Based on the Greek god Vulcan, the god's statue is the tallest cast iron statue in the world in the center of Birmingham’s Vulcan Park & Museum, which features educational tours and a soaring observation deck overlooking the city. The park also allows special events including marriages and other cultural events.
Birmingham's warm climate ensures that something is always blooming at the Botanical Gardens. Enjoy spring azaleas, summer roses, fall leaves and winter camellias as you tour the extensive grounds. Or, step inside the Southeast's largest clear-span glass greenhouse to enjoy orchids and other tropicals. Visit the Japanese Tea House and Garden and the Southern Living Garden, plus vegetable, fern, iris and other special gardens. Other attractions include the Gatehouse Gift Shop, a café and a library. Lectures, demonstrations, concerts and other events occur almost daily; inquire for a schedule. Admission is free. All paths are wheelchair and stroller-accessible.
This outstanding nature center situated on the site of an iron ore mine was closed in the 1950s and reopened as a nature refuge in the 1970s. Visitors to this mid-city refuge can explore the former quarries and ore crushers, hike 10 miles of trails, watch hawks soar, study rock formations and enjoy the wildflowers and wildlife.
The very genesis of Birmingham, Sloss Furnaces were one of the pioneers in the process of smelting pig iron. Established in 1882, it is this iron industry that prompted the city of Birmingham to grow around it. Over the years, the machinery has gathered abundant rust and experience, both of which tell stirring tales of the industry's glorious heyday. Proclaimed a National Historic Landmark, this antiquated site is an escape into the ancient industrial processes of the country. The site was restored in 1983, and, in addition to the impressive furnaces, there is an industrial museum, a sculpture garden, and a park which lend deeper insights into the history and legacy of Sloss Furnaces. The furnaces also play host to concerts, festivals, events, and activities.
Cradled in Downtown Birmingham, the Civil Right District is the center point of the state's long-standing history. The very site where several important events of the Civil Rights Movement were birthed, this historic district sprawls across six blocks. The district has witnessed many of the most significant happenstances of the Birmingham arm of the movement, including the fateful bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Kelly Ingram Park, which is also a part of the district, was the location of many demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement. Numerous sculptures in the park commemorate the historical protests. Some of the most important sites in the district include the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Carver Theater, which has now been transformed into a live music venue, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Harboring several historical sites, the Civil Rights District reads out America's most significant chapter out loud.
See more than 1000 different animal species from around the globe, from the Siberian tiger to the San Esteban Island chuckwalla. Of course, there are lions, tigers and bears, as well as giraffes, geckos, a white rhinoceros and gorillas. If your feet get tired, hop aboard the Zoo Express Train. ZooSnoozes, their overnight camping program, is available by reservation. Also, check out the zoo's many classes, which are fit for visitors of all ages.
Located within the Samford University, Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium is a delightful place to learn more about the stars and planets. It provides tours and shows for adults, children, groups and families which provide a chance to explore the space and universe. The entry is free and the venue is accessible to the differently-abled.
Touted to be the best place in the state to mountain bike, Oak Mountain State Park is where beautiful central Alabama scenery unfolds in all its glory. Sprawled across acres and acres, this rolling state park is a wonderland for recreation, boasting an undulating, picturesque landscape. The park is complete with elongated miles of bike trails, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and camping sites, and rustic cabins, while the presence of serene lakes only accentuates its picture-perfect topography. The park is home to picnicking areas, basketball courts and a golf course, and the jubilant Peavine Falls also lie burrowed in its idyllic recesses. Weaving through dense woods is a boardwalk which witnesses the true grace of nature, while the Alabama Wildlife Center harbors periled and native wildlife. Approximately a 30-minute drive south from the city center, Oak Mountain State Park is a remarkable one among all of Alabama's state parks.