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16. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Richly detailed exhibits in the Civil Rights Institute reveal slices of black and white life in Alabama from the late 1800s to the present. A series of galleries tells the stories of daily life for African-Americans in the state and the nation and how dramatically different it was from the lives white people of that era took for granted. The powerful Movement Gallery presents the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1963. Here a picture emerges of the bad old days of Bombingham, a reference to the relentless violence that rocked the city in the late 1950s and early 60s. In the final exhibits, the Processional Gallery uses life-size figures representing all ages and races to portray the walk to freedom. Open Tues Sat, 10 am 5 pm; Sun, 1 pm 5 pm. Admission. 520 16th St N. 205-328-9696.

17. Birmingham Holocaust Education Center Dedicated to the history and lessons of the Holocaust, the BHEC houses a variety of exhibits and resources. On permanent display is the acclaimed Darkness into Life exhibit of photography, art and narratives from 20 Holocaust survivors who settled in Alabama. With more than 2,100 volumes available for loan and on-site study, BHEC also has the largest Holocaust Studies Library in the Southeast. 2222 Arlington Ave S. 205-795-4176.

18. Birmingham Museum of Art The Birmingham Museum of Art has one of the finest collections in the Southeast. More than 24,000 objects represent a rich panorama of cultures, including Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian and Native American. Highlights include the museum s collection of Asian art, considered the finest and most comprehensive in the Southeast, and its collection of Vietnamese ceramics, one of the finest in the world; a remarkable Kress collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the late 13th century to the 1750s; the collection of 18th century European decorative


People like being in Birmingham. It s hip without the pretense cool without the exertion. It s just one of the best places in the South to be these days.

Here are a dozen reasons why:

1. The shopping is jaw-dropping. The retail center of the state is brimming with malls, high-end boutiques and outlet shopping.

2. Live music is Birmingham s signature entertainment. Great music is steadily underway at city parks, music halls and historic venues.

3. We golf year-round. Yep. The weather s just that good.

4. The food is astounding. And affordable. Birmingham enjoys a rockstar culinary reputation.

5. Size does matter. See the world s largest collection of vintage motorcycles and the largest cast iron statue in the world.

6. Our ballpark is right downtown. It s brand new and has a killer view of the skyline.

7. Our entertainment districts are well entertaining. See some colorful characters. Shop for vinyl records. Drink a craft brew.

8. We re in motion. The great outdoors calls to hikers, boaters, golfers and those of us who just like to ride the zip lines

9. Our festivals are big fun. We ll celebrate just about anything---art, music, crawfish, animals, butterbeans, independent film, the Fourth of July, the fifth of July.

10. We specialize in specialty shops. Ever had a gourmet peanut butter popsicle? Or buy earrings at a place called Naked Art?

11. You can see where world history was made. Birmingham s role in America s Civil Rights Movement changed the world.

12. You ll feel the local love. Birmingham likes nothing better than having company.