Posted 9/5/14 by Miles Young in Lifestyle

Tips for Exploring Birmingham on the Cheap

Image via Flickr by James Willamor

Known throughout the South as the Magic City, Birmingham, Alabama offers a rich collection of culture and history. But, you don’t have to be rich to visit; here are four tips for exploring Birmingham on a budget.

Stay Outside Downtown

The closer you stay to the city center, the more expensive the room rates. You’ll find great deals on hotels in the neighborhoods outside the downtown. The Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham / 280 East – Eagle Point is about a 35-minute drive from downtown Birmingham and costs much less than downtown hotels. This hotel offers spacious and modern guest rooms, and a free breakfast in the morning.

If you’re not up for the drive to downtown and prefer something a little closer to the action, book a hotel near the Birmingham Airport. Hotels in this area, like the Comfort Inn Airport and the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport, are about $50 cheaper than downtown hotels and are only about a 13-minute drive away from downtown attractions. The Mountain Brook and Homewood neighborhoods are additional options for finding affordable hotels near Birmingham.

Hop on the Dart Trolley

Exploring the downtown area is easy and cheap on the Dart Trolley system. The trolley offers three routes, shuttling tourists and locals around the downtown area. Prominent attractions along these routes include, the Civic Centre, Museum of Art, and Civil Rights District. The Dart trolley runs every 10 to 20 minutes and costs just 25 cents per ride.

Birmingham also has a fairly extensive public bus system, for guests staying outside the downtown area. Single-ride fare for the bus costs $1.25.

Take in the Culture

You can’t visit Birmingham without taking some time to visit the city’s Civil Rights attractions. The Civil Rights Institute, in downtown, features powerful exhibits including life-sized images and voice recordings of civil rights protesters and leaders. The institute accepts donations for admission on Sundays and during the rest of the week admission costs $12 per person. Across the Street, you can walk in the footsteps of past Civil Rights marchers on the Civil Rights trail.

For a unique cultural experience, take part in a letter reading at the Birmingham City Jail where Martin Luther King led a non-violent protest against racial segregation.

The Sloss Furnace Landmark and Museum is a 100-year-old former furnace plant that showcases the history of making iron. Tours of the museum cost $3.

Enjoy the Hospitality

The culinary flavours of the South are unmistakable. Make sure to include plenty of local dining during your trip. Reserve a table at the highly rated and award-winning Highlands Bar & Grill. This restaurant is best known for its stone-ground baked grits and local-raised country ham.

For some after-hours excitement, head to Five Points South for live music or the Avondale Brewing Company for some local draft beer.

Keep these tips in mind during your visit to Birmingham and you’ll find you have extra cash to spend. Maybe you’ll want to order a second helping of grits and biscuits!


Miles Young

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Miles Young is a freelance writer with a passion for sports, music, and pop culture. When he's not working on his latest feature story, he's out walking his dog or catching up on Game of Thrones.