Bethel Spring Waterfall

Huntsville / Madison County is home to some of the top attractions and events throughout the state each year. The Alabama Tourism Department released the numbers for 2020 and here's how the Rocket City stacked up.

We are home to the #1, #2, #4, and #9  admission-charged attractions in the state. We took the #2 spot in both the free attractions and top events of 2020, and are excited to have two spots in the top 10 for parks and natural destinations.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

RTJ Hampton Cove Golf Course

With more people turning to the great outdoors in 2020, it's no surprise that the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail was the most visited paid tourism attraction in Alabama. Huntsville is home to the Hampton Cove course that boasts 54 holes with terrain that drastically changes from one side of the property to the other. 

Renovated in 2008, the Highlands course has been restored to its original Scottish Links design. One of the most recognizable landmarks on the Trail is located at Hampton Cove with an old mule barn beside the fifth hole. Completely opposite in design is the River Course, the only Robert Trent Jones layout without a single bunker. The course is laid out on a form soybean field in the flood plains of the Flint River. With water on 16 of the 18 holes, the River course will challenge your shot making ability. The Short Course is a par 3 course and is open and links-like, with water in play on 11 holes. Click here to read more.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center was Alabama’s second most visited paid tourism attraction in 2020. They celebrated being open for 50 years and look forward to welcoming back Space Campers this summer. The INTUITIVE ® Planetarium hosts shows each Friday night and performances every day. With new exhibits on the horizon, the world's largest museum is ready to help you learn about space, science and more. They have introduced new add-ons like Virtual Reality snorkeling, Sea TREK diving, SCUBA diving, and a Flight Simulator Experience.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Huntsville Botanical Garden - Josh Berry

The fourth most-visited paid attraction was the Huntsville Botanical Garden. With more than 112 acres to discover outdoors and the nation's largest open-air butterfly house, many people explored the Garden. 

There is always something growing on with the Garden and if you are looking to visit this summer, make sure to check out the newly opened Tweetsville in the Children's area. It's peak butterfly season and soon they will have Uncaged: Birds, Nature, & You!  From June 11 through October 31, discover their collection of 7 interactive pieces that explore the lives of charismatic feathered friends: birds! Each piece in Uncaged is unique and inventive, created by local artists and architects who have partnered with the Garden to bring the experience to life. Spread throughout the Garden, Uncaged is an opportunity for guests of all ages to explore, learn, and play.

Also coming this summer is a new nighttime lantern event called Night Blooms. Night Blooms will lead you on a one-mile walking journey through the Garden where plants and wildlife have been reimagined as illuminated, technicolor, and larger than life. In this botanical dreamscape, flowers glow from within, birds and insects flit across the night sky, and light transforms the landscape into a new world, waiting to be explored. Night Blooms will take place July 21 through September 26, and tickets will be available soon! The festival occurs nightly on Wednesday through Sunday evenings each week from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Night Blooms Huntsville Botanical Garden

Huntsville Museum of Art

Huntsville Museum of Art - Josh Berry

The 9th most visited paid attraction in Alabama is the Huntsville Museum of Art. Located in downtown Huntsville within the tranquil beauty of Big Spring International Park, the Huntsville Museum of Art is a complete experience. Spend a day viewing art, shopping in the Museum Store and dining at Pane e Vino, which overlooks the park lagoon.

Each year, the nationally accredited Museum fills its seven galleries with a variety of traveling exhibitions, and the work of nationally and regionally acclaimed artists. The Museum’s own 2,522-piece permanent collection forms the basis for several yearly exhibitions. The Museum is also the home of the world’s largest collection of Buccellati silver animals.

Land Trust of North Alabama

Chapman Mountain Chasco Trail

The Land Trust of North Alabama's trails had more people than ever venturing outside in 2020. They came in second place on Alabama's list of top 10 free attractions. They just opened a new nature preserve, Bethel Springs, with Madison County's largest waterfall earlier last year. The Land Trust of North Alabama also has a few trails that are accessible for everyone including one on Chapman Mountain. 

Visitors to Land Trust of North Alabama's seven nature preserves can enjoy outdoor adventure on over 70 miles of free public trails. The largest of these, Monte Sano Nature Preserve, is one of the largest urban nature preserves in the US and is located only two miles from downtown Huntsville. Each preserve offers unique opportunities to discover Alabama’s natural beauty - caves, wetlands, historic sites, farms, forests, and flowing creeks. Find trail maps and details about each nature preserve at

Monte Sano State Park

Monte Sano View

Huntsville's "Mountain of Health" - aka Monte Sano State Park - came in at number 6 for Alabama's top parks and natural destinations of 2020. With an increase of attendance over 2019, Monte Sano State Park saw more than 276,000 guests exploring their 2,140 acres of land. With cottages, campgrounds for both tents and RVs, and a lodge that hosts events, people flocked to the downtown mountain. Along with camping, visitors will find hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, Japanese Garden, outdoor amphitheater, and a planetarium. We usually say it's "minutes to the mountain" because it's only 5 miles away from downtown Huntsville.

Twenty miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails of various difficulty levels provide never-ending exploration for outdoor enthusiasts of any age. An 18-hole disc golf course gives players a beautiful view of nature as they play, and the fully outfitted playground and recreation fields ensure no member of the family will ever be bored.

Hays Nature Preserve


J.D. & Annie S. Hays Nature Preserve was also ranked number 9 in parks and natural destinations for 2020! The Hays Nature Preserve hosts several miles of paved trails that follow the Flint River. People and families enjoy biking, hiking, handicap access, picnic areas, and more year round. 

Click here to learn about the fun you can have year round at Hays Nature Preserve.

Madison's Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride

Madison Alabama Downtown Madison Alabama Madison Clock

The 2nd highest attended event for 2020 in the state of Alabama was the Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride and their stop in Madison, Alabama, at the Harley Davidson shop. With more than 65,000 riders and attendees, the event increased by 20,000 people from 2019. 

The ride was started in 1994 to bring awareness about the history of the Trail of Tears and now people from around the United States visit to ride. Click here to read the history of the ride and the history of the Trail of Tears.

Alabama State Tourism Top Ten

Top 10 Admission Charged Attractions 2020

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

2020 attendance: 504,000

2019 attendance: 577,338


U.S. Space & Rocket Center


2020 attendance: 302,796

2019 attendance: 1,050,958


The Birmingham Zoo


2020 attendance: 262,111

2019 attendance: 577,338


Huntsville Botanical Garden


2020 attendance: 221,279

2019 attendance: 376,526


Noccalula Falls Park


2020 attendance: 200,000

2019 attendance: 180,000


USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park


2020 attendance: 188,652

2019 attendance: 451,601


Bellingrath Gardens and Home


2020 attendance: 119,932

2019 attendance: 102,759


National Memorial for Peace and Justice


2020 attendance: 100,000

2019 attendance: 500,000


Huntsville Museum of Art


2020 attendance: 89,649

2019 attendance: 104,691


Point Mallard Park


2020 attendance: 87,693

2019 attendance: 258,185


Top 10 – Free Attractions 2020


Railroad Park


2020 attendance: 561,536

2019 attendance: 514,721


Land Trust of North Alabama


2020 attendance: 390,579

2019 attendance: 0 


Aldridge Gardens


2020 attendance: 114, 528

2019 attendance: 81,021


Tuscaloosa Farmers’ Market at the River Market


2020 attendance: 68,859

2019 attendance: 96,545


5 Rivers Delta Resource Center

Spanish Fort

2020 attendance: 45,000

2019 attendance: 68,000


Market at Pepper Place


2020 attendance: 42,000

2019 attendance: 250,000


Alabama State Capitol


2020 attendance: 35,952

2019 attendance: 152,994


U.S. Army Aviation Museum

Ft. Rucker

2020 attendance: 34,156

2019 attendance: 100,000


Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts


2020 attendance: 27,318

2019 attendance: 95,546


Top 10 – Events 2020


Mobile Mardi Gras


2020 attendance: 1,028,614

2019 attendance: 1,011,356


Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride


2020 attendance: 65,000 

2019 attendance: 45,000


32nd Annual Jubilee Festival


2020 attendance: 12,000

2019 attendance: 15,000


4th of July Fireworks      


2020 attendance: 10,000

2019 attendance: 7,000


Alabama Cotton Festival


2020 attendance: 10,000

2019 attendance: 12,000


Orange Beach Festival of Art

Orange Beach

2020 attendance: 8,000

2019 attendance: 12,000


Mardi Gras Parade and Celebration       


2020 attendance: 6,000

2019 attendance: 6,000


Christmas on the River


2020 attendance: 5,000

2019 attendance: 15,000


Harvest Festival               


2020 attendance: 5,000

2019 attendance: 8,000


St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival


2020 attendance: 5,000

2019 attendance: 8,500


Top 10 – Parks and Natural Destinations 2020


Gulf Shores & Orange Beach 

2020 attendance 6,113,934

2019 attendance 6,296,533


Little River Canyon National Preserve   

Fort Payne

2020 attendance: 802,374

2019 attendance: 649,985


Oak Mountain State Park


2020 attendance: 800,268

2019 attendance: 422,487


Wind Creek State Park

Alexander City

2020 attendance: 319,000

2019 attendance: 255,000


DeSoto State Park

Fort Payne

2020 attendance: 289,000

2019 attendance: 184,000


Monte Sano State Park

Huntsville, AL

2020 attendance: 276,000

2019 attendance: 209,000


Lake Guntersville State Park

Guntersville, AL

2020 attendance: 258,489

2019 attendance: 277,719


Cheaha State Park

Delta, AL

2020 attendance: 245,000

2019 attendance: 210,000


J.D. & Annie S. Hays Nature Preserve


2020 attendance: 211,700

2019 attendance: 200,000


Lakepoint State Park

Eufaula, AL

2020 attendance: 182,747

2019 attendance: 198,943

Attendance figures were collected by the Alabama Tourism Department from local tourism organizations.