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50 Things You Simply Must Do In Birmingham

Bham is back and cooler than ever.

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1. Watch fireworks at Vulcan


Vulcan is Birmingham’s famous patron god (Iron City, anyone?) whose statue overlooks downtown (and moons Homewood). It’s by far the best place to watch fireworks… except for those who get queasy from heights.

2. Attend a baseball game at Regions Field


Birmingham's newly-built baseball stadium has helped revive downtown and Birmingham's love for the sport. It features a beautiful view of the city (perfect during a sunset) and is conveniently located across from Good People Brewing Company- Birmingham's famous local brewery!

3. Enjoy a sunny day at Railroad Park


And attend one of their free exercise classes while you're there! And be sure to check out the "You Are Beautiful" graffiti nearby- part of a campaign to uplift Birmingham and its citizens.

5. Or enjoy coffee and catch up on your reading at Church Street Coffee and Books


Local coffee, great books, delicious baked goods, and an awesome staff, this is the best little nook to study or catch up with friends. (Be sure to try the Breakup Cookie, their claim to fame).

7. Dine at the award-winning restaurants


Hot and Hot Fish Club is home to the world-renowned chef Chris Hastings, famous for beating Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America (yes, really). Other award winners include Highlands Bar and Grill (featured above), Gianmarco's Restaurant, Avo, Ocean, Bottega, and more!

11. Attend a concert at Iron City


This new venue in Birmingham is already making huge waves. With bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Local Natives, Trey Anastasio Band, Neko Case, and Arctic Monkeys, this is becoming the new hit venue in the city. Other venues to check out include Workplay, BJCC, Boutwell Auditorium, and the Forge.

12. Or, if you're feeling indie, catch a show at Bottletree Cafe

Via Flickr: lissalynn

Last June, comedian Rob Delaney praised Bottletree in a tweet, saying, "No offense other venues but I think I'm gonna marry @BottletreeCafe in Birmingham. If you're a performer, get here. It's NUTS". This cool venue showcases comedians, spoken word poets, well-known indie bands, and local performers, as well as the best vegan food in Birmingham.

13. After your show, grab some late night at Al's Deli and Grill


Located in Five Points and next to UAB, Al's is another beloved local treasure. Open 24 / 7, you can always count on Al's for some delicious Mediterranean-American food (be sure to try the Baker!).

15. Grab some delicious bbq at Saw's


Whoever said Alabama wasn't home to the best BBQ clearly never ate here. Whether at Saw's BBQ in Homewood, Saw's Soul Kitchen in Avondale, or Saw's Juke Joint in Crestline, your whole world is about to change. I recommend the smoked chicken sandwich with white BBQ sauce.

17. Marvel at the Satanic Fountain in Five Points


One of Birmingham's weirdest features, this famous fountain in Five Points is still the object of great speculation. Some people claim the fountain, which features a ram-headed storyteller, to be satanic, while others say it's just art. Have no fear though- I'm pretty sure the church behind it negates any evil it might emanate.

22. See a film at the Alabama Theater


Built in 1927, it's one of the most beautiful structures in Birmingham. It's also the best place to catch movies not in commercial theaters. Come by for their Christmas movie series, Harry Potter marathons, summer movie shows, and the annual Rocky Horror Picture show (and the pre-movie singalongs, of course!).

23. Go to Secret Stages


Secret Stages is Birmingham’s new music festival. Hosted downtown over a weekend in August, attendees can see up to 80 bands from all over the US (including Birmingham!) in the Historic Loft District.

25. Stock up on some fresh food at the Pepper Place Market


Birmingham's biggest farmers market is held on Saturdays in Pepper Place from mid-April to mid-December. Come by for fresh food from local farms, music, clothes, jewelry, pottery, and good company.

26. Support local artists at Art Walk


Art Walk is an arts festival held in September on 2nd Avenue North. Shops open their spaces to local artists, and attendees can purchase any available art, meet the artists, listen to good music, or just enjoy the local art scene.

28. Attend Art on the Rocks


While you're at the art museum, stay for Art on the Rocks, a summertime series featuring the best of local art. Drinks, food, music, performances, activities, and features of local artists are available to attendees (of legal age, of course).

29. See a play at Virginia Samford Theater


This theatrical treasure showcases the best of local theater- from comedians to musicians to dancers to actors. Summer classes and workshops are also available for those hoping to express themselves with a little more flair.

32. Go to the Symphony (like the royal you are)


Alabama Symphony Orchestra is the state’s only full-time professional orchestra. Though they usually play at a few select indoor venues, they’ve been known to play a few outdoor concerts in local parks- perfect for a summer night.

33. Participate in the Mercedes Marathon


Run the marathon or the half marathon and get some free beer and massages. Running not your thing? Come out and cheer your fellow citizens on- and discover some beautiful parts of Birmingham you haven't seen before.

34. Pig out at one of the food festivals

Via Facebook: Greek-Food-Festival-Birmingham-Alabama

The Greek and Lebanese Food Festivals are two of the biggest food festivals in Birmingham and are sure to leave you happy, full, and wishing you were Mediterranean. Be sure to check out the students dancers, the Lebanese family tree, and grab some of that Greek coffee while you're there.

35. Attend a music festival at Avondale Brewery


We love our festivals in Birmingham, and luckily for us, Avondale Brewery does too! This local brewery and restaurant hosts several family-friendly music festivals over the summer. The day-long festivals have featured some great local artists, including up-and-coming St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

36. Cool down with some Doodles


Doodles is Birmingham's beloved homemade Italian ice and sorbet provider. Located in Cahaba Heights, there's nothing better on a hot day than one of their treats. But be sure to stick around during the fall to grab some of their delicious Great Pumpkin sorbet.

37. Not a fan of Italian ice? Stop by Steel City Pops instead


Steel City Pops is Birmingham's gourmet popsicle store. With various locations throughout the city, it's the best place to indulge on handmade, all-natural popsicles and show your love for the city.

41. Get scared at Sloss Furnace


Sloss is one of the oldest and most famous structures in Birmingham- and one of the coolest. It's now a sort of interpretive museum of industry and is home to a bunch of awesome metal artwork. It's also a cool venue and, near Halloween, a haunted house. Furnaces were dangerous back in the day, and there are a bunch of ghost stories surrounding the site, making it one of the most haunted structures in town.

42. Learn about Birmingham's history at the Civil Rights Institute


Birmingham was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement, and its history is riddled with stories of triumph and stories of deep discrimination and violence. The Civil Rights Institute is open to the public and has incredibly moving exhibits- by the time you see the 16th Street Baptist Church, famous for the bombing and killing of 4 little girls, you'll be speechless.

43. Picnic at the Botanical Garden


The Birmingham Botanical Garden is located in Mountain Brook Village and is home to dozens of gardens, secluded little nooks and crannies, and beautiful trails. It's also a popular wedding destination.

45. Go to a race at Barber Motorsports


Barber Motorsports hosts dozens of races a year and also happens to be incredible beautiful and cool (yes, those are giant spiders). While you're there, be sure to stop by the museum and check out some vintage motorcycles.

47. Host a party with some Ousler's sandwiches


Ousler's sandwiches are basically mini celebrities in Birmingham. There are few parties you'll go to where you won't find some of these incredibly delicious (and addicting) delights. Just make sure to pace yourself- it's way too easy to scarf down a whole plate.

48. Visit some of the incredible churches


Whether or not you subscribe to any Christian beliefs, if you love architecture, you'll love some of these churches. The Cathedral of St. Paul is one of the most famous Catholic churches in the south- and I think it's obvious why. If you're into a warmer feel, check out the Cathedral Church of the Advent for some insanely beautiful woodworking.

50. Attend Sidewalk Film Festival


The Sidewalk Film Festival is Birmingham's annual local film festival, showcasing student and professional films downtown. Some of its most notable films include "4 Little Girls," a film on the 16th Baptist Church bombing and "Our Mockingbird," a documentary about the partnership between two schools and their production of "To Kill A Mockingbird"- one that even Harper Lee came out to see.

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