Spread across 120 acres, the picturesque grounds of Huntsville Botanical Garden sprout trails that meander in and out of 10 themed gardens. Enlivened by the technicolor bursts of blooming perennials and the squeal of plesiosaur hatchlings from the aquatic pavilion, the gardens surround visitors in seasonal splendor. Avid gardeners can gawk at the verdant 5-acre central corridor garden—whose flowering shrubs and trees offer an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color throughout the year—while the children's garden presents youngsters with an interactive playpen, where they can learn the science behind photosynthesis and how prisms work. The Huntsville Botanical Garden gift shop is filled with a variety of unique gifts, knick-knacks, and curios such as wine-bottle-shaped tote bags ($11) and the Huntsville Sketchbook ($24.95), a coffee-table book of paintings by local artists.
In the early 20th century, Tate Farms was a social hub for sharecroppers, who congregated at farmer John Patterson's general store, blacksmith shop, and gristmill. More than 200 harvests later, John Patterson's grandson, Homer Tate's descendants continue to uphold the farm’s legacy as a community gathering spot. However, instead of waiting for a new batch of horseshoes or gossiping about which neighbor might be a spy for the Kaiser, people now come to pick from 90 varieties of pumpkins on the 70-acre pumpkin patch. Leading visitors across the wider 5,000-acre fields, tour guides not only illuminate the farm’s history but teach visitors rural-agriculture info, including lessons on the role bees play in pollinating pumpkins and cotton.
Though the Tate family strives to preserve the past, they have retrofitted the farm with a brand new 14,000-square-foot covered area. Here, visitors sample fresh pumpkin pie made with the farm’s own pumpkins at the Country Café or head to the bakery for fresh pumpkin muffins and cinnamon rolls.
Under the shadowy cover of nightfall, and by the flickering glow of a lantern, the Birmingham Ghost Walk weaves gaggles of ghost seekers through the city's spirit-populated historical sites. Tour leader Wolfgang Poe leads each march through time, beginning with a group-bonding ritual that tunes minds into the vibrations of Wolfgang's spirit guides. Winding toward the Alabama and Lyric Theaters, walks stop to discuss brothels, taverns, and townhouses long since gone, but not vacated by their former inhabitants. As the moon slinks behind clouds and shadows move into the shapes of embarrassing childhood nicknames, tour-takers shake off spine-tingling chills to finish the adventure at the Tutwiler Hotel. Cameras are allowed and, due to its dark themes and subject matter, the Ghost Walk gives itself a PG-13 rating.
Set on sprawling farmland, Vizzini Farms Winery bottles a diverse selection of wine crafted from West Coast and Alabama vinifera grapes. Daily tours sneak groups behind the scenes of the second-generation Italian family’s winemaking process, which yields riesling piqued with tropical fruits and pinot grigio that's as lively as a 30-piece kazoo orchestra. A charming tasting room recalls a sunny Italian café, with warm yellow walls, racks of wine, and bistro tables ideal for gathering over a bite of deli fare and Italian-style desserts. On warm days, the spacious patio is open for enjoyment, providing views of surrounding vineyards and breezes with notes of black currant, citrus, and oxygen.