Things to Do in Birmingham
This Alabama city offers an offbeat getaway destination for families searching to explore one of the South’s gems.
With a heavy past fueled by race riots in the 1950s, Birmingham has evolved into a community that remembers its painful past and has preserved its lessons for future generations to come. Travelers will also find the region bursting at the seams with intriguing nightlife and family-worthy sites and activities.
Vulcan and the Red Mountain
Are you brave enough to face what awaits you at Red Mountain and Vulcan Park? Begin your adventure rappelling, zip-lining and climbing vines on Red Mountain’s treetop courses. Plunge into the Beanstalk Forest, tackle the Red Ore, take on the Adventure Tower or beat them all. When you’ve mastered Red Mountain, hop in the car for the 15-minute drive to Vulcan Park, where you'll come face-to-face with the world’s largest cast iron statue. Erected in 1904 and named after the Roman god of the forge, Vulcan stands as a testament to the iron industry that built this city. Once you’ve learned all about the statue and the city in the museum, check out the observation deck offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
An Education in Civil Rights
At the Civil Rights Institute, transport yourself back to the 1960s when Birmingham teemed with civil unrest. As you gaze upon the actual jailhouse door, picture Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a pencil in his hand writing the iconic words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” After absorbing the injustices the Civil Rights movement overcame, step outside the institute to explore the nearby sights on the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail. Across the street stands the 16th Street Baptist Church, where the racially motivated bombing in 1963 killed four young girls and changed the course of American history forever.
Get Racing with Barber Motorsports
A stop at the Barber Motorsports Park, home to the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, is sure to appease the daredevil in you. The racetrack events will have your heart pumping whether you’re watching race cars, motorcycles or vintage automobiles take on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile track. Beyond the packed event schedule, the road racing track’s biggest attraction is its museum. But be warned, as you wander among the 1,400 vintage motorcycles—the world’s largest collection according to the Guinness World Records—you just might find yourself turning into a grease monkey.
Dig Into Alabama’s Music History
Alabama might be smack dab in the middle of blues country, but jazz is a big part of the scene when you’re in Birmingham—making the city the perfect home for the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, located in the Carver Theatre. You’ll be aching to scat your heart out as you gaze at the personal effects of greats like Ella Fitzgerald and W.C. Handy. If the visit has you longing for the old days when the radio was hip, stop by the Don Kresge Memorial Museum and check out its collection of historical radios. As the day winds down, head back to the Carver—less than a half-mile walk—to catch a jazz show on the stage where famed musicians like Duke Ellington once played.
Adventure at Oak Mountain
If Birmingham proper hasn’t satisfied your thirst for adventure, perhaps the 10,000-acre Oak Mountain State Park will do the trick. Just a 20-mile drive south of the city, Oak Mountain has great outdoor fun for everyone. Grab your water bottle and take on more than 50 miles of trails by foot or mountain bike. If you’d rather relax, play a friendly round of golf at the park’s 18-hole course, lounge by the lake, rent a boat to cruise, or fish at one of the three lakes available.
Browse the Alabama Antique Trail
When mass-produced mementos just won’t do, it’s time to get creative with your souvenir shopping. That’s where the Alabama Antique Trail comes in. With seven antique stores located in the Birmingham region, the trail is sure to offer a one-of-a-kind trinket that you'll want to take home. Perhaps you’ll pick up an antebellum inkwell at King’s House or some pottery that once graced the mantel of a local estate at 5th Avenue Antiques. A piece of Alabama history is waiting for you around every corner!
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