A Visitors Guide To Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama, is a multifaceted Southern city full of activities for families with kids of all ages. With lush parks, ample green spaces, a children’s museum, a zoo, a hip yet family-friendly restaurant scene, sports teams and a rich civil rights history, it’s not surprising that it’s recent growth, revitalization of it’s downtown, and booming suburbs, caught the eye of the International World Games Association and was chosen to be the host city to the 2022 World Games. Whether you’re planning a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation for your family, you will find Birmingham is the perfect mix of attractions, events and accommodations.

Since visiting Birmingham during the spring and fall is considered the off season, it’s not only economical but it’s mild year round temperatures will give you the perfect weather for outdoor activities like exploring some of the best hiking trails in the south or checking out one of their many festivals. Summer months bring warmer temps, more travelers looking for the opportunity to enjoy the lakes, and events that celebrate the eclectic food scene.

Here are the top things for families to know when visiting Birmingham.

How to Get There:

Fly into Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, less than 5 miles from the downtown city center and minutes away from many local attractions.

Where to Stay:

Many hotels around Birmingham offer charm and historical ambiance and are convenient to downtown and surrounding areas.

The Redmont Hotel Birmingham, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, is the oldest-running hotel in Birmingham, outfitted with contemporary luxury. First opened in 1925, it was completely restored in 2016 with careful attention to original details, such as the crystal chandelier, beautiful marble staircase and wrought-iron handrail.

The Westin Birmingham offers generous sized rooms, a rooftop pool and stunning views of the city skyline.

The Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham/Lakeshore Drive features spacious rooms, an indoor pool and close proximity to restaurants and Red Mountain Park, just minutes from downtown proper.

What to See and Do:

Downtown Birmingham

If you only have a short time to explore Birmingham, start downtown. You’ll find a trifecta of children’s activities, city history and dining options.

McWane Science Center is four floors of science and discovery, with exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to space travel, an aquarium and touch tank, and an Imax Dome Theater. The center is open seven days a week and has paid parking on-site.

Pizitz Food Hall, directly across the street from McWane Science Center, will satisfy the family’s taste buds with an exciting collection of food stalls that offer a wide range of cuisines from well-known local chefs. It serves as a tribute to culinary tradition as well as Birmingham’s growing status as an ambitious food city, thanks to it’s array of honors and ample selection of both casual and fine dining options.

Railroad Park, a 19-acre green space in the middle of downtown, is commonly referred to as “Birmingham’s Living Room” for its ability to bring people together for outdoor recreation. On any given day you will find family exercise classes, concerts performed by the local symphony, festivals and events supporting local groups and charities. Stroll around the lake or grab a smoked sausage dog and french fries from the Boxcar Café for lunch on the sprawling lawn.

Regions Field, home of the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team, is a must-see for baseball fans visiting from April to September. Regions Field incorporates a variety of family fun for fans of all ages, including a mini wiffle-ball field, playground equipment, batting cages and a fun zone with inflatables. If you attend a game on Friday, stick around afterward for a spectacular fireworks show. The SwitchYard on 14th serves up brewpub food and is open during Barons home games and the rest of the year.

What to See and Do: The Outdoors

Birmingham is home to miles of natural beauty and makes the perfect outdoor adventure for any family.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is one of the top free attractions in the city. Walk through 30 distinct gardens on the 60-acre grounds, each focusing on a particular plant type (such as hostas, lilies or woodland trees) or design style (such as a vegetable garden or one for people with different physical abilities). In the popular Japanese Garden, kids will love to look for colorful koi and explore the bonsai house. After a relaxing morning in nature, try some of the best finger sandwiches to ever touch your mouth, at Ousler in Mountain Brook, just a half-mile from the gardens.

The Birmingham Zoo is a staple for families. From Trails of Africa to the Children’s Zoo and everything in-between, the Birmingham Zoo features animals from all over the world, easily making it one of the state’s most popular attractions. If you visit during the summer, make sure to pack a swimsuit, as the kids will love splashing around the splash pad. Located just across the street from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, visiting both attractions is the perfect way to spend one of your days in Birmingham.

Alabama’s largest park, Oak Mountain State Park is about 20 miles south of downtown Birmingham and has ample room for hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding and camping. The 25 miles of hiking trails range in difficulty to provide many options for adventurous families. One of the most popular hikes is on the Blue Trail, which leads to King’s Chair and the park’s most impressive view of the valley below. On the park’s lakes, you can kayak, paddleboard, canoe and fish; during the summer months, you can climb a floating obstacle course. Car camping and cabin camping are available year-round.

Moss Rock Preserve, about 15 miles south of downtown Birmingham, features 12 miles of trails amid waterfalls and streams and large rock outcroppings that are ideal for bouldering (rock climbing without the need for equipment). Dozens of climbing routes appeal to a wide range of skills, from beginner to experienced. After a long day of exploring, enjoy a plate of tacos at family-friendly Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila or some pizza at Vecchia.

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