The Magic City Classic is just around the corner. So, here’s the perfect guide to the five things you can do that will ramp up the magic in your Magic City Classic trip.
#1: Get your history on.
If you’ve not been to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, you owe yourself a visit. With a mission “to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future,” this gem in Birmingham’s crown is not just a museum, it’s an educational research center.
Best thing to do while you’re there: take the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute self-guided multi-media tour.
#2: Go for a famous walk.
There aren’t many other places on earth that offer you the opportunity to walk the paths of the greats. Follow in the footsteps of the foot soldiers such as the Reverends Fred Lee Shuttlesworth, Ralph David Abernathy, and, of course, Dr. King, himself, by taking in the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail. With eight different routes that explore everything from retail establishments where freedom fighters protested segregation, to the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Best thing to do while you’re there: walk through Kelly Ingram Park and take in the incredibly moving statues.
#3: Pass some time with the nation’s pastime.
Many people don’t realize that long before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier in 1947, African American men were distinguishing themselves on the diamond. No trip to Birmingham is complete without a visit to Birmingham’s Negro Southern League Museum, where you’ll find excellent displays with remarkable bits of preserved history. Here, you’ll find worn game uniforms from Satchel Paige, a young Mobile pitcher known for his showmanship and legendary control (and thought by some to have been the greatest pitcher of all time). Here, on display is “Big Bertha,” the bat of Louis Santop (the first great power hitter in Negro League Baseball), 1,500 original signed baseballs, and a baseball contract from 1907. You’ll find an exhibit on Jackie Robinson, artifacts from when the “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays first got his start with the Barons, and an exhibit on the more recent phenom, Bo Jackson.
Best thing to do while you’re there: check out the holographic display of Satchel Paige throwing four different kinds of pitches.
#4: Visit the resting place of darn near every motorcycle ever made
Little known fact: The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum houses the largest collection of motorcycles in the world. Whether you’re into motorcycles or not, this is one place you won’t want to miss. Here, among the many motorcycles on exhibit, you’ll find one of only 10 Britten V1000s ever made, a 1920 Harley-Davidson and 1914 Indian (both board track racers), and a 1954 AJS E95 “Porcupine,” so called because of the spiky finning on the cylinder head. With a total collection of more than 1,400, motorcycles, at any one time there are more than 600 on display. You’ll also find a adrenaline-pumping collection of more than 50 Lotus racing cars. If you love motorcycles, history, going fast, or just plain cool places, you won’t want to miss a trip to Barber.
Best thing to do while you’re there: ask about the body in the elevator shaft.
#5: Feed Your Fancy
Birmingham’s got the food; that’s for sure. It’s been written up in everything from Sports Illustrated to Zagat. From elegant eats like you’ll find at Highlands Bar & Grill or Hot and Hot Fish Club, to some of the happening little spots in Avondale like Fancy’s on Fifth or Melt, to good old down-home soul food like Eagle’s Restaurant (one of the oldest soul food restaurants in the city), and Z’s Restaurant (with their famous bean pie), you can count on the ‘ham to deliver on the food.
Best thing to do while you’re there: go get a hot dog at Hot Diggity Dogs and make sure you step into the phone booth *wink*!