Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Birmingham, Alabama, and its region appeals to serious history buffs and weekend explorers alike. A center of civil right history, Birmingham is a true testament of the times for civil rights and what it meant to stand up and fight for simple human rights and decency.
What to see
Birmingham Civil Rights District
For all history buffs and enthusiasts alike, walking through the Civil Rights District will surely be a walk through a rich, vibrant, but also a turbulent part of our nation’s history.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has detailed exhibits that will transport you to what life was like for African American and white families alike in the area, from the early 1800’s to present times.
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church & Kelly Ingram Park
The church has been designated a National Historical Landmark recently and is the site of a violent dynamite bombing in 1963 that killed 4 young African American girls. Pay silent respect or a prayer in the park, where a life-sized sculpture of the young girls is immortalized.
Bethel Baptist Church
Another site of an immense tragedy, where the Reverend Frederick Lee Shuttlesworth – pastor of the church – was bombed by white supremacists in 1958. This church is the birthplace of the civil right movement in the area.
Birmingham Museum of Art
One of the most colorful and rich art museums, with an expansive collection of African art – from musical instruments to textiles. This place is historically and creatively unique, full of interesting artifacts and objects. Definitely stay for lunch. Oscar’s at the Museum is not only airy and beautiful to spend some time, the food is delicious too.
The theater was built in 1914 and through extensive restoration looks as stunning as ever. While closed until early 2021, it’s still a sight to see – especially all lit up in the evening. A must see while visiting Birmingham, Alabama.
Encompassing 183 acres, this historical village will transport you back in time to America as it was fighting and finding its path towards independence, liberties, and civil and human rights. Highlights from this tour include Washington Hall, a replica of the White House Oval Office and East Room, Concord Bridge, and Colonial Chapel. One of the best outdoor museums, located outside Birmingham Alabama.
Ave Maria Grotto
For half a century, Brother Joseph Zoettl used various building materials, including marbles and shells to create over 125 mini replicas of world-famous sites such as Jerusalem, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and much more.
The Grotto is situated in a 4-acre landscaped park within the Benedictine Abbey and Monastery.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
Alabama Wildlife Center
Take a self-guided tour through the Treetop Nature Trail. This beautiful, elevated walkway in the woods features close-up looks at endangered species of hawks and owls in their natural habitat.
A place for the young (and the young at heart), observing wildlife is always fun. Here, you can see some of the species up close and get personal with Giraffe and Lorikeet feedings. Birmingham Zoo is also a national leader in the protection and conservation of an endangered species of wild elephants. This 122 acre site with species from 6 continents is the perfect place to spend a day.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
The Garden’s 67.5 acres are filled with beautifully landscaped pathways, lush greenery, stunning water features, and flowers galore. Get lost in the tranquility of thematic landscapes like the Japanese gardens, the old fashioned rose garden or Fern glade.
Admission is FREE
Oak Mountain State Park
Located 17 miles south of Birmingham, this 10,000 acres has everything an outdoor heart could desire – sandy beaches, watersports, swimming, fishing, and hiking galore. An 18 hole golf course awaits those preferring a more relaxing and leisurely outdoor activity.
The state park also offers different types of camping – from the primitive tent types to full hook-ups for RVs.