Family Fun in the South, Part 5: Birmingham

This is my fifth post about our family's recent adventure through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Click for the firstsecond, third, and fourth posts from the trip. Because I blog about educational travel, some of the places we visited gave me complimentary admission tickets, media rates, and similar benefits. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. We paid full price for everything else. How much we paid has no bearing on my reviews; I never share something unless I honestly recommend it.


Family Fun in Birmingham, Alabama

On December 29, after a good night's sleep and a delicious breakfast at the Home2 Suites, we headed to Kelly Ingram Park in downtown Birmingham. 

The park is just across from the 16th Street Baptist Church, which became known around the world after it was bombed in September 1963, killing four girls who were attending Sunday School. 

Both the church and the park featured prominently in the Civil Rights Movement, serving as an assembly spot for protests and other activities by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It was at Kelly Ingram Park in May 1963 that Bull Connor ordered the arrest of hundreds of children, then turned police dogs and firehoses on them. Now the park is filled with sculptures depicting Birmingham's civil rights struggle. 



Directly across the street from Kelly Ingram Park is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. It houses both a large museum and a research center. 

The museum is very well done. It chronicles the history of the Civil Rights Movement through artifacts, art, and video that give a complete picture of the struggles. 


While the majority of the museum covers the history of the struggle for equality in the United States, the Human Rights gallery at the end focuses on human rights issues throughout the world. 

I highly recommend a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. 

Our next destination was located 20 miles south of Birmingham in the city of Pelham. But first, we needed lunch. We'd heard good things about Cook Out, a southern fast food chain. 

The food was really good and surprisingly inexpensive. They offered a much wider variety of options that most fast food places: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, BBQ, quesadillas, wraps, cheesecake, floats, milkshakes, and more. We ate well. 

Off to Oak Mountain State Park! At Oak Mountain, Alabama's largest state park, we met up with naturalists Scottie and Lauren. They gave us a tour of this amazing place. 

It was beautiful, even in the dead of winter. I imagine it would be stunning during the other seasons. 

Oak Mountain has something for literally everyone. Some of the things they offer that we did not try during our visit include: over 50 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, a BMX course, archery, a driving range and 18-hole golf course, basketball and tennis courts, horseback riding, camping, and lakes for fishing, water skiing, swimming, and beach play. Whew!

So if we didn't do any of that, what did we do at Oak Mountain? Plenty! One of my favorites was the Treetop Nature Trail.

This elevated boardwalk houses resident birds (including vultures, owls, hawks, and more) with injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild. 


It was wonderful seeing these birds up close and learning more about them, particularly the ones that don't live in California. 

At the Alabama Wildlife Center, we saw more rescued birds. 

Some are being rehabilitated for release, while others are permanent residents because of injuries. With help from Katie, the clinic manager, we learned all the steps that go into receiving injured birds and preparing them for release. 

Our final stop at the state park was at Oak Mountain Interpretive Center. It's a great place to get an overview of Alabama's geography, geology, and plant and animal life. 

We saw snakes, turtles, and salamanders on display. 

One of the many highlights of our visit was meeting Acer, the Eastern Screech Owl. 

Oak Mountain State Park is a must-visit. There is so much to see and do, no matter what your interests. I guarantee you that if we didn't live 2000+ miles away, we'd be frequent visitors. 

After a very full day, we still had another 80 miles to drive to get to our next city: Montgomery. I'll tell you everything we did there tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. We're so glad you visited Oak Mountain State Park during your trip to Alabama! Please come back anytime.


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