As Alabama's largest city and cultural hub, Birmingham has earned its rightful place as a tourist destination. An international center of the Civil Rights Movement, the city has brought that history into the future with the latest cutting-edge entertainment, culture, and cuisine. Magic City offers everything from award-winning restaurants to museums, historical attractions, sporting events, and outdoor adventures for the entire family. Whatever your interests, discover just a few reasons why this Southern city should make it onto your radar.
The Market at Pepper Place is a seasonal farmer's market that runs from mid-April through Mid-December. It is only open on Saturdays, but it is worth the wait for those days. Local farmers, vendors, and artisans bring their offerings. While the market is open, you can listen to live music from local artists. There are even cooking demonstrations and activities for kids at the market.
At Vulcan Park and Museum, you can see the world's largest cast iron statue, which was created for the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. The museum houses interactive exhibits that showcase the historical timeline of the city. If you choose to climb to the top of Red Mountain, you can look out over the downtown area.
Sports fans should visit the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. You will be treated to information about sports greats from the past and present. Visitors are sometimes shocked by the number of athletes with ties to this state. There are three stories of exhibits for you to view.
The Christenberry Planetarium offers various presentations about things related to astronomy. The activities are interactive and are usually free of charge. You should arrive early to the event of your choice, as everything is handled on a first-come, first-serve basis. They also have the option of scheduling a private showing for a fee.
Motorcycle enthusiasts will be thrilled to view the 750 motorcycles in this museum. The vintage and modern models are displayed everywhere, on the walls and two-tiered platforms. There isn't any rhyme or reason for how they are displayed, so you might be surprised when you find specific bikes on display.
The 1950s and 1960s were a significant time of change for civil rights. African Americans made great strides during that era, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute celebrates them. Immerse yourself in information about freedom rides, demonstrations, sit-ins, and points about Jim Crow laws and the struggles of Black Americans who fought hard to enjoy the same rights as their white counterparts.
The McWane Science Center is housed in a multi-story building. Some exhibits span four stories. These include hands-on options that appeal to children. From dinosaurs to early childhood playgrounds, there is something for everyone to enjoy here. There is even an aquarium. The IMAX Dome Theater features a 5-story-tall screen and around 3 tons of high-intensity speakers. Demonstrations done by educators bring science to life daily.
The Birmingham Zoo is home to more than 170 animals from all across the world. The Zoo Train can bring you around the grounds, and the carousel provides a fun break from walking around. There is an alligator swamp to venture through, sea lion training to watch, and a tropical rainforest for you to explore.
Spanning three stories, the Birmingham Museum of Art boasts an eclectic collection of artwork from around the world. You can see American landscapes, contemporary art, Wedgewood pottery, and impressionist pieces here. This museum is home to the most extensive collection of Asian artwork in the southeastern U.S. There are also African and Native American artwork on display here. There is even an area for kids, Bart's ARTventure zone, where kids are encouraged to create, explore and experiment with various forms of art.
The Southern Museum of Flight is a large display of planes indoors and within a hangar area. These are warplanes, so they are of particular interest to people who have served in the military and those who appreciate the rich history of military aviation. Simulated flying stations are available for individuals who want to take a hands-on approach to the learning experience.
Situated in the heart of downtown Birmingham, this 19-acre park is brimming with greenery, including over 600 trees and hundreds of colorful flowers. A welcome respite from city life, it's the ideal oasis to slow down and savor the moment. It's 30% water, so you can enjoy aquatic life at the scenic lake, rain curtain, or wetlands area. Throughout the park, dozens of small streams and ponds add a cooling touch and stunning trails guide runners, walkers, and bikers through the park with breathtaking views to boot.
Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the country's only preserved blast furnace site. While it was operational as an industrial site for nearly 100 years, today, it's an industrial museum that brings history to life like never before. Stand deep inside a 250-yard stock tunnel that was used to weigh and load materials, see the water tower and hot blast stoves, or check out 16 historic steam boilers. This expansive plant offers numerous structures to explore, plus tools, machines, and fascinating displays that immerse you in the world of the Industrial Revolution.
This charming 67-acre complex features 20+ unique garden spaces representing natural beauty from around the world. There's a reason it attracts over 300,000 annual visitors! In the Japanese Garden, explore a cherry walk covered with dozens of showstopping sakura. The Hess Camellia Garden features flowers in 75 distinct varieties, and the Southern Living Garden has local blossoms such as daffodils, lilies, hydrangeas, and tulips in a rainbow of vibrant colors.
If you're an avid adventurer, don't leave Birmingham without a trip to Red Mountain Park. This 1,500-acre expanse runs along Red Mountain's northern ridge and encompasses 16 miles of striking trails with two scenic overlooks. Initially the site of an ore-mining operation, the park is filled with unique remnants and artifacts throughout; you might even spot pieces of artillery shells or bomb casings produced during WWII. A 6-acre off-leash dog park encourages your furry friends to connect with nature as well.
If you haven't experienced Birmingham's magnificent nature enough, head to Moss Rock Preserve for breathtaking hiking opportunities. The 349-acre preserve features everything from verdant forest to peaceful streams, waterfalls, and rock outcrops to take in the view. Nearly 12 miles of hiking trails give you the opportunity to spread out and explore, while boulders offer diverse climbing opportunities.
Regions Field is famous for its spacious 360-degree concourse, which provides state-of-the-art views regardless of where you sit. Celebrate America's favorite pastime in true Birmingham fashion at a Barons game; this Double-A team is an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox and attracts fans from across the country. Along with stadium food favorites such as soda, burgers, and hot dogs, unique spaces such as Youth Sports Zone, batting cages, and a family fun park offer ample entertainment long after the 9th inning ends.
Every year, the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center hosts over 300 events. These range widely in scope, from art classes and exhibitions to Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. Whether you want to learn how to paint, see the latest in contemporary artwork, or attend a musical theater performance, there's something for everyone at this popular hotspot.
This historic destination started as First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, back in 1873, but its story still fascinates visitors to this day. Due to segregation, it was more than just a church; it was a cultural center and meeting space for black citizens. During the 1960s, it was the place to go for Civil Rights rallies, and it earned a nickname as "everybody's church" until September 15, 1963, when a bomb exploded inside, tragically killing four Sunday School girls and injuring 20 others — a devastating international catastrophe. It's a day that transformed the city, and it's a tragic story that visitors can still learn from.
Ruffner Mountain is a gorgeous natural attraction all its own, but its Nature Center offers even more interactions with the area's diverse species. Discover gray rat snakes, copperheads, and Eastern box turtles, or explore the outside spaces to watch hawks and raptors take flight. The center feeds and cares for every animal featured, so you can learn about their daily routines while watching the animals in action. This preserve is a must-visit if you want to step off the trail and immerse yourself in an engaging natural setting.
This Birmingham staple is a brewery, tasting room, and concert hall all in one. See some of America's top names perform at the rain-or-shine venue, including the latest pop, rock, and folk artists. Go behind the scenes with a tour to learn the secrets surrounding some of the brand's best-loved brews, including the tangerine-packed Brunch Punch Sandy or the refreshing passion fruit of Sour Pash. There's even a full bar to sample some post-tour cocktails.