A visit to Alabama wouldn’t be complete without visiting their largest city, Birmingham. The city is full of vibrant culture and a homey community. It’s got loads to offer for your trip.
Birmingham, Alabama was a significant player in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s and still houses several Civil Rights landmarks. You can learn more about their history in museums and landmarks in the city.
Other than that, they were also known in the steel industry. But these days, the city is more known for its culture, the premiere university, rich history, and outdoor recreation.
The city is near the Georgia state border and is a little over two hours away from Atlanta, Georgia. The nearest city is Tuscaloosa, about an hour away.
See what to do in the city with these 15 things to do in Birmingham, Alabama.
At the heart of the city’s cultural district, you’ll find the Birmingham Museum of Art. The museum doesn’t just showcase local art but works from all over the world.
They have more than 25,000 objects, artifacts, and artworks inside the museum with works from America, Europe, Africa, and even Native American.
Their Asian art collection is one of the best in the region, with their Vietnamese ceramics as one of the best globally.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
As a significant player of the 60s Civil Rights Movement, this institute seeks to educate everyone on human and civil rights.
They believe that looking at our past can help make the future better, so the museum was born.
Their collection fills the 58,000 square feet of space with archives, galleries, and temporary exhibits. Their permanent exhibit highlights the city’s history from the 50s and 60s movement and leads to human rights issues today.
The landmark was a producer of pig iron in 1882 but is now a museum on the industry’s history. It’s definitely impressive at first sight, with its massive furnaces, pipes, and smokestacks flooding your vision.
You can take a self-guided tour with a brochure from the visitor center. Guided tours are offered during the weekends or by request.
Take a breather in the green spaces of Railroad Park. The park is right in the heart of downtown Birmingham and spans 19 acres of land.
This outdoor haven is the site of walking trails like the three-quarter-mile Rail Trail and small bodies of water (streams, ponds, and a lake).
There are also two playgrounds and three skate bowls. You can just take some time to rest in this park or watch one of the many events held here.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
Are you a fan of motorsports and cars? Like vintage motorcycles? This museum is the perfect place for you!
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens might take you a whole day to explore since it covers about 67-acres of land, entirely dedicated to horticulture. The city’s botanical gardens are truly amazing to just read about.
The first thing you’ll see is a glass conservatory behind the Formal Garden. Their collection is divided into three categories:
Gardens of Collections: The first collection features gardens based on plant type, family, or group.
Gardens of Nature: The second collection highlights native plants from the Southeastern US.
Gardens of Culture: The last collection deals with design styles or thematic gardens like the Japanese Garden.
Opened in 1993, the museum features memorabilia and artifacts all related to jazz. There are even memorabilia from the Jazz Great, Ella Fitzgerald.
In line with their vision, they also sponsor jazz events held in the city and have weekly jazz classes for those who want to learn.
Kelly Ingram Park
Kelly Ingram Park was one of the notable places where an important Civil Rights event took place.
This historic four-acre park was the site of many demonstrations back in the day, but the event that changed history happened in May 1963.
Police faced children and student protesters where they used fire hoses and police dogs on them. This significantly impacted the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Scattered around the park are statues that show the scenes of the event. There is a guided tour that details what happened and descriptions of the art.
Avondale Brewing Company
Take a break and treat yourself to a glass of local craft beer. The Avondale Brewing Company is just one of the many breweries in Birmingham.
It’s located in a historic building that has been a bank, pharmacy, post office, and a bar called Long Branch Saloon.
You can take a tour of their taproom and even sample their latest and greatest.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve
This mountain park is another one whose origins started as a mining site. There are still some sites, quarries, and equipment that have been preserved in the area.
Other than that, the center is a sanctuary for many wildlife, including owls, raptors, snakes, and other mammals. There are 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, and it’s a good place for some birdwatching.
Where to eat
Probably the most famous restaurant for tourists to try is Highlands Bar & Grill (Re-opening Aug. 1 2021). It’s a high-end atmosphere with a Southern mixed with French cuisine.
If you want something more warm and intimate, OvenBird offers Spanish & South American cuisine to the table.