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!
Sam Houston Memorial Museum
Huntsville greatest hero, and arguably Texas’ too, is General Sam Houston. This museum is the best place in the world to learn about this Texas-sized legend and how he rose to be the governor of both Tennessee and Texas, and the first President of the Republic of Texas. The museum is filled with artifacts and behind it sits the “Woodland Home” which he built and where he raised his family. His law office log cabin is on site along with the “Steamboat House” where he died. The small pond makes a great place for a picnic or a moment of quiet rest.
Giant Sam Houston Statue
Say “Howdy” to Giant Sam just south of town on Interstate 45. This 67-foot-tall statue sitting on a ten foot base is a Texas-sized sight to behold and was designed and built by Houston-based sculptor David Addicks. The best place to park is at the Visitors Center, not the side of the busy highway.
Texas Prison Museum
Huntsville is home to the Texas Prison System and this museum is the best place to learn about it. Inside you’ll find stories of the Prison Rodeo, failed break-out attempts, and tales of the men and women who’ve served our state and kept our streets safe.
This historic cemetery is full of Texas pioneers and legends. The most famous is General Sam Houston who’s memorial sits facing Avenue I. Pay your respects to the first President of Texas.
The Texas State Penitentiary aka the “Walls Unit” is the oldest prison unit in Texas dating back to 1849. It got its name from the tall brick walls that surround the 54-acre facility. While it isn’t open for tours, it’s something to behold and reminds me of Shawshank Redemption. I’m happy to be outside the “walls.”
Sam Houston State University
Take a stroll through this beautiful campus of rolling hills and artistic installations. Check out “Austin Hall” built in 1852 along with “The Pit” behind it where “Old Main” burned down. Walk Around. Enjoy the Sites. And Eat Em Up Kats.
HEARTS Veterans Museum of Texas
This museum honors the men and women who’ve served in every branch of our military. The walls are full of artifacts and stories dating back to the American Revolution. And the planes and tanks out front make for some amazing photo ops. Take your family and teach them the importance of honoring our military heroes.
If you are hungry and want to stick with the prison theme, head to Mr. Hamburger, which has been opened since 1959, for a “Warden” burger with grilled onions and mushrooms, or even an “Ol Sparky” complete with “Texas in July” sauce.
For barbecue, head to New Zion Missionary Baptist Church BBQ, or “Church BBQ” for short. This Baptist church just happens to sell some of the finest BBQ in the Pineywoods (and not to mention sweet potato pie), but it’s only open Thurs-Sat.
Description – Named after the legendary “Walls Unit,” it won’t be long until this BBQ joint becomes legendary itself. Everything from the brisket to street-corn side dish is delicious and the pecan wood imparts a distinctive flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. The brisket fries come piled high with toppings and special sriracha sauce. Save room for dessert – also homemade. Since filming, Walls BBQ closed the old location in preparation for their move to this new location.
While a standard baked potato might not be much to get excited about, these are far from normal. Get spectacular spuds piled high with everything from bbq to chicken and waffles.
Huntsville State Park
If you are craving the outdoors, look no further than Huntsville State Park for a swim, a place to fish or a hike — just keep your eyes peeled for the park’s resident alligators.
The Blue Lagoon
For SCUBA diving in some of the most turquoise waters north of Cancun, take a dip in The Blue Lagoon. And if you aren’t SCUBA certified, they also allow swimming based on capacity, so call ahead.