As we start to enjoy the peak of summer, now is the perfect time to start making plans for that one last warm-weather getaway in the coming month or two. Instead of planning a trip that takes you far
away (and plunders your bank account), consider these great options for a surprisingly close and fun getaway that won’t break the bank. This summer, plan the perfect staycation, right here in Birmingham.
Explore a “new” hotel
If you’re looking for a local getaway that truly feels luxurious, then plan to book a night or two at the newly renovated, swanky Redmont Hotel. As Alabama’s oldest operating hotel, the 14 story Redmont first opened its doors in 1925. After an extensive renovation that included efforts to not only restore much of the original details and charm but also to repurpose many of the existing materials, the Redmont reopened in March, 2016. Now part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, the historic hotel offers 120 guest rooms and suites that bring to life the glamor of the 1920’s.
Located on the north side of Birmingham’s downtown, The Redmont is within walking distance of the city’s flourishing entertainment district as well as a host of other Birmingham favorites (think The Collins Bar, brick & tin, or the funky bar/grill/arcade, Paramount). Step out or opt to stay in and dine at Harvest, The Redmont’s casual upscale restaurant that features farm to table cuisine with an Italian twist. The only thing you won’t find at The Redmont is a swimming pool or gym (but really, who wants to exercise while on vacation anyway?). Average rates run from $140-$250/night. www.redmontbirmingham.com.
Take a Foodie Tour
Whether you plan to spend the night away from home or not, an all day Foodie Tour around town is another great way to enjoy several of those trendy local eateries helping to earn the Magic City all that extra fame and attention lately.
Octane Cafe: Start your day by getting up early (and hungry) and if you need a jolt of caffeine, head straight to a nearby Octane Cafe for a freshly brewed cup of joe made with beans roasted in-house (of course). www.octanecoffee.com.
Feast & Forest: Next, make your way to Feast & Forest to enjoy some of the best breakfast in town made with locally sourced ingredients. We recommend the “build your own biscuit or toast” ($3+) and choose from house bacon, sausage, or prosciutto, cheddar cheese, avocado, farm eggs, and a number of handcrafted jams and nut butters. www.feastandforest.com.
Birmingham Breadworks: Although their specialty is bread (and we mean all kinds of sweet and savory, you’ll want to eat entire baskets of baguettes, croissants, rolls, and more kinds of bread), Birmingham Breadworks also offers a delicious and unique lunch menu. Located in an old Antique store in Birmingham’s historic Southside, Birmingham Breadworks serves up some of the best sandwiches in town. Try the vulcan’s veggie sandwich ($6.50) with marinated portabella, spinach, mozzarella and whipped goat cheese. Or sample a variety of daily specialty pizzas. www.birminghambreadworks.com.
Yo Mama: Located on 2nd Ave N, Yo Mama’s offers the best of home cooked inspired meals. If you have a hankering for comfort food, Yo Mama’s food will hit the spot, every. single. time. Try the Shrimp & Grits or the Chicken & Waffles. Many of the items on the menu are also available gluten-free. www.yomamasrestaurant.com.
Saw’s Soul Kitchen: Seriously good BBQ. Actually, it’s more than that, Men’s Journal declared it the “best barbecue in America.” Expect to leave feeling pleasantly stuffed with a full belly of pulled pork, smoked chicken, and one of their famous “stuffed taters” (we recommend the Pork-Stuffed Tater, which also happens to be named one of the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” from the Alabama Tourism Department. www.sawsbbq.com
OvenBird: A live fire, casual restaurant located in the Pepper Place neighborhood, OvenBird offers a menu highlighting dishes made with a range of seasonal southern ingredients. Enjoy a meal served using the small plate format inspired by the combined traditions of South America and the American South.We suggest started your meal with a selection of Spanish cheeses or marinated olives. For your main course, if you’re in the mood to try something new, order the Braised Goat or the Shellfish a la Plancha. www.ovenbirdrestaurant.com.
Walk off those added calories in between meals by taking to the new Rotary Trail or enjoying a scenic loop around Railroad Park.
Hike an urban nature preserve
Take your staycation off the beaten path and out of the city to Ruffner Mountain, a 1,038-acre urban nature preserve located just 10 miles northeast of Birmingham. As one of the largest privately-held 501(c)(3) urban nature preserves in the United States, Ruffner Mountain is also one of Alabama’s most historic mining sites. From the late 19th century through the 1950’s, the mountain was mined for iron, producing more than 200 tons of raw ore per day for processing at the nearby Sloss furnaces. Spend the day meandering your way along any of the 14 wooded trails and explore some of some of Birmingham’s most historic property. Make sure to stick around late into the day to catch a phenomenal sunset and panoramic view of the city’s skyline by hiking up to Hawk’s View Overlook. www.ruffnermountain.org
Bonus: On August 27th, head to Ruffner Mountain to enjoy “Outside Birmingham” a fun event focusing on technical outdoor education. Visitors can try out the newest in camping and outdoor gear and accessories and also enjoy craft beer from Cahaba Brewing, and coffee from Octane.
Get out on the water
Just because Birmingham isn’t coastal, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a staycation on the water. If your idea of a getaway is relaxing at the beach or water skiing, then Oak Mountain State Park is the place for you. As Alabama’s largest State park, Oak Mountain State Park is one of the most visited parks in the Southeast. Grab your beach chairs and sunglasses and take a scenic drive into the park to enjoy a day of swimming or playing on the sandy beach, located on Terrace Drive. Indulge your sense of adventure with an afternoon spent on wakeboarding (cable water skiing), canoeing, or even stand up paddle boarding. Make the most of all that the park has to offer by extending your staycation and spending the night camping or enjoying the amenities of one of the park’s many cabins. www.alapark.com/oak-mountain-state-park
Zip and climb your way to adventure
If a staycation packed with thrill and outdoor adventure is what you are looking for, zero your sights on Red Mountain Park. Another of Birmingham’s award-winning green spaces, Red Mountain Park is home to more than 1,500 wooded acres and is located in Birmingham off of Lakeshore Parkway. Check your nerves at the head of the trail and hike into the park’s adventure area to tackle four unique outdoor adventures: the Red Ore Zip Tour (a 1 ½ hour zip line adventure), the Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest (20 unique rope and cable treetop challenges), the 80-foot climbing/rappelling Kaul Adventure Tower, and the 1,000 foot Mega Zip. You can also enjoy 14 miles of trails perfect for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking. Red Mountain also offers a 90-minute Segway experience on the Schaeffer Seg Tour. www.redmountainpark.org/adventure.