Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, Birmingham has dramatic topography with mountains and rolling hills inviting natural outdoor exploration. This is an active community that protects and enjoys its lush environmental wonders. Along the way, visitors embrace the generous Southern hospitality of the area. Here are just a few places to explore and enjoy:
Red Mountain Park – Begin your day at this beautiful park, the site of one of the most ambitious and historically significant park projects in America. These 1,500 acres along the Red Mountain Ridge mark the spot where Birmingham began. The land was once the site of extensive iron ore mining that fueled Birmingham’s early industrial empire. With the closing of the mines more than a generation ago, Red Mountain Park now is a vital urban green space for a new generation. Red Mountain Park has more than 15 miles of trails with two city overlooks.
The Birmingham Zoo – After a morning of history and hiking, make a visit to the home of more than 700 animals of 230 species, including sea lions, rhinos, and endangered species from six continents. Timed ticketing allows visitors convenient and safe access to the wonders of the animal world. Ask about the “Outdoor Only Experience” at the zoo.
Vulcan Park and Museum - Close out the day at the world’s largest cast iron statue. Birmingham’s entry in the 1904 World’s Fair stands high atop Red Mountain for a panoramic view of the city below. Representing the Roman god of the forge, the statue was cast in Birmingham foundries using Birmingham iron and took first place in the fair competition. Vulcan has a long and interesting history. Find out more about the statue in the adjacent museum.
Aldridge Gardens – Start your morning with a visit to the beautiful and peaceful Aldridge Gardens in the heart of nearby Hoover. The 30-acre expanse is well known for its hydrangeas, including the delicate Snowflake Hydrangea, patented by the gardens’ owner and the official flower of Hoover. Also on the property is a five-acre lake and a half-mile walking trail. Art exhibits often are underway at Aldridge Gardens.
Alabama Splash Adventure (seasonal) – Then pack up the swimsuits and towels and head out to a theme park filled with thrilling rides and water adventures. The Twister and Neptune’s Plunge send riders sliding and gliding through spiraling twists and turns. Head over to The Rampage, a world-class wooden roller coaster that takes riders 120 feet off the ground and back down at 56 miles per hour. This visit can be a full day of fun and excitement.
Kelly Ingram Park – This historic park in the heart of downtown Birmingham served as a gathering spot for protestors and marches during the turbulent years of the early 1960s. Some of the most indelible moments in America’s Civil Rights Movement took place in the park. It was a revolution for equality and justice. Statues throughout the park depict the infamous police dogs and fire hoses turned on demonstrators by Birmingham police. Across the street is Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, site of the 1963 race-related bombing that killed four little girls in the church basement. Park statuary includes “Four Spirits,” a tribute to the girls who were killed in the bombing. A free cell phone tour guides visitors through the events that took place in the park in 1963. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is across the street from the church.
Downtown Walking Tour – While you’re in the downtown area, take a walk through the history and the architecture of the city. Though Birmingham is a relatively young city, the distinctive and impressive buildings have interesting backstories. From Victorian-Gothic churches to “the heaviest corner on earth,” buildings along the tour emphasize their diverse architectural styles.
Moss Rock Preserve/Boulder Field – Put on your hiking shoes and head out to the Birmingham suburb of Hoover for an afternoon at Moss Rock Preserve. This 350-acre nature preserve is filled with forest systems, waterfalls, wildlife, and large rock outcroppings. The Preserve’s Boulder Field is a favorite among rock climbers of all skill levels, and hikers enjoy 12 miles of trails through the nature preserve.
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Photos Courtesy of Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau