A Patchwork Quilt: Hit the Highlights of Birmingham’s Top Attraction
Just two days to tour? Here’s how to see some of everything…
Day #1: Wake up the animals at The Birmingham Zoo! Orientation begins with a train ride around the grounds—all ages love this steam locomotive. See the Predator Zone, the Sea Lion Splash Show, and the amazing Trails of Africa with the rare feature of having an all-male herd of African elephants.
Just across the street from the zoo, the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens blanket more than 67 acres. Twenty-five themed areas include a massive conservatory, the Southern Wildflower Garden and the Japanese Garden with authentic teahouse. Make reservations to lunch at The Gardens Café where the menu of local ingredients changes seasonally.
It doesn’t take a motorsports enthusiast to appreciate the country’s most stunning collection of cars and motorcycles at Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. The museum houses more than 1,200 vintage and modern motorcycles and an extensive collection of Lotus cars, along with other significant makes. And every vehicle in the museum is in working order.
A fine way to wrap up a day of touring is with a Birmingham Barons baseball game at the new Regions Field. The team plays in the Southern League and is the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The menu at the park goes far beyond peanuts and Crackerjacks with everything from “Magic City dogs” to Dreamland barbeque.
When it’s not baseball season, tours find grand evening entertainment with performances by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra or the Alabama Ballet. Especially popular with group tours are the Alabama Ballet’s seasonal performances of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.”
Day #2: Let’s make this an artsy kind of day with the first stop at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The museum holds a rich panorama of cultures, including Asian, European, African, Pre-Columbian and Native American. Highlights include the museum’s collection of Asian art, the collection of 18th century European decorative arts, and the museum’s world-renowned collection of Wedgwood. The museum also regularly hosts top-quality traveling exhibitions. This is a good place for lunch as well, with Oscar’s at the Museum serving sophisticated American cuisine.
Schedule your tour to coincide with one of Birmingham’s many art festivals. The Magic City Art Connection is highly regarded nationwide, and attracts painters, sculptors, potters and jewelry craftsmen from around the country for this three-day festival each spring. In the fall, Birmingham’s annual Art Walk transforms the downtown loft neighborhoods into art districts, with the work of more than 100 visual artists, live music, street performers, and food and drink vendors.
Then check out the art of discovery at the McWane Science Center. A ball for all ages, McWane adventures include four floors of interactive exhibits, from a walk with dinosaurs to the shark and ray petting tank. Alternate attractions tours might consider are visits to Aldridge Gardens, known for their spectacular hydrangeas, and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, honoring legendary athletes with ties to the state.
Consider too an afternoon tour at the Mercedes-Benz US International Visitors Center in nearby Vance. The visitors center, the first one of its kind outside Germany, displays the star-studded history of these high-end vehicles. Factory tours are available by reservation and are well worth scheduling. These tours are currently closed but will reopen safely soon.
For additional information regarding hotels or step-on guide services, call our Tourism Division at 800-458-8085 or 205-458-8000.