Smithsonian Magazine’s “Museum Day”: Your (FREE!) ticket to the Rocket Center and Jesse Owens Museum!

Have you heard the word?!

Every year in September, the Smithsonian Magazine teams up with over 1200 museums across the U.S. to offer FREE admission for one day!


This year, the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018. You can obtain your tickets by registering on their website; each ticket allows admission for two people. You are only allowed one ticket per registration, and you can only request a ticket for one museum.

Two museums will be available to visit in the north Alabama area: the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville as well as the Jesse Owens Museum in Danville (Morgan County).

Why you should visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center on “Museum Day”


First of all: Regular admission is $25 for adults (and kids 13+), $17 for children 5-12 (4 and under are free). There are various discounts available for different members of the population; Redstone Federal Credit Union members can also get a $3 off discount. So you save a good chunk of money by visiting on Museum Day.

Second of all: You drive past the 350 foot model of the Saturn V everyday on I-565 — a better question would be “why NOT visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center?” And there is no good answer to that!



Within the walls of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center lie the incredible history of how Huntsville grew from a cotton town and “The Watercress Capital of the World” to the world famous “Rocket City” that we know today.

If you want to know who the Von Braun Center is named after or why we drive on Sparkman Drive, those answers lie within. If you enjoy Straight to Ale’s Monkeynaut IPA or Yellowhammer’s T-Minus, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center provides the historical context to the craft beer you are sipping.

Speaking of Monkeynauts: Miss Able and Miss Baker have their own exhibits within the main visitor’s center, you don’t want to miss their contribution to the Space Race!


Miss Baker was also laid to rest at the entrance of the visitor center’s gift shop; be sure to pay your respects and bring her a banana.

Miss Baker

Pro Tip for Families with Kids: Enjoy walking through a mock up of the International Space Station (and learning how they use the restroom in space) as well as climbing on a giant rock-climbing wall within the main visitor’s center. Outside of the visitor’s center are rides geared towards younger kids as well as older thrill seekers alike. There is a full service cafeteria called “Mars Grill” that features plants growing in hydroponic towers.


Pro Tip for Singles or Double Income No Kids Families: The Davidson Center for Space Exploration is the crown jewel of Huntsville — it is within these walls where only one (ONE!) of three actual test-use Saturn V rockets are on display (the other two are located at Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida as well as Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas). An entire day could be spent within the Davidson Center alone due to all of the historical exhibits and gems that are on display (including an actual moon rock!). If you need more time studying the Saturn V, the Davidson Center is open for free admission on Thursdays during the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Biergarten Events.


If you have never been to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, you should take advantage of the free admission and visit on Museum Day! Be sure to get there early: Parking spaces will quickly fill up, and the Center will be heavily populated that day.

U.S. Space and Rocket Center Address: One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, Alabama 35805

Open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm, closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Why you should visit the Jesse Owens Museum on “Museum Day”

Nestled in southwestern Morgan County is the Jesse Owens Museum, which is dedicated to the Olympic athlete who defied the prevalent racism within 1936 Germany.


According to the Museum’s website, “The Jesse Owens Museum immortalizes Owens’ memory by depicting the moments that made Owens great and portraying the people who shaped him as an athlete and man. Glass display cases showcase rare memorabilia including programs from the 1936 Olympics, replicas of track uniforms and shoes, medals, and trophies from Owens’ high school days.”

“Dedicated on June 29, 1996 with the arrival of the Olympic torch on its journey to the Summer Games in Atlanta, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park is a tribute to the Olympic track and field superstar,” the Museum’s website continues.

“The museum’s mini-theater shows the movie Return to Berlin in which Owens narrates the 1936 Olympics. Visitors can follow the larger-than-life panel displays throughout the museum that depict Owens’ life beginning in Oakville, Alabama to his death in 1980. The panel displays highlight Owens’ athletic accomplishments as well as his humanitarian efforts.”

Full disclosure: We have yet to visit the Jesse Owens Museum, which is why you don’t see as many photos of the museum on this blog compared to the Rocket Center. LaunchPad Huntsville is planning on spending Museum Day at the Jesse Owens Museum, and when we do, we will share our photos and experience with you!

Jesse Owens Museum Address: 7019 County Road 203, Danville, Alabama 35619

Open Monday through Saturday 10 am – 4pm, Sunday 1 – 4pm.


Final Thought: Thank you so much to the Smithsonian Magazine for organizing this event every year, and thank you to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center as well as the Jesse Owens Museum for opening their doors for free on this day!

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