Explore the Diverse History and Culture of Birmingham
Top Student Travel Attractions in Birmingham
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a research and educational facility, includes exhibits portraying the Birmingham civil rights movement and global human rights struggles. Students can watch a short movie about the class struggles blacks faced and violent labor strikes, and utilize touch screen monitors to hear about Birmingham’s past.
At Kelly Ingram Park, students can see statues that represent the struggles experienced by civil rights demonstrators. This four-acre site, across from the Civil Rights Institute, portrays the shocking realities of the movement. Sculptures represent the scenes of the violent acts against demonstrators, children who were jailed and leading clergymen. A self-guiding audio tour available from the Institute captures the sounds of the civil rights movement.
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the first black church in downtown Birmingham, is remembered for one of the most crucial events in the civil rights movement. A video program gives an account of the 1963 bombing that killed four young girls and how this African-American church was involved in local and national history.
Alabama Adventure is a popular theme park and water park that is open seasonally. Anticipate a day-long adventure filled with rides and shows.
McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham offers four floors of science adventures and interactive exhibits. Student groups enjoy hands-on exhibits about motion, energy, light and sound. The World of Water exhibit takes you on a journey deep into the ocean with aquatic life from around the world. A dinosaur exhibit features fossils and interactive games.
He education program at Sloss Furnaces, a former steel plant and now a National Historic Landmark, offers a guided tour about the industrial history of Birmingham. Student groups can bring a lunch to eat by the pond.
Birmingham Museum of Art presents more than 20,000 paintings, drawings and decorative arts representing a magnificent view of cultures dating from ancient to modern times.
Student travel groups can see Rickwood Field, built in 1910 and the oldest baseball park in America. Rickwood Field is located close to downtown Birmingham. On a historic tour, you’ll walk on the same ground where past greats like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Willie Mays once stood. If you can’t get enough of sports, then visit the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and learn about sports heroes like Paul Bryant and Jessie Owens.
Take in the beauty of nature at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which displays rhododendron, camellias, wildflowers, ferns, roses and outdoor sculptures, plus a Japanese garden with a teahouse and garden for the blind.
Student Sightseeing Tours in Birmingham
The Birmingham minibus/DART trolley runs every 10-20 minutes on three routes through the center city from the convention center to Five Points South. Five Points South is among Birmingham’s most renowned historic neighborhoods and has lots of restaurants, shops, hotels and entertainment spots.
Self-guided walking tours of the Civil Rights Trail, marked by informational photo signs, highlight the actual spots where people demonstrated for social justice during the 1960s. On the back of each sign is a quote from a newsmaker and a “lesson” for school groups. When the three-year plan is complete, there will be 100 pairs of signs (front and back) on three separate trails in the downtown area, with audio tours, maps and even video glasses embedded with GPS devices.
The city has also created a visitor center and walking tours for the Fourth Avenue Business/Historic District, the place of just about every major historic and cultural development in the city’s African-American community during the past 60 years. The African American Heritage Tour gives student a groups a chance to visit landmark sites, participate in group discussions and lectures, talk to movement leaders/foot soldiers, learn about music legends and savor the food that helped shape the flavor of the South.
EWTN Studios, cradled in the Appalachian Mountains in the suburb of Irondale, is a place where you can attend Mass, watched all over the world, and take a tour of the state-of-the-art TV facilities operated by the Catholic cable network. You may even be part of an audience at a live studio show.
Performance Venues for Students in Birmingham
Groups are welcome to let their talents shine during worship service at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, in Kelly Ingram Park or on stage at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Student orchestras or concert bands may perform at the church. Student groups also may put on dance performances or plays at the church and at the nearby Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, which occupies a historic movie theater. Downtown Birmingham’s new Railroad Park will have a large amphitheater, plus venues for smaller performances.
Student Accommodations in Birmingham
Historical and brand hotels in the city area welcome student tour business. There is a small number of hotels in the city center, but within 10 miles of the Civil Rights District in either direction are hotels eager to handle student groups. Two affordable hotels near the Civil Rights District are: Hyatt Place Birmingham/Downtown, which is “delighted to have student groups,” and Doubletree Hotel, which would “love to have you.” All brand hotels and historical properties are willing to discuss and work within requested rates or budgets.
Student Dining in Birmingham
Niki’s West Restaurant welcomes student groups and offers a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. It allows students to experience quality, old-fashioned Southern food that gives a taste of what it’s like to be a true Alabamian.
Mrs. B’s on Fourth Restaurant welcomes in students and offers soul food to warm your heart, such as pepper steak, chicken and vegetables.
For those students who want pizza at least once on their trip, try out CiCi’s Pizza Buffet. The buffet offers pastas, salads, desserts and 16 kinds of pizza that you can heap on your plate.
Student-Friendly Festivals and Events in Birmingham
The annual Juneteenth Culture Fest celebrates the end of slavery. General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas after the Civil War and read General Order #3 that announced the end of slavery in America. In recognition of this event, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute presents a free festival with food, contests, a children’s village, music and fun for all ages.
Birmingham is a city filled with life with a rich black history and lots of places where student groups can make memories and have a meaningful experience.