Top 10 Things to do in Birmingham
Birmingham is a city like no other! Get lost in its deeply rooted traditions and its colorful history when you visit the following museums, landmarks, and Birmingham attractions. Learn about Birmingham’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. Walk the hallowed ground of the derelicts of the steel industry. Peruse 19th century textiles and paintings in an old plantation home. All these and more await you in “The Magic City!”
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
- Birmingham Museum of Art
- Sloss Furnaces
- McWane Science Center
- Auto Racing
- Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
- Vulcan Park and Museum
- Birmingham Botanical Gardens
- Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens
- Birmingham Zoo
Birmingham caught worldwide attention in 1963 when the peaceful Birmingham Campaign – led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – ended in a season of racial violence. All eyes turned to Birmingham when 4 young African American girls were murdered in a church bombed by the Ku Klux Clan and when nonviolent protestors were assaulted with high-pressure fire hoses. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute promotes civil and human rights through education. Its proximity to Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church – where the racially-motivated violent acts were committed during the Civil Rights Movement – only lend it context. To learn more about this most important of Birmingham attractions visit: www.BCRI.org.
Alabama’s largest art museum houses over 24,000 works dating back 4,000 years. The museum’s Asian art collection is one of the largest in the Southeast and includes the country’s finest Vietnamese ceramics collections. To learn more about these and other Birmingham attractions at the Museum of Art go to: www.ArtsBMA.org.
Sloss Furnaces represent Birmingham’s industrial past: these blast furnaces used to manufacture the iron contributing to the city’s boom. The ground is famed to be haunted by the ghosts of workers long dead and ghost hunting shows and books have zeroed in on Sloss Furnaces as a site of paranormal activity. To take your spooky tour of these derelicts – one of the coolest things to do in Birmingham – go to: www.SlossFurnaces.com.
McWane Science Center may be Birmingham’s most interactive museum! Explore sharks and rays in the Center’s new Touch Tank at the aquarium. Great for kids, this museum offers many challenges designed to get children thinking, including a combination safe that will only unlock after you do the math! View yourself in an anti-gravity mirror, or lie on a bed of nails! If you are looking for fun things to do in Birmingham, look no further! To learn more go to: www.McWane.org.
Birmingham is the premiere spot for amateur and professional car racing! Home to the famed Talladega Superspeedway – which hosts some of the most competitive NASCAR races – and Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham is an epicenter of racing culture and history. Both tracks are adjacent to museums: the Talladega Superspeedway International Motorsports Hall of Fame Museum and the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum are sure to rev your engines! The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum owns the largest collection of vintage motorcycles in the world! So, whether you are rooting for your favorite driver, perusing the Hall of Fame, or getting your hands dirty in an amateur race of your own, you are bound to have a blast! To view Talladega Superspeedway go to: www.TalladegaSuperSpeedway.com. For Barber Motorsports Park visit: www.BarberMotorsports.com.
You can’t visit Birmingham without indulging in some of the jazz that shaped its culture. At the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, special notice is taken to Alabama native musicians and their contributions to the larger music scene. Learn more about Erskine Hawkins, Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, and the great Duke Ellington through many displays and recorded performances. To learn more about this important celebration of the roots of Southern music go to: www.JazzHall.com.
If you are looking for fun things to do in Birmingham, Vulcan Park is a must-see! The focal point of the park is a statue of the Roman god of the forge – Vulcan – the largest cast iron statue in the world! Vulcan has come to be a symbol of Birmingham’s industrial past, and the Vulcan Park Museum puts the story in context. Ride the elevator to the top to get an up-close-and-personal look at the statue, and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Birmingham skyline from 56-feet high! To learn more about this Birmingham icon go to: www.VisitVulcan.com.
This Birmingham treasure is Alabama’s biggest living museum and features over 10,000 plant species. The only public space to display a Southern Living Garden, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is unique and dedicated to preserving tradition and conserving indigenous species. To learn more about Birmingham attractions at the Botanical Gardens go to: www.bbgardens.org.
This Greek revival mansion was built by one of the founders of Birmingham in the 1840s. The only surviving antebellum home in Birmingham, this plantation also serves as a decorative arts museum as well as a representation of what life was like before the Civil War in Alabama. To learn more about this living history museum go to: www.InformationBirmingham.com.
This Birmingham attraction houses over 750 animals and endangered species from 6 continents. The newly completed Children’s Zoo is innovative in its attempt to connect children with wildlife and teach children about the importance of conservation and preservation. Taking a special interest in species indigenous to Alabama, the Birmingham Zoo is a step forward to a greener future. To learn more about things to do in Birmingham at the zoo go to: www.BirminghamZoo.com.