Just a hop, skip, and jump away from Huntsville is a great family day trip many locals don’t really know about.
Gadsden has become quite the destination thanks to the Mary G. Hardin Center for the Cultural Arts. We loaded up some friends to go visit their latest exhibit, Dinosaurs Alive!, and set out to discover this hidden North Alabama gem.
The Hardin Center is located in picturesque downtown Gadsden, alongside the Gadsden Museum of Art. Main Street has seen a revival thanks to recent efforts by Downtown Gadsden Inc., and there are lots of restaurants & shops to choose from if you have time for lunch or a stroll while you’re there.
Since there’s a new exhibit each year, the hardin Center is a great place to keep on your rotation. When we visited, we had kids ranging in age from 2-11 and there was something fun there for everyone. All of their exhibits have hands-on elements to them and kids are always encouraged to try them out.
Currently their Amazing Castle exhibit is featured now through May 2016. It has eight themed areas, and seven storybook characters will keep kids exploring medieval castle life.
When you’ve had your fill of the current exhibits, head out to the Hardin Center’s Imagination Place across the courtyard.
Built to look like a city block but indoors, this children’s play area is two stories of imaginative fun. There’s a bank, a Piggly Wiggly, a construction site, a train depot, a diner, a farm, a hospital and more. Complete with street lights along the pint-sized roads and artificial turf for lawns, your kids will want to stay for hours. Mine had a BLAST!
There are party rooms for birthdays and guided field trips available for both the Imagination Station and Dinosaurs Alive. An Activity Room outside of the exhibits includes a small ball pit, dinosaur costumes kids can try on, a twisty slide, fossil pit, and coloring stations. Upstairs is a huge model train set that kids can watch making the rounds – it’s very impressive!
Hardin Center for Cultural Arts Details
Address: 501 Broad Street, Gadsden (map)
Phone: (256) 543-2787
Cost: $8 per person for all ages. Under 2 are admitted free. Part of the ASTC Passport Program.
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday 10 am – 5 pm; Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm
View Website | Visit Hardin Center Facebook Page
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