, TN on the north side or Bryson City, NC on the south.

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Roadtrip & Space Camp Huntsville

Post by Nearly A Moose » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:41 am

Oh wow, I LOVED space camp as a kid! My only complaint was that I wasn’t old enough to do the underwater zero-g spacewalk simulator. I bet your kids are going to have a blast!

If you’re taking the coastal route home to hit Myrtle Beach (If you’re not dead set on that, consider Charleston as an alternative), give some thought to spending a night or two in Asheville on your way down. It will only add about 60-90 minutes to the overall drive, and there’s a bunch of great outdoors stuff to do nearby, and you could easily spend a whole day at the Biltmore Estate alone (tip: pack a picnic, bring hiking shoes, and voila, you’ve escaped the masses). Good dining and a fun downtown as well. Alternatively, if you’re the type that doesn’t mind spending some time in a car, consider doubling back and spending your adult time in downtown Asheville. Lots of great dining, breweries, and some winemaking. It’s a 5-ish hour drive, so it definitely adds to the car time, but it’s a fun place for adults. But so is Nashville. Can’t speak either way to Chattanooga.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

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