36 Hours in Birmingham, Alabama Travel Guide

This past week we were supposed to be camping at Grayton Beach State Park in Florida (you can read about our last GBSP trip here), but Hurricane Michael had other plans. It was a whirlwind of a week as we drove all the way to the beach, set up camp, had a run-in with Red Tide, and was evacuated from our campsite all in 24 hours. So on our way back to Nashville the next day, we made a last minute decision to stop for a couple days in Birmingham, and we are so glad we did!

Birmingham is only 2 hours and 45 minutes from Nashville, and it's a place that neither of us have ever really had on our list. But guess what? Birmingham should be on your list. Especially if you live within a 3 hours drive. It's the perfect place for a weekend trip.

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Since we were on our way back from camping, we had our dogs with us (they always camp with us!) and we were exhausted. So all we wanted to do was to lay down and get out of the car. So we booked a cheap Airbnb that allowed dogs and made our own dinner the first night we were there. And then we went to sleep. If you have time when you arrive to do something on the first night, there are numerous great restaurants to try. We will list some of these below!

9 AM: Go to Big Bad Breakfast for breakfast: Casey and I both had one of their skillets, but the menu was full of a-little-over-the-top-yet-exactly-what-you-want breakfast items. Plus the service was great and that is something we both appreciate SO much.

This restaurant, Real & Rosemary, was right by BBB and it was freakin' cute! If we had more time, we would've checked this place out.

Another food option is Farm Bowl + Juice Co. The building design is nice and there is a fun geometrical mural on the side if you need a backdrop for a photo. They have things like acai bowls, oatmeal, and juices, etc.

10:30 AM: Walk around the Homewood area. There was a whole strip of shops that went on and on. We spent a good part of the day here. Our first stop was Wild Things- a flower shop with a lot of other home accessories. Anywhere we go, we end up at a flower shop. (See the one we went to in Asheville that we loooooved here.)

The interior was beautifully curated and designed, I almost forgot it was a flower shop!

This was just a cute little alley off the strip of shops.

Seibel's was a great store that was unlike most. We love a store that has it's own style and isn't trying to be just like everything else. This store was a home goods store, but it was all beautifully designed things that make you want to buy a cabin just so you can decorate it with things all from this store. There was a recliner (that's right! a recliner...) that we both could not pull ourselves away from. I mean we had to obviously, it was way out of our price range and someone had already bought it. But if a store can make you fall in love with a recliner, it has to be a really good store.

It's hard to say which one of the stores we visited was our favorite, but this one is the one I wish we had in Nashville. At Home Furnishings was HUGE. And it was all good stuff. There was a massive section of dishes, vases, serving ware, etc. which we spent a lot of time in. But they also had any kind of home decor you could think of, linens, and even furniture. I had been looking for a couple plates for our other blog and actually found them here! And Casey found these little pumpkins to use for styling. AND we've already used both of these things, so I'll just go ahead and show you those pictures.

Sugar-free PSL here.
There was also a store called SOCA Clothing. It was your basic boutique with cute and stylish clothing and accessories. It was definitely the best place for clothing that we found.

After the walk around Homewood, we picked up our dogs and took them to the dog park. If you aren't traveling with dogs, then there's more time for whatever else you want to do!

12 PM: Stop by Sozo Trading Co. This was a fun little spot! It's sort of thrift store, but it's curated. There are booths so there are all kinds of things in there from brand new clothing to holiday decor and vintage dishes. I got a slouchy sweater here and we found this really cute heart mug that we had to have.

1 PM: Head to Urban Standard for coffee and a little snack. This coffee shop is huge and has plenty of seating. They also have real food, which is always a plus in case you need some sustenance. We shared a gluten-free scone (that was a real great texture for something gluten-free) and got a little work done. Another option would be to eat a light lunch at one of the other restaurants we recommend above. Or you could go the heavier route and eat at Yo Mama's. We really considered going there because they had a ton of gluten-free options, but we didn't end up making it.

5 PM: Head to Vulcan Trail for a hike with a nice view of the city and hopefully a nice sunset. When we were in Birmingham the sun set around 6:15. We didn't know much about the trail except that you could see the city from it. It's about a mile one way, but it is paved, so it's not an intense hiking experience. I was wearing sandals and Casey had her Birkenstocks on and we were totally fine. Apparently you can go 1 mile further into the woods, but we stayed on the pavement section only.

The thing I realized that I love about visiting cities that you know nothing about is that you get the chance to discover something. There's no preconceived notions about what you should be doing- you just do what you want. The things that other people have done there don't shape your trip. Like this cast-iron statue for example. We had no idea it existed. It is a huge statue that you can see from across the city and people pay to go look at it up close. Apparently it's the largest cast-iron sculpture in the world. Who even knew? It's random, but it's really fun to find out little things like this about a city.

7 PM: Head to the rainbow LED tunnel. This is another thing that we had no idea existed, so it was such a surprise to learn about it! This is actually under a bridge that you drive through, but there are two walkways on either side of the road. When you are driving through the tunnel it seems really short, but once you park and walk to it, you realize that it actually is pretty cool. And the lights change colors so it seems like the colors are moving through the tunnel. You just have to see it with your own eyes. We were not planning on taking photos of ourselves, but this place was just cool that we had to.

We also lost a piece to our tripod, so we had to rig the camera up to take this picture AND you can see that there is a remote in my hand. Didn't see it before I said that? Oh well, it's what really happened. When we take pics like this we have about a 2 minute emotional limit to get the pic. After that we are done and what we have is what we have. So remote in hand pic is the winner of the bunch.

8 PM: Head to dinner at Melt. A couple of our followers recommended this restaurant and Casey read about it in her search for things to do in Birmingham. It was SO delicious! They specialize in melts- go figure. Maybe I didn't realize that until I was literally ordering my meal...? Their fries were beer battered and unreal. So was the melt I had. They even have gluten-free bread!

Since we aren't the night life type, we headed home after dinner. We actually lost electricity soon after though because the winds were so strong before the hurricane hit. Even though we were 4 hours north of the shore! But I'm sure if you wanted to keep the night going, you could find plenty to do.

10 AM: Grab a coffe at Woodlawn Cycle Cafe for the road. Casey loved the latte she had from here and the interior was designed nicely.

The coffee shop was in an area called Woodlawn and they had this cute mural right outside. It seemed like all the shops in the area were really new and it also seemed like they are trying to liven the area up a bit. There's a little strip of storefronts that seem new or redone and I definitely think more things will be in this area as time goes on.

All in all, Birmingham did not disappoint. It was a shock to us, I'm not going to lie. We didn't have many expectations, but we just loved the vibe. Every place we ever go, we have a conversation about the "vibe". It's that thing that you can't put your finger on, but that either gives you a good or bad feeling about a place. The moment we drove into Birmingham, the vibe was a good one. And even though it's not a vacation at the beach, it is a nice place to spend a couple of days.

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xo, Savannah

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