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Top 10 Things To See And Do In Birmingham, Alabama

Picture of Shay Lee
Shay Lee
Updated: 11 April 2017
Birmingham is one of the most iconic cities in Alabama. During the 1950s and 1960s the city attracted international attention for being a center for the Civil Rights movement for African-Americans. Since then, Birmingham has evolved into a major tourist city, providing insights into the civil rights struggle, science, and industrial evolution. We have selected the best sights and activities in the city.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s mission is to enlighten the world about civil and human rights by exploring the past and working to build a better future. The institute is a living memorial of civil rights history. As visitors tour the museum, they will be able to appreciate and gain an understanding of the significance of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham. There is also an emphasis on the international struggle for human rights. Since Birmingham Civil Rights Institute opened its doors in 1992 it has been visited by more than two million people, including adults, students, families, researchers, and scholars. The institute encourages visitors to examine the issues of morality, law, justice, and responsible citizenship.

520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 328 9696

Railroad Park

Railroad Park is a 19 acres expanse that celebrates Birmingham’s industrial and artistic heritage. The park is considered ‘Birmingham’s Living Room’ since it connects the downtown area with the University of Alabama campus at Birmingham. This park is the ideal location for local recreation, family celebrations, concerts, and cultural events. Railroad Park is a good place to enjoy nature while jogging, eating out or playing Frisbee. The scenic landscape consists of hardwood, evergreen, and flowering trees, and it has annual, biennial, and perennial flowers. Recycled and re-used objects are scattered throughout the park. The park offers breathtaking views of Birmingham at its highest point.

1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 521 9933

Sloss Furnaces

Colonel James Withers Sloss was a merchant and railroad man who contributed to Birmingham’s foundation. He convinced the L&N Railroad to complete the South and North rail line through the Jones Valley. He founded Sloss Furnaces after he helped form the Pratt Coke and Coal Company. A fifty-acre site was donated by the Elyton Land Company and in June 1881 the construction of Sloss Furnaces began. Sloss Furnaces was the first of its type built in Birmingham. In its first year, it sold 24,000 tons of iron. In 1981, the company became a National Historic Landmark, and currently, the furnaces produce 400 tons of iron. The original furnaces no longer exist due to reconstruction and remodeling. The imposing site will give visitors interested in industrial development an insight into Birmingham’s industrial background.

20 32nd St N, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 324 1911

Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art is dedicated to providing an unparalleled cultural and educational experience for the diverse Birmingham community by collecting, presenting, interpreting, and preserving works of art. There are more than 26,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and decorative arts in the museum. Visitors can enjoy works from Asian, European, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American cultures. The galleries of the museum host changing exhibitions. This is the ideal location to experience art crossing genres from different centuries and locations.

2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Blvd, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 254 2565

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame was founded in 1978. Its museum opened on September 18, 1993. The mission of the hall is to educate and foster an appreciation of jazz music. This genre is an original and distinctive art form indigenous to America loved around the world. The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame showcases a continued and sustained program illuminating Alabama’s contribution to jazz music. When visitors tour the museum they’ll immerse themselves in the rich musical heritage. The museum sponsors jazz performances throughout the city and brings jazz to local students. One of the tour guides, Dr. Frank Adams, uses his personal charm and vivid anecdotes to paint pictures of jazz history during the tours.

1631 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 327 9424

McWane Science Center

McWane Science Center aims to change people’s minds through science and wonder. To accomplish this mission, the center provides unique hands-on experiences that children, parents and teachers will love. There are many permanent exhibits, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy Just Mice Size, Alabama Dinosaurs, Fox 6 Weather Lab, World of Water Aquarium, and Shark and Ray Touch Tank. The museum strives to inspire children through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students are encouraged to learn by exploring the center, asking questions, and creating their own hypotheses.

200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 714 8300

Birmingham Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo is Alabama’s most famous attraction. Each year, more than 575,000 visitors visit the zoo. There are 950 animals of 230 species in this place. The entire zoo extends over 122-acres and is home to sea lions, rhinos, and endangered species from all over the world. In 1999, Birmingham Zoo became a non-profit organization. Visitors can observe bats, koalas, black-footed penguins, a komodo dragon and the interactive lorikeet aviary. Currently, the zoo is working on elephant conservation. Through the exhibit ‘Trails of Africa’ the zoo cares for and protects threatened elephants. Birmingham Zoo ensures all wildlife is valued and cared for.

2630 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 873 0409

Barber Motorsports Park

Barber Motorsports Park is a 740 acres multipurpose racing facility. George Barber constructed the park and established the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum. The museum is a non-profit organization and is considered the largest philanthropic project in Alabama. Alan Wilson designed the park’s road course, a 17 turn 2.38 mile course which is meant to be ran clockwise. There are plenty of elevation changes on the course. The two cut-off turns allow the track to be shortened for club events and testing sessions. Barber Motorsports Park hosts many races, such as Grand Am, Pirelli World Challenge, Vintage Racing Series events, and the Verizon IndyCar Series.

6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 699 7275

Alabama Theatre

In 1927, Alabama Theatre was built by the Paramount-Publix Corporation. Construction cost $1.5 million and took eight months. The historic building was one of the first buildings to have air conditioning. Approximately 2,500 people can be accommodated in the theater which during its early stages was home to the Mickey Mouse Club. In 1933, children would meet every Saturday and perform for each other. They would watch Mickey Mouse cartoons and participate in various activities. Alabama Theatre was also a place where silent films were shown, the Mighty Wurlitzer organ was used as the instrument for the movies. Thanks to this organ the theater was saved from demolition. Birmingham Landmarks Inc. purchased the organ and building in 1987, and Alabama Theatre is currently non-profit organization.

1817 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 252 2262

Bottega Café

Bottega Café is a cozy Italian restaurant serving lunch and dinner. The menu celebrates Italian cuisine while offering the best seasonal ingredients of the American South. Bottega Café invites patrons to have a seat on the patio and enjoy a chilled glass of wine with antipasti, homemade chips, charred onion dip, or a refreshing salad. The airy dining area has Pompeii red walls which create a warm ambiance. The kitchen’s centerpiece is a wood-fired oven, which is great for making crisp pizzas, roasted vegetables, meats and seafood. The amazing food and the lively atmosphere make Bottega Café a great spot for locals and visitors to hang out.

Address & telephone number: 2240 Highland Ave S, Birmingham, AL, USA +1 205 939 1000