10 unique things to do in Birmingham according to insiders

Birmingham Skyline. Become a city insider
Birmingham Alabama, The Magic City (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

The World Games are finally here and we’ve got a lot of people visiting from out of town. So, we at Bham Now have decided to make a guide to some of the cooler places in town that only a true Birmingham insider would know about. Read on to learn all about it.

Three unique tours to go on

Birmingham has a long and fascinating history, and there are a few tours that do a great job digging into our city’s past. Here are a few that are a little off the beaten path but still amazing.

1. Bethel Baptist Church

Bethel Baptist Church
Did you know Rev. Shuttlesworth brought Dr. King to Birmingham? (Sharron Swain / Bham Now)

It’s no secret that Birmingham has many sites significant to the Civil Rights movement, but one that often gets overlooked is the Bethel Baptist Church. Under the leadership of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, for whom our airport is named, Bethel served as a major linchpin for many Civil Rights events in the city, including school desegregation and the bus boycott.

For a complete list of Civil Rights locations, be sure to check out the Birmingham Civil Rights Trail.

2. Haunted Tour

Birmingham, Alabama, The Redmont Hotel, haunted
The Redmont Hotel is one of Birmingham’s most haunted sites. (Terri Robertson / Bham Now)

Did you know that Birmingham is one of the most haunted cities in the American South? Famously there’s Sloss Furnace, which puts on quite the haunted house during Halloween. But you can have some spooky fun any time of year here in Bham by going on a haunted tour of the city. Some of the locations you’ll visit include:

  • The Redmont Hotel
  • The Tutwiler Hotel
  • back alleyways once frequented by “Harry the Hacker“, Birmingham’s very own “Jack The Ripper”
  • and so much more!

There really isn’t a better way to feel like a real city insider than to spend a night walking around downtown and hearing about how people have lived and died here for the last century. The Redmont Hotel, for example, is where singer-songwriter Hank Williams spent his last night on earth, and if you ask some people he never checked out…

Three Unique places to be outside

Birmingham isn’t as urban as a lot of cities—we’ve got a ton of amazing green spaces for people to hike and enjoy. We’ve done a few lists of parks to visit in the past, but here are a few places that stand out.

1. Oak Mountain

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle at Oak Mountain State Park. (Lauran Massey / Bham Now)

Oak Mountain State Park is set to be the location of several sports in The World Games. While you’re there, it’s worth checking out the Wildlife Center and the Treetop Trail. The Center works to save and rehabilitate injured and sick wild birds, and the Treetop Trail is where many of the birds who cannot be safely released back into the wild wind up staying. For any lover of nature, popping by is something that you need to do.

2. Railroad Park

Birmingham 2021 1 10 unique things to do in Birmingham according to insiders
Railroad Park is one of the many pretty spots in town. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

It’s no secret that Railroad Park is one of the best places to hang out in Birmingham, but here are a few insider tips worth knowing for this week. The Birmingham Barons are located right across the street at Regions Field and will be playing a game every night of The World Games starting at 6PM. Parking will be pretty tight, so try and get there early.

3. Vulcan Trail

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The Birmingham skyline from Vulcan Trail. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

If you ever get tired of the hustle and bustle of Birmingham and want to escape the crowds for a bit, head on over to Vulcan for a nice hike through nature. The view of the sunsets there is something any true Birmingham insider needs to see.

Five unique places to grab a bite to eat

Birmingham holiday food
Birmingham has a great food scene. (Joseph Woodley / Bham Now)

Between all of our amazing James Beard award-winning restaurants, Birmingham has managed to shape itself into quite the foodie town. If you’re looking for some good eats, be sure to check out some of the guides we’ve done in the past. Here are a few standout places that you might enjoy.

1. Continental Bakery

Unique places
Continental Bakery. (Pat Byington / Bham Now)

Do you ever just have a hankering for a good croissant or slice of sourdough? Then Continental Bakery is the place for you. Located in Mountain Brook, the bakery has been delighting Bham residents for decades with it’s excellent pastries.

2. The Garage

What a beautiful patio. (The Garage / Facebook)

For a casual lunch or a crazy late-night meal, look no further than the Garage. They have a good selection of beers and a rather good assortment of sandwiches to chow down on. They are cash only though, so keep that in mind.

3. The Bright Star

The Bright Star
The Bright Star is the place to be. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Open since 1907, The Bright Star is a landmark that has served Greek inspired food to generations of Alabama’s people. Look for the Nick Saban booth while you’re there.

4. Bogue’s

Birmingham Alabama
Bogues Restaurant has been named one of the top 51 Breakfast Destinations in America. (Pat Byington / Bham Now)

If you want to have a great breakfast, then head down to Bogue’s for some amazing sweet rolls. Bogue’s is another staple of the city, having been around since 1938.

5. Chez Fonfon

chez fon fon
This cake looks just as beautiful as it tastes. (Chez Fonfon / Facebook)

Birmingham would arguably not have its food scene without Chef Frank Stitt, who began the culinary revolution that’s swept the city in the last few decades. His restaurant Chez Fonfon is definitely one to visit if you enjoy great food and amazing service. Be sure to try their burger. It’s a Birmingham classic.

Poke around the city a little bit

Ultimately, there are a lot of great places and things to do in the city. You really can’t go wrong just by starting off downtown and wandering around. Between all of the amazing bars, restaurants and shops, you’ll be a Birmingham insider yourself in no time at all. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Birmingham? Give us a blast @bhamnow!

Barton Perkins
Barton Perkins
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