Because the weather is agreeable a good portion of the year, Birmingham is an outdoorsy place to visit. Bring your clubs for rounds of golf at a number of handsome public courses or load your mountain bikes on the car. (Yes, Birmingham has mountains.) Come for the fun and adventure.
Start the day with an early breakfast at Bogue’s, a real Birmingham tradition. They open at 6 so you can get an early start and plenty of protein with menu items such as the Linebacker Breakfast.
If you brought your bike—or your hiking gear—drive out just south of the city to Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest public park. Oak Mountain’s Red Trail is included in the International Mountain Biking Association’s list of epic rides, making it one of 52 “must ride” trails in the world. With more than 50 miles of separate hiking and biking trails, visitors can choose a short loop or an overnight trip. Cabins are available.
Should you choose to come back into town for the evening, reward your physical activity with a local beer or two. Good People Brewing has a spacious taproom that’s open seven days a week, and their Coffee Oatmeal Stout crys out to be ordered. Also seek out the craft beer at TrimTab Brewing Company, where you’ll find brews like the Pillar to Post Rye Brown and the Cucumber Saison.
A good choice for dinner (or supper, as we call it in the South) is FoodBar in the Vestavia Hills neighborhood. They bill themselves as “not pretentious, just delicious,” and you’ll agree when you have their Sautéed Gulf Red Snapper or New Merkle Shellfish Stew.
If your visit to Birmingham falls on a Saturday between April and December, it is essential you start the day at The Market at Pepper Place. Here you’ll find locally grown everything, from apples to zucchini. Grab a couple of Chilton County peaches and some homemade macaroons with coffee for breakfast. This is the outdoor place to be in Birmingham on Saturday mornings.
Next, we’re off to Red Mountain Park where your biking and hiking can continue. Or you may prefer to investigate the Vulcan Materials Zip Trip. This aerial adventure is a thrilling ride with beautiful views of the mountain’s natural landscape, historical mining sites and the surrounding valleys. This Zipline tour takes you 40 feet above Red Mountain, Tarzaning your way from treehouse to treehouse on a series of seven zip lines. If you’re really self-confident and ambitious, you can explore self-guided courses, from wall climbs and rope swings to bridge balances. Obstacle courses range from easy to challenging, or you could take the ultimate ride on the Mega Zip.
Dinner tonight is at Ovenbird, which is all the rage among devoted foodies. Order the goat and grits. (Really. It’s fabulous.)
For a nightcap, head to Oasis. Since Birmingham is made up of neighborhoods, this is a place where everybody knows your name—or will before you leave. Live music often.