the five points and highlands areas are the nicest parts of downtown birmingham. five points is birmingham's entertainment district and is an area that has a number of good restaurants and bars. five points is the safest area in the city of birmingham for nightlife.
As we drove towards Birmingham on I-20, I saw that we were approaching the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. That hadn't been in my plans at all, but since the railroad museum was closed at this time of year, we stopped.
This turned out to be a fantastic museum which mostly concentrated on motorcycles, although they did have some race cars and a powder blue 1958 Chevrolet plus some ship and car models.
George Barber (whose museum this is) raced, modified, and maintained Porsches in the 1960's. His interest soon turned to motorcycles.
"He wanted to preserve motorcycle history in the United States in a way that represents an international aspect and to supply an example of motorcycles that until then could only have been seen in books and magazines."
There are 750 vintage and modern motorcycles displayed on walls, two-tiered platforms and just about everywhere you look. The bikes are displayed randomly, rather than by date and year,
Restorations are done in-house. The original museum opened in March 14, 1995. It moved to the new location at The Barber Motorsports Park on September 19, 2003.
"The collection now has over 900 vintage and modern motorcycles... There are approximately five hundred motorcycles on display at any given time. (There are over 900 in the collection.) These bikes range from 1904 to current-year production. There are bikes from 16 countries that represent 143 different marques. "
There is also a race track associated with the museum. We arrived at 11:30 and were there for a hour.
Admission rates are $10 for Adults,
$6.00 for Children ages 4-12, and
FREE for Children 3 and under.
3 day Weekend Pass
$ 15.00 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday
(can only be used on consecutive days)
Hours of operation
April 1 - September 30
Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm
Sunday Noon - 6pm
October 1 - March 31
Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday Noon - 5pm
Closed Easter Sunday and July 4th.
We went in search of the Sloss Furnaces which, since it is a National Historic Landmark, I thought I might be able to get a passport stamp for it.
It soon appeared next to the limited access highway, so we got off and went around to the other side - no access here either - now it was on the other side of some railroad tracks. Eventually we found our way in, but the visitor's center was closed and locked. It is only open for guided tours on weekends, but I did not realize that meant that it wasn't open at all during the week.
Anyway there were some informational signs and we walked around the place for about half an hour. I think we could have climbed up on some of the catwalks, but we didn't.
The website says: "On April 18, 1882, Sloss Furnaces began producing iron and did not stop until ninety years later. Over the decades, Sloss Furnaces gave rise to the city of Birmingham ...
.. James Withers Sloss built the furnaces which became known as the "City Furnaces." Extensively rebuilt and modernized in the late 1920s, the current steel-jacketed furnaces employed an estimated 500 workers and produced 400 tons of pig iron daily. Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company and U. S. Pipe operated these furnaces, maintaining their position as a leading foundry iron producer until 1971.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm; Sunday 12 to 4pm; Closed Mondays
the 16 th street baptist church was bombed by members of the klu klux klan on september 15 th 1963. four young african-american girls were killed in the bombing and several others injured. this bombing outraged the nation and contributed to the passage of the 1964 civil rights act. today the 16 th ave. baptist church is open for tours. for those interested in civil rights history the 16 th street baptist church is an important site to visit.
This is an attractive, well designed museum on the Tannehill grounds. If you are interested in heavy industry and large machinery, this is for you. The museum covers the iron and steel manufacture from Ancient Egypt to today's specialized alloys. It is all very colorful, and, dare I say, very boyish - in the best sense of the word.
Near a busy campground, you can visit the granddaddy of Sloss Furnaces, the Tannehill Ironworks. Iron was produced here starting in the 1830s. The three charcoal blast furnaces at Tannehill could produce 22 tons of pig iron a day, most of which was shipped to the Naval Gun Works and Arsenal at Selma.
This is a pleasant visit, which includes the remarkable Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama in the same park.
The Sloss Furnaces is a large iron foundry complex which operated from 1882 to 1971. Saved from demolition by preservationists, it is today a "stabilized ruin" open to the public (and the location for some concerts and music video shoots).
Sloss Furnaces is not a bit like one of those places where you are carefully roped off and kept from the real substance. You can go down pitch-dark steps and through drippy tunnels. You can get dirty! It is a wonderful experience. And you get to know how to make pig iron in the bargain (the markers that dot the site are very instructive).
The Ruffner Mountain Nature Center is a large nature reserve with superb trails, situated just a few minutes from downtown Birmingham. The trails are "threaded" in an intelligent way, allowing you to hike as long as you wish with a minimum of backtracking. The Overlook Trail offers vistas of old quarries and a panorama of Birmingham. One of the trails leads to a small wetland area.
Some of the trails entail quite a climb. Be sure to download the trail map or to pick it up at the office, and don't forget your water bottle, insect repellent, and nutrition bar.
This is the Church which was bombed on September 15, 1963, by members of the Ku Klux Klan, resulting in the death of four little girls. The church wasn't picked at random by the terrorists. Throughout 1963, it had been a rallying point for Civil Rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth. The loathsome attack shocked the whole country, and the following year, president Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
A small exhibit exists in the basement of the church, commemorating its turbulent yet hopeful legacy.
The BCRI is located on a meaningful location: across the street from the notorious 16th St. Baptist Church, and near the once bustling African-American neighborhood around 4th Avenue.
The building itself is rather bland, but the exhibit is excellent: A short black and white film describes the early decades of Birmingham and the origins of the Civil Rights struggle. Subsequently, the movie screen itself goes up - like a curtain - and you are faced with one of those ghastly two-class water fountains, the start of the exhibit. After a thorough description of the bad old days, you get a solid chronology of what happened between the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 and the Obama inauguration.
Of the four Civil Rights museums I visited, this was the only one that was relatively crowded.
ingram park is located in downtown birmingham across the street from the birmingham civil rights institute and the 16 th street baptist church. this park has a number of interesting statues depicting the birmingham civil rights protests in the 1960's. pictured is a statue of a water hose used by the police to disperse protesters.
mountain brook is a wealthy community located just south of the city of birmingham. this hilly area has scores of beautiful estates on large wooded lots. mountain brook has three shopping and entertainment "villages" which offer upscale shopping and dining. a very nice place to visit in the birmingham area. for more information see my mountain brook alabama pages.
vestavia hills and nearby homewood alabama are very nice upper middle class areas just south of downtown birmingham. vestavia hills and homewood have a number of good restaurants and bars. for travelers to the birmingham area vestavia hills and homewood have a number of good hotels and is a safe place to stay in the birmingham area.
the birmingham zoo is a very nice place to visit when traveling with children when in the birmingham area. the zoo has displays of animals from all over the world in a natural setting. a very interesting place to visit when in birmingham. see the attached web site for admission and times.
the birmingham botanical gardens is a very worth while place to visit when in the birmingham area. the gardens have a spectacular display of azaleas and dogwoods in the spring. the botanical gardens has a large greenhouse with tropical plants and a beautiful japanese garden. on premises is a nice cafe style restaurant and a garden shop. admission is free.
This is a nice hotel in a very nice part of town. I originally planned to stay at an airport hotel...more
the marriott birmingham has an excellent location for both the business traveler and tourist. the...more
the hyatt place is located in central downtown birmingham. the hyatt place has an excellent location...more