The largest city in Alabama, Birmingham has a reputation as a magical place, so much so it’s nicknamed The Magic City. Admittedly, the name came thanks to rapid growth at the end of the 19th century, but today, its attractions and experiences make it a magical place for family fun, too. Here are just a few reasons why you’ll want to visit.
Vulcan Park and Museum
The world’s largest cast iron statue, “Vulcan,” surveys the city from the top of Red Mountain. Although you can see the 56-foot Roman god throughout much of Birmingham, including downtown, get a closer look at the Vulcan Park and Museum.
It’s free to visit the park, but pay the $6 to ride the elevator or take the 159 steps to the statue’s observation deck for panoramic views of Birmingham. The small museum there tells the story of both the city and the statue, created using locally mined iron and forged in Birmingham foundries for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum
You don’t have to love motorcycles to love the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The 23,000-square-foot museum displays approximately 700 motorcycles from its 1,600 strong collection and focuses more on the bikes’ artistry and beauty than technical aspects.
While kids can’t touch, they can watch mechanics maintain the motorcycles in its basement repair shop. Outside, behind the museum, don’t miss students from the Porsche Sport Driving School whipping around the 2.38-mile track.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
For families with children old enough to understand African Americans’ struggle for freedom and equality in this nation, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a must. The institute gives an overview of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham including its treatment of African Americans in the city’s early days, the bus boycott and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
Across the street, statues in Kelly Ingram Park also tell the story of the movement, and you can tour the 16th Street Baptist Church. Other historic sites in the Birmingham Civil Rights District include Bethel Baptist Church, A.G. Gaston Motel and portions of the 4th Avenue Business District.
McWane Science Center
Looking for a traditional kid-friendly museum? The McWane Science Center houses four floors of hands-on exhibits covering everything from outer space to the deepest depths of the ocean.
Highlights include an aquarium with a shark and stingray tank, paleontology laboratory, virtual roller coaster and safari simulator, but kids can also use their feet to play the on-the-ground Giant Piano or learn about gravity riding the High Cycle. The museum has a virtual ocean environment, space learning center and IMAX theater, too.
Southern Museum of Flight
One of the largest aviation museums in the Southeast, the Southern Museum of Flight has more than 100 planes on display as well as airplane engines. Look for the Wright flyer, F-4 Phantom, Lockheed A-12 spy plane and B-25 bomber.
Kids of all ages can climb in several real airplanes and experience a flight simulator while toddlers can chill in the Little Pilots Playroom.
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