T R A V E L P L A N N E R S G U I D E | 6 3


With a metropolitan population of nearly 1 million people, Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama.

Should you have Birmingham pigeonholed as serving only barbeque and fried pies, just remember that the city is home to the Oscars of dining with James Beard Foundation winners and nominees.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham s University Hospital is among the world s top kidney transplant centers.

TIME magazine named Birmingham s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival among its Top 10 Film Festivals for the Rest of Us.

Birmingham s Barber Motorsports Park houses the largest collection of vintage motorcycles in North America. The park is considered the Augusta of Motorsports, a name that refers to the quality of the world-class course that is home to the Porsche Driving Experience and the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School.

With more than 1,000 acres for biking and hiking, Birmingham s Ruffner Mountain is larger than New York City s Central Park and is just a five-minute drive from downtown. Birmingham is a national leader in urban green spaces.

Birmingham s role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s placed it at the center of the most significant domestic drama of the 20th century . A comprehensive Civil Rights Trail currently is near completion.

Vulcan, the mythical god of metalworking, is the largest cast iron statue in the world and is second in size only to the Statue of Liberty. The statue was Birmingham s entry in the 1904 World s Fair, where it won first place.

Southern Living, the nation s most successful regional magazine, is published in Birmingham.

With 10,000 pieces, the Birmingham Museum of Art houses the largest collection of Wedgwood outside England.

With the opening of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail throughout the state, Alabama has been called one of America s top 10 golf destinations.

Birmingham is home to the nation s oldest baseball park, Rickwood Field, which opened in 1910 and hosted baseball greats such as Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lorenzo Piper Davis, Willie Mays and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Vonetta Flowers, the first African American to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics (2002 bobsledding), is a track coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Wine enthusiasts often are surprised to find vineyards and wineries in the greater Birmingham area. They also are eager to sample the bottled goodness found along the local Wine Trail, especially delicate peach wines made from local fruit.

Birmingham s world-class musical talent has put the city in the national spotlight with two winners from the hit TV show American Idol. Ruben Studdard won in 2003 and Taylor Hicks came home with top honors in 2006. In between, Birmingham s Bo Bice won first runner-up in the 2005 competition.

Birmingham was recently voted America s Bass Capital by readers of BASSMASTER magazine. Anglers were challenged to submit their choice for the country s best big city bassin .

In recent years, Birmingham signed a deal with the Indy Racing League to bring all the exciting action of INDYCAR to the Barber Motorsports Park. Since 2010, the Grand Prix of Alabama has put Birmingham on the map as the only Deep South city on the North American Indy circuit.

Sloss Furnaces produced iron for nearly 90 years during the early days of the city s emergence as an industrial giant. Today, it is a city-operated museum and recognized as a National Historic Landmark, and it is the only facility of its kind being preserved in the world. Many believe the furnaces are haunted by Theophilus Calvin Jowers, a foundry man who died a grisly death in a furnace accident.

The Alabama Theatre is a 1920s movie palace in the heart of downtown. The Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ still rises from beneath the theatre floor for live accompaniment of silent movie screenings.

The Irondale Café, also known as The Original Whistle Stop Café, is a home-style cafeteria with strong Hollywood ties. The café, which inspired writer and actor Fannie Flagg s successful novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and hit movie, still feeds hungry folks every day of the week.