Birmingham Travel Guide

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Free Things To Do in Birmingham

If you have extra time, Birmingham Botanical Gardens is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Birmingham
    View all Photos
    #1 in Birmingham
    0.9 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.9 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    To learn more about Birmingham's role in the civil rights movement, plan a visit to the Civil Rights District. This six-block area in downtown Birmingham encompasses several historic sites, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the A.G. Gaston Gardens and the Fourth Avenue Business District, among other points of interest.

    Perhaps the most significant site is Kelly Ingram Park, which played host to civil rights rallies, demonstrations and confrontations in the 1960s, including the Children's Crusade. You can take a self-led walking tour through the park to learn about the notable protesters and the significant incidents of this turbulent time in the city's history, detailed by markers along the Freedom Walk route. The park is also home to the Four Spirits statues, which honor the four African American girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. To fully experience the walk, you can access a free audio tour from your cell phone by calling 205-307-5455.

  • #2
    Birmingham Railroad Park
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    #2 in Birmingham
    0.7 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.7 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Known as "Birmingham's Living Room," the 19-acre Railroad Park is where locals gather for recreational activities, concerts and special events. The park features a lake, jogging trails, skate bowls, an outdoor gym, playgrounds and the partially covered 17th Street Plaza, which offers restrooms and the Railroad Park Dining Car.

    Recent travelers said this local favorite is a gorgeous green space. Reviewers commented on the clean restrooms, beautiful gardens, picnic facilities and scenic trails. Parents noted that their kids loved watching the trains go by at the adjacent railroad yard. 

  • #3
    Birmingham Botanical Gardens
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    #3 in Birmingham
    2.1 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    2.1 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Spanning more than 65 acres, these gorgeous gardens are known for their diverse plant collections. In fact, there are 30 thematic gardens divided into three categories: Gardens of Collections, Gardens of Nature and Gardens of Culture. You'll also find the only public horticultural library in the United States here. What's more, programs and workshops are available for both children and adults, and the Bruno Vegetable Garden provides food for Birmingham's needy. The gardens also feature several paths for walking and jogging, making it a great spot for both recreation and relaxation.

    Recent visitors said a visit to the botanical gardens is a fun and inexpensive way to spend an afternoon outdoors. Many commented on the variety of birds, as well as the diverse landscapes, from Japanese gardens to native woodlands. All agreed that the facility is well-maintained and appreciated its many amenities, including a restaurant, lots of outdoor seating and a gift shop.

  • #5
    Birmingham Museum of Art
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    #5 in Birmingham
    0.9 miles to city center
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.9 miles to city center
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Despite its small size, this art museum houses a notable and eclectic collection of Asian, European, Native American and African art, not to mention one of the best collections of Wedgwood in the country (in fact, it houses the most Wedgwood outside of England).

    Recent visitors were impressed with the museum's noteworthy collection of Wedgwood, along with the Samuel Kress collection of European art and its Remington works. Reviewers also appreciated the free admission and free parking, and praised the museum's other facilities, including its on-site eatery and gift shop. However, a few noted that the outdoor art installation is somewhat overgrown and neglected.

  • #6
    Red Mountain Park
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    #6 in Birmingham
    6.1 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    6.1 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    There's something for everyone at Red Mountain Park, where miners once toiled to extract iron ore from the red soil. The 1,500-acre park features more than 15 miles of trails, two scenic overlooks, three treehouses, an off-leash dog park and adventures from zip lining and climbing to a ropes course.

    Many visitors loved the zip line and ropes courses, but bemoaned the poorly marked and confusing trail signs and the lack of proper restrooms (the park does offer portable toilets). Most said the trails – not particularly long or challenging – are more for walkers than hikers, including families with strollers and small children. Pet owners also appreciated the dog park, as well as the plentiful free parking. 

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