Hampton Cove, Owens Crossroads, Big Cove, Mountain Cove or just “over the mountain” – whatever you choose to call it, the Hampton Cove area is a growing community full of places (many locally owned/sponsored) for families and friends to eat and play!
Outdoor Play In the Neighborhood
I know the term “growing community” may bring to mind rows of manicured lawns, fledgling trees and a suburban lifestyle but let me assure you there are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors in the Hampton Cove area.
The hands-down local favorite for outdoor playtime is the playground at Hays Preserve, officially named the Terrame Natural Playground at Hays Preserve. There are activities even the youngest tot can enjoy but that will not disappoint older kids in your crew. Wooden forts, swinging bridges (very close to the ground) not to mention lots of shade helping to ensure playtime won’t get cut short due to overheating in hot summer months. There are many picturesque spots on the preserve conveniently located near the playground to layout a picnic spread or even catch your lunch as fishing is permitted! The trails here are open to horses, bikers and hikers and are nicely maintained with many paved routes to choose from. The official description of the trail can be found here.
For those of you looking for something more on the wild side visit the Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary. The gravel parking lot is located on Taylor Road and very near the similarly named Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School. This is a place of rare local beauty and near and dear to yours truly. With nearly ten miles of trails, GSWS along with Hayes Nature Preserve, form the city’s largest and most underdeveloped parklands.
Check out a map including future plans here (the green paths are the” to be developed” sections). Notice the current (red) paths are labeled “Primitive”. They aren’t kidding. The terrain here can become swamp-like very quickly and while you may spot a crane on the endangered species list during your visit you’re also likely to encounter the more typical inhabitants of a swamp. Other, braver hearted members of my family will ride mountain bikes on the trails during the summer months but you won’t catch me out there until the leaves are dropping (my own very unscientific calculation for when I can hope to avoid many creepy crawly type creatures). There is a rustic observation deck and a few wooden picnic tables for those of us looking experience the beauty of the sanctuary without so much adventure.
For outdoor adventure of another kind, try putting in your kayak, canoe or paddle boat on the Flint River, with many access locations on Little Cove Road and Old Big Cove Road for the independent paddler. Or for those of us not lucky enough to own our own paddle boat or just in need of shuttle service give the folks at North Alabama Canoe and Kayak (or more commonly referred to as NACK) a call. Locally owned and locally loved you can count on them to help you plan your trip from a day of peaceful solitude to group events. And yes, kid kayaks are available.
For those of you whose idea of time well spent outdoors is a little more competitive the northern most section of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Hampton Cove is not to be missed. This public course has families in mind with junior rates available for golfers seventeen and under at a fraction of the regular cost. Even my four year old was delighted to spend an afternoon with dad on the driving range just like his older brothers.
Team sports more your family’s thing? Cove Park is home to the Huntsville Eastern League which offers baseball and softball, soccer, football, cheerleading and basketball.
Big Cove Creek Greenway – Nearly three miles of paved pathway with a parking lot across from Hampton Cove Schools and a nice spot to warm up or cool down afterwards.
Have a horse enthusiast in the family? Check out Hampton Cove Equestrian Center. With a Mommy and Me program starting at age three to private lessons for adults and lots of options in between they offer something for everyone.
Indoor Play in Hampton Cove
Of course it is not possible to spend everyday outdoors. There are some great options for indoor play as well!
Head to Rollercoasters Skate Center for old school skate rink style entertainment as well as laser tag, a multi-level indoor playground for smaller children, and birthday party rooms!
Of course there is the, dare I say obligatory, Chick-fil-A with an indoor play place. As a mom of three I have been in many aChick-fil-A and I must say this location has the most easily viewable playground from the dining area of any I’ve been in. This location, like many, has a loyal following so lunch and after school hours can be busy. Preschoolers rule during their mid-morning, early lunchtime playdates!
There’s plenty family fare to choose from in Hampton Cove here are the places I love because the food is always good and the atmosphere is consistently family friendly.
The Village Café next to Hampton Cove schools has after school snack specials. Can’t get much more kid friendly than that! They serve awesome smoothies and open early so you can get your day started on a healthy foot. They have a gift for making kale actually taste good and not just good for you but there’s tons to choose from and they are extremely accommodating of special requests.
If you’re in the mood for some traditional southern cuisine Grandmothers House is a local legend. They have literally converted the rooms of a charming country cottage into dining spaces with tons of windows to enjoy the pastoral views. The free roaming chickens that live on the premises take cage free to another level. And yes, I did have to explain that’s where chicken fingers come from but my kids were so enthralled with the rooster and his hens that they were easily distracted from the food chain discussion.
If your tastes are running a more south of the border Buena Vista Mexican Cantina is your best bet when the kids are in tow. They have a great patio area with glass garage style doors that pull down when needed. So it feels like you’re outside even in your not. Plus it’s a really nice space for trophy parties and the like.
Need a date night? Then head to Tortora’s. There’s a separate wine bar area with a few tables that has a laid back, grown up vibe. There’s a nice patio here as well but larger groups tend to congregate there.
For lunch with the girls, The Marketplace Café inside the Interior Marketplace is a very popular spot and my personal favorite since the menu has tons of options with fresh fruits and veggies and is updated seasonally. Plus the great shopping doesn’t hurt either!
Shopping in Hampton Cove
Next to the Interior Marketplace is one the Art & Soul, a gallery and studio featuring local and regional artists. This is my happy place. Along with art in many mediums, paints, and artisan soaps, lotions, etc. workshops for kids and adults are held here so be sure to look at the calendar.
To stay up to date on current events in the Cove, I follow Cove Monkey on Facebook. From traffic to sales in local shops and proposed (nonresidential) construction plans this site has definitely kept me in the loop.
There are lots of options to keep the family fed and entertained in the Hampton Cove area. We’ve lived here for almost seven years and love it!
Thinking of moving to North Alabama? Check out our North AL/Huntsville Neighborhood Guide with reviews like this of several area neighborhoods .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Allen has been living in the Hampton Cove/Owens Crossroads area since 2009. She is currently a stay at home mom to three boys whose ages range from pre-k to middle school. When she’s not busy driving her mom taxi all over north Alabama to various school and sporting activities, she loves to refinish furniture and repurpose and restore other various household items otherwise destined for the dump. Her family loves spending time outdoors together and are trying to visit as many state and national parks as possible.
As a hyper-local website focused on all aspects of parenting in and around Huntsville, AL, and the Tennessee Valley, Rocket City Mom occasionally asks local parents to submit their stories for publication. This is part of our continual effort to represent varied viewpoints and experiences on our site. However, these articles should not be seen as necessarily expressing the views of Rocket City Mom Media Group, LLC.