Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Birmingham, AL

  • Published 2022/10/27

Founded in 1871 by the Elyton Land Company, Birmingham in Jefferson County was initially known for being rich in iron ore, coal, and limestone, the main minerals used to make steel.

Aside from playing a huge role in steel production, Birmingham is also known for playing an instrumental part in the Civil Rights Movement.

Over the years, Birmingham developed further, entering the banking, biotechnology, construction, and engineering industries, among others.

Besides these accomplishments and historical inputs, the city has numerous tourist attractions you won’t find anywhere else.

Check out the best things to do in Birmingham, Alabama!

Take a Picture of Vulcan at the Vulcan Park and Museum

Daytime view of Vulcan Park and Museum's statue

RYO Alexandre /

Nothing says you’ve been to Birmingham more than a picture of one of the city’s most prized possessions, the Vulcan statue.

Located at the Vulcan Park and Museum, Vulcan is a colossal statue that Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti designed.

It’s the world’s largest cast iron statue, overlooking Birmingham atop the Red Statue since the 1930s.

Exterior of Vulcan Park and Museum

Greg Willis from Denver, CO, usa, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a picture of this 50-ton statue, and enjoy the amenities of the surrounding park after your mini photoshoot.

You’ll learn a lot about Vulcan and Birmingham as you walk around and admire the ambient atmosphere surrounding the area.

Check Out the Exhibits at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Exterior of the Birmingham Museum of Art

Tim Daugherty /

If you’re fascinated by the diversity of art, you’re sure to have a great time viewing the exhibits and collections housed at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Located along Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Blvd, the Birmingham Museum of Art is home to over 27,000 paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings, and decorative art pieces covering different periods.

The museum opened its doors in 1951 and has since become an art capital for the people of Birmingham.

Look at prized displays like the Portrait of the van der Graeff Family, Landing of Columbus, Tomb Tiles, and much more.

The museum features hundreds of work types, from prints and plates to photographs and jewelry.

Enjoy the Relaxing View at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Conservatory at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Go on a relaxing stroll around the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and watch the flowers in full bloom during your visit.

Located along Lane Park Rd, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens encompasses 67 acres and over two dozen scenic garden spaces, producing myriad colors cascading along the fields.

There are over 20 attractions inside, each with unique, blooming plants that make up a specific garden theme.

Flora at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Pass through the iconic red torii at the Japanese Garden to look at the pruned shrubs and trees.

Swing by the Kaul Wildflower Garden, check out over 200 species of native plants found in Alabama, or walk towards the Lord & Burnham Conservatory and enjoy the stunning view of the sun-filled glasshouse.

Aerial view of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Winslow Liggett /

Greet the Animals at the Birmingham Zoo

Aerial view of Birmingham Zoo

Felix Mizioznikov /

Make your way to the Birmingham Zoo, and get the chance to greet your friends from the animal kingdom.

Located along Cahaba Rd, Birmingham Zoo brings you closer to animals from around the world.

Over 550 animals of 180 species and six endangered species found across various continents roam the grounds of this 122-acre site.

Gorilla in Birmingham Zoo

Dane Jorgensen /

Besides viewing these animals from a safe distance, you can enjoy other activities to make the most out of your trip.

Feel free to chat with the sea lions, walk with the goats, hang out at the Lorikeet Aviary, or spend some time at the children’s zoo barn.

Macaw at Birmingham Zoo

Ralph Daily, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Practice Your Swings at Topgolf

Whether you’re a pro golfer or picking up a club for the first time, you will have a blast playing a high-tech game of golf at Topgolf.

Topgolf is one of Birmingham’s premier entertainment centers that offer year-round climate-controlled hitting bays for everyone to enjoy.

There are over seven games to try in this Birmingham attraction, each with its thrilling challenges.

Try your hand playing a game of Quick 9, which will test your accuracy, or engage in a friendly competition of Top Score.

Top Chip is also a popular game in this entertainment center, adding stakes to your shots and tricks.

After having fun, head to the local restaurant to prepare great food or have a round of drinks by the sports bar.

Discover the Earth’s Secrets at the McWane Science Center

Exterior of the McWane Science Center

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Science enthusiasts will enjoy the exhibits at the McWane Science Center on 19th St.

The McWane Science Center takes guests on a thrilling educational journey that will ignite their curiosity about various phenomena.

Learn about the creatures of the deep when you swing by the shark and ray tank or walk towards the Rushton Science Theater to see a real-life Tesla coil.

Dinosaur skeleton displayed in the McWane Science Center

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

There’s also a bubble room that lets you make your bubbles while learning about the science of suds.

On the third floor, there’s an art and tech gallery that lets you play in the colorful sand, merge your face with your friends or even get a glimpse of digital butterflies floating around.

Exhibit in the McWane Science Center

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

See the Greats at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Exterior of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Chris Pruitt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re one of the many sports enthusiasts visiting Birmingham, you can’t possibly leave the city without stopping by the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

This Birmingham attraction on Richard Arrington Jr Blvd recognizes the most notable sports personalities and houses thousands of memorabilia from various sporting events.

The museum covers a total of 33,000 square feet with three stories, containing over 6,000 pieces of sports memorabilia.

Each inductee recognized in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame has memorabilia displayed in the facility, beginning with the first induction class of 1969.

From Joe Louis and Jesse Owens to Lillie Leatherwood and Ben Wallace, all the big names in sports are recognized in this museum.

Embark on a Nature Adventure at Red Mountain Park

Fall scene at Red Mountain Park

Bob Pool /

Reconnect with nature and discover the fantastic views surrounding Birmingham when you embark on a thrilling adventure at Red Mountain Park.

Red Mountain is a long ride along the southern end of Birmingham, dividing the Jones and Shades Valleys.

Enjoy many outdoor activities at Red Mountain, such as going on a walk or biking along the trails, or simply wandering around the 1,500 forested-acre parks.

Red Mountain Park is also a pet-friendly area, so your furry friends are more than welcome to enjoy the park grounds.

At night, hang out at one of the three breathtaking treehouses in the area and enjoy the scenic view of the Birmingham and Alabama skyline.

Check Out the Heaviest Corner on Earth

Marker of the Heaviest Corner on Earth

Michael Gordon /

The corner of 20th St and 1st Ave in Birmingham might not seem like an area you’d call “the heaviest corner on earth.”

The corner earned its name during the 20th century when four of the tallest buildings in the South were built there simultaneously.

If you make your way to this corner in Birmingham, you’ll see the ten-story Woodward Building, 16-story Brown Marx Building, the 16-story Empire Building, and the American Trust and Savings Bank Building.

You’ll also see a marker by the sidewalk outside the Empire Building describing the area’s historical significance.

All four buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places as an entire historic district in 1985.

Try Your Luck at Locked in: the Birmingham Escape Game

Those looking for a challenging experience in Birmingham will have a great time testing their wits at Locked in: The Birmingham Escape Game.

This Birmingham entertainment center takes guests on an exciting and thrilling experience as they hunt for clues and solve puzzles to achieve their goals.

See beyond what’s in front of you when you begin cracking the codes needed to escape the room.

There are at least three escape rooms you can choose from, all of which have various difficulty levels.

The easiest escape room would likely be the warehouse where you’re tasked to find proof of conspiracy, while the classroom leaves you inside an abandoned schoolhouse with a cryptic riddle on the board.

Learn about the Civil Rights Movement at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Exterior of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Located along 16th St is the famed Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a museum that houses a collection of archives and sites instrumental in the civil rights movement.

This modern museum also serves as the city’s connection to the Birmingham Civil Rights Monument.

Walking around the museum, you’ll see various replicas of sites instrumental to the movement.

Interior of the the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Brett Welcher /

Get a glimpse of a segregated city during the 1950s, or check out a replica of the Freedom Riders Bus.

Perhaps the most exciting display you’ll see inside the museum is the actual door of the jail cell where Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

Rosa Parks sculpture in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swing by Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Daytime view of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

NatalieSchorr /

There are a lot of historical places to visit in Birmingham, but perhaps one of the most important ones you shouldn’t miss out on is the Sloss Furnaces.

Sloss Furnaces operated between 1882 and 1970 as the world’s largest manufacturer of pig iron.

Today, it still carries a considerable amount of historical significance for the people of Birmingham as an instrumental monument during the Industrial Revolution.

Pathway at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Jimmy Rooney /

In 1983, Sloss Furnaces was converted into a museum, offering a unique visiting experience where guests can get a glimpse of Birmingham’s industrial roots.

You can go on a self-guided tour around this museum on 73rd St and learn about the materials, products, and the crew who helped run the furnaces that helped transform the city.

Exterior of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Hang Out at the Birmingham Railroad Park

The waters of Birmingham Railroad Park

ESB Professional /

Find out what it feels like to live like a local when you hang out at the Birmingham Railroad Park.

The 19-acre green space is in downtown Birmingham where most of the busy streets are, giving you the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the local scene.

The Birmingham Railroad Park is also hailed as “Birmingham’s Living Room” since it’s a popular venue for hosting various events and concerts that everyone can enjoy.

The grounds of Birmingham Railroad Park

Paul Brady Photography /

If you’re lucky enough, you might catch regular events at the local park, including exercise classes, nutrition seminars, cooking classes, and financial forums.

There are also special events like fun runs and concerts held in various months, so be sure to watch out for some of the dates of these gatherings.

The Boxcar Cafe at Railroad Park offers outdoor seating where you can indulge in great food while spending time with your loved ones and admiring the view.

People walking along Birmingham Railroad Park

Jimmy Rooney /

Visit the Southern Museum of Flight

Vietnam Starfighter at the Southern Museum of Flight

qwesy qwesy, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you visit the Southern Museum of Flight on 73rd St, you learn more about aviation history in the south.

This flight museum in Birmingham takes tourists on an in-depth learning experience that tackles civilian, military, and experimental aircraft and their development.

The facility encompasses a total of 75,000 square feet with over 100 aircraft.

Aircraft on the grounds of Southern Museum of Flight

Civilengtiger, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll also see a vast collection of engines, models, artifacts, photographs, and paintings related to southern aviation technology and history.

The Historical Flight and Airplane Museum is also home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame, containing over 70 biographical plaques on Alabama aviation history.

Beechcraft starship at Southern Museum of Flight

Civilengtiger, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Stick to this list of the best things to do in Birmingham, and you should have a blast in one of the greatest cities in the south.

Prepare to have fun, learn, and create new memories by embarking on new adventures in Birmingham, Alabama.

Book your trip today!

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