The industrial city of Birmingham was one of the centers of the civil rights movement and the Civil Rights District is one of the most interesting parts to visit. The history of the Civil Rights Movement is documented in the Civil Rights Institute. Also of interest are the Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and the Sloss Furnaces Industrial Museum, a former steel mill. Southwest of town is Tannehill Historic State Park, which features a 19th-century village.
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1 Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
The Civil Rights Institute promotes civil and human rights worldwide through education. It contains exhibits relating to the civil rights movement in Birmingham in the 1960s and human rights struggles to the present day. The center features permanent exhibitions and guides visitors through various events and experiences with multimedia presentations. The museum also contains galleries dedicated to special temporary exhibitions.
Address: 520 16th Street North, Birmingham, AL 35203-1911, United States
Official site: https://www.bcri.org/index.html
2 Birmingham Museum of Art
The Birmingham Museum of Art features American and European art, as well as pre-Columbian, Asian, African, and Native American art and artifacts. The permanent collection contains thousands of works of art.
Paintings, sculpture, graphic arts and decorative arts are on display, as well as European silver, porcelain, glass and photographs. Changing exhibits are a big focus for the museum.
Within the grounds is the Charles W Ireland Sculpture Garden, a multi-story area that includes the Red Mountain Garden, Lower Gallery, and the Upper Plaza.
Adres: 2000 Rev Abraham Woods, Jr. Boulevard
Official Site: https://www.artsbma.org/
3 McWane Science Center
McWane Science Center in Birmingham offers visitors the opportunity to experience the world through scientific adventures and interactive exhibits. A wide variety of topics are explored, from dinosaurs to laser and light. Hands-on displays feature movement, energy, light and sound. Traveling exhibits from other museums around the world are constantly visiting the McWane Science Center.
The lower level features an interactive aquarium exhibit featuring aquatic creature habitat tanks. Visitors can ride waves on an eroding shoreline, view salt marshes of meadows, and explore the story of water and what it means to us.
Address: 200 19th Street North, Birmingham, AL 35203, United States
Official site: https://www.mcwane.org/
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4 Southern Flight Museum
Aircraft on display at the Southern Museum of Flight include memorabilia from the early days of flight, one of Delta Air Line’s first airplanes, a Huff Daland harvest spreader, and an A-12 Blackbird, along with others in the outdoor collection. The Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame features aviation art, photographs, and murals.
Address: 4343 73rd Street North, Birmingham, AL 35206-3642, United States
Official site: https://www.southernmuseumofflight.org/
5 Vulcan Park
The 56-foot statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, was built by the steel city of Birmingham as an exhibit for the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Vulcan currently stands atop a 124-foot plinth / observation deck.
Visitors to Vulcan Park can enjoy a picnic on the grounds, view an art exhibition at the Linn Henley Gallery, and enjoy panoramic views of the Birmingham skyline.
Address: 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209, United States
Official Site: https://visitvulcan.com/
6 Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
The Sloss Furnaces began producing pig iron in 1882 and continued for nearly 90 years. Today, Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces operate as an industrial museum with the massive furnaces, a network of pipes and tall chimneys still standing. The blast furnaces and buildings of Sloss Furnaces Historic Landmark highlight the area’s history and industry. The landmark is also surrounded by a 32-acre park.
Address: 20 32nd Street North, Birmingham, AL 35222, United States
Official Site: https://www.slossfurnaces.com/
7 Ruffner Mountain Nature Center
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center offers opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and learn. The nature reserve is home to birds of prey, snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders and mammals. Mining sites, quarries, and mining equipment remain on Ruffner Mountain from the many iron ore mines that dot the landscape from the 1880s to the 1950s.
Address: 1214 81st Street South, Birmingham, AL 35206, United States
Official Site: https://ruffnermountain.org/
8 Birmingham Zoo
Birmingham Zoo is home to birds, reptiles and mammals, with animals from all over the world. There are numerous endangered species from six continents. The botanical exhibit features hundreds of butterflies from more than 20 species, all of which are native to Alabama. Within the Birmingham Zoo is the Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo, dedicated to Alabama’s children and urban/rural animals. One of the newer additions to the zoo is the Dino Discovery exhibit.
Address: 2630 Cahaba Road, Birmingham, AL 35223-1106, United States
Official Site: https://www.birminghamzoo.com/
9 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame features several sports-related displays and films that highlight memorable sports moments. Thousands of sports artifacts are on display, along with the athletic achievements of several sports champions including Jesse Owens, Hank Aaron, Joe Louis, Willie Mays, and Carl Lewis.
Address: 2150 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203-1102, United States
Official site: https://ashof.org/
10 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
On Sunday, September 15, 1963, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. The bombing resulted in the deaths of four girls. This act brought a nation together and was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The church was restored and reopened in 1964 with the help of donations from around the world.
Adres: 1530 Sixteenth Avenue North
Official Site: https://16thstreetbaptistchurch.businesscatalyst.com
11 Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
Housed in the historic Carver Theater, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame honors Alabama jazz artists. The Carver Theater was built in 1935 and designed in the Art Deco style. Displays include photographs, instruments, costumes, and other artifacts. Jazz performances are scheduled from March to November.
Address: 1631 Fourth Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203-1903, United States
Official Site: https://www.jazzhall.com/
Where to Stay in Birmingham for Sightseeing
If you want to see the sights or just have some fun, the best place to stay in Birmingham is right in the centre. On the north side of downtown is the new Uptown entertainment district, which is home to the Birmingham-Jackson conference complex. Further south, the Five Points South dining and entertainment district is a vibrant neighborhood, with the University of Alabama campus nearby. Below are some highly rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxe hotels: The Westin Birmingham is located in the trendy Uptown district, within walking distance of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The hotel has a rooftop swimming pool with a beautiful view of the city. Located in the heart of the Five Points South region, the Residence Inn by Marriott offers suites with a kitchen and an outdoor pool. Located in a fully renovated and restored 1914 building, the Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham Downtown – The Tutwiler is less than a mile from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
- Mid-range hotels: The Courtyard by Marriott is in a good location at the top of the middle of the neighborhood and offers well-appointed rooms, with the restaurants of Five Points South a short walk away. About 7 miles south of the center of Highway 280 is the renowned Drury Inn & Suites. Several good chain restaurants and the Summit Mall are just a short walk away. About two miles away, the Homewood Suites is a good family option, offering two-bedroom suites with kitchens and an outdoor pool.
- Budget Hotels: About 20 kilometers outside the center, in a quiet location, the Hampton Inn & Suites offers rooms with breakfast at a fair price. Less than 7 miles southwest of Interstate 65, the Best Western Plus Carlton Suites features an indoor pool and free snacks and beverages Monday through Thursday. In the same neighborhood, the Candlewood Suites has been recently renovated and offers guests a free laundry service and a terrace overlooking the garden.