Birmingham included in Outside Magazine’s 25 Best Towns of 2017 edition

Birmingham Alabama
Outside Magazine’s 25 Best Towns of 2017 – photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Last week, Outside Magazine released its 25 Best Towns of 2017 edition . Making the list?  Drum roll please… Birmingham!

Celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year, Outside Magazine is the 4th largest outdoor magazine behind such notables National Geographic, Scouting Magazine and Outdoor Life.

Founded by Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, Outside Magazine is a “must read” for hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers and all things outdoors.

In this year’s 25 Best Towns edition, titles were given for each of the towns recognized. For example, Grand Rapids, Michigan was awarded the title of “Best River Town.”

Birmingham’s title –  “Best Southern Renaissance.”

Outside 2 e1498505602734 Birmingham included in Outside Magazine's 25 Best Towns of 2017 edition
Inside Outside Magazine – notice how Birmingham’s story is next to Seattle, Washington

The first line in the story best describes the “remaking” of Birmingham over the past few years.

“Why is a city in Alabama on this list? Easy: it’s the latest southern belle to reinvent itself as a place where food, industry, and outdoor access collide.” ~ Outside Magazine

The story then features places, organizations and events that have now become part of Birmingham’s resurgence – Slossfest, Railroad Park, Moss Rock Nature Preserve, Ruffner Mountain, Horse Pens 40, Oak Mountain State Park and First Avenue Rocks.

This week, Bham Now reached out to conservation/outdoor leaders in Birmingham and the state of Alabama for their reaction to this national honor and why this recognition is important for our community.

Roger W. Mangham, The Nature Conservancy in Alabama Director

“This is good news for Birmingham and the state of Alabama. For me, the outdoors is where I connect with people. Memories of mountain biking with close friends, fishing with my dad, camping and hunting with my family – in particular my three kids – are the most powerful motivators for working to conserve natural resources. Outdoor experiences and adventures can deepen one’s conservation ethic and that’s where conservation ultimately begins.”

Carlee Sanford, Ruffner Mountain Executive Director

“Ruffner is here today, listed in this article, because 40 years ago a few individuals decided to fight and save 20 acres from development. Now, over 1,000 acres— once mined and clear-cut— Ruffner is once again home to a biodiverse population of flora and fauna, and each year it is visited by over 100,000 guests, a chance to connect with the natural world, walk, hike or even go for a trail run.

Also, Outside Magazine just so happens to be celebrating their 40th this year, as well, congratulations guys!”

Birmingham Alabama
Photo via
Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director

“In its recognition of Birmingham and Oak Mountain State Park, Outside magazine solidifies what many Alabamians have known for a long time.”

The outdoor amenities available at Oak Mountain are recreationally and economically significant to the Birmingham and Shelby County areas. Thanks to a partnership with the Birmingham Urban Mountain Peddlers, the mountain bike trail system at Oak Mountain continues to receive accolades from national and international organizations. ”

With the passage of Amendment 2 and ongoing support from local government partners like the Shelby County Commission, visitors can look forward to even more recreation amenities and upgrades at Oak Mountain in the future.”

What also makes Outside Magazine’s  25 Best Towns list all the more prestigious is that the towns were chosen by a special Outside Magazine Best Towns Council. Here are the members.

Finally, a national publication has recognized what many of us have known for years. Birmingham is a “scenic city” and it has a lot to offer to folks who care about exploring the outdoors and nature. The final line in the Outside Magazine 25 Best Towns of 2017 story on Birmingham truly sums up how far we have come.

“The magic of the Magic City is back.”


Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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