Top Recommended Layover Activities:
1. Riverchase Galleria
With the largest skylight in the western hemisphere situated atop a nine-story glass atrium, the Riverchase Galleria is considered one of Birmingham's must-see landmarks. Not only does the Galleria comprise 200-plus specialty shops and several large department stores, but it also boasts more than 30 eateries, indoor landscaping and fountains, arcades, a NASCAR simulator and a merry-go-round.
2. Vulcan Park
Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, has stood guard over Birmingham since 1939. (The scantily clad statue's bare behind is called the "moon over Homewood", the city situated posterior to him.) The second tallest statue in the United States (after the Statue of Liberty) and the tallest cast-iron statue in the world, the big guy is currently dismantled for repairs. When he is on duty, Vulcan's torch glows red if there has been a city traffic fatality in the previous 24 hours; it is green on other days. Visitors can take an elevator to the Vulcan's observation deck, which offers extraordinary views of the city. Admission is USD1 per person and free for children younger than 6.
Phone: +1 205 254 6020
Open Hours: 8am-10:30pm daily
3. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
Located at First Avenue North and 32nd Street, Sloss Furnace is literally the birthplace of the city of Birmingham. The furnaces, restored in 1983, were constructed in 1882 and produced steel for more than 90 years. In addition to the impressive furnaces, there is an industrial museum (with a slide show translated into 10 languages), a sculpture garden and a park. The furnaces are occasionally the site of concerts and festivals, but otherwise admission is free. This is one of the most fascinating places in Birmingham.
Phone: +1 205 324 1911
Open Hours: 10am-4pm Tue-Sat; noon-4pm Sun
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1. Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham's warm climate ensures that something is always blooming at the Botanical Gardens. Enjoy spring azaleas, summer roses, fall leaves and winter camellias as you tour the extensive grounds. Or, step inside the Southeast's largest clear-span glass greenhouse to enjoy orchids and other tropicals. Visit the Japanese Tea House and Garden and the Southern Living Garden, plus vegetable, fern, iris and other special gardens. Other attractions include the Gatehouse Gift Shop, a cafe and a library. Lectures, demonstrations, concerts and other events occur almost daily; inquire for a schedule. Admission is free. All paths are wheelchair and stroller-accessible.
2. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
One of the most interesting destinations in the area, this park is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Birmingham. Tannehill was the site of a large Civil War-era blast furnace that was destroyed by Union troops in 1865. Accompanying the restored furnace are a museum and, in the summer, working artisans recreating rural Alabama life circa the 1840s. There are also several hiking trails, as well as cabins for rent and a campground. The park is open daily. Admission is USD2 for adults and USD1 for seniors and children.
Phone: +1 205 477 5711
Open Hours: 8am-8pm daily
3. Oak Mountain State Park
Said to be the best place in the state to mountain bike, Oak Mountain State Park offers 9,400 acres of beautiful central Alabama outdoors space. Its features include 18 miles of bike trails, 20 miles of horse trails, camping, cabins and beaches. There is also a demonstration farm with livestock and a wildlife rehabilitation center. Golfing, boating, fishing, swimming and hiking are all available as well, and picnic areas and restrooms are situated throughout the grounds. The park is approximately a 30-minute drive south from the city center. There is a $1 entrance fee.
Phone: +1 205 620 2524
Open Hours: Vary with season - usually 7am-sundown.