What are the best things to do in Birmingham?

Choice sightseeing and shopping abound Birmingham, a quintessential Southern town. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’s picks for the best things to do in Birmingham.
1. Vulcan Park and Museum. From its vantage point on top of the mountain, you can see the entire city. There’s no better way to take it all in, and the museum in the park tells the story of Birmingham’s geographic origins.
2. Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The 67 acres are separated into unique gardens, including our favorites, the Wildflower Garden and the Vegetable Garden. The gift shop carries garden-related items from books to planters to children’s toys.
3. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. This is a must-see stop on any Birmingham itinerary. The hub for civil and human rights education the perfect spot to learn about the history of Birmingham.
4. Barber Motorsports Park & Museum. Sports fans will enjoy this amazing track, where you can sit on beautifully landscaped grounds and enjoy a race. You also have to stop in the museum for the unique collection of beautifully restored vintage motorcycles.
5. Birmingham Museum of Art. Linger over displays of the best Wedgwood china collection in the country. Then take a trip outside to enjoy the outdoor sculpture garden and lunch in the café.

  • On April 4, 2013
    Chris Hastings answered the question: Chris Hastings

    What is the best time of the year to visit Birmingham?

    Spring is just so stunningly beautiful in terms of the natural beauty — the magnolias are in bloom, the dogwoods are starting to come around. You can go out in the woods and find Easter lilies. The spring creeks are choked with watercress. Plus, I’m an avid outdoorsman so I’m always into turkey wood and chasing turkeys that time of year. I get to see it in a really up close and personal way. It’s a mind blower. But then again, fall’s pretty good here too, particularly if you like college football.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Chris Hastings answered the question: Chris Hastings

    What are the best brunch spots in Birmingham?

    There’s a restaurant across the street from us, Veranda on Highland. The chef there is doing a really good brunch. But the country clubs are where most people go for brunch. That’s kind of a hold out from back in the day. Before the restaurant community, most people used to eat at home or the country club because there were no restaurants. There’s a very strong country club community here so that’s where most people go.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Chris Hastings answered the question: Chris Hastings

    What are the best things to do in Birmingham?

    1. The Birmingham Museum of Art and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are really amazing amenities in our city.

    2. One of the things people may or may not know about Birmingham, the surrounding area and Alabama generally is that it has some of the most beautiful topography and natural resources. It’s the largest river system of any state in the world or in the country.

    3. I’d also say going to the farmers market and a great seasonal market called the Pepper Place Market that’s open May through October. It’s artisanal — so the cheese makers, farmers, the honey makers and the egg producers are all there.
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    Natalie Wearstler Tom Flournoy Andi Berens Laura Janelle Downey Jordan Lawson
  • On April 4, 2013
    Chris Hastings answered the question: Chris Hastings

    Where are the best places to eat in Birmingham?

    This is a mature food market because when Frank [Stitt] opened his restaurant in 1982, that was the big bang moment for Birmingham. An independent food scene was born. It’s been wildly successful and important in Southern culture and since that time, a lot of people have come out of Frank’s kitchen and out of my kitchen and other people’s kitchens to create a real diverse market. We have great food trucks like Shindigs, and great local restaurants like Ollie Irene, Bettola, Stones Throw Bar and Grill, Brick & Tin and El Barrio. I could go on and on. Also our barbecue community is really strong, whether it’s Jim ‘N Nick’s or Golden Rule or Full Moon. Plus, we’ve got an interesting hot dog culture — the Greek community 100 years ago started popping up these really great little hot dog stands that are amazing.
  • On October 19, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best nightlife in Birmingham?

    Birmingham’s nightlife tends to spread out among various areas of town where several bars and restaurants congregate within walking distance. Here are a few areas in this Alabama town that locals like to visit.
    1. The Lakeview District. Tin Roof Bar, Nana Funks, and Oasis are three different bars with three different vibes. Young professionals flock to Tin Roof after work to socialize and stay late, but the real night owls hang out even later (until 4am) at Nana Funks. The favorite time for Oasis fans to check in is when Rollin’ in the Hay, a local bluegrass band is playing.

    2. Downtown Area. ‘Above’ is Birmingham’s only rooftop bar at the historic Redmont Hotel; it offers indoor and outdoor seating that allows downtown professionals and hotel guests to view the city’s skyline while enjoying a live band or DJ. Rogue Tavern has exceptionally tasty bar food like burgers, fried pickles, homemade kettle chips, along with music and beer. The Nick, a local dive sometimes referred to as Birmingham’s “dirty little secret,” has featured local and mainstream acts for over 20 years and claims to have the coldest beer in town.
    3. Five Points South. Five Points South is Birmingham’s downtown entertainment district and there are a variety of bars and restaurants located around the circle and up to Cobb Lane.  J. Clyde Hot Rock Tavern and Ale House at Cobb Lane is on of the top beer bars in America, and offers an exceptional variety of craft beers, fresh ales, and lagers. Zydeco is the place for live music—both local and national acts have been known to appear, or if you’re not into music, try the martinis on a Tuesday night with standing room only in the bar at Highlands Bar and Grill. The Garage Café is a short distance away, with a laid-back, cool atmosphere in an outdoor courtyard surrounded by an eclectic collection of artifacts—but you may have to ask a local to help you find it.
    4. Around Birmingham. The Bottletree Cafe is a hip spot in the Forest Park area that regularly features live entertainment. Or, drop by Avo & Dram for happy hour in Mountain Brook Village. At Avo, try a mint julep from the outdoor balcony. Or at Dram, spill out onto the patio in nice weather with the young, single, after-work crowd.