If you ever find yourself in the beautiful state of Alabama (specifically in Birmingham) wondering what to do- here is a list of some of our favorite (and mostly free!) activities in the Yellowhammer State.
Red Mountain Park – Birmingham (free)
We really enjoyed the dog park area. Supposedly there are some really cool treehouses in the park, which is what we came to see, but we made it halfway to one when a pop up storm drove us back to the car.
Aldridge Botanical Gardens- Birmingham (free)
A small park nestled in Hoover near Oak Mountain. The kids really enjoyed all of the garden statues, and I appreciated the natural play area with logs and sticks for the kids to build with.
Hoover Public Library – Birmingham (free)
We may not be able to get a card in each city we visit, but it doesn’t stop us from checking out the local libraries. The Hoover library did not disappoint. A large library with many contemporary features including multiple play areas for the kids (the huge bin of puppets- available for checkout!- was a family favorite), a teen area complete with lots of board/strategy games, a cafe, and a bookstore with discarded library books for sale. Insiders tip- they keep the older books for sale tucked away in a study room on the basement floor. We scored a really good 1940s fairy tale to bring home.
Moss Rock Preserve – Birmingham (free)
Who knew rock preserves were a thing? An absolute favorite find in Birmingham! Just giant boulders everywhere and we all had a blast climbing and jumping. Sadly we found it towards the end of our stay; otherwise we would have definitely made more than one visit.
Vulcan- Birmingham ($6/adult, $4 for children over 4)
When googling things to do in Birmingham this was always on the ‘must see’ list. Plus the billboards all over town about the Iron Man had us intrigued. No offense to Birmingham, but this didn’t exactly top our list. It was a nice view, and the sunset was pretty. But it kind of felt like a silly thing to pay and see.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens (free)
One of my first outings with the kids in Birmingham. I had big plans to meet up with a homeschooling group…. but I got lost (I’m not good with directions in a normal situation, ten times worse when I’m exploring a new city on my own), was super late, and then couldn’t find the group when we got there. We still had a really great time exploring the gardens. Free and very beautiful, I wish we had made the time to go more than once.
Birmingham Zoo ($17/adult, $12 kids 2-12)
With all of the amazing wildlife centers we’ve found, zoos aren’t much on our radar these days. However on Ocean’s fifth birthday he really wanted to see what the Birmingham Zoo had to offer and I really can’t say no to a five year old who’s begging to learn about animals. As it was a weekday it was just the kids and myself. And it turned out to be some sort of field trip day because the zoo was PACKED. Focused mainly on just surviving the day I didn’t take many pictures, and in all honesty don’t remember much about the zoo itself. I do remember how happy Ocean was though, so it was all worth it.
Lake Guntersville State Park – Guntersville (donations accepted for day use area)
Our adventures at Lake Guntersville earned themselves an entire post of their own. You can read about them here. Absolutely beautiful park full of wildlife.
US Space and Rocket Center – Huntsville ($25/ Adults , $17/ Kids 5+)
The kids (and Tom) really enjoyed this one. Lots of interactive displays and a really nice kids lab. A big disappointment was realizing that most of the rockets in the outdoor rocket park were replicas, not the real deal.
Monte Sano State Park ($5/Adult, $2/Kids 2+)
We stayed at Monte Sano on our way back from our first 6 month assignment in Birmingham. We liked it so much that we planned a few more nights there on the way home from our second assignment. A really spacious park with lovely views from atop the mountain. We also really enjoyed the program at the planetarium and the many volunteers there with telescopes to teach us more about the night sky.
Gulf State Park- Gulf Shores ($5/car parking for the beach) (USS Alabama $15/Adults, $6 kids 6+)
A highlight of our time in Alabama, the Gulf State Park was very beautiful. Wonderful trails, amazing nature center with engaging classes, and of course a pool- which was much appreciated after we discovered how many jellyfish were on the coast. Tom and the kids also thoroughly enjoyed a day trip to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.