A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 1
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A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect 2 days in Birmingham AL. Birmingham is not the capital city of Alabama, but it is the largest city in the state. It’s also home to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, so there’s plenty of young folk around in the city most of the year.

Birmingham is also an important city in United States history because of the important role it played in the Civil Rights movement. We’ll learn all about that and more as we enjoy our 2 days in Birmingham AL. Follow me and I’ll show you exactly where to go.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: 2 Days in Birmingham AL

#1 TOP PICK

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CIVIL RIGHTS TOUR
✔️ Learn Birmingham’s history
✔️ Expert local guide

#2 PICK

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 3

GHOST TOUR
✔️ Get off the beaten track
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#3 PICK

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 4

ALL OTHER BIRMINGHAM TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

best things to do in birmingham al

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Day One Morning: Vulcan Park

There are so many fun things to do during your 2 days in Birmingham AL, but one of my absolute favorite activities is taking a trip up to Vulcan Park. This place has everything: great views, exhibits on the history of metalworking, and a perfectly sculpted male behind.

Join me as I take you on a little journey to the Vulcan Park Museum where we can learn all about the God of the Forge and his connection with the largest city in Alabama. Get ready to steel yourself for knowledge with…

Three Fascinating facts about vulcan park

2 days in birmingham al
1) Why is this place called Vulcan Park?

It is named Vulcan Park in honor of Vulckie here, who is the largest cast-iron statue in the world. He has existed for over a century because he was molded to represent the steel industry in Birmingham at the St. Louis World’s Fair, which was immortalized in the Judy Garland musical Meet Me in St Louis.

Why would you choose Vulcan to represent Birmingham? Great question! Steel used to be the major industry in Birmingham, although now the biggest employer in town is the university. They called Birmingham both Steel City and The Pittsburgh of South, only Without Andrew Carnegie. (I made that last part up.)

best things to do in birmingham al
2) Why was Birmingham famous for Steel?

So it turns out that making steel is a lot more complicated than my teachers let on in school. You need lots of materials like iron, limestone, and coal, and fortunately they’ve got all of these around Birmingham.

Remember, Birmingham wasn’t a city before the Civil War. It’s not on the water or anything, like other, older major Southern cities like New Orleans and Charleston. So if it weren’t for the steel industry, Birmingham wouldn’t exist. They called it Magic City because it grew so quickly, thanks to the might of steel.

First, don’t forget to climb to the top of the Observatory Tower on Vulcan’s head, so you can get great views of the Magic City. This is one of the prettiest spots you’ll find during your 2 days in Birmingham AL.

best things to do in birmingham al

Then go inside the museum and learn all about the evolution of the steel industry in Birmingham. It’s actually a lot more interesting than you might expect.

best things to do in birmingham al
3) Why is it called Vulcan Park?

A lot of things that were built especially for a World’s Fair eventually got torn down or destroyed. (Some exceptions include The Eiffel Tower and Ferris wheels.) But when the World’s Fair was over, people in Birmingham weren’t sure what to do with Vulcan.

For decades, he just sat around, being a lonely little metal god. People even painted him a creepy flesh color, which made matters worse. Fortunately during the FDR Administration, a lot of public projects were built, and one of these projects was creating a forever home for Vulcan.

So don’t look at this giant statue and feel humbled or frightened. Think of him as like a little lost puppy who finally found someone to adopt him.

2 days in birmingham al

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Day One Afternoon: Birmingham Museum of Art

We’ve met the giant, steel symbol of the city, and we’ve learned about Birmingham’s early history. Now, let’s head to the Birmingham Museum of Art! We’ll learn how Birmingham gets down and classy during our 2 days in Birmingham AL.

What kind of art would you expect to find in Birmingham? If you said a giant painting of Nick Saban, that is incorrect. In fact, the Birmingham Museum of Art has tons of amazing works for all to appreciate. But first, lunch!

Approximately top 5: Birmingham Museum of Art

2 days in birmingham al
1) Lunch

Sadly, the lunch place that I visited during my 2 days in Birmingham AL has since closed, though it was quite delicious. Some people think that you can’t find fresh vegetables in the South, but this is deeply wrong. Look at all those tomatoes, corn, and okra! It was summer on a plate, only without all the humidity.

There’s plenty of other places in Birmingham to find vegetables, so I suggest dining at Green Acres Cafe instead.

2 days in birmingham al
2) Tomb Guardian

This cool creature is a tomb guardian from thousands of years ago. However, what doe a tomb guardian do exactly? No one seems sure. Does it fight off demons who are trying to eat your soul. Does it guide your soul to the otherworld? I’ve never met a tomb guardian in the flesh, so I can’t say.

I like to think that this a spirit guide because it’s pretty cute. If I need to be guided to the afterlife, I’d like to be guided by something as cute as this.

2 days in birmingham al
3) Epa Mask

The Birmingham Museum of Art also has an incredible collection of art from Africa. My favorite piece from the African collection was this mask belonging to the Yoruba people of Nigeria, which you can see in my photo above.

Heroes from the community were honored by having their likenesses placed on top of the mask. This seems like a great and worthy honor for a hero to me, much better than having your image used in a Super Bowl ad.

best things to do in birmingham al
4) Wedgwood ceramics

Want to know the Birmingham Museum of Art’s most impressive collection? Well, it’s Wedgwood. They have the largest collection of Wedgwood ceramics outside of the UK. If you don’t know the beauty of the classic Wedgwood style, this is an excellent place to start.

I obviously don’t have space to show all their Wedgwood, so I just focused on some of the most famous pieces. These are replicas of a Roman vase that was made to celebrate the wedding of Augustus’s unfortunate daughter Julia. (She was married three times, so I’m not sure which wedding these were for.)

But forget the history! Study the designs on these vases and soon you’ll be able to recognize a Wedgwood anywhere.

best things to do in birmingham al
5) Laughing Boy by robert henri

Isn’t this little boy the cutest? He looks like he’s just spilled a giant bottle of milk all over his sister’s computer, and he’s laughing at the thought of how angry she’s going to be.

Oh wait! This painting is way too old to be about computers. Then I guess he spilled the milk all over his sister’s abacus. That’s how they did the math homework in the old days, no?

2 days in birmingham al

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Day One Late Afternoon: Dinner at El Barrio

Ordinarily, I eat dinner at seven o’clock in the evening. That’s a pretty standard time for my hometown New York City, and I’m not quite old enough for the Early Bird Special.

But for the evening of our first of 2 days in Birmingham AL, I suggest you get an early dinner at El Barrio.. There are two reasons for this. The first is that El Barrio doesn’t take reservations and the lines are crazy long, so the sooner you show up, the more likely you are to get a good seat.

I got my own seat at the bar as soon as the restaurant open, and I feasted on guacamole, a margarita, and bacon and jalapeno quesadillas. Is this the perfect meal to have right before starting a ghost tour? I think it just might be!

things to do in birmingham al

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Day One Evening: Birmingham Ghost Walk

Now, you might be wondering if you have to believe in ghosts to go on a ghost tour, and the answer is no. Ghost tours are just fun walks full of local lore and legends. I personally believe in ghosts, but I am not scared of them because I know they can’t slap me.

Anyway, you might not have realized that Birmingham has an excellent ghost tour, but it does! And I hope you’ll join me on this tour to see a different side of Birmingham.

You can book this tour yourself easily by clicking here.

Then get ready to join me for…

Three fascinating “facts” about birmingham, alabama ghosts

2 days in birmingham al
1) Who lived in this house?

Have you ever heard of the Ku Klux Klan? Well, I wish that I hadn’t, but here we are. The Klan had an active presence in Birmingham for many years, and they were responsible for the deaths of quite a few of Birmingham’s citizens.

Back in 1921, a local priest named James Coyle performed a marriage ceremony between a white woman and a Latino man. Her father was a Klansman and didn’t approve of this, so he murdered the poor priest out of revenge.

The killer was never convicted, largely because some of the members of the jury were also Klansmen. Also, his defense attorney ended up being appointed to the Supreme Court. So it’s no wonder that Coyle’s ghost still haunts this area, looking for justice.

things to do in birmingham al
2) Can a librarian be a ghost?

Absolutely, especially if that librarian is Fant Thornley. (Yes, that’s his real name.) Thornley was the director of the Birmingham Public Library back when Birmingham was segregated, However, Thornley didn’t believe in segregation, so he allowed anyone who wanted to come into the library. Nothing like an anti-racist librarian ghost!

They say that Thornley could never bear to leave his library, so he still haunts it to this day, in a friendly sort of way. See, I told you ghosts weren’t scary. Wait, what’s that behind you? BOO!

2 days in birmingham al
3) Richard Hawes

Now we come to the most revolting ghost story on the tour. It’s a tale as old as time. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy murders girl and their two daughters by drowning them in a lake.

I mean, the gentleman in question, Richard Hawes, claimed that his entire family just randomly drowned, and then he just happened to get remarried shortly after by a strange coincidence.

Long story short, no one believed him, he was tried and hanged, and now he haunts Birmingham. But I don’t think we need to be scared of Hawes because we are probably not a female relative of his.

24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of the tour I can share for now. You’ll have to go ahead and check the rates and schedules by going here to find out the rest.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: 2 Days in Birmingham AL

#1 TOP PICK

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CIVIL RIGHTS TOUR
✔️ Learn Birmingham’s history
✔️ Expert local guide

#2 PICK

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 3

GHOST TOUR
✔️ Get off the beaten track
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#3 PICK

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 4

ALL OTHER BIRMINGHAM TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

24 hours in birmingham

2 Days in Birmingham

Day Two Morning: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The reason that Birmingham, Alabama played such an important role in American history is that many Civil Rights activists led protests here. The city’s law enforcement was run by a brutal racist named Bull Connor, and when his vicious tactics against the Civil Rights protests were shown on television, it had a huge influence on public opinion.

If you’re going to spend any time in Birmingham at all, you have to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. This is the best place to learn about segregation, activism, and the fight for justice. You’ll learn much more than…

Three facts about civil rights in Birmingham

2 days in birmingham
1) What was life like in the segregated South?

Before the Civil Rights movement, life in Birmingham was totally segregated, thanks to the racist Jim Crow laws that operated in the South. The separate drinking fountains are well known, but schools were also kept “separate and unequal”.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

White classrooms had access to adequate materials, smaller class sizes, and more.

24 hours in birmingham

Black classrooms were kept in much worse conditions, they didn’t have access to quality supplies, and class sizes were almost twice as large.

Nowadays, we don’t have de jure segregation, but de facto segregation and unequal classroom conditions remains a huge problem.

24 hours in birmingham
2) Why is this jail cell famous?

The most famous prisoner to be held in a Birmingham jail was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (No, the jail cell in the Civil Rights Institute isn’t the exact jail cell that Dr. King was kept in, but it looks similar.

The reason that this jail cell is so famous isn’t just that Dr. King was held here. He wrote the “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” here, admonishing white ministers from Alabama who thought that the Civil Rights activists should be more patient and moderate.

I recommend reading the letter if you haven’t, but you are probably already familiar with the quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. That was written right here in Birmingham.

24 hours in birmingham
3) How is Birmingham Different Today?

Birmingham is extremely different today. In fact, much of the leadership of the city is Black. This change started in the 1970s, when a young Black woman named Bonita Carter was killed by a white officer. In part because of this incident, Richard Arrington Jr. ran for mayor. He was elected the first Black mayor of Birmingham.

The current mayor of Birmingham, Randall Woodfin, is very involved in making improvements to the city, and I was excited about the new businesses and cultural attractions like the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. Go check out Birmingham and experience all this for yourself!

24 hours in birmingham

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Day Two Afternoon: Explore Birmingham

You’ve seen the inside of the Civil Rights Institute, but Birmingham also has civil rights monuments all over the city if you follow the Civil Rights Heritage Trail. The signs are clearly marked, so all you have to do is follow them.

You can also book an excellent Civil Rights guided tour during your 2 days in Birmingham AL if you want to avoid the heat and learn about history from a knowledgeable local.

I recommend booking this tour by clicking here.

Approximately top 5: Birmingham Civil Rights

2 days in birmingham al
1) Lunch time!

Of course, you’re going to want lunch, and Birmingham is famous for barbecue. My favorite barbecue place I visited in my 2 days in Birmingham AL moved to Atlanta.

So instead, I suggest stopping at Yo Mama’s for some tasty chicken and waffles or a BBQ burger. Can’t go wrong either way!

2 days in birmingham al
2) 16th Street Baptist Church

This church is famous for a very sad reason. It’s where a group of terrorists set off a bomb in 1963 that killed four little Black girls going to church.

It seems shocking that terrorists would target a church, but many Civil Rights activists, including Birmingham’s own Fred Shuttlesworth, led meetings in these churches. That’s why they became targeted by the Ku Klux Klan and other affiliated groups.

There were at least four men responsible for the bombing, but one was never convicted, and two of them were only convicted in the 21st century. Many victims of racist violence never received any justice at all.

2 days in birmingham al
3) Kelly Ingram Park

The park was named after Kelly Ingram, but he’s not the reason to come here. The reason this park is famous is because of its role in the Children’s Crusade protest that happened here during the Civil Rights Movement.

Many adult leaders of the movement had been jailed, so children started protesting segregation in public. Bull Connor attacked these children with fire hoses and police dogs and had many of them arrested. (You can see statues all around the park that memorialize these horrific events.)

24 hours in birmingham alabama

The children’s protests had an enormous effect on public opinion, and the president at the time, John F. Kennedy, sent the army into Birmingham to stop the violence.

24 hours in birmingham alabama
24 hour treasure

This statue in Kelly Ingram Park honors the four little girls who were killed in the church bombing in 1963. The empty shoes in the statue memorialize a different child who was killed in a separate racist attack the same day. That should give you some idea of what life was like in Birmingham back then.

24 hours in birmingham alabama
4) oak hill Cemetery

Oak Hill Cemetery is a must visit place during your 2 days in Birmingham. It’s the oldest cemetery in the city. (Remember, Birmingham isn’t that old–only back to the 1870s.)

The main reason to visit here is to see the grave of Fred Shuttlesworth, the Birmingham Civil Rights leader that I mentioned. He worked with others like Dr. King and John Lewis to fight for civil rights. He also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in the face of death threats and violence.

If you flew into Birmingham, you’ll recognize his name because the airport is named after him.

https://www.facebook.com/OakHillCemetery/
5) Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Now that you’ve learned all about Birmingham’s history, you might want to visit an attraction on the lighter side with the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Any athlete who has lived in Alabama or played sports in Alabama is represented here.

The man in charge asked me to tell him what my favorite sports team was so he could find an athlete from that team in the museum for me. That’s how confident he was in Alabama’s sports prowess. I admitted that I couldn’t challenge him because I’m an Atlanta Braves fan, and the greatest Brave ever, Hank Aaron, was from Alabama.

But maybe when you go, you’ll be able to give him more of a challenge!

24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of Birmingham that I can share for now. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour by going here to find out more.

Check rates and availability right here!

https://www.facebook.com/OakHillCemetery/
6) Carver Theater

The Carver Theater was once the only theater in Birmingham to serve African-Americans. It is now home to the Jazz Hall of Fame, which is undergoing renovations, but should be open soon. When you spend 2 days in Birmingham, hopefully it will be open.

However, even if it isn’t, enjoy the exterior and this fascinating surrounding neighborhood, which used to be considered the Harlem of the South because of its culture and music.

24 hours in birmingham

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Evening: Dinner at Bistro 218

Birmingham’s food scene has definitely improved a ton over the last couple of decades, and there are now several restaurants in the city that have been nominated for James Beard Awards. However, one of my favorite restaurants in Birmingham is the Southern influenced Bistro 218.

I started off my meal light with octopus with bacon and romesco sauce. Octopus and romesco sauce are not ingredients you would have seen in an Alabama restaurant before the culinary scene here took off. However, there definitely would have been bacon. Bacon is a constant.

24 hours in birmingham
24 hour treat: amberjack, okra, and grits

This is a very Southern main course. Naturally, it doesn’t get any more Southern than okra and grits. Amberjack, you might be a little less familiar with. It’s a meaty fish from off the coast of Alabama, down in the more Southern part of the state, and it’s delicious.

24 hours in birmingham

Finally, for dessert we have a chocolate moelleux cake. This is basically a French way of saying chocolate lava cake, if you’re more comfortable with that. It is a perfect way to finish out our 2 days in Birmingham AL!

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 8

2 Days in Birmingham AL

Where to Stay?

There are a lot of places to stay for your 2 days in Birmingham AL, but my favorite option is the Hampton Inn and Suites Birmingham Downtown is located inside the historic (and mildly haunted) Tutwiler Hotel.

The first time I visited Birmingham, I stayed just outside the city and it wasn’t terribly convenient. That’s why I was determined to stay in downtown Birmingham in this beautiful historic hotel for my next visit. This hotel has the perfect location for your 2 days in Birmingham AL.

If you want a great deal on this hotel, just click here.

And if you want great deals on almost 100 hotels in Birmingham, click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your plans for your 2 days in Birmingham AL. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

things to do in birmingham al

That’s a Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL!

What would you do with 2 days in Birmingham AL? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Birmingham? Any questions about anything in this post? Email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know all about it!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend a short time in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 2 days in Birmingham AL.

Try a day of the best Birmingham AL attractions. Don’t forget to add 24 hours in Birmingham Alabama. You can also try a day of the best things to do in Jackson MS. Experience a day of the best things to do in Natchez MS.

A Perfect 2 Days in Birmingham AL 2024 9

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