Attractions & Lodging
As Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham can keep a tourist busy for days. When visiting Birmingham, don’t miss the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which opened in 1993 to honor those who confronted racial discrimination and bigotry. Visitors can learn about the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle that changed America, watch a film about the history of Birmingham, and view exhibits that depict the climate of violence and intimidation that reinforced segregation. Four mini-theaters offer dramatic interpretations of the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1963. By educating the public, the Institute hopes to encourage communication and reconciliation of human rights issues worldwide.
Across from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is Kelly Ingram Park, which was once a starting point for many Civil Rights marches. Today, the park features magnificent gardens and statues depicting the Civil Rights Movement. The park is located adjacent to the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, home of the tragic bombing that killed four little girls on September 15, 1963. The church was rebuilt the following year and now contains a gallery of paintings and photographs of famous Civil Rights speakers who have rallied there.
Celebrate nature at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, home to a maze of roses, pristine trails and walking paths that wind along a stream, a Japanese teahouse and a Zen garden. When you stroll through the garden’s 67 acres of flora, you will forget that you are in a major metropolitan area. The Gardens also boast the largest free lending horticulture and gardening library.
Of course, a trip to Birmingham wouldn’t be complete without viewing the incredible Vulcan statue at Vulcan Park. Vulcan Park is a 10-acre urban green space atop Red Mountain, and offers an incredible overhead view of Birmingham. The park is home to Vulcan, the god of forge, which is the largest cast metal statue in the world, measuring 55 feet tall and weighing 60 tons. It is the second largest statue in the United States—only the Statue of Liberty is larger. The park recently underwent a $14 million renovation which included a new visitor’s center, an outdoor observation balcony overlooking the city, eight interactive exhibits and new walking trails with 10 interpretive sites.
One of Birmingham’s most popular attractions is the McWane Center, a science museum where visitors can learn about the world through more than 9,000 feet of exciting hands-on exhibits and quality educational programs. In ScienceQuest, build your own roller coaster or play a laser harp; experience what it’s like to be a tiny mouse in a gigantic world in Just Mice Size; learn about aquatic creatures and habitats in World of Water; travel on a simulated space mission in Challenger Learning Center Alabama; or experience the larger-than-life films in the center’s IMAX dome theater. The McWane Center promises a day of fun for the whole family!
Birmingham natives respect and care for their environment, and this is evident at the Birmingham Zoo, where more than 750 animals, including 80 species of birds, 80 of reptiles, and 60 mammals, make their home. Beautifully landscaped, the zoo is Alabama’s most popular not-for-profit attraction, drawing more than 450,000 visitors annually. The zoo is especially famous for Babec, the first gorilla to ever receive a cardiac assist device including a pacemaker.
While in Birmingham pay a visit to the Southern Museum of Flight, home to aviation memorabilia from eight decades of flight. The museum houses artifacts from the Red Baron, a night landing light used by the Wright brothers at their Montgomery flying school, knee-high aviator’s boots from WWI, an “Early Bird” cap and flying goggles, the trapeze and dental strap used in a local “flying circus,” and more than 20 aircraft engines. Also on display are military, civilian, and home-built aircraft, including a full-size Wright Flyer replica, a 1912 Curtiss Pusher replica and two U.S. Air Force fighter jet cockpit simulators, among others.
Need a place to stay during your visit to Birmingham? Hundreds of hotels are available throughout the city. Whether you are looking for budget accommodations, luxury rooms or need an extended stay facility, there are plenty of options in Birmingham. Many offer complimentary breakfast, fitness facilities, business centers and fine dining on-site.