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68 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

fun things to do in Birmingham, Alabama

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Steeped in rich Civil War-era history, Alabama’s largest metropolitan region takes visitors on a fascinating, sobering, and eye-opening journey that few other Southern cities can match.

However, despite its checkered past, Birmingham is now thrusting itself back into the tourism limelight, and donning the wondrous Magic City moniker which once made it famous.

As any former visitor (or local) will attest, this lively metropolis is full of surprises: from its roaring sports crowds and insightful museums to its stunning inner-city nature, vibrant Theatre District and proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, the selection of things to do in Birmingham is far more diverse and exciting than meets the eye.

Throw in at some of the finest motorcycle collections in history, towering statues, and a stack of happening rooftop bars and underground breweries, and you’ve found yourself a seriously worthy destination.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!

1 – Meet the rhinos at the Birmingham Zoo

Birmingham Zoo Alabama

A sprawling, mostly open-air animal kingdom home to over 950 animals of all shapes and sizes (from some 230 different local and international species).

The family-friendly Birmingham Zoo offers curious guests the chance to see some of the planet’s most fascinating creatures up close and in person.

This attraction is great for all ages, with something to see at every turn (including a rhino habitat, an aviary featuring hundreds of colorful birds, and even a petting zoo).

If your timing is right, on specific days (check the website), the zoo puts on magical Glow Wild nights where animal-shaped lanterns are released into the sky!

2 – Marvel at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama

Sitting in the heart of the city in front of Lynn Park, The Birmingham Museum of Art is a wonderful place for anyone who enjoys the fine arts – be that paintings, sculptures, photography, or ancient relics.

Spread across multiple floors and featuring a quaint garden and cozy cafe, the museum displays over 24,000 works in its permanent collection, including an impressive selection of paintings ranging from impressionism to renaissance and contemporary, as well as extensive collections representing a diverse range of cultures and time periods (don’t miss the Pre-Columbian masks).

Best of all, admission is free! However, donations are certainly appreciated.

3 – Walk around at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

cool places to visit in birmingham al

When you’re looking for things to do in Birmingham, don’t skip over the botanical gardens .

These lush, colorful gardens offer far more than just thousands of blooming flowers and two dozen themed zones (as well as outdoor fountains and winding pathways).

You can take insightful classes, join an expert-led walking tour, explore the on-site Art Gallery, enjoy events such as Earth Day, and plenty more!

It’s free to roam around, 7 days a week, and thanks to the location at the foot of Red Mountain, there’s no shortage of nearby outdoorsy activities to follow suit.

4 – Watch a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Any true motorhead can’t pass up the opportunity to buckle up for the high-octane NASCAR experience.

Here, at the infamous Talladega Speedway (which is less than an hour from Birmingham), you can whiz around the race track at speeds as fast as 165 mph and feel what it’s like to be a real-life Nascar champion.

With these packages, you can ride shotgun drive alongside a professional driver (hold on tight!) or take the wheel yourself. Either way, you’re in for a wild ride.

If you prefer to watch the pros racing, book your tickets now.

  • Talladega Superspeedway tickets

5 – Explore the McWane Science Center

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Fun, interactive, and sneakily educational for kids and adults alike, the non-profit McWane Science Center dishes up entertainment in spades.

From the awe-inspiring aquarium (don’t miss the Shark & Ray Tank) to the giant IMAX theater, hands-on displays, and expert-led workshops, there’s something for the whole family.

Throughout the downtown attraction, you’ll find areas dedicated to dinosaurs, tech, art, nature, and even a Bubble Room — the ideal spot to whisk away a couple of hours on a rainy day.

6 – Lounge about at The Railroad Park Foundation

cool places to visit in birmingham al

The 19-acre property of Railroad Park Foundation , affectionately known as Birmingham’s Living Room, is a natural oasis: it’s full of walking, has a lake to sit around (perfect for a picnic), and serves up some spectacular sunset views.

If you’re after more than a leisurely stroll or bike ride, you’ll be happy to know that the Foundation offers a multitude of classes, including exercise groups, as well as a playground, outdoor gym, and a climbing dome for the youngsters.

Or, just grab a quick cup of tea or coffee at the on-site and simply enjoy the natural surroundings!

7 – Ride fast at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

cool places to visit in birmingham al

A must for the petrolheads, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is home to a truly astonishing array of motorbikes: more than 1,400 motorcycles, spanning over a century of production are found here, next to the Barber Motorsports Park racetrack.

Named after George Barber himself, who was a visionary who loved the speed and thrill of a great car, notching up 63 Porsche wins under his built.

Barber started collecting sports cars that later expanded into motorcycles – and these days, the collection has grown so vast that it’s notched up the official Guinness World Record for the largest motorcycle collection in the world.

8 – Reflect on history at the Kelly Ingram Park

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Nestled in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Kelly Ingram Park is a 16-acre haven of green space and serenity.

But while it may seem like an ordinary park at first glance, this place has a rich, complex, and dark history that’s worth taking the time to reflect on.

A common stop on most civil rights tours (while confronting, these tours are essential when visiting) that wander through Birmingham.

The park has multiple sculptures that depict the violence and loss of the civil rights movement, including the iconic Bull Connor statue that highlights the former police commissioner’s use of attack dogs on protestors.

9 – Stroll down the Rotary Trail

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Once a vacant railroad track that was gathering dust, the Rotary Club has since transformed the eyesore into a marvelous greenspace trail for the locals and tourists to bike, walk, or run!

As a centennial anniversary gift to the city, the Rotary Club poured money and love into the abandoned site and greatly improved the economy and environment of the area, with the half-mile stretch now acting as a central point for many of the city’s events.

Even if you don’t walk the entire trail, a selfie in front of the 46-foot-tall sign is quintessential.

10 – Experience art at the Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens

cool places to visit in birmingham al

A crowd favorite among architecture buffs, this 1840s construction serves as a stark reminder of the Greek Revival style of architecture and the style of mansion that was oh-so-common during the Civil War era.

Lush grounds and impressive architecture aside, the Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens also serves as a museum for some of the best decorative arts pieces from the 19th Century and offers a locally-led tour to learn more about the space, its history, and its rare decorative pieces.

If tours and art aren’t exactly your thing, maybe one of their special events will be! Attend a masquerade dinner or Valentine’s day dinner for a truly unique historical experience.

11 – Catch a game at the Bartow Arena

Bartow Arena basketball games in Birmingham, Alabama

Home to the UAB Blazers men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the volleyball team, the Bartow Arena is a great and affordable place to catch a game (or two) when in town and check out the country’s up and coming stars.

The arena seats up to 8,500 people and has been hosting games since 1988, locking horns with the likes of Lousiana State, North Texas, Rice, University of Texas San Antonio, and a whole lot more.

And with various events happening throughout the year, there’s always a chance to revel in the high-energy atmosphere.

  • Bartow Arena tickets

12 – Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

cool places to visit in birmingham al

As an affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum, the humbling and sobering Civil Rights Institute keeps the Birmingham Story alive, providing a fascinating insight into not only the local fight for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, but the continuous worldwide battle for equality and human rights.

With eye-opening exhibits on areas like Black History Month and Juneteenth, to Martin Luther King. Jr and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the institute is a must for visitors and locals alike who want to gain a better understanding of how far we’ve come — as well as how far we still have to go.

Out the front, don’t miss the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument — while a little shocking, it’s a reminder of a reality that isn’t too far in the distance.

13 – Gaze up at the Statue of Liberty Replica at Liberty Park

cool places to visit in birmingham al

If you’ve not had the time to visit the actual Statue of Liberty, then no problem – there’s one in Birmingham that’s 1/5th scale of the one in New York!

Clearly, the city has a thing for statues, as the 36-foot replica is one of three enormous statues in the area.

But, the difference here is that there are real gas flames in the torch that burns through the day (not even the original can claim that)

Not to mention, it’s the largest replica around – and therefore definitely worth taking a look at, if only for a few minutes as a quick stop exploring the eastern suburbs.

Directions in Google Maps

14 – Take a hike at Oak Mountain State Park

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Craving a dose of nature and an escape from big city life? At Oak Mountain State Park — a lush and diverse landscape full of waterfalls and lakes about 20 miles south of Birmingham.

There are more than enough activities to occupy you and your loved ones for hours on end: while mountain biking and hiking are the crowd favorites, thrill-seeking visitors tend to lean toward options like the BMX course, cable skiing, boat rides, or horseback riding!

After you’re exhausted with all the activity, you can head on over to the picnic area, enjoy a nice meal, and, if you’re up for it, set up camp for the night!

15 – Strap on your wings at the Southern Museum of Flight

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Consider yourself an aviation buff? Then the Southern Museum of Flight is the perfect place to spend an afternoon luxuriating in all things aviation.

With a wonderful collection that includes everything from WWII-era aircraft and helicopters, to rocket ships and even flying saucers (okay, maybe not that last one).

This air museum will take you through nearly 100 years worth of history – all spread across 75000 square feet of – as the Museum puts it – learning possibilities.

The Vietnam War Helicopters Exhibit is a crowd favorite, likewise the sleek A-12 Blackbird which sits on the grass outside.

16 – Watch a show at the Alabama Theatre

cool places to visit in birmingham al

With its grandiose auditorium and art deco design, the Alabama Theatre was built in 1927 as a luxury cinema for those who could afford it—and today, travelers can enjoy that same luxury and a rich history to boot at one of their events or shows!

As well as hosting some top theatrical performances (including popular local musicals like The Phantom), the theatre also regularly welcomes symphony orchestras and operas.

Just pick a show that tickles your fancy, buy a ticket (in advance to get the best price), and let the so-called Showplace of the South dazzle and delight.

  • Alabama Theatre tickets

17 – Satisfy your sweet tooth at Cookie Fix

Cookie Fix in Birmingham, Alabama

For all the sugar-lovers out there, Cookie Fix boasts three tantalizing locations in Homewood, Cahaba Heights, and Huntsville, each serving up a lip-smacking range of sweet treats that are especially good to share (or not).

From cookie cakes and cookie stacks to gift bags and sampler packs, the bakery has got you covered with a wide-ranging menu of baked goods that will be sure to leave you craving more (thank heavens for the take-home packs).

18 – Pay your respects at the Alabama Veterans Memorial Park

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Set up to honor all those who have fallen from the 20th century to today while serving the country, the Alabama Veterans Memorial park is a somber but peaceful place to visit, especially if you’re looking for some time away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

20 minutes east of Downtown, the Park features calming walking trails, powerful memorial statues, and the Hall of Honor temple, which displays over 11,000 names of 11,000 Alabamians who’ve sacrificed their lives in battle.

While many visitors simply pop by and explore for a half-hour or so, those looking to learn a little more about local history can opt for a guided tour or visit on Memorial Day to watch the Step-Stone ceremony.

19 – Spend some time at the Vulcan Park and Museum

cool places to visit in birmingham al

No trip to Birmingham is complete without a stop by the Vulcan Park and Museum , home of the world’s largest cast-iron statue: the Vulcan Statue.

At 56 feet tall and weighing in at over 100,000 pounds, this colossal figure has been overlooking the city for over a century, serving as a longstanding iconic landmark of the city.

Surrounding the hero are multiple exhibits outlining the best of Birmingham’s timeline, as well as an observation deck that sports an unmatched panoramic view of the downtown skyline and beyond.

20 – Jump around at the DEFY trampoline park

DEFY trampoline park in Birmingham, Alabama

Despite being far more tiring than it looks, there’s nothing better than jumping on a trampoline if you’re looking to burn a few calories and tire out the youngsters.

DEFY heights as you jump through the different activities: kickstart your day at the foam pit before trying out the wall trampolines, extreme dodgeball zone, giant airbags, or freejump area!

Plus, with a cafe on-site, you can refuel before your next jump.

21 – Explore the bleachers at Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama

Ask any local and they’ll agree: Rickwood Field is a Birmingham treasure.

Originally created for the Barons, America’s oldest baseball park has now become a site for all baseball enthusiasts, retaining the longstanding charm of an old baseball field despite undergoing a thorough restoration.

What was once home to some of baseball’s most iconic players (including Babe Ruth) now serves as a popular spot for visitors, who are granted access to walk in and explore the grandstands or see how fast they can run between the bases.

  • Rickwood Field tickets

22 – Learn about a different side of sport at the Negro Southern League Museum

cool places to visit in birmingham al

If you’re a big fan of sport and history and are looking for things to do in Birmingham, then make sure to stop into the Negro Southern League Museum – an eye-opening look at the little-known history of the Negro American Baseball League.

The museum tells the story of how, in the face of racism and segregation, black baseball players became some of America’s most talented athletes, with many going on to play for Major League teams long after the Negro Southern League was disbanded.

There are interactive exhibits, thought-provoking lectures a large collection of artifacts, and guided tours that escort visitors through the halls, telling the stories of the many brilliant baseball players who graduated from the league.

23 – Take a tour of the Alabama Wildlife Center

Alabama Wildlife Center in Birmingham

Step inside the Alabama Wildlife Center , which is a space that has been dedicated for the last 45 years to help care for injured and orphaned birds.

With multiple ways to get involved to help with wildlife efforts, there are also amazing ways to learn more about local birds, wildlife conservation acts, and how many birds have been cared back to nature.

Take a guided tour of the wildlife center, and walk through the Treetop Nature Trail. Stop by some of the off-site education programs to learn more about what they do on a daily basis, and even witness a trained raptor!

24 – Trek through the peaceful Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park in Birmingham, Alabama

The Red Mountain Park is a haven for runners, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all levels looking to escape the city.

With over 1500 acres of green space and 15 miles of trails (that are well-maintained and clearly marked), it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring every nook and cranny this expansive park has to offer.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try out the park’s zip lines, which offer stunning views of the surrounding area, or spend a night under the stars at the Eagle’s Nest campsite.

25 – Snap some attention-grabbing photos in the Rainbow Tunnel

cool places to visit in birmingham al

A quirky little spot that is bound to put a smile on your face, this Instagram-famous landmark is just what it sounds like: a tunnel made up of LED lights and multi-colored paint panels.

Found in the city’s old viaducts, right next to the Railroad Park Foundation (making for the perfect back-to-back itinerary), the art installation has become a photography hotspot for tourists, ‘Grammers, and locals alike.

26 – Crane your neck up at the “Heaviest Corner on Earth”

cool places to visit in birmingham al

The Magic City was truly an apt name for the city of Birmingham. At the turn of the 20th Century, the city decided to erect several different skyscrapers all in the same area: the intersection of 1st Avenue, North Street, and 20th Street.

Due to the four major skyscrapers — the John Hand Building, Empire Building, Woodward Building, and Marx Building — two of which claimed the title of the tallest in Alabama at their peak, it was affectionately dubbed the Heaviest Corner on Earth.

While those titles have been stripped, the intersection remains a focal point of the city, making it a great place to explore the history, culture, and food of Birmingham, and get some good pictures too.

27 – Race around the city with a scavenger game

Scavenger games in Birmingham, Alabama

When you’re fed up with slow-paced walking tours and run-of-the-mills tourist attractions and are looking for something off-beat to do together with the family, try your hand at an Amazing-Race-style scavenger game!

There are multiple self-guided scavenger hunts available in Birmingham; most of them don’t even require you to do more than download an app!

As you scoot around town, checking off notorious landmarks (like Vulcan Park and Museum, the 16th Street Baptist Church, and Railroad Park) and hidden gems alike, you’ll be tasked with solving clues, cracking codes, and taking photos – so have your camera ready.

  • scavenger games in Birmingham

28 – Tour the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Once a thriving industrial site, this 19th-century landmark is now a popular tourist attraction and has evolved to become one of Birmingham’s most unique attractions.

As the former largest manufacturer of pig iron in the South, Sloss Furnaces produced over 30 million tons of iron between 1882 and 1971.

Nowadays, visitors can take guided or self-guided tours of the furnaces, as well as the on-site museum, which contains artifacts and information about the furnace’s history and its workers.

29 – Journey into the rocks at Desoto Caverns Park

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Caves, in Alabama? Yep, you read that right! And they’re every bit as awe-inspiring as you might imagine.

At DeSoto Caverns Park , a stunning slice of Mother Nature is tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, visitors can explore a labyrinth of caves with names like the “Onyx Column Room” and “Cathedral Room.”

The park also features several activities for kids (and the young at heart), including gem mining, award-winning fudge stalls, regular live entertainment including fire jugglers, and arts and crafts demonstrations.

30 – Hear the story of 16th Street Baptist Church

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Located in the Civil Rights District, the 16th Street Baptist Church is more than just a church – it’s the first colored Baptist Church to exist in the city and the site of one of the most tragic bombings during the civil rights movement.

The September 15, 1963 tragedy galvanized Birmingham into action, with protests popping up throughout the city and state as people demanded racial reform.

One of the best ways to learn about the bygone decades, the Church, and the evolution of the city is on one of the district’s many walking tours.

Led by local historians, you’ll learn all about the evangelistic perspective of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham, pass by eye-opening sculptures, and develop a newfound understanding of the struggle for freedom.

31 – Walk around the Ave Maria Grotto

cool places to visit in birmingham al

A whimsical wonderland of miniature buildings, shrines, fountains, waterfalls, ponds, and even tiny figurine people.

The Ave Maria Grotto , made from concrete and donated stones, showcases no less than 125 detailed reproductions of some of the world’s most renowned religious buildings and structures.

Located just a 50-minute drive from Birmingham in the town of Cullman, and nestled into the landscaped hillside of the St. Bernard Abbey gardens, it makes for a great half-day trip for the big smoke.

32 – Bowl a strike at Spare Time Trussville

Bowling at Spare Time Trussville in Birmingham, Alabama

Looking for a fun place to spend an afternoon with friends? Then head on over to Spare Time Trussville , where you can bowl your heart out and have some laughs while you’re at it.

With a handful of lanes plus billiards tables, a state-of-the-art laser tag arena, and an arcade filled with all the classics (plus some new favorites), not to mention plenty of food and drink to boot, this is the perfect spot to unleash the competitive beast.

33 – Cheer on the Blazers at Legion Field Stadium

cool places to visit in birmingham al

No matter what time of year, if you’re in Birmingham and looking for fun things to do — or even just a day trip — make sure you check out Legion Field Stadium .

The historic stadium is home to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers football team : it’s where they play their games and practice all season round.

Little-known to most, but college football (especially here) can draw larger, most rowdy crowds can most NFL matches. So make sure to join in on the tailgating nation, cheer on the home team, and get into the local sporting spirit!

Affectionately known as the Old Gray Lady, the stadium can seat up to 71,000 people — and when it’s filled, the roar and the energy are palpable.

  • Legion Field tickets

34 – Walk around the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

cool places to visit in birmingham al

A Mecca for sports fans, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is filled to the brim with stories and over 6,000 pieces of memorabilia from all kinds of Alabama athletes, past and present.

From high school players right up to professional sportspeople, there’s something here for everyone – including the pair of Heisman Trophies won by Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson (Auburn University athletes).

Be sure not to miss out on the interactive exhibits too, like the one that lets you test your vertical leap.

35 – Splash around at Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure

Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure in Birmingham

On those sizzling summer days, if you’re craving a little cooling-off, look no further than Alabama Adventure !

Tucked away in Bessemer, just 20 minutes from Birmingham, this waterpark is home to a variety of slides and rides for all ages, as well as a lazy river, the Kahuna Wave Park, and plenty of opportunities to dip your toes in the water.

And for those looking to stay dry, the park also boasts has several regular rides like the Little Bumpers bumper cars and high-octane Rampage wooden cooler coaster.

36 – Hear the engines roar at Barber Motorsports Park

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Do you have a thing for motorsports and speed? Well, at the Barber Motorsports Park , passions come to life in the form of the 880-acre, multipurpose racing track!

From regular track days where you can sit front row in the bleachers to the Honda Indy Grand Prix which draws in crowds of thousands, several racing events take place at the park.

And, as the name suggests, it’s also home to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Fun fact: finances permitting, you can even rent out the track for your own event!

37 – Feel one with nature at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve and Waterfalls

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Birmingham, Alabama

Located 15 miles north of Birmingham is the quaint Turkey Creek Nature Preserve and Waterfalls , overflowing with natural abundance and beauty.

Visit to see some of the local wildlife up close, from varieties of fish, bats, turtles, and woodpeckers, as well as beautiful wildflowers.

Bring a picnic to enjoy, and afterward, take a scenic walk through the various trails that start out in the parking lot. Most hikes are rated medium, as some have hills and some don’t.

Lastly, take in the small and beautiful waterfalls, and feel the misty breeze right before leaving.

The park is open every day except Monday-Tuesday.

38 – Take a look at the boulders at Moss Rock Preserve

Moss Rock Preserve in Birmingham, Alabama

Moss Rock Preserve is located 21 minutes south of Birmingham. The 345-acre park overflows with natural wonders, hiking trails, and climbing opportunities.

If you’re a climber, you’re in for a treat with massive boulders located inside Boulder Field at Moss Rock Preserve, perfect for any level.

If you’re not much of a climber, bring your hiking shoes to explore around 12 miles of hiking trails, zig-zagging throughout the park. Pass under towering trees, impressive and oddly shaped boulders, creeks, and more.

The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset. Parking is available in its 3 parking lots.

39 – Take a seat for a show at the Lyric Theatre

The Lyric Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama

Are you ready for the show of a lifetime in a century-old vaudeville theatre that’s been through millions of dollars worth of delicate reconstruction?

Then grab a ticket for a riveting performance at the Lyric Theatre ! Undeniably one of the finest theatres for live performing arts in Alabama (and, as expected, located in Birmingham’s Theatre District).

The Lyric Theatre showcases a diverse roster that ranges from drama and comedy to dance and music, as well as symphonies, ballets, and operas.

  • Lyric Theatre tickets

40 – Feel the rhythm at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham

The jazz movement was more than music, it was about humanity, and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame sets out to remember and personify that through fascinating exhibits on some of Jazz’s all-time greatest musicians.

From Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and beyond, the history of jazz is on proud display at this unique Birmingham attraction.

And, apart from the museum itself, the top-tapping love of music is shared by educating the new generation too — from Jazz Master Classes to free introductory programs for school kids, the spirit of jazz runs deep.

41 – Grab a drink at the local breweries

Breweries beer tours in Birmingham, Alabama

Especially relevant to all your summer travelers, if you’re craving a cold and refreshing, then Birmingham’s multiple brewing companies are calling.

Surprisingly, Birmingham is home to some of the South’s most beloved and underrated breweries. So, where to start? Logic suggests grabbing your first drink at the TrimTab Brewing Company , a beloved staple that was awarded Birmingham’s Best Brewery as well as Best Brewery in Alabama (Thrillist).

However, it’s far from the only notable watering hole. Good People Brewery , right next to the Railroad Park, offers a great outdoor space to enjoy your beer and some live music while also offering behind-the-scenes tours; while the Back Forty Beer Co. serves up a killer view of the Sloss Furnaces to complement its craft range.

Still thirsty? Avondale Brewing Company ‘s taproom features over a dozen homegrown blends as well as a dedicated sour room!

42 – Hit the road on a craft beer tour

City Brew Tours in Birmingham, Alabama

What better way to taste Birminghman’s craft beers than by having someone take you to all the top spots in one day? With City Brew Tours , you can relax and savor the experience as an expert drives you to the city’s best breweries.

Visit well-known brewpubs such as the TrimTab Brewing Company and Cahaba Brewing Company, for a taste of up to 16 different beers in a single tour. You can also enjoy a delectable lunch paired with your drinks.

These tours take you beyond just a tasting for a behind-the-scenes look into how the beers are made, with your accompanying expert providing valuable facts and insight.

Discover the city of Birmingham through its brews in this safe, informative and fun tour!

43 – Pick up a peculiar souvenir at the Birmingham Oddities

cool places to visit in birmingham al

From used doll parts to prosthetic legs, taxidermy, and strangely spectacular local artwork, there’s nothing you can’t find at the quirky little downtown store of Birmingham Oddities .

Make no mistake, however, this is no regular gallery: all of the weird and wacky objects on display are for sale!

So if you’re hunting for some one-of-a-kind souvenirs, this is the place to come – your friends back home will be thanking (or questioning) you for years.

44 – Take a swing at Topgolf

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Where VR meets golf meets ice-cold beer (convinced yet?), the Topgolf is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Birmingham.

Families, groups of friends and colleagues can all bond over a game at this unique entertainment complex that has more than 200 games spread across 102 bays over 3 floors – each with their own massive flat-screen TVs so you won’t miss out on any sports action while playing.

Bring your own clubs or use the ones available; once you have a bay, just take a swing and the technology will do the rest! And top it off with a tipple at the rooftop terrace for good measure.

45 – Go skydiving above greater Birmingham!

Skydiving in Birmingham, Alabama

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, then there’s no better way to get it than by jumping out of a plane and soaring through the sky.

Skydiving is available throughout greater Birmingham (and beyond), with names like Chattanooga Skydiving Company and Skydive Alabama (to name just a couple) providing experienced instructors who will take care of everything from getting you suited up to landing safely back on solid ground.

The views during your 14,000-foot freefall are simply incredible, and something that will stick with you forever.

And, if you’re wanting to take your experience to the next level, AFF (accelerated freefall) ground courses are available too, which teach you how to skydive yourself!

46 – Be environmentally conscious at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve in Birmingham, Alabama

If you’re looking for things to do in Birmingham that deliver a much-needed dose of rest and rejuvenation, then visiting the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve should be first on your list.

Covering over 1000 acres, this urban nature preserve is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, as well as almost 12 miles of hiking and biking trails.

What’s more, the staff at Ruffner Mountain are passionate about educating visitors on the importance of conservation and sustainability, so be sure to ask them about their work in these areas.

47 – Join a concert moshpit at Iron City

Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama

An old-fashioned music hall and live performance venue, Iron City is one of the coolest places to catch a show in Birmingham, hosting local up-and-comers, traveling superstars, and tribute bands to bygone legends.

But don’t be fooled by its classic appearance: this place has all the features of a modern concert hall, including excellent sound quality and an impressive lighting system (which make its occasional dance parties one hell of a good time).

For the more low-key events, consider grabbing a table at The Grill, where some incredible food complements the spectacle of musicians on stage.

  • Iron City tickets

48 – Meet the locals at the Pepper Place Saturday Market

Pepper Place Saturday Market in Birmingham, Alabama

A charming institution in Pepper Place , the Saturday Market is a true community event, held every week from 7am to 12pm (rain or shine) in the Lakeside District.

This market has something for everyone: from fresh produce and artisanal foods to vintage clothing and baked goods, the selection of locally-grown and made treats is second to none

What’s even better? With entertainment often provided by local musicians, the market doubles as a fun shopping experience with family-friendly activities on offer too.

49 – See a play at Birmingham Children’s Theatre

cool places to visit in birmingham al

A fixture in the Birmingham community for over 40 years, BCT is a century-old theatre that has been working tirelessly to delight and inspire young audiences through live theatre as well as classes and camps.

Featuring everything from Shakespearean classics to holiday shows and beloved stories like The Little Engine That Could (to name but a few), the list of entertaining performances is diverse and impressive – just check the website to see what’s on!

50 – Hike the Jemison Park Trail to the Old Mill

cool places to visit in birmingham al

If you’re looking for a nature escape, look no further than Jemison Park.

Tucked away in the Mountain Brook area, not too far from the zoo, this park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna that make it perfect for a peaceful walk or picnic lunch.

Stunning views and immersive scenery along the shaded woodland trail aside, the highlight of the park has got to be the Old Mill: a historical house landmark that remains a symbol of the city of Mountain Brook.

51 – Solve mysteries in an escape room

Escape rooms in Birmingham, Alabama

Put your heads together to solve the riddles at the award-winning Locked In: The Birmingham Escape Game . With a variety of easy-to-challenging rooms, solve the mysteries inside The Battleship, or The Laboratory.

Crack the codes inside The Big Escape Rooms , where each room has a select few numbers of clues that you have to use to solve the mysteries. Can you escape from a room with only 3 clues?

Breakout Games Birmingham is the number 1 escape room in the area, which includes games for families and friends to do together. With more than 5 escape room themes, you have a few to choose from.

52 – Go old-schooling gaming at the Paramount Bar

The Paramount Bar in Birmingham, Alabama

What’s better than getting a beer with friends? Hint: getting a beer with friends and a retro bar arcade!

Found over 20th St North in the heart of downtown, Paramount is a rustic, cozy, and popular spot for all-day drinks that also happens to be home to dozens upon dozens of classic arcade games!

With tasty burgers, 20 Beers on Tap, and a full handcrafted cocktail menu, it’s time to grab some pals and sink into an evening of nostalgia at Birmingham’s most beloved barcade.

53 – Watch some baseball at Regions Field

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Home to the Minor League Baseball team Birmingham Barons, Regions Field is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

The main event aside — being match day, of course — the stadium offers a variety of concessions (including local eats), family-friendly activities like inflatables and face painting, and interactive areas like the St. Vincent’s Youth Sports Zone and Foundry Family Park.

The season typically runs from late March to early September, so be sure to check the website for more details on upcoming events.

  • Regions Field tickets

54 – Relax and unwind at a spa

Spas and wellness in Birmingham, Alabama

Feel any tension slip away when you step inside Escape Day Spa . Featuring a complete menu with everything from deep tissue massages to hydrafacials and more. You’ll come out feeling refreshed in both mind and body.

Don’t have too much time to get a full treatment at the spa? Head to The Retreat Day Spa , and enjoy a customized, one-hour treatment package, designed to cater to your specific needs.

Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure as well as a custom massage at Poseidon Spa . Enjoy the oil and moisturizing treatments designed to leave your skin feeling renewed and smooth.

55 – Get a little tipsy at a wine tasting!

Wine tastings in Birmingham, Alabama

You’re on vacation, after all! So take a break from the usual and check out one of Birmingham’s many tasting rooms for a little afternoon delight.

From old standbys like the Hidden Meadow Vineyard (known for its fruity and southern muscadine wines) to new favorites like the Cat-n-Bird Winery , there are plenty of places where you can sample the local flavors while enjoying an impromptu tour from the friendly sommeliers.

Hot tip: rather than worry about having a designated driver, consider booking a pre-organized tour that includes transport to and from your hotel!

56 – Catch a movie at The Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival

The Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham, Alabama

Grab the popcorn! If you’re a movie buff, then you’ll love the annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival .

Held by the eponymous NGO since 1999, the beloved festival lasts a week and screens different movies across seven different venues, highlighting all kinds of local filmmakers, independent artists, and international films.

All the venues are found in the theatre district of Birmingham, making it easy to walk from one place to another and catch as many films as possible – or an easy walk to the nearby restaurants and bars for a post-movie nightcap.

57 – Spend a few hours at The Summit mall

The Summit mall in Birmingham, Alabama

Calling itself an upscale lifestyle center, the 1-million-square-foot Summit mall boasts everything from shopping boutiques (from Saks Fifth Avenue to the Disney Store and Anthropologie) to movie theatres, spa services, and a wide variety of restaurants.

If you get hungry at any time throughout the day, there are a handful of fine-dining restaurants, or, for something quicker, it’s hard to go past the easy eats of Shake Shack or The Cheesecake Factory!

58 – Laugh your socks off at the StarDome Comedy Club

StarDome Comedy Club in Birmingham, Alabama

A side-splitting venue on the outskirts of Birmingham in the city of Hoover, the StarDome Comedy Club is just what you need to round out your vacation with a hearty dose of good-natured humor.

Featuring both local and national comedians (and even improv troupes and occasional open-mike nights), there’s something for everyone at this beloved traditional venue turned premier hi-tech institution.

So whether you’re bringing the family or catching up with friends over a cheeky beer, you’ll be grinning ear to ear before night’s end.

  • StarDome Comedy Club tickets

59 – Putt around at the finest golf clubs in town

Golf clubs in Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham is home to some of the finest golf courses in Alabama and, with sunny days nearly year-round, these lush and manicured greens present as a great place to spend an afternoon perfecting your drive.

Not sure where to start? The Highland Park Golf Course , which holds its own as the oldest golf course in the state of Alabama (opened in 1903), has 18-holes just a 5-minute drive from downtown.

The Greystone Golf and Country Club with its 36-holes offer a range of challenging fairways with wonderful scenery to boot, and if you really want to test your skills.

Last but not least, the RTJ Golf Trail at Oxmoor Valley boasts no less than 54 holes, ideal for beginners and experts alike.

60 – See what’s on at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex

cool places to visit in birmingham al

With over one million square feet of exhibition space, the massive Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex hosts everything from trade shows to concerts and political rallies, not to mention sporting events and no less than seven onsite restaurants.

Located on the northern side of downtown Birmingham, it also makes for an ideal location for networking with friends or clients while taking a break from all the action.

Outside of the halls, there’s ample outdoor space to fly a kite, walk a trail, or catch a game just minutes from the convention complex.

61 – Get your grub on at the best restaurants

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Check out a local favorite, John’s City Diner for the perfect breakfast or lunch spot while in Birmingham. This recognizable diner has a wide variety of traditional southern comfort foods, gastropub cuisine, with a few international influences.

If you’re celebrating something special, then look no further than a stop at Half Shell Oyster House of Birmingham known for its New Orlean’s inspired seafood dishes, and the Highlands Bar & Grill , known for seasonal upscale dining.

Other local favorites are the tacos and refreshing drinks at El Barrio , while the Original Pancake House offers comfort, top-tier pancakes, and bonus breakfast options.

62 – Sit front-row for a musical at the Virginia Samford Theatre

Virginia Samford Theatre musicals in Birmingham, Alabama

If you’ve always loved the theatre — classic theatre — then the near-century-old Virginia Samford Theatre , which earns its stripes as officially Birmingham’s oldest performing arts venue, is a must-visit.

Featuring classic shows, Broadway musicals, and even children’s theatre productions, this intimate venue offers an up-close and personal experience that is perfect for date night or a fun family outing.

Plus, with a wide range of ticket prices to choose from, there’s something for every budget.

63 – Party with a view at the city’s rooftop bars

Rooftop bars in Birmingham, Alabama

Drinks, views, and city lights: what more could you want? Birmingham’s rooftop bars offer all of the above (with plenty of socializing to boot), making for a perfect spot to spend a few hours as afternoon transitions into evening.

Looking over Region’s Field, Bar Sebastian is an ultra-secretive rooftop bar that requires a code to get in (text ‘CODEWORD’ to (855) 782-0225 before you go).

For a more straightforward rooftop experience, check out the Moon Shine Bar at the Elyton Hotel (which boasts sweet views of both downtown and Red Mountain) or the 19th-story Roots & Revelry.

Not to be overlooked is The Roof , an aptly-named watering hole on top of the Redmont Hotel on Fifth Ave, as well as the chic and colorful Habitat Feed and Social over in the suburb of Mountain View.

64 – Peer into the paranormal with a ghost walking tour

Ghost walking tours in Birmingham, Alabama

Every city has a dark side, one that only comes out among the shadows of the night.

So why not add an element of fear into your travel plans with a tour that will take you through the spookily twisted and haunted side of the Magic City?

Laced in mystery and folklore, these eerie excursions pass by churches, hotels, and graveyards, sure to conjure up some goosebumps for even the bravest souls out there.

  • ghost tours in Birmingham

65 – Grab the popcorn for a Grand River Drive-In screening

Grand River Drive-In in Birmingham, Alabama

In the mood for a nostalgic night out under the stars? Then head on over to the open-air drive-in for an evening of classic cinema.

With both blockbuster new releases and cult classics playing throughout the week, there’s no shortage of entertainment on offer – and outside of the showtimes, the backyard games, mini-golf course, and Snack Shack remain open for casual hangs and bites.

66 – Roll the dice at the Birmingham Race Course Casino

Birmingham Race Course Casino in Alabama

Consider yourself lucky? Recently cracked opened a positive-sounding fortune cookie?

Then test your luck at the Birmingham Race Course Casino , where visitors can throw a few bucks down casino games, horses, greyhounds, or live sports!

Not feeling especially lucky today? No problem! There’s also a plethora of restaurants, bars, and live music venues at the casino for visitors to unwind in.

Of course, please set a limit and gamble responsibly.

67 – Dance the night away at a nightclub (or kick back at a speakeasy or pub)

Nightclubs in Birmingham, Alabama

Party animals, listen up: it’s no Miami, but there is no shortage of nightclubs in the city of Birmingham that will have you dancing till the sun comes up.

Kickstart the night at Dave’s Pub before moving on to something more upbeat Nana Funks, which is all about beats you can boogie to! Locals love Blue Monkey for late-night grub and a more speak-easy kind of atmosphere, while many head Zydeco for the loud and live music acts.

For more than 50 different types of whiskey, Dram Whiskey Bar has got you covered. And if it’s reputation you’re after, as one of the 33 best bars in America (according to Thrillist), J. Clyde is all about craft beers and smooth ciders.

Whatever mix of bars or clubs you end up at, the one thing is for sure: you won’t have a shortage of options.

68 – Kick off your night fun with some live music

Live music and concerts in Birmingham, Alabama

Catch a jazz show at True Story Brewing Co. or if metal, blues, or punk rock music is more your vibe, check their calendar to make your plans.

Feel like it’s just you and the music at Saturn , swaying to the music of local and national artists of different genres. Or step into Oasis Bar for the drink and food deals offered almost daily.

Lovers of true rock music, visit The Nick , a grungy, rock and roll concert venue that has hosted everyone from Kings of Leon to The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

How to get to Birmingham?

Once you arrive at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, the best way to get to your hotel or downtown is to book an airport transfer .

When you book an airport transfer, you are relieving yourself of the stress of finding public transportation. Instead, a driver will pick you up promptly at your gate, and transport you easily to your hotel’s door.

Where to stay in Birmingham?

Enjoy a comfortable stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Birmingham , equipped with perfect accommodations for families and friend groups. Stay close to great shopping at The Summit, as well as the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Enjoy fresh breakfast when you stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham , before heading out to the Birmingham Zoo or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. When you return, unwind from your sightseeing at The Pavilion Lounge, and order a signature cocktail.

The Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham is a beautiful hotel centered in the downtown area of Birmingham. Enjoy continental breakfast every morning, and afterward, visit all the main sights nearby such as the Birmingham Museum of Art, and take a stroll through Railroad Park Foundation.

Lounge by the fire pit after a day of sightseeing at the Courtyard by Marriott Birmingham . The sleek and modern hotel features a swimming pool, pet-friendly rooms, and a 24-hour front desk.

  • best hotels in Birmingham

Visiting Birmingham on a budget?

Get the most bang for your buck with the Birmingham Area Multi-Attraction Pass !

Choose from the 14 different types of attractions and pay only once for your ticket, which will grant you access to the attractions without waiting in line.

You can choose between a 1 or 2-day pass, and go at your leisure to explore Birmingham, your way.

Where to go next?

Head north towards Tennessee, and visit its amazing cities and attractions. Chattanooga offers visitors a beautiful dose of nature at the Tennessee Riverpark or kayaking down the rapids of the Tennessee River.

Nashville is all about the music, and the first stop is Ryman Auditorium for a good country show. Afterward, head down to the County Music Hall of Fame to see items that belonged to some of the Country’s biggest artists!

In Memphis , get your tickets for the Riverboat Cruise, then afterward go to the historic Stax Museum of American Soul Music. If you want to hop on the music train (literally) check out Mojo Tours to pick up music facts!

Head east towards Atlanta, Georgia , where you can see if you could survive a zombie apocalypse on the Walking Dead Tour. If wine tasting is more your speed, then check out North Georgia’s incredible vineyards on a wine tour!

Final thoughts

With countless fun and adventures to get up to in “The Magic City” – we hope that you spotted your next activity on our list of the best things to do in Birmingham!

From beautiful gardens to world-class museums, and important historical museums – Birmingham has got it all!

Will you be making it there soon? We hope so!

Happy travels!

27 Best & Fun Things To Do In Birmingham (Alabama)

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: February 25, 2022  - Last updated: May 3, 2024

things to do in Birmingham, AL

If you’re planning a trip to the Heart of Dixie, you may be researching things to do in Birmingham.

Lucky for you this beautiful Southeastern state has plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy arts, culture, nature, and far beyond.

Known historically as the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham, Alabama has a rich and colorful history that can be immersively consumed through the many historical landmarks, museums, and commemorative attractions.

Rooted in the steel and iron industries, Birmingham is loaded with historical landmarks paying homage to the state’s industrial roots.

Commonly referred to as The City of a Thousand Trades, Birmingham has loads to see and do beyond historical sites.

With a colorful arts and music scene, fabulous eateries, diverse shopping, museums by the mile, and so much more, Birmingham will surely keep you entertained and engaged during your upcoming visit.

So, if you’re looking for awesome things to do in Birmingham, take a look at this comprehensive list.

Table of Contents

1. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is an astounding place to check out during your visit to Birmingham, Alabama.

The museum entirely encloses a collection of more than 1,200 motorcycles and race cars.

Housing some of the world’s rarest bikes and cars, the museum is a marvel for motorsport enthusiasts.

The breadth of “moving works of art” on display at the museum ensures an awe-inspiring visit for all museum-goers.

Of note, the museum was founded based on one man’s love for speed, a love that was not lost on the museum’s vast array of collections.

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is also considered a living museum in that many of its bikes and cars have been restored to racing condition.

In fact, the museum is even surrounded by a fully-functioning track that is often the sight of races featuring some of the museum’s awesome collection.

With models built in the late 1800s through the present day, there are so many amazing models to see when visiting the museum.

One of the best Birmingham attractions, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a must-see.

Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35094, United States

2. Birmingham Museum of Art

Birmingham Museum of Art

Birmingham Museum of Art

If you’re looking for cool places to visit in Alabama , be sure to check out the Birmingham Museum of Art .

Founded in 1951, this establishment houses one of the most epic art collections in the Southeast.

With more than 20,000 pieces in its collection, you’ll witness greatness at every turn.

With pieces representing countries from all over the world, the museum is a hub for cultural artwork.

Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, decorative arts, drawings, and well beyond are represented as mediums within the museum.

The museum houses pieces from famous artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol, and many other iconic names.

Additionally, the museum has a vast collection of local artwork as well.

Laudably, the museum is family-friendly and interactive so small children will even enjoy touring the space.

Finally, the museum is home to an on-site restaurant and an awesome gift shop.

Address: 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

3. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a cultural research center that depicts historical artifacts relevant to the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s.

The museum is a modern space with a vast collection of interesting relics as well as interactive replications of pertinent events and scenarios.

For instance, the museum houses replicas of a segregated city, a Freedom Riders bus, and the jail cell from which Dr. Martin Luther King wrote one of his famous speeches.

These interactive replicas allow visitors to step into the pages of our history books.

Furthermore, the museum is home to an extensive collection of historical archives such as oral histories and original Civil Rights Movement documents.

Some of the museum’s permanent exhibits showcase a human rights gallery, representations of significant movements, a gallery highlighting integral players, and a side-by-side look at the differences experienced by blacks and whites in the deep south.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Alabama, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is highly recommended.

Address: 520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

4. McWane Science Center

McWane Science Center

McWane Science Center

Situated in downtown Birmingham, the McWane Science Center is a state-of-the-art science museum that was established in 1998.

If you’re wondering what to do in Birmingham with inquisitive adults and children, this is the place.

Home to an on-site aquarium and an I-Max dome theater, the center is equipped for interactive learning and loads of fun.

Besides these awesome features, there are hundreds of hands-on activities for curious minds to enjoy.

A perfect place to visit today or this weekend, the McWane Science Center has amazing permanent exhibits that teach about dinosaurs, sea monsters, weather cycles, marine biology, nature, and so much more.

Beyond science exhibits, the center also showcases engineering, math, and technology exhibits.

Shark and stingray touch tanks, astounding demonstrations, a magic city, and an art gallery are just a few of the ways your family can enjoy the museum.

One of the coolest things in downtown Birmingham, McWane Science Center is worth a spot on your itinerary.

Address: 200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

5. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

This National Historic Landmark is by far one of the most interesting places to visit in AL.

Historically, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark operated as an iron-producing blast furnace beginning in 1882.

Following its closing in 1971, it was preserved and restored for public utilization.

Receiving its National Historic Landmark designation in 1981, Sloss Furnaces later reopened as a museum chronicling the city of Birmingham’s long history.

Notably, the site features two 400-ton blast furnaces as well as nearly 50 other tourable buildings.

Visitors to Sloss Furnaces are welcome to explore the site on self-guided or guided tours.

Along with the tours, narrative placards explicate the space’s rich history.

Visitors will learn about the science, history, and people involved with Sloss Furnaces.

Moreover, an on-site research library allows visitors to immerse themselves in the many ways Sloss Furnaces contributed to local and state history.

If you’re looking to explore a unique slice of Birmingham history, be sure to check out one of the top Birmingham attractions.

Address: 20 32nd St N, Birmingham, AL 35222, United States

Exploring other areas of Alabama? Why not check out some of the things to do in Huntsville, AL ?

6. The Alabama Theater

The Alabama Theater

The Alabama Theater

This beautiful movie palace is one of the best points of interest in Birmingham, Alabama.

Established in 1927, the Alabama Theater seats 2,500 people making it the largest in the local theater district.

With amazing shows running the gamut from live music to classic movies and performing arts displays to special events, there’s no telling what you’ll catch during your visit.

Of note, the theater hosts 150 live events annually welcoming more than 100,000 guests in that time frame.

In addition to the epic shows you’ll catch at the theater, the building itself is a sight to be seen.

In 1998 the entire theater was restored to its original 1920s opulence with sparkling gold embellishments as well as many other dazzling touches.

Furthermore, besides buying show tickets during your trip to Birmingham, the Alabama Theater is also available for private rentals.

A wonderful place to visit with friends and family, show tickets can be purchased for today or this weekend.

Address: 1817 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

7. The Market at Pepper Place

The Market at Pepper Place

The Market at Pepper Place

The Market at Pepper Place is a year-round indoor and outdoor market that purveys locally sourced produce and delicacies.

Opening in 2000, the market was established as a link connecting farmers to Birmingham locals.

Although most of the market is housed beneath nearly 100 interconnected tents, there is also an indoor market that allows vendors to deliver fresh goods to locals all year long.

If you’re looking to enjoy locally sourced foods, a visit to The Market at Pepper Place is one of the best things to see.

Whether visiting Birmingham today or this weekend, this year or next, the market’s diverse offerings change seasonally.

So with each visit, you can enjoy new fruits and vegetables as well as herbs and dairy products.

The market is also home to a bakeshop, local artists, a patisserie, and an eclectic bevy of unique makers.

A wonderful way to spend an afternoon surrounded by Birmingham culture, The Market at Pepper Place is one of the coolest places to go.

Address: 2829 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205, United States

8. Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field

User ₪ ÇP ₪ on Flickr , CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Situated in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama, Rickwood Field is the oldest professional baseball field in the US.

Whether traveling with history buffs or baseball fanatics, a visit to Rickwood Field answers the question of what to see in Birmingham.

Rich in baseball history, the stadium is a wonder to see.

If you’re wondering where to go during your visit to Birmingham, be sure to check out Rickwood Field.

Built in 1910, Rickwood Field is home to the Minor League Baseball team, the Birmingham Barons.

Throughout the baseball season, the stadium is a great place to catch a ball game.

Additionally, Rickwood Field also hosts loads of seasonal events such as the ESPN Classic, reenacted baseball movie scenes, and throwback games to name a few.

Lastly, if the home team isn’t playing during your stay in Birmingham you can still enjoy Rickwood Field with self-guided stadium tours.

One of the best places to see when you’re on vacation in Birmingham, be sure to pay a visit to Rickwood Field.

Address: 1137 2nd Ave W, Birmingham, AL 35204, United States

9. The Birmingham Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo

If you’re looking for stuff to do with kids around Birmingham, make sure to add The Birmingham Zoo to your itinerary.

This amazing zoological park opened in 1955 beginning with a small collection of exotic animals.

Although it was established on a much smaller scale, today the zoo sits on 50 acres of Birmingham parkland.

Exemplifying truly humble beginnings, the zoo opened with a small monkey exhibit, but today the zoo’s menagerie far exceeds its start.

The Birmingham Zoo is home to an alligator swamp, multiple aviaries, a flamingo lagoon, a predator building, a tortoise yard, and a wildlife stage to name a few of its astounding exhibits.

Furthermore, the zoo has many interactive exhibits such as camel rides, an interactive feeding aviary, a sea lion show, and a wildlife show.

Other park facets include a carousel, a burger joint, a gift shop, and the list goes on.

One of many wonderful points of interest in Alabama, The Birmingham Zoo is a must-see.

Address: 2630 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223, United States

10. Kelly Ingram Park

Kelly Ingram Park

Kelly Ingram Park

This four-acre park located in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama is a lovely place to spend a few hours surrounded by history while engaging in fun outdoor activities.

One of a few free things to do in the area, Kelly Ingram Park is an improved public park housing many insightful sculptures depicting Civil War-era scenes.

Whether visiting the park for a breath of fresh air or to take in the astounding sculptures and historical nods, Kelly Ingram Park deserves a spot on your itinerary.

In the sixties, Kelly Ingram Park was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement making it an apropos site for the historical homages that reside there today.

A central fountain and a commemorative statue of Dr. Martin Luther King reside in the park’s center; a paved, scenic pathway dubbed the “Freedom Walk” is a lovely place to stroll with family and friends.

Lastly, the park hosts many lovely events throughout the year such as festivals, shows, entertainment, and even audio tours.

One of the most unique things to do in Alabama, be sure to pay a visit to Kelly Ingram Park.

Address: 500 17th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

Visiting other parts of Alabama? Why not check out some of the places to visit in Mobile, AL ?

11. Southern Museum of Flight

Southern Museum of Flight

205weeman17 , CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re wondering what to do when visiting Birmingham, this civilian aviation museum is a must-see.

Home to nearly 100 aircraft, the exhibits at the museum are awe-inspiring.

As one of the largest aviation museums in the Southeast, Southern Museum of Flight houses exhibits showcasing civilian, military, and probing aircraft as well as memorabilia and interesting aviation artifacts.

Although the admission fee for civilians is nominal, the museum is one of a few free things to do for military personnel.

Of note, the museum encompasses a 75,000-square foot space which ensures that the space is packed full of astounding sights.

The museum’s exhibits include biographical plaques, old war jets, airmen exhibits, Vietnam choppers, and more.

Additionally, there is a vast outdoor space with aircraft displays that includes an A-12 Blackbird.

A perfect place to visit for both history and flight enthusiasts, the Southern Museum of Flight is one of the top tourist attractions in Alabama.

Address: 4343 73rd St N, Birmingham, AL 35206, United States

12. Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park is a 1,500-acre urban park central to Birmingham culture.

With tons of opportunities for recreational activities, Red Mountain Park is one of the best places to go to spend time outdoors.

Surrounded by a nearly five-mile portion of the majestic Red Mountain, the backdrop for the park is certainly scenic.

One of the park’s top draws is the historical artifacts on display.

For instance, the park is home to closed mines as well as other industrial relics exemplifying Birmingham’s rich history.

When not exploring the historical artifacts, the park is a great spot to navigate marked hiking trails and explore a snow sensory trail (a much-loved activity by children).

Moreover, the park has an awesome adventure park designed for team-building activities.

Best of all, Red Mountain Park is even home to an adorable dog park so bring your pooch along for the adventure too.

One of the coolest places to visit with your family and your four-legged friends, be sure to visit Red Mountain Park during your stay in Birmingham.

Address: 2011 Frankfurt Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211, United States

13. Avondale Brewing Company

Avondale Brewing Company

Avondale Brewing Company

Situated in a historic building, once home to an old pharmacy and later a saloon, the Avondale Brewing Company is a great top spot to visit at night.

Essentially three spaces in one, the establishment consists of The Upstairs, The Sour Room, and Cinderella Story.

Each of these three Avondale Brewing spaces has a different vibe; best of all, they’re all under one roof.

The company’s taproom serves up amazing craft libations that you can only get in Birmingham.

In addition to an awesome drink menu, worth the visit in and of itself, the Avondale Brewing Company is also a premier concert venue.

Throughout the year, the venue hosts big names in music so be sure to check out the events calendar before your visit to or near Alabama.

After enjoying craft brews and an epic show, be sure to check out Avondale’s Burger Co. for an excellent bite to eat.

One of the best Birmingham attractions for top adult fun, Avondale Brewing Company deserves a place on your itinerary.

Address: 201 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222, United States

14. Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

If you’ll be traveling to Birmingham with a sports enthusiast, be sure to plan a trip to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum .

This state museum shares and honors the state’s rich athletic history.

Of note, the museum chronicles the men/women of sports, their records, and their contributions to Alabama history.

Established in 1967 and led by a retired Major League Baseball player, the museum has inducted such names as Mike Donahue, Jimmy Hitchcock, Bo Jackson, and many others.

A perfect place to tour for both children and adults, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is one of many Birmingham attractions that you’ve got to check out.

Notably, the nearly 35,000-square-foot museum is home to thousands of sports memorabilia and artifacts.

With one of the vastest collections in the US, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the coolest places to visit.

Address: 2150 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

15. Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

This nearly 70-acre outdoor space is a breathtaking sight to behold.

With so many beautiful botanical things to see in one central location, Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a great place to visit with family and friends.

Situated near the foot of the Red Mountains, the gardens’ backdrop also makes for wonderful sightseeing and photography opportunities.

The gardens are open all year long and admission is free for all.

Within the gardens, you can enjoy observing seasonal blooms as you meander lovely pathways.

Surrounded by native woodlands, a majestic mountain range, and tons of colorful flowers and plant life, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is also a delightful place to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Of note, the establishment is home to dozens of thematic garden collections, including a rose garden, a fern glade, and an iris Ireland garden, among others.

With so many things to do in Birmingham, narrowing down an itinerary might be daunting; however, be sure to add this lovely attraction to your plans.

Address: 2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223, United States

Looking for more thrills around Alabama? Why not check out some of the best things to do in Gulf Shores  & some of the best things to do in Montgomery, AL ?

16. Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens

Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens

Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens

This picturesque attraction is situated in a former plantation house of historical repute.

Surrounded by six acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, the Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens is one of the loveliest things to do when near Birmingham.

Built in 1845, the plantation house’s aesthetic embraces Greek Revival architecture.

Well-maintained and furnished with period furnishings, the Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens provides visitors with a step back in history.

While the house serves as a decorative arts museum, the property is a living museum of botanicals.

The garden features a restored garden house, picturesque paths, and views to die for.

Furthermore, the garden hosts seasonal events throughout the year.

If you’re wondering what to do during your visit to Birmingham, you’ll definitely want to check out Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens.

Address: 331 Cotton Ave SW, Birmingham, AL 35211, United States

17. Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Founded in 1978, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is a museum that propels, educates, and generates interest in Jazz-era and -style music.

If you’re looking for interesting historical things to see, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame delivers on all fronts.

Laudably, the museum honors the pioneers of jazz music through enlightening and educational exhibits.

Some of the exhibits include information and artifacts relevant to jazz demographics, lore, artists, and beyond.

Furthermore, within the museum resides the Carver Performing Arts Theater, one of the most awesome things to do in downtown Birmingham.

The 515-seat, 2,700-square foot theater has staged hundreds of shows since its inception in 1993.

Together, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Carver Performing Arts Center continue to be a mecca for Jazz music and its rich history.

If you’re wondering what to do in the way of soaking in Alabama’s colorful musical history, be sure to visit the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Address: 1701 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

18. Vulcan Park and Museum

Vulcan Park and Museum

Vulcan Park and Museum

Vulcan Park and Museum is home to the world’s tallest cast iron statue; it serves as a significant Birmingham landmark.

Of note, the staggering monument depicts the Roman god Vulcan in a whopping 56 feet of glory.

Aptly, the god of fire and forge is armed with ironworking tools synonymous with the Birmingham industry.

Surrounded by spectacular views of the city, the park and museum’s backdrop is just as inviting as the establishment itself.

Within the museum, the most famous exhibit showcases the state’s rich history in bottling soft drinks.

Who knew that Birmingham was home to the most soft-drink brands in all of the US?

Better yet, the museum is jam-packed with interactive history exhibits that retell the stories of The Vulcan and Birmingham in general.

The museum has an inviting gift shop aptly named The Anvil where you can pick up a souvenir or Vulcan collectible.

One of the most interesting places to go around The City of a Thousand Trades.

Address: 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209, United States

19. The Summit

The Summit

Described as a lifestyle center, The Summit is an upscale shopping complex with loads of options for retail therapy.

Built in 1997, the one-million-square-foot center has retailers for every style and taste.

Concerning shopping, The Summit is home to apparel (men/women/children), beauty, health, jewelry, and home decor vendors among a variety of others.

With both big-name brands and local retailers, most anyone will enjoy shopping at The Summit.

In addition to fine shopping, The Summit has tons more to do.

With nearly 20 restaurants within the complex, you can be sure you’ll find a lovely place to dine suitable for any palette.

In fact, The Summit makes for a wonderful date day/night for couples.

Dinner, a movie, shopping, and more are all at your fingertips when visiting The Summit.

With both romantic things to do as well as wholesome family-friendly options, it’s no wonder The Summit is one of many fun things to do in Birmingham.

Address: 214 Summit Blvd #150, Birmingham, AL 35243, United States

20. Virginia Samford Theater

Virginia Samford Theater

Virginia Samford Theater

This historic arts venue provides Birmingham visitors with the perfect destination for fabulous plays and musicals.

Not far from downtown Birmingham, Virginia Samford Theater is a landmark playhouse that was established in the late 1920s.

A favorite entertainment venue for both locals and visitors, Virginia Samford Theater is a great place to book in advance of your trip to The City of a Thousand Trades.

Booking shows of all genres and for all audience types, the theater is a wonderful place to visit with both friends and family.

In fact, the theater often hosts children’s shows, musicals, dance shows, and even comedies.

If you plan to spend an extended period in AL, you may even consider season tickets to the Virginia Samford Theater.

Serving as a place for local artists and performers to showcase their crafts, the theater is a much-loved Birmingham venue.

One of the most fun things to do in Birmingham, make sure to reserve tickets for a show at Virginia Samford Theater.

Address: 1116 26th St S, Birmingham, AL 35205, United States

Going on a road trip around Alabama? Why not check out some of the fun things to do in Orange Beach ?

21. Railroad Park

Railroad Park

Railroad Park

Birmingham’s Railroad Park is a nearly 20-acre green expanse around the city’s downtown area.

Celebrating the city’s industrial and artistic heritage, the park is a great place to experience fun in the great outdoors.

With nearly 600 colorful trees surrounding the park as well as other verdant landscaping, the park’s backdrop is as enjoyable a sight as is the park itself.

Central to the park is a whopping nine-acre open lawn space that is perfect for running, picnicking, ball games, frisbee, sunbathing, and more.

Moreover, Railroad Park has many seating areas built from brick and parts taken from the old train station that used to run through the space.

Additionally, the park has lovely water features including a picturesque lake as well as ponds and streams.

A paved rail train that encircles parts of the park is perfect for running and walking.

Lastly, the park has many convenient amenities such as a ranger station, restrooms, outdoor gym equipment, a skate park, playgrounds, and free parking.

Address: 1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233, United States

22. Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Ruffner Mountain is a nearly 1,100-acre nature preserve located in Birmingham’s historic district.

Established in 1977, the preserve is home to incredible wildlife and amazing natural attributes.

A sprawling ecosystem, biodiverse urban forestry, and communities interconnected by the park make Ruffner Mountain a unique place to visit.

Within the park, 14 nature trails bring visitors face to face with wilderness, wildlife, and majestic water features such as a lake and a natural spring.

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve hosts incredible nature education, eco-arts programs, and amazing opportunities to explore and learn about Alabaman wildlife.

Additional preserve features include a quarry, a picnic pavilion, wetlands, a nature center, a mining site, and scenic overlooks.

With so much fun to be had in one beautiful natural setting, it’s no wonder Ruffner Mountain is one of the most popular things to do in Birmingham.

Address: 1214 81st St S, Birmingham, AL 35206, United States

23. Grand Bohemian Hotel

Grand Bohemian Hotel

Grand Bohemian Hotel

Situated near some of Birmingham’s top attractions, Grand Bohemian Hotel is one of Alabama’s best vacation spots .

With a knack for relaxation and over-the-top amenities, the hotel is the perfect resort destination.

Close to the city’s downtown area and many premier attractions, the hotel couples a superb location with excellent accommodations.

Of note, the hotel has a renowned spa, commodious rooms, an onsite art gallery, and other laudable features.

Additionally, Grand Bohemian Hotel is home to an amazing rooftop bar and restaurant that serves spirited drinks, farm-to-table recipes, and an all-around good time.

Further hotel features include an expansive fitness center, an inviting outdoor pool, and even a policy that welcomes pets.

Beautiful decor, exceptional accommodations, walking distance to area hotspots, and a knack for relaxation are just a few of the reasons Grand Bohemian Hotel is one of the most fun places to stay in town.

Address: 2655 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223, United States

24. Mary Charles Doll House

Mary Charles Doll House

Mary Charles Doll House

With one of the largest and most unique collections in all of AL, the Mary Charles Doll House is a must-see.

Mary Charles Doll House is located just outside Birmingham’s city limits but is definitely worth the short trip.

Originally established as an antique store, this attraction eventually evolved into a haven for unique dolls and doll-lovers.

The Doll House has an insane collection of dolls, accessories, clothes, and more.

Whether you’re just browsing or in the market for something special, Mary Charles Doll House has amazing merchandise to explore.

The Doll House has Madame Alexander dolls, Steiff teddy bears, classic Barbie dolls, American Girl dolls, and antique dolls galore.

In business for more than 40 years, the shop has specialized experience in curating, repairing, and marketing unusual dolls.

If you’re a collector, an enthusiast, or just genuinely interested in checking out a unique local sight, make sure to add Mary Charles Doll House to your itinerary.

Address: 1901 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood, AL 35209, United States

Zydeco

Zydeco ( Ben / flickr )

Situated in the city’s Five Point South District, Zydeco was established in 1989 as a premier live music venue.

If you’re looking for a fun night out with friends, Zydeco is the place to go.

Zydeco’s expansive concert hall hosts weekly music shows of all varieties.

Within Zydeco is Birmingham’s second oldest bar, serving up delicious spirits all night long.

Additionally, Zydeco has great food selections too.

Whether looking to get down on the dance floor in the concert hall, chill out in the establishment’s pub, or get a breath of fresh air at the patio, Zydeco never disappoints.

In addition to headlining musical acts, Zydeco hosts seasonal parties such as a Mardis Gras event, Super Bowl parties, tribute shows, and awesome holiday parties.

Country music, pop music, dance fests, death metal, and beyond can all be enjoyed at Zydeco.

No matter your musical fancy, there’s surely a show you’ll enjoy during your visit to the City of a Thousand Trades.

Address: 2001 15th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205, United States

26. Legion Field

Legion Field

Cdog91 , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Nicknamed “The Old Gray Lady,” Legion Field is a 71,000-seat sports stadium built in 1927.

Named in honor of the American Legion, Legion Field is home to the University of Alabama’s football team, the UAB Blazers.

Famous for hosting the Iron Bowl, Olympic soccer matches, and the Magic City Classic, the field is steeped in Alabaman history.

If visiting the area, tickets can be purchased seasonally to enjoy a football game or other special events.

If you’re unable to catch a sporting event during your visit to “The Old Gray Lady,” you can certainly enjoy a tour of the history-rich stadium.

Amazing memorials such as limestone sculptures and historical plaques can be appreciated throughout the venue.

What’s more, an ongoing renovation will ensure the field is in tip-top shape when you visit Alabama.

A fun way to spend an afternoon in the sun, a visit to Legion Field is a must when you’re in town.

Address: 400 Graymont Ave W, Birmingham, AL 35204, United States

27. Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure

If you’re looking for soaking wet fun for the whole family, be sure to plan a day at Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure .

With more than 25 exciting attractions suitable for all ages, this water park is a great place to spend a hot summer day.

Whether seeking high-speed thrills, relaxing water features, or PG fun for little ones, Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure has you covered.

With fast slides, splash pads, and a lazy river, there’s truly something for everyone.

Besides the water attractions, the park is packed with awesome amenities and extras.

Cabana rentals, gift shops, shows, and more all await you at this super-fun waterpark.

Furthermore, the park has lots of great dining options such as a pizza place, a candy shop, a pop shop, ice cream vendors, a grill, and a snack shack.

With tons of options for park adventure, breathtaking shows, and lots of great eateries, Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure is a place the whole family can enjoy.

Address: 4599 Splash Adventure Pkwy, Bessemer, AL 35022, United States

Start Planning Your Trip To Birmingham

Whether visiting Birmingham for relaxation, arts/culture, great eats, stupendous shows, majestic natural sights, or beyond, there is tons to do in The City of a Thousand Trades.

A delightful city with a rich industrious heritage, there are insightful and entertaining attractions in all parts of the city.

A legendary music scene, a teeming nightlife, sprawling natural attractions, sports, food, shopping, and more are all waiting for you in Birmingham.

Come by train, plane, or automobile and you’ll arrive at this divine city rife with tourism in no time.

So pack your bags and we’ll see you in Birmingham.

Happy travels.

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The 20 Best Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama

Our travel and culture editor shares her top picks for places that make the Magic City sparkle.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Explore The Culinary Scene

Enjoy the great outdoors, root for the home teams, grab a cold brew, visit favorite venues.

Minus four years down the road in Tuscaloosa at The University of Alabama, I’ve spent my entire life in Birmingham, Alabama. Founded in 1871, Birmingham experienced a meteoric rise in the early 20 th century as the iron and steel industries took off and it became a hotbed for production. Not so long after, the city found itself once making headlines, this time as a major battleground in the Civil Rights Movement.

At a public school about 20 minutes outside of downtown, I learned about Birmingham’s history, but the implications its origins have had on making the city what it is today were largely lost on me. I wrote Birmingham as my return address and claimed it as my hometown, but we may as well have been perfect strangers.

It wasn’t until I graduated college and returned home that Birmingham began to unfold to me. I spent humid summer evenings sweating and sipping beer at local breweries. I took midday walks through the pink muhly grass at Railroad Park in early fall. And I dined at countless restaurants —of both the white tablecloth and picnic bench variety—where I began procuring a list of all the places that now taste like home.

Working for a city magazine gave me a backstage pass to the passion and people behind the city’s renaissance, and when it came time to choose a place for my husband’s residency four years later, Birmingham was the only choice. Sure, we toyed with the idea of venturing out west, but the tug of the Steel City eventually won out. It has continued to anchor me here ever since. Here are my favorite places to spend time in Birmingham, the city I call home.

Birmingham is no newcomer to the national dining scene. It’s received plenty of attention for standouts like Frank Stitt’s James Beard winning Highlands Bar & Grill and Southern institutions like longtime meat-and-three Niki’s West , but there’s much more to Birmingham’s food story than meets the eye.

Try Authentic Southern-Style Barbecue

Courtesy of SAW'S BBQ

In a state full of great barbecue, I always recommend SAW’s Soul Kitchen for melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork and fall-off-the-bone smoked wings, but also the most tender, delicately fried whole okra you’ll find anywhere. If brisket and smoked chicken are more up your alley, head to Miss Myra's Pit Bar B Que , where you'll want to order an extra side of Alabama white sauce and save room for a slice of homemade pie.

Get a Taste of the Music City with Hot Chicken

Courtesy of Eugene's Hot Chicken

One of my go-to spots when I'm craving something delicious but unfussy is Eugene’s Hot Chicken . What started as a popular food truck serving up addicting, crispy, hot fried chicken has picked up steam and now has two locations in Hoover and downtown. Outside of Prince's in Nashville, where the dish supposedly originated, there's nowhere better to try the Southern delicacy.

www.eugeneshotchicken.com , 2268 9th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

Have a Patio Po'boy

Courtesy of The Rougaroux

I'm a sucker for al fresco dining nearly any time of year, but something about sitting on The Rougaroux's kitschy front porch and having a crawfish po'boy in springtime feels extra right. The Viet Cajun Seafood Po'boy with Breaux Bridge crawfish, Gulf shrimp, garlic butter, lemongrass, ginger, and chiles on Leidenheimer bread is perfection.

www.rougarouxbhm.com , 817 39th St S, Birmingham, AL

Eat Thai Food at a Gas Station

They say the best things come in small packages, and in this case, the package is both small and a little bit odd. Housed in a converted gas station, Blue Pacific grew from having a small but devoted suburban following to demanding the attention of the entire city. If you can, visit this Thai eatery on a Tuesday or Thursday and order the beef or pork noodle soup special.

www.facebook.com/bluepacificathooverfoodmart , 3219 Lorna Rd, Birmingham, AL 35216

Enjoy a Fancy Dinner Out at Bottega

When I’m looking for a date night spot, few places match Bottega Café’s quality, service, and value. The Southern-Italian menu means you can slurp up a plate of indulgently simple spaghetti carbonara or marvel at the masterpiece of a perfectly cooked pork chop with collards, polenta, and a seasonal fruit relish. Sit at the bar and order one of the best deals in town—half a wood-fired pizza, plus a side salad and a local beer for $15 flat.

bottegarestaurant.com , 2240 Highland Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205

Get Authentic Chicago-Style Pizza

Courtesy of Tortugas Homemade Pizza

Deep-dish pizza is hard to find outside of Chicago, and it can be even harder to get your hands on in the Deep South. At Tortugas Homemade Pizza , the recipes come straight from the Windy City. The Vizcaino family has been feeding the city since 1999, and with their new downtown location across the street from Regions Park, they're delighting new generations of pizza lovers.

www.tortugaspizza.com , 1304 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

Check Out the Neighborhood Gin Bar

For post-dinner drinks, I love the charming courtyard at Juniper . The whimsical gin bar in historic Forest Park also has a killer happy hour featuring $7 jasmine gimlets and Spanish-style gin and tonics. If it's a blustery day, opt for a table inside where you can enjoy the gallery walls covered in gold-framed floral paintings and get your picture on their famous velvet swinging couch.

www.juniperbham.com , 3811 Clairmont Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

Sample Cocktails from Around the World

Another favorite is Continental Drift , an eclectic cocktail bar in the heart of downtown. Run by two of the city’s favorite bartenders, the bar is known for its rotating menu of cocktails inspired by a country or region around the world.   

www.continentaldriftbham.com , 2201 7th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

Set Your Sights on Island Time

One of Birmingham's newest additions, Tucana Tiki Bar is exactly the type of place you'll want to go if you're looking for an escape—or just a fun night out. The playful bar is known for creative glassware, cozy corners, and delicious Tiki-style cocktails, including some served for a crowd.

www.tucanatiki.com , 1143 1st Ave S Suite 101, Birmingham, AL 35233

One of the greatest things about Birmingham is it's a four-season city, but temperatures stay relatively mild all year round. That means you'll have plenty of opportunities to go outside and enjoy the beauty of Sweet Home Alabama .

Spend Time in the City's Favorite Park

There’s no place where I feel the heartbeat of the city more than in Railroad Park . This is Birmingham’s backyard, where everyone comes together to celebrate a sunny day, to take a lunchtime stroll, or to attend a free evening yoga class.

railroadpark.org , 1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

Hike to See Waterfalls in a Wooded Nature Preserve

Courtesy City of Hoover

One of Birmingham’s biggest draws is its abundance of parks and preserves. I grew up hiking around the boulder outcroppings in Moss Rock Preserve and still love spending time there today. Several of the trails lead you by burbling brooks and cascading falls.

www.hooveral.org , 617 Preserve Way, Hoover, AL 35226

Go Mountain Biking at Red Mountain Park

Another popular nature preserve, Red Mountain Park is popular for hikers and pet owners (there's even a designated dog park). But the sector of the city that may have been most excited about the 1,500-acre park's 2012 opening was adventure cyclists. The park boasts 16 miles of multi-use trails, lots of which are suitable for beginning mountain bikers and even families.

redmountainpark.org , 2011 Frankfurt Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211

It's no secret that the state of Alabama is crazy about college football. Birmingham is no different, but the town has also made room for other sports to thrive.

See the Minor League Baseball Team

Summer isn’t summer without attending a Birmingham Barons baseball game at Regions Field—especially on a Thursday night when beer is only $2 a tallboy or a Tuesday when hotdogs cost just 50 cents.

www.milb.com , 1401 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

Visit Protective Stadium

Getty Images

In recent years, Birmingham has upped its sports ante, and I’ve enjoyed watching Legion soccer games, Birmingham Stallion USFL games, and UAB football at the newly built Protective Stadium. I’ve found that cheering on my home team is fun no matter the sport.  

protectivestadium.com , 1020 24th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203

On weekends, you'll find most Birminghamians hanging out at one of the city’s 10-plus breweries, each with their own character and lineup of craft beers.

Visit a Beloved Brewpub

At Back Forty , enjoy sprawling outdoor seating and one of the city’s best burgers. The homegrown craft brewery originated north of the city in Gadsden, Alabama, but was fully embraced by Birminghamians by the time it made its way south in 2018.

www.backfortybeer.com , 3201 1st Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35222

Order a Flight of Special-Edition Brews

Hipster hangout Trim Tab is known for delighting zythophiles with small-batch series like their popular Beach Club fruited sour ales. The downtown taproom regularly hosts parties, complete with DJs, fun merch, and themed releases of innovative brews.

www.trimtabbrewing.com , 2721 5th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

Hang with Locals in the City's Favorite Beer Garden

In mild weather, there’s no better place to while away an afternoon than at The Garage , a beer garden populated with garden antiques, hanging wisteria, and plenty of locals. Until very recently, the bar only took cash. That didn't stop locals from piling in for a beer and famous Fritz Sandwich, a cold-cut monstrosity featuring every topping they list on their build-your-own sandwich menu.

https://facebook.com/TheGarageBham , 10th Terrace S, Birmingham, AL 35205

If I want to have a quintessential Birmingham day, these spots always fill me with unbridled hometown pride.

Spend Time in Pepper Place

On Saturday mornings, you can usually catch me at Pepper Place , one of the city’s biggest success stories. The commercial revitalization project transformed 350,000 square feet of former warehouses and manufacturing facilities into a vibrant entertainment and retail district. I start my morning with a spin class at local fitness studio Ignite Cycle , then follow the twang of banjo music to Pepper Place Market , a giant farmer’s market that brings farmers, craftspeople, and vendors from across the state to town every Saturday morning.

Catch a Live Show

For a city of its size, Birmingham attracts an impressive lineup of musicians who take time to stop here during their tours. The city's venues are as diverse and wonderful as the acts they bring in. The historic and grand Alabama Theatre and Lyric Theatre give the air of a special night out. Avondale Brewing Company's expansive backyard is ideal for summer shows, and across the street Saturn is the perfect indie venue for more intimate performances.

Meet the City's Mascot

Every first visit to the Magic City should be christened with a visit to the Vulcan Park & Museum . The Roman god of fire and forge pays homage to Birmingham's roots as an iron and steel town, while he watches over the city from atop Red Mountain. Though I've visited our favorite cast-iron mascot countless times, the view from his perch never loses its magic.

visitvulcan.com , 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209

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Discover the best that Southern USA has to offer! Hidden gems, vibrant cities and more!

View overlooking the city of birmingham with green trees, city lights, and an orange sky.

15 Best Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama You Shouldn’t Miss

August 2, 2021 //  by  Southern Trippers

If you’re traveling deep into the heart of Dixie, you must check out our list of Best Things To Do In Birmingham Alabama! Whether you’re interested in the history of the civil rights movement or going on a food tour, you can do it all in Birmingham.

Not only is Birmingham significant historically, it also made it on our list of 14 Prettiest Cities in the South, USA , so perhaps you would just enjoy visiting and site seeing the old city of Birmingham.

From walking trails to ghost tours, great views to great food, Birmingham tourist attractions vary in taste and type, so there will be no boredom in this city!

We have places to go in Birmingham on this list, and a couple of places to visit near Birmingham for those who want to really go out into the glorious Alabama nature and explore!

Undergroud bridge in Birmingham lit up in rainbow colors with a bus driving through.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Of all the places to visit in Birmingham, probably the very best known is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

And for good reason, it is one of the best places to visit while you’re there for numerous reasons.

It reminds us of our horrific past which, while heart breaking, is crucial to making sure history does not repeat itself. If Americans forget their history, they will fall into the same pitfalls of cruelty they did before.

Not only does it remind each person of the shortcomings of their ancestors, but there is also so much hope and encouragement there too.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a place which reminds us and educates us about the African American people who helped make Alabama what it is, and not only that, but those who were brave enough to invision and pursue a world free of the cruel treatment and segregation that they endured.

If you are interested in more Black History, check out our article 16 Interesting Black History Sites in the South, USA !

Civil rights institute display of segregated drinking fountains, one titled "white," and the other "colored."

Civil Rights Bus Tour

The Civil Rights Tour is a very important Birmingham attraction, and it goes hand in hand with the Civil Rights Institute (and since the tour begins right by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, you can do both, one after another!)

The tour will try and hit all the most significant Civil Rights associated locations, including the place where the Children’s March of 1963 took place, Dynamite Hill, various churches and houses of importance, and more!

This is a fantastic way to learn more about the history of Birmingham and the African Americans who lived there, especially if you don’t know where to start.

Book here: Civil Rights Tour

Birmingham Museum of Art

Here’s to the artists and art enthusiasts out there!

If you’re in the area, don’t miss the Birmingham Museum of Art. A fantastic Birmingham tourist attraction for individuals or the whole family.

There are three stories worth of art and exhibits to explore, and a huge collection of Asian art. In addition to that, they have African art and Native American art to examine.

Whether you favor an eclectic style of art, or perhaps Wedgwood pottery, this museum has a lot to offer!

New to art, or a seasoned critic, there is much for you to see and learn here, and it is well worth your time!

Make sure to check out our list of the best cities and small towns in Alabama for inspiration on where to visit next!

The Oscar Wells Memorial at the Birmingham Museum of Art lit up at night with a dark blue sky, best things to do in Birmingham AL.

Go on a Food Tour

There are some great options for food tours in Birmingham! Whether you want a brunch food tour or a food tour that offers variety–from an Irish pub to a southern eatery–there are plenty of options to satisfy you palette.

While there are various taste tour companies you can choose from based on your preferences, a good place to start is Eat, Drink, and Ride Food Tour . This will take you by the best 4 to 5 local spots that most visitors miss!

If that tour doesn’t suit your fancy, there are several others to choose from! At Birmingham Taste Tours , you will not only will you get the chance to try an array of cuisines, you also get the opportunity to speak with the chefs, farmers, staff, and artisans who make it all happen.

This is such a fun thing to do in Birmingham, you won’t regret the culinary adventure!

Book here: Eat, Drink, and Ride Food Tour

A bowl of fried chicken next to a beer and some ketchup, served with lemons.

Walk the Vulcan Trail

If you’d like to get out of the big city and explore nature, check out one of the outdoor activities in Birmingham, Vulcan Trail. This trail in located in Vulcan Park and is a lovely forest path which runs for four miles.

Whether you prefer running, walking, biking, or frolicking, this trail is perfect! The crushed gravel makes for easy travel and a clear path.

In addition, the path is only a portion of the Red Rock Trail System, so if you are looking for longer hiking and more nature, be sure to check that out!

Kiwanis Club plaque at Vulcan Park surrounded by pink heather, best things to do in Birmingham.

See the Vulcan Statue

If you are up to date on your Roman mythology, you may recognize this name as the forge and fire god. But it may be surprising to you that an American city such as Birmingham built a 56-foot tall cast iron statue of this roman god, the largest in the world!

Well, when you consider Birmingham’s roots, it makes much more sense. Birmingham had an industry of iron and steel, which is why the god of the forge was so apropos to their city.

Not only does it have that explicit meaning, but it also serves a more symbolic purpose, that is, the undying spark of Birmingham’s unconquerable spirit. For these reasons it’s a great Birmingham tourist attraction.

So, if you plan on visiting Birmingham, you must go check out the Vulcan statue, it’s a incredible monument symbolizing the roots and beginnings of this historical city.

Close up of the vulcan state at vulcan park in birmingham with a blue sky and some clouds.

Go on a Ghost Tour

Perhaps you like speculating about the supernatural, or maybe you’ve got it all figured out. Either way, you may enjoy a haunting tour through cemeteries, churches, hotels, or areas of past riots.

There are several different tours to choose from, but one place to start is with the Birmingham Ghost Walk – Hotels Churches and Riots Tour .

You can hear stories about murders that took place, and not only have some trouble sleeping soundly, but also learn more about the history of Birmingham.

This is one Birmingham attraction that everyone won’t enjoy; it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart!

If you are a thrill seeker in search of a night of fright, this is the tourist attraction for you.

Book here: The Birmingham Ghost Walk – Hotels Churches and Riots Tour

Railroad Park

In downtown Birmingham you can find the perfect spot for picnicking, walking, riding, exercise, or just enjoying nature.

Railroad Park is made up of 19 acres of beautiful green space, a lake, rivers, and trees. There are walking trails, outdoor gym equipment, a skating area, and plenty of space to play fetch with your dog, throw a ball with your friends, or just enjoy a little meal with your loved ones.

Or maybe you’d like a romantic rendezvous with a lovely view? Then you’ll have to check out the Boxcar Cafe!

In addition to those things, you can join in special events that take place at the park, from a Cajun Cook Off to Symphony in the Summer, there’s plenty to do at this lovely park in Birmingham and such a variety that it can suit everyone, from the jocks to the romantics!

This is definitely one of the best Birmingham attractions, so don’t forget to check it out!

Open green field at Railroad Park, one of the best things to do in Birmingham, with tall buildings and a cloudy sky in the background.

Pizitz Food Hall

When you are looking for a place to take a break from site seeing and chow down, everyone has their differing tastes, and finding a restaurant to suit everyone can be a challenge.

But at the Pizitz Food Hall everyone can be satisfied; it’s the perfect place to go in Birmingham find a bite to eat.

This is a food hall with many different stalls and restaurants and a variety of different ethnic and American cuisines to choose from.

From traditional Israeli food to the classic southern fried chicken, Indian Kati rolls to Hawaiian poké bowls, and much more, Pizitz Food Hall offers visitors the opportunity to try food from many different countries, and all in one place!

Oak Mountain State Park

This is one place to visit near Birmingham, and it’s something you definitely don’t want to miss!

Oak Mountain State Park is located about 20 miles south of Birmingham, but it is absolutely worth the drive. It is also the largest of the state parks in Alabama, boasting of 9,940 acres.

There are many activities to enjoy at this park, varying from trails and swimming for those wishing to relax, to cable wake boarding and mountain biking for the more adventurous!

Geocaching and discovering a waterfall are also activities you can enjoy at this park.

In fact, there are so many wonderful things to do in Oak Mountain State Park that you might even want to stay a night or two, then make you way back up to Birmingham.

Oak Mountain State Park, one of the best things to do near Birmingham, with a forest in the background and a blue lake.

Sloss Furnaces

If you’re more interested in the history oriented parts of Birmingham, you will be glad to know that there is a historic national landmark you can explore while you’re visiting!

Sloss Furnaces was of great economic importance in the early days of Birmingham (and by “early,” we mean the late 1800’s!).

It is now linked to the Railroad Park by a path called the Rotary Trail. You can explore the furnaces on your own, or arrange for a guided tour and get to know all about the importance and the history from a tour guide highly educated on the subject.

This is also a fantastic place for photography, whether professional or amateur.

This is a super cool place to go in Birmingham, and you don’t want to miss out on the experience!

Metal junk with sloss furnaces and blue sky in the background.

Explore the Red Rock Trail System

The Red Rock Trail System is a wonderful outdoor activity in Birmingham, and whether you want to run, walk, or bike, this is the place to go!

It is composed on 125 miles of trails, and connects various parks, sidewalks, and bike lanes. This trail system makes it’s way throughout Jefferson County, but the majority of it is in Birmingham.

Railroad Park is also apart of the Red Rock Trail System, so if you are feeling super outdoorsy one day, perhaps you’d like to have an adventure and explore the trail system and the Rotary Trail!

This is a fun way to get to see the city, and a great thing to do with the kids to get their energy out! But whether you’re with the family or solo, with a group of friends or just with someone special, this is a great way to explore Birmingham and get a feel for the place.

Black and white picture of the metal sign which starts the Rotary Trail System.

See a Show at the Alabama Theatre

This historical theatre was built in 1927, and is still in use today!

The theatre is used for plays, musicals, and special events. So whether you want to feel like the hight of sophistication and watch a performance there, or make it the center for you special day, the Alabama Theatre will wow you with it’s elegance and majesty.

There are even concerts there, and occasionally movies.

This is one of the best places to visit in Birmingham, not only for it’s historical significance, but also for itself. It’s an incredible building and you won’t regret your visit!

Close up picture of a sign reading "Alabama" for the Alabama Theatre, attatched to an old building with a blue sky in the background.

McWane Science Center

This one is probably the best thing to do in Birmingham with kids.

McWane Science Center is interactive on a high level, and sure you keep your children’s attention. They have created a place where children can learn through hands on experience and explore the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

McWane aims to inspire children with curiosity and a desire to learn about the world around them.

So, whether you’re young or old, STEM oriented or just along for the ride, the McWane Science Center is a great place to visit, and even if it isn’t your cup of tea, the kids will thank you!

Dinosaur skeleton at McWane Science Center, one of the best things to do in Birmingham, surrounded by plants.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

For all the nature lovers, beauty lovers, and flower lovers out there, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are one of the best outdoor activities in Birmingham!

This place is INCREDIBLE. From gardens, to a gift shop, to a cafe, and a library, this place seems to have it all. Not only does it have all that, but you could spend hours and hours looking at all their beautiful flowers.

Perhaps your taste is more appreciative of the elegantly sophisticated, then you would enjoy visiting the Formal Garden or Hill Garden. Prefer a more rural beauty? Take a walk over to Hulsey Woods or Hess Camellia Garden. They even have a Japanese inspired garden.

Take your pick, it’s all stunning! You can arrange for a tour, or explore for yourself. There are photography rules in place to make sure that all visitors have a good experience while at the gardens, but you can still take some gorgeous pictures while following the rules!

Whichever garden suits your fancy, it will be worth it. There are so many flowers and their website even contains a neat list letting you know which flowers are in bloom when!

Pond at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, one of the best things to do in Birmingham, with purple and green water lilies floating in it.

Top Things to Do in Birmingham, AL

Places to visit in birmingham, explore popular experiences, ways to tour birmingham.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Birmingham Civil Rights Tour- Riding & Walking

cool places to visit in birmingham al

The Birmingham Ghost Walk - Hotels Churches and Riots Tour

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Wild Cave Adventure Tour

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Super City Birmingham Hop On Hop Off Driving App Tour

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Zombie Scavengers Game - Birmingham, AL

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Sips of Birmingham Tour

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Experience Birmingham - The Historic Highlights

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Birmingham Area Multi-Attraction Pass

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Birmingham Bash Scavenger Hunt

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The Birmingham Downtown Ghost Self-Guided Walking Tour

Fun & games.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Top Attractions in Birmingham

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Other Top Attractions around Birmingham

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Historical Tours

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Walking Tours

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Ghost Tours

Half-day tours.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Self-guided Tours

Audio guides, what travellers are saying.

GingerGoodness

Birmingham   Travel Guide

Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto | Getty Images

cool places to visit in birmingham al

11 Best Things To Do in Birmingham

Updated Feb. 11, 2021

Once an industrial hub of the South and ground zero for the civil rights movement, Birmingham is now a vibrant and diverse metropolis, known for its wide array of outdoor spaces and golf courses. Catch a bird's-eye view of the city from the iconic Vu

  • All Things To Do

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Civil Rights District Civil Rights District free

To learn more about Birmingham's role in the civil rights movement, plan a visit to the Civil Rights District. This six-block area in downtown Birmingham encompasses several historic sites, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the A.G. Gaston Gardens and the Fourth Avenue Business District, among other points of interest.

Perhaps the most significant site is Kelly Ingram Park, which played host to civil rights rallies, demonstrations and confrontations in the 1960s, including the Children's Crusade. You can take a self-led walking tour through the park to learn about the notable protesters and the significant incidents of this turbulent time in the city's history, detailed by markers along the Freedom Walk route. The park is also home to the Four Spirits statues, which honor the four African American girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. To fully experience the walk, you can access a free audio tour from your cell phone by calling 205-307-5455.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Birmingham Railroad Park Birmingham Railroad Park free

Known as "Birmingham's Living Room," the 19-acre Railroad Park is where locals gather for recreational activities, concerts and special events. The park features a lake, jogging trails, skate bowls, an outdoor gym, playgrounds and the partially covered 17th Street Plaza, which offers restrooms and the Railroad Park Dining Car.

Recent travelers said this local favorite is a gorgeous green space. Reviewers commented on the clean restrooms, beautiful gardens, picnic facilities and scenic trails. Parents noted that their kids loved watching the trains go by at the adjacent railroad yard. 

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Birmingham Botanical Gardens free

Spanning more than 65 acres, these gorgeous gardens are known for their diverse plant collections. In fact, there are 30 thematic gardens divided into three categories: Gardens of Collections, Gardens of Nature and Gardens of Culture. You'll also find the only public horticultural library in the United States here. What's more, programs and workshops are available for both children and adults, and the Bruno Vegetable Garden provides food for Birmingham's needy. The gardens also feature several paths for walking and jogging, making it a great spot for both recreation and relaxation.

Recent visitors said a visit to the botanical gardens is a fun and inexpensive way to spend an afternoon outdoors. Many commented on the variety of birds, as well as the diverse landscapes, from Japanese gardens to native woodlands. All agreed that the facility is well-maintained and appreciated its many amenities, including a restaurant, lots of outdoor seating and a gift shop.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Popular Tours

Birmingham Civil Rights Tour- Riding & Walking

Birmingham Civil Rights Tour- Riding & Walking

(656 reviews)

from $ 63.85

The Birmingham Ghost Walk - Hotels Churches and Riots Tour

The Birmingham Ghost Walk - Hotels Churches and Riots Tour

(114 reviews)

from $ 40.00

Experience Birmingham - The Historic Highlights

Experience Birmingham - The Historic Highlights

(18 reviews)

from $ 100.00

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute presents the moving story of the city's role in the civil rights movement, focusing not just on the past, but also on the continuing international struggle for human rights through permanent and temporary galleries. Exhibits detail some of the most significant events in Birmingham's history, including the tragic loss of life at the 16th Street Baptist Church during a bombing orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

Most visitors call this museum a moving experience and a wonderful way to learn about the civil rights movement and its impact on our nation. Although the museum is family-friendly, some say the Confrontation Gallery (where visitors hear recorded voices of children and adults – both black and white – sharing sentiments they would only say behind closed doors) is disturbing and very emotional. Many recommend combining a visit to the institute with a walking tour of the downtown Civil Rights District.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Birmingham Museum of Art Birmingham Museum of Art free

Despite its small size, this art museum houses a notable and eclectic collection of Asian, European, Native American and African art, not to mention one of the best collections of Wedgwood in the country (in fact, it houses the most Wedgwood outside of England).

Recent visitors were impressed with the museum's noteworthy collection of Wedgwood, along with the Samuel Kress collection of European art and its Remington works. Reviewers also appreciated the free admission and free parking, and praised the museum's other facilities, including its on-site eatery and gift shop. However, a few noted that the outdoor art installation is somewhat overgrown and neglected.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Red Mountain Park Red Mountain Park free

There's something for everyone at Red Mountain Park, where miners once toiled to extract iron ore from the red soil. The 1,500-acre park features more than 15 miles of trails, two scenic overlooks, three treehouses, an off-leash dog park and adventures from zip lining and climbing to a ropes course.

Many visitors loved the zip line and ropes courses, but bemoaned the poorly marked and confusing trail signs and the lack of proper restrooms (the park does offer portable toilets). Most said the trails – not particularly long or challenging – are more for walkers than hikers, including families with strollers and small children. Pet owners also appreciated the dog park, as well as the plentiful free parking. 

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Oxmoor Valley and Ross Bridge Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Oxmoor Valley and Ross Bridge

One of the largest golf course construction projects ever attempted, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail showcases a collection of public courses throughout the state of Alabama, including two courses in the Birmingham area, all designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Oxmoor Valley offers three courses: the Ridge with heavy tree cover and big elevation changes, the Valley with scenic lakes throughout and the Short course, which features 18 one-shot holes. The other local course, Ross Bridge, is one of the longest in the world and features two large lakes connected by a stunning waterfall.

Visiting golfers love both Oxmoor Valley and Ross Bridge, although many note that Ross Bridge is not only visually stunning, but also more challenging. Most reviewers complimented the excellent service at both courses and noted that one of the benefits of playing on RTJ courses is that the tee boxes vary to accommodate players from novice to expert. Experienced golfers preferred the diversity at the Ross Bridge course and said that it's in great shape, while some described the Oxmoor Valley course as "tired." Many golfers loved playing in November, when the weather is still fairly warm. 

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

If you're a gearhead, you won't want to miss George Barber's collection of motorcycles – the largest in the world, according to Guinness – featuring more than 1,400 bikes from 200 different manufacturers. The museum also houses an extensive selection of Lotus Cars, if you prefer four wheels to two.

Recent visitors called this museum a "world-class facility" and said that even if you're not into motorcycles, this collection is worth seeing. Other reviewers praised the assortment of Lotus Cars and the outdoor track, which hosts the Porsche Sport Driving School. The only gripe among recent visitors concerned the museum's facilities, or lack thereof: museumgoers said they would love to see a cafe or eatery added to the grounds.

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Wild Cave Adventure Tour

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1963 Birmingham Civil Rights Experience - Black History Matters Walking Tour

1963 Birmingham Civil Rights Experience - Black History Matters Walking Tour

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from $ 50.00

Birmingham Area Multi-Attraction Pass

Birmingham Area Multi-Attraction Pass

(8 reviews)

from $ 36.00

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Vulcan Park and Museum Vulcan Park and Museum

Overlooking the city of Birmingham is a bearded man that pays homage to Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge. The largest cast iron statue in the world, Vulcan is a reminder of the city's iron mining roots. Visitors can ascend the Vulcan tower for spectacular, open-air city views or explore the ground-level museum to learn more about Birmingham's history. The park is also home to the city's official visitor center.

Recent visitors enjoyed the local legend surrounding the statue and said the trip up the tower is well worth the ticket. Some reviewers do caution, though, that the open grated floor on the observation deck may be a problem for those with a fear of heights. Most agreed that the museum is interesting, and noted this is a good attraction to visit on Sunday mornings, when most other attractions are closed.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

McWane Science Center McWane Science Center

Kids of all ages will enjoy the interactive McWane Science Center. An integral part of the revitalization of downtown Birmingham, the center is located in the historic Loveman's department store building. Hands-on exhibits include the Fox 6 Weather Lab, the High Cycle (a high-wire bicycle that teaches visitors about the laws of gravity), the Itty Bitty Magic City and the Shark and Ray Touch Tank. The center also boasts an Imax theater.

Both parents and grandparents say McWane is a "super fun" place to spend a day with the kids, especially since the center appeals to a variety of age groups. Families that visited said they appreciated the option to purchase Imax theater admission separately and enjoyed the convenience of the on-site food court. However, some reviewers said the exhibits need to be updated more often.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

The art deco Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is located in the Carver Theatre in the heart of the Civil Rights District. Exhibits honor Alabama jazz greats, including Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Beyond its collection of memorabilia and personal effects, the theater also presents shows by local jazz artists and comedians. The theater itself also plays a significant role in the city's civil rights history: it was one of several theaters offering first-run movies to African Americans.

Recent visitors called this small museum "a hidden jewel" and a must-see for jazz fans. However, some were disappointed with its petite size (it spans more than 2,200 square feet). But with an entrance fee of just $2, most travelers say it's an enjoyable stop to see memorabilia, ranging from Ray Charles' piano to Ella Fitzgerald's Neiman Marcus credit card. 

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Explore More of Birmingham

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The 15 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

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The Best Things to do in Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham may get overshadowed by the South’s more-famous cities, but that doesn’t mean you should skip over this place. Take a chance on Birmingham, and we have no doubt you’ll fall head over heels for this vibrant Southern city! From bustling craft breweries to iconic civil rights landmarks to world-class museums, there’s a lot to love about Alabama ‘s second-largest city.

With its industrial roots and steel industry, Birmingham is known as “The Magic City,” referring to the city’s rapid growth in the late-18th century. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find that Birmingham pays homage to its industrial roots with unique attractions like the dystopian-esque Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark and the massive Vulcan statue that’s perched on Red Mountain high above the city. 

But delve a bit deeper, and you’ll find that modern-day Birmingham is a hub for culture, arts, and cuisine. You can easily spend your days getting your fill of Alabama-style barbecue in a hole-in-the-wall eatery or dining in a trendy food hall, getting a culture fix at the Birmingham Museum of Art, or catching a show at the historic Alabama Theatre. Plus, if you want to get out in nature, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the city’s green spaces and nature reserves.

With so many cool things to see, do, and eat, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Birmingham for you. Stick to these fun and unique Birmingham bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring The Magic City!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Birmingham

1. eat your way through the pizitz food hall.

Best Things to do in Birmingham: The Pizitz Food Hall

If you’re a foodie, a visit to The Pizitz Food Hall should be at the top of your Birmingham bucket list. Set right in the heart of downtown, this is the perfect place to mingle with a group of friends over delicious food and drinks.

One of the coolest things about this trendy food hall is that you’ll have 12 totally unique food stalls to choose from – so there really is something for everyone in your group! 

You can sample fragrant Vietnamese pho at Pho Pho, snack on traditional Indian street food at Silver Kati, nosh on Southern fried chicken sandwiches at J Wings, indulge with fried shrimp and oyster po’boys at The Broad Street Peaux Boys, or fill up on spicy ahi tuna poke bowls at Ono Poké. For dessert, pick up a sweet treat from Birmingham Candy Co. or Edolyn’s Pies. 

For those who want to imbibe, there is a popular bar in the center of the food hall, which has 12 beers on tap and an impressive menu of specialty cocktails. Plus, they have great happy hour specials Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm!

2. Get a History Lesson at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Best Things to do in Birmingham: Civil Rights Institute

No trip to Birmingham is complete without educating yourself about the city’s role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. And there’s no better place to do that than the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute . 

Located in the heart of the Civil Rights District, the museum houses all sorts of permanent, rotating, and interactive exhibitions that highlight the Civil Rights Movement, African-American life, events and conflicts in Birmingham in the 20 th century, and the continued fight for human rights in general. 

Cool Things to do in Birmingham: Civil Rights Institute

Explore the museum, and you’ll also find sobering relics of segregation, including separate drinking fountains and classrooms for white and black students. Depending on when you visit, the Institute also hosts a range of educational events.

Once you’ve finished perusing the Institute, you can stroll around the Civil Rights District and see the area’s top sites, including the 16th Street Baptist Church , Kelly Ingram Park , and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame .

3. Get Cultured at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Art enthusiasts can’t visit Birmingham without stopping off at the Birmingham Museum of Art . Located in the Cultural District, you’ll find over 25,000 works of art spread throughout three stories. With an impressive range from ancient to contemporary, there’s a reason this is one of the top Birmingham attractions for art experts and novices alike!

Peruse the museum, and you’ll find an incredible collection of Asian art, including an array of beautiful Vietnamese ceramics. There is also the American decorative arts collection, where you can glimpse 2,000 porcelain works, metalwork, textiles, and more. The acclaimed African art gallery is equally as impressive and features everything from intricate beadwork to ornate headdresses.

After that, head over to the European art section, and you’ll find works from the likes of Salvador Dalí and Camille Pissarro. If that’s not enough, the museum also hosts a range of events and special exhibitions. Plus, if you’re visiting in the summer months, you can attend one of the museum’s popular Art on the Rocks events!

4. Take Artsy Photographs of the Sloss Furnaces

Birmingham Bucket List: Sloss Furnaces

The Sloss Furnaces operated from 1882 until 1970 and was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world. Fast-forward to today, and the Sloss Furnaces are still standing proud as a National Historic Landmark and a reminder of Birmingham’s industrial roots. 

Taking a self-guided tour of the Sloss Furnaces is easily one of the most unique things to do in Birmingham. And if photography is your thing, you can’t miss out on a trip to this dystopian-esque site. 

Fun Things to do in Birmingham: Sloss Furnaces

Visiting the Sloss Furnaces is a cinch since they’re located in the North Lakeview Industrial District, just a couple miles from the heart of downtown. Before embarking on your self-guided tour, you’ll need to sign in at the Visitors Center, where you can also pick up a handy self-guided tour brochure.

As you walk around the grounds, you’ll learn all about the iron-making process, the working conditions of the workers, and the site’s important role in The Magic City’s history. If you do plan to take photographs, be sure to head over to their website to read the rules on taking photos of this one-of-a-kind Birmingham attraction.

5. Meet Exotic Animals at the Birmingham Zoo

Best Things to do in Birmingham: Exotic Animals at the Birmingham Zoo

Set adjacent to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Zoo is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Birmingham. The sprawling zoo is set on 122 acres of land and is home to 550 animals and 180 species, including a range of endangered species. 

Explore the grounds, and you’ll find everything from red pandas, lions, and giraffes to orangutans, rhinos, and elephants. Time your visit right and you can check out all sorts of fun shows and events, including sea lion shows, animal training sessions, and reptile feeding events. 

Birmingham Things to do: Exotic Animals at the Birmingham Zoo

If you want to get up close and personal with creatures like sea lions or American black bears, you can purchase tickets for a variety of “Animal Encounters.” The zoo also features special sections, including Trails of Africa, the Children’s Zoo, and so much more!

6. Take a Break at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Fun Things to do in Birmingham: Botanical Gardens

After you check out all of the majestic animals at the Birmingham Zoo, you can spend an hour or two unwinding in the incredible Birmingham Botanical Gardens . Located right next door to the zoo, the Botanical Gardens are displayed in a beautiful 67-acre park that offers the perfect reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown Birmingham.

You’ll find that most of the gardens are dedicated to a specific type of plant. Take a stroll around, and you’ll find a formal rose garden, as well as entire areas filled with nothing but lilies, irises, and rhododendrons, to name a few. 

Unique Things to do in Birmingham: Botanical Gardens

If you’re interested in checking out the local flora, you’ll love the Gardens of Nature. After that, you can move on to the Gardens of Culture, which feature everything from Japanese gardens to herb gardens. Before you leave, it’s well worth paying a visit to the gift shop for a souvenir or The Gardens Cafe for some seriously impressive locally sourced dishes.

7. Pay a Visit to Pepper Place Saturday Market

What to do in Birmingham: Pepper Place Saturday Market

Visiting The Market at Pepper Place on a Saturday morning is hands down one of the most fun things to do in Birmingham. Time your visit right because The Market at Pepper Place is only open from 7 am to noon every Saturday.

An attraction unto itself, the market is actually set in an old industrial brick building that once housed a Dr Pepper bottling plant! The revamped building is now home to all sorts of trendy shops and restaurants. 

Must do things in Birmingham: Pepper Place Saturday Market

With over 100 vendors, this Certified Alabama Farmers Market is a great spot to pick up fresh local produce if you’re planning on an extended stay. If not, you can still peruse the stalls and pick up delicious meals, picnic supplies, or handmade local goods. From pottery and jewelry to fresh fruits and baked goods, you’ll find everything here.

If you’re hungry, you’ll have a range of vendors and food trucks to choose from. You can sample Southern-style boiled peanuts at Alabama Peanut Co., dig into Thai dishes from Tay Thai Street Food, indulge in chocolate chip cookies from 450 Bake Shop, and so much more!

8. Have a Scenic Picnic at Railroad Park

Birmingham Things to do: Picnic at Railroad Park

One of the coolest things about Birmingham is that it’s brimming with green spaces, and Railroad Park is one of the best! Set on 19 acres of lush land in the heart of downtown, this is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Meander around Railroad Park, and you’ll come across placid lakes, babbling rivers, and scenic hiking trails. If you want to get some exercise, the popular Rail Trail is an easy 0.75 miles and boasts incredible views over the city. 

Best Things to do in Birmingham: Picnic at Railroad Park

If you’re in town on a Saturday, it’s well worth stopping by The Market at Pepper Place farmers’ market to pick up a spread of farm-fresh picnic supplies. With plenty of sprawling lawns and hidden corners, Railroad Park is the perfect place to have a picnic lunch when the weather is nice. 

Depending on when you’re visiting, Railroad Park hosts tons of pop-up events throughout the year, including the free summer concert series, the annual Cajun Cook-Off, and the Cahaba River Fry Down!

9. Get Educated at the McWane Science Center

Cool Things to do in Birmingham: McWane Science Center

If you’re wondering what to do in Birmingham with kids, look no further than the McWane Science Center . Their goal is to “spark wonder and curiosity about our world through hands-on science.” With all of the fascinating interactive exhibits, fun experiments, and educational programs, there are endless things to keep you and your little ones occupied!

You’ll love exploring the permanent exhibits, which range from “Alabama Dinosaurs” to the “Fox 6 Weather Lab” to “Sea Monsters.” Explore the grounds, and you’ll also find the World of Water Aquariums, which are home to green Moray eel, moon jellyfish, and other incredible sea creatures. If you’re feeling brave, you can even get up close and personal with sea life in the Shark & Ray Tank!

Fun Things to do in Birmingham: McWane Science Center

After that, check out the Combustion and Lightning Strikes presentation at the state-of-the-art Rushton Science Theater, make oddly-shaped bubbles in the Bubble Room, take a trip to far-flung galaxies with the brand-new Virtual Reality Experience, and so much more! Plus, when you need to take a load off, you can head over to the on-site IMAX theater, which screens a variety of fascinating films each day.

10. Take a Scenic Hike at Ruffner Mountain

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center, Ruffner Mountain is the perfect place to get out in nature. Plus, this mecca for outdoor enthusiasts is set in Birmingham’s South East Lake neighborhood, just a quick 10-minute drive from downtown.

Now a 1,038-acre nature preserve, the area was used for mining from the late-1800s until the 1950s. To this day, you’ll still find forgotten ruins from the mountain’s mining past scattered around the nature preserve, including a massive quarry and defunct mines.

As one of the top Birmingham attractions, Ruffner Mountain boasts 12 miles of trails that are completely off-limits to vehicles and bicycles. If you’re up for a more challenging hike, head up the Overlook Trail, and you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of the city below. 

For something a bit more mellow, try Trillium Trail or the Lizard Loop. There are hiking and running trails for all abilities at Ruffner Mountain!

11. Sample Some of the Best BBQ in Alabama

Birmingham Things to do: Best BBQ in Alabama

No trip to Birmingham is complete without sampling the city’s top-notch barbecue and soul food dishes, complete with all the fixings. Birmingham is brimming with excellent barbeque and Southern soul food joints, but SAW’S Soul Kitchen is one of the best!

You can choose from the traditional Original Pulled Pork sandwich or the Pork n’Greens plate or go for the more creative Sweet Tea Fried Chicken Sandwich or the Fried Green Tomato BLT. Either way, you’ll want to add on some addictive sides like the Cheese Grits, Fried Pickles, and Mac and Cheese.

What to do in Birmingham: Best BBQ in Alabama

The iconic Dreamland Bar-B-Que is another local favorite and is the place to go for some of the best ribs in town. Founded by “Big Daddy” John Bishop, this Alabama chain has garnered tons of awards and acclaim for its barbecue. Big Daddy was even inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2019 – so you know this place is the real deal!

12. See a Show at the Historic Alabama Theatre

Unique Things to do in Birmingham: Alabama Theatre

Catching a show at the historic Alabama Theatre is a great option if you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly thing to do in Birmingham. Dating back to 1927, this beautiful theater was built by Paramount and used as a movie house for 55 years. It is now listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and the National Register of Historic Places.

Nowadays, the theater is used for all sorts of entertainment events, including classic film screenings, plays, concerts, musicals, and more! The Alabama Theatre hosts roughly 150 events each year, so it’s well worth checking out the website to see what’s going on during your visit.

Best Things to do in Birmingham: Alabama Theatre

It’s honestly well worth purchasing tickets to a show here just to marvel at the stunning interiors and architecture of this historic gem. Located in the heart of the Birmingham Theatre District, the Alabama Theatre and the adjacent Lyric Theatre are the only remaining theaters in the district.

13. Take in the Views from the Vulcan Park and Museum

Fun Things to do in Birmingham: Views from the Vulcan Park and Museum

If you’re a sucker for a good view, a trip to Vulcan Park and Museum is a must on your Birmingham bucket list. While there’s always something fun to do in Vulcan Park, a trip to the Vulcan statue and observation deck is hands down one of the coolest things to do in Birmingham!

Perched at the top of Red Mountain, the 56-foot-tall statue is the largest cast-iron statue in the world and was created to pay homage to The Magic City’s industrial roots. Aptly named, the Roman god Vulcan is actually the god of fire.

Must do things in Birmingham: Views from the Vulcan Park and Museum

To reach the top of Red Mountain, you can either take the elevator. Or, if you feel like getting a bit of exercise, you can climb the marble stairway to the top. 

Either way, you will be rewarded with sweeping views over the city. After that, it’s also well worth checking out the interactive museum, which tells the story of the city’s history and culture.

14. Geek Out at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Best Things to do in Birmingham: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

If you’re looking for unique Birmingham activities, you have to go to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum ! Anyone who has a thing for motorsports would be remiss not to pay a visit to this one-of-a-kind museum! With so many cool things to see and do, this is a great family-friendly attraction that is sure to entertain everyone in your crew. 

The whole thing was started by American businessman, former Porsche racer, and car enthusiast George Barber. While the museum started out as a collection of cars in the 1980s, Barber later shifted his focus to motorcycles. Fast-forward to today, and the museum is now home to over 1,600 motorcycles!

What to do in Birmingham: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

While the museum prides itself as the largest motorcycle collection in the world, you’ll also find all sorts of vintage cars, rare race cars, and the world’s largest Lotus collection scattered around the museum. So car aficionados will not be disappointed. 

Another cool thing about the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is that it features a 16-turn, 2.38-mile racetrack, where many automakers film commercials.

15. Go Brewery Hopping in Downtown Birmingham

Unique Things to do in Birmingham: Brewery Hopping in Downtown Birmingham

This may come as a surprise, but Birmingham is home to a seriously impressive craft beer scene. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Birmingham, it’s well worth spending an afternoon going brewery hopping around town with friends!

There are tons of breweries to choose from, so it might be tough to know where to start. Trim Tab Brewing Company is widely hailed as the best brewery in the state and is known for its excellent stouts, IPAs, and fruity concoctions like the popular Paradise Now wheat ale.

Cool Things to do in Birmingham: Brewery Hopping in Downtown Birmingham

Just down the road – near the Sloss Furnaces – you’ll find the trendy Avondale Brewing Company . This is a great place to sip their famous Miss Fancy’s Tripel Belgian golden ale while listening to live music on the outdoor patio. 

If you need something to soak up all that booze, Back Forty Beer Company is just across the way and serves up a long list of creative gourmet pub dishes and features an impressive number of local beers on tap.

After that, head over to local favorite Good People Brewing Company for their acclaimed El Gordo Russian imperial stout. And, if you’re still thirsty for more, take a chance on any random brewery you may stumble across. Odds are you’ll be impressed! 

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Birmingham. What’s your favorite thing to do in The Magic City?

Planning a trip to Alabama? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!

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The Best Things to do in Birmingham, Alabama

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re a foodie, a visit to The Pizitz Food Hall should be at the top of your Birmingham bucket list. Set right in the heart of downtown, this is the perfect place to mingle with a group of friends over delicious food and drinks. One of the coolest things about this trendy food hall is that you’ll have 12 totally unique food stalls to choose from – so there really is something for everyone in your group!

Set adjacent to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Zoo is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Birmingham. The sprawling zoo is set on 122 acres of land and is home to 550 animals and 180 species, including a range of endangered species. The zoo also features special sections, including Trails of Africa, the Children’s Zoo, and so much more!

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center, Ruffner Mountain is the perfect place to get out in nature. Plus, this mecca for outdoor enthusiasts is set in Birmingham’s South East Lake neighborhood, just a quick 10-minute drive from downtown. As one of the top Birmingham attractions, Ruffner Mountain boasts 12 miles of trails that are completely off-limits to vehicles and bicycles. If you’re up for a more challenging hike, head up the Overlook Trail, and you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of the city below.

If you’re a sucker for a good view, a trip to Vulcan Park and Museum is a must on your Birmingham bucket list. While there’s always something fun to do in Vulcan Park, a trip to the Vulcan statue and observation deck is hands down one of the coolest things to do in Birmingham! Perched at the top of Red Mountain, the 56-foot-tall statue is the largest cast-iron statue in the world and was created to pay homage to The Magic City’s industrial roots. Aptly named, the Roman god Vulcan is actually the god of fire.

If you’re looking for unique Birmingham activities, you have to go to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum! Anyone who has a thing for motorsports would be remiss not to pay a visit to this one-of-a-kind museum! With so many cool things to see and do, this is a great family-friendly attraction that is sure to entertain everyone in your crew.

Justine Lopez

Justine is a writer and editor who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust! In 2013, she left her hometown in California and set off on a yearlong round-the-world journey with her now-husband – they never looked back. Since then, she’s lived the expat life in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, and now Dubai. Along the way, she's written and edited for magazines, newspapers, and websites in Asia and beyond. When she's not stoking her wanderlust by working on travel articles for Wandering Wheatleys, Justine is busy caring for her many foster cats in Dubai, seeking out all the delicious vegetarian food, and taking every chance she gets to explore a new corner of the world!

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29 Best & Fun Things To Do In Birmingham (Alabama)

By: Author Travel Around

Posted on Last updated: November 17, 2022

With a mix of interesting landscapes and beautiful attractions, Birmingham is one of the major tourist spots in Alabama.

Tourists visit here from all over the world to check out its amazing museums, historic landmarks, parks, lakes, malls, and mountains.

If you’re planning a trip to Birmingham, you’d be probably wondering where and how to start your exploration.

This could be highly challenging, especially for visitors coming out of state.

To provide solutions to these possible challenges, here are just a few cool and amazing things you could do in Birmingham to maximize your vacation experiences.

You’ll definitely find both popular and less popular attractions on this list. The city presents every visitor with the best options to choose from!

Here are our picks of the 30 best and most fun things you could do during your trip to this city of Alabama!

Things To Do In Birmingham

1. birmingham east lake park.

Birmingham East Lake Park

Jefferson / Birmingham East Lake Park

East Lake Park is a large green space with a sizable fishing lake, swimming pool, sports facilities, and a playground.

This fun place was established in June 1893 and has since then been a favorite place for outdoor enthusiasts.

The sights and sounds are very peaceful, and if you’re an avid birdwatcher, you can see some pretty cool ones here.

Also, the scenery is gorgeous and always very clean and nice looking.

If you’d be in this beautiful attraction of Birmingham, It has a great walking path where you can enjoy the ducks walking alongside your kids.

Besides, there is great historical information around the park that visitors can read in order to learn more about this beautiful park.

Run into a couple of old friends, and get the best of birthday celebrations, East Lake Park will present endless possibilities!

Address: 8101 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35206, United States

2. Alabama Jazz Hall Of Fame In Birmingham

Alabama Jazz Hall Of Fame In Birmingham

Lamar / Flickr

The music and accomplishments of more than 170 native Birmingham jazz musicians are preserved here!

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame was established in 1978 and became opened to the public on September 18, 1993.

The sole mission of its establishment is to educate and showcase a continued and sustained program of the heritage of jazz music in the United States.

If you love music or care to know some unpopular facts about music and you’re in this city of Alabama, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame has this unique fact for you!

Interestingly, the beautiful documentations in this fun place include Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and several other great men!

They adequately honored the pioneers who shaped jazz history, and it’s so great.

Don’t be an exception to those who visit this fun place anytime you’re in Birmingham!

Address: 1701 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

3. Birmingham Children’s Theatre

Birmingham Children's Theatre

Manuel Nageli / Unsplash

Birmingham Children’s Theatre is a performing arts theater in Birmingham, Alabama.

Unlike other theaters in this city of Alabama, this Children’s Theater is for young audiences.

If you’d be with your kids down here, your kids will be glad to follow you!

Founded in 1947, this impressive place stages basically eight productions on a yearly basis.

The plays here are based on common fictional narrations known to kids, especially those under 15!

As a favorite kid-friendly attraction, the seats are comfortable and the admission fee is affordable.

If you’d love your kids to be educated, entertained, and enriched in knowledge, a trip here with them is necessary!

The theater produces unprecedented high-quality theatrical entertainment and provides arts education for children and families.

If you’d come to this attraction of Birmingham, do come early as it may be rowdy when it’s late!

Address: 2130 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

4. Joe Minter’s African Village In America

Joe Minter's African Village In America

Joe Minter’s African Village In America

Since 1989, when Joe Minter created his African American village, it has been one of the most visited attractions in Birmingham.

With homemade sculptures, signs, and shrines as a tribute to African great personalities, Joe’s documentation is surely going to be fun to see.

Interestingly, this great man isn’t alone! His yard presents the best history of the 11 million Africans shipped to the New World prior industrial revolution.

He has worked extensively to create an African-American history with his sculptures.

Each scene depicts a moment in history and adequately reflects the African ordeal during the slave trade era.

Simply put, Joe has a living history of how African are treated prior to the industrial revolution.

The presence of this makes this city of Alabama more remarkable!

This son of Mr. Lawrence Dunbar, an American sculptor/folk artist, has so much to offer in his village.

If you’re a Black America, it’s a sure deal to be here! If you’re not, you have so much to learn, too!

Address: 931 Nassau Ave. SW., Birmingham, AL, United States

5. Regions Field, Birmingham

Regions Field, Birmingham

Sherwood Cox / Regions Field

One of the fun places worth exploring in this Birmingham is Regions Field .

Regions Field is essentially a baseball stadium with a capacity of 8500 visitors.

It’s a fun attraction established on the 10th of April, 2013, with the entire surface laced with beautiful natural grass.

Whether you love baseball or not, you’d never find this attraction of Alabama less interesting.

The field offers a spacious 360-degree concourse that allows every visitor to look through the delightful action on the field as they move through the ballpark.

No admittance fee is payable by any visitor, and kids would access the playground to burn off energy.

Perhaps you might love ice cream while enjoying the beautiful matches, you’d get that aplenty here too.

Regions Field is invariably a place you’d love to visit. Therefore, we recommend you come spend some time here anytime you’re in Birmingham!

Address: 1401 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233, United States

6. Birmingham Zoo

Birmingham Zoo

Birmingham Zoo

Will you love to explore an animal zoo during your forthcoming visit to Birmingham?

If you’d be in this beautiful city of Alabama with the aim of exploring an animal zoo, that’s absolutely possible anytime you’re in town.

Birmingham Zoo will create the magic and give you the beautiful memories you’d appreciate for years.

This zoological park in Birmingham has about 550 animals with over 195 species.

Established in 1995 with the aim of Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural World. If you love animals, this attraction is a must-visit for you!

Incredibly, available animals in this fun place are taken from six continents.

The food and drinks being sold to visitors are not overpriced and visitors are sure to get any food while on sight.

Apparently, no drawback, and perhaps you may love to learn about some of these animals?

It would be great, there are quite a few exhibits that’d do justice to that.

Overall, Birmingham Zoo is a fun place that should be on your itinerary!

Address: 2630 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223, United States

7. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Lawrence Pijeaux / Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a museum established in 1992 and equally a fun place to explore.

This historic museum in this city of Alabama traces the journey of the civil rights advocates which every visitor will find so interesting.

It’s a fun place with a reasonable admission fee to explore. Besides, this large interpretive museum and fun center is the only place in Alabama that has accurate documentation of the 1950s civil rights movement.

They have so much history to share and are an acknowledged learning center for visitors of all ages.

Beyond being a historic center, there are other fun things visitors could enjoy during a visit here.

Visitors could engage in hiking, exploring the little garden, or, alternatively, take some time to walk through this scenic location.

Whichever your option is, you surely wouldn’t enjoy less your time in this fun place.

Address: 520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

8. Avondale Brewing Company

Avondale Brewing Company

Selah Vetter / Avondale Brewing Company

Exploration isn’t done by mere visitation to malls, museums, and historic landmarks. It goes beyond that!

It is best done when you plan a visit to places you’d have the best to yourself without compromising your ability to learn and expand your horizon.

In tandem with that, do you love to enjoy yourself to the fullest when next you visit Birmingham?

As much as your response would be affirmative, Avondale Brewing Company will create the magic!

Avondale Brewing Company is a fun place for live music and great beer.

Rain or shine, this amazing place is always available to facilitate visitors’ great experience.

Housed in a historic house that was once a pharmacy, saloon, and brothel, Avondale Brewing is certainly going to give you reasons to plan a visit more and more to this city of Alabama!

Once you arrive in this lovely city, be sure to check out this fun place. After all, every offer is affordable!

Address: 201 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222, United States

9. Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Another beautiful place on our list of things you could visit during your trip to Birmingham is the Birmingham Botanical Gardens .

It is an attraction that is open to all, every day of the week; spring/summer between the hours of 7 am to 6 pm.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a 67.5-acre garden that was established in 1963.

It’s an amazing fun place that’s highly engaging and no visitor wouldn’t find every one of its offerings so interesting.

If you’re in this fun place, you would have access to explore over 12,000 different types of plants.

Different from that, there are also over 30 works of original outdoor sculpture with several miles of walking paths.

There’s apparently no limit to what a visitor could do in this Alabama’s top free-admittance tourist attraction.

The mission of this fun place in Birmingham is exquisitely curated, which makes them more unique.

As a visitor thinking of an attraction that’s not demanding yet has the best to offer, Birmingham Botanical Gardens is the answer!

Address: 2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223, United States

10. Birmingham’s Railroad Park

Birmingham's Railroad Park

Damian Holmes / Birmingham’s Railroad Park

Birmingham’s Railroad Park is a beautiful 8-block green space that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

This lovely park is a 19-acre park in Birmingham that opened in the fall of 2010.

Ever since its establishment, it has thus been a favorite fun place no visitor is reluctant to explore.

Designed by landscape architect Tom Leader, this park will afford you the opportunity to run, walk, skate, bike, or fly a kite.

Not only that, every visitor would enjoy all the views they could get of the Birmingham skyline and the park itself.

What a fun park with lots of sights to take in and things to do! So great! And to know that this park doesn’t require an admission fee makes them more unique to visitors.

So, why’d you excluded this most adorable fun place from your itinerary? No reason is good enough for this!

Note that, if you’re in this fun area of Birmingham, you can also swim off, especially on a hot day!

If you’d be in this fun place, note that they open between 7 am to 11 pm.

Address: 1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233, United States

11. Vulcan Park And Museum

Vulcan park and museum

Vulcan Park and Museum

The Vulcan Park and Museum is Birmingham’s front porch welcoming visitors’ destination that has so many fun things.

It’s remarkably the largest cast iron statue in the world. If you are curious about the historical antecedents surrounding the iron and steel industry, this 56-foot tall statue has so much to reflect!

In fact, it depicts the Roman god Vulcan, who is mostly known as the god of fire and forge.

So, why’d you deprived yourself of this resourceful and fun thing while you’d be in Birmingham?

Absolutely, this is a historic attraction that is set to inform you of so many things you’ve read in the literature. No reason would be good enough to avoid visiting Vulcan Park and Museum!

In addition, visitors would also enjoy interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits and displays that give insight into the region’s geology, history, and industrial growth.

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham is indisputably a fun place you’d never regret exploring.

Note that there’s sufficient parking space, restrooms, and picnic tables with a view of the city.

The entrance fee is also cheap and they open until around 5 pm daily. If you’d be in this city of Alabama, it’d be great to include this fun place in your itinerary!

Address: 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209, United States

Will you love to explore other amazing cities in Alabama? If you would, you can check out the list of the best and most fun things to do in Orange Beach , Montgomery , and Foley !

12. Heaviest Corner on Earth, Birmingham

Heaviest Corner On Earth

Heaviest Corner on Earth

Willing to check out a historical landmark while in this city of Alabama? Worry no more!

The Heaviest Corner on Earth is a historical landmark in Birmingham, with lots of fun things for visitors.

The name itself is a promotional name given to the corner of 20th Street and the famous 1st Avenue North in

This further reflected the simultaneous appearance of four of the tallest buildings in the South.

Built-in the year 1906 by a renowned architect; William C. Weston, this attraction is absolutely amazing!

You’d get to know the history of the establishment of this city of Alabama to the fullest if you’re in this fun place.

There is also some interesting historical fact about Birmingham’s steel history.

If you are on a road trip in pursuit of the world’s heaviest corner, start here in Heaviest Corner on Earth !

Address: The Woodward Building, 20th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

13. Alabama Theatre

Alabama Theatre, Birmingham

Katharine Kaene / Alabama Theatre

Are you still uncertain of how best you could spend your evening during your next visit to Birmingham?

Don’t forget, this city of Alabama has something fun for all seasons and every period.

Visitors’ best way of enjoying their evenings while in Birmingham is done at Alabama Theatre !

This fun place is basically a performing art theatre in Birmingham that was established as far back as 1927.

With its comfortable seating capacity of about 2,500 people at the time, this attraction is also suitable for couples, friends, or associates.

Of note, this attraction in this city of Alabama is equally the largest in the Birmingham Theatre district.

Coming here to see the best live show with your friends, associates or couple wouldn’t be a bad idea!

If you enjoy dancing, singing, comedy, and more, this place is a dream come through for you.

This 55-year-old attraction will surpass your expectations and you’d surely leave happier during your next trip.

Address: 1817 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

14. Ruffner Mountain

Ruffner Mountain

Ruffner Mountain

For any nature enthusiasts, it behooves you to check out an attraction that has things you admire.

Luckily, Birmingham isn’t excluded from those fun cities with such attractions!

On your forthcoming trip to this city of Alabama, Ruffner Mountain has everything you’re seeking to see.

This amazing place is a privately held 1040-acre urban nature preserve in the heart of Birmingham, with the mission of making this city of Alabama a fun place for nature enthusiasts.

Its preserve here also includes a visitor center that contains native Alabama animals which include snakes, raptors, and owl turtles.

The hiking trail in this amazing fun place is also amazing and a plus to hikers.

Impressively, there are benches along the trail to take a break on and signs advising which trail you’re on.

Ruffner Mountain will surely provide a great way to spend a day!

Address: 1214 81st St S, Birmingham, AL 35206, United States

15. McWane Science Center In Birmingham

McWane Science Center

McWane Science Center

Unlike other museums earlier recommended, McWane Science Center is a science museum in Birmingham.

Formerly known as the McWane Center, this is a research archive center Sparking wonder and curiosity about our world through hands-on science experiences.

Established on July 11, 1998, there’s no limit to the fun and what every visitor will learn in this fun place.

Not just for adults, kids of all ages will enjoy the interactive McWane Science Center. It’s simply an integral part of the revitalization of downtown and your trip to Birmingham might be inchoate without a visit to this fun place!

This beautiful fun place is not a regular busier museum and there are stairs & an elevator if needed by visitors.

There is equally a small food cafe which offers delicious meals.

It’s overall a fun place in this city of Alabama that’s promising to make every visitor on sight happier!

Address: 200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

16. Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park, Birmingham

Red Mountain Park

Walking, hiking, and mountain biking is best achievable in this 16 miles multi-attraction!

With the trails winding through 1,500 forested acres at Red Mountain Park , there’s a trail for everyone at Red Mountain Park!

Moreover, this amazing park equally contains closed mines and other artifacts that have so much of this city’s industrial history.

If you’d love to visit a relaxing hike in a safe location when next you’re in Birmingham, this is a place to come!

It’s simply beautiful, with well-marked paths with reasonable admission fees. Obviously, you’d love to visit this fun attraction.

In related view, in this fun spot, there are always some interesting sights to see like an outdoor woods playground, zipline, historic mine, and art!

There’s no end to what every visitor can enjoy in this beautiful attraction of Birmingham, Alabama!

Note that parking space is available, and they open all days excluding Sundays.

Address: 2011 Frankfurt Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211, United States

17. Southern Museum of Flight

Southern Museum Of Flight

Erica Wright / Southern Museum of Flight

Southern Museum of Flight is a place to visit for visitors with a deep interest in learning about the history of flight and aviation.

Do you know the flight also has its history which is interesting and fun?

Obviously, they do, and one of the best places dedicated to this in the United States is right in Birmingham.

The Southern Museum of Flight is essentially a civilian aviation museum in this city of Alabama that features over 100 aircraft.

Besides, artifacts, paintings, photographs, and various models that are resourceful are all available here.

This Southern Museum of Flight is also the home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. Amazing right? Yes, it is!

Its establishment dates back to 1966, and it is sure to present a live history of the United States Aviation history and every visitor will love it.

If you’d be on a visit to Birmingham with your kids, bringing them here in order to see the history of airplanes and flights in the United States wouldn’t be an idea taken too far!

Address: 4343 73rd St N, Birmingham, AL 35206, United States

Planning a road trip to other fun cities in Alabama? You may check out our list of the best attractions in Dauphin Island and Dothan !

18. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a glass-enclosed museum that housed over 1,200+ motorcycles & race cars.

George Barber’s zeal for speed promoted his vision of establishing this fun place.

Established in 1960, this museum, with its restoring, preserving, and exhibiting value, will make your Birmingham trip fun-filled.

If you’re a motorcyclist or you have a special interest in learning about the interesting history of motorcycles, this museum houses the world’s largest collection on this and you’d find it so awesome.

The building is designed so beautifully, and the motorcycles and vehicles are very well kept.

If you’d be on a trip to this fun place in Birmingham, you would probably need to spend 4-5 hours viewing the Museum thoroughly.

Meanwhile, note that they also have a nice gift shop where you could get some amazing gifts.

It would be so fun standing on the bridge and watching the cars race.

Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy, Leeds, AL 35094, United States

19. The Summit

The Summit

The Summit is a mall in Birmingham, Alabama that was established in October 1997.

It is a 1 million square foot upscale center located in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States.

With its over 100 stores and restaurants, the Summit offers every unique visitor experience during a voyage to this city of Alabama.

Besides, this amazing location is a creative hub of style and taste in the South.

For food, fashion, special events, films, and anytime-style inspiration in Alabama, The Summit wouldn’t disappoint you.

It’s very picturesque and a moderately low-priced outdoor shopping mall you’d ever be glad to visit.

Incredibly, unlike another outdoor shopping mall in this city of Alabama, the Summit has a great mix of stores for shopping.

The entrance fee isn’t pricey, they have a lot of parking spaces, and pets are also allowed.

Address: 214 Summit Blvd #150, Birmingham, AL 35243, United States

20. Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

Solomon Crenshaw / Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex is for sports enthusiasts! Are you one?

If you are and you’d be on a trip to Birmingham in the coming weeks, ensure you check out Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex!

This fun place is a sports complex in Birmingham that is formerly known as Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center.

This 1976 sports, convention, and entertainment complex has a lot of interesting fun activities for visitors.

You stand to enjoy a lot of sporting activities, cultural shows, and a series of action displays.

That’s basically why it has four entertainment venues which include a stadium, an arena, a concert hall, and a theater.

This is surely an important community gathering where you’d find everything you need to make your trip to Birmingham worthwhile.

It’s obviously more than just a venue for conventions and trade shows. You’d love to be here!

Address: 1 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

21. Negro Southern League Museum

Negro Southern League Museum

Negro Southern League Museum

Are you a baseball fan planning a journey down to Birmingham?

If you are a fan of baseball, Negro Southern League Museum is surely a place to check out!

This is a fun place that’s dedicated to African-American baseball with awesome sporting memorabilia and a research center.

Created in 1929 by a group of African-American baseball enthusiasts, you’d surely enjoy the raw history of African American baseball.

Perhaps you might not be a baseball enthusiast, but a visit here will change your interest in that.

Note that there’s equally a baseball court and a well-equipped playground. Evidently, it’s beyond a museum!

While adults explore the photographic exhibits, they could also play baseball to their satisfaction and kids wouldn’t be left out!

Anytime you’re in this city of Birmingham, don’t miss out on this amazing fun place that has welcomed lots of visitors!

Address: 120 16th St S, Birmingham, AL 35233, United States

22. Statue Of Liberty Replica, Birmingham

Statue Of Liberty Replica

Cullen Steber / Wikimedia Commons

At first glance, the Statue of Liberty Replica looks like a regular attraction. It’s beyond that!

Statue of Liberty Replica is one of Birmingham’s most fun-loving and mystical attractions.

Thinking of what’s available here? It’s the official home to three mighty titans; Vulcan, Electra, and a replica Statue of Liberty!

Essentially, it’s a 36-foot-tall bronze replica that was erected in 1958. As of today, it’s remarkably the biggest Liberty replica in the world.

There’s more to this ancient monument beyond what the sight can see in mere literature.

One thing is for sure, admission is free, which means you’ll have more cash in your wallet to explore!

If you are seeking the best thing to do in Birmingham, plan your itinerary well and come visit the Statue of Liberty Replica.

It would be great to explore an attraction that’d give you apt information and a pictorial view of what you’ve been reading in literature!

Address: 516 Liberty Pkwy., Birmingham, AL, United States.

23. Urban Air Trampoline And Adventure Park

Urban Air Trampoline And Adventure Park

Urban Air Trampoline And Adventure Park

If you’d love to explore the best year-round indoor amusements in the Birmingham metro area, visit Urban Air Trampoline !

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park is a large-scale outdoor attraction that’s suitable for a family trip.

While the trampolines are plentiful, it’s the added attractions that take this park up a notch!

Kids wouldn’t be less happy exploring this fun place in Birmingham.

Adults would surely have the best of their travel experience, there’s obviously something fun for all!

If you’re in for a spring break, you could easily order some amazing chicken, BBQ wings, and lots of awesome play!!

Thinking of what more makes up this place to be a favorite visitor attraction in Birmingham? It’s never over!

They have a zip line, rope bridge, climbing wall, and all kinds of trampolines that are amazing.

In fact, they can entertain large parties and it is large enough that visitors can move around easily.

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park is a good place to start your exploration in this city of Alabama!

Address: 3695 Roosevelt Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35235, United States

24. Five Points South

Five Points South

Five Points South

The Five Points South is a fun area with a mix of great dining, farm-to-table, and the ever-admired BBQ restaurants.

It is equally a nightlife hub that’s known for its busy pubs and interesting live music spots.

Clustered on 20th Street South, this 1893 establishment is a sure deal and a place to visit for visitors planning a trip to Birmingham.

Beyond that, for more than 100 years, the Five Points South neighborhood of Birmingham has provided a space for cultural and commercial growth.

It’s the best place to go if you’d love to learn more about the prevailing culture in Alabama.

The Five Points South in Alabama doesn’t only showcase these cultures but also presents them in an interactive manner.

Make the most of your next trip to this city of Alabama by checking out these top-rated attractions and sights you’d not love to miss!

Address: Five Points South, Birmingham, AL, United States

25. Rainbow LED Tunnel In Birmingham

Rainbow LED Tunnel In Birmingham

Rainbow LED Tunnel

Whether you reside in downtown Birmingham or are only interested in exploring the best the city has to offer, you likely wouldn’t find Rainbow LED Tunnel less interesting!

It’s a fun place with a funky art installation that essentially features vibrant LED lights, illuminating an art déco–style underpass.

This place seems to be a top attraction for visitors planning to during something unique while in Birmingham, Alabama.

With the constant flux and the impressive visual reality, this is one of the most amazing surreal experiences you’d always appreciate!

They present a unique series of tunnels with neon lights.

The best time we’d suggest is to go there late evenings or early mornings.

If you’d be available during this period in this city of Alabama, the maximum time you’d spend here is 30 minutes.

However, it’d be like a lifetime spent here because the experience will not only be fun but totally exceptional!

Address: 1 14th St S, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

26. Birmingham Race Course Casino

Birmingham Race Course Casino

Malique Rankin / Race Course Casino

Stand to present simulcast racing facilities for visitors and tourists alike, Birmingham Race Course Casino is unique on its own!

This fun location is for casino lovers planning a trip to this city of Alabama in the United States.

With the overwhelming and irresistible love of Milton McGregor, he established this fun place in the year 1987.

Opened for visitors who are 19 years or older with an affordable admittance fee.

The slot machines are okay, not outdated, and will surely keep every visitor entertained.

They allow more free play and food is also available on the 2nd floor while you’d get a burger and hot dog counter.

It’s apparently an addictive and fun place for casino lovers, definitely going to add more fun to your Birmingham trip!

There is a good pastime, and payoffs appear to be lower than in other local casinos. You’d love to be here again after your next trip!

Address: 1000 John Rogers Dr, Birmingham, AL 35235, United States

Plan to explore other fun cities in the state of Alabama? Check out the top attractions in Auburn , Mobile , and Tuscaloosa !

27. Avondale Antiques, Birmingham

Avondale Antiques

Avondale Antiques

Do you wish to get some nice antiquities to yourself while enjoying other fun offerings in this city of Alabama?

That’s never a problem! Avondale Antiques have unique finds for every lover of quality antiquities!

However tight your schedule could be, Fred (the owner) has some nice antiquities you’d love to get.

With its over 20 years of existence, every visitor in Birmingham will surely see a pick here!

It’s a fun place that always has some great pieces, especially lamps and lighting antiquity.

The shop is set up very nicely and comfortable to browse through the list of what they offer.

Wonderful store, friendly atmosphere, affordable offerings, and super owners, that’s the apt description of Avondale Antiques!

While planning a voyage to this city of the South, be sure to include this wonderful antique store in your itinerary.

It’s obviously going to create some beautiful memories you’d stand to remember all day!

Address: 4301 3rd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222, United States

28. Alabama Farmers Market

Alabama Farmers Market

Clinton Alexander / Alabama Farmers Market

Open 7 days a week, all days of the year, rain or shine, Alabama Farmers Market has tons of things for visitors.

It’s an amazing place with tons of vendors that offers amazing farm produce.

During your trip to Birmingham, if you’d love to get some nice chocolate, cakes, butter, bread, ice cream, meat, or vegetables, this place is for you!

All offerings are of absolute quality and it’s sure this aged long market wouldn’t disappoint any visitor’s expectation.

Perhaps you might love seeing cultural shows and various celebrations that depict Alabama’s cultural heritage. You’d have that plenty here.

Not a regular bust market like others and the vendors are highly mannered.

Visiting this fun place could create the best travel experience for you! Do plan a visit here when next you’re in Birmingham.

Address: 344 Finley Ave W, Birmingham, AL 35204, United States

29. Alabama Historical Radio Society Museum

Alabama Historical Radio Society Museum

Alabama Historical Radio Society Museum

The Alabama Historical Radio Society Museum is located on the first floor of the Alabama Power building.

It is a fun place that housed various amazing collections of radio devices that were used in the old times.

Here, every visitor will have the opportunity to visit the reserve room and see what the earliest produced radio looks like.

Unpopular museum, notwithstanding, it has something incredible for every visitor!

Besides, this museum also features antique radios, monuments, and several photos that’d enhance every visitor’s understanding of radio history.

In the United States, there are few places dedicated to preserving this amazing history.

Anytime you plan a trip to Birmingham, it wouldn’t only be fun but so great for you to visit this fun place!

Address: 600 18th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States

Final Remarks

There’s a lot more to Birmingham in Alabama than the stuff that is available in the brochures!

If you would love to have fun and get an authentic vacation experience, use our comprehensive list to narrow down your itinerary.

The museums are waiting for you, and the malls, parks, and lakes are expecting your arrival!

Happy Travels!

Heather on her travels

20 fun things to do in Birmingham Alabama

Of all the places I visited on my Alabama road trip , Birmingham was the one that had the most Big City feel. There’s a vibrant food scene, artistic attractions and industrial heritage, not to mention the Civil Rights legacy of the 1960s As the largest city in Alabama, you’ll find a huge range of things to do in Birmingham to keep you busy for days.

Things to do in Birmingham Alabama

Known as “The Magic City”, Birmingham Alabama sprang up from nowhere in the 1870s, with rapid growth on the back of the iron and steel industry. The city features high rise buildings and walkable streets laid out in a grid system.

Birmingham also hit the world spotlight in the 1960s, because of protests that ended legalised racial segregation in the South. It’s one of the best places in the Deep South to visit museums that shine a light on this era.

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Table of Contents

What are the top places to visit in Birmingham AL?

Birmingham AL is a large city with plenty to see, so I’ve decided to group the attractions by theme. These include the thought provoking Civil Rights Sites, the world class foodie scene , the industrial heritage, outdoor space or cultural attractions. If you are limited in time here’s what you should see first:

  • Civil Rights District – the main sites are mostly clustered in one block but my top pick would be the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Then, walk across the street to see the sculptures in Kelly Ingram Park.
  • Vulcan Statue and Museum – an insight into Birmingham’s industrial heritage with fantastic views from the top of the statue.
  • Eat some BBQ or Soul food at one of the Saw’s BBQ locations. Or, take a food tour to introduce you to the foodie scene of Birmingham and give you more restaurant recommendations.
  • Birmingham Museum of Art – a stop in the Downtown area for art lovers including the outdoor sculpture garden.
  • Railroad Park – to relax and unwind by the lake with a cup of shaved ice.

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Civil Rights sites in Birmingham AL

Birmingham is one of the important stops on the US Civil Rights Trail. Here you can learn about the protest movement of the 1960s led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Rev Fred Shuttlesworth and other church leaders. At this time, the Jim Crow laws enforced the racial segregation of black and white communities across the Southern States.

The Civil Rights movement challenged this injustice, leading to often violent confrontation that brought Birmingham into the world’s gaze. Although the city has moved on from these times, I came away feeling that visiting the Civil Rights sites was one of the most inspiring things to do in Birmingham.

1 Birmingham Civil Rights institute

A key place to understand the movement is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute , a museum that’s dedicated to the Civil Rights struggle in Birmingham. Visits start with a short video explaining the Civil Rights movement. At the end of the video the screen rises to reveal the first gallery of the museum showing the realities of segregation.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

White classrooms with the latest furniture and teaching aids contrasts with the outdated and crowded black classroom. A black teenager looks on enviously as white children of the same age have fun, knowing that the two groups are forbidden to meet or form friendships. Two drinking fountains sit side by side, one marked for white and the other for black.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Freedom Riders in Alabama

2021 marked the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, black and white activists in their 20s, who rode the Greyhound buses together in May 1961. Their aim was to challenge illegal segregation on the buses throughout the Southern USA, in the face of violent opposition. You can see a replica of the Freedom Riders bus at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I also learned about Rosa Parks who was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white woman. Her action sparked a bus boycott by the Black community in Montgomery that lasted a year.

This is an excellent museum and I was reassured to see a focus on reconciliation rather than recrimination. It’s a must-visit in Birmingham for all ages, to illuminate the realities of life for Black and White in the 1960s in Alabama. One goal is to understand why racial injustice still persists today.

Hampton Inn and Suites Tutwiler Hotel Birmingham Alabama

We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites Tutwiler Hotel – a historic hotel that is well located for sightseeing in Downtown Birmingham

2 16th Street Baptist Church

The 16th Street Baptist Church is another key place to learn about the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham Alabama. It’s the site of an infamous bombing in 1963, which killed 4 young girls who were attending Sunday School.

Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The atrocity by white supremacists in Birmingham brought the attention of the world onto the movement and sparked further protests in the city. I visited the church and joined a tour group to hear more about those events. There’s a striking stained glass window above the entrance, that was donated by an artist from Wales.

16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama Photo Art Meripol

Group tours are available by prior arrangement for a small charge. If visiting independently, you can visit the church Tuesday – Saturday and may be able to join any tours taking place. The church is closed for tours on Sunday and Monday but visitors are welcome to join the Sunday service at 10.45am.

Read more about the Civil Rights history in Alabama in my article: Discover the US Civil Rights Trail in Alabama

3 Kelly Ingram Park

Just across the road from 16th street Baptist church is the Kelly Ingram Park which is often used for community gatherings and events. There’s a charming sculpture of four little girls playing, which is chilling when you realise that these innocent children are depicted just before the bomb exploded that killed them in the church.

Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking through the park are more sculptures that show snapshots from the civil rights protects of the early 1960s. Here are the children cowering as the water cannons are trained on them, the ferocious police dogs snarling on the leash and the children who were imprisoned en masse after the protests.

Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

A free mobile phone tour explaining the sculptures is available to anyone with a mobile phone. The dial-in number is 205-307-5455.

4 A G Gaston Motel

Just around the corner from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is the A G Gaston Motel which is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation. The motel was built in the 1950s by African American businessman A G Gaston, at a time when segregation was in full force throughout the southern states.

A G Gaston Motel was one of the few places that provided accommodation and a restaurant for African American travellers. In this era such travellers would rely on guides such as “The Green Book”, which told them where they would be welcome to stay and to dine.

A G Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama

During the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, Room 30 at the A G Gaston Motel became the War Room for the ‘Project C’ direct action. Leaders such as Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Rev Fred Shuttlesworth held planning meetings here.

The motel had been in disrepair since the 1990s, but Phase 1 renovations are now complete. Reopening is planned soon as an information centre and events space, with some of the rooms renovated to their original appearance.

5 Historic Bethel Baptist Church

Across town I also visited an important church that was a centre of the Civil Rights movement, the Historic Bethel Baptist Church. This was the church where Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth was pastor 1953 – 1961 and became a leader in the planning of Civil Rights protests in Alabama.

Historic Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Art Meripol

He was set upon by a mob of Ku Klux Klan members when he tried to enroll his children at an all white school and barely escaped with his life. Despite many other attacks he always advocated non-violent protest.

The church became the headquarters of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. This organisation took action against segregation and was the planning centre for the Freedom Rides action on the buses.

Historic Bethel Church, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Outside the church are information boards and you can see the ‘ghost house’ shape of the pastor’s house next to the church. This house was destroyed in a bomb although Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth who was inside was miraculously unharmed. The bombing of this and other Black churches earned the city the sad name of “Bombingham” during this Civil Rights era of the 1960s.

While the congregation now worships at a larger, modern church just down the road, the original Bethel Baptist church has been preserved as a historic monument and is open for tours or by appointment.

Redmont Hotel Birmingham Alabama

We recommend staying at the Redmont Hotel Curio Collection by Hilton , a newly renovated landmark hotel built in the 1920s

6 Food in Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham’s vibrant food scene attracts the top chefs. With such a varied culinary offering, the city can justify being known as ‘The Dining Table of the South’.

Chefs such as Frank Stitt have put the city on the gourmet map. His Highlands Bar and Grill was judged in the prestigious James Beard Awards (The US equivalent of the Michelin Guide) as the best restaurant in the USA.

For the true taste of the south, Birmingham’s BBQ and Soul food (just like your Momma used to make) will win your heart with rib-sticking dishes. I recommend taking a food tour to taste some of the best.

There’s a relaxed and cosmopolitan feel to many of the cafes, restaurants and coffee shops that focus on local and seasonal produce. Here’s a roundup of the food in Birmingham AL to look out for and restaurants I can recommend.

Alabama food

Read more about the Alabama food I tried, with 20 delicious dishes to make your mouth water!

BBQ and Soul food in Birmingham AL

Saw’s soul kitchen.

The Southern concept of BBQ is very different to the burned sausages over hot coals that we embrace in the UK. Here BBQ means pork or beef that’s been marinated in a tasty sauce, then slow cooked overnight over wood in a smoky BBQ pit. The result is mouthwateringly tender and finger licking meat served with a few simple sides like potato salad and coleslaw.

Many of the BBQ restaurants have been established for generations. But, for a modern take on the BBQ scene I headed to the trendy neighbourhood of Avondale and Saw’s Soul Kitchen . This small and unassuming diner restaurant has just a few tables, but the queues for takeaway are often stretching out the door.

Saw's Soul Kitchen in Birmingham, Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Chris Granger

I tried their signature Pork & Greens, with BBQ pulled pork on a soft base of grits and sweet-sour collard greens, topped with onion rings. It seemed an unlikely combination but was mouthwateringly good! Look out for Saw’s BBQ in several other locations around Birmingham, including the original Homewood restaurant.

Saws Soul Food, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Read more in my article: Taste the food of Alabama USA – 20 dishes you’ll want to try!

Alabama Peanut Company

For a typical Southern snack, try the boiled peanuts at Alabama Peanut Company on the pretty cobbled Morris Avenue. Traditionally you might pick up a cup of boiled peanuts when going to the beach or a baseball game.

The peanuts are sold with classic salt, Cajun Spice or Dill Pickle, which manages to permeate through the shell to flavour the peanuts. Alabama Peanut Company is in a large, airy shop where you can see the peanuts being boiled or roasted and try them “Southern and salty” inside at one of their tables.

Alabama Peantut Co, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

If you’re short of time it’s a good idea to take a guided tour and we can recommend : This Historical Highlights of Birmingham tour will give a great overview of things to see in Birmingham. Foodies will enjoy this Birmingham Food and Drink Tour to try out some of the best local dishes and places to eat. Check our more guided tours in Birmingham to make the most of your visit.

Relaxed and Trendy Restaurants in Birmingham Al

The essential.

Also on Morris Avenue is a fun neighbourhood restaurant, The Essential . This seems to epitomise the more relaxed and trendy side of Birmingham’s food scene. They are open for brunch, lunch and dinner, with a marble topped bar and simple but elegant tables reminiscent of a French bistro.

The menu is full of well-priced dishes with a Southern take on world cuisine. I ordered the Nicoise-ish salad with barely seared tuna on greens with egg, potato and olives. Their butter croissant ice cream was incredibly rich and delicious.

The Essential, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

We recommend staying at Elyton Hotel Autograph Collection by Marriott – a boutique hotel in Downtown Birmingham

The Pizitz Food Hall

In the heart of downtown Birmingham is the Pizitz Food Hall , offering a kaleidoscope of food from around the world. It’s a good place to find some healthy options if you’ve overdone the BBQ.

The Pizitz was once Birmingham’s leading department store, but the building has now been converted into apartments. Pizitz Food Hall is on the ground floor.

Central seating means you can order from 12 different food stands or sit at the bar, which is popular for evening cocktails. Food halls like this make a social place to eat with friends or family, ideal if you all have different food tastes.

Pizitz Food Hall in Birmingham Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Chris Granger

I ordered a rainbow selection of salads from Eli’s Jerusalem grill and took it to the outside patio with tables and sun umbrellas. Also on offer is South Indian street food from Silver Kati , Nepalese dumplings at Mo Mo , and Hawaiian/ Japanese fusion at Poke .

Vietnamese and Korean was on offer at PhoPho , as well as more local hotdogs at The Standard and artisan teas at Piper & Lea f are available. Parking is free for the first 2 hours in the parking deck.

Top tip: We recommend taking a food tour to get an inside view of the best places to eat in Birmingham.

Pzitz Food Hall, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Upscale and Cosmopolitan

Chef Frank Stitt has made his mark in Birmingham with the upscale Highlands Bar & Grill . Set in the Highlands neighbourhood of Birmingham, you’ll probably need to reserve months ahead. For somewhere more relaxed that still has special atmosphere, try Bottega , another of his restaurants set in a lovely Beaux Arts building.

Bottega, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bottega is inspired by the relaxed wine bars and trattorias of Italy. The more refined Bottega restaurant is on one side of the building. You’ll find the relaxed Bottega Cafe, serving pizzas from a wood fired oven, on the other.

I enjoyed my Dolphin fish from the specials menu and a slice of the signature coconut pecan cake which was extremely moist and moreish. To accompany I chose a drink of fresh lemonade with a hint of vanilla.

You can also visit Frank Stitt’s restaurant Chez Fonfon in the Five Points South neighbourhood of Birmingham. Here you can enjoy a menu i nspired by the French bistros of Paris or Lyon.

Things to do in Mobile, Alabama

You may also enjoy this article about 11 cool things to do in Mobile Alabama , which we visited on the same road trip.

Farmer’s markets in Birmingham AL

The market at pepper place.

Although there are numerous Farmer’s Markets in Birmingham, the best known and most popular for visitors is The Market at Pepper Place. Held on Saturday mornings, Pepper Place is a destination in itself.

It’s within in a brick industrial building that once housed the Dr Pepper soda bottling plant. This old factory site has now been converted into a trendy development of creative businesses, shops and restaurants.

Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham Alabama

The Market at Pepper Place operates year round with up to 100 stalls selling farm produce, crafts and artisan food from small Alabama producers. Visit to see what’s fresh and in season. Or, buy your brunch from one of the food trucks or vendors offering food to take away. The market takes place each Saturday from 7am to 12 midday.

You may also enjoy: 50 things to do in Alabama – on my Road Trip USA

Culture and heritage in Birmingham Alabama

As befits such a bustling city, Birmingham has a lively arts scene with a leading arts museum, theatres and other heritage attractions. My top pick for arts lovers would be the Birmingham Museum of Arts which is centrally located in the Downtown area. Also, check what’s on at the beautifully restored Alabama Theater or Lyric Theater.

If you want to get a great overview of Birmingham, we recommend this half day highlights tour to visit a number of historic sites with a guide.

7 Birmingham Museum of Art

I enjoyed visiting the Birmingham Museum of Art which was just across the park from my hotel. When I was there a 60s style mural was being painted in the foyer. As part of the Wall to Wall project, visiting artists are invited to paint a mural at the museum’s entrance.

The museum is known for its Asian art collection, comprising a permanent collection of 4000 artworks. This collection is considered the finest in the south-east.

Birmingham Art Museum, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I enjoyed the Sculpture Court at the back of the glass fronted facade with shallow pools and a curvy reclining nude. The American art gallery leads off from this, onto the Wedgwood collection of pottery. It was rather incongruous to find something so English so far from home. Entry to the museum is free.

Birmingham Art Museum, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Read more about all the places I visited on my Alabama Road Trip:

50 things to do in Alabama

8 Alabama Theater and Lyric Theater

Lovers of the arts can check out what’s on at the Alabama Theater and Lyric Theater located in the Downtown area of Birmingham. Both theatres have gone through renovation to restore them to the gilded glory of their heyday in the 1920s.

The Alabama Theater was built in the 1920s as a movie palace to showcase Paramount films. On offer is a varied musical programme including showing nostalgic old movies, accompanied by the original Wurlitzer organ.

Built in 1914, the Lyric Theater has also been renovated to its original splendour when it hosted vaudeville shows. It is now used for ballet, opera and theatre performances.

Lyric Theater and Alabama Theater in Birmingham, Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Art Meripol

You may also enjoy: Visit Muscle Shoals Alabama – for music history and more!

Valley Hotel Homewood Birmingham Alabama

We recommend staying at the Valley Hotel Curio Collection by Hilton in Homewood – a stylish hotel close to the Vulcan Park, shops and restaurants

9 Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens

Just a short drive from the Downtown in Birmingham is the Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens . This mansion was built in the 1840s in the popular Greek Revival style of the period. The house now serves as a decorative arts museum, with 19th century furniture, silver and paintings.

Guided tours bring to life how the leading families of Birmingham lived here, before and after the Civil War. The house is in the Arlington neighbourhood, away from the other main Birmingham attractions. Visit if you have a car and enjoy the history and heritage of old houses like this.

Arlington Home in Birmingham Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Art Meripol

Read more about the culture of Southern Alabama: 11 cool things to do in Mobile, Alabama

Industrial Heritage

Birmingham seemed to spring up from nowhere in the 1870s. It’s an industrial city founded on deposits of iron ore that were conveniently close to the railroad.

Soon Birmingham became known as “The Magic City” for the speed of its development. The iron and steel industry attracted people seeking jobs, including many freed slaves and immigrants.

There are a number of attractions that celebrate Birmingham’s industrial heritage. My top pick for a dip into this side of the city’s history would be the Vulcan Park and Museum. If you are short of time, we recommend this half day highlights tour to visit many of the industrial heritage sites with a guide.

Civil Rights Trail in Alabama

Read more about the US Civil Right Trail and the Civil Rights locations that I visited on this Alabama Road Trip:

10 Vulcan Park and Museum

I really enjoyed my visit to the Vulcan Park and Museum . Take the lift (or climb if you are energetic) to the observation tower at the top of the Vulcan statue, which stands 56 feet tall and made of 100,000 pounds of iron.

The gigantic iron statue of the bare bottomed god Vulcan was created for the St Louis World Fair in 1904 to represent the city. Afterwards it was placed on a column overlooking the city. Ascend the column to the viewing platform that allows you to survey the whole of Birmingham.

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Art Meripol

Exhibits within the Vulcan Center include a huge giant foot cast of the statue. You’ll also find lots of information about the iron industries that shaped Birmingham and brought it huge prosperity.

Vulcan Park, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

11 Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Located just outside the main city is the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum . This is a very popular attraction for anyone who loves cars, motorbikes and motorsports in general. The museum was set up in the 1960s by Porsche racing driver, George Barber to house his collection of vintage cars.

This soon expanded to include the largest collection of motorbikes in the world. Over 1600 vintage motorcycles and cars are housed here, with events and motorsports race days held at the adjoining Barber Motorsports Park .

Barber Motor Sports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama For Alabama Tourism in Birmingham Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Art Meripol

12 Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

For a deeper dive into Birmingham’s industrial roots, visit the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark (currently open by appointment only). These furnaces for smelting pig iron, fuelled by the abundant local coal, were constructed in 1881 by Col James Withers Sloss and his Sloss Furnace Company.

In the 1980s the factory was restored as a National Historic Landmark. The boilers and blast furnaces can be visited in either a guided or self guided tour.

You’ll learn how raw materials were delivered to the site and smelted to make the finished pig iron. The Cast Sheds also house the Sloss Metal Arts Program, with events and demonstrations in the art of metalworking.

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham Alabama

Recommended reading for your Alabama road trip: Read Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux to soak up the atmosphere of the Deep South

13 Southern Museum of Flight

The Southern Museum of Flight is located close to Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport. It is dedicated to aviation from the earliest days of flight, to more recent civilian and military aircraft.

The museum houses over 100 aircraft, in settings that are designed to bring them to life. Displays include Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen African American pilots and Huff Daland biplanes from the 1920s that were used as crop dusters. Also on exhibit Korean War jets and Vietnam War helicopters.

The Southern Museum of Flight near Birmingham Shuttlesworth Airport.

14 McWane Science Center

The McWane Science Center is a great option if you are looking for things to do in Birmingham AL with kids. There’s hours of family entertainment at this hands on science centre. The Center is designed to inspire children in the wonder of science, technology and engineering.

Activities are spread over four levels, including aquarium tanks, dinosaur exhibitions and IMAX dome. The Itty Bitty Magic City play area is ideal for younger visitors.

McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Chris Granger

You may also enjoy reading about Huntsville in Northern Alabama: 20 fun things to do in Huntsville Alabama

Parks and gardens in Birmingham Alabama

15 railroad park.

I chanced upon Railroad Park as I walked around at the end of a long hot day. One of the few large green spaces in Birmingham, the 19 acre park was created in 2010.

Unlike many cities, Birmingham is not built on the banks of a river. Railroad Park provides a welcome open space for leisure and recreation.

Railroad Park, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

As the name suggests, the park runs alongside the railroad. There are boardwalks and pathways beside the beautiful lake, with plenty of places to stop and relax.

It was still hot even in the evening, so I bought a welcome sno-cone from the Shymeer Ice van near the Cafe pavilion. I enjoyed wandering around for a while, viewing the landscaped wetlands as the sun went down. Park entry is free.

Railroad Park, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On your way to Railroad Park, look out for the color tunnel illuminated by coloured LED lights, that runs under the railway track. There are similar LED lit underpasses at the 14th, 16th, 18th and 20th street viaducts in Birmingham.

Color Tunnel in Birmingham Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department / Chris Granger

16 Magic City sign and the Rotary Trail

Close to Railroad Park is the famous Magic City sign which is a replica of an older sign and now marks the start of the Rotary Trail . The original sign stood in front of the Birmingham terminal station.

“Magic City” was a reference to the speed with which Birmingham had sprung up from the 1870s. By the 1920s Birmingham had become a thriving and prosperous industrial hub. This sign was re-created to mark the Rotary Trail, which is a green corridor running for half a mile for walkers and cyclists. The trail also links to other trails in the city.

Magic City sign, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Read about the places I visited on this road trip – 20 fun things to do in Huntsville Alabama

17 Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens were established in the 1960s on 69 acres in the Mountain Brook neighbourhood to the east of the city. It encompasses 30 different gardens, providing year round interest and colour. Paths can be used for walking and jogging as this garden is very much a community endeavour.

Highlights include the Japanese garden with its traditional red gate and the rose garden with pergola that’s in full bloom in the early summer. There’s also a pretty Gardens cafe and a well stocked shop with gifts for the home and garden. The gardens are free to visit.

Birmingham Botanical Garden, Alabama

18 Oak Mountain State Park

For an escape from the city, head just south of Birmingham to Oak Mountain State Park , which is Alabama’s largest state park. The park is popular for hiking and mountain biking with 50 miles of trails. There are also trails for horse-riding which can be arranged at the Rusted Roof Barn stables.

Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama © Alabama Tourism Department

With two lakes within the park there are also plenty of water-sports activities on offer. Beaver Lake boasts two sandy beaches, with an inflatable obstacle course and cable waterski.

For those staying in the Birmingham area a little longer, or those with children to entertain, Oak Mountain State Park has plenty of activities to keep you busy in the great outdoors.

Other natural parks and outdoor activities in Birmingham include Ruffner Mountain with 14 miles of hiking trails and Red Mountain Park . Within the city there’s the easily walkable Vulcan trail running along Red Mountain ridge from just below the Vulcan Park statue.

For Sports fans

19 birmingham negro southern league museum.

An interesting small museum for sports lovers is the Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum . This museum showcases the baseball league that nurtured the sporting talent of the Black community in Birmingham. On display are the artefacts, baseballs, player’s uniforms and trophies from the league.

More than this it tells the story of Negro league baseball – it was more than just a game! I enjoyed the hologram of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige showing just how fast he could pitch that baseball as you stand with it heading towards you. Entry to the museum is free.

Negro Southern League Museum, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sports fans and lovers of baseball will want to check if there are any games to watch at Regions Field, the stadium close to Railroad Park. Regions Park stadium is home of the Birmingham Barons for Minor League Baseball offering family friendly entertainment.

The Birmingham Barons originally played at Rickwood Field , which was built in 1910 by local industrialist Rick Woodward. Rickwood Field has now been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also in Birmingham is the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame , with a museum that celebrates leading sports men and women within Alabama and has a collection of 6000 pieces of sports memorabilia.

Muscle Shoals Alabama

Read about the places I visited on this road trip – Visit Muscle Shoals Alabama, for music history and more!

Just south of Birmingham Alabama

20 peaches at clanton.

Heading south from Birmingham on the Route 65 Interstate or just want to take a side trip? It’s worth making a stop at Clanton when the peaches are in season in June. The town is known as the Peach Capital of Alabama!

You can spot the well known Peach Water Tower (yes it looks like a giant peach) from the Interstate. Turn off at Exit 212 to take a closer look.

Peaches in Clanton, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I parked at the Headley’s Big Peach Farm shop where there were plenty of juicy peaches on sale and treated myself to one of their peachy ice lollies from the freezer counter. Just off Exit 205 is Peach Park , a farm shop and restaurant complex selling everything peachy.

It has grown from the original roadside stall and now offers a whole range of food and gifts. Check out their peach ice cream, peach cobbler and lots of other peach products.

Peaches in Clanton, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotels in Birmingham Alabama

Hampton inn and suites tutwiler hotel.

For the two nights I spent in Birmingham, I was in the grand and historic Hampton Inn and Suites Tutwiler Hotel , which is very centrally located in the Downtown area. The Tutwiler Hotel opened in 1915 and was known as the Grande Dame of Southern Hotels. It hosted the great and the good of Birmingham, and very much reflected the city’s prosperity at that time.

Hampton Inn and Suites Tutwiler Hotel, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Tutwiler was replaced in the 1970s by a high rise building for the Alabama Bank. Nearby, the luxury apartment building also created by Major Tutwiler, was transformed into the current 148 bedroom hotel run by Hampton Inn and Suites.

The style here is classic, and I had a very elegant suite on one of the upper floors. My room featured classic wooden furniture and windows opening to the balcony.

For more accommodation options, check out these hotels in Birmingham Alabama

Hampton Inn and Suites Tutwiler Hotel, Birmingham, Alabama Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Learn more about the US Civil Rights Trail and the thought provoking Civil Rights sites to visit in Alabama.

Civil Rights Trail in Alabama

More articles from my Alabama trip 11 Cool things to do in Mobile Alabama Food in Alabama – 20 dishes you’ll want to try! 20 fun things to do in Huntsville Alabama 50 things to do in Alabama USA Visit Muscle Shoals Alabama – for music history and more!

Map of things to see in Birmingham Al

Check out all the places we’ve mentioned on this handy map of the most fun things to do in Birmingham, Alabama.

Map of Birmingham Alabama Heatheronhertravels.com

More information for Visiting Birmingham Alabama

Lots more information is available when you visit the Birmingham tourism website or plan your visit to Alabama on the Alabama Tourism website .

Book your trip with America as you like it who offer bespoke self guided tours of Alabama and the USA. For more information contact 020 8742 8299, [email protected] or visit www.americaasyoulikeit.com

Tours in Birmingham: If you’re short of time it’s a good idea to take a guided tour and we can recommend

  • This Historical Highlights of Birmingham tour will give a great overview of things to see in Birmingham especially its industrial and sporting heritage.
  • Foodies will enjoy this Birmingham Food and Drink Tour to try out some of the best local dishes and places to eat.
  • Check our more guided tours in Birmingham to make the most of your visit.

Staying in Birmingham Alabama: I stayed at Hampton Inn and Suites Tutwiler Hotel and you can check prices and book for a range of hotels in Birmingham Alabama here .

Getting around Birmingham Alabama

Transport around Birmingham Alabama: Most visitors will find it most convenient to have a car to visit all the places mentioned, although much of the downtown area is easily walkable and taxis can also be used to get around.

How to get to Birmingham AL: It’s easy to fly into Birmingham Shuttlesworth Airport from numerous US destinations and if coming from the UK you can connect via other US airport hubs. If visiting Birmingham as part of a road trip as I did, it is convenient to start in Atlanta or Huntsville and drive south through Alabama. Or, start in New Orleans or Pensacola and drive north.

Approximate driving times to the next stops on your Alabama Road Trip

  • Muscle Shoals to Birmingham – 120 miles / 2 hrs
  • Birmingham to Selma – 90 miles / 1 hrs 40 mins
  • Driving time from Birmingham to Montgomery – 90 miles / 1 hrs 20 mins
Read about 10 fun things to do in Prince Edward Island and Charlottetown, Canada

Birmingham Alabama Photo Album

This article was sponsored* by Alabama Tourism who hosted my trip and many of the experiences mentioned.

* More info on my policies page

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com

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Monday 7th of June 2021

Thanks Heather for writing such a detailed article about Birmingham Alabama. Birmingham is a place to visit for history lovers.

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24 Best Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama (2024 Guide)

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: January 27, 2024

Trying to find great activities and attractions in The Magic City? Our guide to the best things to do in Birmingham, Alabama is all you need to plan the perfect trip!

Birmingham, Alabama, is a city with a rich history and a dynamic present, situated in the heart of the Southern United States. Known as the “Magic City,” Birmingham rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a hub for iron and steel production, fueled by the region’s abundant natural resources.

Today, the city reflects a vibrant blend of its industrial past and a modern, diverse community. Visitors to Birmingham can explore its cultural and historical landmarks, such as the Civil Rights District which is a National Historic Landmark. Home to the 16th Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which commemorate the pivotal role the city played in the Civil Rights Movement.

Birmingham’s cultural scene is also thriving, with a mix of museums, theaters, and music venues that showcase the city’s artistic spirit. The Alabama Theatre, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Southern Museum of Flight are just a few of the attractions contributing to Birmingham’s cultural tapestry.

So if you’re looking for the best things to do in Birmingham, AL, there are so many options to choose from! We’ve narrowed it down to the 24 best activities and attractions in the Magic City!

Downtown Birmingham Al

Table of Contents

1. Dive into the city’s history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

2. feast at pizitz food hall, 3. admire art in the city center at the birmingham museum of art, 4. check out the barber vintage motorsports museum, 5. wander through the birmingham botanical gardens, 6. visit the birmingham zoo, 7. laugh it up at stardome comedy club, 8. explore railroad park, 9. walk through the city’s rich history in kelly ingram park, 10. go bar-hopping in downtown, 11. broaden your mind at mcwane science center, 12. catch a baseball game, 13. explore red mountain park, 14. learn about music history at the alabama jazz hall of fame, 15. go on a walking tour of the civil rights district, 16. explore the outdoors in oak mountain state park, 17. catch a show at the alabama theater, 18. see the iconic vulcan statue at vulcan park and museum, 19. visit the southern museum of flight, 20. see waterfalls at moss rock preserve, 21. visit the negro southern league museum, 22. check out sloss furnaces park, 23. go for a hiking adventure at ruffner mountain, 24. bring the pets to good dog park and bar, best luxury accommodation in birmingham, al – the kelly birmingham, best mid-range accommodation in birmingham, al – hampton inn & suites, best budget accommodation in birmingham, al – best western carlton suites, 24 best things to do in birmingham, alabama.

From strolling around the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to catching a show at the historic Alabama Theater, here are the best things to do in Birmingham, AL.

Though you don’t need a car for getting around the Magic City, it does give you more flexibility during your travels. We recommend renting a car for your stay in Birmingham, Alabama!

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a renowned cultural and educational institution in Birmingham, Alabama, dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Established in 1992, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute stands as a testament to the struggles and triumphs of those who fought for racial equality during a pivotal era in American history. The institute is housed in a striking building that serves as a symbolic representation of the movement’s endurance and resilience.

At the heart of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is its comprehensive and thought-provoking exhibits, which chronicle the events, individuals, and movements that shaped the Civil Rights Movement.

Visitors can explore immersive displays that depict the challenges faced by African Americans in their quest for civil rights, including the infamous Birmingham campaign of 1963 and the impact of landmark events like the March on Washington.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute also engages the public through educational programs, workshops, and events that encourage dialogue and reflection on issues related to civil and human rights.

Through its commitment to fostering understanding and empathy, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute plays a vital role in ensuring that the lessons of the past continue to resonate in the present for locals and visitors in Birmingham, Alabama.

Food lovers have to take themselves on a walking tour of Pizitz Food Hall in downtown Birmingham, Alabama! This culinary haven encapsulates the city’s diverse and evolving food scene.

Housed in the historic Pizitz building, the food hall boasts a vibrant atmosphere with an array of eateries showcasing an eclectic mix of global cuisines. From artisanal pizzas and gourmet tacos to Korean-inspired bowls and Southern comfort classics, Pizitz Food Hall offers a gastronomic journey for every palate.

The communal seating, modern decor, and the bustling energy of chefs at work create a lively and inclusive environment, inviting locals and visitors alike to savor a delightful culinary adventure in the heart of Birmingham.

Heading south after Birmingham? Check out the Florida Panhandle with a visit to Destin !

Another highlight of downtown Birmingham, AL is the Birmingham Museum of Art . This cultural gem is celebrated for its rich and diverse collection that spans thousands of years of artistic history.

Established in 1951, the art museum has grown to become one of the Southeast’s premier art institutions, attracting visitors with its impressive array of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and more. The museum’s collection is particularly noted for its strengths in European, American, Asian, African, and modern and contemporary art.

The Birmingham Museum of Art occupies a modern and expansive facility that serves as a dynamic space for both contemplation and engagement. The museum not only houses its permanent collection but also hosts rotating exhibitions, bringing in works from renowned artists and emerging talents.

Educational initiatives, family-friendly events, and community outreach programs further enhance the museum’s role as a cultural hub, making art accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages and backgrounds.

As a vital cultural institution and art museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art inspires a deeper connection to the arts within the community and is one of the best things to do in Birmingham, AL.

Founded by George Barber, a successful businessman and passionate collector, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum opened its doors in 1995 and has since become one of the world’s most extensive collections of two-wheeled and four-wheeled racing machines.

Housed on the stunning grounds of the Barber Motorsports Park, the museum is not only a treasure trove for those with a deep appreciation for the history of motorsports but also a testament to Barber’s dedication to preserving and showcasing the evolution of these iconic vehicles.

Boasting over 1,600 motorcycles and race cars, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a visual feast for enthusiasts, with exhibits that showcase the evolution of motorized transportation. The collection spans a wide range of eras and styles, from vintage motorcycles of the early 20th century to iconic race cars from various disciplines.

The museum’s design itself is a work of art, with a layout that allows visitors to meander through the history of motorsports in a visually stunning and immersive environment. Anyone with a passion for technology and innovation will have a wonderful time exploring the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

Barber Motorsports Museum

Located in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a beloved destination for nature enthusiasts, families, and anyone seeking respite in a serene environment.

The gardens showcase an impressive variety of plant collections, including roses, herbs, tropical plants, and native southeastern flora, providing visitors with a visually stunning and educational experience.

Comprising over 12,000 different plants, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens not only serves as a picturesque retreat but also as an educational resource for horticulture and environmental awareness.

The gardens host a range of educational programs, workshops, and events that cater to visitors of all ages, fostering an appreciation for the diverse world of plants and their ecological importance.

With features like the Japanese Gardens, the Southern Living Garden, and the largest public horticulture library in the southeastern United States, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a fun place to spend a day in the city.

Heading further north into Tennessee? Check out these fun things to do in Nashville !

Another one of the most fun things to do in Birmingham, AL is spend a day at the Birmingham Zoo . This captivating destination offers a thrilling and educational experience for visitors of all ages. The zoo has evolved into a modern facility with a mission to inspire passion for the natural world and promote conservation efforts.

The Birmingham Zoo is home to over 800 animals representing species from around the globe, including endangered and exotic animals like lions, giraffes, elephants, and endangered species such as the red panda.

The zoo’s commitment to animal welfare and conservation is evident in its various programs and initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the importance of preserving biodiversity.

Beyond its diverse array of animal exhibits, the Birmingham Zoo provides a dynamic and engaging atmosphere for learning. It offers educational programs, wildlife shows, and interactive experiences designed to enrich visitors’ understanding of the animal kingdom and the importance of environmental stewardship.

The Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo within the Birmingham Zoo is a particularly popular attraction, offering hands-on exhibits and play areas that make the learning experience both enjoyable and memorable for young visitors.

With its dedication to wildlife conservation, education, and family-friendly entertainment, the Birmingham Zoo is the perfect place for a day of family fun.

Whether you want a date night, a hilarious time with friends, or a family outing, head to Stardome Comedy Club in Birmingham, Alabama. The iconic venue is a premier destination for laughter and entertainment, hosting some of the best comedians in the industry.

The club, established in 1983, offers a unique blend of stand-up comedy, delicious food, and a vibrant atmosphere. With a lineup that features both emerging talents and seasoned comedians, Stardome provides audiences with an unforgettable night of humor.

The club’s intimate setting and attentive service create a welcoming space for patrons to unwind, enjoy a meal, and share in the joy of laughter, making Stardome Comedy Club a beloved fixture in Birmingham’s entertainment scene.

Railroad Park, located in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, has transformed a former industrial space into a dynamic and bustling recreational area. The park spans 19 acres and is situated along the historic railroad lines that played a crucial role in Birmingham’s industrial past.

Today, Railroad Park serves as a central hub for community gatherings, outdoor activities, and cultural events. It has earned the nickname, “Birmingham’s Living Room” thanks to its special place in the hearts of locals.

Its thoughtful design incorporates walking and jogging trails, a lake, playgrounds, and green spaces, providing residents and visitors with a welcoming environment to relax, exercise, and connect with nature in the heart of the city center.

The success of Railroad Park lies not only in its scenic beauty but also in its role as a catalyst for urban revitalization. Railroad Park Foundation has played a pivotal role in the ongoing transformation of downtown Birmingham, attracting new businesses, residents, and visitors to the area.

Its central location and thoughtful programming, including concerts, festivals, and fitness classes, make it a popular destination for people of all ages and backgrounds.

One of the most fun things to do in the city center is to spend the day exploring the park or attend an event hosted by the Railroad Park Foundation!

Read next: 18 Best Day Trips From Nashville

One of the best historic sites in Birmingham, Alabama is Kelly Ingram Park . Located in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, Kelly Ingram Park holds profound historical significance as a central site for civil rights protests during the 1960s.

The park, named after Bishop Henry N. Kelly served as a focal point for the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement and witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in the struggle for racial equality.

Today, Kelly Ingram Park stands as a powerful memorial and testament to the resilience of those who fought against segregation and injustice.

The “Four Spirits” sculpture in the park commemorates the lives of four young girls who lost their lives in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, a tragic event that galvanized the civil rights movement.

Visitors can also explore exhibits such as the “Foot Soldiers” sculpture, which depicts the brave individuals who participated in protests, and the “Freedom Walk,” a pathway marked with significant events and quotes from the era.

Kelly Ingram Park serves as both a contemplative space for reflection and a living memorial that educates future generations about the struggles and sacrifices made to advance civil rights. Kelly Ingram Park remains a symbol of courage and resilience, inviting visitors to engage with the complex history of the Civil Rights Movement and the ongoing pursuit of justice and equality.

Embarking on a bar-hopping adventure in downtown Birmingham, AL, is a fun way to kick off an evening in the city. Start the evening at one of the trendy rooftop bars, such as The Roof at The Redmont, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline while sipping on craft cocktails.

As the night progresses, venture into the historic and lively Five Points South district, home to a myriad of pubs, lounges, and live music venues.

Iconic spots like The J. Clyde, known for its extensive craft beer selection, or The Garage Café with its quirky atmosphere, provide an authentic taste of Birmingham’s unique bar culture.

Paramount Bar in Birmingham is another chic and vibrant establishment, known for its stylish decor, craft cocktails, and lively atmosphere. Or if you’re looking to eat while you drink, head to Highlands Bar and Grill. This culinary icon is celebrated for its award-winning Southern-inspired cuisine, upscale ambiance, and commitment to showcasing the best of Alabama’s culinary heritage.

Cap off the night by immersing yourself in the energy of Adios Cocktail Bar, a cozy venue known for classic cocktails and inventive drinks.

Whether you’re drawn to craft beers, fancy cocktails, or live music scenes, downtown Birmingham’s eclectic mix of bars ensures a memorable night of exploration and enjoyment in the heart of this vibrant Southern city.

Adios Cocktail Bar

The McWane Science Center is a premier science and education facility that captivates visitors with its interactive exhibits and engaging educational programs.

Named after John W. McWane, a prominent Birmingham industrialist, and philanthropist, the McWane Science Center combines hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, and immersive experiences to make science and technology accessible and exciting.

With multiple floors of interactive displays covering topics ranging from physics and astronomy to biology and environmental science, the center encourages curiosity and exploration in a fun and educational setting.

The McWane Science Center’s commitment to fostering scientific curiosity extends beyond its exhibits, as it hosts educational programs, workshops, and live science demonstrations. The facility includes an IMAX Dome Theater, providing an additional dimension to science education through captivating films on a variety of scientific subjects.

The McWane Science Center plays a vital role in promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the Birmingham community, inspiring a love for learning and a deeper understanding of the world.

With its innovative approach to science education and its emphasis on hands-on exploration, the McWane Science Center stands as a beacon of intellectual curiosity and discovery.

Heading further east into Georgia? Check out our 3 Days In Atlanta Itinerary .

If you’re looking for a day of great fun in the Magic City, catch a Birmingham Barons baseball game! A vibrant energy fills the air at Birmingham’s baseball stadium as fans gather under the Southern sun for an eagerly anticipated game.

The iconic sight of the historic Rickwood Field or the modern Regions Field adds to the charm of the experience, providing a backdrop that blends the city’s rich baseball heritage with the thrill of the game.

Whether it’s a Minor League matchup or a community event, the baseball culture in Birmingham captures the essence of Americana, bringing together families, friends, and fans to revel in the timeless joy of America’s favorite pastime.

Red Mountain Park in Birmingham, AL is a sprawling natural haven that offers a diverse range of outdoor activities, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Red Mountain Park provides an extensive network of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, open meadows, and historic mining sites, offering outdoor enthusiasts a chance to connect with nature while exploring the park’s scenic landscapes.

One of the distinctive features of Red Mountain Park is the preservation of its historical and industrial heritage. The park incorporates remnants of the iron ore mining operations that once thrived in the area, adding an educational dimension to the outdoor experience.

Visitors can explore artifacts, old mine entrances, and the iconic Red Mountain Iron Ore Mine, gaining insights into the region’s industrial past. Beyond its natural beauty, Red Mountain Park serves as a community gathering space, hosting events, festivals, and educational programs.

This is a fun place to enjoy some nature and greenery near the city center, whether you want to go for a bike ride, have a picnic lunch in the forest, or just escape the hustle and bustle.

For music lovers, one of the best things to do in Birmingham, AL is check out the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame . Established in 1978, the Hall of Fame is housed in the historic Carver Theatre, a venue with its own storied past in the African-American community.

The museum showcases a diverse collection of memorabilia, photographs, and exhibits dedicated to iconic jazz figures with ties to Alabama, including legends like W.C. Handy, Nat King Cole, and Erskine Hawkins.

The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame serves as a vibrant cultural hub, preserving and promoting the legacy of these influential musicians while educating visitors about the historical and artistic impact of jazz.

Visitors to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame can explore interactive displays, multimedia presentations, and archival materials that trace the evolution of jazz and its deep roots in Alabama.

The museum also hosts live performances, educational programs, and community events that celebrate the enduring influence of jazz on American music.

By recognizing and honoring the achievements of Alabama’s jazz musicians, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame contributes to the broader narrative of jazz history and ensures that the cultural significance of these artists continues to resonate with audiences of all ages.

Read next: The 16 Best Day Trips From Atlanta

Expand your exploration of the Civil Rights Era with a walking tour of the Civil Rights District . This historic and symbolic area played a pivotal role in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and it’s one of the most important places in the city.

Comprising several key landmarks, this district serves as a poignant reminder of the struggles and triumphs of those who fought for racial equality.

One of the central elements of the Civil Rights District is the 16th Street Baptist Church, which tragically became the target of a bombing in 1963. The 16th Street Baptist Church has since become a memorial and a powerful symbol of the sacrifices made in the quest for civil rights.

The neighboring Kelly Ingram Park, with its striking sculptures and memorials, further enhances the district’s significance by commemorating the courage of the individuals who participated in protests and demonstrations during that turbulent period.

The district invites visitors to embark on a poignant journey through history, exploring the struggles and achievements of the movement through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia presentations.

As a designated National Historic Landmark, the Civil Rights District in Birmingham is a must-visit destination for those seeking to understand and honor this transformative chapter in American history.

Download a civil rights audio walking tour so you can make the most of your time on the Civil Rights Trail in Birmingham, AL.

Just south of Birmingham, Alabama, is the state’s largest state park, Oak Mountain State Park . Spanning over 9,900 acres, this beautiful area offers a diverse range of outdoor recreational activities.

Oak Mountain State Park features over 50 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, providing opportunities for visitors to explore its varied landscapes, including dense forests, scenic lakes, and rolling hills. Whether you want to go mountain biking or take on a leisurely stroll, this park is full of fun things to do.

In addition to its extensive trail system, Oak Mountain State Park offers a host of recreational facilities, including a golf course, fishing lakes, and a beach area along Double Oak Lake.

The park’s nature center provides educational programs and interactive exhibits that highlight the local flora and fauna, enriching the visitor experience with insights into the diverse ecosystems within the park.

With campgrounds, cabins, and picnic areas, Oak Mountain State Park invites visitors to immerse themselves in the great outdoors and enjoy a wide range of activities, making it a popular destination for those seeking both relaxation and adventure in a natural setting.

The Alabama Theater , located in downtown Birmingham, is a historic and iconic venue that has been enchanting audiences since its grand opening in 1927.

Designed by the renowned architect David O. Whilldin, the theater is a stunning example of Spanish-Moorish architecture, featuring intricate detailing, opulent decor, and a majestic Wurlitzer organ.

Originally built as a movie palace, the Alabama Theatre has evolved into a cultural hub that hosts a variety of events, including film screenings, live performances, concerts, and community gatherings. Its historic charm and exceptional acoustics have made it a cherished landmark in the city, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Alabama Theatre’s interior is a visual feast, with its grand chandeliers, ornate plasterwork, and a ceiling that mimics a starlit sky. The theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ, one of the few remaining of its kind in the world, adds to the venue’s allure, captivating audiences with its powerful and evocative sound.

Today, the Alabama Theatre continues to serve as a cultural treasure, offering a unique and immersive experience that transports visitors to a bygone era of entertainment while remaining a vital and dynamic part of Birmingham’s artistic landscape.

Alabama Theater

Vulcan Park and Museum , situated atop Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama, is home to one of the city’s most iconic symbols—the Vulcan statue.

Standing at 56 feet tall, Vulcan is the world’s largest cast-iron statue and has been overlooking Birmingham since its dedication in 1936. Vulcan Park and Museum were established to celebrate not only the statue but also the history and industrial achievements of the Birmingham area.

Visitors can explore Vulcan Park and Museum to learn about Birmingham’s industrial past, its role in the iron and steel industry, and the cultural and economic impact of Vulcan on the region.

In addition to the museum, Vulcan Park offers panoramic views of Birmingham and its surrounding areas, providing a stunning backdrop for various outdoor activities. The park’s lush grounds feature walking trails, picnic areas, and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Visitors can climb to an observation tower at the top of the statue, offering breathtaking views of the city skyline. With its combination of educational exhibits, scenic beauty, and a historic statue, Vulcan Park and Museum is one of the top landmarks in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Southern Museum of Flight , located in Birmingham, Alabama, is a captivating institution dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rich history of aviation in the Southern United States.

Established in 1966, the museum has grown to become one of the largest aviation museums in the Southeast, featuring an extensive collection of aircraft, artifacts, and exhibits that span the history of flight.

Visitors to the Southern Museum of Flight can explore a diverse array of aircraft, including vintage warplanes, experimental aircraft, and commercial planes, providing a comprehensive look at the evolution of aviation technology over the years.

Beyond its impressive collection of aircraft, the Southern Museum of Flight offers a range of educational programs and exhibits that highlight the contributions of individuals from the Southern region to the field of aviation. The museum plays a crucial role in inspiring and educating the public about the wonders of flight and the aerospace industry.

With interactive displays, flight simulators, and engaging presentations, the Southern Museum of Flight invites visitors of all ages to embark on a journey through the skies, fostering an appreciation for the pioneers and innovations that have shaped the world of aviation.

Explore more iconic cities in the US South with a visit to New Orleans !

Another one of the most fun things to do while visiting Birmingham is head out to Moss Rock Preserve . Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near Birmingham AL, this natural gem offers a peaceful retreat into the outdoors.

Spread across nearly 350 acres, the preserve features diverse ecosystems, including hardwood forests, boulder fields, and tranquil streams.

One of the highlights of Moss Rock Preserve is the presence of enchanting waterfalls, where cool, clear water cascades over picturesque rock formations. These waterfalls, such as the popular “The Waterfall,” provide a serene and scenic backdrop for hikers and nature enthusiasts exploring the network of trails that wind through the preserve.

With its lush landscapes and captivating water features, Moss Rock Preserve stands as a haven for those seeking the tranquility and beauty of Alabama’s natural environment.

The Negro Southern League Museum , situated in Birmingham, Alabama, stands as a vital institution dedicated to preserving and honoring the legacy of African American baseball players in the Southern United States.

The museum is a poignant reminder of the challenges and triumphs faced by black baseball players during the era of segregation. It commemorates the legacy of the Negro Southern League, which was a significant part of the broader Negro Leagues that provided African American players the opportunity to showcase their talents in a racially divided America.

The museum’s exhibits feature a wealth of memorabilia, photographs, and artifacts, offering a comprehensive look at the history of the league and the enduring impact of black baseball players on the sport.

The Negro Southern League Museum goes beyond the statistics and scores, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the social and cultural implications of African American baseball during a tumultuous period in American history.

Interactive displays, oral histories, and multimedia presentations highlight the experiences of players, coaches, and teams, shedding light on their resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

Sloss Furnaces Park in Birmingham, AL, stands as a testament to the city’s industrial heritage and is a National Historic Landmark that captures the essence of the iron industry’s impact on the region.

Originally a pig iron-producing blast furnace in operation from 1882 to 1971, Sloss Furnaces has been preserved and transformed into a unique historical and cultural park.

Visitors can explore the industrial landscape, including the massive furnaces, boiler houses, and other structures that tell the story of Birmingham’s crucial role in the iron and steel industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, Sloss Furnaces Park not only preserves the industrial past but also serves as a dynamic space for the arts, education, and community engagement. The park hosts events, concerts, and workshops, embracing its historical significance while adapting to the evolving needs of the community.

The rusted beauty of the furnaces against the backdrop of the city skyline offers a striking juxtaposition, reminding visitors of Birmingham’s transformation from an industrial powerhouse to a thriving cultural hub. Sloss Furnaces Park stands as a living museum, inviting people to explore the intersection of history, art, and industry within this unique and significant historical site.

Sloss Furnaces

Those looking for outdoor adventures near Birmingham, AL can head up to Ruffner Mountain . This sprawling nature preserve covers over 1,000 pristine acres. This urban wilderness offers a diverse range of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, over rugged ridges, and past historic mining sites.

Visitors to Ruffner Mountain can explore its network of well-maintained trails, revealing stunning vistas of Birmingham’s skyline and the surrounding Appalachian foothills. The preserve is home to a rich array of plant and animal life, providing an immersive experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

One of Ruffner Mountain’s prominent features is its historic mining sites, offering a glimpse into Birmingham’s industrial past.

The Crusher Trail, for example, takes hikers through the remnants of an old limestone quarry and showcases the ingenuity of the region’s mining history. Ruffner Mountain also serves as an outdoor classroom, offering educational programs and community events that promote an understanding of the local ecosystems.

Read next: The 30 Best Things To Do In Tennessee

Good Dog Park and Bar offers a unique and delightful experience for pet lovers in Birmingham, AL. This iconic venue blends a dog-friendly park with a lively bar atmosphere. This establishment provides a haven for dog owners and their furry companions!

The Good Dog Park and Bar features spacious play areas with agility equipment, ensuring dogs have ample space to socialize and burn off energy. Meanwhile, pet parents can relax and enjoy a diverse menu of drinks and snacks at the adjoining bar.

The combination of a vibrant social scene, a well-equipped dog park, and the camaraderie of fellow dog lovers creates a dynamic and welcoming space that reflects Birmingham’s commitment to fostering a sense of community, all while celebrating the bond between humans and their canine companions.

Where to Stay in Birmingham, Alabama

After indulging in all the fun things to do in Birmingham, AL, you’ll want a decent place to rest your head at night. Luckily there are some amazing hotels in the city center, all located just a short drive from Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport. Here are some top-rated options for every budget!

The Kelly Birmingham , part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, offers an upscale stay in downtown Birmingham, AL. The stylish and elegant accommodations are accompanied by a shared lounge, private parking, a restaurant and a bar.

Guests rave about the staff, the breakfast, and the unique decor in the hotel. Plus it is conveniently located near all the best attractions.

The Hampton Inn & Suites is one of the top-rated hotels in the city center. With everything you need right at your fingertips, the Hampton Inn & Suites is set in a luxurious building that is a feast for the eyes!

Complete with secure car parking, free WiFi, on-site dining, a fitness center, a business center, and complimentary breakfast, you can relax and enjoy your time at this excellent, 3-star hotel.

If you’re looking to explore Birmingham, AL on a budget, Best Western Carlton Suites has you covered. With an indoor swimming pool, included breakfast, daily housekeeping, and air-conditioned rooms, you get wonderful value for money here.

There are local eateries within walking distance, and the heart of downtown is just a 6 minute drive away. Free parking is available if you have a car during your stay.

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THE 10 BEST Birmingham Sights & Historical Landmarks

Birmingham landmarks.

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  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

1. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

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2. Vulcan Park and Museum

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Recommended Sightseeing Experiences (17)

cool places to visit in birmingham al

3. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

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4. Rickwood Field Park

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5. 16th Street Baptist Church

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6. Regions Field

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7. Kelly Ingram Park

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8. Civil Rights District

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9. Statue of Liberty Replica

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10. Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex

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11. Airwalk Trampoline Arena

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12. Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens

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13. The Cathedral of St. Paul

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14. Alabama Veterans Memorial Park

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15. Heaviest Corner on Earth

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16. First United Methodist Church

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17. Rainbow LED Tunnel

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18. Five Points South

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19. Oak Hill Cemetery

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20. Thomas Jefferson Tower

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21. Joe Minter's African Village in America

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22. Legacy Arena

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23. Carver Theater

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24. Legion Field

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25. Before I Die Wall

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26. WorkPlay

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27. First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham

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28. Cathedral Church of the Advent

29. d. o. whilldin office.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

30. 4th Avenue Business District

What travelers are saying.

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15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Birmingham, AL

Written by Lana Law and Lura Seavey Updated Dec 28, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Birmingham was once an industrial center fueled by the steel industry, but today it is a lively cultural center full of rich history. It is home to several important Civil Rights landmarks, which saw pivotal moments in the movement, as well as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute , which provides deeper insight into the numerous barriers that African Americans faced in the past and continue to struggle with today.

Birmingham is full of things to see and do, from art museums and botanical gardens to great family attractions like the McWane Science Center and the Birmingham Zoo . Birmingham is also home to several lovely parks, including the urban oasis of Railroad Park ; Ruffner Mountain Nature Center ; and Red Mountain Park , home to the city's iconic statue of Vulcan and excellent views over the city.

Find the best places to visit in the city with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Birmingham.

See also: Where to Stay in Birmingham

1. Tour the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights District

2. learn more at the birmingham civil rights institute, 3. explore the world at the mcwane science center, 4. visit the birmingham museum of art, 5. barber vintage motorsports museum, 6. stroll the birmingham botanical gardens, 7. explore birmingham's railroad park, 8. birmingham zoo, 9. sloss furnaces national historic landmark, 10. enjoy the outdoors at the ruffner mountain nature center, 11. vulcan park and museum, 12. southern museum of flight, 13. kelly ingram park, 14. pepper place saturday market, 15. go to the theater, where to stay in birmingham for sightseeing, map of attractions & things to do in birmingham, al, birmingham, al - climate chart.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

On Sunday September 15, 1963, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. The bombing resulted in the death of four girls. This act brought a nation together and played a big part in ensuring the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The church was restored and reopened in 1964 with the help of donations from around the world. Today, it is a major tourist attraction as part of Birmingham's extensive Civil Rights story.

Birmingham's Civil Rights District is one of its most visited areas, and a guided tour of Birmingham's Civil Rights landmarks is the best way to see the major sites while learning about the important role that Birmingham played in the fight for desegregation and equality. Among the many sites visited on this small-group tour are the Sixteenth Street Church , Kelly Ingram Park , Boutwell Auditorium , and the sight of the attack on the Freedom Riders. Transportation is provided via an air-conditioned bus, and the knowledgeable guide will help add context to the city's Civil Rights story.

Address: 1530 Sixteenth Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Located at the junction of Sixth Avenue North and Sixteenth Street, the Civil Rights Institute forms the cornerstone of the Civil Rights District . Its mission is to promote civil and human rights worldwide through education, and it contains exhibits pertaining to the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and human rights struggles through to the present day.

The center features permanent exhibitions, guiding visitors through various events and experiences with multi-media presentations. Galleries focus on four main topics, including the broader scope of human rights, the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, confrontations, and segregation. The museum also contains galleries dedicated to special temporary exhibitions.

Address: 520 16th Street North, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.bcri.org

Dinosaurs at the McWane Science Center

McWane Science Center in Birmingham allows visitors to experience the world through science adventures and interactive exhibits, and it is a top family attraction for both locals and tourists alike. A wide variety of topics are explored, from dinosaurs to space exploration. Hands-on displays feature motion, energy, light and sound, and kids young and old will find many exciting things to see and do.

The center's top level is home to traveling exhibits from other museums, special events, and an exhibit about the relationship between art and technology. The lower level offers an interactive aquarium exhibit, which features habitat tanks of aquatic creatures. Visitors can make waves on an eroding shoreline, check out salt marsh creatures, and explore the story of water and what it means to us.

The science center is also home to an IMAX theater, which presents a variety of films daily.

Address: 200 19th Street North, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.mcwane.org

Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art is home to more than 20,000 works, from ancient to contemporary and originating from all parts of the globe. The largest of the museum's collections, in fact nearly half of the items, are European decorative arts.

The American decorative arts collection contains more than 2,000 pieces, and together these collections include a wide variety of items, such as porcelain; vases and vessels; and metalwork like fine silver, furniture, and textiles. The museum's Asian art collection is also impressive, consisting of more than 4,000 examples, which range from ancient earthenware and bronzes to works on paper and in multimedia.

The African art gallery houses nearly 2,000 pieces, consisting of detailed beadwork, headdresses, vessels, furniture, and figures. The collections also include an array of European art, with notable artists like Dali, van Rijn, and Pissarro, as well as both American and contemporary art.

On the museum grounds is the Charles W Ireland Sculpture Garden, a multi-level area that features the Red Mountain Garden, Lower Gallery, and the Upper Plaza.

Address: 2000 Rev Abraham Woods, Jr. Boulevard, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.artsbma.org

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Founded by race driver George Barber, the Vintage Motorsports Museum is a result of his passion for cars and motorcycles. First opened in 1995 with an assortment of vintage motorcycles, the collection soon gained notoriety after several vehicles were lent to the Guggenheim Museum for a major exhibit, "The Art of the Motorcycle," which also toured to Chicago and Bilbao in Spain.

Barber continued to grow his collection as he developed a large complex that is now home to a 2.38-mile racetrack and a proving ground. The facilities, in the midst of the beautiful 930-acre park, are regularly employed by major auto manufacturers including Mercedes Benz and Porsche, used for testing, product reveals, and commercials. The facilities area is also open to the public, where you will find the Porsche Driving School, demonstrations, and other activities.

The museum itself has an impressive collection of motorcycles, totaling more than 1,400 in all, and about half of them are on display at any given time. They span a wide range of both time and origin, representing more than 200 manufacturers and nearly two dozen countries. There is also a car collection which includes several Lotus and rare race cars.

Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.barbermuseum.org

Japanese Gardens at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens adorn a 67-acre park, which is also a center for horticultural education. Visitors will first see the impressive glass conservatory when arriving through the Queen's Gates, as it sits behind the stunning Formal Garden.

The majority of gardens here are categorized by plant type, referred to as the Gardens of Collections, and among these, you will find two dedicated to rhododendrons; one formal rose garden; and others containing varieties of lily, iris, hosta, and more.

The Gardens of Nature focus on native local plants, and the Gardens of Culture are home to a wide variety of flora, each representing various design styles. Among these you will find a Japanese garden, a herb garden, and many other themes.

Address: 2612 Lane Park Road, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.bbgardens.org

View of Downtown Birmingham from Railroad Park

In the middle of downtown Birmingham, the Railroad Park is an oasis of green space and water features, offering a retreat from the bustle and heat of the city. It covers 19 acres, laid out to include plenty of lawn space, trees for shade, flowers, and a variety of streams and ponds. The park is also home to a small lake and offers several trails for walking or running, with the three-quarter-mile Rail Trail offering excellent views of the city.

For younger kids, there are two playgrounds, and active teens will be excited about the three skate bowls. The park also hosts various cultural events, family activities, and concerts, and is monitored 24/7 by security cameras and rangers. Restrooms and dining facilities are also available on-site.

Location: At the western end of 1st Avenue South, Between 14th and 18th Streets, Birmingham Alabama

Jaguar at the Birmingham Zoo

Birmingham Zoo is a popular attraction for families and kids of all ages, home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and mammals from around the world. Of the zoo's 950 residents, there are numerous endangered species represented. Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy a variety of shows and events including the sea lion show, sea lion training session, and reptile feeding.

For a small fee, kids can take a ride on the animal-themed carousel or ride the Red Diamond Express, and even get the chance to meet a giraffe up close. Those who want to see the inner workings of the zoo and meet some of its residents can also purchase an animal encounter, available for sea lions, Komodo dragons, rhinos, and American black bears.

The botanical exhibit features hundreds of butterflies from more than 20 species, all of which are native to Alabama. Within the Birmingham Zoo is the Hugh Kaul Children's Zoo , dedicated to the urban and rural animals of Alabama. One of the newer additions to the zoo is the Dino Discovery exhibit.

Address: 2630 Cahaba Road, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.birminghamzoo.com

The Sloss Furnaces

The Sloss Furnaces began producing pig iron in 1882 and continued for almost 90 years. Today, the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham operate as a museum of industry with the massive furnaces, a web of pipes, and tall smokestacks still standing. The blast furnaces and buildings of Sloss Furnaces Historic Landmark highlight the history and industry of the area.

Tourists will want to begin at the visitor center, where you can pick up a self-guided tour brochure and learn about the site's history from its short film and exhibits. There are guided tours available on the weekend or by request. This is also the site of many excellent photo-ops, however those using professional photography equipment will need to obtain permission prior to shooting.

Address: 20 32nd Street North, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.slossfurnaces.com

Ruffner Mountain Nature Center

Ruffner Mountain Nature Center offers opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, and for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and learn. The wildlife sanctuary is home to raptors, snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, and mammals. Mining sites, quarries, and mining equipment remain on Ruffner Mountain from the many iron ore mines that dotted the landscape from the 1880s to the 1950s.

Another mining site-turned-park is Red Mountain Park , which has several historic iron ore mining sites and a system of 15 miles of trails. This is an excellent place to go hiking in Birmingham, with several trails leading to breathtaking overlooks of the city below.

Mountain biking is allowed on all of the trails as well, and there are two miles of flat walking trails, which are ideal for strollers and wheelchairs. Red Mountain Park also offers those with mobility issues a chance to explore the full range of trails thanks to a pair of off-road wheelchairs, which can be reserved in advance.

Address: 1214 81st Street South, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: http://ruffnermountain.org/

Statue of Vulcan at Vulcan Park

This 56-foot statue of Vulcan, Roman god of fire, was originally built in Birmingham for an exhibit at the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Made of 100,000 pounds of iron, it is the largest cast iron statue in the world. Today, it stands watch over the city of Birmingham from the top of Red Mountain , an enduring reminder of the city's early industrial roots.

Tourists can enjoy amazing views of the city from the observation deck, and on-site there is also a good history museum, which features interactive exhibits about the city and the statue's history. In addition to the views, visitors to Vulcan Park can enjoy a picnic on the grounds, view an art exhibit at the Linn Henley Gallery , and enjoy a panoramic view of Birmingham's skyline.

Address: 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: http://visitvulcan.com/

Southern Museum of Flight

The Southern Museum of Flight is home to a variety of exhibits and historic aircraft. The indoor section of the museum uses life-size dioramas to illustrate various topics, many of which relate to the history of aviation in the military. The Korean War Jets exhibit features the two most infamous fighter jets of the era, the MiG-15 and F-86 Sabre.

Other military exhibits include the WWII era with the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit and the recovered Lake Murray B-25, as well as the Vietnam War Helicopters exhibit. The Little Pilots Playroom is perfect for entertaining the smallest visitors, and older kids will love the Experimental Aviation Association Classroom where aspiring engineers can try out their ideas using Legos, Mega Blox, and Kinex.

For kids ages 12 and up, including the kids-at-heart, there are fully functional flight simulators, staffed with real flight instructors. Outdoors, visitors can walk among the planes, including an early-model commercial plane once used by Delta Air Lines, an A-12 Blackbird, and a Stealth bomber. The Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame is also located here, with aviation art, photographs, and murals.

Address: 4343 73rd Street North, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.southernmuseumofflight.org

Statue in Kelly Ingram Park

Formerly known as West Park, this site marks an important landmark in Civil Rights History. This was the site of an event that brought international attention to the American Civil Rights movement in May of 1963 when police assaulted peaceful protesters with fire hoses and police dogs.

Throughout the park, there are statues depicting scenes of that day, including attacks on children. Visitors can use the park's free cellphone-based guided tour in order to get descriptions and background on the events that inspired each piece of art. The events in this park spurred change, contributing a great deal to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Address: Fifth Avenue N & 16th Street, Birmingham, Alabama

Watermelons for sale at the market in Birmingham

Every Saturday morning from 7am to noon, over a hundred vendors gather at Pepper Place to offer their best produce and local food products. The market also offers several vendors selling handmade local goods, from jewelry to artwork and crafts.

Visitors will find a variety of in-season produce and animal products, as well as baked goods, preserves, and specialty foods like chocolate. During winter and inclement weather, the market is held indoors, and each week, the market hosts a live podcast.

Address: 2829 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, Alabama

Official site: www.pepperplacemarket.com

Exterior of the Alabama Theater, Birmingham

There are several excellent venues in Birmingham that feature live performances, and one of the best is the Alabama Theater on Third Avenue North. Built in 1927 as a movie house, it has hosted several major events, including the Miss Alabama Pageant and Mickey Mouse Club.

Recently restored to its original beauty, it is the home stage for the Alabama Theater for the Performing Arts and hosts a variety of shows, including classic films, theatrical and dance performances, and live music. The building is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Another great spot to catch a live show is the Virginia Samford Theatre at Caldwell Park on 26 th Street South. This theater hosts a variety of musical, theatrical, and dance performances throughout the year, featuring local professionals. The theater itself is a well-preserved Art Deco venue, which was built in 1927 to host community performances.

Families and tourists traveling with children will want to check the lineup at the Birmingham Children's Theatre. Performances are held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex , and a range of live performances are held throughout the year for young audiences.

If you are coming to see the sights or just to have some fun, the best place to stay in Birmingham is right downtown. At the northern end of the downtown core is the new Uptown entertainment district, where the Birmingham-Jackson Convention Complex is located. Farther south, the Five Points South dining and entertainment district is a lively area, with the University of Alabama campus nearby.

Luxury Hotels:

  • The Westin Birmingham is in the trendy Uptown area, within walking distance to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The hotel has a rooftop pool affording fabulous views over the city.
  • The Residence Inn by Marriot Birmingham Downtown is in the heart of the Five Points South area and offers suites with kitchens and an outdoor pool.
  • The Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham Downtown - The Tutwiler is in a fully renovated and restored 1914 heritage building, less than a kilometer from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • At the top end of mid-range and featuring well-appointed rooms, the Courtyard Birmingham Downtown is in a good location, with the restaurants of Five Points South a short stroll away.
  • About 12 kilometers south from downtown on Highway 280 is the well regarded Drury Inn & Suites Birmingham Grandview . Several good chain restaurants and the Summit Mall are only a short walk away.
  • About three kilometers farther out, the Homewood Suites is a good family option, with two-bedroom suites, kitchens, and an outdoor pool.

Budget Hotels:

  • About 20 kilometers outside of downtown, in a quiet location, the Hampton Inn & Suites offers rooms with breakfast at a fair price.
  • Less than 12 kilometers to the southwest, easily accessible off Interstate 65, the Best Western Plus Carlton Suites has an indoor pool and free appetizers and beverages Monday through Thursday.
  • In the same area, the Candlewood Suites Birmingham/Homewood has recently been renovated and offers free laundry service and an outdoor grilling gazebo area for its guests.

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Civil Rights History : Tourists interested in visiting additional important landmarks related to the Civil Rights Movement will find nearby Montgomery, just an hour and a half from Birmingham by car, full of historic spots. Among Montgomery's numerous places to visit , the city is home to a striking Civil Rights Memorial, as well as the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Among the significant Civil Rights museums are the Dexter Parsonage Museum, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, and the Freedom Rides Museum.

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The Gulf Coast : Tourists enjoying an Alabama vacation will find plenty to do in the state's coastal region, an area full of history and charm. The city of Mobile is known for its broad variety of tourist attractions , many of which highlight the city's historic significance. Among the top attractions are the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Fort Conde, and several period museum homes.

Alternatively, tourists can head to one of the excellent resorts in Gulf Shores for a beach vacation on the Gulf of Mexico. There is something to do for everyone in the Gulf Shores , from sedate dolphin-watching to thrilling zipline rides, popular with teenagers.

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25 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

Last Updated By VI on February 1, 2024 in Things to Do in Alabama & Places to Visit , Map This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate Disclosure

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Birmingham museum of art, birmingham civil rights institute, mcwane science center, birmingham, al.

  • Complete List & Map

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Browse our places to visit in Alabama guide for more ideas.

Birmingham Museum of Art

2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd, (Formerly 2000 8th Ave. N), Birmingham, Alabama, Phone: 205-254-2565 , Map

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

520 Sixteenth Street North, Birmingham, AL, Phone: 866-328-9696 , Map

McWane Science Center, Birmingham, AL

200 19th Street N, Birmingham, Alabama, Phone: 205-714-8300 , website , Map

Things to Do in Birmingham: Vulcan Park and Museum

Things to Do in Birmingham: Vulcan Park and Museum

More ideas: Alabama Beaches

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

More ideas: Day Trips from Birmingham

Alabama Theatre, Birmingham

Alabama Theatre, Birmingham

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Pepper Place Saturday Market

Pepper Place Saturday Market

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Rickwood Field, Birmingham

Rickwood Field, Birmingham

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The Birmingham Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo

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Kelly Ingram Park

Kelly Ingram Park

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Railroad Park, Birmingham

Railroad Park, Birmingham

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Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham

Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham

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Things to Do: Birmingham Children's Theatre

Things to Do: Birmingham Children's Theatre

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Things to Do in Birmingham, AL: Red Mountain Park

Things to Do in Birmingham, AL: Red Mountain Park

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Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

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Avondale Brewing Company, Birmingham

Avondale Brewing Company, Birmingham

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Hot and Hot Fish Club

Hot and Hot Fish Club

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Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

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Virginia Samford Theatre

Virginia Samford Theatre

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Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

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Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens

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Trim Tab Brewing

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Good People Brewing Company

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Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

Where to go near me: Places to visit in the South .

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

  • 1. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
  • 2. Birmingham Museum of Art
  • 3. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • 4. McWane Science Center, Birmingham, AL
  • 5. Things to Do in Birmingham: Vulcan Park and Museum
  • 6. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
  • 7. Alabama Theatre, Birmingham
  • 8. Pepper Place Saturday Market
  • 9. Rickwood Field, Birmingham
  • 10. The Birmingham Zoo
  • 11. Kelly Ingram Park
  • 12. Railroad Park, Birmingham
  • 13. Southern Museum of Flight, Birmingham
  • 14. Things to Do: Birmingham Children's Theatre
  • 15. Things to Do in Birmingham, AL: Red Mountain Park
  • 16. Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve
  • 17. Avondale Brewing Company, Birmingham
  • 18. Hot and Hot Fish Club
  • 19. Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
  • 20. Virginia Samford Theatre
  • 21. Birmingham Botanical Gardens
  • 22. Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens
  • 23. Trim Tab Brewing
  • 24. Good People Brewing Company
  • 25. Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

More Alabama Getaways:

Resources: Alabama Travel , Alabama.gov , Gulf Shores , Huntsville , Horseshoe Bend

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10 Best Things to Do in Tuscumbia, Alabama

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cool places to visit in birmingham al

5 iconic landmarks you must visit in Birmingham

I f you were asked to give a tour of Birmingham, where would you start? And which spots in the city would be on your must-see list? The Magic City has an abundance of parks, museums, restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, sports venues and more.

We’ve got plenty of ideas in this regard, and it probably would take a week or more to show off our favorite places. But if we had to pare things down to the essentials — say, five landmarks that every tourist and local should visit — here’s where we’d go.

VULCAN PARK & MUSEUM

Where: 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham.

Hours: Park grounds are open daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; museum is open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; observation tower has been closed since June 8 for a preservation project .

Admission: $4-$6 , free for children age 4 and younger.

Why you should visit: The huge, cast-iron statue of Vulcan — mythological god of fire and the the forge — is the most recognizable landmark in Birmingham, and a longtime symbol of city pride. Sure, we crack jokes about Vulcan’s bare bottom towering over the city, but most folks think the statue is pretty darn cool. Right now, Vulcan’s tower is closed for a restoration project, so you can’t travel up to the observation platform overlooking the city. But you still can see the statue in all its glory.

Good to know: “The 56-foot, 60-ton statue is the largest iron figure ever cast, and at the time it was made, it was the biggest statue created in the United States and the second-tallest statue in the country, behind the Statue of Liberty,” the Encyclopedia of Alabama says . “Conceived for the 1904 World’s Fair, the statue was cast with iron made from ore mined at Red Mountain, on which it now rests, in an effort to advertise Birmingham and promote Alabama’s iron industry.”

More info: 205-933-1409, Vulcan Park website , Facebook page , Instagram page or X feed (formerly Twitter).

SLOSS FURNACES NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK

Where: 20 32nd St. North, Birmingham.

Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., for self-guided tours. Guided tours by appointment.

Admission: Free, $10 for guided tours.

Why you should visit: Sloss Furnaces is instantly recognizable on the Birmingham landscape, and we love its industrial, rusted-metal aesthetic. History buffs flock to this place, but you don’t need to be interested in vintage blast furnaces to find Sloss Furnaces a compelling spot. It’s a park, a museum, an event space, a concert venue, a festival site and more.

Good to know: “Sloss is currently the only 20th-century blast furnace in the United States that has been preserved and interpreted as a historic industrial site,” the Encyclopedia of Alabama says . “The scale and complexity of the plant’s industrial structure, machines and tools make a unique contribution to the interpretation of 20th-century iron-making technology and present a valuable perspective on the era when the United States grew to world industrial dominance. At the same time, Sloss is an important reminder of the hopes and struggles of the people who worked in the industries that made only a few men wealthy and gave Birmingham the nickname of the ‘Magic City.’”

More info: 205-254-2025, Sloss Furnaces website or Facebook page .

RICKWOOD FIELD

Where: 1137 Second Ave. West, Birmingham.

Hours: Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., for self-guided tours, according to the Rickwood Field Facebook page . Also open for special events, such as a fantasy camp and home run derby.

Admission: Varies for special events, free for self-guided tours.

Why you should visit: Rickwood Field, which opened in 1910, is known as the oldest professional baseball stadium in the United States. It’s been home to several teams over the years, including the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. Several luminaries have played there, such as Willie Mays, Satchel Paige and Shoeless Joe Jackson. From 1988 to 2019, Rickwood Field also hosted the Rickwood Classic , a “turn back the clock” game that typically featured the Birmingham Barons in retro uniforms, along with a special guest. Rickwood Field also has been a movie location, used for the filming of “Cobb” and “42.”

Good to know: Major League Baseball has announced a game at Rickwood Field as a tribute to the Negro Leagues on June 20, 2024, featuring the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the San Francisco Giants. Renovations at Rickwood are planned in anticipation of the game, including improvements to the dugouts and turf, new concrete ramps leading up to the grandstands and more.

READ: Rickwood Field renovations will have America’s oldest ballpark ready for return of pro baseball

More info: 205-603-3871, Rickwood Field website or Friends of Rickwood Field Facebook page .

ALABAMA THEATRE

Where: 1817 Third Ave. North, Birmingham.

Hours: Open for various events, such as concerts and movies. See the event schedule here . “Private tours may be arranged at least two weeks in advance based on availability,” the theater’s website says.

Admission: Prices vary for events, tickets usually sold via Ticketmaster. Private tours are $200-$250 for up to 20 people, plus $10 for each additional person.

Why you should visit: The Alabama Theatre is a historic gem in downtown Birmingham, beloved by folks who attend concerts, movies, dance performances and other events. The space is beautiful — especially when decorated for the Christmas season — and it’s been the home of Big Bertha, the Mighty Wurlitzer organ , for more than 95 years. (The theater opened on Dec. 25, 1927, and the Mighty Wurlitzer was a dazzling part of the show.)

Good to know: “Like other opulent movie palaces around the country, the architecture and interior design of the Alabama Theatre were meant to inspire awe,” the Encyclopedia of Alabama says . “Because movies were still considered a working-class pastime during the 1920s, the elaborate interior helped foster an atmosphere of high culture. The spectacle began outside the theater, with the 60-foot neon and fluorescent sign vertically spelling out ‘Alabama.’ Patrons entered a two-story anteroom with mirrored walls, two eight-foot candelabras, and a star-shaped chandelier bearing more than 8,000 crystals. This room led to an equally elaborate Ancient Egypt-style lobby, which was framed by Moorish arches and accented by columns. The room was illuminated by a multicolored chandelier hung from the gilded coffered ceiling and multicolored glass sconces with sunburst reflectors.”

More info: 205-252-2262, Alabama Theatre website , Facebook page , Instagram page or X feed (formerly known as Twitter).

LEGION FIELD

Where: 400 Graymont Ave. West, Birmingham.

Hours: Open for various events, including the annual Magic City Classic football game. See listings for some events via Facebook .

Admission: Ticket prices vary, depending on the event.

Why you should visit: Football history is an intrinsic part of Legion Field, a grand old stadium that will mark its 100th year in 2027. For about four decades, Legion Field was the site of the Iron Bowl , the much-anticipated game pitting the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Auburn Tigers. The stadium also is the longtime home of the Magic City Classic , the annual game featuring Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University. Legion Field has seen its share of big-name concert acts, such as the Rolling Stones, U2 and Pink Floyd. Although the stadium (which is owned by the City of Birmingham) definitely has seen better days, it remains a hallowed part of the landscape — especially for residents of the city’s West side — and many folks cherish memories made at Legion Field.

READ MORE: Johnson: Why can’t we just let Legion Field go?

Good to know: “Legion Field Stadium, also affectionately known as the ‘The Old Gray Lady,’ was completed in 1927 as a 21,000 seat venue, the City of Birmingham website says. “The stadium now seats 71,000. The stadium was named Legion Field in honor of the American Legion. In the inaugural game, 16,800 fans saw Howard College (now Samford University) overpower Birmingham-Southern College by the score of 9-0. Once famously known for playing host to the Iron Bowl, UAB Blazers and 1996 Olympic soccer matches, the stadium is the site for the Magic City Classic, local high school games, music festivals and more.”

More info: 205-254-2391 or Birmingham Parks & Recreation Facebook page . There’s also a fan page on Instagram .

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit al.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Fans enter the stadium to watch the Birmingham Barons vs. the Chattanooga Lookouts in the 2018 Rickwood Classic at Birmingham's historic Rickwood Field on May 30 2018.

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Birmingham

The 26 best things to do in Birmingham

From winding canal walks to some of the country’s finest restaurants, these are the best things to do in Birmingham

Given how big and sprawling it is, it remains somewhat perplexing that Birmingham manages to maintain such a modest rep. Having long shed its neglected post-industrial image, England’s second city is now one of the country’s most exciting and diverse travel destinations. Among its miles of gorgeous canals and awesome greenery, you’ll find characterful pubs, fascinating museums and some of the best restaurants in the country.

Home to heavy metal music, a nationally adored chocolate company, the world’s biggest collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings, several high-flying football teams and around three million legendarily hospitable Brummies, Birmingham doesn’t just have a bit of everything – it has a lot of everything. Ready to get out there and explore? Here are the best things to do in Birmingham right now.

RECOMMENDED: 😋 The best restaurants in Birmingham 🍻 The most charming pubs in Birmingham 🛏 The best hotels in Birmingham

This guide was recently updated by James March , a travel writer from Birmingham . At Time Out, all of our  travel guides  are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our  editorial guidelines . 

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Top things to do in Birmingham

Explore Brindleyplace and the canal quarter

1.  Explore Brindleyplace and the canal quarter

What is it?  Birmingham’s vibrant canal quarter is home to some of the city’s best bars and restaurants, the National Sea Life Centre and the Ikon Gallery .

Why go?  The oft-quoted ‘more canals than Venice’ claim is a bit misleading – Birmingham is  much, much bigger – but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on a walk around the canal quarter. It’s a real Cinderella part of town, having been hugely redeveloped and crammed full of restaurants and bars.

Don’t miss:  Use the historic  Roundhouse  building as a base from which to explore by boat, bike or foot.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Cadbury World

2.  Satisfy your sweet tooth at Cadbury World

What is it?  England’s number-one chocolate-focused attraction. 

Why go?  For the best views of Brum’s chocolate factory, arrive by train (13 minutes from New Street) and take a deep breath – a sweet haze envelopes the red-brick, olde-worlde Bournville village, which was designed and built for the workers of England’s flagship chocolate brand. Cadbury World is the public bit of the factory: tours include a deep dive into the history of cocoa, a 4D cinema and a ride in the self-styled ‘Beanmobile’.

Don’t miss:  Have your Wonka experience in the demonstration area (yes, molten chocolate is involved; yes, you get to drink it). The world’s biggest Cadbury store also awaits, boasting concoctions unavailable anywhere else.

Mooch around the Jewellery Quarter

3.  Mooch around the Jewellery Quarter

What is it?  Pack a full day – and night – of fun in this increasingly popular part of town, where you’ll find everything from exhibitions to nightclubs.

Why go?  With more than 200 listed buildings and more than 250 years of history, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter should be on any Brum itinerary. According to English Heritage, Europe’s largest cluster of jewellery businesses is a ‘national treasure’. Museum nerds will love the  Museum of the Jewellery Quarter , the  Pen Museum  and  Newman Brothers Coffin Works . And with all the pubs, restaurants, galleries and independent boutiques here, there’s something for everybody else too.

Don’t miss:  If you’re making a night of it, check in to  BLOC , close to the ever-popular JQ nightclub. Try  Jam House , or if you have something even later and livelier in mind, Brum’s up-for-it generation descend upon the  Actress & Bishop  from about 1am, with no intention of making it a quiet one.

4.  Soak up the views from Orelle

What is it? A French fusion restaurant with some extraordinary views across the UK’s Second City.

Why go? Perched on the 24th floor of the imposing 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham simply doesn’t have anywhere else like Orelle . Huge floor-to-ceiling windows mean the city fans out below in all directions, while at night its twinkling lights look even more evocative. The food isn’t cheap but it’s well made and beautifully presented, but really, you’ve come here for the views, so drink them in. 

Don’t miss:  If you don’t want to eat, there are a few seats at the well-stocked bar available but bear in mind they’re first come first serve, and obviously busier at weekends. 

Find tropical plants, birds and butterflies at the Botanical Gardens

5.  Find tropical plants, birds and butterflies at the Botanical Gardens

What is it?  Fifteen acres of ornamental gardens, glasshouses and exotic birds in indoor and outdoor aviaries.

Why go?  The Botanical Gardens ’ exotic world of tropical plantlife makes for an excellent family day out. The glasshouses are filled with all manner of strange flora, while the lawns and shrubbery outside are perfect for a stroll during the sunnier months.

Don’t miss:  The butterfly house full of tropical insects from as far as the Philippines, Central America and tropical parts of Africa.

Discover city secrets on a walking tour

6.  Discover city secrets on a walking tour

What is it?  If the weather holds out, there is no better way to see Birmingham than on foot.

Why go?  There are some excellent guided walking tours, from  Positively Birmingham ’s Edward Burne-Jones pre-Raphaelite art tour to  Get Your Guide ’s  Discovering Birmingham Walking tour through the historic Jewellery Quarter.

… or, for the energetic, a running tour

7.  … or, for the energetic, a running tour

What is it?  Founded by an air steward with a passion for running in cities all over the world, Run of a Kind offers those with a bit of energy a great alternative way to get to know the city.

Why go?  With runs between 5km and 11km for beginners and those a bit more confident, the team sprint across Birmingham on a whistlestop tour of landmarks and hidden gems, including legendary LGBTQ+ venues, notable architecture and eye-popping street art.

Fill up in style at the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants

8.  Fill up in style at the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants

What is it?  Birmingham has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city outside the capital. 

Why go?   Purnell’s ,  Simpsons ,  Adam’s ,  Carters ,  Opheem  and – if you’re prepared to head just outside the city –  Peel’s , will all bamboozle you with their culinary delights. And with more high-end independents opening all the time, you could get in before the Michelin inspectors do. A quiet food revolution has been rumbling through Brum – now’s your time to sample it.

9.  Sample sours and stouts on the Stirchley Beer Mile

What is it? A journey through the creative craft beer joints dotting the Stirchley neighbourhood.

Why go? Stirchley might look like ordinary suburbia at first glance, but it hides a plethora of taprooms serving an eyewatering amount of styles. Enjoy waterside pints at Glasshouse and Birmingham Brewing , while Attic Brew Co’s spacious site is good for large groups and Cork and Cage do a fine line in lambics and gueuzes. Newcomers Deadbeat bring a low-key dive bar vibe.

Don’t miss:  If you’re hungry, then Eat Vietnam’s wonderfully rich noodles, curries and small plates are the perfect way to soak up all that beer.

10.  Lend an ear to the city’s homegrown musical talent

What is it?  While London and Manchester will always get more attention when it comes to music, Birmingham has given the world its fair share of talent, including UB40, Duran Duran and Black Sabbath – and it’s still bubbling up at the present with a thriving local music scene.

Why go?  Whether it’s house at The Mill , indie at The Sunflower Lounge , the Night Owl ’s northern soul or jazz at The Jam House , you’ll find something interesting within walking distance of the high street. 

See the inspiration for ‘Lord of the Rings’ at Moseley Bog

11.  See the inspiration for ‘Lord of the Rings’ at Moseley Bog

What is it?  A green idyll on the fringes of the city on the site of an old millpond. 

Why go?  Wander around this nature reserve full of plants, animals and insects, gnarled old trees and gorgeous carpets of bluebells each spring. The site is also of great archaeological interest, having two burnt mounds, the remains of an old mill dam and the foundations of Victorian greenhouses.

Don’t miss:  Book a JRR Tolkien-themed tour at Sarehole Mill , on the fringes of the bog: the ‘Lord of the Rings’ author grew up around Moseley Bog in the 1890s, and it’s said to be the inspiration for hobbit hangout The Shire. 

Tour the hallowed grounds of Villa Park

12.  Tour the hallowed grounds of Villa Park

What is it?  Take a tour of Aston Villa’s hallowed ground, or even catch a game. 

Why go?  There aren’t many football grounds in the world like Villa Park. The 42,000-capacity stadium has been home to the Villa since 1897, and it has an aura that few sporting institutions can match, especially when the Holte End is packed out and chanting along. Sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour or catch the boys in claret and blue play a Premier League game. 

Don’t miss:  Fancy a real treat? You can watch the match in comfort at  Eighty Two , the plush centre of football hospitality at Villa Park. 

Meet the city’s creatives at the Custard Factory

13.  Meet the city’s creatives at the Custard Factory

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What is it?  A restored Victorian factory, now a hub for creatives and independent businesses. 

Why go?  Alfred Bird invented custard powder in Birmingham in 1837, but these days, the old Custard Factory is a studio complex at the heart of Birmingham’s creative community. It’s home to many artists and is full of galleries, independent shops, cafés, restaurants, bars and the  Mockingbird Cinema . With its graffiti-strewn walls and regular arts events, the whole area is well worth a few hours of mooching.

Don’t miss:  Look out for regular open studio events to meet the designer-makers who make this place so special. 

Go behind-the-scenes at Edgbaston cricket ground

14.  Go behind-the-scenes at Edgbaston cricket ground

What is it?  The home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, plus numerous England fixtures. 

Why go?  There’s nothing as quintessentially English as a game of cricket, and Birmingham boasts one of the very best places to watch one. Edgbaston is renowned as one of the country’s most atmospheric international test grounds. 

Don’t miss:  Take a  tour of the stadium  to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Warwickshire and England changing room, the field, the media centre and more. 

Sink a pint in grand Victorian pub The Bartons Arms

15.  Sink a pint in grand Victorian pub The Bartons Arms

What is it?  A grand Victorian pub with original stained glass, engraved mirrors and snob screens.

Why go?   The Bartons Arms is a rare treasure among the mean streets of Newtown. Established in 1901 as a Victorian gin palace, it’s still beautifully ornate with original features such as Minton tiles, a grand horseshoe bar and a stunning wrought iron staircase climbed by the likes of Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin.

Don’t miss:  Book a tour or choose a pint from its fine range of Oakham ales and something spicy from the Thai menu.

16.  Time travel at the Birmingham Back to Backs

What is it? A quirky window into the living conditions of ordinary Brummies over the last 200 years.

Why go? Flanked by the colourful Hippodrome Theatre on one side and the lively LGBTQ+ bars of Hurst Street on the other, the Birmingham Back to Backs are in an unlikely location for a heritage site. But this communal courtyard with back-to-back houses is where ordinary folk once lived and guided tours take visitors on a journey from 1840 to 1970, to see how homelife evolved long before Nextflix and smartphones.

Don’t miss Not only does Court 15 Books have some fine second hand books for sales, there’s also regular free exhibitions upstairs.

Fill your bags at one of the city’s iconic shopping destinations

17.  Fill your bags at one of the city’s iconic shopping destinations

What is it?  A marketplace since the twelfth century, Birmingham is still a city for shoppers. 

Why go?  The  Bullring  is now a giant mall incorporating the iconic Selfridges building (looking like a part-amorphous blob, part-crash-landed UFO). Across town, the  Mailbox  is a classier joint with the likes of Harvey Nichols and Emporio Armani.

Don’t miss:  Most interesting are the independents, which you’ll find scattered all over town and in places like the splendid  Great Western Arcade .

Wine and dine at the Grand Hotel

18.  Wine and dine at the Grand Hotel

What is it?  A Grade II-listed Victorian hotel in the city centre

Why go?  The legendary Grand Hotel reopened in the summer of 2020 following an 18-year closure and a painstaking multi-million-pound restoration. The building has hosted a plethora of historical figures, from Winston Churchill to Malcolm X, and now you can explore its striking Victorian and art deco interiors, including the jaw-dropping Grosvenor Ballroom and a new rooftop garden terrace.

Don’t miss:  The brand new outdoor terrace in the central courtyard. 

Discover the treasures of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

19.  Discover the treasures of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Note: This venue is temporarily closed and will reopen in 2024. Check back for updates!

What is it?  BMAG is full of treasures – from Anglo-Saxon gold to more contemporary pieces. 

Why go?  Housing the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings in the world and occupying one of the city’s finest buildings, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is not to be missed. Head up to the third level for a detailed, hands-on history of Birmingham and its people. 

Don’t miss:  The domed Round Room is often the location for free musical performances. Make time for a slice of cake at the refurbished Edwardian Tea Room.

See world-class theatre at the Rep

20.  See world-class theatre at the Rep

What is it?  The Rep is the jewel in the crown of Brum’s theatre scene; it’s a lively venue with an emphasis on diverse programming.

Why go?  A production house for well over a century, it’s got more decades under its belt than the National Theatre in London or its West Midlands neighbours the RSC. And with major-league director Sean Foley in charge, it shows no sign of slowing down.

Don’t miss:  While there’s edgier programming the rest of the year, its annual production of ‘The Snowman’ is a delightful seasonal cuddle.

Fill up on thalis at Raja Monkey

21.  Fill up on thalis at Raja Monkey

What is it?  A South Indian restaurant with a canteen vibe. 

Why go?  If you  really  want to dine like a Brummie, then a trip to a curry house is mandatory. The Balti Triangle – located south of the city centre – is famed for its long-established restaurants, but we suggest you head to Raja Monkey. This Hall Green spot serves thalis and street-food snacks like dosa and uttapam with cheerful informality. 

Don’t miss:  Try the thalis for a taste of what's on offer.

Marvel at the Birmingham Royal Ballet

22.  Marvel at the Birmingham Royal Ballet

What is it?  One of the five major ballet companies in the UK producing jaw-dropping shows. 

Why go?  The tenure of Carlos Acosta as artistic director is a major coup for Birmingham Royal Ballet. The company has an illustrious history, but the celebrated Cuban dancer has implemented bold plans to re-energise it. Expect plenty of risks and surprises, plus a mix of classic revivals and ambitious partnerships.

Don’t miss:  A single second of the action. No, seriously.  

Treat your ears to a concert at Symphony Hall

23.  Treat your ears to a concert at Symphony Hall

What is it?  Opulent concert hall that is home to the  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra . 

Why go?  This grandiose venue was opened in 1991 and has delivered a rich programme of gigs and concerts ever since. Fun fact: it was recently voted as having the seventh-best concert-hall acoustics in the entire world. 

Don’t miss:  If you don’t know your Schubert from your Haydn, ease yourself in by visiting during the festive December programme. The Hall looks even better for candlelit carols.

See the largest collection of British motorcycles at the National Motorcycle Museum

24.  See the largest collection of British motorcycles at the National Motorcycle Museum

What is it?  The world’s largest collection of British motorcycles.

Why go?  A must-see for all petrolheads, this Bickenhill museum has more than 1,000 different motorcycles, dating back to an 1898 Beeston Humber Tricycle. There are also plenty of pretty serious modern superbikes.

Don’t miss:  Book a guided highlights tour with an experienced guide to get a behind-the-scenes look. 

Follow in the footsteps of Birmingham’s baddest gang on the ‘Peaky Blinders’ tour

25.  Follow in the footsteps of Birmingham’s baddest gang on the ‘Peaky Blinders’ tour

What is it?  Stalk the very same streets as the real Peaky Blinders on these dedicated tours .

Why go?  Because you love the show and now want to follow in the footsteps of Birmingham’s most infamous criminal gang. Take a Peaky Tour in Digbeth and visit the lock-up at Steelhouse Lane police station where some of the gang were incarcerated.

Don’t miss:  Further afield at the wonderful open-air  Black Country Living Museum , you can see the TV show’s sets for yourself.  

More great things to do in Birmingham

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The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » United States » Alabama (AL) » 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama

30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama

Dubbed as the Yellowhammer State after the state bird, Alabama is located in the south-eastern part of the United States of America. While Montgomery stands as the state capital, Mobile is the oldest city in Alabama, which as per records was founded in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana by French colonists.

With approximately 1,500 miles of inland waterways, which is 3.2% of the total state area, Alabama has the second-largest inland waterway system in the country. It is also the 24th most populous state and the 30th largest by area in the United States.

Named after the Native American Alabama Tribe, the state is famous for its picturesque landscapes and brilliant outdoors. Alabama is divided into four sections – the metropolitan centers, the mountains, the inland waterways, and the Gulf Coast.

Neighbored by Tennessee to its north, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to its south, Georgia to its east, and Mississippi to its west, the state is famous for its southern hospitality. Along with hospitality and genial behavior, Alabama is also home to several secret treasures that are longing to be discovered.

Let us discover the many hidden gems in Alabama and indulge into the many wonders of the Cotton State.

1. Spectre Set Ruins, Millbrook

Spectre Set Ruins, Millbrook

Outside Millbrook, Alabama, Jackson Lake Island on Alabama River stands the dilapidated remnants of Spectre, a fictional town which was built as a set for Tim Burton’s fantasy movie, Big Fish (2003).

Edward Bloom, the lead character in the movie, visits Spectre a few times in his life – once as a kid and the second time when the town is almost in ruins. Bloom visits the town one final time to find it restored.

When the shooting of the film ended, Spectre was left abandoned with the movie set and Styrofoam trees. Unfortunately, after a few years from when the filming wrapped, some of the structures collapsed.

As of present, Spectre has left six homes, a church, two trees from the forest, and the columns from Jenny, the mayor’s daughter’s home. Add your shoes to the collection of several others hanging in line.

2. Alabama’s Natural Bridge, Natural Bridge

Alabama's Natural Bridge

Outside the William Bankhead national Forest lays the 148-feet-long and 60-feet-high curved rock formation that stands as one of the most exquisite forms of natural geological formation in the state – the Natural Bridge.

The area was listed as a National Park in 1954, however, history shows that the bridge and the surrounding area has been used by the Native Americans for hundreds of years. A few steps ahead from the Natural Bridge is a strange, inexplicable carving of an Indian Head that looks almost similar to that of a buffalo nickel.

Claims have been made that the carving depicts a chief from the Native American tribes that resided here but no proofs have been found, yet.

Unfortunately, to safeguard the safety of visitors (you can’t really trust a 200-million-year old bridge to withstand hundreds of visitors) and the ancient natural asset, walking on the bridge is prohibited. However, you can stroll around the bridge and the park as much as you want.

3. The Museum of Wonder, Seale

Museum of Wonder

A ten-year-old boy’s obsession with collecting junk and other discarded items turned into a full-fledged hobby when he accidentally sold a painting of a turnip.

Butch Anthony, an Alabama artist and a former taxidermist, realized the potential of revenue generation from his scrap collection that he has been compiling as a young boy.

To materialize on the thought, he transformed his taxidermy store into an exhibition of strange objects – animal bones, jars full of dead critters, weird paintings, lost-and-found objects, and just about any piece of rubbish you could imagine.

In almost no time, Anthony’s 500-square-foot cabin in the rural town of Seale turned into an extraordinary collection and gave rise to the Museum of Wonder.

Among many other items on display are a few signature-style creations of the artist – impressionistic skeletons traced over vintage portraits with added illustrations.

4. The Grave of Miss Baker, Huntsville

Grave of Miss Baker, Huntsville

Among the many “test subjects” that America tossed into space since first starting experimenting with space travel in 1948 is Miss Baker – the first primate that made it back safely after a sub-orbital space flight.

The space program had some success with fruit flies, but, the higher the primates the tougher it became for the Americans to ensure their safe return. Most fell prey to exploding rockets while others lost their lives in violent impacts or got lost in space along with their capsule.

Miss Baker and Miss Able, the only two squirrel monkeys who had survived the initial screenings were sent to space in a Jupiter Rock. While Miss Able passed away four days after their arrival, Miss Baker lived until the age of 27, married Big George, breathed an illustrious life, and died of kidney failure in 1984.

Her remains are buried at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama, next to her beloved husband, and has a nice headstone.

5. Dismals Canyon, Phil Campbell

Dismals Canyon, Alabama

This Alabama Canyon located in Phil Campbell comes alive every day at dark as thousands of miniature bio-luminescent creatures taxonomically called the “North American Orfelia Fultoni,” and popularly known as “Dismalities,” come alive with their natural glow.

A type of gnat larva, the Dismalities are extremely rare, so much so that they are only found in the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau. The bright bluish-green light that they emit is their way of attracting insects so they can feed on them for survival.

Dismals Canyon, as they are called after the habitat living in them, provide the specific ambiance that these larvae need to survive in their larval stage – humidity to build web so they can trap insects for food, enough insects, darkness to allow them to glow, and a still atmosphere that would prevent their webs from tangling.

The Canyon is home to two more significant features – one of the surviving twin Canadian Hemlocks, which at 138 feet tall, is considered to be the largest of its kind in the state, and the world’s largest Deumaria vine.

Best way to spot the mesmerizing phenomenon is at night.

6. Neversink Pit, Fackler

Neversink Pit, Fackler

A sinkhole? A cave? Though the geological name of the structure isn’t certain, the Neversink Pit in Fackler, Alabama is a dramatic 162-feet deep sinkhole with a 40-feet wide opening. It is among the most photographed sinkholes in the United States of America, if not the world.

The interiors inside the pit, as viewed by abseilers, change dramatically with season – ferns in the summer, ribbony waterfalls in the spring, and ice sheets in the winter.

Belonging to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy since 1995, entry into the pit and rappelling below to the floor is only allowed for expert climbers and requires a permit.

7. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Montgomery

Fitzgerald Museum, Montgomery

Plenty of museums and other attractions have been erected all over the world to honor F. Scott Fitzgerald, the renowned novelist and author, but, here in Montgomery, Alabama is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to the story writer and his wife, Zelda.

The Fitzgerald’s, along with their daughter Scottie, moved into the then-house-now museum in 1931. Unfortunately, however, Zelda had a mental collapse and was moved to a clinic in Baltimore. The father and daughter duo continued to stay at the house until April that year.

In 1986, Julie and Leslie McPhillips saved the iconic structure from being torn down and transformed it into the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum instead.

8. Cheaha Mountain, Delta

Cheaha Mountain

The highest point in the state of Alabama, Cheaha Mountain rises above Talladega National Forest and is 2,407 feet above sea level. Regarded as one of the most picturesque spots in the state, the Mountain was once almost deforested until President Roosevelt crafted the National Forest in 1936!

Befittingly named after a Creek Indian word which means “high place”, Cheaha was once extremely rugged. The logged and vacated farmland around the tall peak was anything but attractive.

However, the expansive regrowth, thanks to the park system, covered the area with greenery and a gorgeous view.

Bunker Tower, constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps sits on the mountaintop and acts as a visitor center with the most spectacular view of the mountains.

9. Alabama Booksmith, Homewood

Alabama Booksmith, Homewood

Originally a tiny shop in the lanes of Homewood, Alabama, that sold used and rare books, the Alabama Booksmith may be the only of its kind that exist in the world today.

Located behind a vet clinic, the one-of-a-kind bookstore is owned and managed by Jacob Reiss, who only houses books that are signed copies! Yes, you read it right. Every single book in his collection is signed by the author.

While operating his former old books’ store, Reiss realized that the dough lays in selling signed books rather than the usual ones as not only did they sell faster but they also generated a better member loyalty. All the books at the store (except for a few rare ones) are sold at the cover price!

10. Dead Children’s Playground, Huntsville

Dead Children's Playground, Huntsville

Burial grounds, death, and any such negativities are kept far away from children. But, that’s not the case at the oldest and the largest cemetery in Alabama. Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville has a small playground on the same grounds as that of the century-old burial ground.

Though it sees more ghost chasers and teenagers than children (for obvious reasons), the simple playground has a few swings and a modern-day jungle gym. Named aptly as the Dead Children’s Playground, the small site for children was once almost lost when the city officials decided that there isn’t enough room for graves.

Of course, there is barely a graveyard that is not associated with (alleged) ghost sightings. Rumors of swings swaying by themselves and floating ghost lights have been reported quite a few times.

Care to take your toddler for a day out in the sun here?

11. Goldie 1971 – The Fallen Robot, Tuscaloosa

Goldie 1971

Sloss Blast Furnaces was one of the leading manufacturers of Pig Iron during Birmingham’s industrial era. When the business closed in 1971, a former graduate of the University of Alabama, Joe McCreary, used the celebrated past of the company as an inspiration to create “Goldie 1971.”

Today, Goldie rests peacefully at the sculpture garden at the University which bought the rusting giant in 2010 and installed it as a permanent collection.

While Sloss Blast Furnaces opened as a museum and was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1981, Goldie remains at the Woods Quad Sculpture Garden serving as a reminder to the hundreds of students that art can be used to express all their stories.

12. Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman

Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman, Alabama

A hunchbacked, poor man, Brother Joseph Zoettl lived a hard life – due to his living conditions and of course, his physical limitations. At the age of 14, he signed up with St. Bernard Abbey in the hopes of escaping his tough life.

Nothing much changed for Brother Joseph. He spent 17 hours everyday for almost 30 years working at Abbey’s pump house. Consequently, the same routine became boring but he didn’t have a choice so he started his own private amusement project – he began constructing miniature grottoes. Soon, tens became hundreds and hundreds became thousands.

Brother Joseph kept the larger models at the Abbey and sold the miniature ones to others. And, soon, it became the Ave Maria Grotto aka Jerusalem in Miniature – a four-acre mini-town that was filled with almost 125 famous and religious locations.

His last creation, Basilica in Lourdes, was built in 1958 when Brother Joseph was 80.

13. Frank Lloyd Wright-Rosenbaum House, Florence

Frank Lloyd Wright-Rosenbaum House, Florence

Frank Lloyd Wright has been mentioned in the American architectural history several times for his flawless designs and striking creations. However, the Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama, as architect critic Peter Blake mentioned, is by far considered one of the most stunning constructions to date.

Constructed in 1940 for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum, the structure was donated in 1990 to the City of Florence. Often regarded to depict the purest version of Wright’s Usonian style, the home was not just functional but in sync with the natural surroundings.

Plenty of glass windows, cantilevered roofs, and a carport are some of the significant characteristics of Wright’s Usonian masterpiece.

14. Tinglewood Carvings, Montevallo

Tinglewood Carvings, Montevallo

Orr Park in Montevallo, Alabama is an amazing place for a family picnic. Everything about the park calls for a day out in the sun, amidst nature – six baseball-come-softball fields, a soccer field, a football field, a walking trail, two playgrounds, and a creek apt enough for wading.

However, the most attractive feature on the park grounds is a bunch of dead trees that were destroyed in a storm in 1993. What’s so amazing about dead trees, you ask?

Mr. Tingle, a resident in the area, in an attempt to save the dead but old trees, started carving them.

As a result, today, over 30 carved alligators, squirrels, men, and even an alligator not only coexist peacefully with the visitors at the park but they also add an air of mystique around the area.

15. Africatown, Mobile

Africatown, Mobile

The slave trade in America was legally prohibited by 1808, however, Timothy Meaher, a wealthy businessman, challenged the law in his own way and set out to bring a “shipment” of 32 African slaves in the country in 1860.

His attempts were put to an end by the authorities who caught wind of Meaher’s illicit attempts and the group of slaves were given a small piece of his land to live at in the town. This is how the little village of Africatown came about in the history of Alabama.

The African community built houses in the area and appointed a chief and a medicine man, when former slaves were added to the new community.

With time, the first settlers of the town died off and their successors implanted themselves in the American culture, leaving Africatown abandoned.

A small history museum at Mobile’s Count Training School still exists.

16. The Drive-Thru Museum, Seale

Drive-Thru Museum, Seale

The world’s first drive-thru museum is in Seale, Alabama, and it is the creation of the same ten-year-old boy, Butch Anthony, who grew up to be an artist, a taxidermist, a collector and creator (of the weirdest things in the world), and the founder of Museum of Wonder.

Created as a relief to the overflow of tourists at his other museum, the Drive-Thru Museum is constructed out of old shipping containers. Windows have been cut off from the container walls to allow insights into the strange collection of items either collected or crafted by Anthony.

Among other things is a large gallstone attached to poems, the two-headed ducklings, and Anthony’s signature style – skeletons imposed on old portraits.

17. Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham

Sloss Furnaces Historic Landmark

As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes another door opens”, Sloss Furnaces, a pig-iron producing giant that served the country for nine decades and was shut down for business in 1971, was listed a National Historic Landmark in the city of Birmingham, Alabama in 1981 – after a decade of it closing down.

Today, the blast furnace site functions as an interpretive museum and conducts several metal arts courses that are acknowledged universally. Additionally, it is perhaps one of the most unusual locations where festivals and concert venues are hosted.

Coined after one of the founding fathers of Birmingham, Colonel James Withers Sloss, the two furnaces were constructed on 50 acres of land and stand 60 feet tall. Known as one of the largest in the world at the time, the Sloss Furnaces are still being preserved to date.

18. Hank Williams’ Death Car, Montgomery

Hank Williams' Death Car, Montgomery

Hiram “Hank” Williams, more popularly known as Hank Williams, was among the most substantial and effective American songwriter and singers of the 20th century. The musician recorded 35 singles, of which 5 were released after he passed away. What’s most intriguing about his life though is how it ended.

Williams, along with Charles Carr, a college freshman he hired to drive him around in his 1952 Cadillac, was on a tour through Ohio and West Virginia. Soon after the car passed the West Virginia State Line, Carr stopped at a gas station for refilling when he noticed that Williams laid unconscious in the back seat. When he checked up on him, Williams seemed unresponsive and his body was becoming rigid.

As his doctor reported, Williams drank often and had just asked him to give him a Morphine shot to get rid of the back pain. Though a lot has been blamed on his habits, what killed the musical superstar at a tender age of 29 still remains a mystery.

Even though the true cause of Hank Williams’ death remains unknown, the Cadillac, where he apparently breathed the last time, remains the centerpiece at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

19. Bamahenge, Elberta

Bamahenge, Elberta

America certainly has a weird obsession with Stonehenge, but, one person in particular, Mark Cline, of the Enchanted Castle Studios, is the man behind creating two of the existing Stonehenge replicas in the country – the Foamhenge in Virginia (2004) and the Bamahenge in Elberta, Alabama (sometime in the spring of 2013).

Cline, a brilliant architect, is known for his larger-than-life creations, and so, when George Barber, an Alabama millionaire, wanted a few dinosaurs to be built for himself, he hired Cline to do the job. The result – a T-Rex, a triceratops, a brontosaurus, and a stegosaurus stand at the edge of Barber Marina.

Extremely impressed with the installations, Barber commissioned Cline to build him a fiberglass replica of Stonehenge.

Though Bamahenge stands tall and proud at the Marina, Foamhenge may be in danger as the land it stands on is reportedly going to be a part of the Virginia State Park. Maybe, Foamhenge can join his cousins over at the Marine, eh?

20. Moundville Archaeological Site, Moundville

Moundville Archaeological Site

Not so distant from Tuscaloosa, in the town of Moundville, Alabama, are massive earthworks that transport you to another time – to the pre-Columbian culture!

Known as the Moundville Archaeological Site, the area comprises 29 mounds that were created over a thousand years ago by the Mississippian culture, a Native American Society at the time. The culture was divided into several chiefdoms, each of which functioned as per their own religious beliefs.

These chiefdoms were each headed by an appointed figure who was of religious and political significance to the community they represented. Supervised by these ruling members, these mounds were created to serve as foundations of housing properties, temples, and council buildings.

The second largest of its type, the mounds were abandoned by 1500 B.C. and proper excavation began in the early 20th century.

21. Berman Museum of World History, Anniston

Berman Museum, Anniston

What happens when an American GI weds a French Spy? Simple. It gives birth to one of the most thought-provoking museums in the world!

Farley Berman and his wife established the Berman Museum of World History while they were stationed in North Africa. The husband-wife duo traveled all over the world for 40 years and collected as many oddities, antiques, and weapons as one possibly could.

Berman never confirmed how they managed to get hold of some of the more intriguing items in the collection but he joked that they may have accidentally come with their bedroll after World War II; the rest, he unapologetically claimed, appeared out of magic.

Well, magic or not, someone please tell us exactly how did the couple manage to get Hitler’s tea service?

22. Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery

Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery

The American Civil Rights movement from 1954 to 1968 included several social movements and strategies that were being pushed forward to end racial discrimination against African-Americans in the country. However, it wasn’t just strategies and movements. For a “movement” that went on for 15 years, many lost their lives fighting for equal rights along with Martin Luther King, Jr. – one of the most significant personalities of the Civil Rights Movement and a Nobel Peace Prize awardee!

A proud commemoration of the lives lost and wars won, Civil Rights Memorial, standing across the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a dedication to the 40 people who sacrificed their lives so the rest of country could live in harmony.

A hub for hundreds of civil right workers around the globe, the Law Centre sponsored the memorial and Maya Lin designed and created it. A guard stands alert by the architecture to prevent any vandalism.

The memorial is visited by several tourists every day, yet not enough as compared to the history it holds.

23. Holmes Medical Museum, Foley

Holmes Medical Museum, Foley

Holmes Medical Museum may not be the most intriguing medical museum in the world (and, it definitely doesn’t have anything to do with Sherlock Holmes), but, it is a celebration of the sterile, vaguely terrifying past of the obsolete tools that have been used in the history of medical science.

Situated within the walls of Foley’s first hospital, which treated patients from 1936 to 1958, the Medical Museum allows you to walk through the old operating theatre of this tiny, four-bed former hospital. You could also stroll through some of the patient rooms and observe the strange, almost-brutal looking tools kept in the glass cases around the museum.

Apart from the frightening display of tools that looked more torturous than healing, you could also see the birth certificates of some of the children born here along with information on the hospital’s past.

24. African Village in America, Birmingham

African Village In America, Birmingham

Not the same as Africatown (which was actually built by Africans and later abandoned by their descendants), African Village was established by Joe Minter, who draws inspiration from his love for God, and believes that God wouldn’t want anything to be thrown away to waste; instead He would rather that his humans created something out of all that is thrown away or discarded.

As if to reflect his ideas and theme, African Village has been created using all types of junk and scrap material – toys, utensils, lawn decorations, old sporting gears, satellite dishes! Five of these huge dishes adorn the back of his property and spell J-E-S-U-S in big, bold letters. African masks and feathered headdresses can also be found lying around in the village.

Minter has an open-gate policy and you are welcome to come in free and stroll around whenever you want. You could also buy DVDs or other such items at the village.

As Minter still continues to build, he has earned himself the title of “African Warrior” for his thoughtful creation.

25. Anniston Museum, Anniston

Anniston Museum of Natural History

Also known as Anniston Museum of Natural History, the museum was founded in 1930 and houses seven permanent displays – the Dynamic Earth, the Alabama Sand to Cedars, the Attack and Defense, the Environments of Africa, the Ancient Egypt, the Nature Discovery Room, and the Bird of the Americas – the last being the base for Anniston Museum’s original collection.

Home to one of the oldest taxidermy collections in the country, the Bird of the Americas was collected and established by William H. Werner in the 19th century, but, the compilation was purchased and brought to Anniston upon Werner’s death by H. Severn Regan. The display contains over 1,000 dioramas of birds, eggs, and bird nests.

Over 400 species of birds can be found at the display including the passenger pigeons, who were once commonly found around North America but are now extinct due to hunting and deforestation. It is believed that these migratory birds gathered in flocks of billions and covered the sky a mile wide and about 300 miles long, resulting in dark skies for days at a time!

26. Tolstoy Park, the Unusual Home of Henry Stuart, Fairhope

Tolstoy Park, Fairhope, Alabama

In 1923, Henry Stuart, a resident of Idaho, was diagnosed with tuberculosis aka “consumption”. The typical medical advice to the illness was a change of weather. With only a few months to live (as confirmed by the doctors), Stuart bought an unseen ten-acres of land in Alabama and moved 2,500 miles at the age of 65.

To spend his “remaining days” in peace, he built himself a circular, hurricane-resistant little hut which was only 14 feet in diameter. Within a couple of years, Stuart named his little abode “Tolstoy Park” after Leo Tolstoy and went on to live another 22 years.

Though Stuart lived mostly in isolation, visitors started frequenting the unusual house (1,200 as per his visitor’s log).

The “home” is now listed on the National Register for Historic Places and the owner of this strange residence has been immortalized in Sonny Brewer’s “The Poet of Tolstoy Park.”

27. Henry Wells’ Lightning Portrait, Carrollton

https://www.instagram.com/p/nUJC0VA6H7/?tagged=henrywells

Established in 1820, the Pickens County Courthouse, named after General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, has been burnt down twice – once in April 1865 by troops of Union General John T. Croxton, and the second time (presumably) by Henry Wells, a former slave who was apprehended and locked inside the courthouse garrett.

As the story goes, Wells was kept there to be protected from citizens who could have hurt him. However, it didn’t stop the residents forming a mob and protesting outside the Courthouse for days.

Apparently, one of those days, a terrified Wells stood by the courthouse window as the mob screamed and chanted when a sudden bolt of lightning struck the same window, and indelibly etched his face on the glass!

Astonishingly, it is the only glass that has never been destroyed in the last century or so that the courthouse has been in existence.

28. The Hodges Meteorite, Tuscaloosa

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSNYQNMFsrw/?tagged=hodgesmeteorite

The Hodges Meteorite isn’t remarkably big or beautiful or exquisite, but, it is one of the only fragments of a meteorite that has made its way to earth “alive”, and, also one of the very few that has hit a human!

Named after the woman it bruised, the Meteorite made its way to Ann Hodges rental home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on the afternoon of November 30th, 1954, when Ann laid on her couch, taking a short nap.

The meteorite first crashed into her radio cabinet, and then bounced to her side, bruising her a little in the process. But, it was the least of her concern.

As the rule goes, considered pretty much space gold, the ownership of an object, such as a meteorite, rests on the person who finds it. However, since it was a rental house, the owner felt otherwise since it was his property and filed a legal battle.

Of course, Hodges won it, but, in order to avoid the unwanted limelight, she decided to donate the piece to the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

29. Peanuts on Parade, Dothan

Peanuts On Parade, Dothan

Dothan, with a 100-mile radius of peanut farming, is not only where half of America’s peanuts are grown but it is also regarded as the “Peanut Capital of the World.”

Each Fall, the community comes together to celebrate the National Peanut Festival, dedicated to the town’s history with peanuts, the harvest season, and the farmers. The two-week carnival hosts a Peanut Parade and offers livestock shows, rides, agricultural exhibitions, and of course, a lot of peanut-this and peanut-that to munch on.

Don’t worry even if you missed the festival, for Dothan pretty much celebrates its peanut-rich history throughout the year. Originally a public art project to beautify the town and attract tourists, “Peanut Around Town” has peppered the city streets with various painted peanut statues – fireman peanut, doctor peanut, military peanut, a boiled-peanut selling peanut, a breast cancer awareness peanut, and even a Dalmatian cuddling with his favorite fire hydrant peanut!

Now known as “Peanut on Parade”, the public art project has resulted in over 60 painted peanut statues around Dothan.

Take a brochure from the Visitor Center for the exact locations of all the sites and have a nutty day ahead!

30. Little Nadine Earles Doll House Grave, Lanett

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVaD7TUgqqn/?tagged=nadineearles

Nadine Earles, the beloved daughter of Julian and Alma, was not even 4 when she passed away in 1933. It was the month of December and the little girl’s only wish was a dollhouse. Before her father could build the dream dollhouse, she was taken away from them, but, that didn’t stop Julian and Alma to continue working on the project.

The Doll House was completed and kept next to little Nadine’s grave at the Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett, Alabama. A replica of an actual house, Nadine’s dollhouse was equipped with a front porch, a mailbox, striped awnings, flower boxes during the summer, and Christmas Lights and an evergreen wreath in the winter.

The parents further decorated the house with toys, dolls, a high chair, a baby buggy, and a little bed – all kept ready for Nadine’s playtime in her afterlife.

Now, managed by the city of Lanett, the Doll House is still maintained and kept ready-to-play for “Little Nadine.”

30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama:

  • Spectre Set Ruins, Millbrook
  • Alabama's Natural Bridge, Natural Bridge
  • The Museum of Wonder, Seale
  • The Grave of Miss Baker, Huntsville
  • Dismals Canyon, Phil Campbell
  • Neversink Pit, Fackler
  • F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Montgomery
  • Cheaha Mountain, Delta
  • Alabama Booksmith, Homewood
  • Dead Children's Playground, Huntsville
  • Goldie 1971 - The Fallen Robot, Tuscaloosa
  • Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman
  • Frank Lloyd Wright-Rosenbaum House, Florence
  • Tinglewood Carvings, Montevallo
  • Africatown, Mobile
  • The Drive-Thru Museum, Seale
  • Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham
  • Hank Williams' Death Car, Montgomery
  • Bamahenge, Elberta
  • Moundville Archaeological Site, Moundville
  • Berman Museum of World History, Anniston
  • Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery
  • Holmes Medical Museum, Foley
  • African Village in America, Birmingham
  • Anniston Museum, Anniston
  • Tolstoy Park, the Unusual Home of Henry Stuart, Fairhope
  • Henry Wells' Lightning Portrait, Carrollton
  • The Hodges Meteorite, Tuscaloosa
  • Peanuts on Parade, Dothan
  • Little Nadine Earles Doll House Grave, Lanett

More From Forbes

Neighborhood to watch: uptown birmingham, alabama.

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The Uptown Birmingham District bursts with activities.

Offering an eclectic mix of urban sophistication and leisurely activities, the Uptown Birmingham District is a bustling area known for its entertainment, dining and shopping options, featuring diverse restaurants and boutiques. Uptown is a district that anchors the northern end of downtown. Adjacent to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in downtown Birmingham, Uptown boasts modern architecture, green spaces and attractions like The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame , Topgolf , Protective Stadium and City Walk.

“These assets are critical to Birmingham’s tourism industry and its ability to attract major concerts and events for our city,” says David Fleming , CEO at REV Birmingham . REV is a place-based revitalization and economic development nonprofit that is working to make the city of Birmingham a more vibrant place.

Legacy Arena offers a wide variety of events.

Uptown is where the fun happens, and Birmingham pride can be seen in full effect. From supporting your favorite team at the new Protective Stadium to watching world-famous musicians at the renovated Legacy Arena , Uptown is known for prime entertainment. In 2015, the Birmingham City Council voted to allow the Uptown district, including the BJCC, to become the city's first "entertainment district" with visitors allowed to carry drinks outside. These venue investments have helped stimulate new interest in the Birmingham market and aided in bringing high value events to the region. Key successes include the return of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2023 and hosting the NCAA Women’s Basketball Regionals in 2025.

According to the Birmingham Business Alliance , Uptown has been experiencing significant growth. The Alliance was created to enhance job creation, community development, talent recruitment and tourism in the seven central Alabama counties of the Birmingham metro, also known as the Greater Birmingham Region.

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As Birmingham focuses on creating Vibrancy Gaps to create congruent vibrancy throughout its nine distinct districts, the city’s Uptown district has experienced over $1 billion in recent investments. “All of this makes Uptown an important part of Birmingham‘s economic vitality and attractiveness,” notes Fleming. “However, the investment that has transformed Uptown in the public’s view is the addition of CityWalk.”

The significance of CityWalk has been profound on Uptown.

City Walk BHAM transformed the space under the city’s interstate into a vibrant “third space” for residents and visitors. A 31-acre public space developed underneath the reconstructed I-59/20 bridges, City Walk features a dog park, amphitheater, and other performance spaces, pickleball courts, playground area as well as space for fitness and food trucks. It’s also home to a skate park, the largest in the southeast and fifth largest in the U.S.

An eclectic mix of dining options await visitors.

The Uptown District features eight dining options ranging from fine dining to a unique and modern coffee shop with cocktails in the evening hours. Currently under construction for the Uptown District is a 9,384-seat amphitheater just north of the current campus footprint. Set to open in 2025, the amphitheater will host a full concert line-up in the spring, summer and early fall enhancing the year-round excitement that is Uptown. The amphitheater will anchor The Star at Uptown, a mix-used development valued at around $300 million, featuring residential, retail, office, hotel and entertainment components.

The Uptown district was identified as one of the top six initiative areas to focus on in Birmingham’s most recent City Center Master Plan. This work, alongside development plans from the BJCC, is advancing the economic growth of Uptown. New restaurants in the area, upgrades to beautification and landscaping as well as to meeting facilities are keeping Uptown competitive and an attractive place for arts, entertainment and recreation. The district is intentionally well-planned and managed so the experience is user-friendly and can support many major events and attractions going on at the same time. With 3.3 million visitors to Uptown in 2023, Uptown visitors made up 9.5% of all visits to Downtown Birmingham.

Uptown is known as the place where the fun happens.

Fleming adds, “The future for Uptown is bright as the landscaping and facilities refresh at the core of the district will make it a more attractive and appealing place. New restaurants coming will also encourage people to linger longer in Uptown and increase the vibrancy of place.”

Roger Sands

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Cool And Quirky Bars In Birmingham

From cosy pubs fronting epic history to the city's most unusual watering holes and Instgrammable haunts, there are hidden gems aplenty in this place we call home. So, if you're hoping to mix up your next date night or plan a particularly fun post-office outing, we're giving you the lowdown on all the cool and quirky bars Birmingham has to offer.

Last edited by Talia Stanton

Last updated on 16th February 2024

The Alchemist Birmingham – Brindleyplace

Spend your evening sipping a Pot O' Gold and other bizarre concoctions at this Brindleyplace bar. Home to an array of theatrical tipples, The Alchemist can sort you out with smoky, bubbly and colour-changing libations - all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

  • Brindleyplace
  • Cocktail Bar ⋅ Event Space ⋅ Party Bar

The Botanist, Birmingham

If plants are your thing, then this Temple Street offering is the spot to seek out next time you're looking for something a little different in Birmingham. Covered in vintage knick-knacks and lush foliage, this bar whips up snacks such as baked camembert and calamari, alongside fab cocktails.

  • Birmingham City Centre
  • Cocktail Bar ⋅ Lounge Bar ⋅ Restaurant Bar

The Cocktail Club Birmingham

Happy Hour and 4 other offers

00s-themed bottomless brunches? Adventurous concoctions? The Cocktail Club Birmingham is here to curb your quirky cravings with its epic space. Enjoy exploring the drinks menu (which includes 2 for 1 'til on everything until 8pm every day), all while taking in the vibrant interiors. 

  • City Centre
  • Cocktail Bar ⋅ Party Bar ⋅ Event Space

F1® Arcade – Birmingham

F1® Arcade is the Birmingham destination for lovers of racing who want to try an official simulator, alongside those who just want to get stuck into something new. Expect full motion and audio-visual effects while speeding round the track, alongside food and drinks behind the bar.

  • Activity ⋅ Cocktail Bar ⋅ Themed Bar

BrewDog Birmingham

Vegan Monday and 1 other offer

Home to neon signs and some of the UK's most iconic pints, BrewDog is a must-visit if you're searching for craft beer. Perched over on Beak Street, you'll find this cool and urban bar in Birmingham serving up a serious array of top-notch brews alongside delicious comfort bites.

  • Pub ⋅ Lounge Bar

Try Our Easy-To-Use Table Search Engine

When you're in need of a cool bar or swanky cocktail den? Check out our brand new table search engine, where you'll come across 1000s of venues across the UK. Plus, booking through DesignMyNight means you  earn rewards to spend on events and experiences .

The Jam House Birmingham

One of the best bars in Birmingham, this St Paul's Square spot is literally dripping in cool. Founded by none other than Jools Holland, The Jam House keeps music at the forefront of everything it does, offering a unique space for full bands and unplugged acts.

  • Jewellery Quarter

Hockley Social Club

Digbeth Dining Club are behind this impressive warehouse street food space in the Jewellery Quarter where you'll be able to pick up grub from the likes of Buddha Belly alongside cocktails, Sunday meals, DJs and more.

  • Restaurant Bar ⋅ Cocktail Bar ⋅ Lounge Bar

One Trick Pony Club

A fun pub with a passion for hearty grub and great pints, Moseley's One Trick Pony Club is one of the quirkiest bars in Birmingham. Step into their mural-covered garden for an afternoon spent sipping away on cocktails and chowing down on juicy burgers and moreish fried chicken. 

  • Pub ⋅ Sports Bar ⋅ Student Bar

Birmingham Bierkeller

A unique bar in the city, the Bierkeller boasts a top-notch array of events to get stuck into. Head over for steins of traditional German pilsner and if you're lucky, you might even catch the house Oompah band doing their thing.

  • Party Bar ⋅ Pub ⋅ Restaurant Bar

NQ64 Birmingham

A gaming and cocktail bar, this unique offering down at the Custard Factory brings you a whole range of fun retro consoles, alongside all your favourites from the kookiest cocktails in town to craft beers and nostalgic snacks.

Felson's Birmingham

When it comes to fun-loving activity bars in Birmingham, Felson's is blowing it out of the water. This Broad Street boozer hosts a range of fun games, including shuffleboard, table football and pool; the perfect accompaniment to craft beers and themed burgers.

  • Broad Street
  • Cocktail Bar ⋅ Sports Bar

Tonight Josephine Birmingham

Student Discount and 3 other offers

For one of the coolest bars in Birmingham to check out, Tonight Josephine showcases pink neon interiors and crazy good cocktails. Head over to The Burlington where this quirky watering hole will be serving up some of the best nights out in the city, thanks to its lineup of afternoon teas and brunches.

  • Cocktail Bar ⋅ Party Bar ⋅ Nightclub

Lost & Found Birmingham

If history is your thing and you go crazy for quirky cocktails, then The Lost and Found should be on your agenda. Decked out in vintage fixings and based on the Victorian adventurer, Hettie G. Watson, it's hands down one of the best bars in Birmingham city centre.

  • Lounge Bar ⋅ Restaurant Bar ⋅ Cocktail Bar
  • DesignMyNight Review Writer Finding Banner 2023

Dead Wax Digbeth

Dead Wax Digbeth is an amazing shout if you're looking for a casual ambience and a spacious beer garden. While munching on wood-fired sourdough pizzas, you and your pals can also check out a wide selection of beer or cocktails.

  • Event Space ⋅ Pub ⋅ Party Bar

Luna Springs

Looking for some fun bar action in Digbeth? This sprawling, open-air space is the one to check out. Luna Springs is bringing more than just creative cocktails and tasty street food. It's got a packed programme of live events and bottomless brunches to boot.

  • Digbeth ⋅ Birmingham City Centre
  • Event Space ⋅ Cocktail Bar ⋅ Party Bar

Flight Club Birmingham

Afternoon Fizz

Head over to Temple Street where you'll find one of the quirkiest, most fun, and best bars in Birmingham for a date. Book yourself an oche, grab a couple cocktails, chow down on pizza, and prepare to engage in some highly competitive and totally interactive darts.

  • Event Space ⋅ Party Bar ⋅ Cocktail Bar

Vagabond Wines Birmingham

A stunning entry on our list, Vagabond Wines deserves a shoutout because of its quirky wine machines featuring over 100 different types of vino. Plus, the gorgeous venue has snacks on offering, including charcuterie spreads and sumptuous pizzas.

  • Wine Bar ⋅ Event Space ⋅ Restaurant

Boom Battle Bar Birmingham

If you're seeking a quirky drinking den, Boom Battle Bar on Broad Street is sure to hit the spot. Not only does this venue offer a range of cool activities, such as karaoke, beer or prosecco pong and axe throwing, but also a delicious food menu to boot.

  • Broad Street ⋅ City Centre
  • Activity ⋅ Event Space ⋅ Party Bar

180 Club at The Rectory

Bullseye Brunch

A top-notch basement spot, this unique St Paul's Square offering brings together darts and dive bar vibes. Dip down below The Rectory and get ready for the night to fly by as you lob darts and sip on drinks until the early hours.

  • Party Bar ⋅ Lounge Bar ⋅ Event Space

Birdies Bar

Offering a taste of the warmer climes in the heart of Digbeth, Birdies features the best beverages and top notch BBQ. Part of the Ghetto Golf complex, they're letting you get stuck into tropical sips at the bar, quiz nights and cocktail masterclasses.

  • Cocktail Bar ⋅ Party Bar ⋅ Lounge Bar

Pinball and pints? You don't need to ask us twice. Tilt is a quaint little cafe by day and lively bar by night, serving hot coffees until 5pm and post-work beverages aplenty. They've also got a big selection of machines and classic consoles to get competitive over with your pals.

Mama Roux’s

Quirky bar Mama Roux's is on hand for all your late night partying and disco dancing needs, thanks to a lineup of world class DJs and top performers. Better yet, the glitter ball and gorgeous botanical ceiling in the yard are pretty easy on the eye too.

  • Party Bar ⋅ Nightclub

Sky Bar & Restaurant

One of the best rooftop bars in Birmingham, Sky By The Water is all about the stunning surroundings. From its chic and colourful interiors, to the igloos on its hugely popular open-air terrace, there's nothing about this vibrant venue that won't catch your eye.

  • Resorts World
  • Restaurant ⋅ Restaurant Bar ⋅ Cocktail Bar

202 Kitchen

Searching for Instagrammable places? Located in the heart ofThe Arcadian, 202 Kitchen is a pink restaurant and bar, fab for girls nights out and hen parties. Plus, their food offering is nothing short of amazing - mac 'n' cheese anyone and pornstar martinis anyone?

The Night Owl

Beautifully decorated with vintage records, disco balls and kitsch furniture, Digbeth's Night Owl is a homage to all things retro. A bar and nightclub specialising in funk, soul, ska and reggae, they've got charm, quirk and style by crate-load.

  • Digbeth ⋅ City Centre

Roxy Lanes Birmingham Digbeth

For one of the best bars in Birmingham, this unique gaming hub promises activities to help you release the child within. Head down for ping pong, bowling, pool and shuffleboard, alongside zesty cocktails and American-inspired eats.

  • Party Bar ⋅ Restaurant Bar

Hunting for low-key style and high-brow brews? Head down to the arches of Moor Street Station and you'll find this chic little craft beer bar offering a mammoth line-up of exceptional sips, as well as some of the best cheese toasties around.

  • Pub ⋅ Wine Bar

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Top Things to Do in Birmingham - Birmingham Must-See Attractions

Things to do in birmingham, explore popular experiences, ways to tour birmingham.

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Birmingham Civil Rights Tour- Riding & Walking

cool places to visit in birmingham al

The Birmingham Ghost Walk - Hotels Churches and Riots Tour

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Wild Cave Adventure Tour

cool places to visit in birmingham al

Super City Birmingham Hop On Hop Off Driving App Tour

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Zombie Scavengers Game - Birmingham, AL

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Sips of Birmingham Tour

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Experience Birmingham - The Historic Highlights

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Birmingham Area Multi-Attraction Pass

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Birmingham Bash Scavenger Hunt

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The Birmingham Downtown Ghost Self-Guided Walking Tour

Fun & games.

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Top Attractions in Birmingham

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Other Top Attractions around Birmingham

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A man walking next to a colourful mural creeping up a building in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

A guide to Birmingham, the UK city break you'd never think of

Multicultural, industrious and in an ongoing battle for the title of England’s second city, the West Midlands’ capital flaunts its heritage with style.

Everything changed for Birmingham with the arrival of the Commonwealth Games in 2022, the biggest in the event’s history. With athletes and delegates from 72 nations descending on the region and more than 1.5 million tickets sold, it gave England ’s second city a chance to prove its mettle on the world stage. And so it did. The opening and closing ceremonies rolled out Birmingham’s multifaceted past, proudly celebrating the city’s long-standing multicultural residents — often referred to as ‘Brummies’ — and manufacturing heritage as reggae, rock and grime artists shared the stage.

It’s no surprise that this former industrial powerhouse chose to showcase its roots. From around the 16th century, the city became lauded for its metal-working industry, earning it the nickname of the ‘workshop of the world’ by the 18th century. It then became home to two of the UK’s biggest car manufacturers: Jaguar and MG Rover.

Today, the residents of Birmingham are down-to-earth and self-deprecating, but the city has had its fair share of fame. Novelist and lecturer JRR Tolkien spent formative years around King's Heath and Sarehole at the end of the 19th century and later cited the area as inspiration for his books. During the same period, the real-life Peaky Blinders criminal street gang rampaged around Birmingham; they would go on to be the inspiration for the blockbuster period television drama that now draws tourists to its city filming locations.

A top view of Birmingham's underground train station whilst pedestrians walk over a bridge.

Birmingham’s industrial prowess lasted well into the 20th century, but eventually waned as British manufacturing was scaled back from the 1970s. However, its heritage is still on show in pockets of the city, namely along the snaking canal network, which was cut in the 18th and 19th centuries to transport heavy goods in and out of the region by narrowboat. Now, many of the waterways have become urban parks used by joggers, cyclists and kayakers.

In Digbeth, the former Bird’s Custard Factory is now a creative digital business complex home to independent bars, shops and a cinema. In the Jewellery Quarter, where 40% of the UK’s jewellery is still made today, former factories have been repurposed as hotels, trendsetting restaurants and social enterprise spaces. The regeneration of public squares in the city centre, meanwhile, has seen historic neoclassical architecture like Birmingham Town Hall blend in seamlessly in Paradise, a sleek development mixing business space and leisure facilities.

Steady gentrification has also seeped into the dining scene. While the city has long been lauded for its authentic South Asian cuisine, especially around the Balti Triangle, what’s less well known is that Birmingham has five Michelin stars, more than any other English city outside of London. It may not shout about its achievements, but Birmingham’s official motto is Forward — and that’s the way it looks.

What to see and do in Birmingham

1. Roundhouse Birmingham Kayak Tours Birmingham’s canal network was first engineered in the 1700s to transport heavy goods such as coal and iron. Today, the waterway’s distinctive 19th-century brick Roundhouse, originally used as stables and store houses, has been revamped in collaboration with the National Trust and Canals & Rivers Trust as a base for tours. Pop into the Grade II-listed building’s visitor centre in the heart of the city centre before joining one of its unique kayak trips, offering a duck’s-eye view of popular landmarks such as the historic Gas Street Basin, and areas that are inaccessible by foot.

2. Sarehole Mill & Moseley Bog It’s hard to believe that a young JRR Tolkien drew inspiration for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when living just five miles south of Birmingham city centre, but it’s true. Tolkien often visited the grounds surrounding Sarehole Mill, a 250-year-old working watermill in Hall Green, which he later said inspired Middle Earth. A five-minute walk away is Moseley Bog, an ancient forest with gnarled trees and walking trails, which was the inspiration for the Old Forest, on the edge of the Shire.

3. Positively Birmingham These fun walking tours, led by local authors and photographers, tap into topics ranging from the city’s Victorian heritage to its role as the backdrop for the hit TV series Peaky Blinders. Tours run Friday to Sunday and take in street art, filming locations and city landmarks, like the Library of Birmingham and Black Sabbath Bridge.

4. Aston Hall This Grade I-listed Jacobean red-brick mansion across the road from Villa Park, home of Aston Villa FC , remains one of the finest standing examples of 17th-century architecture in the city. It also claims to be one of the UK’s most haunted buildings. Combine a visit to its rooms with a tour of Villa Park.

5. Jewellery Quarter Birmingham’s 19th-century industrial prowess gave it the nickname the ‘workshop of the world’, so for a window into its heritage, visit the city centre’s Jewellery Quarter. Here you’ll find Europe’s largest concentration of jewellers in a district where the original FA Cup, the whistles used on RMS Titanic and, at one point, 75% of the world’s pen nibs were manufactured. Now, many of the Jewellery Quarter’s warehouses have been repurposed as bars, museums and restaurants, all sprawling out from its centrepiece, St Paul’s Square.

A picture of a man in a white lab coat with a red polo shirt underneath. He is smiling and the window behind him has gold chains and rings displayed.

6. Cadbury World Britain’s favourite chocolate maker turns 200 this year, and what better way to celebrate than with a visit to its factory? Just 13 minutes from New Street Station by train, Cadbury World’s home is the historic Bournville model village, where cottages, schools and sports facilities were built in 1893 by the Cadbury family for its workers. Today, Bournville remains a blueprint for British model villages and its immersive factory tour tells the brand’s story through interactive displays, actor appearances and, of course, tastings.

7. Ikon Gallery This nationally important artist-led gallery has one goal: to make art accessible for the people of Birmingham, free of charge. Ikon turns 60 this year and has been in its current neo-gothic city centre building on Oozells Square — a spot famous for its cherry blossom display in spring — since 1997. Recent exhibitions have showcased the works of photographer Vanley Burke and painter Mali Morris, among others.

8. Parks & green spaces With more than 8,500 acres of parks and gardens to explore, Birmingham is a much greener city than its industrial past would lead you to believe. Locals’ favourite park is Cannon Hill , a 15-minute bus ride south of the centre, which is home to the Midlands Arts Centre , an outdoor amphitheatre, boating lake, tennis courts and mini golf.

Where to shop in Birmingham

1. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Following a lengthy refurbishment, BMAG’s main galleries are undergoing a phased reopening in time for this summer. Head to its shop for products by local creatives, such as Stacey Barnfield’s Birmingham Colour Palette prints, and Punks & Chancer’s t-shirts emblazoned with the Brummie endearment ‘bab’.

An old-school record shop in Birmingham, UK. The windows have bars to protect them, and every bit of free wall space has been used to display music memorabilia.

2. Swordfish Records Swordfish is a shop tucked away on the city centre’s northeastern edge, but is worth the effort — it’s been a city mainstay since 1979. Most genres are catered for here but there’s nothing more quintessentially Brummie than flicking through the crates and going home with a Black Sabbath record.

3. Moseley Farmers’ Market Birmingham is surrounded by working farms that supply a handful of regular farmers’ markets. Perhaps the most popular is this one, held on the final Saturday of each month in the village of Moseley to the south, where all the food and drink for sale is grown, reared or produced no more than a few miles away. Local craftspeople often sell products such as jewellery, ceramics and textiles here, too.

See the city like a local

1. St Martin’s Rag Market It’s a rite of passage for young Brummies to visit the Rag Market — usually taken by grandparents seeking a bargain — with everything from textiles and homewares to food and jewellery for sale across 350 stalls. Birmingham was first granted permission to hold a market on this very site in 1166, making it a piece of city history.

2. Edgbaston Reservoir Birmingham is about as far from the sea as you can get, so Edgbaston Reservoir is where locals retreat to when they want to be by the water. Come for sailing, rowing and standup paddleboarding — just a five-minute taxi ride, or a 30-minute walk, from the city centre. There’s also a 1.75-mile trail you can walk around the edge.

3. Bearwood While the likes of Moseley, Stirchley and Digbeth find themselves on neighbourhood cool lists, Bearwood has been quietly fizzing away. The suburb tips over Birmingham’s northwest border into Sandwell and has become known for a burgeoning Latino food scene. Try Brazilian butcher-cum-restaurant BrasilPortu and the family-owned A La Mexicana .

Where to eat in Birmingham

1. Shababs The balti was invented in the 1970s by a Pakistani-Brummie restaurateur whose speedy method of cooking and serving the dish in the same flat-bottomed wok-style steel bowl caught on. Birmingham’s famous Balti Triangle, a 10-minute taxi ride south of the city centre, is home to a large concentration of authentic balti houses. Shababs restaurant has been a local institution since 1987.

2. Cherry Reds

A hand pouring syrup from a small steel jug onto a plate with a hash brown, sausages and scrambled eggs with bacon substitute sprinkled over top

This kitsch cafe-bar over the road from New Street Station is a hit with locals for its classic brunch menu featuring full English breakfasts and American pancakes, paired with freshly ground coffee from local roastery, Quarter Horse. Vegans and vegetarians are especially well catered for here, as are craft beer drinkers. Visit on evenings for live music.

3. Simpsons Michelin-starred Simpsons moved into Edgbaston in 2004, taking over a sprawling Grade II-listed Georgian villa. Chef-patron Andreas Antona and head chef Luke Tipping’s contemporary British menu provides playful twists on classic fine-dining ingredients like lobster, which is barbecued and served with pilaf rice, coconut and pineapple.

Where to go after dinner

1. Fox and Chance Carefully crafted cocktails take centre stage at this unassuming central bar known for its service and locally inspired cocktail names. Deep chesterfield sofas and vintage artworks are nice touches, but it’s the bartenders’ expert drinks knowledge that sets the bar apart. Try the funky Cannonball rum cocktail, named after a former city jazz club.

2. Nortons This independent bar in the Irish quarter of Digbeth pours some of the best Guinness in the city, alongside a range of cask and keg beers. Drinkers can expect great craic with trad music sessions on weekends and a beer garden showing live sports. There’s even a ‘split the G’ leaderboard with free pints for those who can take a gulp and land the black line between the gap in the ‘G’ on their Guinness glass.

3. Hare & Hounds If you’ve heard of the Hare & Hounds it’s probably because you know someone that saw Ed Sheeran play in its tiny gig room above the pub in 2011. Or so they say. This stalwart venue has indeed brought some of music’s biggest names to the sprightly south Birmingham suburb of Kings Heath, including UB40 who, in 1979, played their first ever gig here.

Where to stay in Birmingham

1. bloc With 73 cabins inspired by modern, Japanese design and 35 aparthotel suites, Bloc offers great value in a superb location near St Paul’s Square. Its lowest rates are found in its compact ‘no frills, no window’ space-saving rooms that still have king-sized beds, super soft linen and excellent monsoon showers.

2. Staying Cool at Rotunda For a bird’s-eye perspective on Birmingham, stay at this hotel high up in the landmark Rotunda building. It’s as central as you can get, with apartment-style rooms featuring kitchens that include complimentary local delicacies such as Birmingham Brewing Co beers and snacks from local zero waste shop The Clean Kilo.

3. The Grand Hotel Birmingham’s landmark hotel was empty for almost 20 years before a £50m restoration brought it back to life in 2021. The likes of Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin stayed here in their day, and more recently it’s hosted film stars such as Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp. The rooms include family and accessible options, as well as penthouse suites with four-poster beds. There’s also an on-site NYC-inspired brasserie, Isaac’s.

Related Topics

  • SHORT TRIPS
  • FAMILY TRAVEL
  • CULTURAL TOURISM
  • PEOPLE AND CULTURE

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IMAGES

  1. 17 Fun Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

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  2. 13 Fun Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama

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  3. 25 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

    cool places to visit in birmingham al

  4. Top Things to See and Do in Birmingham, Alabama

    cool places to visit in birmingham al

  5. 10 Fun Things to See and Do in Birmingham AL

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  6. 15 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Birmingham, AL

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  1. Visit Birmingham, AL

  2. Explore Birmingham UK

  3. Tranquil Walk Through Edgbaston Reservoir

  4. Local author explores the coolest places in Detroit through the eyes of the Nain Rouge

  5. Unusually cool for the first day of Summer, but it gets hot in Alabama soon

  6. The 5 Most Haunted Places in Birmingham

COMMENTS

  1. 68 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

    2 - Marvel at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Credit to the Birmingham Museum of Art. Sitting in the heart of the city in front of Lynn Park, The Birmingham Museum of Art is a wonderful place for anyone who enjoys the fine arts - be that paintings, sculptures, photography, or ancient relics. Read more.

  2. 27 Best & Fun Things To Do In Birmingham (Alabama)

    Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35094, United States. 2. Birmingham Museum of Art. Birmingham Museum of Art. If you're looking for cool places to visit in Alabama, be sure to check out the Birmingham Museum of Art. Founded in 1951, this establishment houses one of the most epic art collections in the Southeast.

  3. 10 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Birmingham

    The Atlas Obscura Guide To Birmingham 10 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama Updated February 28, 2022 ... Visit a place in Birmingham.

  4. The 20 Best Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama

    At Back Forty, enjoy sprawling outdoor seating and one of the city's best burgers. The homegrown craft brewery originated north of the city in Gadsden, Alabama, but was fully embraced by Birminghamians by the time it made its way south in 2018. www.backfortybeer.com, 3201 1st Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35222.

  5. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Birmingham

    5. Vulcan Park and Museum. The largest cast-iron statue in the world created for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair placed on top of Red Mountain with a beautiful view of downtown Birmingham. Also, inside Vulcan Center, is an interactive museum that contains the historical timeline of the city of Birmingham. 6.

  6. 15 Best Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama You Shouldn't Miss

    Oak Mountain State Park. This is one place to visit near Birmingham, and it's something you definitely don't want to miss! Oak Mountain State Park is located about 20 miles south of Birmingham, but it is absolutely worth the drive. It is also the largest of the state parks in Alabama, boasting of 9,940 acres.

  7. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in Birmingham (UPDATED 2024)

    5. Vulcan Park and Museum. The largest cast-iron statue in the world created for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair placed on top of Red Mountain with a beautiful view of downtown Birmingham. Also, inside Vulcan Center, is an interactive museum that contains the historical timeline of the city of Birmingham. 6.

  8. 11 Best Things to Do in Birmingham

    Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023. Ranking of the top 11 things to do in Birmingham. Travelers favorites include #1 Civil Rights District, #2 Birmingham Railroad Park and more.

  9. The 15 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

    8. Have a Scenic Picnic at Railroad Park. One of the coolest things about Birmingham is that it's brimming with green spaces, and Railroad Park is one of the best! Set on 19 acres of lush land in the heart of downtown, this is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown.

  10. 29 Best & Fun Things To Do In Birmingham (Alabama)

    10. Birmingham's Railroad Park. Damian Holmes / Birmingham's Railroad Park. Birmingham's Railroad Park is a beautiful 8-block green space that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of downtown Birmingham, Alabama. This lovely park is a 19-acre park in Birmingham that opened in the fall of 2010.

  11. 20 top things to do in Birmingham Alabama

    2 16th Street Baptist Church. The 16th Street Baptist Church is another key place to learn about the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham Alabama. It's the site of an infamous bombing in 1963, which killed 4 young girls who were attending Sunday School. 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama.

  12. 24 Best Things To Do In Birmingham, Alabama (2024 Guide)

    9. Walk through the city's rich history in Kelly Ingram Park. One of the best historic sites in Birmingham, Alabama is Kelly Ingram Park. Located in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, Kelly Ingram Park holds profound historical significance as a central site for civil rights protests during the 1960s.

  13. 21+ Excellent Things To Do in Birmingham AL (+ Where To Eat, Shop and

    Vulcan Park is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Birmingham. This public park is home to the world's largest cast iron statue, Vulcan, god of fire and forge. The Vulcan statue was cast from local iron to show off the city for the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Now Vulcan stands atop a pedestal on Red Mountain.

  14. 17 Fun Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

    The exhibit for 2022/2023 is "Birmingham Bottling," featuring cool memorabilia from Birmingham's historic Coca-Cola bottling plants. After checking out the museum, climb up the observation tower, where you can take in sweeping views of the city skyline. ... the Railroad Park Foundation is one of the top places to see in Birmingham, AL ...

  15. THE 10 BEST Birmingham Fun Activities & Games

    Food is not the best, though - burgers, pizza, pretzels, hot dogs - not really the best options for athletes! Most... 4. Civil Axe Throwing - Birmingham. 41. Game & Entertainment Centers. By 276travisf. Unique & fun experience surrounded by great, helpful employees who are awesome & so much fun! 5.

  16. THE 10 BEST Birmingham Sights & Landmarks to Visit (2024)

    THE 10 BEST Birmingham Sights & Historical Landmarks. 1. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. It is designed with purpose and creativity to highlight the amazing vehicles on display. 2. Vulcan Park and Museum. Wonderful view of the city both on the terrace as well as on the top of the statue.

  17. 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Birmingham, AL

    15 Top Attractions & Places to Visit in Montgomery, AL. 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Birmingham, AL. Written by Lana Law and Lura Seavey Updated Dec 28, 2023 ... On Sunday September 15, 1963, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. The bombing resulted in the death of four girls.

  18. 25 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama

    The park is home of the Vulcan Museum, which hosts a range of exhibits, lectures, and other events. The Vulcan Park is the most popular place from which to watch the annual 4th of July fireworks. 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham, Alabama, Phone: 205-933-1409, Map. More ideas: Alabama Beaches.

  19. 5 iconic landmarks you must visit in Birmingham

    More info: 205-933-1409, Vulcan Park website, Facebook page, Instagram page or X feed (formerly Twitter). SLOSS FURNACES NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK. Where: 20 32nd St ...

  20. 26 Best Things to Do in Birmingham Right Now

    Whether it's house at The Mill, indie at The Sunflower Lounge, the Night Owl 's northern soul or jazz at The Jam House, you'll find something interesting within walking distance of the high ...

  21. 30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Alabama

    7. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Montgomery. Plenty of museums and other attractions have been erected all over the world to honor F. Scott Fitzgerald, the renowned novelist and author, but, here in Montgomery, Alabama is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to the story writer and his wife, Zelda.

  22. Neighborhood To Watch: Uptown Birmingham, Alabama

    Adjacent to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in downtown Birmingham, Uptown boasts modern architecture, green spaces and attractions like The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Topgolf ...

  23. 78 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Alabama

    4 Monuments to Alabama's Beloved Animals. Maybe you love your cat a lot—maybe even enough to commission a little painting of your furry companion. But the people of Alabama can do you one ...

  24. 35 Cool And Quirky Bars In Birmingham

    The Jam House Birmingham. 514 reviews. Taking Bookings. One of the best bars in Birmingham, this St Paul's Square spot is literally dripping in cool. Founded by none other than Jools Holland, The Jam House keeps music at the forefront of everything it does, offering a unique space for full bands and unplugged acts.

  25. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Birmingham

    5. Vulcan Park and Museum. The largest cast-iron statue in the world created for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair placed on top of Red Mountain with a beautiful view of downtown Birmingham. Also, inside Vulcan Center, is an interactive museum that contains the historical timeline of the city of Birmingham. 6.

  26. A guide to Birmingham, UK

    What to see and do in Birmingham 1. Roundhouse Birmingham Kayak Tours Birmingham's canal network was first engineered in the 1700s to transport heavy goods such as coal and iron.