Some folks think the only way to visit Huntsville is in handcuffs with an official escort that definitely ain’t a tour guide. But trust me, visiting Huntsville is not sentenced punishment, but one of the best days in your life.
There are two major reasons Huntsville is famous. The first is General Sam Houston, arguably the greatest Texan to ever live. General Sam lived in Huntsville on multiple occasions and the best place in Texas to learn about his life is the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, which is full of artifacts and lessons on every chapter of his life. Behind the museum sits the Woodland home that Houston built and where he raised his family. Also on site is the Steamboat House where Houston died. Other notable “Houston” sites about town are the 77 foot tall Houston statue on I-45 at the Visitors Center, and Houston grave in the Oakwood Cemetery.
Huntsville is also famous for the being the home of the Texas Prison System. The Huntsville Unit (aka “Walls Unit”) was the first state penitentiary in Texas and sits just blocks from the Walker County Courthouse. Take a stroll around its towering wall, or get a glimpse beyond the wall at the Texas Prison Museum and learn all about the current and past Texas Prison System. Among its many interesting artifacts is “Old Sparky” – Texas’s only electric chair used to execute 361 inmates when in commission here in Huntsville.
If you are hungry and want to stick with the prison theme, head to Mr. Hamburger (since 1959) for a “Warden” burger with grilled onions and mushrooms, or even an “Ol Sparky” complete with “Texas in July” sauce. For BB-Q, head to “New Zion Missionary Baptist Church BBQ“, or for short “Church BBQ.” This Baptist church also sells some of the finest BBQ in the piney woods, but it’s only open Thurs-Sat. And if you want to eat a meal worthy of being your last meal on earth, head to The Homestead on 19th which resides on Sam Houston’s old property in an 1830′s log cabin. It is truly one of the best meals in Texas and its served in one of the most unique environments.
If you are craving the outdoors, look no further than Huntsville State Park for a swim, some fishing or a hike. You might also get to see one of the park’s resident alligators. For SCUBA diving in some of the most turquoise waters north of Cancun, take a dip in The Blue Lagoon. They also allow swimming based on capacity. So call ahead.