5 best spring break road trips from Birmingham. Win $250 gas card!

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Such a dreamy view from Chattanooga’s Sunset Rock. Photo by Jeremy Rasnic Photo via Chattanooga Fun on Facebook

Spring break is almost here which (hopefully) means relaxation, exploration and FUN are all in your future. No matter where your compass is pointing, we’re sure you’ll have a blast. But just to be safe, we’ve gathered this trusty guide full of places to go, things to see and lots to do.

Want to win a $250 gas card to help get to where you’re going? Sign up for our newsletter to be entered into our Spring Break Giveaway, and keep reading for all the deets. Happy spring breakin’, Birmingham!

If you’re hanging around the ‘Ham… 🤙

Who says you have to leave the ‘Ham to have an eventful spring break? Not us. Birmingham is full of fun (and mostly free) activities that are perfect for spring break. Here are a few of our favorites:

Spend a Day at DeSoto Caverns

Birmingham, DeSoto Caverns
Inside the cave at DeSoto Caverns. Photo via DeSoto Caverns

It’s crazy to think that by driving only an hour outside of Birmingham, you can find so many hidden gems—one of them being DeSoto Caverns, one of the country’s most beautiful and historic show caves.

  • What to Do: Below ground, explore caverns with one of the largest accumulations of onyx-marble stalagmites and stalactites in the world and make sure to catch their sound, laser, light and water show. Above ground, enjoy their 20+ attractions like gemstone panning, a cave climbing wall and a lost trail maze!
  • Driving Distance: 36 miles southeast from Birmingham down Highway 280
The Healing All Cathedral at Desoto Caverns is mind-blowing. Photo via DeSoto Caverns
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: The Healing All Cathedral (pictured above) is the first room you’ll visit during the cavern tour and makes for the perfect photo op. Talk about first impressions!
  • Price: Their Adventure Package which includes 1 caverns tour and 5 attraction passes costs $34.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. Get more info on their site.

Take a Hike at Cheaha

Cheaha State Park at sunset. Name a better duo. We’ll wait. Photo via @nickbrownlow on Instagram
  • What to Do: Bring your pup to play at the Bosarge Memorial Dog Park, explore the Walt Farr Native American Museum, take a dip in Cheaha Lake, or pack a picnic to enjoy in Alabama’s oldest continuously operating state park! Check their site for more info on activities.
  • Driving Distance: Roughly 80 miles west from Birmingham, and about a 1 hour and 20-minute drive.
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: The Bald Rock Outlook (pictured above) is highly regarded as one of Alabama’s most beautiful views, and we’d have to agree. Get more info on that trail and more here.
  • Price: Ages 0-3 get in free, ages 4-11 cost $2, ages 12+ cost $5, seniors 62 years+ cost $2. | Parks for Patriots Veterans and Active Military get in free with ID. | Park gates are cash only.

Learn Something New at the McWane Science Center

Seeing triple? McWane’s Color Shadow wall is so fun to dance around in front of. Photo via @evannicole210 on Instagram
  • What to Do: Check out their traveling exhibit—Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World, open now until May 10th—or catch a movie like in their IMAX theater. Get more spring event + exhibit info here.
  • Driving Distance: About half a mile from City Hall in downtown Birmingham across from The Pizitz
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: Dance around in front of their Color Shadow wall (pictured above) for a fun Instagram post.
  • Price: Combo tickets for both the Adventure Halls and IMAX cost $20 for adults, $15 for kids and $18 for seniors. See more ticket options on their site.

If you’re heading down south… 🌊

For those of you seeking some sun, sand and saltwater, we’ve got ya covered. Alabama’s southern shores are the perfect spring break destination, and there’s even more to see further south. Here are a few recommendations if the beach is calling your name:

See the Beach Without leaving Alabama in Gulf Shores

We need this view ASAP. Photo by @stacey_rushings_photography on Instagram

Ahhhh, Alabama’s beaches. The stunning white sand and salty Gulf water is something many of us have grown up with and know well. It’s the most relaxing spring break destination, and there’s always something new to see and do—no matter how many summer vacations you’ve taken there.

This shake screams spring break. It also screams sugar coma, but we’re here for it. Photo by @emma__yo via @theyardmilkshakebar on Instagram
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: Obviously, the beach makes a great back-drop but that’s not all Gulf Shores has to offer. Check out their list of the 8 most Instagrammable restaurants in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. We’re drooling over The Yard Milkshake Bar and their overflowing Instagram-worthy treats. (See above to drool too. 🤤)

Soak up the Sun and So. Much. More. in Seaside

The Seaside Tower at sunset… What a view. Photo by Brandan Babineaux via @SeasideFlorida on Facebook.
  • What to Do: Catch a film under the stars at the Amphitheater, hear live music at 216 Quincy Square every week or head to the Seaside Farmers Market to live like a local. Get more info on these events and more online here.
  • Driving Distance: About the same as Gulf Shores—a little over 4 hours. So bring snacks, and downloads some good podcasts!
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: Grab a bite to eat on Airstream Row, pick up a new beach-read at Sun Dog Books, take a bike ride through the Seaside streets or snap a pick from Bud & Alley’s rooftop porch. Almost every inch of Seaside is Insta-worthy.

If you’re taking off towards the north… ⛰️

If your idea of spring break fun involves more mountains than beaches, you’re in the right place. Heading north is a great option if you’re the ~outdoorsy~ type, or if you just need a change of scenery. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Get Your Fix for Shopping, Hiking, Exploring and More at Lookout Mountain

Just seeing the outside of the Wildflower Cafe makes all of my woodland-cottage-fairy-dreams come true. Photo via @t.byrdphoto on Instagram

North Alabama is seriously an all-encompassing spring break destination. It’s brimming with beautiful parks and outdoor activities, amazing shopping experiences—including tons of thrift shops, antique stores + local makers’ shops—and has the charm and comfort that’s perfect for a unique spring break stay.

Yes, this photo is real. And yes, this could be your view during spring break. Photo courtesy of Lookout Mountain Alabama
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: Desoto Falls + State Park and the Little River Canyon National Preserve both have stunning falls (see above), and both are great places to get that granola content for your feed. Get more info on Lookout Mountain’s parks + waterfalls here.

Check Out Chattanooga for Change of Scenery

Walnut Street Bridge. Photo via @ChattanoogaDowntown on Facebook
  • What to Do: Only a few minutes from downtown, the other Lookout Mountain is the perfect place to spend a day in Chattanooga. Hike to see stunning views of Lookout Valley from Sunset Rock, or explore historic St. Elmo’s shops, restaurants and attractions before hopping on the Incline Railway for a ride up the mountain. And don’t forget about Ruby Falls, the 145-foot underground waterfall inside the mountain!
  • Driving Distance: About 2 and a half hours north of Birmingham in Tennesse
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: Walk the Walnut Street Bridge (pictured above) over the Tennesee River for gorgeous views of downtown and North Chattanooga. Not only are the views nice, but you can also get in a nice workout walking the 2,376 feet across and back.

If you’re headin’ out west…

Take a Trip to Tupelo for Elvis, Exotic Animals and Everything in Between

See zebras, buffalo and more at the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo. Photo via @TupeloBuffaloParkandZoo on Facebook
  • What to Do: Take a stroll down Tupelo’s Main Street, and pop into the local shops (including Tupelo Hardware—where Elvis got his first guitar!), mosey through alleys to spy colorful murals, or grab a bite at some of their 20+ restaurants and food trucks. Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis, so we’d be remiss not to direct you to the Elvis Presley birthplace + museum. Get more on that here.
  • Driving Distance: About two hours west of Birmingham
  • Most Instagrammable Spot: Convince your followers you’ve gone on a safari with photos of zebras, giraffes and more at the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo! Admission is only $15 to see 260+ exotic animals—and you don’t even have to leave the country. What a steal.

If you’re exploring the east… 🧭

Do All the Things in Atlanta

Photo by @droneangel_photography on Instagram

Win a $250 Gas Card for Your Trip—On us!

Birmingham, Driver's Way, Kyndall Stoker, cars
This could be you heading on a spring break trip… If you enter our giveaway. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

You didn’t think we’d give you all these super fun trip ideas with no help to get you there, did ya? We’re giving away a $250 gas card to help you and your friends get to your ultimate spring break destination.

To enter, all you have to do is sign up for our super fun, totally awesome and completely free newsletter HERE. (And no, I’m not biased at all.) We’ll run the giveaway for a week, and announce the winner on social and contact them via email on Monday, March 9.

Have more fun spring break recommendations? Let us know how you’re spending your break in Birmingham and beyond on social @BhamNow.

  • Most likely Instagrammin’ the Birmingham skyline, behind the camera shooting photos or writing stories (with too many puns) for Bham Now.