The ultimate visit to Birmingham: A guide for first-time guests

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Magic City Sign Birmingham
These first-timers were in for a treat! Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

I relocated to Birmingham a few years ago, but have a lofty list of overdue visitors due to COVID. When my first-time guests came to visit last month, I designed the ultimate Magic City Experience. 

To treat my visitors to an authentic Birmingham Experience, our itinerary covered some of my favorite parts of town, while indulging in all the incredible food, drinks and views along the way. It went something like this: 

Stop #1: 2:00pm – Snacks at Alabama Peanut Co.

Peanuts at Alabama Peanut Co
Don’t miss the salty dill pickle flavor from Alabama Peanut Co. Photo via Alabama Peanut Co. Facebook Page

I felt the moral obligation to introduce my guests to boiled peanuts. Alabama Peanut Co. is located on historic Morris Avenue, and made for an excellent start to our adventure. We opted for a nice assortment of boiled and roasted flavors before heading to our next stop. My personal favorite was the salty dill pickle boiled peanuts.

  • Instagram | Facebook | Curbside Pickup
  • Phone: 205-538-7422
  • Address: 2016 Morris Ave. Birmingham, AL 35203
  • Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM (boiled is ready at 11 AM)

Stop #2: 3:00pm – Time in the park

Skyline Birmingham Vulcan Park
Some of the best views in the city are found on the Vulcan trail. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Birmingham has no shortage of beautiful parks and vast outdoor spaces, but for the full Birmingham Experience, we headed to Vulcan Park to enjoy the sunshine (and walk off some peanuts). There are detailed plaques throughout the park illustrating the history and development of the city as well as a wooded walking trail, which offered plenty of room to stretch our legs. Of course, it’s also home to the iconic Vulcan statue. Bonus? Some of the best views in the city!

  • Instagram | Facebook
  • Phone: 205-933-1409
  • Address: 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham, AL, 35209
  • Hours of Operation: Monday – Sunday: 10 AM – 10 PM (Park Grounds)

Stop #3: 5:00pm – Rooftop cocktails at Moon Shine

Moonshine Rooftop
The rooftop is best enjoyed with a signature cocktail in hand. Photo via Moon Shine Birmingham at Elyton Hotel’s Facebook Page

After a quick wardrobe change, we headed to Moon Shine, the rooftop bar at the Elyton Hotel. With sweeping views of the city from all angles and ample outdoor seating, it was the perfect way to experience the downtown area. Everyone enjoyed the breezy evening and plenty of signature cocktails.

  • Instagram | Facebook
  • Phone: 205-731-3600
  • Address: 1928 1st Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35203
  • Hours of Operation:
    • Thursday & Sunday: 4 PM – 10 PM
    • Friday & Saturday: 4 PM – 1 AM

Stop #4: 6:30 pm – Italian Feast at Bettola

Food Bowl Pasta Bettola
We enjoyed a full Italian spread at Bettola. Photo via Bettola’s Facebook Page (Nicole Du Bois)

Located in the Pepper Place Entertainment district, Bettola is one of my very favorite cozy, authentic Italian eateries. We headed over for dinner and everything we ordered was incredible. Oh, and their Burrata will change your life. An absolute must!

  • Instagram | Facebook | Order Online
  • Phone: 205-731-6499
  • Address: 2930 3rd Ave S Birmingham, AL 35233
  • Hours of Operation:
    • Tuesday – Thursday: 11 AM – 3 PM & 5 PM – 9 PM
    • Friday: 11 AM – 3 PM & 5 PM – 10 PM
    • Saturday: 5 PM – 10 PM
    • Closed Sunday & Monday

Stop #5: 8:00 pm – Sweet treat at Big Spoon

Birmingham, Alabama, Big Spoon Creamery
Never too full for dessert, especially from Big Spoon. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

We were just wrapping up dinner when I realized a critical error: I hadn’t planned our dessert. It was Big Spoon Creamery to the rescue, and we made our way to their Avondale Location. You can’t go wrong with any of their fresh, seasonal flavors by the cup, cone or flight. 

  • Phone: 205-703-4712 (Avondale)
  • Address: 4000 3rd Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35222 (Avondale)
  • Phone: 205-637-0823 (Homewood)
  • Address: 927 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, AL 35209 (Homewood)
  • Hours of Operation (for both locations):
    • Sunday – Thursday: 12 PM – 9 PM
    • Friday – Saturday: 12 PM – 10 PM

We couldn’t hit all of my favorites in one afternoon, but we certainly gave it a valiant effort. What did I miss, Birmingham? Let me know @BhamNow.

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Madison Croxson
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