A Southern sun means warm, temperate weather most days of the year, so when you’re in Birmingham, Alabama, you’ll want to make the most of it. Outdoor things to do include catching a ball game at Regions Field, saying hello to the rhinos at the Birmingham Zoo, or catching a zip line at Red Mountain Park. History buffs will love a visit to Sloss Furnaces and Kelly Ingram Park, while the botanists among us will find a home at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Let these locales encourage you to step off the quad and into all that Birmingham has to offer the outdoor adventurer.



Birmingham Zoo

Who doesn’t love a day spent hanging out with exotic animals? The Birmingham Zoo can definitely help you there, as it’s home to nearly 230 species of animals. See elephants, lions, and zebras, and also more rare creatures like the red panda and the Southern white rhinoceros. Also, keep an eye on their event calendar. They host special holiday events (like Birmingham’s largest Easter egg hunt), gatherings for bird watchers, and the annual Run for Future Rangers! 5K. Tickets to the zoo are $16, and are always half price on Tuesday. Need more zoo time? Try volunteering or applying for a student summer internship.


Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces is a National Historic Landmark and was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world. Today, it’s a monument to the Industrial era, and has free public guided tours on most Saturdays and Sundays. Sloss Furnaces is also home to Sloss Metal Arts, a program of workshops and exhibitions dedicated to cast iron sculpting. If you’ve been thinking about a new hobby, they offer classes for beginners on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission to Sloss Furnaces is free during business hours.



Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is beautiful year-round, open seven days a week, and always free for visitors. They have dozens of formal botanical collections, including a rose garden and rhododendron garden, as well as six acres of forest for a quiet, woodland stroll through some of the region’s oldest native trees. Highlights include the Bruno Vegetable Garden — whose produce goes to Magic City Harvest, a local nonprofit dedicated to feeding those in need — and the Japanese Garden. Looking for a new study nook? Check out their public library filled with a large selection of gardening and horticultural books.


Kelly Ingram Park

Kelly Ingram Park is historically known as West Park and has a storied past as the epicenter of the civil rights movement. Kelly Ingram Park was a gathering point for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference — then presided over by Martin Luther King Jr. — to hold sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and jailings designed to end segregation in Birmingham. Today, it stands firm as a monument, drawing thousands of visitors every year to see the park and its sculptures, memorializing images of protests and police brutality in the 1960s. Check out the audio tour developed by the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, which describes the stories behind the scenes.


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Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park is a massive historical and recreational site, home to a beautiful 15-mile trail system leading to hiking highlights like tree houses, overlooks of downtown Birmingham, and historic iron ore mining sites. Head over to the Adventure Area to indulge in aerial thrills like ziplining through the trees, or climbing and rappelling down the Kaul Adventure Tower. Hiking the trails is free, along with the TravelStorysGPS map, which will tell you about the historical sites as you pass them. Zipline adventures start at $29 per person.


Regions Field

The home of the Birmingham Barons is the place to be on game day. They played their first game on Regions Field in April 2013, beating the Mississippi Braves with a 9-5 win, and kick-starting the fourth-busiest season in Baron history. The field is in the hopping, historic Southside community of Birmingham. Catch a game for as little as $7 (or splurge for Dugout Premium seats at $15 each), then hit the streets for postgame brews and snacks. Try local faves like Tortugas Pizza and Ted’s Restaurant.