What to do and see in Birmingham, United States: The Best Places and Tips

February 6, 2018 Tambra Mccollister

It has been said that Birmingham is the last major Southern city in America, where a friendly "How y'all doin'," a hearty meal of country-fried steak with butter beans and a true taste of Southern hospitality await visitors. Whether you're into the history of the Civil Rights movement, a fan of jazz music or just looking for culture and a few fun activities for the family, Sweet Birmingham is the place for you. Spend the morning at the Birmingham Museum of Art, then have lunch at a traditional Southern tea room. Outdoor enthusiasts can tee off at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail or pack a lunch and spend the day hiking and enjoying the vistas at Ruffner Mountain. A world-class zoo, the innovative McWane Center and VisionLand, Alabama's first amusement park, are sure to keep families entertained and on the go. In the evening, listen to a blues show at an outdoor cafe and then spend the night at a small cozy inn or splurge for an elegant hotel.
Restaurants in Birmingham

1. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

6030 Barber Motorsports, Birmingham, AL 35094-3418 +1 205-699-7275
Excellent
86%
Good
11%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 988 reviews

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

A motorcyclist's dream, this museum has 750 vintage and modern motorcycles displayed on walls, two-tiered platforms and just about everywhere you look. The bikes are displayed randomly, rather than by date and year, adding an element of unpredictability to the viewer's experience.

Reviewed By Ryan G - Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

My family is unfamiliar with motorcycles aside from recognizing the Harley-Davidson and Honda logos, but this place gave us (ages 7 to 69) an appreciation for motorsports in general and motorcycles specifically that we weren’t expecting. Unmistakable as well was the art of the bikes. The displays were fantastic, and the employees who gave our tour were as patient as could be with our kids and as informative as could be for our entire family.

It’s clear that Mr. Barber wanted his museum to be the Augusta National of motorsports. The building and grounds are impeccably manicured and maintained.

If you can arrange a tour ahead of your visit, you just might make it down to the basement level to see the restoration garage. The whole operation is just first class, and to be in the presence of such art, class and success makes for a really cool day.

2. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203-1911 +1 205-328-9696
Excellent
80%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 992 reviews

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

This historic museum traces the journey of the civil rights advocates of the 1950s and 60s, who changed the course of American history. The struggle for equality for Black Americans is chronicled here, from the Jim Crow laws in the 1800s to the freedom rides, sit-ins and demonstrations of the 1960s.

Reviewed By Joan P - Damariscotta, Maine

We spent the afternoon exploring the Birmingham Civil Right Institute and I found it a very moving and powerful experience. Being old enough to have lived through the 1950s and 1960s, I already knew the history, but the audio, video, and photographic displays brought it all to life again. It is our history.

The building itself is organized in a circular fashion which progresses chronologically from the 1950s to the present time. There is enough variety in the exhibits to keep you interested. Lots to read, lots to learn. Lots to watch.

I would recommend that all Americans go to this Museum. And probably non-American visitors should go there to get some understanding of the Civil Rights movement in America.

3. McWane Science Center

200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203-3117 +1 205-714-8300
Excellent
72%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 820 reviews

McWane Science Center

Fun and learning never end at McWane Science Center, a nonprofit, hands-on museum and IMAX(R) Dome Theater. Four floors of interactive exhibits celebrate science and wonder - from an amazing collection of dinosaurs to innovative environmental showcases, imaginative early childhood playgrounds, and an awe-inspiring aquarium. The energy and excitement of discovery spring to life through an extensive lineup of science demonstrations performed daily by talented educators. The adventure intensifies in the IMAX(R) Dome Theater, where wide-eyed visitors experience the sights and sounds of breathtaking films on a 5-story-tall screen surrounded by 3 tons of high-intensity speakers.

Reviewed By ekkerb - Franklin, Tennessee

Good science center experience. Nice compact museum with something for everyone. Kind of a combination children's museum with a traditional science museum. Our kids had a fun time. Takes a few hours to see everything. It was helpful we were able to use our reciprocal benefits with the Adventure Science Center in Nashville.

4. Birmingham Museum of Art

2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35203-2278 +1 205-254-2565
Excellent
68%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 456 reviews

Birmingham Museum of Art

This three-story museum houses an eclectic selection of art, including Wedgewood pottery, the largest collection of Asian art in the Southeast, Native American and African art, impressionism, contemporary art and American landscapes.

Reviewed By moviegeekjn - Phoenix, Arizona

This museum is essentially free (donations of $3 are suggested) and more than worthwhile. The biggest surprise is the diversity of its collection; not only does it offer a sampling of American and European art, but it also contains a large collection of Asian art and a nice presentation of African art to illustrate cultural aspects.

5. Regions Field

1401 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233-1503 +1 205-988-3200
Excellent
75%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 347 reviews

Regions Field

Reviewed By Kayla N - Birmingham, Alabama

Parking isn't great, but what do you expect when the field is downtown. The field and the park itself are beautiful, lots of food options, lots of drink options--including alcohol. Lots of picnic tables in the outfield, and a lot of space for kids to play/things to play on. Truly a family experience. They also love getting the crowd involved in between innings. A lot of fun for the whole family.

6. Alabama Theatre

1817 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203-3132 +1 205-252-2262
Excellent
70%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 172 reviews

Alabama Theatre

After a complete restoration, this historic venue once again shows its 1927 grandeur.

Reviewed By ktidefan16

My dad and I used to go here when I was a kid. I recently visited the Theater a week or so ago. Its exactly the same. Its a very old venue but it still has old southern charm. I always thought it was magical. There is just something about it when you get in there. If you are going for a concert or to watch old movies, its just perfect. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It could however be in a bit of a safer area, but its worth the risk.

7. 16th Street Baptist Church

16th St & 6th Ave, Birmingham, AL +1 205-251-9402
Excellent
64%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 262 reviews

16th Street Baptist Church

Four young girls were killed when a Ku Klux Klan bomb exploded in this church in 1963. The girls are remembered with a shrine in the crypt where they died, and a vibrant stained glass window donated in sympathy by the people of Wales adorns the historic church.

Reviewed By moviegeekjn - Phoenix, Arizona

This legendary church is a required visit for anyone interested in U.S. history, and especially for those interested in Civil Rights. It was a central focal point during the 1963 struggles in Birmingham--where much organization took place, where children gathered for their march and subsequent confrontations with Bull Conner and his brutal responses, and where 4 little girls tragically lost their lives during Sunday school when a KKK bomb exploded.

My timing was a bit off, so I didn't get to go inside during my visit, but I visited the outside of the church and the surrounding area every day during my 3 day trip. It's a memorable and inspiring landmark.

8. Birmingham Botanical Gardens

2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223-1800 +1 205-414-3950
Excellent
63%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 345 reviews

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Reviewed By Vickie M - Birmingham, Alabama

  Down here in the South, we know spring is a bit unstable. Sudden freezes nip the tips and stunt spring growth with little warning. But sometimes it comes together beautifully, and this spring we had it all at once: draperies of wisteria punctuated with sprigs of redbud and waves of dogwood. What better time to visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens?
   The Japanese Garden is a favorite. The weeping cherries around here are still recovering from a recent drought,  but the quiet walks, still waters, and arched bridge are a great backdrop for the carefully tended beds and buildings. There wasn't much in the bonsai house yet.  Sigh.
   Kaul Wildflower Garden requires a bit more stamina for wandering the wooded hillsides in search of trillium, columbine, may apple, bloodroot, and sassafras, but it's worth the climb.
 If relaxing is your thing, the water lilies in the Hill Garden are lovely starting around the end of April. And there's so much more.

9. Birmingham's Railroad Park

1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233-1703 +1 205-521-9933
Excellent
61%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 237 reviews

Birmingham's Railroad Park

Reviewed By thefluss - Birmingham, AL

This is a wonderful place to take a stroll on a sunny day. What we like about it is the diversity of the people who are using it. We walked our dog and watched parents playing with their children. People were engaged rather than on their cell phones. We talked to friends we ran into and people we did not know at all.

10. Kelly Ingram Park

5th Ave N at 16th St, Birmingham, AL
Excellent
57%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 212 reviews

Kelly Ingram Park

Home to vivid sculptures of the Children's Crusade.

Reviewed By moviegeekjn - Phoenix, Arizona

Mention Birmingham and 1963, and anyone familiar with American history will recall the iconic Civil Rights struggle that took place. They should know the name of Bull Conner and how he faced hundreds of African American children with hoses and vicious attack dogs while filling Birmingham's jail cells. Kelly Ingram Park is THE primary location where this all took place, and the legacy of those days is now marked with a variety of statues and plaques to educate current and future generations.

It's located directly across the street from the 16th St. Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Institute, and has markers to trace the path of the Children's March to city hall.

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