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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 motley 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Birmingham's Railroad Park is a 19 acre (7.68 hectare) park that was created in 2010. The park has water features, trails, and lots of grassy areas for playing and picnicking. The park often plays hosts to special events and concerts throughout the year. A welcome slice of green amid the steely concrete of the city, this park is also a serene place for leisurely walks and jogging. Couples who frequent the park often cap off their walks with a nice snack at the Boxcar Cafe located within the park premises.
A hands-on science museum, the McWane Science Center allows visitors to test physics principles, explore aquatic habitats, simulate space exploration and more. Interactive exhibits allow you to make your own animated movie, build a roller coaster or ride a bicycle along a wire 30 feet above the ground! There is also the IMAX Theater, a gift shop, and a food court that offers a variety of fast food and snack options. See website for event calendar, movie showtime, admission details and more.
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.
Red Mountain Park consists of 1500 acres (607.02 hectares) full of outdoor fun and excitement. In addition to the 11 hiking trails in the park, there are also zip-lining facilities, historic mines, three tree houses and the Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest and Kaul Adventure Tower. The park is one of Birmingham's favorite destinations for outdoor adventure.
Considered one of the top three motorsports museums in the world, this structure holds nearly vintage 600 motorcycles in its collection. Inside, there are motorcycles as far as the eye can see. This museum was the largest single lender to the Art of the Motorcycle exhibition, which drew record crowds to the Guggenheim museums in New York City and Bilbao. The Barber also houses a restoration shop and library.