Guide to 24 Hours in Birmingham, AL
Birmingham, Alabama, the most underrated city in the south. Although Birmingham is only four hours away from Memphis, it was never really on my radar to travel here until some college friends who are from there kept mentioning how cool Birmingham is and how amazing the food scene is. Intrigued, a few high school friends and I set out to visit over Christmas break, letting our friends who are Birmingham residents plan out each stop in order for us to get the full Birmingham experience in a mere 24 hours. Both the food and thrift shop scenes are incredible and diverse, and outdoor spaces and museums are scattered about the downtown. Needless to say, I have a newfound appreciation for the city and I can’t wait to return. As you peruse this guide, consider making Birmingham your next road trip destination - you won’t regret it.
With traditional Italian food and daily pasta specials that rotate throughout the week, Trattoria Centrale is destined to be a crowd pleaser. Most ingredients used are sourced as locally as possible and the food is fresh and beautiful. I chose a butternut squash quiche with freshly made bread and my friends got the Monday special: the spaghetti carbonara, all of which was devoured within minutes. If wanting a bustling lunch or breakfast spot in downtown Birmingham, with fresh, Italian cuisine, Trattoria Centrale is the place to go.
The Revelator was such a treat to visit. It is definitely on the pricier side for coffee, but the quality of the coffee is top notch and the shop itself is located in the middle of the downtown, making it a great spot to people watch through the large window while sipping a cup of coffee. I chose to get a honey cinnamon latte with oat milk and it was fantastic.
What’s on 2nd
Birmingham has a thriving thrift and antique store scene, and What’s On 2nd is just one demonstration of that. However, if trying to explore Birmingham on a Monday, do note that most museums and thrift stores will be closed that day except What’s on 2nd. For my friends and I, the huge postcard collection that this place has really makes it so unique. Not only will you find cool knick-knacks and books around the store but you will also find an entire shelf dedicated solely to postcards from all over the world, some with the original message still on them. This is such a fun place to peruse.
Red Cat Coffeehouse
Red Cat is a cute little coffee shop located just across from Railroad Park. It is the perfect place to do work, hangout, or just pick up a to-go coffee to sip while walking around the park.
Pizitz Food Hall
With the food hall trend sweeping every large city, Pizitz Food Hall is such a gem among them. While there were so many delicious looking options, I chose to go to Ono Poké, a customized poké bowl spot and was so delighted. It was probably the most crowded stand in the hall, but it was definitely worth the wait. The granola from Alabama Biscuit is fantastic as well and I have also heard great things about the cheese boards at Busy Corner Cheese + Provisions. If craving acai, JuicedUp Essentials also has a full menu of different acai bowls.
Big Spoon Creamery
Vegan pistachio ice cream, the perfect end to a night. Big Spoon Creamery is located in Avondale, a cool, up-and-coming area of the city. After a full day of exploration in Birmingham, ice cream was on everyone’s mind. With unique and locally crafted ice cream selections, including a couple of dairy free ones, it just does not get better than Big Spoon Creamery.
Before heading back to Memphis, we grabbed some breakfast from First Watch. This place had the same familiarity as a breakfast diner yet with a menu involving more healthy, fresh options. The breakfast wrap was the perfect thing before returning home.
Although I started off the 24 hour trip knowing virtually nothing about Birmingham, Alabama, I ended it with a newfound appreciation for the city and the rich culture that Birmingham is trying to foster. I can’t wait to go back some day soon and experience more of what the city has to offer.