12 Things To Do With Family In Birmingham, Alabama

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Birmingham is a vibrant city in the state of Alabama offering a unique mix of history, culture, food and fun for all ages. Known for its role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Birmingham has numerous historical sites and museums that provide perspective into an important era in American history.

ActivityDescription
Birmingham Civil Rights DistrictHistorical sites focused on the Civil Rights Movement.
Vulcan Park and MuseumFeatures the world’s largest cast iron statue and museum exhibits.
Birmingham ZooHome to nearly 1000 animals from 230 species.
McWane Science CenterOver 400 interactive exhibits on various scientific topics.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens67 acres of gardens with diverse plant life and outdoor spaces.
Alabama Splash Adventure WaterparkWaterpark with attractions for all ages.
Alabama Adventure Theme ParkAmusement park with over 20 rides.
Birmingham Museum of ArtHouses over 27,000 works of art.
Pepper Place MarketOutdoor market featuring local farmers and artisans.
Railroad Park21 acres of green space for public recreation.
Little ItalyDistrict offering Italian culinary delights.
Birmingham Food ToursCulinary walking tours exploring local eateries.

However, Birmingham offers much more for visitors beyond its history. This list will cover 12 of the best things to do with family in Birmingham, showcasing the diversity of experiences from museums and parks to amusement and culinary attractions. With intriguing activities, entertainment and dining for both kids and adults, Birmingham makes for an excellent family-friendly travel destination in the Southeastern United States.

1. Birmingham Civil Rights District

Name and Location: The Birmingham Civil Rights District is located in downtown Birmingham, centered around the 16th Street Baptist Church at 1530 6th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203.

History and Significance: This area marks the historic heart of civil rights protests in 1963 Birmingham. Historic churches, scenes of violence and activist strategy reflect the struggles that led to passage of the Civil Rights Act.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk the civil rights trail to see landmark churches, sculpture marking the 1963 bomb site, Kelly Ingram Park installations and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute museum located across the street.

Visitor Information: The district containing the trail is freely accessible daily. The Institute offers guided tours from 10am-5pm Tuesday–Saturday for an admission fee.

The Birmingham Civil Rights District is composed of several blocks in downtown Birmingham focused on the history, people and events surrounding the local Civil Rights Movement. This includes the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which features videos, images and audio bringing history to life along with interactive exhibits. Other sites include the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the Fourth Avenue Business District and the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

Visitors can take self-guided walking tours of the district or join guided tours led by those directly involved in the events. From lunch counter protests to the Children’s Crusade Marches of 1963, this area provides perspective on the courage and tragedy that finally led to advancements in equality and desegregation. The stories and visuals make these historical events more tangible for both children and adults.

2. Vulcan Park and Museum

Name and Location: Vulcan Park and Museum is located at 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209 underneath the iconic Vulcan statue.

History and Significance: Dedicated in 2004, it highlights Birmingham’s history as an iron and steel center. The observation tower platform allows panoramic views with the 56-foot tall cast iron Vulcan statue, the symbol of the city.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy sweeping city skyline views from the observation tower and learn about Birmingham’s founding and industrial heritage through interactive exhibits and films at the on-site museum.

Visitor Information: Vulcan Park and Museum is open daily aside from certain major holidays, with varying hours. An entrance fee applies to access the observation tower and museum attractions.

Perched atop Red Mountain overlooking the city is Vulcan Park and Museum, home of the largest cast iron statue in the world depicting the Roman god of fire and forge, Vulcan. Visitors can explore the museum exhibits recounting the history of Birmingham’s steel industry including an observation deck with panoramic views of the city below.

Families can also hike some of the miles of scenic woodland trails surrounding Vulcan Park that showcase native flora and fauna with occasional views peeking through the trees. An alternative is riding the elevator up the tower for sky-high views of Birmingham. Whether you come for the history or the vistas, Vulcan Park offers outdoor adventure and visual splendor for all ages.

3. Birmingham Zoo

Name and Location: The Birmingham Zoo is located at 2630 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223.

History and Significance: Founded in 1955, the Birmingham Zoo exhibits over 800 animals and is Alabama’s must-see family attraction, promoting wildlife conservation, education and preservation of endangered species globally for over 65 years.

What to Expect: Guests can explore zoo exhibits displaying animals like sea lions, penguins, bears, reptiles and endangered species. Feedings, shows, rides and special events run daily. New Asian habitat expansions are underway.

Visitor Information: The zoo is open daily, with hours varying by season. Ticket pricing is available on their website. Annual memberships, special events and overnight programs are also offered.

Spanning 122 acres, the Birmingham Zoo is home to almost 1000 animals from 230 species, making it an excellent family-friendly attraction. Exhibits are organized by region including a sea lion exhibit, an African lion pride and a petting zoo for hands-on interaction. Kids will love riding the trains that circle the zoo and spotting animals like gorillas, lemurs, komodo dragons and endangered red pandas.

Events like Keeper Chats provide animal facts and insight directly from zoo experts while daily feedings let visitors observe animals during natural behaviors. With pedestrian friendly paths winding past exhibits, playgrounds plus dining options onsite, families could easily spend an entire day exploring at their own pace.

4. McWane Science Center

Name and Location: McWane Science Center is located at 200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203 in downtown Birmingham.

History and Significance: Founded in 1998, the McWane Center is an interactive science museum with over 400 hands-on exhibits, labs, demonstrations and more focused on educating youth in STEM subjects through engaging discovery.

What to Expect: Guests can enjoy exploring exhibits on topics like physics, chemistry, biology and space through informative games and experiments. IMAX movies and special programs also run daily. New exhibits are rotated in over time.

Visitor Information: McWane Center is open daily, with hours varying by season. Admission fees apply for exhibits and giant screen films. Memberships are available along with weekly homeschool programs.

With over 400 interactive exhibits and daily programs, the McWane Science Center brings science and technology to life in an engaging environment for children and adults. Permanent exhibits explore topics like the human body, energy and electricity, space and aviation, chemistry and the environment enhanced by hands-on components, multi-media presentations and helpful staff.

Special rotating exhibits provide fresh experiences like exploring the science behind Pixar movies or delving into the avian world. From aquarium tanks to a digital planetarium and giant bubblestations, there are discoveries waiting around every corner. Families could return again and again without running out of STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, art & math) activities to pique their curiosity and imagination.

5. Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Name and Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens is located at 2612 Lane Park Road, Birmingham, AL 35223.

History and Significance: Established in 1962, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens span 67 acres in Lane Park, conserving local flora alongside cultivated international plants as a beautiful educational public garden resource.

What to Expect: Visitors stroll through 25 themed gardens displaying over 12,000 different plants. Seasonal events, classes, exhibit and a gift shop create an engaging experience connecting people with nature and horticulture.

Visitor Information: The Gardens offer free Tuesday admission otherwise a fee applies. An annual membership is available and group tours can also be booked through their website or office.

Spread across 67 acres in the heart of Birmingham, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens provide beautiful outdoor spaces and horticultural education for all interests. Major features include a Japanese garden, rose garden, children’s garden, camellia collection and interactive water, rock and sculpture gardens all connected by blooming pathways and trails.

Families can explore together while kids run freely across open lawns or peek into lily-covered ponds. Interpretive signage provides botany basics while special programs like Fairy Day allow costumed kids to complete magical crafts and garden quests. During the Holiday season, even more family events emerge like photos with Santa among millions of sparkling lights. Open year round from dawn to dusk, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens offers natural beauty and discovery for gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

6. Alabama Splash Adventure Waterpark

Name and Location: Alabama Splash Adventure Waterpark is located at 4100 Cahaba Valley Rd, Bessemer, AL 35022 just west of Birmingham.

History and Significance: Opened in 1989 as VisionLand theme park before rebranding, Alabama Splash Adventure spans 150 acres offering rides, slides, animal exhibits and more summertime family fun as the region’s largest theme park.

What to Expect: Guests enjoy over 30 rides from roller coasters to water slides alongside Wild Animal Safari Drive showcasing animals like lions, tigers and bears in natural habitats across beautiful wooded terrain.

Visitor Information: The park opens seasonally from May through September. Ticket pricing and schedules are available on their website. Season passes, dining plans, cabanas and lockers can also be reserved.

On hot summer days or spring break trips, Alabama Splash Adventure waterpark offers wet and wild fun for visitors of all ages. Attractions range from kid-friendly options like the Kiddie Play Area to thrill slides twisting almost 100 feet into the sky before plummeting riders into massive splash pools. In between are options like the 600-foot long Lazy River, activity pool and wave pool churning up calmer waters.

Covered dining spaces, private cabanas and tube rentals allow families to take breaks while spending full days enjoying the 17-acre park together. Since the park is only open seasonally, vacationers often plan trips specifically around visiting Alabama Splash Adventure for an adventurous escape from southern heat. With something for everyone, this waterpark is perfect for making family memories.

7. Alabama Adventure Theme Park

Name and Location: Alabama Adventure Theme Park adjoins Alabama Splash Adventure at 4100 Cahaba Valley Rd, Bessemer, AL 35022.

History and Significance: Formerly VisionLand, this 150-acre theme park has delivered thrills to Alabamians since 1998 with over 30 rides, shows, animal exhibits and attractions as the state’s top destination.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy amusement park rides from roller coasters to water slides alongside a scenic wild animal safari drive showcasing 900 exotic animals in natural habitats across the sprawling wooded property.

Visitor Information: Alabama Adventure opens seasonally March through October. Ticket pricing and hours are posted online. Memberships, dining plans and amenities can also be reserved through their website.

Only a few miles from Alabama Splash Adventure, the Alabama Adventure Theme Park provides another exciting option for families seeking amusement park thrills. Spread across 150 acres, the park is home to over 20 rides from heart-pounding rollercoasters to tamer options like the Grand Carousel and Little Balloons.

Unique attractions include steel coasters twist through wooden ravines while the Rampage rollercoaster mimics motions of actual underground mining carts travelling old mine tunnels. Families with smaller members can explore kiddie rides in Yosemite Junction before reconvening for flume rides winding past faux mining facades reminiscent of the region’s history. With special events and benefits for season pass holders, Alabama Adventure Theme Park makes for an exciting escape from big city distractions.

8. Birmingham Museum of Art

Name and Location: The Birmingham Museum of Art is located in City Center at 2000 Rev Abraham Woods Jr Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35203.

History and Significance: Founded in 1951, the BMA houses a premier collection of over 27,000 paintings, sculpture and decorative arts spanning ancient eras through modern day from world cultures.

What to Expect: Visitors explore works ranging from classical Asian ceramics to Renaissance canvases, 19th century French impressionism, indigenous African art, American sculpture gardens and much more across beautifully curated galleries.

Visitor Information: As a nonprofit institution, there is no admission fee. The museum is open Tues-Sat 10am–5pm and Sun Noon–5pm with free docent tours on Sundays.

Featuring over 27,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative arts, the Birmingham Museum of Art houses an impressive collection ranging from ancient Chinese ceramics to modern and contemporary American pieces. Families can explore sprawling galleries together while kids participate in special programs like weekend Family Days with themed art projects and scavenger hunts.

Monthly events often incorporate music, film or hands-on components while some exhibits like the famous Sculpture Garden spread beyond museum walls across 21 acres displaying monolithic sculptures. With an extensive Asian art collection, impressive Italian Baroque works and the largest Wedgewood collection found outside of England, this museum provides worldly insights into artistry through the ages.

9. Pepper Place Market and Farmer’s Market

Name and Location: Pepper Place Market is located at 2829 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233 in the Lakeview District.

History and Significance: Opened in 2000, Pepper Place anchors Birmingham’s Lakeview dining scene in a former Dr. Pepper syrup plant. Its lively weekend farmers markets helped spur local food growth.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy fresh regionally grown produce, breads, cheeses and prepared foods at the Saturday farmers market. The district also houses cafes, breweries, shops and loft living spaces in a creative repurposed industrial complex.

Visitor Information: Pepper Place is open to the public. The Saturday Market runs 7am-12pm from April-December. Some events and parking may require fees. Merchants and details are on their website.

Birmingham’s historic Pepper Place district transforms into a vibrant outdoor market scene on Saturday mornings year round. The Pepper Place Market features local farmers and artisans selling fresh produce, breads, cheeses, coffee and handmade bath/beauty products in a festive atmosphere. Nearby in Railroad Park, the Farmer’s Market offers additional vendors under shady tents every Saturday as well.

Families can wander between markets browsing fresh berries, handmade soaps, beautifully arranged bouquets and tasty baked goods while listening to live music. Kids enjoy visiting farm animals brought in by vendors while parents sample spices, cheeses and pickled veggies. These weekend markets offer laidback entertainment, tasty finds and quality time spent together amidst Birmingham’s burgeoning local food scene.

10. Railroad Park

Name and Location: Railroad Park is located at 1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233 spanning 19 acres in downtown.

History and Significance: Opened in 2010, Railroad Park creatively transformed unused industrial railyards into an important modern green space, connecting downtown districts through beautiful landscaping and design.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy open lawns, winding paths, a lake, playground, concert stage and unique railroad relic repurposing throughout the spacious park along with various community events and gatherings.

Visitor Information: Railroad Park is freely open to the public daily 7am-11pm as a signature downtown space. Some areas can be reserved for permitted events through the City of Birmingham.

In the heart of Birmingham, Railroad Park provides 21 acres of scenic green space for public recreation and events. Kids delight in exploring the three play areas spanning age groups with musical elements, splash pads, climbing structures and more. Wide open lawns allow room for games, picnics and lounging while paved walking paths weave past gardens, streams and ponds circled by shady trees. Special programs occur throughout the year like outdoor concerts, holiday light shows and fitness activities while adding visual intrigue. With downtown Birmingham bordering one side and food/drink options nearby, Railroad Park allows families to soak up the natural ambience conveniently close to urban attractions.

11. Little Italy in Birmingham

Name and Location: Little Italy in Birmingham is centered around 14th Ave South between 17th St S and 26th St S.

History and Significance: Birmingham’s Little Italy dates back over a century as an ethnic neighborhood bearing Italian immigrant heritage influencing the city’s culture, architecture, faith and cuisine over generations.

What to Expect: The district contains historic Italian shops, churches, landmarks and restaurants serving homemade pastas and sauces, focaccia, espresso, desserts and more to experience the tastes of Italy.

Visitor Information: Little Italy is freely open to visitors wishing to stroll neighborhood sights and eat at cuisine venues, many found along 14th Ave South. Area history is displayed on placards and in Italian storefronts.

Between 20th Street South and 22nd Street South, a two block span known as Little Italy transports visitors straight to the flavors and heritage of Italy…Southern Italian style. Families can stroll the district popping into mom-and-pop Italian markets and eateries sampling specialty meats, aged cheeses, olives, handmade pastas and more.

Favorite spots include the original OvenBird restaurant and Tortugas Pizza. But save room for dessert – every trip must end with gelato in hand from Dolcetti Gelato shop. From casual sidewalk dining to procuring ingredients for Italian meals back home, Little Italy offers family-friendly glimpses into Italy’s culinary traditions with an Alabama twist.

12. Birmingham Food Tours

Name and Location: Birmingham Food Tours meets at 2104 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203 with tours taking place around the city.

History and Significance: Founded in 2014 to showcase Birmingham’s booming local food scene, Birmingham Food Tours offers walking tours stopping at restaurants and markets to taste the city’s culture, history and creative spirit one bite at a time.

What to Expect: Knowledgeable local guides stroll small groups through districts like Avondale and Five Points sampling signature bites and sips at ‘Birmingham Originals’ interweaved with insider stories of change, growth and traditions behind the menus.

Visitor Information: Advance reservations for food tours are required online or by phone during operating seasons. Tour timing, inclusions and meeting points vary across public and private group offerings.

One of the best ways for families to experience Birmingham’s rapidly expanding food scene is partaking in culinary walking tours tasting a cross section of local eateries and food businesses. Companies like Eat See Explore offer downtown food tours with knowledgeable guides recounting history and food culture between tastings at restaurants, markets, bakeries and coffee shops.

Specialty tours like Dessert or Coffee Crawls, Beer Drinks and ‘Que Links focus on specific themes. These 2 to 3 hour walking adventures provide great eating entertainment for multi-generational groups while introducing Birmingham’s diverse flavors and most-loved establishments in kid-friendly formats. Food tours make learning about new cuisines an interactive, easily digestible experience!

Conclusion

Birmingham surprises visitors with an array of family-friendly things to experience beyond its civil rights history. From hand-feeding rainbow lorikeets at the Birmingham Zoo to racing down water slides at Alabama Splash Adventure and Alabama Adventure theme parks…this city offers entertainment for all interests and ages.

Families can deepen bonds while immersed in recreational, cultural and gastronomic activities unique to the heart of Alabama. So whether you seek outdoor adventure, artistic marvels, amusement rides or some of the best comfort cuisine around, Birmingham makes an excellent destination for making memories together that will last a lifetime.

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