Familydaysout.com has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to with this ULTIMATE family guide to visiting Birmingham, Alabama, to print & use!
Birmingham is a fascinating city in a fascinating state! Known as the "Dinner Table of the South", the food in the city features some of the best BBQ, with plenty of global dishes too! Birmingham also has an incredibly rich history, being Ground Zero for the Civil Rights Movement, AND there is some pretty amazing nature too, so we can't wait to share with you our favorite things to do with kids in this incredibly rich and diverse city, including our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out in one of the most popular destinations to visit in the USA!
There are so many fun things to do with kids in Birmingham, Alabama, make sure you keep reading this Birmingham City Guide to see what you might like to include when you next visit one of the state's largest cities!
Image Credit: Railroad Park
In this Birmingham City Guide, we'll be sharing with you the best museums (including art, space and history!), plus some very cool nature-based attractions in this urban landscape, as well as some pretty cool kid-tastic attractions in the city. We know families are sometimes on a budget when you travel, so also in this Birmingham City Guide we've listed some FREE things to do with kids too! We'll also share the best ways to get around the city by public transport, as well as let you in on somee super fun facts you can impress your friends with!
If you want to explore a little further out of Birmingham, this city guide shares our favorite day trip too. We check out some famous faces who were born in Birmingham too! We want to make sure you don’t miss out on a think with your family whene you visit this very cool Alabama city!
So whether this is your first trip to Birmingham, or maybe you've lived in the city for years but just never took the time to really check out what there is to do, and you think "I wonder what is there is to do near me?", then keep reading, because we have the top 9 things to do in Birmingham with kids, just for you!
Image Credit: birminghamal.org
The city of Birmingham was incorporated back in 1871, during the post-Civil War era of the country, after which they actually merged three existing farm towns into the city. The founders were of English ancestory, which is why the city was named after Birmingham in England (also an industrial city!) In fact, Birmingham, Alabama, was the industrial centre of the south right through until the 1960s - nearly 100 years later!
At the start of the 20th century, the city earned the nickname "The Magic City" due to it's incredible growth, with downtown growing from low-rise residential and commercial to high rise commercial buildings. In fact, one corner was dubbed "the heaviest corner on Earth" due to the high-rises that built up in such a small space.
During the 1950s and 60s, the city found itself as the epicentre of the Civil Rights Movement. Successful protests resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it was in a Birmingham jail that Dr Martin Luther King Jr wrote that now infamous letter discussing moral responsibility, and taking action.
Today, at the tailend of the Appalachian foothills, Birmingham finds itself 50th in the USA's most populous cities, and continues to not only be one of the most business centers in the southeastern USA, but also finds itself a popular destination for families to visit, and plenty of things to do with kids!
Image Credit: birminghamal.org
Birmingham has some really wonderful things to do with kids and with family. You have of course the beautiful nature that the city embracees, with parks like the popular Railroad Park, and the 19 acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens. There are fascinating museums such as the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum and the Southern Museum of Flight, and really fun experiences for kids like Birmingham Children's Theatre!
There are free experiences like Birmingham Museum of Art, and free tours at places such as Sloss Furnaces, but then you also have the rich history too. Visits to the Arlington Historic House and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute really will offer invaluable historic educational experiences for the whole family.
Birmingham is a great city to visit, as it's so easy to navigate and there is just so much to see and do, so go on out and enjoy it for yourself on your next family day out - and don't forget to let us know what you discover too!
Whilst you can get around Birmingham on foot, the MAX (Metro Area Express) Transit system offers you enjoy public transportation options that you don't have to! Run by the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority, they operate north to south routes, and east to west routes, which 3 million people per year use!
Then you have the Magic City Connector, which runs every 20 minutes on weekdays, and every 30 minutes on Saturdays. It's great for the budget at only 30c per ride, and serves Downtown Birmingham, City Hall, Art Museum, Linn Park, UAB, Five Points South!
Finally, you have MAX-Direct, which lets you use your smartphone to request a ride, obtain an estimated pick up time, and track your bus in real time. This 15-passenger shared ride service is available weekdays, allowing you to travel from Central Station into the city of Mountain Brook and back for $1.50, and it's ADA Accessible!
Source and Image Credit: More information here: BJCTA
No, we're not in New York City, we're in Birmingham, Alabama, but that doesn't mean you can't stop to look at the Statue of Liberty! Well, a replica anyway, but pretty impressive!
This 36ft bronze statue (along with its 60ft granite pedastal!) was originally situated on top of the National Life Insurance Company Building in 1958. Then in 1989, it was relocated to where you can spot it today - adjacent to Interstate 459 in Vestavia Hills.
Image Credit & Website: Visit Alabama
Kids always have a great time at the McWane Science Center because it's jam packed with exhibitions that allow them to touch, experiment, learn, get creative, and have fun, including a super cool Ray & Shark tank aquarium AND IMAX screen!
The whole family can discover what kind of dinosaurs lived in the area millions of years ago (and come face to face with a prehistoric 15ft sea turtle!), touch fossils and skeletons whilst uncovering what stones the earth is made of. They can get creative with tech as they spin colors and explore the great outdoors from the inside!
Image Credit: McWane Science Center
Did you know that the Southern Museum of Flight Is actually one of the LARGEST aviation museums in the Southeast? It's an amazing museum with a host of exhibits and displays, all dedicated to presenting civilian, military, and experimental aircraft, as well as memorabilia from the earliest history of powered flight. It's a fun filled day of aviation history!
The exhibits in this huge museum span 75,000 square feet, and is actually home to over 100 real life aircraft (some dating back quite some time!), as well as engines, models, artifacts, photographs, and paintings. Not only that, the Southern Museum of Flight is home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame!
Image Credit: Southern Museum of Flight
Time to walk on the wild side at Birmingham Zoo! In fact, Birmingham Zoo is one of the states most popular attractions and is an ever-changing adventure. In fact, families come from all around the world to meet over 500 animals from 180 species face to facee, from red pandas, to lions, giraffes, and orangutans, even rhinos, bears, elephants, and so many more!
Walk the Trails of Africa, play in the Children’s Zoo...with 122 acres to enjoy, you ceretainly won't be stuck for something to see. Birmingham Zoo also feature signage highlighting the Zoo’s amazing animal care, conservation initiatives (especially with their endangered species who live at the zoo!), and Species Survival Plans.
Image Credit: Birmingham Zoo
The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the celebration and preservation of Alabama’s exceptional sports heritage, and YOU'RE invited to explore the various exhibitions filled with over 6,000 pieces of personal artifacts and sports memorabilia.
This three-story 33,000 square-foot museum was opened back in 1992 and is one of the largest sports halls of fame in the entire nation! The memorabilia from each inductee within the museum date all the way back to the first induction class in 1969, so make sure you allow enough time to check it all out!
Image Credit: Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Are you excited to see over 900 mint condition motorcycles, all on exhibit at one time, and something you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world? That's the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum for you!
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s LARGEST motorcycle collection, how cool is that? Inside, you'll discover over 1,600 motorcycles from 22 countries, spanning over a century of production. The museum also features the world’s most extensive collection of Lotus cars, plus an assortment of other rare and unusual cars!
Image Credit: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
You can't visit Birmingham without a stop to the iconic Vulcan Statue. Vulcan is in fact the world’s LARGEST cast iron statue! It weights 100,000 pounds of iron, and he stands at 56ft tall, proudly overlooking the city.
But Vulcan is more than just a statue! Vulcan Park & Museum not only offers spectacular views of Birmingham, but also features an interactive history museum that lets you hear all the about the story of Vulcan and the city. There is also a beautiful public park which also hosts great events across the year too!
Image Credit: Visit Vulcan
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a must-do on any Birmingham itinerary. Their who museum's mission is to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring ones common past and working together in the present to build a better future. So it really is an inspiring and educational experience for kids.
During your time at the institute, you'll learn all about the story of Birmingham itself, with plenty of archival exhibits to assist, as well a learning about key figures and events that shaped the Civil Rights movement, and changeed history.
Image Credit: BCRI
The beautiful yet poignant Arlington Historic Home and Garden is set across six acres of landscaped gardens, and can be found near downtown Birmingham. Dating back to the 1840s, this two-storey property is a great example of Greek Revival Architecture, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Place.
Today, the historic home is now a decorative arts museum, filled with a great collection of 19th century silver, textiles, paintings and furniture, giving kids a first hand experience of what life was like over 150 years ago, and a great educational experience on the history of the city and those who called it home.
Image Credit: Arlington Historic Home and Garden
Birmingham Children's Theatre is one of the nation's oldest AND largest professional theatre companies for young audiences! There are year round shows which entertain kids of all ages, from Willy Wonka, to Cinderella and more!
The theatre hosts shows in three individual theatres, each one designed for a specific age range, so you can always know you're taking your kids to THE best show for them! Great actors, colorful costumes....it's a wonderful day (or night!) out for the family in Birmingham!
Image Credit: Birmingham Children's Theatre
Courteney Cox is an American actress who is best known for her hugely popular role as Monica Geller in the hit TV series Friends. She also had starred in movies such as Scream, before her second hugely successful series Cougar Town
Image Copyright: Albert Domasin
Charles Barkley is an American basketball player who is considered one of the greatest NBA players in history. He was voted Most Valuable Player in 1993, and was an 11-time NBA All Star. He went on to become an NBA Analyst, and author.
Image Copyright: Ytoyoda
Birmingham Museum of Art offers free admission to all collections and most exhibits, giving families a wonderfully creative experience. The permanent collection is an incredible variety of art in all forms, from sculptures, drawings...from local artists, to Pre-Columbian crafts, to European paint work.
Then you have the constantly rotating exhibitions which always bring something new and exciting. The exhibits showcase a whole range of art and cultures, from photography, to Native American sculptures, to paintings inspired by the movement of nature.
Image Credit: Birmingham Museum of Art
Railroad Park is a great 19 acre green space in downtown Birmingham that not only celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of Birmingham, but is also a really wonderful place to spend some time among the usual busy city life.
The park is often referred to as "Birmingham's Living Room," and provides a historically rich space for recreation, family activities, loads of fun concerts, and fascinating and inspiring cultural events!
Image Credit: Railroad Park
The Market at Pepper Place is a great way to spend a Saturday morning in the city. The market was established back in 2000 as a way to help small family farms, and provide a connection between these family farmers and the people of Birmingham, which is an amazing story!
Thye started with only a few tents in the center parking lot of Pepper Place, and have now grown to 100 tents spread across two parking lots and streets around Pepper Place. Great to grab a coffee, scour local produce and stock up for a delicious picnic lunch!
Image Credit: Pepper Place Market
Enjoy a free self-guided tour at the iconic and historic Sloss Furnaces! This unique National Historic Landmark was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the entire world! Today, you'll find it just as it was in the late 19th century, offering a glimpse into Birmingham’s rich industrial heritage.
Sloss Furnaces operated from 1882-1970, also making it the longest continually running blast furnace in the city's history! During your self-guided tour you'll learn all about the materials, products, and the people who ran the furnaces and ultimately built the city.
Image Credit: Sloss Furnaces
The roots of Red Mountain Park run deep, as it really was the coming together of the city as men of all backgrounds and races worked side by side mining for iron ore. Today, Red Mountain Park is an oasis for the people, and visitors, of Birmingham.
Here, you'll find over 10 miles of trails to hike, as well as bike. The park also has forests and wilderness areas to explore, and a 6 acre dog park too for those four legged family members. A wonderful nature filled day out in Birmingham.
Image Credit: Red Mountain Park
If you want a relaxing, scenic day trip that will take you to "America's Lake City", then absolutely a visit to Guntersville should be on the cards! Water defines Guntersville, with mountain-lakes everywhere you look (69,000 acres of water to be exact!), and it's just beautiful.
For families who love water adventure, Guntersville will be your haven. Your day can be filled with fishing, boating, swimming, and of course a host of water sports...and don't miss those iconic sunsets either!
At only 65 miles drive from Birmingham, and home to Lake Guntersville (the biggest lake in Alabama), you'll feel like you're worlds away with only a short drive!
Guntersville was originally known as Gunter's Ferry, and then Gunter's Landing, after it's founding by John Gunter, a wealthy 19th century salt mine owner. In fact, the salt mine originated beforee Gunter founded the town, and a deal was struck with the Cherokee Tribe (who inhabited the land at the time) that provided salt to the tribe. Gunter in fact married the chiefs daughter, too.
In 1848, Gunter's Landing was incorporated, before the name permanently changed to Guntersville in 1854.
For most of the 20th century, cotton pressing was the town's biggest industry, and today, the city which is home to nearly 9,000 people is a great draw card to tourists.
So get ready to enjoy a breathtaking and water-tastic day out from Birmingham (and don't forget about those sunsets!)
Image Credit: guntersvilleal.org
Here’s our top 4 Guntersville things to do:
Don't miss Screaming Eagle Zipline Adventures within Lake Guntersville State Park too!
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Let's get the family adventure started!