Highway 280 is portal to a plethora of dayÂ trips out of Auburn. Taking a left onto theÂ highway and driving a swift two hoursÂ down the road lands a traveler in theÂ beautiful city of Birmingham, Alabama.
As ChristmasÂ nears, take a trip to Birmingham to see the sights andÂ the lights.Â Birmingham is renowned for its food, activitiesÂ and scenery. The foothills of southern mountains lineÂ the city, accompanied by rolling roads and twistingÂ turns. Downtown remains rich in history, with up andÂ midtown showcasing the newer, innovative edge of theÂ city.
When looking for a bite to eat, Birmingham isÂ overflowing with options. For a morning brunch, visitÂ Maple Street Biscuit Company or Another Broken EggÂ for home-style cooking and a cup of orange juice.Â Downtown Birmingham is also home to Pizitz FoodÂ Hall, which hosts several restaurants from within theÂ Birmingham area. Food options include home styleÂ meals from Ashley Macâ€™s, â€œpeaux boysâ€ from BroadÂ Street, pies from Edolynâ€™s, Indian street food fromÂ Silver Kati and more. The food hall is open Monday-Â Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and closed on Sundays.
The Summit, a popular shopping center, also offersÂ a list of delicious options. Fine dining can be found atÂ Flemingâ€™s Steakhouse and Seasons 52. Travel the worldÂ of taste with North Italia, P.F. Changâ€™s, Chuyâ€™s andÂ Abhi. Finally, Steel City Pops offers delicious frozenÂ treats, complete with ever-changing seasonal flavors.
Brick & Tin, located at 2901 Cahaba Road, offersÂ meals from local vendors made with sustainableÂ ingredients, sold at reasonable prices. For the bestÂ barbecue in town, visit one of four Sawâ€™s locations:Â Sawâ€™s BBQ in Homewood, Sawâ€™s BBQ in Southside,Â Sawâ€™s Juke Joint in Crestline or Sawâ€™s Soul KitchenÂ in Avondale. Also located in Avondale is AvondaleÂ Brewing Company, which offers a broad selection of itsÂ latest handcrafted beverages.
Mountain Brook, a small city on the outskirts ofÂ Birmingham, holds even more dining options. TheÂ city offers limeades from Gilchrist, cocktails fromÂ the Grand Bohemian Hotel, pizza from Davenportâ€™s,Â brews from Church Street Coffee Shop and FrenchÂ cuisine from Chez LuLu. Adjacent to the restaurant isÂ Continental Bakery, which offers breads, sweets andÂ other sundries.
The image of Birmingham is nearly inseparableÂ from the image of the Vulcan. Built in 1904 by ItalianÂ artist Giuseppe Moretti, the Vulcan has overlookedÂ Birmingham since the 1930s. Despite his shockingÂ appearance, a quick climb up the staircase or ride in theÂ elevator provide some of the most beautiful views inÂ the city. The Vulcan is located at 1701 Valley View Dr.Â Beneath the Vulcanâ€™s gaze lies several museums: theÂ Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (520 16th St. N.),Â the Birmingham Museum of Art (2000 Rev. AbrahamÂ Woods, Jr. Blvd.) and the Barber Vintage MotorsportsÂ Museum (6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway).
Additionally, downtown Birmingham offers severalÂ other sites to see and events to experience. TheÂ McWane Science Center (200 19th St. N.) is a family-friendlyÂ entertainment center complete with activitiesÂ for children and parents alike. Families are also sure toÂ enjoy a baseball game at Regions Field (1401 1st Ave.Â S.) or a day at Pepper Placeâ€™s Saturday Market (2829Â 2nd Ave. S.).
Plenty of sites in downtown Birmingham harkenÂ back to the history of the city. Sloss Furnace, locatedÂ at 20 32nd St. N., was once a fully functioning furnaceÂ but now stands as a historical marker open for tours andÂ haunted houses in the fall.
The Alabama Theatre, sittingÂ at 1817 3rd Ave. N., is still running after nearly 100Â years and showing films year-round. This is the perfectÂ Christmas destination as they show Christmas moviesÂ this time of year. Check out Elf, White Christmas orÂ maybe catch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Finally,Â the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is located at 1631 4thÂ Ave. N. and documents musical history.
There are also several parks scattered throughoutÂ the greater Birmingham area: Railroad Park (1600 1stÂ Ave.), Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve (1214 81stÂ St. S.), Red Mountain Park (2011 Frankfurt Dr.) andÂ Oak Mountain State Park (200 Terrace Dr.). Each parkÂ offers a variety of activities â€” from hiking and bikingÂ trails, to skate parks and petting zoos.
If youâ€™re looking to find some animals, take a trip toÂ the Birmingham Zoo, located on 2630 Cahaba Road.Â The zoo offers each visitor the opportunity to lay eyesÂ on animals, big and small, from around the world.Â Additionally, there are annual events and new activitiesÂ every season to keep people coming back. GeneralÂ admission is $17.95 for adults and $12.95 for childrenÂ ages 2 to 12.
Just down the road from the zoo lies theÂ Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In the overarchingÂ garden lies several smaller gardens, broken down intoÂ plants and flowers from different areas of the world.Â The space also offers classes, such as its Yoga in theÂ Gardens series. Both admission and parking are free ofÂ charge.
Experience the Christmas season in this busy cityÂ just two hours from Lee County.