Thanks to its economy and concentration of colleges and universities, Birmingham attracts lots of young families who appreciate its museums, gardens and other kid-pleasing attractions. Alabama’s largest city is arguably its most family friendly city. If you’re in the Magic City for the day or to stay, keep the kids occupied with some of the city’s activities for children.
Explore a Museum
The McWane Science Center (mcwane.org) is a must-see for science-minded kids. Four floors of exhibits cover everything from how 3-D animation works to gross animal behavior with hands-on displays that kids can touch, grab and manipulate. The center also has camps and home-school classes, so check the calendar online to see what’s happening during your visit. Not all art museums are kid-friendly, but the Birmingham Museum of Art (artsbma.org) makes for a fine introductory art museum for kids. Download a scavenger hunt on the museum’s website or pick one up at Bart’s Lair Under the Stairs to make the museum tour a more interactive experience, then head to the Bart’s ArtVenture gallery so kids can try different artistic techniques for themselves.
Visit the Animals
Kids will never forget the magic of walking through the Lorikeet Aviary while colorful lorikeets swoop down to sip nectar from their hands, but that’s just one of the memories your child can make at the Birmingham Zoo (birminghamzoo.com). The zoo is home to more than 200 species of birds, reptiles and mammals. Kids can cool off in the play fountain, take a camel ride, watch the sea lion show and find plenty of fun to keep them occupied for the better part of a day. Wear comfortable shoes and bring your sunscreen to explore the more than 1,000 miles of the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center (ruffnermountain.org). Encourage kids to keep an eye out for box turtles, salamanders, lizards and birds as you explore the center’s 12 miles of nature trails together.
Play in the Garden
Download the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Treasure Map (bbgardens.org) before you visit, and kids can race along the paths to find garden highlights, including the Japanese garden, the Herb Terrace and the moon tree. Check the calendar before you go: The garden has all kinds of events throughout the year, many of which are kid-friendly. Join your kids for family classes at the Aldridge Gardens (aldridgegardens.com) or register your child for one of the garden’s popular summer day camps. If you want to enjoy the fruits of the garden, head to Birmingham’s Pepper Place Farmers Market (pepperplacemarket), where farmers sell their goods every Saturday in season.
Hang with the Locals
The Birmingham Public Library (bham.lib.al.us) keeps its calendar full of kid-friendly fun, including theater performances, poetry slams, story times and craft projects. Check the online calendar to see what’s happening at each branch. Get a bird’s eye view of the city when you climb to the top of the 56-foot tall statue of Vulcan at Vulcan Park and Museum (visitvulcan.com). The park grounds have plenty of room for kids to run around. Find classes, sports leagues and other activities for kids at the Greater Birmingham YMCA (ymcabham.org).