As a major metropolitan area, Birmingham Alabama is a place many travelers like to visit. But sometimes being a tourist means you miss out on the idiosyncrasies of a destination that truly make it special. Beneath the big tourist draws of Birmingham, Alabama is a small town ambience with a lot of local color. When staying near the airport at the Clarion Hotel, you’ll notice that every neighborhood of Birmingham is full of hidden gems.
Literary History in an Unexpected Spot
Birmingham, Alabama is a key player in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, and visitors to this great city can find abundant information about the movement and other areas of American History. For a serious walk down history lane, however, check out a building that doesn’t generally top most people’s must-see lists: the public library.
The library’s Southern History Department focuses on Birmingham history but is a collection that spans into a comprehensive look at Southern history as a whole. Learn things about the area many locals don’t know by visiting this collection. They also have a rare book collection featuring many early American works. The library is also located near the budget-friendly Sheraton Birmingham hotel, which is centrally located in downtown for easy access to other Birmingham sites.
Local Fare at the Saturday Morning Market
The Pepper Place Market is a Saturday morning market open from 7 a.m. to noon. It focuses on local food, arts, and music. Check it out to find great souvenirs, hear local musical acts, and even watch some scintillating chef demonstrations. The focus here is to host vendors from within 100 miles, creating a mecca of everything Birmingham. Stay nearby at the Hampton Inn & Suites-Downtown-Tutwiler, so you can do as the locals do on Saturday morning and visit the Pepper Place Market.
Downtown Cafes the Locals Love
Birmingham’s downtown area is a wealth of nightlife, great dining, history, and shopping. With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up in the typical tourist spots. The savvy traveler knows to do a little more digging for great spots to check out. Of all the downtown Birmingham hotels, you’ll get both quality and bang for your buck at SpringHill Suites Birmingham Downtown at UAB.
When it’s time to explore, check out The Garage Cafe. This downtown spot is open from lunch to the wee hours of the night, and is a great place for eating a sandwich outdoors in their eclectic courtyard. Then head over to Urban Standard for a fantastic cup of coffee. The shop has a great mix of American and European coffeehouse ambience.
If you want to stay in Birmingham longer than a few nights and love the downtown area, the Residence Inn by Marriott Birmingham Downtown at UAB is the place to be.
Be as touristy as you like. Birmingham has wonderful museums and famous historical spots to visit. When you’re feeling like getting away from the visitors and getting a feel for the city the local’s know, check out some of these lesser-known spots.
Alexandra Shostak likes to go on adventures, whether they take her down the street or on a road trip to another state. She’s lived in Ohio and NYC, and currently resides on Florida’s west coast where she goes to the beach as often as possible.