Top 8 Highlights for a Short Birmingham Stop on Your US Road Trip

Life-sized figures are used to show the emotional impact of segregation and overcoming it at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

 

One or two days in Birmingham during your road trip across the USA? 

 

Here are some reasons to put a visit to this city on your itinerary---

 

1. Civil Rights Tour

 

A stained glass window donated to the 16th Street Baptist Church, site of one of the many bombings that had once earned the city the name of "Bombingham"

 

If your schedule only allows one day in Birmingham you won’t do better than devoting it en toto to a Birmingham Civil Rights Tour.  This includes the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, driving around the city to follow the Civil Rights Heritage Trail, visiting the historic 4th Avenue Business District, visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church, and more, as your schedule allows. 

 

16th Street Baptist Church. Photo courtesy of Renaissance Ross Bridge Resort and Spa

 

You will get to re-live many of the greatest moments in democracy in the late 19th Century.   This alone makes Birmingham well worth a stop on your US Road Trip itinerary.

 

2.  Sloss Furnaces Historic National Landmark

 

Sloss Furnaces

 

Prepare to get awed by this reminder of how industry was built in the US. 

 

One of many barber shops in the historic 4th Avenue Business District

 

 

You may imagine you see and hear the ghosts of workers who lost their lives in this monumental homage to how fast-growing industrial powerhouse Birmingham got the nickname of “the Magic City”.

 

3.  Farm-to-Table Fare for Foodies

 

Hot and Hot Fish Club

 

Ask anyone in Birmingham what makes their city special and you will likely hear them short list the city’s award-winning chefs and trendy restaurants.  On the short list of that short list is Highlands and Hot and Hot Fish Club.

 

HIghlands Bar & Grill

 

4.  Golf

 

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa has one of the nation's best golf courses. Photo courtesy of Renaissance Ross Bridge Rosort & Spa

 

How brilliant of the Retirement Systems of Alabama to subsidize their members visiting one of the state’s many top tier golf courses. 

 

If you are a golf enthusiast you probably already know about Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa.   Road trippers looking for a comfy restful spot just outside Birmingham proper might take note too.

 

Barber Motorsports Museum attracts car and motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world

 

5.  Vulcan Park and Museum

 

Photo courtesy of Vulcan Park and Museum

 

If your visit to Birmingham is very brief—or if you like to take in the panorama view of where you are- head to Birmingham’s equivalent of New York City’s Statue of Liberty—Vulcan Park and Museum.   The Museum packs a pithy history of the city into it’s small space.

 

6.  Recharge in Nature

 

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve gives any weary road tripper a place to breathe and relax-- -and meanwhile learn a lot about the natural flora and fauna of Alabama.

 

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve has many animal ambassadors

 

7.  Ribs and More Stick-to-Your-Ribs Southern Food

 

Soul food at Rib-it-Up

 

Proud residents of the city who crow about Birmingham’s award winning chefs may have forgotten to mention the great ribs, soul food and Southern cooking that they perhaps take for granted. 

 

Bogue's -- a breakfast place that is a Birmingham institution

 

Bogues is a city institution for breakfast where the real people go.  We found Rib-it-Up to be not only convenient when doing a downtown tour but also quite tasty. 

 

8.  Chat it UP!-- Feel the Birmingham Zeitgeist

 

For those of us used to huge cranes and urban density, Birmingham at first blush doesn’t look much like a happening place. 

 

But if you take time to talk to people who live there—and especially the 20 –somethings who may have moved to Birmingham from sleepier parts of the South—you’ll see it differently.  Through their eyes you’ll begin to notice the loft conversions that identify the trendier areas. 

 

You also may meet one or more people who reference the University of Alabama School of Medicine as being at the forefront of global medical research. 

 

Birmingham Museum of Art

 

Go to the Birmingham Museum of Art and chat up someone in its gift shop and you too may find someone eager to point out that the museum is “just as good if not better” than Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

 

Then there’s that “niceness” factor.  Almost everyone we asked said that Birmingham was different because people are nicer there.  By the end of Day one of your visit you may come to think that way too.

 

For a treasure trove of information on Birmingham tourism highlights visit the inBirmingham website.  

 

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Photos:  Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated

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