A Perfect Midday Stop in Downtown Huntsville, Alabama

Goo Goo Clusters at Harrison Brothers Hardware Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Southern treat – Goo Goo Clusters at Harrison Brothers Hardware in Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Let’s say you’ve finished a galactic morning visit to the Rocket City’s US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, or maybe you were wandering around looking at all the interesting shops and meeting local artisans like the guys at Nickel Cigar Box Guitars at the Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment complex.

Maybe you’re not quite ready for lunch but want to be close to some options. Here’s what I would recommend – head to downtown Huntsville for a “shop local” stop at Harrison Brothers Hardware.

It’s okay if you don’t need any nails or toilet seats or lawnmowers; this store is not really about hardware (although it claims to be the oldest operating hardware store in the state of Alabama – since 1879.)

Shop local at Harrison Brothers Hardware in downtown Huntsville, Alabama (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Shop local at Harrison Brothers Hardware in downtown Huntsville, Alabama (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Harrison Brothers is a gift shop featuring locally-made crafts, but it’s also….

….A jumbly pile of everyday items that have become all fancy and historic simply through the passage of time.

Shelves with historic products Harrison Bros Hardware Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Shelves display historic products at Harrison Bros Hardware Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

….A place where old smells will waft up through your nose, head to the olfactory bulb and ram right into your amygdala lizard brain, releasing memories that you’ve forgotten you still have.

Local soaps for sale at Harrison Brothers Hardware downtown Huntsville Alabama (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Local soaps for sale at Harrison Brothers Hardware downtown Huntsville Alabama (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

….A museum of sepia-toned Southern history and stories thanks to the Historic Huntsville Foundation volunteers and employees who can tell you everything about the objects and photographs stacked from floor to ceiling.

Hearing the story of an old freight elevator at Harrison Bros Hardware Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Hearing the story of an old freight elevator at Harrison Bros Hardware Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

….A chance to dig your hands into every pile of colorful glass marbles that you could wish for; listen to them rattle and clink even if you’ve never played marbles in your life.

Every kind of marble you can imagine at Harrison Bros Hardware downtown Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Every kind of marble you can imagine at Harrison Bros Hardware downtown Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

When you’ve filled up your shopping bag at Harrison Brothers, it will be time for something to eat, so stop in at nearby Below the Radar Brewhouse for burgers and/or Southern comfort food, plus a beer flight with samples of their craft brews made in-house.

I was taken to the Brewhouse as a guest of the Huntsville / Madison County CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) after speaking at a conference nearby, and it was fun to unwind with one of their beer flights and see the ways they’ve worked a bit of a space theme into the slots for the glasses.

Beer flight holder at Below the Radar Brewhouse Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Beer flight holder at Below the Radar Brewhouse Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

If you’ve never tried shrimp and grits, then this is the place to do so. The Brewhouse is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Shrimp and grits at Below the Radar Brewhouse in downtown Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Southern culinary delight – shrimp and grits at Below the Radar Brewhouse in downtown Huntsville AL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

There’s a lot to see and do in Huntsville, but don’t miss a chance to wander and poke around downtown. They’re doing a lot to revitalize it (there were some interesting pop-up parks recently) and plus, who can resist marbles and beer?!

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