Spotlight on Jefferson County: Culture & Recreation

Museums, historic places, trails and sports attract visitors to the area

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

The Birmingham Civil Rights District and the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, established in 2017, include many of the most important sites of the Civil Rights movement, including the A.G. Gaston Motel, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, 4th Avenue Historic District sites, Bethel Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Learn more at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the newly-restored
A.G. Gaston Motel.

Alabama Veterans Memorial Park is a 21-acre park honoring the 11,000 Alabamians who have been killed in action from 1900 to the present.

Birmingham-Holocaust Education Center features a variety of exhibits and resources that center on Holocaust remembrance and education. The permanent exhibit, Darkness into Life, offers a glimpse into the lives of 20 Alabama Holocaust survivor.

The Birmingham Zoo.

The Birmingham Zoo is home to approximately 550 animals from around the world. Watch for the opening of Cougar Crossing, a new habitat for this Alabama native species.

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum displays more than 900 motorcycles from its 1,600-cycle collection. The museum is in the Barber Motorsports Park.

The Birmingham Museum of Art includes a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, prints and decorative arts, plus a sculpture garden.

McWane Science Center, in downtown Birmingham, offers interactive exhibits that celebrate science and discovery and include everything from dinosaurs to space travel. Other features include Itty Bitty Magic City, an early-learning multisensory exhibit; the World of Water aquarium; and an Imax theater.

Rickwood Field, the country’s oldest professional baseball park, will host a Major League Baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals in June 2024. Built in 1910, Rickwood has hosted baseball legends like Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and was home to Willie Mays in his Negro league days. The Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum tells the story of Black baseball from the perspective of Birmingham and features Negro League baseball artifacts in the country dating back to the 1800s.

The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Museum features an array of sports memorabilia, dating back to 1969, when the first honorees were inducted.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens celebrates the area’s unique biodiversity showcasing plants that thrive in the South. Aldridge Gardens offers 30 acres of hydrangeas, highlighting the Snowflake Hydrangea patented by horticulturist Eddie Aldridge, who once owned the property. And if you visit the Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens, the city’s only antebellum home, don’t miss the six acres of landscaped gardens.

The Lyric Theater opened in 1914 as a vaudeville venue and hosted performances by the Marx Brothers, Mae West and Milton Berle. Today the restored theater hosts symphony, ballet, opera, theater and community events. The Alabama Theatre, built in 1927 by Paramount Studios, still shows films and hosts events.

The Southern Museum of Flight displays 100 aircraft, plus engines, models and related artwork. It’s also home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.

Sloss Furnaces celebrates Birmingham’s history of ironmaking at the site of a blast furnace that operated 90 years. The iconic status of Vulcan at Vulcan Park and Museum also celebrates the city’s industrial heritage.

The Market at Pepper Place offers produce from Alabama vendors and serves some 300,000 visitors annually.

Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure in Bessemer features waterslides, wave pool and lazy river.

Take a hike, ride your bike or just enjoy the views in the many parks of Jefferson County. For an urban park experience, visit Railroad Park, Rotary Trail or City Walk Bham. If you’re hankering for woods and water, try Red Mountain Park, with 1,500 forested acres, or Ruffner Mountain Nature Center with 14 miles of trails through biodiverse urban forest. Moss Rock Preserve covers 349 acres with 12 miles of trails through forest, rock outcroppings, streams and waterfalls. Black Creek Mountain Bike Park in Hoover has five miles of trails built with mountain bike riders in mind and Fultondale’s Black Creek Park Rails to Trails offers 7 miles of hiking, biking and birding.

The Birmingham area is home to two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses — Oxmoor Valley just minutes from downtown Birmingham and Ross Bridge in Hoover.

This article appears in the October 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

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