Category: Alabama
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Published

[2024] Is Birmingham AL Worth Visiting? I Would Say So!

As a city explorer, however, I was not that impressed with its downtown...
A mural in downtown Birmingham, AL.

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In May 2023, Alabama became the 26th state I visited.

For this state, my friend and I selected the city of Birmingham to explore, which is the state capital. For once, I did not select the largest city in the state, which in the case for Alabama, is Huntsville. The reason: we also included Mississippi in the same trip and wanted to minimize driving time.

If you are flying, I would advise flying to Atlanta instead of Birmingham and renting a car at the airport. We flew Delta and since Delta Airlines is headquarted in Atlanta, our flight into Atlanta was far cheaper than flying directly into Birmingham.

Being a city explorer, it's of no surprise I am drawn to the downtown sectors of the cities. Birmingham's downtown was pretty empty, even on a Friday night and Saturday afternoon. But, there was a good amount of street art to hold my attention!

Fortunately, Birmingham does have other things to do outside the city that very well may make Alabama's capital worth a visit for a weekend.

For 2024, here are 5 reasons why Birmingham AL * may be worth a visit!

* Normally, I would include a comma between 'Birmingham' and 'AL', but for SEO reasons, I am omitting it.

IN THIS ARTICLE...

Is Birmingham AL worth visiting in 2024? 5 Reasons Why It Might Be...

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark was incredible

A walkway in Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Visiting this industrial museum helps answer the question 'Is Birmingham AL worth visiting'.
I've never explored a museum quite like this place!

My friend and I were both in agreement that the best part of our trip to Birmingham was Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. The primary reason being is that I could think of no other museum I've visited in the U.S thus far like it!

A unique travel experience, for sure!

This expansive industrial museum is less than a 10 minute drive from downtown Birmingham. Travelers on a budget? Great news-- this incredible spot is free!

From 1882 to 1971, Sloss Furnaces used to be a fully operational pig-iron blast furnace. In 1972, the site became a national landmark, hence its name today. Now, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark is a public museum and was easily the coolest thing we saw in the "Magic City"!

As a city explorer, I found it really interesting that skyscrapers throughout the country and even automobiles produced in my beloved Detroit relied on Sloss Furnaces for materials!

Outskirts of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.
The outskirts of the site.

As I mentioned here, there is no cost of admission to Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. At the visitor center, you just write down your name, where you are from, and then you are free to roam the area!

Whether you do a self-guided tour or a guided tour, you'll be able to get up close to real industrial machinery, such as boilers, engines, and blowers. Some of the pipes and fences I think were painted brighter colors to be more interesting to the public.

If that's the case, I'm really glad they did!

A colored staircase, pipes, and machinery at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.
The yellow staircase, turquoise pipes, and martian red machinery give Sloss a diverse range of colors!

There are countless opportunities to take photographs at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark! The friend who accompanied me is a street photographer and I've never seen him take so many photos at one location!

The museum is large and you can easily spend over an hour at this place!

I would visit Birmingham again just to visit here again!

Address: 20 32nd St N, Birmingham, AL 35222
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am - 4pm. Closed Sun & Mon

Vulcan Park is beautiful

Moss covered boulders on a trail in Vulcan Park in Birmingham, AL. Visiting this park helps answer the question 'Is Birmingham AL worth visiting'.
Moss covered boulders along a trail in Vulcan Park.

After having a blast at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, we drove about 15 minutes to Vulcan Park so we could walk around outside. The park spans 10 acres.

When you enter Vulcan Park, you'll notice a statue. This 56 foot tall statue is of the Roman god, Vulcan, the god of fire and forge. This statue of Vulcan is the world's largest cast iron statue and is meant to commemorate Birmingham's past in the iron industry.

I failed to get a good picture of it so, instead, I'm using a stock photo.

The world's largest cast iron statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, located in Vulcan Park in Birmingham, AL.
The world's largest cast-iron statue is here in Vulcan Park.

Source: Shutterstock

In May, the weather was close to 80° F with a humidity of 80%. I myself don't mind heat but I understand most others might find this a little intense.

When you walk along Vulcan Park, you'll behold some incredible birdseye views of Birmingham. It was along a trail in Vulcan Park where I snapped the lead photo of this article. Here it is again. It's a photo I'm rather proud of!

Birdseye view from Vulcan Park looking down on the city of Birmingham, AL.
Downtown Birmingham from a magnificent elevated view in Vulcan Park.

I may have failed to get a good picture of my own of the Vulcan Statue but, wow, do I love the picture I got of the city!

There is a museum in Vulcan Park as well. For whatever reason, we did not choose to visit it.

As the park is quite large, you'll definitely get your steps in for the day, not to mention, several opportunities to see the city from way up high!

Address: 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209
Hours: 10am - 10pm

The Birmingham Museum of Art is worth a visit

Artwork in the lobby of the Birmingham Museum of Art in downtown Birmingham, AL.
A large painting on the wall honoring Civil Rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth inside the Birmingham Museum of Art.

One place we did really enjoy in downtown Birmingham was the Birmingham Museum of Art. And like Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark? General admission to this museum as well is free!

Housing over 27,000 paintings and sculptures, the Birmingham Museum of Art is a great place to spend time in downtown Birmingham.

An art museum is a terrific place to visit if you want some peace and quiet in the city. Well, the thing about downtown Birmingham is that it's rather quiet already. Not that this fact detracts from the enjoyment of the museum!

Bunny statues inside the Birmingham Museum of Art in downtown Birmingham, AL.
Me having some fun inside the Birmingham Museum of Art!

In the lobby of the museum, you'll find a large mural of reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. The reason I bring this painting up is because of Birmingham's significance in the Civil Rights Movement, which I'll get to in a later section of this article!

Before I briefly summarize the city's history, here is what I thought of the street art throughout downtown...

Address: 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35203
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. Closed Mon.

Downtown Birmingham has some cool street art

Author of Michael Visits All standing in front of a colorful mural in downtown Birmingham AL.
The street art was quite amazing in downtown!

Downtown may not have had a lot of people walking around but it did have some pretty cool street art to admire!

Most of the street art was captured by video, so here are some snapshots from the videos.

A mural in a parking lot in downtown Birmingham, AL.
A mural in a parking lot in downtown Birmingham.

Nearly all of the murals were in close proximity to one another. Unlike other cities, like Minneapolis or Detroit, I did not use the CANVS Street Art app to locate these.

Here is one more.

A mural in downtown Birmingham, AL.
Murals in downtown.

Birmingham was a historically important city in the Civil Rights Movement

Statues of four children..... Kelly Ingram Park in downtown Birmingham, AL.
Statues of four children inside Kelly Ingram Park.

While the Civil Rights Movement commenced in another Alabama city, Montgomery, in 1955, Birmingham nonetheless played a big role in the movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. deemed Birmingham to be the most segregated city in the country. This observation led to the Birmingham Campaign. King was joined by James Bevel and Fred Shuttlesworth-- the latter whose mural you'll find in the lobby of the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Kelly Ingram Park erected a statue of Martin Luther King Jr in February 2010. There are other statues throughout the public park honoring the struggles of various folks throughout the 20th century.

Statues of Martin Luther King Jr in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, AL
Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Kelly Ingram Park.

Kelly Ingram Park is one of the spots in downtown where you can learn more about Birmingham's historical significance.

Address: 500 17th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Hours: 8am-8pm

Conclusion

Birmingham, AL-- "Magic City"-- and Alabama's state capital, is a cool city to check out for a weekend in 2024.

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark was my personal favorite and is conveniently located about ten minutes from downtown. Vulcan Park is a tremendous spot to hike and get some incredible views of the city below!

And honestly, while downtown Birmingham is the most boring downtown of a U.S city I've seen thus far, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Kelly Ingram Park, and the street art still make downtown worth at least spending a couple hours in.

Like pretty much any city I've visited in the southern region of the U.S, the people are very friendly and polite. The food in the south is also the best in the country!

Thank you for reading my article on the question, 'Is Birmingham AL worth visiting?'. I hope you've enjoyed it. Let me know if you do visit the "Magic City" in 2024!


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