City Smarts: Birmingham rides the rich wooded foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, a series of ridges running northeast to southwest, giving the area dramatic topography. With a metropolitan population of nearly 1 million people, it’s a sizable town that embodies irresistible “Southernness.”
As many of a certain age remember, the second American Revolution took place in the streets of Birmingham. It was the battlefield of America’s civil rights movement, a struggle for simple decency and common sense.
The tale of Birmingham’s role in the long march to civil rights has been told and retold around the world. With the opening of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 1993, the city found a place to tell its own story. www.birmingham.travel
Jetsetter: Tahiera Monique Brown is a Birmingham-based author, and professional speaker who lectures on issues of victimization. She does business in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. “I do all of my business outside of Alabama,” Brown says, “But Birmingham is my home. This is where I give back.” And give back, she does. Brown is a committed leader in the domestic violence awareness movement, as the Birmingham facilitator for Survivors Overcoming Abusive Relationships (S.O.A.R.). She has had a career in film and television since the late 1980s and expanded her work into the book publishing industry in 2006, with the release of her memoir, “Annihilator of Innocence.”
Getting Around: DART, the natural gas vintage trolleys (with three interchangeable routes) provides a fun way to get to work, and to travel to restaurants, attractions and Birmingham’s Historic Five Points South from the convention center. The DART is great for quick trips, business appointments and tourist destinations. www.bjcta.org
Survival Kit: Bring your walking shoes. Birmingham has a mild year-round climate that is conducive to strolls in the downtown area and beyond. Birmingham’s latest addition to the green scene is the award-winning 19-acre Railroad Park. www.railroadpark.org
Catching ZZZs: The grandeur of the historic Tutwiler Hotel Hampton Inn & Suites is restored, complete and ready to welcome guests. The 149-room downtown property has undergone months of full-scale makeover, with new guest rooms and many newly introduced hotel amenities. www.thetutwilerhotel.com
The Power Lunch: If fun and funky gets you going, then Trattoria Centrale is the place for you. The atmosphere at Trattoria Centrale encourages talk from table to table. Get your appetite ready for fresh salads, pastas and signature pizzas.
Cultural Chow: Ever wonder where the term “meat and three” came from? Birmingham locals declare that Niki’s West coined the phrase. Food is prepared Greek, Creole and Southern-style and sure to satisfy the most discriminating palate. www.nikiswest.com
To De-Stress: Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa is a retreat that’s secluded from the hustle-bustle, yet close to the city. Boasting the third longest golf course in the world, Ross Bridge features a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail course highlighted by sweeping views of the surrounding foothills. You’ll melt your cares away at the lavish 12,000-square-foot European spa.
Footloose & Fancy Free: Ready to wind down? Walk through Birmingham’s Civil Rights District. Begin your journey through the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960’s at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute [520 16th Street N]. Directly across the street from the Institute is the 16th Street Baptist Church National Historic Landmark, the site of the 1963 bombing that tragically killed four young girls. On the other corner is Kelly Ingram Park, the staging area where demonstrators assembled for the many protest marches. An audio tour accompanies your stroll through the park, moderated by voices of those who were actually involved in the Movement. Just one block over is the historic Carver Theatre which houses the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame [1631 4th Ave. N]. Up the street a bit, look for the Eddie Kendrick Memorial Park honoring the legendary Birmingham native and lead singer of the world-famous group The Temptations. www.bcri.org; www.sixteenthstreetchurch.org www.jazzhall.com
Flight Time: Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is Alabama’s largest airport serving the Greater Birmingham area, and offering flights to 45 airports in 42 cities throughout the United States.
Someone Helpful: Thanks to our friends at Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau and other tourist venues for providing us with facts, figures and fun information for this article.