My Homage to Birmingham

Before I moved to Nashville, I lived in one of the most underrated cities in the South. Yes, Birmingham, Alabama, is seriously underrated.

Birmingham-skyline

After I graduated from college, I was back home in Dallas and I was pretty miserable. (After spending my college years in Boulder, I found “Big D” to be a little large and flashy.) I’ll spare you the long-and-very-random story, but in the midst of this “miserable” time I had the opportunity to drop-in on a friend in Birmingham for a weekend get-away. And immediately I feel in love with the city, with the food, and with the people. After each trip, I returned home bursting with excitement, ready to quit my job, pack up all my junk, and move.

But you should have seen the look on my parents face…. It was as if I had completely lost it (I know, I’m not sure that I ever had “it” to begin with).

“You are young, smart, and single. You could go anywhere and do anything. And you want to move, without a job mind you, to Alabama?”

You see my parents only Alabama points of reference were Orange Beach (which they’d admit was a great vacation spot) and Montgomery (which I would go on-the-record stating IS NOT underrated). They could not fathom my desire to up and move to Birmingham.

But if you asked them today about Birmingham? They would smile deceptively and then they’d begin raving. They’d be quick to share that it is a charming place full of great restaurants. (Yes, this is how we judge places in my family, by the food that can be found there. Don’t  you go and judge us.)

All this to say, if ever get the opportunity to travel to “The Magic City”, do not miss out.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite things to do in Birmingham:

  • Enjoy a nice Italian lunch and an “Orange Thing” outside on the patio of Bottega Cafe.
  • Devour an “Ocean Salad” with melt-in-your-mouth Fried Feta Croutons at Ocean Restaurant.
  • Take a seat at the bar, grab a glass of wine and hang out with my favorite bartender Bob at daniel george. Their salmon tartare is one of my favorite things in this world.
  • Catch a singer-songwriter or two in the theater of WorkPlay.
  • Pick-up some hummus, tabouli, chicken salad, and pita bread from Nabeel’s Cafe and Market. Oh, and some homemade and simply heavenly pickles.
  • Catch a concert or just enjoy the outdoors at Vulcan Park and Musuem.
  • Listen to Chris Hodges do this thing on Sunday mornings at Church of the Highlands.

Instead of going on-and-on, I’ll provide those who want to dig deeper with a link to this cool flip-book that has a long list of all the Best Spots IN Birmingham.

Have you been to Birmingham before? Did it surprise you? What were your favorite things about the city?

PS – I am headed to Birmingham this weekend and writing this post made me even more excited about my trip.

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I love reading your posts and all your travels!
    I've never been to Alabama. There's a part of me that says I've hardly been anywhere, but I've been to a lot more places than most, inside and outside of the United States; it's jut that in the past 10 years I've really haven't been too many places. (interestingly how that coincides with having kids!)
    I loved this post. I grew up in the same area my whole life. When I was newly married (15 years ago) my husband's job transferred him to Seattle WA. I loved it there, for the very things you mentioned: The food. (that is always so important!) The creativity, music, culture, etc. Since we were without kids and newly wed, we went to plays, the symphony, lived in a fun place, hiked, biked, hung out at coffee shops; all the things that we struggle to find time (and a sitter) to do these days. So I look back fondly on our Seattle experience but not sure if it'll ever live up the the romanticized expectation that I have in my head….. because one can never go back; only forward. And I hope that my "going forward" will be just as wonderful as reflecting back.

    I need to hire a nanny. And a housecleaner. And a cook. I want some adventure in my life!

    • @torybee, I would love to be where you are – husband, kids. Maybe we swap for a week or two? 😉

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  • Birmingham is a great place. My sister and both my husband's brothers live there and I have several friends there. I live about 70 miles toward Auburn from B'ham so I get up there quite often to shop and see family. I'm going to have to check out some of the restaurants you linked. Thanks for sharing.

  • bronzedshoe

    Oooh. Thanks for the list. My mom is from Birmingham and we still have family there, but our visits are usually focused on seeing them and not so much on tourism/ local cuisine sampling. I'll keep your suggestions in mind, though!

  • No judging here. When describing whether a place is cool or not, I always find myself saying, "…and there's a ton of good places to eat."

  • I agree with you. Except you left off David Platt at the Church at Brook Hills. And, after living in Montgomery for two years, I'd say it's not overrated. That's why I'll be in Birmingham this weekend! haha.

    • Absolutely! I attended the Secret Church last weekend and it was fantastic. The worship was awesome and David Platt is a great teacher of God's Word.

    • @couponchris I have never been to Church of Brook Hills. I need to check it out!

  • I grew up just outside of Tuscaloosa, AL and yes, I've been to Birmingham. In fact 27 years ago this coming February, my husband and I spent our weekend honeymoon at, what was then the Hilton, in downtown Birmingham (across the street from the civic center). I think it's changed names now. We had no money but felt we had to at least get out of our hometown for the weekend. It rained the entire weekend. We ate in the hotel restaurant and didn't mind a bit! Now the only part of Birmingham I get to see is along I-459 when we travel from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa to visit family. It is a great southern city. Enjoy your weekend and dare I say, ROLL TIDE!

  • Rami

    Thanks for sharing the Birmingham love! I have one more addition to all things delicious eating in my hometown: the burger and fries at Chez Fon Fon followed by a little boche ball!

    • @Rami Yum. Surprised you didn't say anything about Taco Casa.

      • Taco Casa! The food is not very good and certainly not authentic Mexican but it sooooo reminds me of High School and I would eat it right now if it was in front of me. But I'd have to have a large Mt. Dew to wash it down! 🙂

  • Never been there but your post makes me want to go!!

  • One of my favorite things to do in Birmingham is seasonal. I love to go see "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Alabama Theatre at Christmas time. If you've never done this, you MUST. It's only $7 and it's so much fun. There's a sing along with a guy on the Wurlitzer, people proposing marriage, and the movie is SO DIFFERENT when watched as a group! It's just fun.

    I enjoy shopping at The Summit as well. And going to the Botanical Gardens there.

    • @Jan, I have always wanted to see The Sound of Music at The Alabama Theatre and sing-a-long.

      • let me know when you want to go and i'll go with you. i missed "The Sound of Music" tour in Austria so I'm up for it!!!

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  • I work in Birmingham, so I can relate. Some call it “the city of 1000 lunches”. Everyone should come at least once and visit the Civil Rights Museum. And the Museum of Art here has a great collection – very surprising for a city of it’s size.

    • @dubdynomite, Fitting name. I didn't like "chicken salad" until I moved. Now I could be a professional taste tester. My favorites are from O'Carrs and Zoe's, of course.

  • Sarah Smith

    i'll be in Birmingham this weekend too Lindsey! thanks for the info 🙂

    • @ssvirgina, Maybe we'll bump into each other. I feel like I haven't seen you in forever. You are quite the road warrior these days.

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