Friday, 23 October 2015

Birmingham is a city rich in history and culture.

As Alabama's largest city with more than 212,000 residents, it is home to a variety of acclaimed higher education institutions such as the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, and Birmingham-Southern College and has a reputation for excellent food, live music venues, and fascinating attractions. Here, we detail (in no particular order) 25 things you and your family can do for less than $25 on your next visit to the greater Birmingham area.

1. Learn about vintage motorcycles

Attention motorcycle fans: the  Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum  in nearby Leeds has reportedly the best motorcycle collection in the world with more than 1,200 vintage and contemporary models on hand. The museum is located next to Barber Motorsports Park, which has a racetrack (look online for the racing schedule). Tickets to the museum will run you $15 for adults and $10 for kids between ages 4 and 12.

2. Enjoy the great outdoors

One of the best places to explore outside in the Birmingham area is at the  Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. There, you and your family can walk miles of nature trails and even say hello to a few rescued animals. Admission is $2 per person (a suggested donation).

3. Get inspired

For those looking for some artistic inspiration, there are fewer finer places to go than the Birmingham Museum of Art, a vast space with more than 17,000 works of art. Admission is always free, but be aware that the museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays.

4. Visit baseball history

Over on 1137 2nd  Ave. W is Rickwood Field, known as the oldest baseball park in the U.S. It first opened in 1910 as a minor league park and today hosts professional and amateur games. It is open Monday through Friday for tours and private events–definitely worth a visit. Ticket prices are usually low, but depend on the event.

5. Take in a show

Alabama Theater

Check out  The Alabama Theatre, one of the last remaining movie houses in the state. In addition to old movies (shown for usually around $8 per person), the venue also welcomes a variety of musical guests (prices vary depending on the show).

6. Say hi to an elephant

The Birmingham Zoo is an excellent place to spend the day with your family. Tickets will run you $15 for adults and $10 for kid's ages 2-12–pretty cheap for access to more than 750 animals. Do you have a membership at your hometown zoo? If so, check out this list before purchasing tickets to see if you get a discount.

7. Check out a massive furnace

Visiting an oven may sound odd, but Sloss Furnaces is a National Historic Landmark that produced iron for more than 90 years. They now offer tours for group of 15 people or more at $4 per person.

8. Learn about civil rights history

The Civil Rights Movement has a deep history in Birmingham, which makes a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute  essential. The center has a variety of exhibits as well as programs for children. Adult tickets run $12 per person, and kids ages 4-12 living in Jefferson County, Alabama get in for free. Kids outside the county are charged $3 per person.

9. Visit the 16th Street Baptist Church

16th Street Baptist Church

In addition to going to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, consider making a visit to the 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of a bombing in the early 60s and a pivotal event in civil rights history. Admission is free and tours are offered, but make a reservation before visiting.

10. Dig in at Saw's

Saw's BBQ, with three locations in the greater Birmingham area, is an excellent place for a budget-friendly meal. Try the combo meal–sandwich, side, and drink–for $9.50 or a Carolina Dog for $5.25. You can even get a whole slab of ribs for $22.25.

11. Gain hands-on science knowledge

The McWane Science Center is an interactive science museum perfect for kids. From getting up close with sharks to learning about dinosaur bones, this place is awesome for the curious youngster in your family. Admission for adults is $13 per person and kids from 2-12 years old at $9 per person.

12. Walk through history

A visit to Kelly Ingram Park, the place where many rallies during the Civil Rights Movement took place, is now open to visitors with free, guided audio tours via mobile phones that are accessible by calling 205-307-5455.

13. Spend the day with retired planes

Interested in aviation? If so, there are few places better to spend your time than at the Southern Museum of Flight, which houses more than 90 historical military, civilian, and experimental aircraft. Tickets are $7 for adults and $6 for students. Free admission applies to active members of the military and their families, but it's closed Sundays and Mondays.

14. Grab a slice

Those with a craving for some tasty pizza are smart to run to Slice at 725 29th Street South in Birmingham. This pizza joint offers a wide variety of flavors–all at good prices. A pepperoni pizza is just $16, and a Hawaiian pie is a mere $17.

15. Take pictures of pretty flowers

Load your camera and drive over to nearby Hoover for a visit to Aldridge Gardens, a sprawling, 30-acre botanical garden open to the public. It also runs kids camps in the summer. Admission is free.

16. Learn about the Vulcan statue

Both residents and visitors of Birmingham may wonder about Vulcan, the massive iron statue of a bearded man. They can learn everything about the 56-foot-tall behemoth at the Vulcan Park & Museum. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for kids ages 5-12.

17. Play frisbee in a state park

Oak Mountain State Park is massive–nearly 10,000 acres. It's the perfect place to play frisbee or have a picnic with your family. Bonus: there's a petting farm, too. Entry is $4 per adult and $1 for kids ages 6-11, but check the website for rates on camping, golfing, horseback riding, and other activities.

18. Walk through Alabama's jazz history

Music-loving visitors will relish a tour of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Tours are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at $5 per person, and self-guided tours are just $2 per person.

19. Head to Eagle's

There are few places in Birmingham tastier and cheaper than Eagle's Restaurant, a soul food institution in the community since 1951. The menu changes every day, but you won't spend more than $10 per person on a full meal on most days

20. Learn more about your sports heroes

Alabama is crazy about their sports, so it's no surprise that the state has an exemplary hall of fame. The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame  has more than 5,000 sports artifacts covering over 33,000 square feet of space. Admission costs $5 for adults and $3 for students.

21. Enjoy the fresh air

Red Mountain Park is a great place to walk along nature trails and among coalfields, with more than 12 miles of trails to explore. The park is free to the public. If you're the adventurous type, consider one of the park's zip line options, namely the Mega Zip at Kaul Adventure Tour for $20 per person.

22. Listen to tunes at Moonlight

Moonlight on the Mountain is a little-known music venue in Birmingham that brings in fun acts and offers reasonable ticket prices. It depends on the act, but prices usually won't go above $20 per person.

23. Take yourself out to the ball game

The Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team–a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox–play at Regions Field, which opened in 2013. Ticket prices start at $10 for bleacher seats.

24. Stroll the gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens has 30 different sections covering more than 67 acres. Many gardens are themed, with collections that focus on a specific plant genus or family. Admission is free.

25. Contemplate life along the railroad

Railroad Park

Railroad Park is a great place to hang out. "Birmingham's Living Room" is close to downtown Birmingham and hosts activities and concerts on its 19 well-preserved acres. Access is free and the views are worth a few selfies.

Summer-time Bonus: Stroll through Pepper Place

On Saturday mornings between mid-April and mid-December, you can take the family down to enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes at the Pepper Place Saturday Market. This is a local favorite where it's fun just to walk around, talk to vendors, and people-watch. No purchase necessary.



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