When family and friends head to town for the holidays, you need a plan to entertain them. Bham Now created this guide with a little help from our friends the Toros, owners of Wasabi Juan’s in Birmingham, who often host family from Miami over the holidays. We even made a map for you at the end.
Produced with Patience Itson.
1. Vulcan Park and Museum
What sort of host would you be without taking your holiday guests to witness the “Original Iron Man”—Vulcan, cast from local iron in 1904. Not only is he burly, bearded and bare-bottomed, but he offers a spectacular view of Birmingham.
The park, including views, picnic tables and Kiwanis Trail, is FREE (that’s a budget win!). You can also buy tickets to tour the interactive museum of Birmingham’s history and take an elevator ride to the top of the tower (worth it!).
Visit Vulcan Park and Museum at 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209. It’s open seven days a week, but it is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It opens at 1pm on New Year’s Day. Get more info.
Did you build up a Vulcan-sized appetite?
Head to Wasabi Juan’s in Avondale, less than a 10-minute drive from Vulcan Park and Museum, for a uniquely Birmingham lunch of sushi burritos. (PS, don’t miss the 4:20 Nachos. They’re a party for your taste buds.)
2. Sloss Furnaces
Sloss Furnaces is Birmingham’s very own National Historic Landmark, a monument to our rich industrial heritage. It’s got lots of cool stuff inside to fascinate the history buffs in your crew. And it’s FREE!
Here are some quick facts about Sloss Furnaces to wow your guests:
- Sloss Furnaces was the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world during the 19th century.
- It stands today as a symbol of where of the Magic City’s “magical” rise began.
- Operating from 1882 to 1970, it holds the title for being the longest continually running blast furnace in Birmingham’s history.
Visit Sloss Furnaces National Historic Park at 20 32nd St N, Birmingham, AL 35222. It’s open for self-guided tours Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm, and Sundays, 12pm-4pm. It closes for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Get more info.
3. Oak Mountain State Park
When the Toros’ family visits from Miami over the holidays, they look forward to experiencing the change of seasons in Birmingham. (Miami is green all the time, so they miss out come autumn and winter).
Show off Birmingham’s natural beauty by taking your company on an outdoor adventure at Oak Mountain State Park. Beginning as a 940-acre park atop Double Oak Mountain in 1927, today it has grown to a vast 9,940 acres, making it Alabama’s largest state park. It offers hiking and a whole lot more.
Visit Oak Mountain State Park at 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham, AL 35124. Get more info.
Fuel up for the hike.
Oak Mountain is on the southern outskirts of the greater Birmingham area. If this is your part of town, fuel up before or after your hike at Wasabi Juan’s off Highway 280, about 3 miles east of The Summit. If it’s a warm day, you can take in the view while you eat.
4. Axe Throwing
If cold, rainy weather keeps you indoors, your holiday company might start feeling cooped up. Let off some steam while having a blast at Civil Axe Throwing in Birmingham, right by Pepper Place. Just don’t throw any weapons directly at your relatives, please!
During your visit, trained professionals will teach you the proper technique to throw an axe and hit a target. Pretty cool, huh? Throw that axe at Civil Axe Throwing at 3004 4th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233. Get more info.
Afterward, you’ll probably be thirsty.
Exactly one mile away from Civil Axe Throwing, you’ll find Birmingham District Brewing Co. at The Battery. Grab a brew, kick back and watch the big game in a family-friendly atmosphere. And if you’re hungry, grab a bite from Wasabi Juan’s food truck. (A brick-and-mortar Wasabi Juan’s will open next door soon.)
If axe-throwing is not your thing, more rainy-day indoor activities are coming your way.
5. Escape Rooms
When company starts to make you nutty, you may begin to consider ways to escape. Why not escape together from one of Birmingham’s many escape rooms?
With different rooms that follow unique storylines, you and your visitors will have to figure out how to escape the room by cracking codes, solving puzzles and following clues.
Can you all band together before time is up? Find out at one of Birmingham’s top escape rooms:
- Breakout Games—2717 19th Place S, Birmingham, AL 35209
- Locked In—The Birmingham Great Escape—2808 7th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233
- Train Escape—5407 Beacon Dr, Irondale, AL 35210
6. Barber Motorsports Park
Take your holiday guests on a thrilling ride through motorsports history at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. And no, they don’t have to be motorsports enthusiasts to enjoy it. In January 2018, USA TODAY readers voted the museum the no. 1 Best Alabama Attraction.
Here are some cool facts about it:
- Guinness World Records recognizes Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum as the world’s largest motorcycle collection.
- 900+ motorcycles are on display.
- It features over 1,600 motorcycles spanning over 100 years of production.
- It’s home to the world’s most extensive collection of Lotus Cars, along with an assortment of rare, celebrated cars.
Find Barber Motorsports Park at 6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy, Leeds, AL 35094. It’s open seven days a week and is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Get more info.
7. Eat at Wasabi Juan’s
Food. It’s always an issue when company is in town. Make it easy and original with a visit to Wasabi Juan’s.
The fact that Wasabi Juan’s makes everyone happy is literally No. 3 on Bham Now’s list of top 5 reasons to love this local restaurant. It’s one of the hottest dining establishments in the greater Birmingham area, with a menu that pairs sushi with Mexican street fare like burritos and tacos.
On the menu, you’ll find a variety of items from starters and snacks to entrées. Try items like the Cabo Tacos with avocado, cucumber and spicy crab or the Rick Roll with grilled steak, spicy tuna, cream cheese, ninja sauce and unagi sauce. You can even “Go Godzilla” and make your sushi roll two times bigger. Perfect for feeding all of those out-of-town guests!
Equally as amazing as the food at Wasabi Juan’s is the family behind it. Their story is what makes the restaurant a true Birmingham original. Learn more about the Toros’, including Barby’s journey to America from Cuba at age 10, here.
Here’s a nice bonus for you. Wasabi Juan’s has lots of fun apparel for sale, which will make the perfect holiday keepsake for your family and friends.
Wasabi Juan’s Locations:
- 4120 3rd Ave S, Avondale, AL 35222. This is the original Wasabi Juan’s. It connects to Avondale Brewing Co.’s The Sour Room, nestled right next door to the main brewery.
- 5037 Hwy 280 Birmingham, AL 35242. It’s only three miles east of The Summit, in the same shopping center as Home Depot.
- Food truck. It’s neon green, you can’t miss it! Check out @wasabijuantogo on Instagram to find out where it will be serving up delicious sushi burritos and more.
- Coming soon: The Battery, 2201 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233. In the meantime, the food truck visits Birmingham District Brewing Co. at The Battery often.