9 insider tips for new college students in Birmingham, including where to shop, park + eat

new to birmingham
A view of UAB’s campus. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

New to The Magic City? From where to get groceries to free attractions, we got you covered. Keep reading to learn all the ins and outs that every new person in Birmingham needs.

Where to grocery shop

1. Piggly Wiggly

If you’re looking for local grocery, Piggly Wiggly has so much to offer. They have lots of Alabama farmer’s meats and plenty of local dips, salsas and chips.

LOCAL PRO TIP: Piggly Wiggly is also referred to as The Pig and has some of the best mac and cheese in their deli.

2. Publix

For Southern grown produce and decent weekly deals, Publix has a Midtown location close to UAB and a new store that’s already broken ground in Irondale.

3. Local Source

For more fresh Alabama produce, shop at Local Source. You can purchase frozen grass-fed meats from Sylacauga and goods from Alabama makers in a quaint and inviting space.

More grocery shopping


Flex lanes Birmingham
Always be aware of signs! (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

When you’re new to the city, parking can be the most intimidating thing about getting around. Check out some of our handy guides to parking around town:

FUN FACT: Birmingham uses the ParkMobile app on our parking meters around town, so if you don’t have any quarters you can still pay digitally.

Where to eat

4. Al’s Deli & Grill

Al’s Deli and Grill, a tasty college classic. (Pat Byington / Bham Now)

Listen, we all know you’re not gonna be cooking full-course meals during move-in week and Al’s is the perfect spot for late-night dining.

5. Giuseppe’s

kitchen at Giuseppe's
Hard at work in the kitchen at Giuseppe’s. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Just off UAB’s campus, Giuseppe’s Cafe has been a Birmingham staple for almost 20 years, and our Facebook commenters recommend everything on the menu. They also have a new look, so give them a try!

6. O’Henry’s

O'Henry's Coffee
Grab a cup. You know you wanna. (O’Henry’s Coffee)

A coffee shop is a college student’s studying oasis. As a new student, you’ll want to know about the locally loved coffee shop, O’Henry’s. It’s also down the road from Samford’s campus making it the go-to study spot.

7. Mr. P’s Deli

A short drive from Samford’s campus and you’ll find yourself at Mr. P’s Deli, a quaint deli in Bluff Park. After you order a tasty sandwich to go, walk over to Lover’s Leap, a secluded area overlooking the trees of Homewood.

Browse through our directory of over 260 locally loved restaurants.


Where to find attractions

8. Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham Botanical Gardens. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

As a new person making their rounds in Birmingham, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a hot spot you need to check out. With walking tours, yoga classes and fun events and camps, there’s something for everyone. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

You can also buy native and indoor plants to spruce up your new home in the Magic City.

9. Birmingham Museum of Art

Holi at Birmingham Museum of Art
Back from Holi: A Festival of Color at Birmingham Museum of Art. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

The thrilling exhibits and programs at Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) showcase an inclusive story of Birmingham and art globally. Admission is free, making it student-friendly. BMA believes that art should be accessible to everyone, so tour soon as you navigate downtown.

BONUS: Don’t miss, Emelle native, Thorton Dial’s “I Too, Am Alabama” a new exhibit at UAB’s Abroms Engel Institute of Visual Arts.

More attractions to explore

How are you finding your way around in our city? Let us know on our FacebookInstagram + Twitter.

Summer Guffey
Summer Guffey

Art enthusiast and expert on all things tea.

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